There are many opportunities for starting a business in a small town that take advantage of the lack of competition, especially in areas that have to do with property maintenance, pets, and tourism. You can start these businesses with a relatively low investment and branch out when you have more money. There are also many opportunities for franchising in small towns, especially food and beverage-related businesses and businesses in the automotive industry.
Here are four good business ideas that work well in small towns:
Bed & Breakfast/Hostel
If you live in a scenic area with tourist potential, you can open your own “Bed & Breakfast” and offer accommodation to incoming tourists. You can also charge more than the market average if there are fewer accommodation options in the area. The same applies if you can provide guests a unique experience – such as if you live on a ranch where you have extra rooms and can offer options like hiking and horseback riding.
In many rural areas, you can charge around $80-100 a night, which could significantly improve your financial situation if you have more rooms and charge for extras like horseback riding, renting bikes/cars and shooting ranges. This is also a fairly low-maintenance job that can be managed by someone who is on-site already. If you know how to effectively market your service on websites like Airbnb, this could become a great side business that could provide the capital to open other businesses, such as a hotel or restaurant.
Landscaping (e.g., lawn care, tree removal, tree care, plant maintenance, etc.) is always an in-demand business, especially in small towns where landscape maintenance is a necessity. This is also one of those great business ideas for small towns that young adults could start because there is not a lot of start-up capital required to purchase the equipment. This business will require hard work, however, and you will need to pound the pavement in the beginning to build your clientele.
In northern states, there are also seasonal opportunities that can accompany your landscaping business, such as snow plowing. If your area gets a lot of snowfall during the winter season, plowing can provide a great source of income during the cold months. Overall, landscaping/snow removal is one of the most potentially lucrative business models for small towns, because if word goes out that you’ve done a great job, you can quickly grow your accounts and ensure you are busy all the time.
If you live in a small town that is surrounded by a lot of rural areas where people like to shop for agricultural machinery, you can start your own shop that sells tractors and different kinds of farm implements. There are also many large manufacturers (e.g., John Deere) that you could affiliate with and sell their equipment. If you are in an area where there is a proven demand for agricultural machinery and equipment, you could get approved for a loan to start a large commercial shop where you sell this equipment to local farmers and ranchers.
If you enjoy taking care of animals, dog breeding may be an ideal business for you. Dogs are important in small towns because people use them for security and they are also used for hunting purposes. If you live in a rural area where there are a lot of dog owners, then you know they will need to replace those dogs every decade or so. In these types of areas, dog breeding is a lucrative and sustainable business model. A great add-on to a dog breeding business is pet boarding and pet grooming.
You could start this type of business on your own, or if you have more capital to invest, you could start a pet care franchise. Going the franchise route may require a higher initial investment, but this investment also allows you to represent an established brand with a proven business model that provides ongoing support. For some entrepreneurs, these factors are critical in ensuring the success of their startup business.