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In a vast country like ours, population distribution is highly dispersed. The small towns, which include the class IV & V towns, constitute more than 10% of the urban population and close to 50% of the total number of towns. In terms of numbers, the total population in small towns roughly stands at 3.77 crores spread over approximately 4000 town locations. The numbers itself speak how vast and promising these small towns collectively stand as a market segment. These small towns continue to grow on various critical parameters which are vital for business – health, education, infrastructure, internet penetration, mobile phone usage, computer literacy, uniform tax structure and so on. Without specific market research and studies, it would be naïve to assume that these small towns do not possess any favorable platform or the statistics for the conduct of business. From an entrepreneur’s perspective, there could be a host of possible business opportunities. [(1), (2)]

1. Travel & Tourism

Although, sounds like an old business idea but traveling never gets old. Thousands of people from every town and city, for at least once in a year, travel with their families and friends to different parts of the country or even abroad. These could be annual family trips, adventure trips with friends, educational or business trips, pilgrimages, honeymoon destinations, travel enthusiasts and so on. The improved connectivity (road, rail and air) between villages, towns and cities has significantly brought down the perceptive barriers of long-distance traveling and time-consuming journeys. The increasing competition in this sector is an indication of its business prospect. Full range of services can include ticket and hotel booking, organizing destination-based tours, pick-up and drop facility, adventure camps, mountaineering and trekking trips and so on. Present day e-commerce and communication technologies provide an easy and convenient platform for the customers to explore and avail these services. However, the real challenge in this sector is creating a strong USP amidst stiff competition from national brands.

Thousands of people from every town and city, for at least once in a year, travel with their families and friends to different parts of the country or even abroad

2. Departmental Store

Over the last decade or so, departmental stores have edged past the old-fashioned grocery stores. Customers save a lot of time and effort with a one-stop shopping destination. Secondly, in departmental stores, customers can take their time to pick their products from a wide range of brands available in different quantity packs according to their preferences and priorities. Thirdly, because of the organized merchandising in departmental stores, it is easier for customers to pick their products even if they are not carrying a shopping list. While departmental stores are already very popular in the big cities and towns, it has begun to pick up momentum in the small towns. With increasing popularity and preference for departmental stores over grocery stores as a shopping destination for monthly household needs, departmental stores offer a promising business opportunity for entrepreneurs in the small towns.

With increasing popularity and preference for departmental stores over grocery stores as a shopping destination for monthly household needs, departmental stores offer a promising business opportunity for entrepreneurs in the small towns.

3. Educational Coaching Centre

Education continues to be a booming sector. Many students travel to different education hubs of the country to stay there and prepare for various competitive examinations like engineering, medical, civil services and management to have access to competitive exam-oriented study centers. With the demographics in support and increasing competition, this sector is only growing at a phenomenal rate. This can be an expensive process for parents and guardians along with sending their wards to a different city away from the care and comfort of their homes and convenience of their hometown. While this has resulted in many popular coaching centers of national repute spreading out to several small towns and cities, it also is an indication of the presence of a prospective market segment in these places. One of the key requirements for establishing a strong brand name for an institute is the superlative performance of the students being coached by that Institute in various competitive exams and this invariably necessitates recruitment of competent and experienced teaching staff and a suitable environment and infrastructure for study.

Many students travel to different education hubs of the country to stay there and prepare for various competitive examinations like engineering, medical, civil services and management to have access to competitive exam-oriented study centers

4. Garden and Lawn Care

Garden is a space-consuming luxury in metropolitan and other big cities limited only to a few and for the rest; gardening is restricted to flower pots in balconies. However, in small towns, the situation is better in terms of availability of space for gardens and lawns in residences. At the same time, not many people possess professional skills for managing their gardens and lawns. Gardening and lawn services are often rendered by local mail or gardener. It is not yet a very popular business in the organized and professional format making it a potential business opportunity to be explored. The requirements for a business in this field include skilled manpower, gardening and lawn care tools and accessories, a collection of various types of lawn grasses, access to a variety of seeds and saplings of plants and flowers. The crucial considerations in this field are the geographical and climatic conditions.

It is not yet a very popular business in the organized and professional format making it a potential business opportunity to be explored

5. Electronics & Electrical Appliances Store

Electronic and electrical appliances like refrigerators, air-conditioners, washing machines, microwaves, smartphones, televisions, desktop computers and laptops, printers etc are products which make life a whole lot easier, convenient and fun. With an expanding consumer market and rising disposable income, the demand for these products is always on the rise. This is especially true for small towns where markets have started to open up for consumer electronics and electrical appliances. It is an appropriate time for entrepreneurs in small towns to explore business opportunities in this product segment and capture the market before competition sets in. Logistics is a critical area in this business especially in small towns where the distance factor may cause time lags in the order and delivery process of goods from the companies’ distributors and may necessitate maintaining higher reorder levels and additional storage space.

It is an appropriate time for entrepreneurs in small towns to explore business opportunities in this product segment and capture the market before competition sets in

There could be plenty of business opportunities available in small towns than the ones described above. The key is to foresee the specific problems and needs of the customers and the markets and come up with a solution that could be profitably delivered. With professional help or guidance in retail business management from start-up business consultants, entrepreneurs in small towns can build a solid start-up business plan for their retail business or even brainstorm innovative retail business ideas.

The key is to foresee the specific problems and needs of the customers and the markets and come up with a solution that could be profitably delivered

YRC is an “Expert Service Division” of Mind-A-Mend Consultancy Pvt. Ltd.

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Author Bio

Rupal Agarwal

Chief Strategy Officer

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