There's nothing like your favorite boutique store or local restaurant. These places, owned by real people, not corporations, make a difference in their communities.
According to the National League of Cities, small "homegrown" businesses create new jobs and employ local residents, and create a unique sense of place that enhances a community's quality of life.
If you live in a metropolitan area with lots of residents and resources, the opportunities to grow your business and have an impact are even greater. Here are a few types of small businesses you can run in a big city.
Do you have a passion for home brewing? You might be able to turn your love of beer into a business. Urban residents are always looking for local artisans who can offer a small-scale, handcrafted experience, especially when it comes to craft beer. Chelsea Craft Brewing Company, for instance, has made its mark in the Bronx with its locally brewed beverage selection.
Cities make for a competitive atmosphere, but the right combination of talent, location and interest can make your brewery an interesting must-visit location. [See Related Story: How to Start Your Own Craft Brewery]
With a lot of pet owners in apartment buildings, a big city is a great place for a part-time dog-walking business. City dwellers don't have yards for their dogs to play in, and if they work long or irregular hours, they may not always have time to take Fido for his daily stroll. Put up flyers in your building, and see if any of your neighbors would be willing to entrust this task to you for a small fee. It's important to educate yourself on not only the local dog walking market but also proper animal care and handling before starting this business. [See Related: How to Start a Pet Care Business]
Everyone needs to eat, so what better place to start a food service business than a place with tons of mouths to feed? Whether you choose to open a brick-and-mortar restaurant or a food truck, you have a good opportunity to draw in customers with a great menu and the right marketing tactics. While mobile restaurants parked on busy streets can bring in a lot of business, be sure to check your city's local laws about street vendor permits to avoid legal issues.
Large metro areas tend to produce a lot of pollution. To combat this problem, many city residents are interested in living greener. Help them make their lives eco-friendlier by starting an eco-consulting service. These consultants evaluate homes and offices, and offer solutions to make the businesses more environmentally friendly. This could mean advising a switch to energy-efficient appliances or simply implementing a recycling program. Become a certified eco-consultant to boost your credibility with potential clients.
Major cities are historical hubs. Antique items not only bring intrigue into a city constantly growing and changing, but it helps remind people of their roots. If you're educated in fine arts or have a knack for finding items that hold value, opening an antique store in a city may bring excitement and curiosity from all walks of life, local or otherwise. For example, Anastacia's Antiques, a 25-year-old staple in Philadelphia, proves that the right formula of items and location will keep people coming back no matter the size of the city.
Between their jobs and carting their children from one activity to the next, most working parents have very little time left to take care of personal errands like grocery shopping, making returns at the mall or mailing packages. Assist clients and free up their days for the important moment in their life. Public transportation in cities makes getting from place to place more convenient and less expensive than driving around in a suburban area, so you can keep your overhead travel expenses down. To boost your resume, begin building your experiences through companies like TaskRabbit or Airtasker.
Home decorating and organization
If you have an eye for design or a knack for organization, you can start a business helping city-dwellers make the most of their small living quarters. Apartment residents are constantly looking for ways to maximize their storage space and make cramped rooms feel bigger, so there will always be a market for organization and interior decorating services. Opening a physical office is also a great way for you to showcase your skills to potential clients.
Cities are melting pots of different cultures and backgrounds, so fluency in multiple languages is a big plus. You can put those language skills to good use by offering to translate written and spoken words from one language to another for clients. Broadening international ties and an increase in the number of non-English speakers in the United States makes this a fast-growing field, with the Bureau of Labor Services predicting 42 percent growth by 2020. You can start your own independent service and market yourself to businesses, schools, hospitals, courtrooms and conference centers.
Additional reporting by Nicole Taylor.