Starting a business in a small town is always a bit of a gamble. While small towns and rural areas hold a lot of possibility for entrepreneurs, they are also the source of a great deal of uncertainty. Small town residents don’t all want the same things, and with limited populations (and sometimes limited capital) to support new businesses, those that don’t clearly meet a need or satisfy the area’s residents just don’t make it.
It takes a special type of business to thrive in a small town, and we’ve done some research to find out what the businesses that thrive in small towns are and how you can start one in your area.
3 Businesses That Thrive in Small Towns
Number one on the list, kid’s entertainment businesses tend to thrive in small towns because they’re often the only source for nearby weekend or afternoon fun in a small town. A variety of attractions qualify as kid’s entertainment – miniature golf courses, arcades, indoor gyms, batting cages, bounce houses, petting zoos, and more.
Wherever there are children, there are parents willing to pay to keep them entertained. If your small town doesn’t have many attractions for kids, it’s a prime opportunity to become the go-to place for kids for birthday parties, after-school, and weekends.
Additionally, many kid’s entertainment business options are available as franchises, which can be helpful for first-time business owners that are looking to start a business with a proven model.
You could be the first fitness center or gym to open in your small town. In a survey about New Year’s resolutions, 87% of participants said they felt it was “very likely” that they would join a gym in 2017. While many of those participants knew at the time of the survey that they wouldn’t step foot inside a gym this year or next, some of the responses are serious and indicate that a lot of small town residents are interested in getting fit. That’s why fitness centers, when they are around, thrive in small towns.
While it’s clear that small town residents are just as interested in physical fitness as their more urban counterparts, only around 39% of small towns have fitness centers or gyms. That means opening the first of its kind in your area could be a very smart business decision.
Finally, those with culinary skill might consider opening a bakery in a small town. Bakeries appeal to everyone, young and old, male and female, and thrive in small towns. If you can afford to open a small storefront in the heart of town, your bakery can become ingrained in the culture of the town.
Some people will stop in daily for a pastry, doughnut, or bread. Most people in small towns would prefer to purchase a cake for a family member’s birthday, wedding, or graduation from a local bakery than a grocery store chain.
One tip from Diane Gerris, a successful small town baker who says she knows the secret to doing well: “Use a few family recipes. People love knowing that a recipe has been handed down and that it’s been made for generations. They want to try the item that’s worth making over and over the same way for 100 years.”