Small Business Ideas For Small Towns


Starting a business in a small town can have both advantages and disadvantages. If  you’ve recently moved to a small town and don’t know too many people (or anyone), then your first objective might be to network, land a few customers, and establish yourself as someone who’s trustworthy, dependable, and easy to work with.

If you’ve lived and worked in a small town for a period time, then you hopefully have a lot of personal contacts and acquaintances who either need your services, may need them in the near future, or would feel comfortable referring you to friends, relatives, and neighbor.

Whether you’re doing business in a large city or small town, your reputation for honesty, fair pricing, good service, and quality is critically important to your business survival and potential for growth. However, in a small town, the reputation you establish may be even more important than in a large city. In a sparsely populated town, you’re dealing with a smaller potential customer base and — in all likelihood — a closer knit community, where everyone knows each other. In that environment, your reputation can be made or broken more quickly and indelibly — which, of course, can work either in your favor or to your detriment.

After all is said and done, the business principle which may determine your success or failure in a small town marketplace is this:

People tend to do business with other people who they know, trust, and like.

If you’d like to develop  a “magnetic personality” — and attract more customers and clients to your business –then one of the best books to read is Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People.”

Business Ideas For Small Towns

But, getting back to the main theme of this blog post, here’s a list of small business ideas for small towns that will hopefully help you clarify your goals and get started on developing your own business.

  1. Homeowner services are generally in demand in small towns, provided the competition is low and there’s a sufficient homeowner base to support a new business. Examples of services homeowners often need and use include landscaping, house cleaning, carpet cleaning, lawn care, lawn mowing, driveway and walkway installation and repair, handyman services, plumbing, electrical services, HVAC services, roofing, kitchen and bathroom remodeling, interior/exterior painting, chimney cleaning, firewood delivery, tree and stump removal, and rain gutter installation, repair, and cleaning.
  2. Agriculture is often a viable business model in rural areas because not only can you make money selling vegetables, fruit, livestock, and dairy products, but you can also grow your own food and create multiple income streams. In addition to setting up a roadside stand and offering produce at local farmers’ markets, you can also sell agricultural products directly to supermarkets, restaurants, and institutions (hospitals, schools, prisons, and other facilities). Owning a farm can also create opportunities to make money from a “pick your own” operation or selling products like fruit preserves, home-made pies, pickles, pumpkins, honey, candles, and other crafts. Depending on your barn space (and insurance coverage), there’s even the potential for starting a horse boarding business.
  3. A consignment store or flea market business can potentially be a good way to make money in a small town, too. Not only would you be helping other people in your community sell their antiques, crafts, and no-longer needed clothing, but, under the right conditions, you could acquire a large inventory of products to sell without having to pay for them — until they’re sold — or use a line of business credit. If you offered people in your community a variety of merchandise and charged very reasonable prices, your business would stand a good chance of making a healthy profit — even in a small town or rural community.
  4. A woodworking business can also be a profitable enterprise in a small town — especially if your prices are competitive, your quality is excellent, your service is good, and the competition is minimal. As a woodworking craftsman, you can offer a variety of sought-after products, including tool sheds, storage chests, chicken houses, benches, book shelves, mail boxes, cabinets, dressers, cradles, baby changing tables, coffee tables, Adirondack chairs, desks, dog houses, planters, bins, coat racks, craft items, and dozens of other things you can make, sell directly, sell on consignment, barter, or keep for your own use.

Side note:Starting your own business involves an element of risk and may not be advisable for everyone. The best sources of business startup advice are reputable CPAs, business insurance consultants, and/or a knowledgeable business attorney. For good online advice on starting and running a small business, visit these websites: SCORE and the U.S.Small Business Administration.

To take a look at more small business ideas for small towns (and large ones),visit one of my recent blog posts on generating ideas for starting your own business.

If you’d like to download a guide to starting a business, I’ve posted links to several small business startup guides* at my website Marketing Survival Kit.

Thanks for checking out my latest blog post. I wish you the best of luck in all your entrepreneurial pursuits!

Marketing strategist, business blogger, freelance writer
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*Disclaimer: I am a compensated affiliate of  books on starting your own business, electronic publications on Woodworking, and other digital products, marketing services, and software.