Small Town & Rural Area Entrepreneurship

Nov 15, 2022

The high cost of urban & suburban real estate, increased crime, poor public policy governance, and the enhanced ability to work virtually from home has resulted in increased home purchases and entrepreneurship in small towns and rural areas in the last couple of years.  The National Association of Realtors (NAR) annually conducts a survey ( to assess home buying trends in America.  The information revealed by the survey for the period running from July 2021 to June 2022 supported this assessment related to population migrating out of the cities and into the country.  48% of home purchases during the twelve-month period were in small towns (29%) and rural areas (19%), a record for the survey, which has been taken since 2003.  A figure that increased 32% from the same period a year earlier.  The change came at the expense of suburban purchases, which dropped from 51% to 39% of total purchases and urban home sales which fell 3% from 13% to 10%.   It is also interesting to note that home buyers moved a median distance of 50 miles from their previous residence to make a purchase, a significant increase from the fifteen miles that was the median the previous five years.

IBA, as a regional business brokerage firm serving Washington and Oregon with offices in Bellevue, Spokane, and Portland, has also seen an increased interest in the small town and rural business opportunities we are representing for sale.  We have recently completed sales from Bellingham to Ocean Shores and from Vancouver to Chelan in Washington. We are currently working on business sales in Oregon from Brookings to Seaside on the Oregon Coast to the Willamette Valley wine country and from Port Townsend to Ellensburg and Quincy to Winthrop moving west to east and along the I-5 corridor moving north to south in towns including Arlington, Spanaway, and Battleground.  Examples of prior facilitated transactions throughout the region can be found on this page of our website:

One of the obstacles to entrepreneurship through business acquisition in a rural area can be the limited number of companies available for purchase. Unfortunately, a business brokerage firm cannot order inventory.  We are dependent on people wanting to sell. Something that can take decades to happen when an entrepreneur is executively managing a profitable company providing a service or product feeling personally fulfilled and sufficiently challenged.  One entrepreneurial solution to address a shortage of quality businesses on the market or to address an identified need is to purchase a franchise.  The advantages of purchasing a franchised business model include obtaining a recognized brand, time tested business model, and support infrastructure.  The members of IBA’s franchise brokerage division (, Charlie Magee and Curt Maier, welcome the opportunity to provide an overview of the available franchise concepts for entrepreneurs wishing to place a business in a specific location when no desire to execute a green field business startup concept exists.  They have the ability to sell franchises in all fifty states and internationally in select countries.

There is an old business axiom that people will not drive past a business offering an acceptable level of service and products to drive further in pursuit of similar offering.  Think about this in the context of your own life.  How many movie theaters do you drive past before attending a show, how about gas stations when you need gas, or Mexican restaurants when you crave enchiladas.  This premise is especially true in rural areas where the distance between offerings are greater.  Market sizes also have the ability to limit competition.  How many auto repair shops or chiropractic clinics are needed in a given town?

If you are interested in exploring the sale or purchase of a business or acquisition of franchise in a small town or rural area, we would welcome the opportunity to have a conversation and provide an overview of our services.  All conversations with IBA are held in strict confidence.  100% of our fees are payable upon performance at the completion of the project.

IBA, the Pacific Northwest’s premier business brokerage firm since 1975, is available as an information resource to the media, business brokerage, and mergers & acquisitions community on subjects relevant to the purchase & sale of privately held companies and family-owned businesses.  IBA is recognized as one of the best business brokerage firms in the nation based on its long track record of successfully negotiating “win-win” business sale transactions in environments of full disclosure employing “best practices”.