10+ Best Small Business Ideas to Start in Kentucky [2023])

Explore top small business ideas to kickstart your entrepreneurial journey in Kentucky in 2023. Unleash potential, maximize profits!

By Nick Cotter
Updated Feb 07, 2024

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Hey there, future entrepreneur! Have you been dreaming about starting your own small business? Well, you're in the right place! Kentucky, with its thriving economy and supportive community, is a fantastic place to turn that dream into a reality. But, where do you start? What kind of business should you open? Don't worry, we've got you covered! In this article, we're going to explore over 10 of the best small business ideas to kick-start in Kentucky for 2023. So, buckle up and get ready to embark on an exciting journey of entrepreneurship and success!

Whether you're a Kentucky native or thinking about moving to the Bluegrass State, these business ideas will inspire you, educate you, and hopefully, motivate you to take that leap of faith. The opportunities are endless, and the time is now. So, let's dive in and discover the potential that awaits you in the world of small business ownership. Here's to a prosperous 2023!

Bbq Catering Service

Starting a BBQ Catering Service business in Kentucky is a fantastic idea due to a variety of reasons. Kentucky, known for its rich culinary history and love for BBQ, provides an ideal environment for such a business. A BBQ catering service can cater to both locals and tourists who crave authentic Kentucky BBQ.

  • BBQ Culture: Kentucky has a strong BBQ culture. This means there is a high demand for BBQ, especially during festivals, fairs, and other events.
  • Local Ingredients: Kentucky is home to a number of farms that provide fresh ingredients. This can be a strong selling point for a BBQ catering service that values quality and freshness.
  • Outdoor Events: Kentucky's warm climate and love for outdoor events provide ample opportunity for a BBQ catering service to thrive.
  • Tourism: Kentucky's tourism industry is robust. Tourists, especially those coming for the Kentucky Derby, often seek out local cuisine. A BBQ catering service can cater to these tourists.
  • Local Support: Kentuckians are known for supporting local businesses. This support can help a new BBQ catering service get off the ground and thrive.
image of a Bbq Catering Service

Bourbon Distillery

Opening a Bourbon Distillery in Kentucky is a brilliant idea for several reasons. Kentucky is renowned for its bourbon production, making it the perfect location for a distillery.

  • Rich History: Kentucky has a deep-rooted history in bourbon production dating back to the 18th century. This rich heritage attracts bourbon lovers from all over the world, providing a ready market.
  • Perfect Climate: The state's climate, with its hot summers and cold winters, is ideal for aging bourbon, giving it a distinct, full-bodied flavor that is hard to replicate elsewhere.
  • Quality Water: Kentucky's limestone-rich water is free from iron and rich in calcium, which is ideal for making bourbon. This naturally filtered water adds to the unique taste of Kentucky bourbon.
  • Tourism: Kentucky's Bourbon Trail is a significant tourist attraction. Establishing a distillery here would benefit from the existing tourism infrastructure and popularity.
  • Skilled Workforce: With bourbon production being a significant part of Kentucky's culture, there is a skilled workforce experienced in all aspects of bourbon production, from distilling to barrel making and aging.
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Examples of successful businesses:

Kentucky has been home to numerous small businesses that have thrived and achieved success in various industries. The state's entrepreneurial spirit, supportive business environment, and diverse economy have paved the way for innovative ideas to flourish. From local eateries to unique retail stores, here are some examples of small businesses that have found success in the Bluegrass State:

  • Ale-8-One - This family-owned soft drink company, founded in 1902, produces the iconic Ale-8-One ginger ale. It has gained a loyal following in Kentucky and neighboring states, becoming a beloved local brand.
  • Maker's Mark Distillery - Located in Loretto, Maker's Mark is a renowned bourbon whiskey distillery that has become a staple in the Kentucky bourbon industry. Its handcrafted approach and distinctive red wax seal have helped it gain national and international recognition.
  • Good Foods Co-op - Founded in 1972, Good Foods Co-op is a successful natural foods grocery store in Lexington. It offers a wide range of organic and locally sourced products, catering to the growing demand for healthy and sustainable food options.
  • Afghan Express Restaurant - This family-owned restaurant in Louisville specializes in Afghan cuisine, offering a unique dining experience in the area. With its authentic flavors and warm ambiance, Afghan Express has gained popularity among locals and visitors alike.
  • West Sixth Brewing - Established in Lexington in 2012, West Sixth Brewing has become a prominent craft brewery in Kentucky. It offers a variety of beers, hosts community events, and has expanded its distribution to several states.
  • High Street Fly - Based in Bowling Green, High Street Fly is a successful fly fishing outfitter and guide service. It provides equipment, expertise, and guided trips for fly fishing enthusiasts, attracting customers from both within and outside the state.

Establish A Horse Breeding Farm

Establishing a Horse Breeding Farm can be a highly rewarding venture. It is a great way to combine a passion for horses with a potentially profitable business. Horse breeding farms not only contribute to the preservation and propagation of certain horse breeds, but also offer services such as training, boarding, and sales of horses.

  • Passion for Horses: If you love horses, owning a horse breeding farm allows you to work with these magnificent creatures every day.
  • Economic Benefit: A well-managed horse breeding farm can be a profitable business. You can earn income from selling horses, offering boarding services, providing training, and more.
  • Preservation of Breeds: Horse breeding farms play a crucial role in preserving and improving specific horse breeds. This is particularly important for rare or endangered breeds.
  • Recreational Activities: Horse breeding farms often offer recreational activities such as horse riding, which can attract tourists and locals alike.
  • Therapeutic Services: Horses are known for their therapeutic effects on people, especially children and adults with special needs. Your farm could offer therapeutic riding programs.

More resources:

Launch A Local Tour Guide Service

Launching a local tour guide service in Kentucky is a fantastic idea due to its rich history, diverse culture, and stunning natural beauty. This venture can attract both local and international tourists, providing them with a unique and personalized experience of the Bluegrass State.

  • Historical Significance: Kentucky is home to numerous historical sites such as the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace, Perryville Battlefield, and the Louisville Slugger Museum. A local tour guide service can provide in-depth knowledge and insights about these places, enhancing the visitor's experience.
  • Natural Beauty: From the Mammoth Cave National Park to the Cumberland Falls, Kentucky's natural beauty is breathtaking. A local tour guide can lead visitors to these stunning locations, ensuring they don't miss out on any must-see sights.
  • Bourbon Tours: Kentucky is famous for its bourbon distilleries. A local tour guide service can offer specialized tours that take visitors behind the scenes of these distilleries, providing a unique experience they can't get anywhere else.
  • Horse Racing: Known as the Horse Capital of the World, Kentucky's horse racing culture is a major draw for tourists. A local tour guide can provide insider knowledge about this industry and arrange visits to famous sites like the Kentucky Horse Park and Churchill Downs.
  • Local Culture: Kentucky has a rich and diverse culture, with unique music, food, and festivals. A local tour guide can introduce visitors to these aspects of Kentucky life, providing a more immersive and authentic experience.

Handmade Crafts Store

Starting a Handmade Crafts Store in Kentucky is a fantastic idea due to several reasons. Kentucky, known for its rich culture and history, has a deep appreciation for handcrafted items. This appreciation combined with the state's booming tourism industry creates a ripe market for a Handmade Crafts Store.

  • Rich Craft Culture: Kentucky's rich craft culture provides a steady supply of local artisans. These artisans can supply unique, high-quality items that are not available in mass-produced stores.
  • Tourism: Kentucky's booming tourism industry attracts millions of visitors each year. These visitors often look for unique souvenirs, and handmade crafts fit the bill perfectly.
  • Support for Small Businesses: The state of Kentucky offers numerous incentives and resources for small businesses, making it easier to start and run a business.
  • Local Support: Kentuckians take pride in their local products and often prefer to support local businesses. This can lead to a loyal customer base for a Handmade Crafts Store.
  • Economic Growth: Kentucky's economy has been steadily growing, meaning more potential customers with disposable income to spend on handmade crafts.

Related business ideas:

Local Produce Grocery Store

Setting up a Local Produce Grocery Store in Kentucky is a beneficial idea for several reasons. This initiative would not only support local farmers and the state's economy but also provide healthier, fresher, and more sustainable food options for the community.

  • Support Local Economy: By purchasing from local farmers, we can keep money within our community, supporting local jobs and businesses.
  • Fresh and Healthy: Locally grown produce is usually fresher since it does not have to travel long distances. This freshness not only affects the taste of the food, but it can also have a positive impact on the nutritional value.
  • Environmentally Friendly: Buying local produce reduces the carbon footprint associated with transporting goods from far distances. This can significantly contribute to the fight against climate change.
  • Seasonal Variety: Local Produce Grocery Stores provide a variety of fruits and vegetables that are in season, offering a diverse range of options for consumers.
  • Supports Local Farmers: By shopping at a local produce store, consumers can directly support farmers in their community, contributing to their livelihood and sustainability.

Fishing Equipment Store

Starting a Fishing Equipment Store in Kentucky is an excellent idea due to several reasons. Kentucky, known for its abundant rivers and lakes, offers diverse fishing opportunities, making it a hotspot for fishing enthusiasts. This creates a high demand for fishing equipment and supplies.

  • High demand: With over 1,000 square miles of water, Kentucky is a paradise for anglers. This means there is a consistent demand for fishing equipment.
  • Diverse Customer Base: Kentucky's fishing scene attracts a wide variety of customers, from professional anglers to hobbyists, all of whom need fishing equipment.
  • Favorable Business Climate: Kentucky has a business-friendly environment with policies that encourage entrepreneurship and small businesses.
  • Year-round Fishing: Unlike some states, fishing in Kentucky is a year-round activity. This ensures a steady flow of customers throughout the year.
  • Supportive Community: Kentucky has a strong community of outdoor enthusiasts who support local businesses.

Bed And Breakfast

Choosing to stay at a Bed and Breakfast in Kentucky offers a unique and enriching experience. This option provides a more personal touch compared to traditional hotels, giving visitors a chance to experience the local culture and hospitality of the Bluegrass State.

  • Bed and Breakfasts in Kentucky are often located in historic homes or charming rural areas, offering a unique and authentic experience that you won't get in a typical hotel.
  • Many Bed and Breakfasts offer home-cooked, locally sourced meals, allowing you to enjoy the rich culinary traditions of Kentucky.
  • Staying at a Bed and Breakfast provides opportunities to meet and interact with locals, offering insights into the region's culture and way of life.
  • Most Bed and Breakfasts in Kentucky are close to popular tourist attractions, including horse farms, bourbon distilleries, and beautiful nature parks.
  • Bed and Breakfast owners often provide personalized services and are more than willing to share their knowledge of the area, helping you plan your stay and discover lesser-known attractions.

Launch A Mobile Food Truck

Launching a mobile food truck in Kentucky can be a lucrative business venture. The food truck industry has been growing rapidly in recent years, and Kentucky, with its diverse range of culinary tastes and vibrant food culture, is an ideal place to start this kind of business. There are numerous reasons why launching a mobile food truck in Kentucky is a good idea:

  • High Demand: Kentucky is known for its love of food, which creates a high demand for unique and delicious meals on the go. This provides a great opportunity for food truck businesses.
  • Lower Startup Costs: Compared to traditional brick-and-mortar restaurants, food trucks generally require a lower initial investment. This makes it a more accessible option for many entrepreneurs.
  • Flexibility: A mobile food truck offers the flexibility to change locations and adapt to customer demands. This can be particularly beneficial in a state like Kentucky, where there are numerous festivals, events, and tourist spots to cater to.
  • Increasing Popularity: The food truck trend is on the rise in many parts of the country, including Kentucky. As more people seek out these mobile dining experiences, there is potential for significant growth in this industry.
  • Vibrant Local Cuisine: Kentucky's diverse local cuisine, from its world-famous bourbon to its fried chicken, provides a rich array of options for a food truck menu. This can help attract both locals and tourists alike.

Establish A Home Renovation Business

Establishing a Home Renovation Business in Kentucky is an excellent idea for a variety of reasons. The real estate market in Kentucky is thriving, with many homeowners looking to improve and upgrade their homes. Additionally, Kentucky's economy is robust and supportive of small businesses, making it a prime location for a home renovation business.

  • Economic Growth: Kentucky has a thriving economy with a steady growth rate. This ensures a stable market for a home renovation business.
  • Real Estate Market: The real estate market in Kentucky is booming. Many homeowners are looking to renovate and upgrade their homes to increase their property value, providing a steady stream of potential clients.
  • Supportive Business Environment: Kentucky has a supportive environment for small businesses. The state offers various incentives and resources to help small businesses grow and succeed.
  • Skilled Labor: Kentucky has a large pool of skilled labor, making it easier to hire qualified workers for your business.
  • Quality of Life: Kentucky offers a high quality of life with affordable living costs. This can help attract and retain employees.


Founder and CEO

I'm Nick, co-founder of newfoundr.com, dedicated to helping aspiring entrepreneurs succeed. As a small business owner with over five years of experience, I have garnered valuable knowledge and insights across a diverse range of industries. My passion for entrepreneurship drives me to share my expertise with aspiring entrepreneurs, empowering them to turn their business dreams into reality.

Through meticulous research and firsthand experience, I uncover the essential steps, software, tools, and costs associated with launching and maintaining a successful business. By demystifying the complexities of entrepreneurship, I provide the guidance and support needed for others to embark on their journey with confidence.

From assessing market viability and formulating business plans to selecting the right technology and navigating the financial landscape, I am dedicated to helping fellow entrepreneurs overcome challenges and unlock their full potential. As a steadfast advocate for small business success, my mission is to pave the way for a new generation of innovative and driven entrepreneurs who are ready to make their mark on the world.