Home Businesses: 10 Ideas That Work Great For Small Towns and Rural Areas

If you’re thinking about starting a home business, you’re in good company – most of the entrepreneurs in the U.S. began their businesses at home. And, if you live in a small town or rural area, you may have a few opportunities unique to your location.

While rural and small town entrepreneurs may face different challenges than their metropolitan counterparts, a home-based business is an “equalizer” of sorts, thanks to high-speed internet and the opportunities your rural area presents in terms of startup ideas and business factors.

For example, you may have lower costs in a rural setting -- supplies, vendors and cost of living -- and less competition. Plus, your location may offer more agriculture-related options for a new business.

Check out these 10 great ideas for home businesses unique to small towns and rural areas:

#1 – Organically Grown

Start a business that could supply this booming organic foods sector. From herbs, fruits and vegetables to eggs, meat and poultry, there’s a huge demand for a steady stream of just about any product grown free of pesticides and chemical fertilizers.

Depending on location and inclination, you could raise, produce and sell your locally sourced products, such as jams and jellies for retail, or look into becoming a supplier to restaurants that prefer locally farmed items on their menus. You could work with a food wholesaler or manufacturer to figure out a local ingredient you could grow for their products. Or sell your fresh items at your own stand or at a local farmer’s market in a nearby town. Is there something you could offer that others can’t?

#2 – Cleaning Service

No matter where you live, having someone to keep things clean on a regular basis is an ongoing service need. Start a business that provides a cleaning service weekly or monthly to organizations in your small town, or focus on cleanup at events or a service for residential home owners.

#3 – Specialty Gardening

Tea is an example of a specialty gardening business, particularly if you love tea. Even if you don’t have a big tract of land, you can still grow enough tea to sell. You don’t need much room – it can even be grown successfully in planters.

Research garden-specialty items to find a home-based business idea; perhaps there’s a product that can be grown then sold either fresh whole or processed and then packaged to a wider market, such as chili peppers.

#4 – Construction/Handy Work

If you’re knowledgeable about carpentry and woodwork, you’ve likely already thought of this home-based business. Your skills could be needed to build and remodel structures in your area.

Or start a construction company where you can focus on smaller residential or office projects. That kind of skill is always in demand for old house and building renovation, particularly woodwork-related projects, from building rails to cabinets.

Construction and handy work may keep you “out of the house” a lot, and you’ll want to make sure you have a phone service that can keep you connected even while you’re on the job.

#5 – Vacation/Tourist Focused

A travel-related business could be a good fit if there’s any tourism. Maybe people are passing through for a travel destination. Focus your business on what might be needed by travelers in “real time” while they’re in your small town or passing through, such as providing housing, transportation or just information on what’s going on.

#6 – Repair/Fix Things: Gadgets, Clothing, Furniture

Here’s another great business idea for anyone who has a particular skill or expertise that people need. Turn your ability to “fix” or “renovate” items into a business – repairing gadgets (electronics), appliances, clothing or furniture. 

If not a direct service, you could focus on collecting items other people toss out due to disrepair and fix and sell them. The “reuse” factor is a natural selling point to some buyers, plus you’d be able to offer affordable prices compared to new items.

#7 – Camping Grounds

This could be oriented for kids or students – campgrounds for which you provide the tents, maybe a lake to fish or canoe. It might also be a draw to small companies or organizations looking for a retreat spot, especially if you have shower and/or bathroom facilities available. Also, there may be nonprofits with a need to accommodate children’s camp activities.   

#8 – Share What You Know

Build a new business around your particular expertise or knowledge base. Just like cooking or carpentry, your business could be based on sharing your knowledge with those who want to learn it.  

Your home business could be tutoring or providing music lessons, yoga instruction or business and life coaching. Perhaps you’d be a great sports or fitness trainer. 

If you choose to offer educational content online, a reliable high-speed internet service will be crucial.

#9 – Bakery/Catering 

This is for you if you enjoy baking or at least know how to do it well. Make and sell cupcakes or cookies, or go with specialty baking, such as fancy pastries or wedding cakes. From individuals to local businesses, everyone wants to buy delicious and well prepared goods, so choose what you do well and look for your market.

#10 – Laundering Service

A laundering service might thrive best in a small town or rural area where there are businesses that could use the service, such as a hotel or inn. Or find residential customers who would just prefer to get their laundry washed, folded and ironed for them, instead of doing it themselves. Travelers might also use your service, particularly those in town on business.

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