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It's not difficult to think of business ideas to start in a rural area. Look around you at the landscape and needs of your community, and you'll see the possibilities.The problem is not coming up with an idea, but whether or not a business idea is viable. You can make money while living in an rural areas, and some businesses are easy to start and operate.
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Grocery stores are trying to capitalize on a growing trend, where individuals prefer grass fed chickens, raised without hormones or antibiotics. However, the costs to market and distribute those eggs remains high, and cannot compete with neighbors who raise their own chickens and eggs. Selling eggs is a viable business, and you don't need much land to raise and care for a flock of chickens.
You do need chicken coops, and a small pasture for your chickens to graze. However, most homeowners in rural areas have more than enough space for this, and if zoning and neighbors permit it, then you've got a business idea in a rural area that can earn enough money to help care for your family and your chickens. You may not need a license if you keep your flock to below 3,000 and restrict your selling to your neighborhood or a roadside stand. Check your state laws to see what's required.
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All Natural Produce
Natural eggs aren't the only food items in high demand, but also chemical free fruits and vegetables. For that reason, there's a movement afoot to buy locally grown organic foods. However, the paperwork and regulations that govern organic food production may be too burdensome in the beginning for a new business idea in a rural area.
The alternative is to grow and market produce that's essentially organic, without the official label. Market what you grow at a local farmers market, and also consider a roadside stand along a major road. Some established businesses may also permit you to rent their parking lot to set up a produce stand. There are many resources available so that you can learn how to grow organic fruits and vegetables, including your local Cooperative Extension Office, which is located at your state university or college.
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Another rural business startup idea to try if you have project management and carpentry skills is construction. Living in the country requires the construction of many structures from time to time, and some homeowners and farmers don't have the skills or time to complete projects that need to get done. If you're available, professional and reliable, you can do well with a carpentry business.
There's also a market of "newbies" to rural areas, as more people are leaving the cities. You'll have opportunities to help them set up their rural homes before they move, or after. For example, newcomers might want start raising chickens right away, but don't know how to build a chicken coop. Someone else might need a barn for a horse they've purchased. You could get hired to add an addition to a home. As in any industry, there are slow periods because you serve a finite community, but you can overcome this with proper business planning.
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It's important to find and grow a business idea in a rural area that will work for you. If jobs are not available, or if there are major layoffs, you'll stay be able to live off your business.