There are plenty of great small business ideas for rural areas that prove there’s still plenty of opportunities there.
Rural regions offer challenges but offer a low cost of living, more relaxed pace of life, and plenty of chances to make money via a side hustle that truly helps out the community.
What’s better than making good money as a small business owner? Being able to tangibly help revitalize a small town while doing it!
Small Business Ideas for Rural Areas!
Here are 59 great business ideas for rural areas. Many that don’t even require funding from a business loan to get started!
- Build affiliate websites – If you think about it, this is perfect for a rural area. You’re not competing with limited customers because you’re online. The money you bring in from your business is likely from outside the area. Outside money can be a very big deal depending on how rural an area you live in. We recommend the Authority Site System if you want a course to help jumpstart your affiliate website career.
- Woodworking – Many rural areas have no shortage of wood and trees available. Woodworking is in high demand and can be for huge projects or small intricate plaques. Both methods are a creative way to make really good money.
- Flip sneakers – Done online. Unlike a small studio apartment in the city, you’ll have plenty of space to buy, store, and wait for the perfect price to sell. Check out this course for a step by step guide to get started!
- Remote office space – As forced work at home in 2020 really sped up the move to remote work, why spend $10,000 a month for a small office space in the city when 40 miles away you can get triple the space for less than half the price? Renovating inexpensive buildings into nice offices with solid Internet will become a big business for towns that can now benefit as a sleeper community.
- Do surveys online. You can earn a couple hundred bucks a month without leaving your home completing online surveys. Try InboxDollars.com and SwagBucks.com to get started.
- Resell tickets – It’s pretty much all done online now. Buy low, sell high, enjoy low rural cost of living! Check out this post on reselling concert tickets to learn how to start!
- Furniture restoration – Buy old worn out furniture cheap, restore it and touch it up, and then resell at a higher price! There is a lot of of old and hand me down furniture available in many rural areas. If you have a truck to offer delivery, this could be a major money maker!
- Hauling/large truck rental – Whether someone needs heavy furniture moved across town, to the local auction house, or are looking to pay someone for scrap removal, just owning a large truck for hauling can open up many doors for you.
- Firewood delivery – If you grew up in cities you might be surprised how many homes are still heated via wood burning stoves. Firewood delivery is a big business in many rural areas.
- Sell stock photography – Every outdoor, travel, or rural blogger can tell you the difficulty they’ve had finding the perfect picture for things you would think there would be plenty of photos for. Many sites allow photographers to upload and sell their pictures, like Shutterstock.
- Sell stock video – Those walks by the mountains or the woods might be second nature to you, but many bloggers would love video footage of that. Many stock photo sites also sell stock video. There are also sites that specialize in stock video. You can read about them here.
- Off the grid power installation – Many farms, rural homes, and cabins are looking to install some solar panels or a windmill. If you know (or learn) how proper setup and installation works for off the grid energy, that’s in high demand even in the most rural of areas.
- Gravel road snow plowing – Many areas don’t get snow service, especially off gravel and dirt roads. When I was young I remember a phone call to my dad about plowing out some gravel roads (he had a Bobcat because, family sawmill). He he some choice words regarding the -20 wind chill and two feet of snow. A large cash offer later, bucket on the Bobcat, and multiple quilts tied to the side, the forklift was on its way to plow out some gravel roads. At least seasonally, the demand is always there!
- Rural ride sharing – Uber and Lyft are all about the city life. If you live in a town of 1500 miles from the next nearest rural village, no luck. But if you were known as the person happy to offer ride services, that could be really solid for rural areas known for valuing independent living. And you get to know your neighbors and provide a great service along the way!
- Small business website creation – Almost everyone knows you need an online presence. But many business owners don’t know anyone to build a site or what to do from there. Offer the service, build the sites, get paid!
- Cabin or long-term camp construction – Whether an on-property guest cabin, long-term camp on heavily wooded property, or someplace to get even further from it all this is a great niche business for rural areas. Don’t forget to YouTube the process for even more potential income!
- Teach computer skills courses – Many very rural areas are last in line when it comes to infrastructure to support new technology. Things you take for granted like email, social media, safe online browsing are actually skills adults in rural areas are eager to learn.
- Revitalization support efforts – It’s no secret many rural areas in the United States have fallen way behind economically. There are many programs for starting businesses, rebuilding infrastructure, and revitalizing once vibrant communities fallen on hard times. You feel good helping areas to rebuild for the future, and there’s a LOT of state, federal, and private grant money in this area for companies who prove to be the real deal.
- Open a gym – My home town (pop. 2600, Iowa) a few years back had someone build a very simple 24 hour gym in a small cinderblock building. It’s small, simple, and sells a lot of memberships to people who want to work out on their schedule.
- Storage units – Even in many rural small towns sometimes you have too much stuff. Or you’re moving and can’t take it all in one go. Storage units are a reliable, relatively passive income business idea for rural areas.
- Antique stores – You see a lot of these in some rural areas. Great hobby to business, and can work extremely well if you focus on online sales from your physical location.
- Greenhouse/nursery – Valentine’s Day happens everywhere. So do proms, memorial services, and other events. A good greenhouse can do very well no matter what the season.
- Rural blogger – Micro affiliate sites might be a thing of the past, but many rural bloggers are doing really well. Cover local news and hidden attractions, share the beauty or uniqueness of a local area, and work with local partners while monetizing online. Learn how to start a blog.
- Create local campsites – What to do if you have a lot of scenic land with nothing on it? Why not create a local campsite? Whether setting up cabins, an RV site, or primitive camping, this is a great rural business idea.
- Bed & Breakfast – A lot of people love heading a few hours into the country for a rural B&B. Whether a traditional Bed and Breakfast or Airbnb, there is a lot of demand out there for the rural weekend getaway locations.
- Animal training – Are you great with animals? There’s always a demand for this. Don’t overlook specialties. If you have a knack for training hunting or tracking dogs, there’s a very big market for that.
- Menial services – Rake leaves, mow ten acres before a family goes on vacation, shovel sidewalks, talk to local farmers/ranchers about odd jobs that need to get done. There’s always a market for menial services.
- General handyman – Keeping up a house is work and there are plenty of repairs that might be needed that are too small for local contractors. Secure some loose gutters, fix damaged door knobs, replace one sheet of damaged plaster, etc. A general handyman can make some pretty good scratch if the work is good and they’re reliable.
- Junkyard operating (junk hauling) – You can get paid a lot to haul a lot of junk or work with site clean up for major projects, or with enough land even operate a junkyard. Rusted out cars aren’t going to move themselves.
- Land rental – Sometimes there’s lots of acres you aren’t using that someone else is happy to rent. Case in point: our Grandma used to have many acres of farmland unfarmed in a conservation project. The local paperwork for it became worse and worse, while funding was cut. Two local brothers whose family she knew approached her about renting the land to farm. They worked out a deal and both sides are very happy.
- Second hand store – A good second hand store is a find no matter where the location. Go specialty with something always needed (like clothing) or go general. Especially in smaller rural villages that don’t have specialty stores, a secondhand store can do very well.
- Specialty restaurant or tavern – Every list of small business ideas for rural areas has restaurant or bar on it. This can work, but these are hard businesses in the best of times. If you can offer a special dish, style of food, or theme, you’re more likely to thrive.
- Food truck – Why not? No rent, you can work out deals with the town or nearby towns to be there for special events, local factories to be there for lunch break, and lower overhead. These aren’t just for the cities.
- Landscaping/lawnscaping – Who doesn’t want a good looking lawn? Someone with an eye for detail who loves outdoor work could do well.
- Tutoring services – Whether a student needs some help for a class in school, study for ACT or SAT, or wants to learn a new skill not covered in local schools, you have options. Tutors are always in demand. And tend to get paid pretty well.
- Car wash – If you own the only car wash in town you have a pretty good setup.
- Cleaning services – No one likes to clean. At some point everyone’s house needs cleaning.
- Maintenance & home upkeep – Independent living is a big deal to much of an aging rural population. Offering services where once or twice a week you come by to help with food prep, grab things from the basement, or do minor repairs and upkeep is a great way to serve and create a helpful side business. Also good for non-handyman types who recently moved to the country.
- Open an arcade – The one in my small town where I grew up absolutely killed it. The ones making a comeback in cities are doing well. If you’re the one place for young people to hang out, for adults to hit that retro feeling, it can be very profitable business. Not to mention the type that attracts people from other nearby rural towns.
- Bowling ally – This is a great business for a small town. Make sure to serve food and get that liquor license!
- Massage/chiropractic practice – Getting wellness services outside of a doctor’s office can be really hard in remote areas. Someone who is licensed can do very well because the demand is there.
- Small engine repair – Lawnmowers, weed whackers, washer/dryer, vacuum cleaners. There are many things that have small engines that people don’t want to replace. If you can offer actual repairs you could do well. $100 for a riding lawn mower repair is a steal compared to a new $1,500 model.
- Pet care – Everyone loves their pets. A little bit of grooming and extra care goes a long way. In your area this might include a doggy daycare or something similar for cats.
- Christmas tree farm – This takes a few years to get going. But once you have the pines and have the acres staggered to have trees each year, this is a great way to keep trees on the property and make money on the side. Seasonal, for sure. But if an entire town comes to you for a Christmas tree, that adds up real quick.
- Local tour guide – What’s different or unique about your area? What’s the local history? Find out and become a local tour guide!
- Public notary – The need for a public notary doesn’t go away because an area is urban, rural, or somewhere in between. A public notary can charge a solid fee for a very short amount of work.
- Plumber/HVAC services – Even small towns can often support multiple plumbers. If you don’t mind the work, it’s a good business that will always be in demand.
- Electrician – Electricians get trained, and then they get paid. May require a lot of traveling if you’re the only one in the area, but you’ll be paid quite well.
- Property sale prepping – Someone getting ready to sell a property may not have time to properly prep it. Mow the lawns, mind the paint, do a thorough cleaning of the inside. Make the property look its best before listings or showings.
- Virtual Assistant (VA) – As long as you’re in a rural area with solid Internet, working as a VA is an option.
- Freelance writer – Writing can be done from any location you can jump online. Maybe a rural setting will help with inspiration?
- Local YouTuber – Interest in videos off the beaten path and non-tourist destinations has never been higher.
- Rural podcaster – No one knows local issues like someone living and working in the area. Start a rural podcast, talk to local officials or experts to see what’s going on
- Local artist/creative handicrafts – This covers a wide array of creative products. Set up an Etsy shop, hit local flea markets, 4th of July celebrations, farmers market, or other special events.
- Online flipper – Call it retail arbitrage, call it reselling, call it what you want. Buy low, sell high.
- Rural infrastructure development – There is a massive market for individuals and companies who can do it. Especially when it comes to developing rural internet.
- Home watching services – Who is going to watch the house while a family’s gone for a two week vacation? Who’s going to feed the pets, or bring in the mail? Home watching or home sitting services are handy in rural areas.
- Local fishing/hunting guide – Know all the good fishing spots? Is your area known for deer, pheasant, or even wild hog hunting? Being a local guide can be a great way to earn serious money doing something you already love.
- Start a gas station – Even in a small town a gas station can actually do very well. While traveling extensively, some of my favorite spots off the beaten path were small town gas stations that also served food and had seats for the old timers drinking their daily coffee. Tends to be easier to manage than a grocery store.
- Build a business around a local rural need – There are many challenges that most small rural communities share. But each area also has unique challenges or needs that aren’t being met. Look around, take a look at what demand is not being meant, and build a business around that localized need.
Use Technology to Your Advantage
One of the biggest opportunities for rural businesses to grow and thrive is using technology to bring new life to old business models. An antique store in a very small town at a non-tourist destination can only have so much traffic.
But if you sell antiques on eBay or online (as my parents did very successfully for a few years) out of a physical location, that can work very well.
Many small community businesses that have struggled in recent years could thrive with an online business/physical location combination focus. The biggest problem in many cases is good internet access in very rural locations.
But hotspotting off of smartphones has even created a workaround in many areas where this might not have been possible even a few years ago.
There’s also many places where a strong movement to shop locally and support local businesses means having an online listing is even more important. Even for sparsely populated rural areas.
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Add in the fact that you can do many things in the country easily you can’t do in the city, and the YouTube channel/blog possibilities really take off.
Whether opening a seasonal ice cream shop, finding a better way to run an organic poultry farm, or creating a deep woods “permacamp” YouTube channel, rural areas offer many opportunities for strong entrepreneurs who are willing to be creative in applying new technology and tools to old styles of business.
Make a blog about business in a rural setting. Add on a YouTube channel. Even moderate success here can add even more to your income.
And in a beautiful peaceful rural community where you can take a dollar a long way (much further than the big city for sure). That’s definitely not nothing.
Here’s to your on-going success!