Small Town Business Ideas

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Small Town Business Ideas 2021

Small-Town Business Ideas That Every Community Needs

Small towns provide a unique potential for a focused market while also presenting the problem of a small or limited population.

Meeting an existing demand with a quality product  or service is the key to a successful small-town business.

To start a business in a small town, you’ll have to conduct market research and study on the physical location’s specific geography.

You rely on a smaller number of people for business in a small town, so picking the appropriate location is critical to maximize store traffic. Even though your business plan is focused on services, it is still best to have a solid understanding of the size of your market.

Once you have a sense of the market in your area, you may lay the foundation for the small-town business opportunities before settling with the one you think would be profitable for you.

You can have a chat with other business owners and assess the requirements and costs involved in establishing a business in a small town once you’ve learned more about the funds allocated and other companies in the community.

We’ve compiled a list of small-town business ideas for your inspiration. This is a great starting point to explore your options until you are ready to take on a business idea.

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Table of Contents

In-Depth: Small-Town Business Ideas

1. Restaurants

A profitable small-town restaurant, whether diner, fine dining, or anywhere in between, is very much about giving people something that they want but don’t have.

When opening a restaurant, you may be tempted to replicate a famous local spot, but take into account responding to a need — or want — that residents cannot obtain nearby, as well as an attraction that’s worth visiting especially by those from the next town.

2. Hybrid Bar/ Coffee Shop

If your town is a place where coffee shops are not popular, you could try to serve coffee all day in a place where residents frequent, i.e., a bar. This can gradually normalize it in your town and promote crossover business.

A local bar may be your ideal business in mind, but a coffee shop can already bring in the money. You don’t really need to choose between the two for as long as you can create a conducive environment for both.

3. Liquor Store

Opening a liquor shop can be a profitable small-town business idea, depending on county rules and state taxes. Liquor stores dominate the alcohol market in small towns, especially in areas where selling alcohol in grocery stores is not allowed.

You need to do your own diligence here before starting one because it may involve getting a liquor license in some areas.

4. Handyman Or Contractor

Even in small towns or rural areas, a competent handyman is always in demand. If you often get requests from friends, relatives, and neighbors asking you to check out a leaking pipe or a crooked board, this can be an indicator that you can run a successful small-town business in this field.

5. Automotive Repairs

If you’re a resident in a small town or rural area, I’m pretty sure you have your own car, but living too far from a dealership could make regular maintenance difficult.

Auto repair services meet a definite need in small towns and make things easier for residents, so explore an opportunity in your community to start an auto repair shop.

6. Home Cleaning

Not everyone enjoys cleaning the house or has the time to do it. This is a business opportunity which you can easily monetize. You can put up a cleaning business and offer your services on weekends or at nights.

What’s great about this is that you can actually add on other services such as yard maintenance or child care on top of your home cleaning services.

7. IT And Computer Services

Virtually all companies and individuals require technology support regardless where they are. There will always be people utilizing technology — and having difficulties accessing their WiFi.

With this type of business, you would need to put in more marketing efforts to get the word out to the people in your town. Th easiest and cheapest way to do this is through social media.

However, if you don’t intend to make extensive repairs, it won’t involve major equipment, so your overhead expenses can be kept to a minimum.

8. Pet Store, Grooming And Boarding

If your town doesn’t have a local supply shop or a major chain, such as PetCo or PetSmart, starting a pet store business would be a good idea.

Pet grooming and boarding services may just be in high demand, depending on your community’s pet population. Pet owners would love to bring their furry friends over to your shop.

9. Salon Or Barbershop

Your community, most likely, has at least one salon or barbershop, but this may really benefit you if you want to start a profitable hair salon. Check out if there is an underserved demographic in your town.

For example, if there is only one hair salon that serves mostly women, you can look for whose hair needs are not yet served on Main Street. Perhaps there is a need for a barbershop to cater to the male population in your community.

10. Grocery Store

If your town does not have a single grocery store, there’s most likely an explanation for it: Perhaps most of the residents commute and shop elsewhere, or that the population isn’t large enough to sustain a big-box chain.

If you want to pursue the independent route (rather than opening a franchise business), consider putting up a specialty store so that you don’t waste on a large inventory. Use local items, trends, and tastes to assist you in making an informed decision.

11. Drugstore

A pharmacy or drugstore needs more leg work. It involves hiring a pharmacist, purchasing insurance, and implementing security measures, but if your town does not have one, it might be a perfect opportunity to start a profitable and long-lasting business in your town

12. Fitness Studio Or Gym

People are becoming increasingly interested in fitness. There are probably a few fitness enthusiasts in your area. If there are, opening a gym or fitness studio is an excellent small-town business venture.

You may either specialize on a boutique fitness theme or simply provide a general fitness facility where locals can work out.

13. Tutoring Business

Every community has children who must attend school, and if there are kids who require additional support after school hours, a tutoring business may be a  great way to benefit children and their parents – and of course you.

If you’re searching for a small-town business idea that would allow you to contribute and improve your community, starting a tutoring service is one way to do it.

14. Ice Cream Shop

Food-related business ventures are the most common in a small town, and if you don’t want to deal with the hassles of operating a fully functioning restaurant, you could alternatively start with an an ice cream shop.

Ice cream shops, especially in the summer, are a popular thing for both locals and visitors from neighboring towns.

15. Bookstore

Given the success of large online retailers such as Amazon and Walmart, you might assume that operating a bookshop is absurd.

However, in small towns, you can cater to a certain market of readers who would visit a local bookshop.

A bookshop may be profitable in many ways as a small-town business idea. Aside from selling books, your bookstore may also act as a historical institution in the community, host events such as readings with local writers, and even include TV and movies into your services.

16. Bed And Breakfast

Irrespective of how big or small your town is, chances are you’ll likely to have guests, whether they’re tourists passing through or relatives visiting for the holidays.

Having said that, providing tourists with a place to stay temporarily, such as a bed and breakfast, may be a brilliant small-town business plan..

17. Floral Shop

Flowers are an excellent choice for all holidays, events, and occasions. If your community doesn’t have a flower store, this may be the small-business opportunity for you.

18. Gardening And Landscaping Services

Gardening and landscaping, like cleaning, are tasks that a lot of people avoid doing but are willing to pay others to do it for them. It could be because they are too busy, they don’t have the skills, or they just don’t feel like doing them.

Although the market is comparable to that of a floral store, launching a landscaping business meets a specific type of small-town need — and still be just as popular.

Gardening and landscaping services can cater to just about anyone in the community, particularly when the weather warms up, and more so, if there are lawn requirements imposed by your town.

19. Nail Salon And Spa

A nail salon and spa is yet another personal care company to consider, especially if there is already an existing barbershop or hair salon in your town.

While this business caters to a similar population, it satisfies a somewhat different demand and may attract a significant amount of revenue on warmer weather, particularly around local weddings, proms, or graduations.

20. Photography

Creative professions, particularly photographers, will always have a market. Graduations, engagements, and weddings will always be photographed by experts.

In addition, people may hire a photographer for specialized portraits or family studio pictures. If your community does not have a photography company, you may consider starting one, especially if you are a creative person.

Although the equipment required might be costly, you can cut costs by keeping only the basics and focusing as much as possible on your local market.

School pictures, particularly for high school graduates, may be an easy method to expand your services on a yearly basis.

21. Clothing Boutique

Everyone requires clothing, and despite the popularity of internet shopping, it’s often preferable to try on items in person, especially if it’s in close proximity.

If your town lacks a big clothes retail business, you may want to explore starting a small one. When it comes to clothing, you have a number of options, ranging from a T-shirt business to products that are one-of-a-kind and created locally.

Depending on your town’s location, a clothes shop might serve not just locals but also tourists or visitors from surrounding cities.

22. Daycare

If you have any experience teaching or caring for children, opening a daycare may be the ideal small-town business opportunity for you.

Parents, particularly working parents, will always want childcare services, particularly before their children reach school-age and even outside of school hours.

Of course, a local daycare will be much more accessible and practical, allowing parents to leave their children before work and fetch them on their way back home.

Surely, if your community does not presently provide childcare services, this could be a profitable venture for you.

23. Hardware Store

Even if there’s an existing grocery store in your town, residents will most likely require a specialty store for their home maintenance/ improvement needs.

There’s a wide range of hardware supplies that you can offer and opening a hardware store can satisfy a variety of requirements in your community, from gardening to painting to pool upkeep.

A hardware shop is an excellent business concept for anyone who enjoys building and fixing things; moreover, maintenance and repair are evergreen markets.

24. Catering Company

If you have culinary skills and cooking experience but want more freedom than what a restaurant business can provide, try establishing a catering business.

Given the fact that this is a more specialized industry, word of mouth referrals and working local events may be an effective way to spread the word out  there and build this type of business.

For sure, a catering business may be useful for those throwing parties, and for those serving other communities in addition to your own.

25. Food Truck

Don’t be constrained by your small town’s location.  Start your own food truck and take advantage of the possibility to hit the road with your food business.

Apart from being mobile, it allows you to serve different towns in your region, and also ideal for celebrations, graduations, and community events.

If your food truck can provide a wide variety of delicious, inexpensive cuisine, you can to tap into a specific market without burdening yourself with the hassles of owning a full-fledged restaurant.

How To Find The Right Business Idea For Your Small Town

Below are a few tips:

Meet A Local Demand.

If your business is the only provider of a specific need or demand in your town, that means you have complete control over the local market, which is fantastic as long as there is a continuous need for the item or service you provide.

As crucial as it is to make your business stand out from the crowd, it is equally important to meet a need in the community.

As a result, you’ll want to consider not only what’s lacking in your small-town market, but also what type of business the residents can support and wish to have.

Scout Locations.

Another critical step in choosing the best business for your community is to look at the available sites.

You should do some ocular visits on potential locations where you may set up your business, noting places where businesses have been functioning effectively for quite some time, and also areas where businesses have failed to thrive.

You should also look at traffic patterns surrounding possible sites, as well as variables like visibility and nearby companies that are currently bringing customers to a specific area.

Calculate The Costs Of Starting A Business.

You need to calculate the costs of starting a new business before making any decisions. The following are some of the costs you need to consider:

  • Property
  • Utilities
  • Inventory
  • Employees
  • Equipment
  • Insurance
  • Etc.

Although the cost of establishing a business in a small town may be cheaper due to factors such as real estate prices and taxes, you must still assess how much your startup costs would be and how quickly you’ll be able to recoup your investment.

Furthermore, while you may be tempted to start one type of business, you may discover that some types of enterprises need larger initial capital than others.

The Bottom Line

These are just some of the small town businesses that you can start exploring. There are still tons of other great business concepts out here such as a car wash, winery, dry cleaner, and so on. There are also service business ideas such as theaters, law firms, banks, etc.

Before starting any one of these business ideas, you need to take into account a lot of considerations first. Yes, there is serious work involved here, including the first important steps that you need to take which could make or break your business venture.

Before jumping in, do your due diligence. Conduct market research, geographic location, start-up costs, and decide on the type of business that not only interests you, but will generate the most profit for you. 

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