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17 Best Business Ideas to Start in Tennessee

Written by:

Esther is a business strategist with over 20 years of experience as an entrepreneur, executive, educator, and management advisor.

Edited by:

David has been writing and learning about business, finance and globalization for a quarter-century, starting with a small New York consulting firm in the 1990s.

17 Best Business Ideas to Start in Tennessee

Tennessee is famous for country music, Graceland, and the Blue Ridge Mountains. Obviously, the music and entertainment industry is among the state’s growth drivers. Other thriving economic sectors are healthcare, advanced manufacturing, corporate operations, and supply chain management. 

Besides these industries, the professional and business services sector is also seeing high demand. So you might consider IT consulting, freelance paralegal, appliance repair, or landscaping. Check out our great list of Tennessee business ideas to jumpstart your next entrepreneurial endeavor.

1. Manufacturing

How to Start a Pallet Manufacturing Business

In Tennessee, manufacturing businesses require proper zoning and may need environmental permits. Contact the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development for specific licenses. Key tips include understanding supply chains, labor market access, and tax incentives offered by local governments. Tennessee’s central location is excellent for distribution, so consider logistics in your planning.

2. Health Care

How to start a home health care business

Starting a health care business in Tennessee means complying with state and federal regulations, including licensing through the Tennessee Department of Health. It’s crucial to ensure all staff are properly certified. Focus on areas with aging populations or underserved communities to meet significant demand. Stay updated on healthcare laws to maintain compliance and high care standards.

3. Retail

retail store business idea

For retail businesses in Tennessee, you’ll need a business license from the local county clerk’s office. The licensing process requires that you file an online application found at the Tennessee Department of Revenue’s Tennessee Taxpayer Access Point (TNTAP). Location is crucial; consider traffic patterns and customer demographics. Emphasize customer service and local market trends. Keep inventory lean and focus on quality products to stand out in competitive areas like Nashville and Memphis.

4. Graphic Design

How to start a graphic design business

Graphic designers in Tennessee should register a business entity – LLC is recommended. Building a strong portfolio and networking are essential. Focus on niches like corporate branding or digital marketing. Keep skills current with the latest design software and technology trends to stay competitive.

5. Wholesale

wholesale business idea

Wholesalers in Tennessee need a sales tax permit from the Tennessee Department of Revenue. Establish strong relationships with manufacturers and retailers. Offer competitive pricing and reliable delivery schedules. Consider specializing in products unique to Tennessee like local crafts or foods, which can appeal to both local and national buyers.

6. Insurance

How to start a insurance agency

Starting an insurance agency in Tennessee requires a license from the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance. Stay knowledgeable about different insurance products and regulations. Building trust with clients through transparency and good service is crucial. Focus on areas with growing populations or high business activity for client acquisition.

7. Real Estate Agency

how to start a real estate business

Real estate agents in Tennessee must be licensed by the Tennessee Real Estate Commission. Knowledge of local property markets and strong networking skills are vital. Stay updated on real estate laws and market trends. Consider specializing in residential or commercial properties based on local demand.

8. Home Builder

How to start a construction company

Home builders in Tennessee need a contractor’s license from the Tennessee Board for Licensing Contractors. Understanding local building codes and developing relationships with suppliers and workers is key. Focus on energy-efficient and sustainable building practices to attract modern homebuyers. Offer competitive pricing and quality craftsmanship.

9. Restaurant

How to start a restaurant business

Opening a restaurant in Tennessee requires several licenses and permits, including a license in accordance with the Tennessee Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act and Chapter 0080-04-13, a business license, and various types of Liquor-By-the-Drink (LBD) licenses depending on the type of alcoholic beverages you plan to serve. Location and niche cuisine choices should be your focus when starting this business. Focus on local tastes and fresh ingredients. Maintain high standards of cleanliness and customer service to ensure repeat business.

10. Freelance Paralegal

How to start a freelance business

Freelance paralegals in Tennessee do not require a specific license but must work under the supervision of a licensed attorney. Building a network with local law firms and maintaining up-to-date knowledge of legal procedures are crucial. Specialize in areas like family law or real estate to increase marketability.

11. Hair Salon

How to start a hair salon

Opening a hair salon in Tennessee requires a cosmetology license from the Tennessee Board of Cosmetology and Barber Examiners. Location is crucial; ensure it’s accessible and appealing. Keep up with trends in hairstyles and products. Excellent customer service and a clean, welcoming environment will help retain clients.

12. IT Consulting Firm

How to start a consulting business

The technology sector in Tennessee is on the rise, making it an opportune time for IT consulting firms. Staying current with technological advancements and maintaining certifications is essential. Specialize in services like cybersecurity or cloud solutions, which are in high demand. Building long-term client relationships through reliable and innovative IT solutions is key.

13. Landscaping Business

How to start a landscaping business

A landscaper must hold a specialty state license to work In Tennessee. The landscaping (HRA-E. 2) license covers seeding, sodding, planting, and chemical weed and brush control. You would possibly need a pesticide application certification. Understanding the local flora and climate is essential. Offer services like sustainable landscaping to appeal to environmentally conscious consumers. Quality service and reliability will build a strong customer base.

14. Cremation Business

How to start a crematorium

Cremation businesses in Tennessee need a license from the Tennessee Board of Funeral Directors, Embalmers & Burial Services. Compliance with health and safety regulations is crucial. Offering compassionate services and transparent pricing can set your business apart. Keep informed about industry trends and innovations in eco-friendly practices.

15. Foreclosure Clean-out

How to start a cleaning foreclosed homes

Foreclosure clean-out services in Tennessee require a business license from your local authority and possibly a contractor’s license for larger jobs. Establish relationships with banks and real estate agents. Efficiency and thoroughness are crucial. Offering additional services like repairs or maintenance can provide extra value to clients.

16. eBay Business

ebay business idea

An eBay business in Tennessee need a sales tax permit. Focus on unique or niche products with high demand. Excellent customer service and reliable shipping are essential. Stay informed about online retail trends and eBay’s platform updates to optimize sales.

17. Appliance Repair

How to start a handyman business

Starting an appliance repair business in Tennessee requires an expertise in appliance maintenance. Certification from manufacturers can provide an edge over competitors. Offer timely and reliable service. Consider a mobile repair service to increase convenience for customers and expand your service area.


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17 Best Business Ideas to Start in Tennessee