Thinking about starting a business from a rural area? Check out this insightful interview with an online business owner living in the Ozarks!
After working in corporate tech support for over ten years, Mary Caelsto moved to the Ozarks to pursue her dream of a country life. She lives on her homestead with her husband, and a menagerie of animals including chickens, geese, ducks, horses, cats, and parrots. From her office cabin she helps entrepreneurs unscramble their technology to help them stay sane and love their businesses.
Below is my interview with Mary…
Q: Mary, you’re the author of a handful of business books. What inspired you to write business books?
A: I’ve been a published book author since 2002, and I found myself quickly taking on a mentorship role for the newer authors. My books came about as a result of teaching classes on newsletter and customer engagement, as well as an attempt to offer some resources for newer people in the industry.
Q: Could you give us a quick high-level summary of your background?
A: In addition to my nearly two decades in the corporate world, where I learned quite a bit about customer service, technical support, and what makes a business run efficiently, I have been a published author since 2002 and been in the online marketing space since about that time. My knowledge and background are mostly from being in the trenches, helping people, working on their projects and achieving their goals.
Q: Delving into your books now, who would benefit most from your books?
A: My books are designed for newer entrepreneurs looking to get some quick, understandable instruction in various aspects of running their business, such as setting up a newsletter, or dealing with information products.
Q: What makes your books different from others that cover the same topics?
A: My books incorporate my extensive experience in the area, but they’re also written from the standpoint of someone who has done technical support for individuals at all levels of technical ability, so they’re easy to understand and follow.
Q: What are the most important elements, messages, or takeaways that you’d like readers to know they will benefit from?
A: It does not have to be difficult to set up a newsletter or incorporate an information product. In fact, with a little step-by-step handholding, you’ll be up and running and wondering why you ever hesitated to begin in the first place. I believe everyone can use technology to make their businesses and their lives better.
Q: Give us an interesting fun fact about the research you’ve conducted for your books.
A: Well, this isn’t for books, but for a webinar that I just did. (Replay is available through my website until 11/30.) Did you know Bulgaria and Russia are just about the only two countries without anti-spam laws or laws surrounding email solicitation?
Q: In addition to being a writer of business books, you also run a successful business from the Ozarks. How can others find success operating an online business from a rural location?
A: On a personal level the biggest challenge is watching the weather and planning. Being from Iowa I’m no stranger to winter; however, I now fully understand what is meant when people say the south isn’t prepared for it. The roads simply aren’t plowed and the weather eventually warms up enough that mother nature takes care of the snow on her own. Plus, we’re far down a gravel road. So road maintenance? Forget about it. LOL!
For example, we’ve just had two 5+” rain events. I live 2 ½ miles down a gravel road and across two creeks. While my homestead won’t ever flood, my ways into town may be cut off (yes, multiple ways). So it’s all about planning. I think that carries over to the biggest business challenge which is internet. My only option is satellite. It works great—unless it’s pouring rain or snowing heavily. And my plan has 10 GB of high speed data. Once that’s done, well, I still have internet, but it’s speed varies and often it’s slow. So I monitor and carefully use my data. (Note: My biggest business pet peeve are people who don’t think about the bandwidth their classes, downloads, etc. take up. Not everyone is on unlimited internet.)
There’s only one cellular carrier (U.S. Cellular) who actually gets reception at my house. The nearest tower is over 10 miles away, through rugged and forested terrain. So I’ve given up on streaming video, either for entertainment. I save large uploads for the after midnight freetime or I take them into town and use a coffee shop’s internet. I don’t Skype or Blab. (I did a couple, but they totally ate up my bandwidth.)
I have to say though, the views, the silence, the phenomenal stargazing, and the cost of living sure make up for any frustrations caused by the limited internet and cell signals. *smiles*
So basically, it’s planning, whether that’s making sure we’re stocked up to get through the weather or monitoring when I upload videos or when I download podcasts.
Q: Is there anything else you’d like to mention to our readers?
A: I want to let your readers know that there is no such thing as “not a computer person”. I’ve seen too many business owners hobble themselves when it comes to business because they’ve put up walls and said that they aren’t “techy”. While it’s true that you may not know everything you need about the technical side ofy our business, you can learn or you can delegate that work to someone else like a technical virtual assistant. Half the battle is knowing what we don’t know – so if you’re there – you have half the battle won.
Q: Where can people find out more about you and/or your books?
Connect With Mary Caelsto
Learn more about her work at http://www.unscramblet.com