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Searching For

Business Ideas For Small Towns

When searching for business ideas for small towns, it was totally unexpected.

Actually, my wife suggested I call my sister-in-law Becky and ask her how she searched for good small business ideas to start in her small town of 6,400 people. She opened a retail store there four years ago.

Becky obliged. What follows is a shorter version of our two-hour phone call.

Becky had no idea that she would meet and marry a guy who lives and works in a small town. Of course, she was determined to contribute to the family’s income. She told me, “I have a brain too, you know.”

And, away we went just chatting away.

Becky Searches for Her Own Business Ideas for Small Towns

She narrowed her search to deciding what type of retail store to open.

The All Important Steps: What are the retail needs of this community?

  • She took an inventory of every type of small town businesses there was in her town and also three others within a fifty-mile radius of her town.

  • She met with the Area Development Director for the county.
  • She interviewed nearly all of the retail store owners, visited four women’s groups, visited a total of six churches in the 50-mile radius, even visited the teacher’s lounge in some of the schools and went so far as to stop shoppers in the four towns asking them, “what was missing.”
  • The next question for the above-mentioned people was, “How to get townspeople to support the suggestions they gave her.” This way Becky says, “She could get a feel for “what works, what the local customs are and how people liked to be approached asking for their business.

Business Ideas for Small Towns: Becky’s Choice

After gathering all this info, she determined that starting a Bakery would be the best choice.

In the city, we call this market research. She gathered opinions about what the town needed, how she could get people to support her and determined that the missing ingredient was a Bakery

How Becky Started Her Bakery Business

She started her bakery by leasing a small 437 sq. ft. space by the drug store. She bought nearly $2,800 in used equipment including two baking ovens.

She decided to start small, very small. Her opening baked goods inventory included:

8 cakes

10 pies

9-dozen each of 5-kinds of cookies

56-chocolate éclairs and 50-large individual brownies

5-kinds of muffins, 2-dozen each

328-other assorted pastries

She opened on a Saturday morning at 8:00 AM. She was sold out by 11:06 AM.

She was both frustrated that she hadn’t better anticipated needed opening day product and happy that people knew she had opened and were glad to see a bakery in town.

The Moral of the Story

Searching for the best opportunity for your small town may be just as easy as asking people what they want! Becky spent about three weeks testing the waters, asking questions and then sifting through the informal data in order to find her answer.

Today, Becky told me that she has hired two full time bakers and eight part time wait staff.

Oh, three years ago she moved down the street into a 2,300 sq. ft. space, added coffee, soups, chips, sandwiches and deserts to her menu and does a significant lunch business 6-days a week. She has also incorporated about 80 sq. ft. for consignment crafts, which are selling like hot cakes!

I wish you well too.

Thank you for visiting Business Ideas for Small Towns.

Resources to Start and Grow Your Business

U. S. Small Business Administration

American Society of Baking

Retail Bakers of America

Additional Small Town Business Ideas

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