Living in a small town doesn't mean limited access to business opportunities. From service and product-based companies to e-commerce stores, gone are the days when people have to move to a big city to start a new venture.
Small town doesn't mean limited business opportunity. From service and product-based companies to e-commerce stores, gone are the days when people have to move to a big city to start a new venture.
In this article, we'll share 75 small-town business ideas that you can get started on today. These fall into three main categories: service-based, product-based, and online.
Going local is a popular consumer trend. Product-driven small-town businesses can leverage this interest in locally made products to increase sales. You might incorporate your hometown into your products or your brand. The name of your town might be part of your tagline or even part of your business name. You can include aspects of the town — a favorite street or some local history — in the decor, on your packaging, or even into the products themselves.
While touting your locally made products can help you stand out in a crowded market, product-based businesses do have some challenges. They run the risk of having too much inventory due to inconsistent and seasonal sales. They also can require a high upfront cost to manufacture products and then either rent a storefront in which to sell them or pay for distribution. It's essential that business owners thoroughly research their industry, customer, and market to create a business plan that guides the growth of the business.
Jewelry stores in small towns can have an exclusive appeal. What makes specialty jewelry stores attractive is that items can be customized to the order, reducing the need for excess inventory. Given the high profit margins, a jewelry store in a small town can earn top dollar. However, when the economy turns, jewelry can be especially hard to sell. Jewelry store owners must strategically structure their business to remain in the black during tough times.
Branding your store as boutique communicates to customers that you're one-of-a-kind. Clothing stores have an added layer of flexibility as business owners can focus on trendy new items or exclusive resale items as a consignment shop. While larger retailers are moving into more and more small towns, if they're not in yours yet, this is a chance for you to take a bigger chunk of the market.
Ice cream is popular but easy for consumers to find, so with this option, you're looking at both high demand and high competition. If you decide to open an ice cream store, think about what will make people pay extra or make the trip to visit your store. Remember the interest in buying local — it's especially strong when it comes to local food. Nearly half of consumers say they want food sourced close to home.
Small-town bookstores can be more than just a place to buy books. They might be where locals go to catch an author signing, attend a reading club, or just relax. Making your bookstore the go-to hangout can bring in more shoppers and more revenue as a result. Bookstores are also good candidates to merge with other business ideas, such as a coffee shop.
In rural areas, outdoor activities like fishing, hunting, or hiking are often a favorite pastime for locals and tourists alike. Find a location near a popular park or attraction, and you can capitalize on customers who need last-minute items before embarking on their adventure.
Food trucks originated in larger cities like New York and San Francisco, but this trend has made its way to plenty of smaller cities. If your small town doesn't have one, the novelty could be a draw for customers. If there are other food trucks in the area, consider teaming up to create a food truck park or maybe designate one day a month that's "food truck Friday." This can be a great way to introduce your food to new customers and plant the seeds for long-term growth.
Opening a small-town restaurant provides people with what they want but might not have, but this is dependent on your menu. Instead of opening a restaurant and offering the same food as other local restaurants, find something unique to your palate but still on-demand in the town. For instance, if there's a restaurant you look forward to visiting because of the food or experience, use that as a baseline for your idea.
The commercial drone market is expected to reach $40.90 billion in 2027 because of the increasing demand for drones and drone accessories. Check to confirm whether there is a drone specialist in your town. If you have no competition, open a drone shop and become a drone specialist. Getting early into the business can give you monopoly rights, making it possible to increase your profit margins significantly.
This is the best of both worlds because you have coffee lovers visiting your shop during the day for a cup of coffee, and at night you have buzzing activity as a bar. All you have to do is ensure the environment accommodates both crowds seamlessly.
If you notice that grocery stores in your local area do not sell alcohol, go ahead and open a liquor store. You will have control of alcohol in your market, thus, providing an opportunity to make significant amounts of profits.
This is perfect in areas that experience tourism because your items can serve as gifts or souvenirs for your customers. Expect traffic to your store to be slow. But since your products don't have an expiration date, you can still turn a good profit.
You will need ample research and investment before starting a brewery or a winery. Nonetheless, the rewards will be worth the effort. Whether you decide to open a winery or a brewery, it can serve as a space for holding gatherings or events and as a space for drinking. You also have opportunities to grow beyond the local market with a brewery or a winery.
This is a community business because it provides products and activities that serve the entire community. For instance, if you start an apple orchard, you can add activities like picking apples, picnics, and hayrides for residents to enjoy for a small fee. The startup costs for an orchard are moderate, meaning the earning potential might be minimal. Nonetheless, if you have a background in agriculture and a backbone for business, don't miss out on the joys of starting an orchard in your local community.
6.5 billion greeting cards are purchased every year in America, which leads to sales of up to $8 billion yearly. However, a significant portion of these purchase rates happens in big retail stores like Walmart and Target, leaving small-town individuals out in the cold; as such, bringing gift cards close to their homes with a gift card shop is bound to steer demand. Offer various products and conduct market research to determine the cards your customers resonate with.
A novelty store is a gift shop that sells a wide variety of unique items like customized notebooks, fridge magnets, home décor items, and jewelry. To run this type of store successfully, gather inventory management knowledge, technology, and general business skills. Also, increase your profit margin by offering your customers a unique experience.
This works best if you live in an area considered a popular tourist destination. Also, learn how to select the right products to sell and price them appropriately. Sales skills are equally important. Your profits might be modest, but the potential increases depending on your location and the state of the economy.
In a service-based business, professionals share their skills with the public. These types of businesses may be sole proprietorships led by one person, but they can grow with the addition of employees or subcontractors.
Keep in mind that word travels fast in a small town and that great work will result in a solid reputation. Reviews — both in-person and online — are critical so make sure to deliver top service every time.
A cleaning service is a great business for those wanting a company with minimal overhead and a low threshold for entry. You may benefit from less competition in small towns, but research your potential competitors first. If there are others in this space, see how you can specialize. That might be janitorial services for companies or maid services for homeowners. You might branch out down the road, but establish profitability and a strong brand reputation with one service offering before expanding to new customer segments.
The beauty salon and barbershop isn't just a place you go to get your hair cut and styled. In a small town, it might be the hub for local news. Like all service businesses, it's a people-oriented endeavor — especially since customers build relationships with their favorite stylists over time. For this type of business, make sure to stay on top of trends while focusing on what makes your salon different. That might be your team of friendly stylists or the nostalgic design of your old-fashioned barbershop.
Childcare is a growing industry as parents working outside the home depend on a reliable daycare center. Daycare centers in small towns are just as essential as those in larger population hubs to serve the families who live there. The most significant challenge here will be the potential pool of customers. Make sure your small town is growing, with plenty of young families settling there, so you'll have enough customers to stay profitable.
As a painting business, you can focus on serving homeowners or companies — or both. This is a service that's always in demand in cities and towns where buildings are constructed and renovated. While there's plenty of room for a painter to build a successful business in a small town, a proven business model will help you get started. If you plan to operate on a larger scale, you'll want to work with a team of subcontractors so you can take on more projects. Choosing the right subcontractors and marketing your business professionally are two of the most important steps as you launch your business in this industry. You can learn more about launching a home painting business in as little as 30 days at Hoistup.com.
There are a few reasons opening a car wash in a small town can be a good business venture. For one, the role doesn't require a lot of technical skills, so you won't have trouble finding talent, important if you're pulling from a smaller labor pool. There are also plenty of opportunities to upsell customers on additional services or car accessories.
If the idea of selling food appeals to you, but you want a more service-based approach than a food truck, catering could be a great option. Begin with local events in your small town. Leverage partnerships with other businesses or community gatherings where food needs to be served. Once you have a steady stream of customers in town, expand to neighboring communities. Though this is a service business, you will be dealing with lots of inventory — food — that's perishable. Be sure to figure this into your calculations as you're assessing risk and potential profits.
If you're already a pro at auto repair, you might want to open a shop in town. Particularly if you're servicing a rural area where you're the only shop around for miles, you can attract business from other towns as well. While the distance may be an advantage, it may also hurt the business when attempting to ship parts or provide a specialty service, so bear this in mind as you do your research.
In big cities, there are hundreds of hotels available, often part of larger chains. But in small towns, visitors are often drawn to the personal appeal of bed-and-breakfasts. When drafting your business plan, do some research to determine what zoning permits and other regulations may apply to your bed-and-breakfast so you can decide if it will be feasible. This business can have high startup costs, particularly if you need to do any renovations to the property, but it can be a fun way to build a career in the hospitality industry and grow tourism in your community.
As with many service-based businesses, this one has a product-based component, too. You'll be selling flowers, but the real value you're bringing is your skill in arranging flowers. Besides refrigeration for your flowers, your general overhead costs for inventory will be much lower than, say, the jewelry store idea mentioned above. Flower shops do have some competition from online delivery services, so business owners should consider how they can differentiate themselves. A florist who delivers quickly and knows how to delight the customer can build a solid reputation in their community for outstanding service.
Delivery services are all the rage right now, but a small town may not have a Grubhub or other service that makes deliveries. This leaves the door wide open for new business owners to step in. You can focus on delivering restaurant meals or groceries. If the latter, you may need to employ shoppers early on so you can scale and serve more customers. For both options, you'll eventually need delivery drivers to expand how many deliveries you can take on at a time. As you weigh your options, determine if it's better for you to partner with another business as a complimentary service or create a stand-alone entity.
Before opening a local bank, ensure you are ready to learn about the banking industry regulations and everything that pertains to financial services. Additionally, a bank will demand your entire dedication, a hefty capital, and a keen eye for numbers. Expect a 12 percent net profit margin with growth potential if you get it right.
Notice whether your friends, family, and neighbors are always calling you or another handyman to fix broken pipes or unclog sinks in their homes. The frequency of demand will identify whether this can be a viable business idea for you. The good thing about focusing on handyman work is that you can outsource it to someone who is more experienced than you are and take a percentage of the profits.
Who doesn't love a nice croissant or a piece of cake with tea or coffee? As such, a bakery is a valuable business to start in your town. Additionally, there are versatile services you can offer if you have a bakery. For instance, you can bake cupcakes and package them in gift boxes. You can also make and sell wedding and birthday cakes.
Shops that niche into selling healthy organic foods only are gaining traction all over the country. Most people want to live longer, and eating healthy foods is one way to get there. Additionally, finding fresh organic produce in rural areas can be challenging. Solve this problem by offering residents a place to shop for organic food.
Bridge the gap between farmers and consumers by opening a farmers market in your local town. Don't expect to make a profit from your farmer's market. These markets are typically run as non-profit businesses. Still, this is an opportunity to grow your local area by empowering farmers and consumers.
A flea market is identical to a farmer’s market except for the products sold. Here, retailers and artists will be showcasing their products to the local community. Talented dancers and acrobats can also perform for the crowd on specific days. You can have indoor and outdoor activities where live performances happen indoors, and crafty products are sold outdoors. Make the experience more enjoyable by offering food courts where people can eat and drink as they shop. You will earn profits by renting spaces to local vendors.
Only start this business if you are empathetic, compassionate, and console grieving families and friends. You should also have excellent people and marketing skills to run a funeral home successfully. And while the startup costs are high, the potential to earn is equally high depending on your location.
More than half of the population is on mobile devices or computers, so computer and IT services are essential, especially in a small town where IT skills might be limited. The overhead costs are affordable since you only need a few pieces of equipment to start providing IT services.
This is an unconventional idea but look at the cannabis industry and the vaping market before brushing it aside. Yelp already has more than ten thousand vape shops, thus, indicating that the market is growing exponentially. Therefore, a vape shop is worth considering if you have the capital to purchase the right technology for starting and running a business. However, some states are stringent about opening vape shops. Therefore, do your research and get the proper permits before opening your vape shop.
This is an excellent part-time business idea since it doesn't take too much of your time and still makes a good profit. Add other services to increase your profit margins and customer profile. For instance, you can sell laundry products or add a dry cleaning machine within the laundromat. Also, have a handyman on call to fix mechanical issues when they arise.
It is not surprising that residents have to drive several miles from home to get their pets to a veterinary office. In essence, proximity is important to ensure pets stay healthy and get immediate attention in emergencies. Also, rural areas where rearing animals is prevalent will never run out of need of vet services. Therefore, work on getting your permits, licenses, and expertise and start your veterinary office.
Finding a vet in your local area is not necessarily a problem. But how often do you find a line of pets waiting to be groomed if you live in a region where almost every household has at least one pet? This shows there is a demand for a pet grooming and boarding service business. Include walking services to your list as well.
Chances are, there is a gas station in your local area to service cars and trucks. But adding one more near a major highway will still get you customers and profits. Modernize your gas station by adding a car wash area and a small restaurant, a place where customers can sit, eat, drink, and relax as they wait for you to service their cars.
Watch your residents during sports seasons like the Super Bowl. Do they find a bar where they can watch the game uninterrupted? If this is the case in your town, then keenly look into the advantages of starting a sports bar in your local area. For instance, this is an excellent investment in areas where sports are a big deal. But if your town residents are only interested in sports once a year, then other business ideas could be more lucrative and less costly to start.
If people have to leave your local community to get to a game park, consider this an excellent opportunity to make money and have some fun. There are many ideas to choose from as well. For instance, a large piece of land can house go-karting, ice skating, and sky diving activities. Or, select one and specialize in the area, then charge a small fee for the games.
You will need a professional pharmacist for this and a permit for selling drugs over the counter. But if your town doesn't have one already, a drugstore is worth the investment risk. Keep in mind competition from large chain drug stores if there are any in your local area.
You need expertise, capital, and permits to start a health clinic. But, it is an investment to consider regardless of whether your local town has a drug store or not because sick people need lab tests and diagnoses for diagnosing diseases. Additionally, if your clinic is close to home for most families, this is where they will come for treatment.
Every residential area needs dental services that provide preventative and corrective dental services. Therefore, even if there is a dental clinic in your home town, you can always open a new one within the local area but on another side of town. The startup costs are high, but the potential for making profits is also significantly high. A dental clinic also has growth potential.
Fitness junkies are everywhere these days. But one common feature among small towns is the lack of a gym with adequate equipment to exercise. As such, open your gym, invest in high quality and various equipment, and start running your business.
Bowling is a fun sports activity with demand among individuals from all age groups. Your bowling alley will be the center of socialization in your town when built right. This, in turn, means plenty of profits. Also, selling food and beverages is an added revenue stream. Consider renting out the space for private parties to enhance versatility in the services you provide.
Offering to tutor students is can be a more lucrative alternative to babysitting. If you are intelligent and wish to start a business that gives back to the community, start a tutoring service.
Some clothes are dry clean only, meaning you have an opportunity to provide this service to town residents that want the convenience. In a word, the dry cleaning service business allows people to take good care of their clothes, thus, making it a lucrative idea in an area without any dry cleaners.
There's a reason why many people look for a handyperson to mow their lawn – they don't want to do the work themselves. Many people are especially keen to hire a professional to help with gardening since they lack the expertise. As such, this business fills a need that is popular with homeowners. The idea is even more lucrative if you live in a town with lawn requirements and standards.
Most barbershops and hair salons in small towns do not provide nail care or spa treatments. There is a need for this type of service, and it can draw a wealth of business, especially during prom, graduation, holidays, or weddings. Therefore, open a spa treatment center in your area and market it to working parents, homemakers, or college students.
This goes hand in hand with the spa and nail salon idea. Regardless of everyone having access to mobile devices that take excellent pictures, events like weddings and graduation parties will need a professional photographer.
Additionally, many people want portraits or professional shots to mark special occasions, gift loved ones, or decorate spaces in their homes. Also, capitalizing on your local market will eventually recover your overhead costs, primarily the cost of buying equipment.
Open a hardware store and sell supplies people need to make simple repairs or conduct DIY projects. Consider selling a variety of items to meet the different needs of your residents. You can also start to sell supplies to other professionals like painters or handypersons in your town. This is a market where the demand is expected to be high.
Most people will live in the same house for many years at a time, but the real estate market is always open to buyers and sellers. Therefore, start a real estate agency so that people in your town turn to you when they need to buy or sell. The advantage of a real estate agency is that it expands to other towns near you as it grows.
We've mentioned different events that often happen in towns, including weddings, graduation parties, and birthday parties. Start an event planning business and offer your residents the convenience of having a good time without the hassle of planning for it. Rent a space or buy land and create an events venue with an excellent ambiance that meets different needs. Then offer your event planning services within and outside your event space. Eventually, consider expanding the business by incorporating other services customers want in an event, like catering services.
Some tattoo artists make a decent living by inking people and offering piercing services. And because many small towns don’t have a tattoo shop, the demand for your services will likely be high within and outside your town. Make sure you do your research and get the proper permits before starting a tattoo shop.
The internet provides business opportunities that may not typically exist in a small town. Below are a few businesses where you can have your home base in a small town to reach customers around the world.
Two of these are business ideas discussed above that you can expand with an online component. But for all of these, you’ll still draw on your local network. Even with online businesses, you may find that your first customer is a neighbor or local company since they know you and trust your work.
A smart way for retail businesses to increase revenue is to sell online. If your clothing boutique is doing well locally, you can leverage online ads and your website to reach a new audience of buyers. This can be great for small towns that draw in tourists since people can visit your shop in person but continue buying from you once they get back home.
The online marketing industry continues to evolve in new ways each year and shows no signs of slowing down. Those with a knack for designing logos, print media, and more might enjoy running an online graphic design studio. This business model tends to be freelance-based, though you could develop a graphic design agency with a team of designers. To provide end-to-end service to your clients, you might also want to partner with companies that provide complementary services, such as copywriting or web development.
If operating a bed-and-breakfast appeals to you, but you want to get started renting out your current property, online vacation rental sites like Airbnb may be a good option. You can spruce up an extra room or guesthouse and list it online for vacationers to find. Using a vacation rental site, you can see customer reviews, accept and decline reservations, and receive payment. While this isn’t your traditional business, it can be a good way to dip your toes into the hospitality industry, and homes that perform well provide a steady stream of income.
If you are hardworking and self-aware, consider freelance researching as your new online business. Most businesses need competitor or market research about their products. Therefore, you can make some good income by helping them answer some of their technical questions.
Research also requires you to analyze business statistics and identify patterns or trends useful for business decision-making. Consider adding freelance writing as part of your skills portfolio if you are also an avid writer.
With experience and a good internet connection, offer your services to companies that want bog posts or content written for their social media profiles. And if you can write clearly, you can edit as well.
Editing will open many work opportunities, like editing academic manuscripts, proofreading novels, and copyediting. The skills needed for editing include attention to detail, excellent grammar, and working discipline. A writer who's also fluent in various languages can translate original material for a reasonable fee.
This is a business venture to consider, especially if you already offer IT services in your local town. The potential for growth here is massive, and if you get a job with a tech giant, you stand to get a hefty paycheck too. Work at your own pace by taking projects that you find valuable. You can also add software consultation services to your skills once you work with clients for a certain period.
E-books have an increasing market these days because of their ease of access. As such, if you love to write but feel blog posts constrain your thoughts, consider writing e-books and then publishing them on sites like Amazon.
Write, market, and sell your e-book and you'll get a large portion of the profits you make. You can edit the book yourself or pay a professional to get an outside opinion. Design your book cover to save on costs if you have design skills.
The good thing about the internet today is that it is filled with templates and examples to use from scratch and at a small fee.
Do you get many likes on your social media platforms often? Do you find it easy to build a following? Monetize your skills and offer social media marketing services to businesses online if this is the case.
Look for companies that want someone to manage their social media profiles and use your platform as a portfolio. You can earn a high hourly wage or even transition into a full-time role.
Get paid by companies to showcase their products or services on your social media platforms and website. For instance, if you have a healthy living website, consider affiliating products from supplement companies, organic farmers, and gyms in your area.
The goal here is to influence your audience to purchase products or services from your clients. As such, build your credibility by growing your traffic and brand and influencing the products or services you have used.
PPC campaigns, especially on Google, pay well. This is an opportunity to consider if you have advertising experience. There is a massive opportunity because many clients want digital advertising on several platforms, including emails, Facebook, and Instagram. The benefit of becoming a digital advertiser is monetizing your online presence as you work on your client's online platforms.
If you never get tired of conversations, especially when they involve helping others, become a telemarketer. Many companies outsource customer service and sales employees, meaning you can try this option from home.
Have you hacked search engine optimization? This is already a massive industry, and it grows every day. Therefore, if you can get a website to rank well on search engines like Google, either offer these services to businesses or work as a consultant. This means advising companies on the different strategies to improve their ranking and traffic.
Radio stations, newspapers, celebrities, and regular folk: everyone is getting on the podcast trend. You should start your podcast if you have important information to share or a good story to tell. Get the right equipment, tell your story, and upload it on podcast apps, sites, and social media. Your podcast will market you and your business.
Like podcasts, video production is becoming a good sort after marketing platform. Video on websites and social media are especially gaining traffic for customers. Therefore, you can create video content for customers with the right equipment, a digital production background, and a creative streak. You can also edit videos for customers who need a more appealing final product.
If you have coding experience and are looking for opportunities to grow as an entrepreneur, start developing software and applications for businesses or individuals. Or, start working on your application, add-on, extension, or program and sell it to the market or one customer.
You can also advertise your app or software and make money from visitor traffic. The options, in this case, are numerous. Coding is time-consuming and challenging, but a good app can send you into retirement early.
However, conduct your market research first and ensure the product you want to make has a ready market. Otherwise, you will waste significant time and resources on a solution that doesn't sell.
This is the online version of real estate with the benefit of working from any location. Here's the deal – every business today needs a website. As such, you already have a business opportunity here for selling domain names to companies or individuals building a website.
Additionally, some domain names sell better than others because they are more valuable. Therefore, seek these out, buy them cheap, and flip them to the highest bidder. All you need is some research and intellect to select the domain names considered valuable.
Here's some added motivation for you – in 2001, www.hotels.com was sold for $11 million. As you can see, taking turns to learn about this market is worthy of the returns you get as an expert.
Pro Tip: Use SEO to determine the domain sites on auction and the companies that might need the domains. Then come up with names you can purchase cheaply and sell for more money.
This is another option for IT specialists that don't want to code or develop software. Becoming a cybersecurity consultant means evaluating your clients' systems, assessing the risk of cyber-attacks through tests, and offering advice on mitigation measures they can take.
Or become an IT consultant and assist businesses who need IT guidance on a broader platform. This means helping businesses purchase the right technology, set it up, and resolve any issues.
Professionals are now coaching their clients online. Doctors are treating patients online. So why not hold your therapy sessions online as well? If you are a therapist, reach a new group of patients online and help. Companies like TalkSpace and BetterHelp already provide the platform you might need to conduct virtual therapy. Or start your counseling sessions since you will also have more flexibility and freedom.
You must have experience before you start to market yourself as a business coach. Therefore, start to work towards becoming a business coach if this has been on your mind. The industry is growing, and the least amount of money you will earn is $100. But your effectiveness and credibility affect your income directly. The advantage of being a coach is that you can do it from the comfort of your home over the phone or video.
This is now an industry on its own. In fact, established fitness trainers on YouTube are minting millions yearly. So, if working out and healthy living is something you are passionate about, don't overlook becoming an online fitness trainer.
You can do this in several ways: either source clients and work with them individually, start online classes for your audience, or create a complete program over a given period, like three months with one goal.
Platforms like Facebook and Instagram are making online shops thrive for many entrepreneurs across the globe. Now, you can open an online thrift shop and sell thrift items to a broader audience. Build a strong brand and excellent copywriting for your items, and you will have a competitive advantage.
Starting a new business is an exciting time, but there are always risks associated with launching your own venture. And with so many possibilities, it can feel overwhelming to know how to proceed.
When you’re weighing your options, bear in mind that business owners who have support are much more successful over the long term. If you’re ready to become your own boss, Hoist can help reduce risk by showing you a profitable business model, providing training, and investing in your business as you grow. We can help you set up a painting company in any size town — big or small. As your business grows and you build positive word-of-mouth from clients, you’ll become the go-to choice in your town. Learn more about how it works to see if this is the business idea for you.
Facts & Stats 2019/ Greeting Card Association
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