Abstract Change in rural activities is frequently seen as: (1) reaction to changes in other areas and sectors, and (2) negative. This downplays the role and importance of entrepreneurs, both farm and non-farm, in sustaining the vitality of rural areas. The notion of entrepreneur can be extended to entrepreneurial activity by other people, e.g. local government activity, which is an integral part of rural community economic development. Both the entrepreneur and the quasi-entrepreneur in local government are critical leaders in urban fringes and other rural areas alike. Their activity in an area is partly dependent upon the broader political, social and economic environment which influences: (1) the need to change and (2) whether any “benefit” can be derived from entrepreneurial activity. A framework is presented in this paper to place entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial activity into the context first, of decision-taking generally in the rural environment, and second, of the broader “enabling” environment. It is argued that constraints originating in this broader environment are often necessary, but they may have unforeseen side-effects in discouraging innovation. Changes in such constraints or in the manner in which they are implemented may be a necessary ingredient to maintain rural vitality through encouraging entrepreneurial activity.