Big opportunities can sometimes come from small places.
Maybe the big city just isn't your dream. Maybe you look around at your hometown or your local scene and think, "I can find my grind right here." Not wanting to live or work in a large, urban center doesn’t mean you can’t start an extremely successful business. The fashion industry isn’t found only on 5th Avenue, and Paris is just one of millions of places where people love a fresh-baked croissant.
Entrepreneurs should keep in mind that if they don’t want to fight the hundreds of competitors in big cities, then small or mid-sized towns ー new or familiar ー could be the place for you and your business. Towns can be the setting for all different types of industries. The shop around the corner can grow into a large retail chain (it happened for Walmart and McDonald's) or it can stay where it is and help build a community. These five fields of business have what it takes to succeed on the small stage.
1. Everybody Eats
It's usually three meals a day, whether you live in Los Angeles or rural Iowa. If you are in the food industry, a small town can be just the place for your restaurant, bakery or whatever your specialty is. If you treat them right and are good at your job, customers will become well-known and friendly faces you see around town. Plus, the competition is on a much smaller scale. If your trade is in Indian cuisine or Caribbean dishes, then you could have a major edge in a small town where you could be bringing in a whole new flavor to citizens' palates. Restaurant and food shop owners who flourish in small towns are are willing to start small with small spaces, love getting to know their customers and have a passion for their food over anything else.
2. Trims, Manis and Massages
Salons are known for the close relationships between stylist and customer. People want to get their hair cut or eyebrows done by people they trust. In a small town, an entrepreneur can build those personal bonds and have a constant flow of customers when those ends start to split. Towns are perfect for stylists who love to get to know their customers, and the customer can really appreciate the necessary skills of stylists and manicurists over patronizing a name-brand chain. Customers love authenticity, and in a small town, your work is displayed to all the locals. The customers will receive skilled pampering by someone they know and don’t have to travel far to spend hundreds or wait in line.
3. If It's Too Big, Get It Hemmed
Just like a pair of pants or a nice dress, if city life is too big for your budding tailoring business, then make the necessary alterations. Tailors in small towns can work right out of their homes. With the necessary tools, local entrepreneurs who can sew, cut and hem can run a business from any size location. With the trust and support of customers who know you can sort out any clothing problem, the business can grow as quickly. Starting a customer service business from your home is a personal gesture in and of itself. A person must be willing to trust their customers and advertise by word of mouth. Lastly, like in a salon, you can’t fake being a good tailor, so make sure you really know what you’re doing with a needle or sewing machine when starting this type of business.
4. Sharing Talent
A passion for music can be a quickly forgotten tune in a bustling city. Smaller scales can afford artists the opportunity to shine brighter and explore deeper. In a small town, music shops, tutors and performers are adored by those who love music. A music shop can bring cutting-edge culture to the people and/or the instruments to help them play themselves. Tutors can work out of their homes and teach local children and adults how to play. Music brings people together, and when there’s a smaller population, an entrepreneur can create a whole community over a shared love for music. This works well when you wish to expand a music passion into a steady career without constantly being on the road and fighting for people's ears and eyes.
5. Who Doesn't Love Convenience?
For those entrepreneurs who dream of owning their own shop but can’t decide what kind, small towns and small shops combine perfectly. Convenience shops provide a town with everything it needs right this second. When you’re so close by, people can just run on over when they're low on sugar or shampoo. Channel your entrepreneurial passion into running an accessible and visible business without having to focus on a specific skill. Maybe you just want to function as a social hub and see your customers walk away satisfied. CVS and Walgreens aren’t for everyone, and those who cherish a friendly, independent business want to go local.
A Northern Virginia native, Anna looks forward to studying communications at James Madison University. Her main interests are photography, journalism and supporting the Washington Nationals.