Living in a small town can be pretty awesome. For many people who hate the hustle and bustle of the big city, small town life is usually a great way to escape. In fact, it’s pretty common for you to find people who usually live in big cities moving to small towns for a while if they want to center themselves and give themselves a break.
However, there’s also a distinct demerit that a lot of small towns have – opportunities are sparse, so it’s usually challenging to find everything you need in one town. Unlike a megacity where everything seems readily available, small towns tend to be more isolated. And with that comes the need for people to do more work if they would like to get access to certain goods and services.
While this is a demerit, it also presents a bit of an opportunity. Many small towns have a massive demand for businesses, and entrepreneurs could easily take advantage of this to provide them. As a business person looking to start a small business that thrives, being able to spot opportunities and use them to your benefit is one of the hallmarks of success. And as you search for these business propositions, you’ll find that there are several small-town business ideas that could easily be explored.
Small and Medium businesses are the major global economic drivers, and according to Sales Force 2019, 90% of the business population represents small and medium-sized businesses. Therefore small businesses are essential for the survival of every community irrespective of the size and population of the community.
In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the business ideas for small town options as well as what makes them so attractive – especially for entrepreneurs.
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Everyone loves food. And when it comes to small towns, this statement is even truer. Interestingly, however, most of the big food establishments tend to find themselves concentrated in big cities – so much so that they neglect small towns. And as such, many people living in these small towns find themselves having to travel long distances before they can gain access to fine dining.
So, it goes without saying that a restaurant is one of the best small town business ideas. You’re providing people with something they need – good food.
When opening a restaurant, however, place a premium on understanding the type of food that the small town loves. If it’s an agriculturally-rich area, a farm-to-table restaurant could be a pretty good idea. Remember that people tend to be choosy with food as well, so provide enough variety to go around.
While it might not be as universally loved as good food, coffee is something else that a lot of people want. If your town doesn’t have so many coffee shops, then this could be a great opportunity for you.
Even better, you could make your establishment a healthy mix between a bar and a coffee shop. This way, you get traffic at any time of the day – early workers can come in for their cup of Joe, while your shop remains a hot spot for the nightlife when people want to let loose.
Like food, remember that coffee has varieties. So, don’t be scared to provide some. Let people choose what they want, and give it to them.
One interesting fact about small towns is that a lot of residents tend to have cars – or trucks, depending on the town. And considering that vehicles need proper maintenance, opening a shop that provides this service is actually one of the best small town business ideas that thrive.
For most small towns, the mere distance to an auto repair shop alone can be a bit of a hassle. So, locals tend to be careful with their cars and take maintenance quite seriously.
Auto repair businesses fill an important need for most small towns, and they make life infinitely more convenient for residents. Depending on the small town in question, you might want to explore this idea and see how it works for you.
If you have a passion for kids and a background in teaching or childcare, a daycare could be an interesting business idea for your small town. Working parents will always need someone to help them take care of their children while they go to work, and a local daycare will undoubtedly be more convenient
If you find that there aren’t so many daycares in your small town, this could be a solid opportunity for you.
A bit similar to the automotive repair shop, a car towing service is another great option among small town business ideas. Vehicles break down everywhere, and the charges imposed by most tow trucks can be outrageous.
If the town in question is a bit far from a major city, people might get stranded when their cars break down. This presents an opportunity for you to start a car towing service. And if you have enough capital to begin, you could easily combine this with an automotive repair shop – get a distress call from a customer, tow their vehicle, and repair it at your shop. You own the entire value chain, and the opportunities are limitless.
Grocery stores thrive pretty much everywhere. Just like restaurants, they provide a necessity – groceries. For most towns that don’t have grocery stores, there are usually a few causes – perhaps people commute and get their groceries elsewhere, or perhaps the population isn’t large enough to support a large grocery chain.
For your benefit, it might be better to start small. You don’t necessarily have to run a big-box chain from the very beginning, but you could grow to become one eventually. As demand rises and you can see the landscape of the market, it becomes easier to anticipate needs and grow from there.
Even in small towns, people need quality handymen. Every now and then, there’s always a creaky floorboard or a leaky pipe that needs to be fixed. And when it’s a small town, finding a reliable and skilled person to handle this might not necessarily be easy. Even when it is, people tend to only have one or two options they can call. So, why not break into that market and make some money?
As a handyman, you should remember that skills take the most importance. You need to be able to handle different everyday repair tasks and perform them well, and you should offer as much convenience as you can for your customers. Get this right, and you can charge any price.
A lot of people hate doing the mundane, everyday work of cleaning and maintaining their houses. And, there’s a significant chance that some of these people might live in your small town. So, why not help them with that?
A housekeeping service is quite similar to the handyman service. You need to be really good at what you do, so word of mouth can easily spread about you and you can grow your business. And with referrals being pretty easy to have in small towns, this is definitely one of the small town business ideas that thrive.
Even better, you could pair this service with a related one – such as babysitting. The more you can do, the more you can sell to people.
These days, a lot of people are being more adventurous with their dishes and would like to change their palettes from time to time. So, it could be a viable business idea to open a store that sells gourmet foods. Think special wines, take-out dishes, speciality cheeses, and much more.
For this business ideal, it is important to understand the small town you’re in. Will they really be interested in foods like these? A lot of preliminary research will go into setting up a business like this. However, when you know it’s a necessity, you can barely go wrong.
If you’ve got a creative mind and love to make things with your hands, then this could be an interesting choice for you. Whether you’re making clothes or small items around the house that people can find functional, running a business that sells handmade goods could be quite profitable. Ad with platforms like Etsy that easily allow creatives to open online shops and start selling, you can set your business up quite quickly!
Here, however, you need to be careful. A handmade goods store is an impressive option among small town business ideas, but remember to find out what people really want or need. Selling this allows you to easily fast-track your profitability.
Small towns actually have a higher percentage of family units and people with children. So, it goes without saying that they have a more pronounced need for toys.
To successfully run a toy store in a small town, quite a lot of work will be needed as well. You need to know what kids in the town like – is there an affinity for a special movie or cartoon franchise? What type of sports do the boys and girls play? This could give you special insights into the types of toys that a lot of these children would love. Remember to consider the market first.
Today, we have a lot of thrifty, frugal customers who are always looking for deals wherever they can find them. Many of these frugal customers are in small towns, and they deserve to be able to get their hands on high-quality apparels without having to break the bank. This presents an opportunity for you to open a thrift shop – one of the best small town business ideas.
Interestingly, a thrift shop doesn’t necessarily have to sell clothing items alone. Some interesting variations of this idea will be to run an antique gallery or a shop where second-hand items can be sold off at good value. At the end of the day, there are people who look for deals everywhere.
This might not necessarily be what you would need to do for your town – instead, it’s more like a business choice that benefits you personally. If you live in a small town and are tech-savvy, then you could work as a virtual assistant.
With this job, you could essentially help business leaders with improving their productivity and planning their day. Whether it’s a business person in your small town or someone in a big city looking to make their work much smoother, virtual assistants are all the rage right now. And you could easily jump on this wave!
Gas stations are an absolute necessity in communities and towns where a lot of people rely on trucks and cars to get around. Interestingly, a gas station can also benefit from being in a location that is far from cities. Instead of people rushing to get their fix you could provide a closer and more accessible solution.
At the same time, you should keep in mind that small towns that are situated close to major highways tend to get a lot of traffic as well. So, this means that there will undoubtedly be demand for your products. And with the possibility of opening a convenience store at the gas station, you have multiple potential revenue streams.
Flowers make everything better and more beautiful. Everyone knows this, and that’s why flowers have become synonymous with celebrations and events. Even in small towns, flowers sell pretty well. At the end of the day, people have things they would like to celebrate!
So, a florist business is a pretty interesting option for anyone looking to run a successful small-town business. You could sell different flowers that fit different occasions and you could even combine this with a decoration service. This way, instead of just selling flowers to people, you could also be involved in the process of decorating their venues and events.
The need for technology in rural areas can sometimes be as much – or even more – than the need in suburban cities. And as we all know, machines need to be properly maintained if they are to stay in working shape.
You could meet the need for machine repairs by opening an electronic store. Provide easy repairs to people, offer upgrades, and you could even train people on how best to maintain their devices.
As expected, you could branch into sales as well. Everyone will need electronics from time to time, and your ability to offer high-quality electronics could make you a market leader pretty easily.
Every year, people spend billions of dollars purchasing gifts and greeting cards. And in rural areas, this need is also strong – after all, they celebrate milestones and life events as well. And for many of these small towns, the demand for cards and gifts is pretty strong.
Like many businesses, it is important to understand what people like in your small town before opening a gift or card shop. However, this can be a bit difficult because peoples’ desires when it comes to gifts can be subjective. We’ll recommend being a bit diverse on this one.
With technology becoming a more important part of people’s’ lives, this is one of the business ideas for small town that are starting to get some traction. Individuals and businesses in small towns require technology to survive, and this means that they will need technical support as well.
Since there will always be people and companies that use technology, you have the opportunity to grow your business easily. You might need some advertising to get this business off the ground since you might not have a physical setup, but with time, it’s something that you could do. And, with the right skills, it should be a cakewalk.
This is one service that is significantly lacking in most small towns. People who need massage services don’t have access to them – and even if they do, these services tend to be in short supply. This presents an opportunity for you.
However, running a massage therapy service is a finicky one. You need to be sure that people are willing to get this service, so perform a feasibility study first. If you see that there’s a need, you could even expand by providing home services where people don’t have to go anywhere.
If there isn’t already a local pet shop or a large chain in your area, this is one business idea that you should absolutely consider if you live in a small town. Many people love pets, regardless of where they are. And depending on your area’s pet population, there could be a significant demand for a pet service that you just haven’t tapped into.
Try to find out where the pet owners in your locality get their pets taken care of and fed. If you think there’s something you can do to improve the offering of this service, then get to work!
There’s a pretty significant chance that someone already provides hair service in your small area – after all, people need to go somewhere for a touch up, right?
However, even if the need is already being met, you could still enter into this space and dominate it. The first thing you need to do is find out the companies providing this service and their weaknesses. Is there a demographic they don’t cater to? Is there a style that they can’t seem to get? Do they just cut hair and leave customers without feeling that luxury experience?
Find these weaknesses and incorporate them into your service. Just like that, you’re on your way.
It’s easy to believe that book stores aren’t popular anymore due to the rise of online sellers like Amazon. However, there is still a thriving market of readers who prefer to go to local book stores in small towns.
As a bookstore owner, you could easily incorporate additional titles into your offerings. And in small towns that tend to have more serene environments, these places could pass as relaxation and reading spots. Not a bad idea at all.
Even in small towns, there is a significant need for continued learning. Children need someone to take them through subjects like math and science, and their parents will be more than willing to pay for these tutorings.
At the same time, adults also need to learn things. Whether it’s how to use computers or how to speak a foreign language, you could be the one to step into the position for them and teach them. The better you are at tutoring, the more the word of mouth will easily spread.
Among the small town business ideas that need little capital is that of sewing. Here, you don’t even need to have anything related to a storefront. You could go to your customers’ homes or locations to work on their garments, or they could come drop them at your place. Easy peasy.
As you would expect, being able to hone your skills will be critical here. And, you should also consider the importance of speed. Most people who need alterations to their garments tend to have short windows, so you will need to be fast when you work. Get a garment, amend it in a few days, and give it back to the customer.
If you’ve got a creative mind and the skills to work with furniture, this is actually one of the small town business ideas that thrive. All you have to do is find furniture at thrift shops, yard sales, and other locations. As long as they have good bones and could still work, you could work your magic and repair them. Give them new life and refinish them easily.
These pieces of furniture could be sold at showrooms, flea markets, thrift shops, etc. Or, if you’d like to cast an even broader net, you could take your business online and sell to more people.
Indeed, this is a pretty good option among the business ideas for small towns as well. Everyone makes memories, and they want these memories to last forever. If you’re a skilled photogra[her, it’s pretty easy to convince people to employ you and amaze them with your skills.
Like many technical businesses, this is another one that depends significantly on your skill level. So, before you go out convincing people to hire you, it’s important that you also have impressive photography skills. Word-of-mouth marketing is great for these businesses, but additional marketing efforts are needed as well.
More and more, there’s a greater push towards getting fit. And, there’s a pretty high chance that people would like to maintain their fitness in your small town. If this is the case, opening a gym is a great way to capitalize on this.
You should keep in mind that this is more capital-intensive than most business ideas for small towns. However, once you gain some members early on, a gym becomes easier to run.
Like food, everyone loves ice cream. They’re great for treats, for celebrations, and for events. Even in small towns, kids are kids, and they all love ice cream.
You could open an ice cream shop or set up an establishment close to an already established eatery. If you’re looking for more access, make it a mobile shop that easily moves around.
We’ve already pointed out the fact that people in small towns rely significantly on their vehicles. And these vehicles need maintenance – especially when they get dirty. Interestingly, a lot of rural areas don’t have car wash locations. And for most people, when there’s no car wash, they tend to simply just leave their cars to run on their own.
Step in to fill this need by providing a reliable car wash and detailing service. To solve the accessibility problem, you could offer a home service. And, you could also expand to service motorcycles, RVs, and other wheelers.
We all love food. And when it comes to feeding, accessibility is also starting to become more of a necessity. For many small town people who travel a lot and who are very busy, it is no longer just as convenient to order food – these days, they also need people to deliver their food to them.
The best part of running a food delivery business is that you don’t actually have to cook or make the food. Once it is prepared, you simply pick it up and send it to your clients.
A neighborhood bar with a sports theme is actually quite popular in small towns. Even people in small towns tend to have their favorite teams, and they would like nothing more than to gather at a spot, drink beer, and talk about these teams.
Of course, one of the key things to consider here will be to find out the team with the biggest support base in the small town. You could always cater to fans of more teams, but try to prioritize the popular team.
Sadly, we all get sick. And in small towns, the desire for qualified pharmacies is just as much as it is in regular suburban towns. However, a lot of these towns tend to lack access to quick and close pharmacies where they can get quality drugs and even checkups.
You could open a pharmacy and meet this need. Provide high-quality drugs at affordable prices, and you could also offer checkups to ill people.
When doing this, it is important to note the most critical factor – accessibility. No one wants to travel long distances when they’re sick, so work on improving your accessibility.
If your small town is in an agriculturally-rich area, then there’s a high probability that people will have a high demand for these agricultural goods. And what better way to get people what they want than to be a vendor at a farmers’ market?
This is actually a low-risk, high-reward venture. You can farm your product or purchase high-quality agricultural produce from a farmer. Since farmers’ markets are usually open for just a few days, you can easily maintain your farm and business operations.
One of the many characteristics of small towns is that they tend to have a higher concentration of lawns and gardens than their suburban counterparts. Real estate is much more affordable, so people can have lawns and expansive gardens.
These landscapes, however, need a lot of maintenance. And when lawns and gardens become problems for most people, they just leave them to grow. So, you could step in. provide a reliable lawn and garden care service that people can always count on, and you could be on to something.
As expected, accessibility is a critical factor here. When people need lawn services, they want to be able to access it quickly. Solve for this, and you’re ready to grow.
Sometimes, dry cleaning is just too necessary – especially for apparels like jackets, suits, and gowns. If there’s no dry cleaner in your town, this is a good opportunity for you to capitalize on this want.
Dry cleaners are useful for pretty much everybody. And if your small town has a lot of working-class people who commute to work in the city and have to look great, you’re even more required.
If you’re a whiz with the baking pan, then you could open a bakery in your small town. Bakeries are actually a pretty good idea for small towns – people have things they would like to celebrate, and there’s no better way to do so than with pastries.
Bakeries also allow you to develop a strong bond with the community. You can have generations of loyal customers who always come to you when they need tasty treats.
We started our list of the best small town business ideas with something in the food space. It seems only fair that we end with another. Catering businesses are especially great for small towns because they offer a sense of flexibility that large restaurant chains might not be able to provide.
And with the market being pretty niche, it will be relatively easy for you to get word of mouth going when people know your food is great. Whether you’ll be delivering meals to people or working parties and other gigs, running a catering business can be quite profitable.
Starting a small business can be a very interesting journey for first-time business owners. It is always best to start with small businesses with little to no entry barriers and have a solid marketing and growth plan for your business.