Top 10+Rural & Small Town Business Ideas in 2023


Rural America has been a thoroughly discussed and debated topic throughout the last decade.

With poverty rates now on the descent a shift in demographics is enhancing life in small towns.

As more baby boomers are drawn to the serene and minimalist lifestyle offered in rural communities, they’re bringing in a disposable income and a demand for business.

There is an opportunity for rural and small-town business ideas to be prosperous.

But which businesses will generate the highest ROI on investment?

What about market trends and statistical data?

Important info for potential business owners to make a more qualified decision. We’ve done some sleuthing and have found lucrative and viable options to generate an income outside Urban America.


Food has been a focal part of American culture for centuries.

 American’s enjoy the social aspect of sharing a meal, frequenting the local bar for a libation, or going out for ice cream after church on a Sunday afternoon.

Owners of culinary establishments in rural America walk a fine line between creating a community environment and catering to the potential tourist market.

For those interested in opening cuisine-based business conduct thorough research to understand your target market to ensure you are offering culinary infusions geared to the local palate.

This article offers some valuable information in understanding industry statistics and how to best capitalize on your culinary endeavor.The restaurant industry is worth over $863 billion dollars in the USA and projected to increase by 3.7% by 2024 suggesting that now is an excellent time to take advantage of this profitable business opportunity. Here are a few suggestions that statistically demonstrate a decent level of success in rural and small towns in the USA.


1. Coffee Shop & Bar

Coffee shops are a popular place for a community to congregate, socialize, or enjoy a beverage on the go.Research your costs, analyze your specific target market, offer items exclusive to your area, and this can be a cost-effective enterprise. You can open an independent coffee shop for as little as $5000 or invest as much as $350,000+.

With projected earnings for shop owners estimated at $60,000-$160,000 per annul, there is the potential to achieve significant monetary success.Consider adding specialty coffees to your menu by obtaining a liquor license.

Baked goods or locally made edibles, expanding sales and gross receipts will only enhance your overall profit margin.This article highlights some considerations when determining if this is a good fit for your financial situation.


2. Diner

Everyone appreciates a good breakfast diner-nothing quite like a greasy fry-up to start your morning.

You can open a diner for between $50,000-$75,000 as per this article.People living in rural America have a particular fondness for diners, as they are often a hub of activity.

By including an all-day breakfast or light lunch menu, you eliminate the costs of having to prepare more expensive dinner cuisine and have the option for set hours, thus reducing employee and overhead expenses. Keep in mind, however, that fewer hours equate to less opportunity to generate sales.

Locally provided eggs, protein options, or fruit/vegetable bowls incorporate the community, which would be an attraction for tourists and locals alike.


3. Food Truck

If I lived in Idaho, I would give serious consideration to opening a fry truck.Poutine, chili fries, waffle fries, specialty fries, etc. By utilizing produce grown in your backyard, you cut overhead cost margins significantly.

This expenditure equates to an average of $40,000-$250,000 to invest and open.Check out the cost analysis found in this publication.With food costs around 25%-35%, your nemesis will be bad weather, poor location choice, or a combination of the two.

It is possible to generate a profit margin of 6%-9%.This article offers relevant information if considering this rural and small-town business idea.


4. Restaurant

Americans love to eat.They enjoy it even more when someone takes care of the cooking.

With 51% of consumer spending landing in the pockets of restaurateurs, the key to a significant profit margin is staying abreast of current trends. This ideology is no different for small-town business owners.

Digital menu boards and a unique carte du jour will enhance the overall experience for your clientele.

Establish a reputation for yourself by offering locally grown, organic produce or specialty dishes representing your geographical locale and you will also cater to tourists interested in experimenting with regional cuisine.This publication provides suggestions on how to develop your customer base and secure an ROI of 5%-15%.


5. Sports Bar

It all comes down to how well you manage your business and meet the demands of your target market.

If you live in a rural area that does not have much competition, yet has a sufficient population with disposable income or a tourist sector, opening a sports bar is worth considering. This article provides details on how to open a sports bar.

With an average investment of around $400,000 and markups on alcohol between 200%-400%, this business suggestion offers attractive profit margins. Check out the statistics shared in this post supporting this information.


6. Ice Cream Shoppe

Ice cream is a sweet way to make a buck if you play your cards right. Depending on the weather and economic status of your area, you will need to consider whether it is better to invest in:

  • A storefront venue ($10,000-$50,000+)
  • Ice cream stand ($2000-$10,000)
  • Ice cream truck ($10,000-$20,000)

Read through this post to learn more about alternate options for opening an ice cream establishment.

With the potential to generate a profit margin between 20%-50%+ location is critical.If you opt for a mobile venture, you can cater to community events such as local fairs, carnivals, and school socials.

Utilize local products where possible to engage the locals and impress tourists.


7. Donut Shop

Americans consume over 10 billion donuts every year-staggering statistics.

 Projected to reach approximately $55 billion by 2024, the donuts industry has a CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) forecast at 5.2% by 2024, making owning a donuts shop a highly profitable business suggestion. Depending on your small town, there may be a need for a donuts shop-or a second-even third one.

Do your market research and ascertain if there is a demand in your area. Average equipment costs are around $15,000, but donuts are very inexpensive to make once you have acquired the essential machinery and secured a location.

The median wage for owners of a donuts shop is about $40,000/year.A straightforward and economical expenditure, and this article offers insight on how to open a donuts shop with a minimal investment (under $15,000).


8. Juice Bar

Juice bars are becoming increasingly trendy, even in rural America, with an increase of 4%-8% in the last ten years.There are several franchise opportunities that you can review here, costing between $47,000-$400,000+.

Or, here’s a good article to help you start a juice bar on your own.

The initial investment is a bit pricey, however, it is worth noting that owners earn an average revenue of $100,000-$400,000, so it wouldn’t take long to recoup your introductory costs.


9. Fast Food Franchise

Fast food franchises are a sure bet if you can secure the necessary capital required for the initial investment, which equates to around $1.5 million.

Before you panic, understand that franchisees need a liquid capital of $400,000 and a net worth of $750,000. 

Still a considerable investment, however, certain franchises are more flexible, and a select few will even assist the franchisee by fronting the money.You can read more about franchise opportunities, cost analysis, and profit margins here.


10. Pizza Parlor

Mamma Mia! No matter where you live, there is no denying that American enjoy the taste and convenience of pizza.

The industry is on the rise, with a projected growth of 2.9% for 2022. Depending on your vision-counter-top, a few tables, and take out section versus a sit-down pizzeria, you should plan to invest between $75,000-$100,000.

Don’t have the vision yourself?

Here are the best pizza franchises to open.This article outlines how you can start a pizza parlor in your small town.

 With a profit margin of 7-20%, pizza shop owners make an above-average yearly income.

Add to the mix economic growth and a projected increase in consumer spending, and this is an great time to investigate this suggestion further.