25 Best Small Business Ideas for Small Towns. Small towns are a great place to start any business, including a small business. Having the town’s support often goes a long way towards success or failure. These ideas can help you get started on your road to owning a successful small business in a small town.
For each of these 20 best small business ideas for small towns, we’ll talk about the business, how it can be started cheaply, and why it might succeed in a small town.
25 Best Small Business Ideas for Small Towns
1. Make custom T-shirts
With many printers now offering inexpensive short-run digital printing (making copies one at a time), you can turn around weeks of waiting by having your own desktop printer. All you need is some artwork, a list of names and numbers to print, and you’ll be able to make custom T-shirts for sports teams, reunions, clubs, friends you’re visiting—for practically nothing.
A successful business needs quality products at a fair price. You can have your artwork done by various free Internet sites or take it yourself to a local graphics shop. Then get the T-shirts on consignment from a variety of national and regional companies, and sell them directly to friends and family. A great way to promote your own T-shirt printing business is by giving out samples to everyone you know.
2. Digital Photographer
If you want to start a photography business, try a town of 50,000 or less. The cost to start a photography business can be as little as buying a basic digital camera and memory cards. With only a few hundred dollars invested in equipment, you’ll have the freedom to work from anywhere there is an Internet connection.
The great thing about starting your own photography business is that you can price it to make a crapload of money. You’ll be able to charge more per hour than the local photographer and yet offer comparable quality.
3. Personal trainer
A personal trainer is probably one of the best businesses for starting in a small town. First, you don’t need any special equipment or a place to work. People are always looking for ways to get in shape, so you can be sure that they will pay for your help.
There are no licenses in most states requiring you to have a certain amount of training in order to use the title personal trainer. If you do want to become certified then study at an ACE or ACSM accredited facility— but you don’t need to.
If you love animals, then why not earn some extra money taking care of them for people while they are away on vacation or traveling for work? You can do walking, feeding, and grooming duties—and offer overnight sitting where needed. Start with friends and neighbors who have pets. Then ask them to help you by referring other pet owners to you.
Since most people who have pets are older, many will be more than happy to pay for your services if they trust you with their pets. Put up flyers at the post office and town hall, or make business cards to pass out. Through these referrals, you will soon have a full schedule.
5. Directory Assistance Operator
With people making fewer phone calls these days, there is still great demand for directory assistance operators because every person who makes a phone call still needs to look up a number in the phone book at least once every few months. For this reason, starting your own free directory assistance service can be a great business opportunity. You’ll get paid to connect people, and it doesn’t cost anything for the phone calls because you’ll use free Internet services.
6. Household Organizer
If your friends or family need help to organize their homes or offices, you can provide that assistance and get paid to do it. Just sign up with Housekeeper.com and start promoting yourself as a professional organizer. Once you complete your first job, you’ll know for sure that this is a legitimate business opportunity and be able to charge accordingly—probably $50 to $100 per hour.
7. Home-based travel agent
Booking vacations can be done from anywhere there is an Internet connection. You’ll need to pass a series of courses but can get started immediately by working for an established company like Expedia, Orbitz, or Travelocity—and then start your own business when you’re qualified. You can specialize in one type of vacation (like cruises) or offer the whole spectrum like travel agent Rick Steves.
8. eBay reseller
Become an eBay reseller and you can sell almost anything you want without ever buying the product in advance yourself—all it takes is a little time when you’re not at your day job to list items for sale on eBay. You’ll need to purchase a business license, but beyond that there are no costs other than what you pay for the products you sell.
9. Virtual Assistant
If you have a background in bookkeeping, typing, or any other office skills, then why not offer those services as a virtual assistant? You can do simple tasks from anywhere there is an Internet connection. This allows you to work from home at your own convenience.
Your clients will most likely have full-time office jobs, so they can give you tasks to complete during their lunch breaks or after work—and then pay you for that help. You’ll need a high-speed Internet connection with extra bandwidth if you’re planning on working with audio or video files, but with the increasing popularity of video conferencing, those high-speed Internet packages are becoming less expensive as well.
10. Dog walker
There is always a demand for dog walkers because most people have to go to work during the day and can’t take their pets with them—and even if they could, many apartment buildings won’t allow animals in the building. Most dog walkers charge per mile and add a minimum of 15 minutes for each dog they walk.
11. Liquor store clerk
If you live in an area where alcohol sales are legal, becoming a liquor store clerk can be a lucrative business opportunity. Keep in mind that you’ll need to either purchase or rent the required license and plan on spending at least one day (and usually more) every week at the retail location. You will also need to know how to stay on top of the ever-changing liquor laws in your state.
12. Pet sitting
Pet sitters can make $15-$40/hour depending on where they live and who their clients are. If you love pets, watching them for others could be a great business opportunity—and it often requires little to no startup money because all you need is a laptop and an Internet connection.
13. Handyman or contractor
If you have a background in building, carpentry, or any other related skill sets, then starting as a home service contractor is an excellent business opportunity. It doesn’t require much startup money and can be done from anywhere there is an Internet connection—so your living room couch could be your office one day if you wanted it to be. Many companies that hire independent contractors will train you for free.
14. Automotive repairs
If you have a background in automotive repairs, then opening your own garage can be a lucrative business opportunity. You will of course need the equipment and tools to get started, but beyond that, it doesn’t require much money or help since most of your clients are coming to you for repairs. Like any other business though, you’ll need to know how to advertise and market your services.
15. Cleaning service
Many people don’t like spending their weekend cleaning, which means there is always a need for someone else to take care of it instead—that’s where you come in! You’ll need the necessary equipment and supplies, but beyond that, it doesn’t require much startup money since all you need is your own two hands. 15. Business consultant
If you have a background in small business operations, then you can offer consulting services to those who are just getting started and don’t know how to get their business off the ground. This way they don’t have to go through trial and error because you already know what works and what doesn’t.
16. Personal shopper
Shopping can be a very therapeutic way to spend your time if you enjoy it, and some people rely on shopping for their social life as well (myself included). You can make money doing this by becoming a personal shopper and helping others find the right clothes and accessories to fit their unique style.
17. Nurse or doctor
If you’re a health care professional, then offering your services online can be a lucrative business opportunity as well as help those who live in areas where there is an extreme shortage of doctors and nurses. You’ll need official certification and licensure to do so, but many people are willing to move anywhere they can receive the proper medical care that they need.
18. Online venture capitalist
If you have some money to invest, then becoming an online venture capitalist can be a very profitable business opportunity. Many people are hesitant to invest their hard-earned money in new startups because they don’t want it to go to waste, which means there is always room for someone to step in and give them the guidance they need.
19. IT and computer services
There are many people who need help with their computers or other devices, especially senior citizens who may not feel comfortable using them by themselves. This is an excellent business opportunity for anyone with experience in this area, especially those who enjoy teaching others how to use computers.
20. Car salesperson
Although most car salespeople work on commission only, you can make money online by advertising vehicles for sale. If you have a background in sales and enjoy haggling, then becoming a car salesperson online can be an excellent business opportunity—even if you don’t actually own the cars yourself.
21. Online stock trader or investor
If you have experience with stocks or investing, then becoming an online stock trader or investor can be a great business opportunity as well as teach you some new things about the financial industry. You’ll need to know what you’re doing though, so it’s probably not for those who are just starting out in the world of finance.
22. Online freelance writer
If you love writing and have an interest in many different topics, then you can make money writing about them. You can write blog posts or articles for others who want content or sell your own eBooks on the side to generate even more income.
23. Freelance graphic designer
If you have a background in design, then becoming a freelance graphic designer is an excellent way to make money online. Non-designers are willing to pay for quality work because they know it will make their business more professional, which means if you have any interest in design then this is an easy way to get your foot in the door without having experience.
24. Gas station attendant
If you live in a location where gas costs $4 or more per gallon, then becoming a gas station attendant is an easy way to make money. You can usually find work at all hours of the day and night as well so it’s perfect if you work other side jobs and want to make some extra money on your downtime.
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25. Door to door salesman
This is another part-time business opportunity that can be very profitable for those who are good at sales and enjoy meeting new people. There are many different products you can sell, but it’s important to make sure you’re following local laws regarding door-to-door sales if you choose this path.
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25 Best Small Business Ideas for Small Towns
The bottom line
When it comes to making money online, there are many opportunities for those who look. For example, the idea of becoming a telemarketer may not sound exciting, but if you enjoy talking to new people on the phone and want to make some extra cash then it can be an excellent business opportunity. Keep in mind though that most of these opportunities take some experience and/or a larger investment of your time. If you need help finding other ways to make money online, then be sure to check out our article on that subject here:
25 Best Small Business Ideas for Small Towns