When planning a startup, entrepreneurs may be tempted by the innovative atmosphere of the Silicon Valley or other large urban landscapes. But plenty of opportunities for entrepreneurs exist in small town America too.
There are whole new sets of challenges, trends and other factors for small town entrepreneurs to consider. But there are advantages as well like lower costs and lower competition.
And with the internet there is, of course, the option of reaching those larger markets while you and your staff enjoy a lower standard of living where your money goes further — especially in the lean years. Here are 50 different business ideas that you can start in a small town.
Small Town Business Ideas
Neighborhood Coffee Shop
Despite the prevalence of coffee shops on seemingly every corner throughout big cities, there aren’t as many chains like Starbucks setting up shop in small towns. So you could potentially fill a gap in the market with your own small town coffee shop.
Farmers’ Market Vendor
Farmers’ markets are popular in cities and towns of all sizes. But especially if you have enough space to grow food on your property, you can build a lucrative business by selling those items at your own stand.
Small towns also aren’t as likely to have chain grocery stores as bigger cities. So you can set up your own smaller store selling a variety of food products.
In addition, your town might not have quite as much variety in the way of restaurants. So if you have a specialty, like making Thai food for instance, you could start your own restaurant in that niche.
Food Delivery Service
Or you could focus on providing food to consumers in a different way. Start your own delivery service to bring meals to those who don’t want to make the trip to buy food on their own.
Ice Cream Shop
Ice cream is another food niche that could be popular in many small towns. If you don’t already have a ton of dessert options in your area, an ice cream shop can be a great place to start.
Roadside Food Stand
Or you could sell products or homemade food items at your own roadside stand, as long as you have a place along a main thoroughfare.
Flea Market Seller
Flea markets can also be great venues for small town entrepreneurs to sell their goods. You can make your own handmade items or even resell products at your own flea market stand.
You could also set up your own shop for handmade goods on a site like Etsy. And living in a rural area or small town could potentially give you access to some really unique supplies.
Additionally, you can sometimes find great vintage furniture pieces in small towns and then give them new life before reselling them.
There are plenty of online platforms like Redbubble and Society6 that you can use to design your own t-shirts and similar goods no matter where you live.
If you have the ability to sew and alter clothing, you could start your own clothing alterations business and have people send or bring you their items for alteration.
If you’re a skilled woodworker, you could source your own wood and then make a variety of different products to sell.
Or you could collect firewood and then sell it to nearby customers for use in their fireplaces.
Since small towns often offer lower cost of living, they can be great places for independent freelancers — whether writing for local clients or plying their trade online — to set up shop. So you can start your own freelance writing business and save money on a variety of different expenses.
Or you could start your own blog and make money from ads, affiliate links or selling products again taking advantage of the lower standard living and services — so long as you have adequate internet access.
Virtual assistants are also largely location-independent. So that can be another great opportunity for entrepreneurs to work from home in a small town and with a much lower standard of living.
If you’re a design savvy entrepreneur, you could also start your own web design business and offer your services remotely.
Or you could offer a variety of different graphic design services for clients, including logos, branding and other elements.
If there aren’t a lot of shoppers in your area, it might not be feasible to set up a full retail store. But you could potentially start your own mobile retail store in a camper or similar vehicle and then sell items at fairs or events in the area.
Bookshops can also be popular in a variety of different markets. So you can start your own store either in a physical location or online.
Or you might open a store that sells a variety of different secondhand products. This might especially appeal to those in small towns with a lower standard of living who are looking for a way to make their money go further.
If your local community doesn’t have much in the way of chain pharmacies, starting your own retail pharmacy can be a great business opportunity as well.
Bed and Breakfast
Small towns also afford entrepreneurs the ability to invest in fairly large homes, like the kind you can use to start your own bed and breakfast.
If your small town offers some charm or history that could attract tourists, then you could potentially start your own tour guide business to target those consumers.
Auto Repair Shop
For those entrepreneurs who are skilled with automotive repairs, small towns can be great places to set up shop, especially if there aren’t any other repair shops nearby.
Or you could start your own car wash with lower rent and other expenses.
For those who live in rural areas where homes come with lots of land, you could also start your own working farm and run it as a business that provides food, tours or other products or services.
Or if you prefer growing flowers, you can start your own floral shop and sell different flower varieties or even make more advanced products like wedding centerpieces.
Rural areas often mean that homeowners have lots of yard and outdoor space to take care of. So you could certainly start a successful business in the landscaping arena.
Or you could focus more specifically on offering gardening services to homeowners in your area.
If you have the necessary skills, you could also start a business where you offer house painting services to local homeowners.
Skilled trades like plumbing are also in high demand no matter where you live. So that could be another potentially successful business idea.
You could also start a more general handyman business where you provide a variety of different home repair and maintenance services.
Computer repair is another area where consumers might need help, no matter what type of market you set up shop in.
Or you could set up a location-independent business where you offer IT support to businesses and other clients over the phone or online.
Home Restoration Service
If you live in an area where there are a lot of historic homes and buildings, you could specialize in providing restoration and repair services for those buildings.
Small towns and rural areas offer a lot of great scenery that can lend itself to great landscape photography.
You could also offer your services to local clients as an event planner, especially if your small town has an active business community.
Or you could set up a hair salon or barbershop to provide beauty services to local consumers.
Dogs also need grooming services, regardless of location. So you could open up your own grooming business in a small town or rural area.
Microbrewing has become a huge industry with customers tiring of big brands and seeking a more unique alternative. If you’re in a small town, you could be able to secure a large enough location at a reasonable price to brew your own beer.
You could then either sell it locally — especially if your small community has a sizable tourist influx — or seek distribution in larger markets where consumers are hungry for more variety.
Or you could ferment or sell your own wine products, though this is likely to require even more space and specialized equipment.
Christmas Tree Farm
If you have a lot of outdoor space, you could also start a seasonal business where you grow and sell Christmas trees to consumers who are willing to go a bit out of their way for real trees.
Here’s another seasonal business idea. You could use your outdoor space to create a corn maze and then charge admission during the fall months each year.
Or if you have animals on your farm, you could charge admission for consumers who want to come and pet or visit with the animals.
You could also write books or ebooks from basically any type of location. And small towns or rural areas can sometimes be great for writers looking to get inspired.
Online Course Creator
If you have specific skills to share, you could create and sell your own online courses. Again, this can be done from anywhere given adequate internet access.
Or if your small town has an interesting or unique history, you could start your own museum dedicated to the area.
This again would be most effective if you live in a small town with a considerable tourist industry or if you could adequately promote it outside the area making it a tourist destination in its own right.