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Go Rural

It is possible to start a business in a small community.

Q: I'd like to move to a mountain community with a population of less than 2,000 people, but I'll need to start a business that will support my family. Is there any hope?

A: Like you, millions of Americans are on the move or want to be. People are in search of better-quality lives for themselves and their families, lower-cost housing and more contact with nature. Plus, they want to get away from the stress of urban and suburban living.

Plenty of businesses that can be done from home in a small town, like PC repair or e-tailing, don't require much startup capital. Because of the building of new homes and the turnover of existing homes, businesses like home inspection, real estate appraisal, remodeling contracting, landscape and garden design and installation, fireplace installation and chimney sweeping, and gutter installation and repair may find eager customers.

Attracting longtime residents is usually necessary for success. Small towns are not like cities. Word gets around quickly, so first impressions--such as your first meal at a new restaurant--are apt to spell success or failure. Relationships matter a lot, as people depend on each other for all kinds of things they don't need in cities--like a ride to an emergency room if someone is hurt. The ability to build and maintain those relationships is vital to becoming an accepted member of the community.

To learn more about communities before visiting them, visit

Authors and career coaches Paul and Sarah Edwards' new book is The Best Home Businesses for People 50+.Send them your questions at or in care of Entrepreneur.

This story appears in the March 2005 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »