Revision with unchanged content. Rural small business owners are faced with a variety of obstacles in all stages of development. Fortunately, research has shown that counseling from outside agencies often has a positive affect on the performance of small businesses. The purpose of this study was to determine the types of problems encountered by rural small business owners and the relationship between these problems and selected business characteristics. Based on prior research by Ansoff (1965) and Chrisman and Leslie (1989), the classification system used to categorize business problems included administrative, operating, and strategic problems. The data were taken from businesses that received assistance from Small Business Centers in rural eastern North Carolina. The results indicated that the majority of small business owners sought assistance for strategic issues that are core to the development of a successful enterprise, and that the types of problems varied according to the stage of business development. These findings and subsequent recommendations should be of interest to professionals involved in small business assistance programs and reseachers interested in rual business development.