Best Businesses to Start in South Dakota

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The Mount Rushmore State is one of the ten best states in the U.S. to start a business. South Dakota’s economy revolves around the agricultural sector and tourism. Crop growth is abundant in eastern South Dakota, and crops like soybeans, wheat, and maize are common. Ranching is also one of the most profitable businesses, and opportunities to work the land abound. And if you’re interested in retail or hospitality, the service industry is the most significant contributor to South Dakota’s economy.

South Dakota doesn’t tax personal income, capital gains, or corporate income. Crime rates are low, and energy costs are relatively inexpensive. Among South Dakota’s many attractive qualities, the state’s reasonable regulations and its balanced budget make South Dakota an attractive start-up proposition.

What is the best business to start in South Dakota? 

If you’ve got the entrepreneurial itch but aren’t sure where to start, we can help you. South Dakota offers numerous lucrative business ideas suitable to all backgrounds and passions. Whatever your skillsets, here are ten types of businesses to start right now. With our startup business resources and services, you can make any of your business ideas in South Dakota a reality.

Idea #1: Online Courses

The online education market is expected to grow into a $350B platform by 2025. Starting and maintaining an online course business takes little legal groundwork. And since most online devices are portable, online education makes it easy for learners to learn from anywhere. An online course business also works as a side-hustle, so it offers the potential for a lucrative part-time livelihood.

Idea #2: Cattle Ranching

The state of South Dakota is known for its cattle ranching. South Dakota ranked 6th among the best states to start a ranch or farm. And it ranked 5th for pulling in the highest average per farm income. Plus, agriculture is among the most rewarding and essential professions. If you’ve ever dreamed of a career in agriculture, cattle ranching may be one of the best business opportunities in South Dakota.

Idea #3: Confectionary and Bakery Business

People in South Dakota love their sweets and pastries. In South Dakota, a bakery business may be for you if you have any culinary or baking experience. A bonus in South Dakota is that home food processors can even sell baked and canned goods at venues like roadside stands, farmer’s markets, and church bazaars through its Cottage Food law. All around, a bakery and confectionery business is an excellent home-based business option. It’s one of the best small businesses to start in South Dakota.

Idea #4: Drive-in Movie Theater

Drive-ins have experienced a resurgence in the United States. Midwestern states are a great place to cater to young families and older customers looking to revisit their childhood. Drive-ins can be barebones, screen-only endeavors or include playgrounds, arcades, and concession stands. Having options allows a small-business owner to start slowly and gradually build into a full-scale enterprise. All you need to create a drive-in theater is a business plan, a large enough parcel of land, a screen, a drive-in movie theater website, and any necessary permits and licenses.  

Idea #5: Campground

If you love the outdoors and have ever considered a career in hospitality, a campground business is a good option. Campgrounds provide a home base for travelers and people who want to spend time in nature, which means the possibilities are endless when it comes to location and budget. Get started with a good idea, vision, an excellent piece of land, and campground insurance.

Idea #6: Newsletter Publishing Business

Do you like to write? Are you a professional or specialist with a unique or in-depth perspective about specific types of markets? If so, a newsletter publishing business may be for you. Newsletters are one of the hottest promotional vehicles and a fantastic way to advertise clients in numerous marketplaces. Newsletter start-ups cost between $2,000 and $10,000, plus you can operate your business from home. To begin, you just need are a good desktop publishing software program, a strong hook, and, if possible, some helpful inroads.

Idea #7: Resume Service

Everyone needs a good resume, but not everyone knows how to write one. If you’re a strong writer, understand keyword optimization, and know how to tell compelling stories that underscore your client’s value, a resume writing services business may be for you. You can even offer job search coaching, cover letter writing, phone interview forms, or LinkedIn profile assistance. With so many options, there’s much room to grow your resume writing service.

Idea #8: Tour Guide

South Dakota is a tourist haven home to Mount Rushmore, the Badlands, Sturgis, and an extensive cave system. Tourism is South Dakota’s second-largest industry, and visitors spent $1.3 billion on tourism in 2021. South Dakota is the perfect state to start a tour guide company, and guides stand to make a pretty penny. In fact, tour guide businesses can produce an income of over $50,000 per year. Advantages are that you can start a tour guide business for less than $1,000 and manage your business from a home office.

Idea #9: Catering Business

Are you a creative cook? Do you love to host parties or entertain? Then a catering business may be a good bet. All you need to start a basic catering business are access to a commercial kitchen, a delivery vehicle, and the proper business licenses. People pay well for catering services in South Dakota, and caterers typically make between $30,000 and $80,000 a year. Bonus points for running your catering business part-time if you choose.

Idea #10: Virtual Assistant

Remote virtual assistants are in demand. Every company needs support, and now that so many companies have work-from-home options, virtual assistants are a hot commodity. An added benefit to being a virtual assistant is picking the type of work you do and the companies you work for. You can also work from home and only work hours that you specify.

Why These Are the Best Businesses to Start in South Dakota

The businesses listed above are all good business to start in South Dakota because:

  • Most of them don’t require you to buy much large, expensive machinery
  • Many are part of popular in-demand industries in Massachusetts
  • Many of them are easy to start as home-based businesses
  • Most are grounded in industries that have substantial staying power

Though these are essential factors to consider with a new business startup, they aren’t the only ones. Success also depends on your investment. And the skills and passions you bring to the table are equally important. If you have the vision and wherewithal, with our help, you can succeed at any small business with some hard work and good strategizing. 

Best Cities in South Dakota for Starting a Business

You may be wondering where the best place to start a business in South Dakota is. Choosing a location that fits your business type can be crucial to your business’s success. Generally, the best city depends on your specific business model, but here are a few of the best places in South Dakota to get started overall:

  • Sioux Falls
  • Rapid City
  • Spearfish
  • Aberdeen
  • Brookings
  • Watertown
  • Mitchell
  • Somerville
  • Lowell

South Dakota is a welcoming state for new and small businesses. The state’s favorable economic environment combined with its friendly people and business-friendly policies make it tops on the list of places to start a successful business with minimal investments.

Why Form Your Business with Us?

Often, a new venture starts with an excellent small business idea. If you’ve been thinking about the best businesses to start in South Dakota, you’ve probably thought about how to get started. If you want to create a successful business, we’re here to help. Our South Dakota LLC or our South Dakota Corporate Formation Service will make it easy for you to turn your ideas into reality. We’ll even assist you in reserving your business name and filing a South Dakota Certificate of Incorporation. Not sure which kind of business structure to create? We’ll help you compare different business entities. Whatever your needs, we’re here to help you form your dream business in South Dakota.

We have the tools and know-how to support your business endeavors so that you can focus on expanding your enterprise. Are you forming an online business? We can help register a domain name. Once your business is off the ground, we can also help you make sure it’s legally compliant using our Worry-Free Compliance Service. And we’re here to help with more than the occasional significant business event. Our extensive catalog of business support services can help you manage everyday operations. We even offer a business email address service. From managing employees to handling invoices to annual reports, we’re here to focus on the varied administrative details of your business, so you don’t have to.  


  • The South Dakota industry is booming for many reasons. Among them are South Dakota’s lower start-up costs, the number of universities and educational institutions, and the state’s impressive technological infrastructure.

  • South Dakota business owners can grow their businesses by researching their markets and taking advantage of South Dakota’s many available business resources and business opportunities.

  • Franchise opportunities in South Dakota vary. It’s important to research which retailers and service providers in South Dakota are open to franchising and have the best franchise track record.

  • The best online business to start in South Dakota depends on your interests, business skills, and business resources. Online sales are incredibly lucrative, offering a business owner success across multiple platforms.

  • Online sales and certain food services are great options for a home-based business. Creating them doesn’t take much overhead, and growing a steady customer base into a thriving enterprise is easier.

Disclaimer: The content on this page is for information purposes only and does not constitute legal, tax, or accounting advice. If you have specific questions about any of these topics, seek the counsel of a licensed professional.

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Written by Team ZenBusiness

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