Small towns can have a big business. Small towns provide a unique opportunity for a concentrated market while also posing the challenge of a small population. Meeting a current demand with a great product or service is the key to finding small business ideas for small towns that will stick.
To start a business in a small town, you’ll need to conduct market research and research into the specific geography of the physical location. You rely on a smaller group of people for business in a small town, so choosing the right location is critical to maximizing store traffic. Even if your business plan is based on services, it’s still a good idea to have a firm grasp on the size of your market.
Once you understand the consumer market in your town, you can lay the groundwork for various small business ideas for small towns, ultimately deciding on the one that you believe will work best. After learning more about the resources available and other businesses in your area, you can talk to other business owners and evaluate the costs and requirements of starting a business in a small town.
We’ve compiled a list of 15 small-town business ideas that every community needs for inspiration. You can use this list as a starting point for research, or you might find the perfect small business idea for small town.
Top Small business ideas for small towns
Starting a small-town business requires extensive research and knowledge of your community. Once you’ve gained an understanding of the existing businesses in your area as well as local demand (more on that below), you’ll be able to determine which enterprise is best for you — and the community.
Find an industry or service where profitable small businesses, the community’s needs, and your interests intersect. Here are a few small business ideas for small towns to think about:
The concept of food trucks is well-known in small towns. Food trucks, which are part of the old-world ‘Thella’s,’ are mobile dining establishments that offer exclusive cuisines at a reasonable price. The adaptability of a food truck allows it to set up shop in various locations at the most convenient times. Depending on the time and circumstances, a food truck, for example, will park outside any office or school. Food trucks are an excellent way to start a small business on a shoestring budget because you do not need to invest in land or property.
There will be children with families, and there will be difficulties learning the various subjects. Even though online tutoring programs abound, nothing can ever replace the benefits of having an in-person instructor.
Tutoring can be a profitable business for both you and those who work for you, as well as a fantastic small business ideas for small towns. We recommend beginning with a few tutors who specialize in math, reading, writing, and science if you’re looking for employees. Look for tutors who have prior tutoring or teaching experience and specialize in a single subject.
If you live in a rural or small town, you’re almost certainly required to have a car, but being far from a dealership can make routine maintenance difficult. Auto repair services fill a clear need in small towns and make life easier for residents, so consider whether your town has an opportunity to open a shop.
Cars break down everywhere, and most tow trucks charge by the mile. So, if your town is a long distance from major cities, you might be able to start towing cars even if you don’t have a good repair shop.
Some people dislike cleaning, and there’s a good chance that a few of them live in your community. Why not start a cleaning service for them? This service benefits from word-of-mouth referrals and can even be combined with other services such as babysitting or yard work.
Expert cleaning is a valuable skill, but it doesn’t require you to spend a lot of money on courses or certifications, so this is a great option if you’re looking for a side hustle with low overhead.
5.Fish and poultry farming
How is this business beneficial to small towns and cities? Once again, a location where the products can be sold and stored is required to keep them fresh for an extended time. Fish farming is another option. It’s even possible to resell them in a nearby town for a profit.
Poultry farming is best suited to small towns because it is more cost-effectively controlled there. The only high cost would be the time and effort required to build a sanitary setup and transport it to the required venue.
When a town that could support a grocery store doesn’t have one, there’s probably a good reason for it: perhaps most people commute every day and shop elsewhere, or the population isn’t large enough to support a big-box chain.
If you want to go the independent route (rather than opening a franchise store), try to find a way to specialize your store, so you don’t overspend on inventory. Make use of local products, trends, and tastes to help you make this decision.
Farmer’s market-style stores that sell local produce and seasonal goods are popular with locals and tourists in agricultural areas. A town with a major chain grocery store but few organic, local, gluten-free, or vegan options is an excellent candidate for a specialty food store.
Quaint gift shops can profit from finds at local flea markets, junkyards, and estate sales in touristy areas. Although an antique store’s turnover may be slow, your inventory will not expire or require much upkeep. If your town already has several shops like this, you might consider specializing in retail consignment and second-hand clothing or artwork from local craftspeople.
8.Ice cream shop
Food-related businesses can be some of the most popular in a small town, and if you don’t want to deal with everything that comes with running a full-fledged restaurant, consider opening an ice cream shop. Ice cream shops can be popular hangouts for locals and visitors from surrounding towns, especially during the summer. If your town does not currently have an ice cream shop, it is certainly worth considering.
Furthermore, if you are successful with ice cream, you can consider branching out into candy, cakes, and even children’s birthday parties.
9.Nail salon and spa
A nail salon and spa is another personal care business to consider, especially if your small town already has a hair salon and barbershop. Although this business caters to a similar demographic, it fills a slightly different need. It can attract a significant amount of business during warmer weather, particularly during local graduations, proms, or weddings.
A nail salon and spa would require more staff and possibly more supplies than some of the other small business ideas for small towns on this list, but it can be a relatively sustainable endeavor, especially if there isn’t already a nail or spa business operating locally.
Creative professionals, particularly photographers, will always have a market. Professionals will always photograph weddings, engagements, and graduations. In addition, people may hire a photographer for specific portraits or family studio shots. If your town does not have a photography business, you might consider starting one, especially with a creative background.
Although photography equipment can be costly, you can keep costs down by sticking to the essentials and focusing as much as possible on your local market. School photos, particularly for high school seniors, can be an easy way to extend your services on an annual basis. Photography is one of the top small business ideas for small towns that you can start immediately.
Everyone requires clothing, and despite the prevalence of online shopping, it’s sometimes preferable to try on clothing in person, especially if you don’t have to travel far. If your town lacks a large clothing retail store, you may want to consider opening a small boutique. When it comes to clothing, you have many options, ranging from a T-shirt business to one-of-a-kind items and made locally. Depending on your town’s location, a clothing boutique can serve locals and visitors or tourists from nearby cities.
Neighborhood bakeries can meet a wide range of potential small-town needs, from your morning coffee to your child’s birthday cake. Though owning and operating a bakery is difficult, if producing pastries for the masses has been your lifelong dream, it’s one of the small business ideas for small towns that can be extremely rewarding.
Employing local youth is also a great way to give back and stay involved in your community. If you’re new to owning a business in a small town, researching how to open a successful bakery is critical. It would help if you also become familiarized with how to price baked goods.
Whatever small town you live in, one thing is certain: people prefer shiny modes of transportation to muddy, rusted wrecks. You pay your car payment every month, so why not make it shine? If your town does not already have a car wash, or there is only one in the next town over, opening a cash wash could be the ideal small town business opportunity. Before you begin, consider the following: location, location, location. If you nail this stage of the planning, the rest of your journey will be much easier.
If you have food and cooking experience but want more flexibility than a restaurant business can provide, consider starting a catering business. Although this is a more niche market, word of mouth and working town events can be a great way to get your name out there and grow this type of business. Certainly, a catering company can be useful for those throwing parties and those serving neighboring towns in addition to your own.
15.Ice cream shop
Opening an ice cream shop in a small town is a surefire way to attract customers. Knowing your product, knowing the most popular ice cream flavors, and being willing to work nights and weekends are important considerations. Remember that this is a seasonal business with seasonal challenges.
So, just as we recommended boutique fitness businesses for cold weather climates, we recommend ice cream shops for warmer climates. Find the ideal town with ideal weather, and this small town business idea becomes a no-brainer.
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The bottom line
If you’re thinking about starting a business in a small town, there are a few things you should think about first. Before diving deep into various small business ideas for small towns, you’ll want to do extensive research on the town as well as think more personally — considering what types of businesses you’re interested in, how much money you have and are willing to invest, and how you’re going to get your business off the ground.
Check also: Ultimate Guide To Small Business Ideas