My work-at-home heart swells with pride every time I see someone stop making excuses and take their financial future into their own hands, no matter what obstacles they’re facing.
It’s easy to blame your financial trouble on your location. After all, you could get ahead if you lived in a bigger city with more people, or you had access to a reliable wifi signal, right?
Not necessarily. While it’s true that most tiny towns don’t have tons of jobs available, it absolutely doesn’t mean you’ve got no options. Too many people these days are content to be a victim of circumstance and blame “no jobs in this town” for their problems. But I have a different take.
No matter where you live, there are people with needs all around you. Your goal is to find those needs and figure out a way to meet them. I know for a fact that you have at least one in-demand skill, and it’s just a matter of finding that demand and meeting it.
Guess what! You can do that in a tiny town that doesn’t even have a fast food joint. You can even do it without shelling out a ton of money in startup costs. In fact, many of these business ideas work beautifully in the small town environment and require little, if any, startup cash.
And, since you live in a small town, there’s not as much competition. That means by offering your service locally, you are saving people from having to drive to another town to get it. That is a huge selling point!
My advice? Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and determine to start. If you’re ready to play an active role in your financial future, here are some of the best business ideas you can start in your small town.
1. Auto Detailing
Can you run a vacuum and clean windows without leaving streaks? Consider starting a mobile auto detailing business. Clients would call you to schedule, and then you’d meet them at their home or office and clean their car outside and in.
When you arrange to meet, make sure you ask about access to an electrical outlet for your vacuum cord and a spigot to hook a hose to. Other than that, you can bring everything you need with you.
There aren’t always great childcare options in small towns, so once you get the reputation for being an amazing sitter, you will likely find yourself booked. Think about offering overnight childcare to help meet a need for shift workers.
Many small towns lack a bakery, so people must drive to get cakes for their events. This adds an extra level of stress – it’d be so much easier to pick it up locally, or find someone who would deliver. If you’re a talented baker and decorator, you can fill that need in your town.
Most small towns have at least a couple of commercial business buildings. These offices need to be cleaned regularly. Stop by and ask if they need someone to come by at night and take care of the cleaning.
Can you navigate social media? Do you know how to create basic websites?
Many small-town businesses don’t have an online presence. But, people today are searching for information online. Help these businesses remain competitive in today’s marketplace by helping them creating social media profiles and a simple site.
You could even do a hybrid business model where you went to the business for a few hours to get a sense of what they do and take pictures. Then you can do the actual work from home.
6. Career Consultant
Jobs are scarce in small-towns, and competition for them is fierce. You can help clients find jobs through coaching. If you add resume writing services to this list, you’d drum up even more business.
Not many big-name caterers want to deliver to rural areas. But, many offices would still appreciate the ability to organize catered luncheons and special events.
If you enjoy cooking and can access an approved kitchen, you can fill a huge gap in the market. The work may not be daily, but it would help increase your income when you were needed. You might even find a niche for some kind of daily food option, like selling snacks, sweets, or even sandwiches.
8. Direct Sales
The home party plan industry has been booming since the 50s. And thanks to social media, you don’t even have to live in the same town as your clients anymore — you can hold your parties on Facebook and reach new customers and hostesses with a blog or website.
There are hundreds of different opportunities available, so pick a company you believe in with products you value. You can pick from just about any industry from housewares to jewelry to healthy living products.
Small towns still like to party. If you’re able to spin some tunes, start a side gig as a DJ. You can put your skills to work at parties, community events, and more.
10. Elder Care
When their kids grow up and move to the big city, many elderly people find themselves without reliable help. If you have the heart of a caregiver, you can make consistent income by offering elder care. This can range from simple welfare checks to taking over the house care and driving them to appointments.
11. Errand Services
Many people in a small town are stuck with a long commute, which seriously cuts into their ability to get anything done. You can offer to run errands during the day, such as:
- Picking up dry cleaning
- Mailing the packages
- Picking up a few things at the store
- Taking the dog to the vet
You’ll help your clients cross things off their to-do list, and be filling a big need.
12. Handcrafted Items
Can you knit, crochet, quilt, or sew anything? You can sell handcrafted items at local events or try to get local stores to sell your goods. Often mom and pop type stores don’t have the same restrictions as the big box stores, so they can be more flexible with what they are featuring.
Can you fix a leaky faucet or stop a squeaky hinge from making noise? No matter where they are located, houses still need repairs. You can help people keep their homes in tip-top shape without having to pay the much higher prices and deal with the longer wait times for tradesmen.
14. Health Insurance Consultant
If you have a background in insurance or human resources, you may be able to pick up a part-time gig at local business helping their employees get signed up and educated. These businesses may not have the funds to hire a full-time HR employee but would be willing to hire a contract worker.
15. House Stager
With a good eye and a bit of study, you could specialize in staging, which means you’d get a house ready for showing and then capture great pictures of it for the listing. After all, people in small towns are selling their homes too, and every real estate agent knows that great pictures are critical to sell a home quickly.
If you’re a hardworking, honest cleaner, you can create a full-time income from a housekeeping business. Consider becoming licensed and bonded to help improve the trust factor.
17. Interior Decorator
This service pairs nicely with the staging gig above. But, instead of decorating houses for people who are moving, you will do it for people who are going to stay in their homes.
18. Meal Prep
When time is limited, people appreciate help getting meals on the table. If you’re able to meet local and federal regulations, you can create customized meal kits for clients. If not, you can take care of their meal planning and create a shopping list for them, or even go as far as purchasing and delivering their groceries.
19. Mobile Locksmith
People in small towns still lock themselves out of their cars. And when that happens, they must call a locksmith from a big city to come rescue them. Wouldn’t it be easier if they could call you?
20. Traveling Notary Public
As a traveling notary public, you can notarize documents for your clients. You will need to pay the commission fee and take a test. I recommend using this as an add-on service, as your rates will be set by your state. Here in Nebraska, rates are set at $2-$5 depending on the service. You can also charge for mileage if you keep track of your business trips.
21. Online Consignment
Remove the hassle of selling online for people in your community. Pick up their goods and take pictures for them. Create ads on eBay, Craigslist, thredUP or the Facebook Marketplace. Keep a portion of the selling price as your commission, and everybody wins.
22. Party Planning
Parties and celebrations happen in cities of all sizes. You can help the people in your area enjoy their special events more by taking care of all the little details.
23. Pet Care
You can get paid to walk dogs, check on them during the day, clean up poop, pet cats, and more. If you enjoy animals, this is a great gig!
As a local, you’re already familiar with the best places to snapshots of families, seniors, and couples. Brush up on your skills and offer inexpensive packages to seniors, new parents and soon-to-be newlyweds. If your internet connection isn’t strong enough to deal with uploading online galleries, you can schedule viewing sessions in your home and connect your camera or computer to a television screen.
You can also take pictures of things and sell them online as stock photos. That’s a good way to add a little passive income to your bank account.
Do you love taming unruly closets? You can offer organizational packages to help people cut through their clutter and find what they’re look for. Often, you can even take home the things they no longer want. You can sell these online, or organize a yard sale to get rid of them.
26. Real Estate Agent
You know the selling points of your small community, so pick a career where you can tell people about it. Towns of all sizes have real estate transactions going on, so they’re always looking for quality real estate agents.
27. Seamstress Services
Can you hem a skirt and patch a hole? With good sewing skills, you can offer seamstress services for clients. This is a service that’s missing in a lot of small towns, but it really improves the quality of life for people who need it.
28. Snow Removal/Mowing Lawns
If you enjoy being outside, you can make a lot of money by taking care of seasonal yard chores. In the summer you can mow lawns and in the winter, you can shovel snow.
29. Tax Preparation
Are numbers your thing? In many locations, you can take a course to become certified in tax preparation. Then you can offer this as a service. People will appreciate not having to drag all their personal documents to the big city or wrestle with software themselves.
What subjects are you a pro in? If you can break down your educational knowledge and pass it onto others in the form of tutoring, you can start a tutoring business. You could also join a national tutoring company that has a presence in your town.
Think outside the box with this, though. You might not necessarily want to teach school subjects, but what can you do really well that most people can’t? You might be able to teach that and make an income from it. Anything from changing your vehicle’s oil to sewing a quilt to braiding a little girl’s hair could be an opportunity for you to teach.
Tips for Starting a Business in a Small-Town
In small towns across the nation, new businesses are popping up because people are refusing to let their location determine their income potential.
If you’re ready to start your own business in a small town, here are some tips to help you be more successful.
- Find a Need. Think about what people don’t want to do, or can’t do by themselves. These are needs that they are willing to pay for. When you identify a need, and have the skills to fill the need, you have a great business idea.
- Take it mobile. One way to make your business stand out is to make it mobile. Instead of your customers driving to find you, you go to them. You will need a reliable, professional looking car for this, but it’s a good way to offer your services to many nearby towns at the same time.
- Do your best. In small-town cultures, everyone knows everyone else. That means if you really mess up a gig, the whole town will find out and your business will flop. Your reputation matters, so always do your best. If you make a mistake, own up to it. Provide great customer service and keep clients in the loop about the status of things. If you do a good job, you can ask for referrals, which can help increase your business.
- Advertise locally. Not everyone uses the internet. Depending on the demographics of your town, you may have better luck advertising with old-fashioned methods. Try sticking a flyer on the grocery store bulletin board or dropping a stack of business cards off at the library.
- Deal with bad internet. One of the downsides of living in a rural area is the lack of internet infrastructure. If you don’t have access to solid internet, make sure you don’t take gigs that require it. Otherwise, you’ll waste all your time driving in search of a signal. This means video-based services are off, as are any gigs that require you to download or upload large files.
- Join the Chamber of Commerce. Small towns often have a strong sense of community, so you want to make sure you appeal to the masses and get involved. As a new business owner, one of the best ways to do that is to join the local Chamber of Commerce. Then you’ll get added to their list of members, which can help get your name out there. As another benefit to joining the Chamber, you will be able to attend local networking events. You never know who you will meet.
Be Prepared for Naysayers
When you decide to take charge of your life and do something big to change your financial situation, it makes other people feel guilty. They wonder if they should be doing something too. And since you made them feel this way, they may take these negative emotions out on you.
Be prepared for people to tell you you’re crazy. Or that your idea will never work. I see it happen all the time.
Don’t allow them to make you feel bad. You are not responsible for them, but you are responsible for you. So take a deep breath and move on.
You have the skills, knowledge, and ability to start a business in your small town. You can do this, no matter what anyone else says!