Top Small Business Ideas for Small Towns
Deciding on a business idea can seem challenging, especially living in a small town.
But the good news is, there are a number of different benefits of starting a small business in a less populated area.
For one, business start-up costs are significantly lower in a small town compared to a large city. There is also a lot less competition to worry about.
And with growing technology and the internet, you can reach much larger markets while reaping the benefits of living in an area with low living costs and a strong sense of community.
This article will list some of the best small business ideas for small towns.
Let’s get started!
Coffee Shop & Juice Bar
Coffee has become wildly popular within the last decade, which makes starting a coffee shop a solid business idea.
A coffee shop in a small town also helps to bring the community together in a simple and charming way.
Because coffee is so popular these days, chances are you might already have a local coffee shop in the area. In this case, try creating a hybrid shop by offering a juice bar as well.
This will help you to stand out above the competition while offering a unique spin on a traditional business idea.
Everyone loves a morning bagel, a toasty croissant or an mid-afternoon cookie.
If you have a passion for baking or can find someone who does, running your own bakery can be the perfect business idea.
You could also offer made-to-order cakes, cupcakes, and other specialty desserts for parties and large gatherings.
If you are able to perfect your baking skills, you may even have repeat customers that come every day!
Specialty Food Shop
Depending on the needs of your small town, a specialty shop might be the right business for you.
For example, you could start up a store that solely offers gluten-free items. Perhaps you could specialize in vegan foods. Or maybe even gourmet cheeses and crackers.
There are so many different specialty items that you could offer to the people in your town.
To start, ask around to make sure there will be a demand for the specialty item you choose so you can ensure the business will be profitable.
A boutique is a fun little shop that sells artisan type items from different artists all in one location.
These shops typically sell specialty items such as unique clothes, jewelry, candles, cosmetics, and other luxury items.
Local townspeople will typically go to a boutique shop to find the latest trends and specialty items, therefore it’s important to stay up to date on these trends.
Antique or Thrift Store
A popular retail business idea is to own and operate an antique store or a thrift store.
Unlike a boutique, a thrift store only sells second-hand items. That means gathering inventory upfront to start a shop like this is fairly simple and very low-cost.
Start by collecting some of your old items and then asking around to see if anyone has some donations.
Once you have enough items to sell, open the shop and welcome any contributions going forward!
Pet Store, Grooming and Boarding
If your town has a large population of pets, owning a pet store with pet services is a great venture.
The pet industry is extremely popular and most likely won’t ever go out of style. Everyone has a need for pet supplies, grooming, and boarding.
And unless there are major chain pet stores in the area, you can earn quite a bit of profit.
If you're not looking to open a full on business, you could also consider starting a side hustle instead.
Salon & Barber Shop
All towns should have at least one salon or barber shop.
If you went to cosmetology school and know how to do hair, this business might be for you.
These types of shops are high in demand, so chances are you already have a few salons in your town.
But if you are able to figure out what these other shops lack, you could fill in the gaps. For example, if there is already a salon that caters mostly to women, try opening a barbershop that caters exclusively to men.
Fitness Studio or Personal Gym
Are you passionate about fitness and health? If so, consider opening your own fitness studio or personal gym.
You can provide a general fitness area with weights and machines, along with specialty equipment like cycling bikes or racquetball courts.
Owning a gym means that your profits come from memberships, so finding members up front is crucial.
There are kids in every city and every town that need help with their education. Parents are willing to pay major dollars to help their kids succeed in school.
That’s why a tutoring firm is such a profitable business, especially in a small town. All you need is some education in one or more topics and a willingness to teach others.
This type of business also has very little start up costs and does not require a team of people to be successful.
If you decide to hire a few more tutors to work for your tutoring business later on, make sure to take a small cut of each tutor’s earnings to continuously grow the business. Starting a tutoring business can be a great way to earn $20 fast or much more.
Specialty Ice Cream Shop
Every town, small or large, needs a good ice cream shop.
With ice cream, quality is key. If you are able to find (or make) specialty ice cream that people rave about, this can be a hugely successful business in a small town.
Some families even go out for ice cream every other night.
To stand out above the rest, try adding an assortment of different toppings, cones, and mix-in options. The possibilities are endless!
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You might think that bookstores are a thing of the past, but think again!
Surprisingly, book stores are still remarkably popular. Most modern book stores offer more than books though. They typically offer other items like a small coffee bar, games, crafts, e-readers, and more.
With the digital age growing rapidly, it is important to carry both paper books and digital readers as well.
So, if you are somewhat of a bookworm yourself, consider opening a book store for your small town to enjoy some reading, discussion, and reflection.
Floral and Gardening Shop
Flowers and houseplants are such a popular gift idea for birthdays, graduations, weddings, and other special events.
That’s why opening your own floral and gardening shop is a strong business idea in a small town.
This is also a business idea that doesn’t require a large investment or overly demanding hours of operation.
If you have a green thumb and are looking for small business ideas for a small town, a floral shop may be for you.
Nail Salon and Spa
Everyone likes to get pampered every once in awhile, even in small towns.
Special occasions like weddings, proms, or birthdays create a strong need for people to have a day at the spa.
This type of business can be extremely successful, especially if there isn’t already a nail salon or spa in your local area.
If you love to pamper others, make sure to take advantage of this unique business opportunity.
Photography is a business that is always in demand. From weddings to prom nights, most special occasions call for a photographer or two.
Luckily, this type of business has low startup costs and does not require much education to get started.
You will need a camera and potentially a team of other photographers, and you can start advertising your services around town.
Depending on the population and weather conditions of your town, running a food truck can be an exciting business.
And if there are others already doing this, you could team up with them to hold food truck nights and other events that would require your services.
Although this business idea takes a bit of upfront capital, it is a fun and upbeat business idea to start in a small town and you can easily make $150 a day.
Every small town needs at least one motel for visitors to stay at while traveling or passing through.
Owning and running a motel is not a traditional business idea, but can end up being a fun and rewarding one.
If done right, this business can be extremely profitable as well.
Bed and Breakfast
If owning a motel sounds like a large first step, start off small and open your own bed and breakfast.
A bed and breakfast offers a more intimate and unique experience for your guests.
At a motel, you might think of your visitors as customers, while at a bed and breakfast you might consider them to be guests.
If you are willing to create a custom experience for each guest instead of a “one size fits all” approach, consider opening a bed and breakfast.
Blogger, YouTuber, or Influencer
Because the cost of living is so low in small towns, this is a great opportunity to start an online business from home.
Blogging and YouTubing are both fun and easy ways to make a lot of money once you build up a large audience.
You could even put a unique spin on this business idea by writing about or making videos on the history and culture of small-town living!
Event planners may or may not be in high demand in every small town.
It is important to ask around to see if this type of service would be popular in your area before committing to this business.
Also, if your town holds a lot of events like weddings, outdoor gatherings, or other special parties, this may be a great business for you.
If you enjoy planning parties and other events, consider this fun business idea.
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If your small town has any tourist attractions, history, or culture, starting a tour guide company is a very profitable business to start.
When people from out of town come to visit, they may search for a tour guide to help show them around or to take them to the more popular places to find dining and entertainment.
This is another low cost business idea that can easily be started by brushing up on the towns history.
Finding a successful business idea while living in a small town might sound like an impossible task, but it doesn’t have to be.
The truth is, there are many different professions available for locations with smaller populations.
Before diving straight into one of these business ideas, consider what type of business you would find most interesting and decide if it will work in your small town.
Maybe ask the local townspeople which business they would get the most use out of.
Once you decide on an idea, start the planning process and decide how much you are willing to invest.
With a passion for the business, you can be successful with whichever business idea you choose.