Small towns can be big business. Check out this huge list of profitable business ideas for small towns and rural areas.
Don’t let your rural surroundings stop you from starting your own successful business in small towns. Remember that America’s largest company, Walmart, built its fortune with retail stores in small towns. Sam Walton knew that people want to buy goods and services near their homes.
Living in a small town is great. Although it has distinct challenges for entrepreneurs and small business owners. Generally, the quality of living is excellent, however, the lack of customers, employees, and infrastructure combined with the difficult logistics of transportation and shipping from rural areas is can be tough.
I am a serial entrepreneur and live in a small town. So I know your concerns and have personally helped many small business owners navigate launching successful companies in their small towns.
A key to starting a profitable business in your small town is to take advantage of the lack of competition from mass-market companies that cater to cities. Plus you must mitigate the limitations related to the lower population; such as staffing, local customers and also the elements of distance, shipping costs, and differing market demands.
Here is a big list of small-town business ideas complete with information on each idea and why it is perfect for your new company launch in the countryside.
- Small Town Business Ideas List
- Online Ideas for Rural Areas
- Home Business Ideas for Small Towns
- Retail Small Town Shops
- #16 Clothing Stores
- #17 Children’s Clothes
- #18 Grocery Store
- #19 Specialty Gourmet Foods
- #20 Toy Stores
- #21 Bookstores
- #22 Thrift Shop Secondhand store
- #23 Florists
- #24 Card & Gift Shops
- #25 Electronics Store – Repair & Training
- #26 Mobile Retail Store
- #27 Pharmacy
- #28 Farm
- #29 Vendor Farmers Market
- #29 Flea Market Sales
- #30 Roadside Stand
- Service Business Ideas for Small Towns
- #31 Home Contractor
- #32 Garden and Lawn Care
- #33 Cleaners
- #34 Massage Therapy
- #35 Tutor
- #36 Handyman
- #37 Main Street Barber
- #38 Hair Salon
- #39 Sewing and Alterations
- #40 Gym Fitness Center
- #41 Furniture Repair and Upholstery
- #42 Furniture Reselling Upcycling
- #43 Auto Repair
- #44 Car wash & detailing
- #45 Dog Groomer and Trainer
- #46 Firewood Delivery
- Food Business Ideas Small Towns
- #56 Agricultural Business Ideas for Farms
- #57 Agritourism
- #58 Eco-Friendly Green Business Ideas
- #59 Small Town Location Specific Business Ideas
- #62 Vacation Destinations in Small Towns
- #63 College Towns Small Business Ideas
- #64 Small Town Business Ideas by Country
Think about the basic human needs of food, clothing, and shelter as the building blocks of successful small-town businesses such as grocery stores, clothing boutiques and home builders as a start.
This list of small-town business ideas that will work in your rural area or village because every small town needs these types of goods and services.
>Check out my list of business ideas for women
Small Town Business Ideas List
Online Ideas for Rural Areas
Almost all small towns have internet access. This technology enables you, an aspiring entrepreneur, to reach the world from your farm.
#1 Web Design
#2 Online Advertising Agency
Businesses both locally and nationally want to hire ad professionals to manage their online advertising. You could both create compelling ads (copy and design) and manage their campaigns. Internet ad platforms include Google, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Linked In and Yelp.
#3 Graphic designer
Offer your art talents to local and international clients for logo design, brochures, signs, trade show booths, and apparel. Consider becoming a 99designs designer so that you can get access to thousands of customers looking for graphic design services.
#4 Freelance Writer
The peace and quiet of small towns is the perfect environment for writers. As the internet grows the need for quality articles is soaring. Consider selling your writing services locally to newspapers, schools, businesses, and organizations for newsletters, press releases, advertisements, brochures, and programs.
Additionally, you can write for clients worldwide using the internet. Consider selling your writing services on marketplaces such as freelancer, Upwork and Fiverr.
Got a passion and love to write? Blogging is the best business idea for you that you can launch in your small town. Earn money by placing ads on your blog and selling products with Amazon’s affiliate program.
Setting up a blog has never been easier or cheaper. You can get started for under $5 – click here
#6 Affiliate Marketing
In addition to earning ad revenue from blogging as discussed above, you can promote companies’ products and get a commission when your site visitors purchase. Learn about the best affiliate marketing niches here.
#7 Youtube Channel
Start a Youtube channel and earn income with advertisements. Some of the most popular channels are farm and homestead focused. My husband loves the backyard farming ones with animal husbandry. Your country rural life is fascinating to city dwellers and other people from other countries. I enjoy this Canadian DIYer who films from her small town in Canada.
Podcasts are a trending media source that you can profit from. Consider your interests, hobbies, and talents. Or just talk about small towns. Listen to this one – Small Town Podcast – where people discuss their small town struggles, triumphs and share funny stories.
#9 Handmade Goods
If you are creative and enjoy making items this could be an ideal small business for you. Craft your wares in your small town, then sell your items to the world online. Use an established marketplace such as Etsy. The best selling items include jewelry, clothing and home decor. Here is how to launch a successful Etsy store.
The natural beauty found in rural areas inspires artists. You can create your art in your hometown and then sell it in city art galleries, online marketplaces, and art fairs. Read about more art business ideas here.
Home Business Ideas for Small Towns
If you want to stay at home and start a business here are some good ideas. Home-based businesses are ideal for small-town residents because you do not have to drive long distances to city centers for employment. Stay at home moms, and dads, find home businesses to work with child care needs and school schedules.
#11 T-shirt Designs
Todays’ technology companies will manufacture your designs onto t-shirts for sale locally or online. Branch out into other in-demand products such as phone cases, hats, aprons, and coffee mugs. Some of the top firms are Amazon Merch, CafePress and Society6. Read the full list of 19 printing companies.
If you have access to a woodshop it can be used to create a variety of items for sale. Best selling items are home decor, planter boxes, picture frames, baby cradles, and outdoor furniture. Discover more money-making woodworking business ideas here
#13 Social Media Manager
Organizations and businesses cannot keep up with their social media accounts. Your service will be to write and post online promoting their products and services. Offer packages with multiple sites or specialize on a particular website such as facebook, Pinterest, Instagram or Linkedin. Click here to learn how to become a social media manager.
#14 Virtual Assistant
From your small town house, you can help business executives nationwide with their administrative tasks. The highest demand services are appointment scheduling, travel arrangements, event planning, customer service, data entry, and online research.
I have successfully hired a VA from a small town in Connecticut when I needed help with my New York City consulting firm.
Living in a beautiful rural area is ideal for a photography business. Take photos of natural beauty and sell online as stock photos, or become a photo retoucher or restorer from your home. Read about the best photography business ideas here
Retail Small Town Shops
#16 Clothing Stores
Everybody needs clothes. Small communities appreciate buying their outfits locally to support the economy of their town. Your buyers will also save time and money not driving to the city mall.
#17 Children’s Clothes
#18 Grocery Store
Among the best choices for small towns because the human need for food is an evergreen business. Build your store sales with excellent customer service. Offer goods at reasonable prices and you will have a loyal customer base for years.
#19 Specialty Gourmet Foods
These days people have more sophisticated palettes and want to buy specialty cheeses, wines, and prepared take-out foods.
#20 Toy Stores
The percentage of families with children is greater in the countryside. Thus the need of toy stores is greater also.
Many townsfolk miss the friendly neighborhood bookseller. People like to take time browsing all the titles. My small town has a thriving book store that also sells stationery, greeting cards, calendars, and gifts.
#22 Thrift Shop Secondhand store
Today’s frugal consumer looks for good used items from clothing to baby equipment. Variations of this business idea would be to open a vintage shop or antique gallery. Name your thrift shop with these name ideas.
For weddings, parties, gifts, and funerals floral needs are seemingly endless.
#24 Card & Gift Shops
America spends billions on greeting cards and gifts every year. Cash in on this need.
#25 Electronics Store – Repair & Training
Rural people use more technology than their suburban counterpoints because there are fewer activities nearby. Serve their tech needs with sales, repair, upgrades and training classes.
#26 Mobile Retail Store
Perhaps your small town does not have enough customers to support your retail store. So take it on the road! Set up your store in a camper and become a mobile retailer. Drive to nearby towns, flea markets, and farmers markets to meet customers. Get more mobile business ideas here
Sadly we all get sick from time to time and require the expertise of a qualified pharmacist in our neighborhood. When family members are sick they don’t want to travel long distances to cities to get remedies.
Use that fertile country soil and grow food or start an Agritourism farm. Discover lots of more profitable agricultural business ideas here.
#29 Vendor Farmers Market
Grow and sell produce at a nearby farmers market. This is a low investment and high-profit business model. Typically farmer’s markets are open one or two days a week. This schedule allows you to maintain your garden farm and only drive to market a few times a week.
#29 Flea Market Sales
Perhaps the mall is far away in the city but you may have a local flea market in your area. These offer great opportunities to display and sell your goods. Study your flea market customers and the current vendors to select your product line.
The two flea markets near my small town and very different; one is focused on fashion apparel, jewelry, and luggage while the other one is primarily handcrafted items, vintage, and antiques.
#30 Roadside Stand
Most rural areas have laws that allow people to sell their crops and hand made items in front of their homes. In my small town entrepreneurs have stands selling many items including eggs, flowers, vegetables, herbs and baked goods. Low start-ups costs are a plus.
Service Business Ideas for Small Towns
#31 Home Contractor
Anywhere people live, homes need repair, renewal, and expansion. Build your business on home improvement. Find naming suggestions with construction company names here.
#32 Garden and Lawn Care
Rural homes often have larger yards that need to be cut and planted by professionals. Here is how to start a lawn care company from scratch.
Small towns have lots of dirty homes and offices that need cleaning services regularly. You often will have an advantage because none of larger franchise firms such as Merry Maid are located in small towns. Your independent cleaning company can thrive in your village. Get good ideas for your cleaning company name here.
#34 Massage Therapy
Some small towns have no massage services, and you can fill that void with your services. Manage your business at ease with the help of a massage scheduling software and travel to your customers’ homes, offices, rent space, in a salon or doctor’s office.
A vital need for one-on-one instruction to children in various subjects such as math and grammar. Also, adults hire tutors for help in learning how to use computers, software programs, mobile phones, and how to speak foreign languages.
I am studying French and I hire a french tutor in my small town. She has a few tutor students and also works as a substitute teacher in our local high school.
Hamlets tend to have older people who need help around the house for odd jobs you can do for them. Include services such as in-house moving. This is when you move furniture, boxes or appliances from one location in the home to another.
Top-selling handyman services are gutter repair, drywall repair, small electrical jobs, and door & window restoration.
#37 Main Street Barber
Every town needs a barber. These days barbers cut men, women and children’s hair.
#38 Hair Salon
Ladies everywhere want to look great and have their hair cut, colored and permed regularly. Check out this big list of salon name ideas.
#39 Sewing and Alterations
Offer your sewing services to repair and alter clothing. No need for a storefront. You could go to your client’s home or they could drop off items at your place.
Explore these market niches to get sewing customers; military, police uniforms, organizations such as Shriners, wedding planners, fashion designers, schools for sports team jerseys and theatre troupes for costumes.
#40 Gym Fitness Center
America’s aging baby boomers want indoor exercise facilities near their homes. Sports enthusiasts want to stay in shape to win the game. Moms want to keep fit to run after their kids and stay slim. Consider opening a gym or offer personal fitness training services.
#41 Furniture Repair and Upholstery
#42 Furniture Reselling Upcycling
If you are creative and love to refurbish furniture this would be a good business for you to launch. Find interesting items at yard sales, thrift shops or even the dump and give them new life with repairs, paint and refinishing.
Once completed you could sell in flea markets, farmers’ markets and furniture showrooms. Online options for sales include eBay, facebook, craigslist and your own website. Learn where to resell furniture here
#43 Auto Repair
More acreage in rural areas means more cars and trucks that will all need to be serviced and repaired locally. Nobody wants to tow their broken vehicles long distances to cities which can be very costly. Find a catchy business name for your auto shop here.
#44 Car wash & detailing
Many rural areas do not have automatic car wash facilities. Consider launching a mobile car wash and detailing services. Travel to people’s homes and wash and detail their automobiles. Include services for motorcycles, RV, campers, ATV and boats to make more money.
#45 Dog Groomer and Trainer
Country people love their dogs, which will need to be groomed and also trained. Find a catchy dog grooming name on this list of name ideas.
#46 Firewood Delivery
Many individuals who live in the country heat their homes with wood and will need a reliable supply delivered to their homes.
Food Business Ideas Small Towns
Every small town needs a diner serving breakfast and lunch. Luckily small towns have less competition from fast-food franchises than suburban areas.
All places need good restaurants, and small towns are no exceptions. Consider launching a restaurant in your small town.
To succeed make your eatery different such as serving specialty food not available in your area – Thai, Mexican or Japanese. If your small town is near other small towns, suburbs or cities people will travel to your special restaurant it will become a destination. Get naming inspiration from this restaurant name idea list
#49 Food Delivery
Small towns are filled with busy parents and city professionals who commute long distances to their jobs. These people are the ideal target customers for your food delivery service. You do not have to cook the food – just pick up deliver it.
#50 Food trucks
Food trucks are all the rage now. They are a smart option for small-town restaurants. For those restaurants with permanent locations, the addition of food trucks can expand their market reach into neighboring towns.
First-time food entrepreneurs benefit from opening a food truck because you are not tied to a specific address. You can drive to where your hungry customers are located – festivals, concerts, flea markets, sporting events, farmers’ markets, and nearby villages.
#51 Coffee shop & Tea house
Coffee shops are a perennial type of restaurant that every small town needs. The convenience of buying a cup of coffee on the go and the option to relax and enjoy coffee and tea with friends is an excellent business idea.
#52 Sports Bars
The neighborhood watering hole with a sports theme is a staple in small-town business economies. Cater to your local and state teams for home town flavor. Read about clever bar names here
#53 Health Foods
The organic food trend is growing vigorously, and often small towns have no access to specialty health foods. A new store opened in my small town catering to vegans, gluten-free and natural vitamin supplements that is doing well.
Villages are the perfect place for good old-fashioned bakeries. You can have generations of loyal customers. Get naming inspiration from this list of catchy bakery names.
#55 Ice Cream Shoppe
Everyone screams for ice cream, for a treat or a birthday cake made from homemade ice cream. Open an ice cream stand, mobile cart or rent a section in an existing eatery. Our local diner has an ice cream parlor vendor renting space.
#56 Agricultural Business Ideas for Farms
If you live near a farming community consider becoming a farm equipment deal or farm supply distributor. Small scale farms that are profitable include hydroponic, worm farming and growing mushrooms commercially.
Find out about more profitable agricultural business ideas here.
City dwellers and suburbanites love to drive out to the country and experience farm life. Share your everyday activities to entertain and educate families about their food sources and animal husbandry.
How about starting a farm internship where people pay you to work on the farm and learn from your expertise. My friend who owns a local organic farm has her internship programs booked months in advance.
Another nearby farm does a booming business in apple and strawberry picking. Other profitable agritourism business ideas include farm tours, pony rides, picnics, food events, pumpkin chucking, corn mazes (or sunflower mazes) and wine tastings.
#58 Eco-Friendly Green Business Ideas
If you want to help the environment there are many ways you can do so and make money. Small towns offer acreage that could be leased for wind farms 0r solar energy collection.
To reduce waste and help people save money think about starting a food co-op. You form a group of people and combine monies to increase your buying power. You can buy at lower prices and distribute to your members. Find more green business ideas on this list.
#59 Small Town Location Specific Business Ideas
Think about the special characteristics of your small town. Do you have great beaches, mountain recreation or loads of college students? Each of these situations presents particular business opportunities.
#60 Coastal Beach Towns
If you live on the coast in a beach town you could profit from these business ideas:
- Tourist Welcome Center – Offer maps, information about tours and accommodations and local attractions. Your visitors benefit from getting free information from a knowledgeable local and you profit from the fees tour operators and hotels pay you for referring guests.You can sell advertising space in your welcome center to local firms. Attract customers by serving free coffee, cold drinks, and local food tastings.
- Gift Store – Visitors love to shop while visiting new places. They want to buy souvenirs to give to their friends and as keepsakes of their vacation memories. Set up your shop near a heavily trafficked spot or consider a mobile gift shop. If your store is on wheels you can transport it to different beaches every day.
- Fishing Charters & Bait Shop – Beaches attract fishermen. Consider launching a charter trip services or supply & bait shop. Also, you could offer fishing advice and instruction if you know your local fishing hot spots.
- Boat Repair, Rentals, Cleaning and Tours
- Water Sports – Lessons, rentals and events
- Swimming – Lessons and Safety equipment
- Bicycle & Scooters – Rentals, tours, repairs, sales
- Weddings – Planning, Officiant and Party Planning. Beaches bring out the romantic in everyone and beach destination weddings are trending. Learn how to get a great wedding planning business name here
- Transportation Service – Visitors often don’t bring their cars to beach towns. They rely on local transportation. This is your business opportunity.
- Food truck – Beachgoers love to eat casual beachside. Drive your food truck into the beach parking lot to serve your customers. Find your perfect food truck name here.
#61 Mountain Resort Areas
If your area features mountains you can profit from these small business ideas:
- Hiking tours, instructions, and supplies
- Trail maps – give away maps to visitors and sell ads to local companies
- Snowmobile rentals, sales, repairs, and tours
- Sporting events – competitions and races
- Ski equipment, rentals, and trail
- Cross country skiing
- Woodworking crafts and lessons (these are the best-selling wood crafts)
- Nature tours, forestry, and arborist training
- Camping and RV campgrounds (How to start a profitable campground)
- Scout jamborees and school field trips
- Log cabin building
#62 Vacation Destinations in Small Towns
When families go on vacation Mom and Dad like to have a date night without the kids. They want to hire child care providers.
Bed and Breakfast and Inns – The natural beauty of rural settings make it perfect for vacationers from nearby cities who need accommodations. Good for all areas that attract tourists, sports enthusiasts and parents of college students.
If your small town, or a neighboring area, attracts tourists to capitalize and launch your tour guide company. Stage tours that are walking, biking or driving to share interesting facts about your town. Get creative and make it fun with haunted history tours, famous residents’ homes or wildlife sightings.
Laundry Service & Cleaning
Super practical service for vacationers is a laundry and cleaning service. Offer to pick and delivery their laundry. Expand your services to clean accommodations. With people checking in and out regularly, maid cleaning services are in high demand. Name your cleaning company with one of these catchy cleaning names.
#63 College Towns Small Business Ideas
Savvy entrepreneurs start brainstorming business ideas buy thinking about the needs of their target customers. If your small town is also a college town you have excellent business opportunities in your backyard.
The needs of college students include housing, meal preparation, essay help, tutoring, and tech sales & repairs. Consider also selling to the university professors, teachers, schools and parents.
This expands your list of lucrative business opportunities to include:
- Cleaning services – Dorm rooms, classrooms and break rooms common areas
- Laundry services – Busy students love to hire their laundry chores
- Food delivery – Studying makes people hungry! Profit from preparing, or just delivering food to student housing.
- Coffee Shops – College towns are the perfect place for cozy coffee and tea shops. Students love to hang out between classes with their friends in coffee shops.
- Food trucks – This age group is the best target market for food trucks. Check out these ideas for good food truck names.
- Vending machines – Make it easy for hungry students and teachers to grab a snack on the go at your vending machines. This business idea is excellent because once you purchase, or lease, your vending machine it can make money for years to come. You could also move the machine to the most profitable locations.
- Tutoring – Hire yourself out as a tutor in specific subjects you are knowledgeable in. Also consider teaching life skills, writing techniques, and effective study practices.
- Mobile phone shop – Everyone is using their mobile phone all the time. So profit from this trend by selling, upgrading and repairing mobile phones.
- Computer Services – There is a growing need for IT professionals on campus. Students, faculty, and administrators will all be your customers. Specialize in internet servers and routers and mobile wi fi services.
- Photocopy and Printing – Every day students need to make copies of textbooks, notes, reports, and research documents. Include photo printing services too. Start your center near the cafeteria or student housing for high traffic.
- Proofreading & Editing – This easy to start business is in high demand on all campuses. You can work from home or meet your students at college. Students want to hire professional editors to proofread their work and correct grammar, spelling and formatting mistakes. Expand your business to students across the globe by selling your services on online marketplaces such as Fiverr, Upwork and Freelancer.
#64 Small Town Business Ideas by Country
#65 Canada Market Opportunities
Based on the Canadian business bank BDC economic report the most profitable industries in Canada for entrepreneurs are:
- Waste Management & Recycling – Oftentimes small towns lack the infrastructure for proper trash disposal. Become a recycling and waste disposal company.
- Professional Services – Consultants of all types are in demand. Those especially profitable are human resources, marketing, accounting, and payroll. Small towns may not have large companies but they often have many small business concerns. Offer your services to these firms who probably don’t have in-house accountants, HR managers or marketing departments.
- Fitness & Sports – Luckily big franchise fitness gyms are ignoring small towns. This leaves market share available for you. Start a small gym, yoga studio or fitness class center. In my small town, a woman started a yoga studio over the local hardware store. It has become very successful and she has expanded into the neighboring town with a second location.
#66 Ireland Business Ideas
Ireland is a hot hub for innovative companies, however, that is usually in large cities. But there are plenty of opportunities for small-town Irish entrepreneurs. Joe Gill, a columnist for the Irish Examiner believes that Ireland’s rural towns can be revitalized with innovative new companies and government support. Launch your company by supporting fast-growing Irish industries by supplying their needs.
- Staff housing – large companies are finding it hard to attract and retain talented workers in Ireland. You can develop a housing community that incorporates schools and shops. Perhaps your small town can partner with a nearby large employer. This helps the large firm to offer workers employment and desirable housing.
- Co-working space – Reasonably priced desk and office space set up as a co-working space will encourage online entrepreneurs to build companies outside of the major cities such as Dublin. Reconsider the use of your town’s downtown retail space. It can be reconfigured to become a co-working hub.
- Restaurants – The food and beverage industry is growing faster in Ireland than in other European countries. Capitalize upon this trend with opening a restaurant. Find your perfect restaurant name on this list of naming ideas.
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Love reading about new business ideas? Check out this huge list of small business startup ideas
Wondering how long it should take from business idea to launch? Read my timeline schedule by industry here