This paper explores the ways in which businesses use and create diverse forms of rural capital, as an attempt to better understand the distinctive characteristics of “rural businesses”. We present three cases to explore the features that might lead us to describe them as being distinctively “rural businesses”. This adds to the debate about whether location alone is a sufficient parameter for defining rural-ness. The business cases were each established in rural areas of northern/central England. The cases were selected to fit an existing categorisation of rural businesses based on personal knowledge about the companies. Data were gathered through a combination of interviews and secondary materials. Findings indicate that the employment of rural capitals is a key dimension, alongside firm and market location, in distinguishing “rural businesses” from others. A clearer understanding of specifically “rural” characteristics of businesses can guide policy towards approaches that deal with rural challenges and support for businesses to harness characteristics and opportunities connected to rural places. We assert that such approaches would be better tailored to local conditions than broad-brush spatial policies. They also aid understanding of the dynamics of change in rural communities driven by local business development.