Finding small-town business ideas is about identifying a gap in the community and offering a great product or service.
Doing business in small towns offers unique benefits like lower costs, affordable land, less competition, and, most importantly 一 a supportive community.
In this post, I’ll share 35 small town business ideas that have the potential to provide great returns in the long term.
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Animal training involves teaching specific behaviors or tasks to various animals through positive reinforcement and repetition.
This small-town business idea can be a great fit if you enjoy working with animals.
Whether it’s training a house dog to obey basic commands, preparing a hunting dog for pheasant or duck retrieval, or training farm dogs like Border Collies, there are various niches within animal training.
Another specialized field is breaking in and training horses, which has more demand in smaller communities.
Remember that people are picky when it comes to leaving their pets with someone. Establishing a strong reputation early on can lead to repeat business and valuable word-of-mouth referrals.
Computer training is teaching individuals specific computer-related tasks or skills.
As technology evolves rapidly, older generations often struggle with even basic tasks like using apps or making video calls.
Small towns offer a diverse clientele who can benefit from various types of computer training.
The broader your skill set, the more clients you’ll attract. Plus, satisfied customers are likely to seek additional training, providing ongoing business opportunities.
Since you may find a limited customer base in your town, you can expand your services to nearby communities to increase your reach.
Bed And Breakfast
Offer overnight accommodations, including breakfast, to tourists with your Bed and Breakfast lodge.
BnBs often thrive in locations away from large cities as urban dwellers seek a break from their busy lives.
You can start with minimal investment, focusing on essential comforts, and the operation doesn’t have to be year-round. Opt for a seasonal operation during holidays or special events, especially if you have a full-time job you want to keep.
As you build a loyal customer base, you can expand to nearby towns.
An antique store sells valuable, collectible items that are at least 100 years old, such as furniture, jewelry, and art.
These stores can be particularly profitable in towns that attract tourists.
While antique stores have a slower sales cycle, each item holds high value, and the inventory requires minimal upkeep.
If your town already has multiple antique stores, differentiate by specializing in second-hand clothing or crafts from local artisans.
You can also explore online selling to increase your reach. To know more, check out my free guide on 26 Best Websites To Sell Stuff Online.
A bookstore is a shop that sells new, used, and limited-edition books.
If you’re passionate about books and live in a small town, a bookstore can serve local residents and may even attract people from nearby towns.
In addition to selling books, your shop can host author readings or become a local historical institution.
If you have a talent for baking, opening a bakery could be the perfect small-town business idea for you.
A bakery can satisfy the local sweet cravings and cater to those seeking a quick morning pastry and coffee before work.
You can also specialize in making cakes, cupcakes, or other desserts for various town events.
Starting a bakery is often simpler to manage than a full-service restaurant. Depending on your state’s cottage food law, you can begin on a small scale from your home and later transition to a commercial kitchen.
A mini-golf course is a small-scale recreational golf course designed for casual play and typically features creative obstacles.
Turning a small plot of land or an indoor space into a mini-golf course can be a profitable way to offer entertainment.
If your town is close to a city, you can expect good weekend traffic. The best part of mini golf is its broad appeal, drawing individuals of all ages, from families to young adults.
Just make sure the location is accessible and visible to potential customers.
Building campsites involves creating designated areas for people to set up tents or park RVs.
These places have basic facilities like fire pits, picnic tables, and restrooms for outdoor recreational purposes.
If you own a plot close to nature, you can expect a steady stream of bookings by building campsites.
Online platforms such as Hipcamp, The Dyrt, and Tentrr simplify renting your land for overnight stays, with an average rental rate ranging from $100 to $200 per night.
Christmas Tree Farm
A Christmas tree farm is where trees are cultivated and harvested for use as Christmas decorations.
If you have acres of land, planting pine, spruce, or fir trees can be a profitable business idea.
The best part is these trees are relatively low maintenance and mature in about eight years. On average, you can plant approximately 1,500 trees per acre.
This business model is particularly suitable for small towns with cheap land, allowing you to provide fresh Christmas trees to your local community and neighboring cities.
A firewood business primarily sells and delivers wood mainly for heating and cooking.
In rural areas, wood-burning stoves are common, and many people don’t have time to gather wood themselves.
You can offer a firewood cutting and delivery service and expect high demand in small towns where such services are less common.
Home Cleaning Services
Home cleaning services provide professional cleaning for homes to those who either lack the time or ability to maintain their homes.
The business is scalable, has low overhead, and often enjoys high customer retention, making it a profitable venture.
To attract more customers, showcase your work through before-and-after photos of the spaces you clean, which you can share on pamphlets and distribute within your town.
Word-of-mouth is a strong driver for this type of business, and it can be bundled with other offerings like painting, pool cleaning, or yard work.
Breweries and wineries can serve as social hubs in small towns, hosting events and casual get-togethers, particularly if you have outdoor space.
While there has been a rise in small-town breweries and wineries recently, starting one does require significant initial investment and research.
If you’re looking for a less intensive option, consider opening a coffee shop instead.
Collectibles stores focus on items valued for their rarity or historical significance and often attract a passionate customer base willing to travel.
These stores can boost local tourism and offer a range of items like sports cards, coins, stamps, and antiques.
In addition, you can tap into the online market by selling collectibles on platforms like eBay, where rare items can fetch five to six figures.
eBay even has a special shipping partnership with USPS for lightweight items, saving you up to 70% on shipping costs.
IT support involves fixing and maintaining computer hardware and software to ensure proper functionality and troubleshooting technical issues.
Whether you live in a city or a rural area, people run into issues like WiFi connectivity.
If you have technical skills, you can thrive in IT support, particularly in small towns where competition in this field is typically limited.
The advantage of this business is its limited equipment requirements, especially if you’re not dealing with extensive repairs, which helps maintain low overhead costs.
A corner store is a small retail shop located at the intersection of residential streets, selling various everyday convenience items.
If you enjoy interacting with people and being a key fixture in your community, opening a corner store is a great business idea.
Select your location wisely and stock essential groceries, snacks, and various miscellaneous items. If you extend your hours beyond those of nearby grocery stores, you’ll likely attract additional customers looking for late-night conveniences.
If you’re artistic, you can create artisanal handicrafts to sell at local flea markets or during holiday festivals and events.
This is an excellent business idea, especially if you reside in a tourist town.
You can also expand your reach by selling online on marketplaces like Etsy. With its massive reach, Etsy offers an audience you can’t easily achieve with a physical storefront. Amazon Handmade is another great place to sell crafts online.
For best results, identify a profitable niche and target audience. For example, if you live in a scenic mountain town, focus on creating mountain-themed souvenirs like postcards, jewelry, and fridge magnets to captivate tourists.
An electrician is a tradesperson who specializes in installing, maintaining, and repairing electrical systems.
Small towns have to often rely on electricians who are based far away, sometimes more than 50 miles out.
If you become the go-to, certified electrician in your local area, you’re set for a stable and potentially lucrative career.
Food trucks are mobile eateries that fill the gap in dining options, offering convenience and flavors at local events or in towns with limited culinary choices.
If you are passionate about cooking, starting a food truck can be a more cost-effective alternative to investing in a traditional restaurant.
You can cater to fans at sporting events and even extend your services to neighboring towns.
With lower overhead costs and the flexibility to change locations easily, food trucks are an excellent opportunity for those eager to turn their cooking hobby into a business.
Furniture restoration involves simple cleaning and minor fixes like refinishing wood surfaces and refreshing upholstery.
There’s a strong emphasis on maintaining family treasures and repurposing existing furniture in rural towns.
This isn’t just for sentimental value but also serves a practical need due to the limited availability of new furnishings in less populated areas.
As a result, if you have a knack for craftsmanship or enjoy breathing new life into old pieces, furniture restoration can be an excellent fit for you.
Ice Cream Shop
Food-related businesses often thrive in small towns, and if you prefer a simpler alternative to running a full-scale restaurant, an ice cream shop could be an appealing option.
Ice cream shops can become popular destinations for both local residents and visitors from neighboring towns, particularly during the warm seasons.
Moreover, you can diversify into candy, cakes, and milkshakes to broaden your customer base.
Junk hauling involves the removal and responsible disposal of unwanted items or debris from homes, businesses, or construction sites.
If you have ample unused rural land, combining a junk hauling service with operating a junkyard could be a practical use of the place.
Start by identifying the type of junk removal services you plan to offer and make sure you have proper procedures for the disposal of the collected items.
A liquor store can be a highly profitable venture in a small town, depending on local laws and taxes.
In locations where supermarkets can’t sell alcoholic beverages, liquor stores essentially dominate the market.
Even in areas where grocery stores do sell alcohol, many customers prefer the wider variety and expertise that a specialized liquor store offers.
Make sure you research the steps to open a liquor store. Navigating the paperwork, such as obtaining a liquor license, can be complex.
Local Blogger Or YouTuber
A blogger shares written content on a website, while a YouTuber creates and shares videos on YouTube.
If you live in a picturesque town, you can offer a glimpse into your small-town life.
For example, Kiun B, a YouTuber from Siberia, has attracted a large following by sharing her life stories.
You can generate income through advertising for local businesses, YouTube ads, subscriber donations, and affiliate marketing.
If you’re interested in blogging, you can explore my free six-day blogging mini-course.
Local Tour Guide
Local tour guides are experts in the history, culture, and unique attractions of a specific region and provide valuable insights to visitors.
If you live in a small town with an interesting history or recreational activities like fishing and hunting, you can be a local tour guide.
Your small town and its surroundings likely hold hidden gems and intriguing stories. You just need to learn the art of storytelling and be approachable to be successful as a local tour guide.
A handyman is a versatile individual skilled in various repair and maintenance services, making them a valuable asset in any community.
If you’re already the go-to person for minor repairs in your circle, then this business could be a natural fit for you.
For those new to the community or the field, partnering with a local contractor can provide an introduction and possibly future client referrals.
Beauty Salon And Spa
For those with expertise as a hairdresser or makeup artist, starting your own beauty salon and spa is a fitting business venture.
If your town is already home to full-service hair salons and spas, explore a more specialized niche such as a nail salon or tanning services.
While a beauty salon and spa might need more staff and inventory than other small-town businesses, it can generally be a sustainable venture.
An arcade is a place with coin-operated games and attractions for entertainment.
Opening an arcade appeals to both children and nostalgic adults, filling a recreational gap in small towns with fewer entertainment alternatives. As a result, this business idea can be both enjoyable and profitable.
You can generate income through food and beverage sales, renting advertising space, and offering off-hour space rentals to other businesses.
HVAC, short for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning, refers to the system that regulates indoor temperature and air quality.
There is a lucrative market for modernizing outdated residences with centralized heating and air conditioning systems.
While many shy away from this industry, assuming it’s overly complex, it actually presents a huge financial opportunity.
If starting an HVAC business feels financially daunting, join as an HVAC salesperson within an established company, where you can earn commissions on sales.
Tutoring involves providing educational support and guidance to enhance students’ learning and academic performance.
It’s a valuable small-town business idea for those with subject expertise or strong local connections.
To succeed as a tutor, you must have a genuine passion for teaching and excellent communication skills.
You can offer private lessons or group sessions for all ages, covering various areas like coursework, exam preparation, language skills, and specialized subjects such as music or art.
An organic farm specializes in cultivating crops and rearing livestock without synthetic pesticides, herbicides, or GMOs, following natural and sustainable farming practices.
Starting an organic farm requires considerable effort and money, but it presents a lucrative opportunity for dedicated small-town entrepreneurs seeking the rural farm lifestyle.
The primary channels for selling produce will be local markets, farmers’ markets, and collaborations with restaurants that value locally sourced produce.
Small Business Website Creation
Small business website creation is designing and building websites for small companies to establish an online presence and attract customers.
Many business owners recognize the importance of being online, yet creating an effective website can be a daunting task for them.
If you know how to build websites, you can help small business owners overcome these challenges.
Whether it’s a simple one-page WordPress site or a full Shopify ecommerce store, your skills could position you as the go-to contact not just in your small town but potentially in the broader region.
Sporting Goods Store
Sports are popular in every city and town, regardless of geographical location. Sports such as baseball, basketball, football, and volleyball consistently attract attention.
A well-stocked sporting goods store catering to local needs holds significant potential for success.
You can also set up a mini sports bar to complement your good store and increase revenue during major sporting events and foster a communal atmosphere.
Storage units are rented spaces used to store belongings for a fee.
It’s a great small-town business that requires minimal involvement following the initial investment. The average profit margin is approximately 41%, with a success rate of over 90% for new ventures in the self-storage sector.
Locations where land prices are more affordable are particularly well-suited for this type of business.
T-shirt Printing Company
A t-shirt printing company customizes and prints designs on t-shirts for various customers, including local businesses, schools, sports teams, and individuals.
The cost to set up a t-shirt business can be expensive, so prior experience in selling printed garments or printing is beneficial.
An alternative business model is to launch a print on demand company. In this setup, you would oversee the complete order fulfillment process for your customers, including storage, printing, and shipping.
This model isn’t limited by geography, allowing you to serve customers nationwide by dropshipping directly to their end clients.
Virtual Assistant (VA)
A virtual assistant is an individual who remotely provides administrative or support services to clients.
The specific skill set varies by industry. For example, a social media VA handles tasks such as post creation, content scheduling, profile optimization, and channel promotion.
Being a VA offers flexibility in setting your work hours and the freedom to work from any location with reliable internet which makes it one of the best small town business ideas.
Which Small Town Business Idea Should You Choose?
Choosing the right small-town business idea requires thorough research about the town, personal reflection on your interests, and available finances.
Essential services like home cleaning, HVAC, and handyman services are safe choices, but with proper planning and community support, unconventional business ideas can also succeed.
If you want to reach a broader market, focus on business ideas that allow you to sell products online. This way you get to connect with customers beyond your town and even worldwide.
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Steve Chou is a highly recognized influencer in the ecommerce space and has taught thousands of students how to effectively sell physical products online over at ProfitableOnlineStore.com.
His blog, MyWifeQuitHerJob.com, has been featured in Forbes, Inc, The New York Times, Entrepreneur and MSNBC.
He's also a contributing author for BigCommerce, Klaviyo, ManyChat, Printful, Privy, CXL, Ecommerce Fuel, GlockApps, Privy, Social Media Examiner, Web Designer Depot, Sumo and other leading business publications.
In addition, he runs a popular ecommerce podcast, My Wife Quit Her Job, which is a top 25 marketing show on all of Apple Podcasts.
To stay up to date with all of the latest ecommerce trends, Steve runs a 7 figure ecommerce store, BumblebeeLinens.com, with his wife and puts on an annual ecommerce conference called The Sellers Summit.
Steve carries both a bachelors and a masters degree in electrical engineering from Stanford University. Despite majoring in electrical engineering, he spent a good portion of his graduate education studying entrepreneurship and the mechanics of running small businesses.