Small towns are so different, there is no one business will work in every small town. But there’s one business idea that almost every single small town I’ve visited needs: small spaces.
Every rural town could use smaller spaces for locals to start tiny retail businesses. Not everyone can afford to rent an entire downtown storefront, remodel it, bring it up to code, then start their retail business. But almost anyone could afford to fill a few hundred square feet, or even a few square feet.
The Village in Washington, Iowa, is a business that is a divided space. An old department store was divided up into little pretend storefronts inside, each only a few hundred square feet. Then in the interior courtyard, push carts offer a few dozen square feet for even smaller retail businesses. Even little tables are available, only a few square feet. It’s been a successful idea for 10 years now. As of 2018, they have six retailers sharing the space.
A local highschooler making her own hair accessories can easily manage to create enough product to fill only one table. A winery located out in the rural part of the county can use a tiny store front as a branch office. Anyone can get started and use the experience to learn and grow.
If you’re looking for one business idea that works in small towns, look at creating tiny spaces for other people to create their own businesses.
More ideas for growing your own entrepreneurs
Deb Brown and I share more ideas like this in our latest video at SaveYour.Town, Grow Your Own Entrepreneurs. The video is available on-demand starting Friday, November 9, 2018, and it is only available for two weeks. Your questions, stories and examples from your own town are welcome, too.
- Rural business idea: sell foraged fruits and more - August 3, 2021
- Best practices for rural housing - July 19, 2021
- How to be more open to new ideas #IdeaFriendly - July 3, 2021
- Market your small town as a movie filming location, attract movie and game fan tourists - June 28, 2021
- Survey of Rural Challenges 2021 results, analysis of themes from 2015 through today - June 7, 2021
- What makes a small town a micropolitan or nanopolitan? - May 22, 2021
- Improving Rural Housing: turning blighted dilapidated houses into new homes - May 7, 2021
- Are marijuana shops good or bad for small towns? - April 22, 2021
- Downtown is your town’s core: How to make your case - February 22, 2021
- Zoom Towns: attracting and supporting remote workers in rural small towns - December 10, 2020