If you’ve been thinking about starting a small business, there are lots of considerations, such as startup costs, locations, equipment, and more. The first step is determining what type of business is best suited for your skills and expertise. That’s why we’ve curated this list of dozens of small business ideas, such as:
- Auto detailing
- Operating a food truck
- Opening an arcade or other recreation center
- Social media management
- Online tutoring
- Flipping websites, furniture, and other items
- …and many others
Small businesses account for 99.9 percent of all businesses in the United States. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, more people than ever have started small businesses, with startups seeing exponential growth over previous years. In other words, there’s no better time to ride the wave of small business success than right now.
Browse this guide to find a small business idea that sparks your interest. We’ve broken the 50 best small business ideas down into the following categories:
Offline Small Business Ideas
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1. Caregiving: Care for the elderly in their homes or provide daycare or after-school care to children in your neighborhood. For either option, research your area’s licensure requirements, as some areas have specific steps to take to gain certification or licensure to become a registered caregiver.
2. House or petsitting: Take care of pets while your neighbors work by visiting their homes to feed and walk them. Some homeowners also hire housesitters to keep an eye on their homes and belongings when they’re away.
3. Craft sales: Make and sell crafts, like jewelry, home decor, or paintings. Set up a shop on Etsy to start selling quickly, or look for a local flea market or boutique that will let you sell to customers in person with little overhead.
4. Music or art lessons: Provide art classes or music lessons to local kids or adults. You can also contract with community centers, schools, and libraries to host music or art programs and events.
5. Furniture flipping: Flip old furniture or home decor pieces into upcycled items that you can sell for a profit. Search Goodwill or donation centers for low-priced pieces. Or browse Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace, where people sometimes list items for free.
6. Interior design: Provide interior design consultations and services to real estate agencies, renovation companies, homeowners, and businesses in your area. Start by offering a few quick projects to people you know to build a portfolio.
7. Auto repair: Start an auto repair shop of your own or contract with others to provide your services when they have overflow work.
8. House cleaning: According to Indeed, house cleaners earn an average of $40,515 yearly. With your own business, you could get steady work by having customers sign contracts for 6-month or annual services, potentially increasing your revenue.
9. Taxi service: Compete with Uber, Lyft, and other rideshare companies by providing direct-to-consumer taxi services for your area. Advertise your service by asking bars, restaurants, and local businesses to post flyers or let their customers and employees know you’re available.
10. Shop owner: Open up a coffee shop, apparel store, or another brick-and-mortar business in your area. Consider your interests and what you know a lot about, but also consider what type of shops your area needs.
11. Tour or welcome guide: Give visitors to your area guided tours of historical places or points of interest. You might also rent office space to set up a welcome center for visitors or people moving to the area.
12. Property management: Research the legal requirements of becoming a property manager in your area to manage multiple homes or apartments for renters. Then, connect with a real estate agent well-versed in working with property managers to secure more homes or businesses for their portfolios.
13. Event planning: Put your creativity to work helping others plan retirement parties, office gatherings, weddings, and other large events. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects an 18% growth in the event planning industry from 2021-2031.
14. Moving and packing services: Purchase a pickup or moving truck and hire a few helpers to assist you with a moving and packing company. Check with neighbors to get the word out about your availability for small, large, or long-distance moves.
15. Massage therapy or wellness services: Massage therapists and wellness service providers can start their own practices or contract with spas or wellness clinics in their area to offer services flexibly without as much overhead.
16. Catering: Start a home-based catering business that serves food to families and businesses for their events. You can also specialize in a specific niche, like wedding catering or corporate catering.
17. Photography: Photographers can start their businesses with little investment other than a professional camera. Begin shooting in outdoor landscapes before purchasing a studio and props to offer a wider variety of shoots.
18. Auto detailing: Use a garage or rented area to detail cars inside and out. Or, offer mobile services by driving your equipment to a customer’s home.
19. Food truck: Food trucks are alternatives to traditional restaurants and fast food spots. They’re mobile, so you can bring your truck to local events or businesses. Plus, the startup costs can be exponentially lower for a food truck compared to a brick-and-mortar location.
20. Coworking space: Help others work productively by purchasing and maintaining a coworking space. You can charge monthly, quarterly, or annual contracts for businesses or solopreneurs to use your space for business.
21. Arcade or entertainment spot: Areas with a lack of recreational activities could be ideal spots for an arcade or another type of entertainment venue, like a roller skating rink or escape room center.
Online Small Business Ideas
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22. Social media management: Social media managers can operate solely online, providing their services to multiple brands and businesses. Create standard packages for potential clients to choose from and/or offer custom packages tailored to meet your clients’ needs. Offer your services on retainer for a steady income flow.
23. Online tutoring: Several websites act as marketplaces to connect students who need tutoring with educators who can help them. For example, VIPKid pays teachers with at least two years of experience to work on their own schedule to help children learn English. Teachers and professionals can also join Outschool to create their own classes for learners of any school age.
24. Run an Etsy shop: Join Etsy as a shop owner to sell your own items with little operational costs. Etsy charges listing and transaction fees, but some sellers become eligible for a subscription to Etsy Plus to keep these costs down.
25. Transcription or translation: Offer transcription or translation services to organizations like medical offices, media agencies, or law firms. This scalable business can eventually transform into an agency as you gain more clients and have room to hire employees.
26. Personal styling: Help others find the wardrobe pieces they need for special events, workwear, or casual lounging at home as a personal stylist. Companies like Stitch Fix look for independent contractor stylists, too, if you want a quick way to jump into the business before venturing on your own.
27. Virtual assisting: Data shows that one million people globally worked as virtual assistants in 2021, a number that’s expected to more than double in the near future. Although virtual assistants are widely available, they’re still in demand by organizations using their breadth of skills for micro tasks like data entry, accounting, content writing, appointment setting, and more.
28. Buying and selling websites: Purchase websites with promising growth, build them up with content and marketing tactics and prepare them to sell for a profit. Use a marketplace like Flippa to find domains to buy and sell them to other buyers.
29. Course instruction: Create digital courses on subjects areas you have expertise in. Offer them on a site like Udemy for learners to purchase and work through on demand, or conduct live webinars on your website for paying viewers.
30. App creation: Start a business making mobile apps for productivity, entertainment, etc. Consider participating in a mobile app development course or online bootcamp to learn more about the process.
31. Graphic design: Graphic designers can sell their creations on a website of their own, online marketplaces like Etsy, or look for clients on freelancing marketplaces like Fiverr and Upwork.
32. Digital marketing: With more than 85% of internet users using the internet for search for information at least monthly, digital marketing has a strong place in today’s economy. Digital marketers can work their way up to attractive salaries and prestigious positions. According to the BLS, marketing managers earn a median wage of $133,380. As a marketer with your own business and multiple clients, your earnings could stretch even higher. Sign up for a free digital marketing course to get started.
33. Video editing: Edit and polish videos for organizations or individuals, like public relations firms or YouTube creators. LinkedIn is a good place to find companies looking for professional video editors for one-off and recurring projects.
34. Blog and article writing or editing: Write content for businesses or online publications as part of their content marketing strategies. Many freelance writers search for clients that fit their niche and conduct cold outreach to let companies know about their writing services. Some write solely for publications, contacting editors with article idea pitches.
35. Blogging: Rather than write for other clients, bloggers start their own money-making blogs. Many bloggers have turned their blogs into full-time businesses by using multiple monetization techniques, like sponsored posts and affiliate marketing.
36. Errand services: Start a business running errands for people in your city, such as shopping for groceries for an elderly couple or picking up prescriptions for people who are ill. You can charge by distance or service or offer subscriptions for a specific number of errands each month.
37. Podcasting: Podcasting has become exponentially more popular over the last few years than it has in the past, with more than two million podcasts worldwide. Create a podcast alongside another business venture, making its content relevant to your industry. Eventually, it could become a solid income stream of its own, generating money through sponsorships, donations, and affiliate marketing.
Small Business Ideas for Specialists
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38. Business consultant: Business consultants must know how businesses operate for success, so they typically have started or managed a business before. Take your experience into your new role as a business consultancy owner to work with multiple businesses simultaneously on their strategies.
39. Tax preparation: If you’re a certified tax preparer, you can start a tax preparation business for individuals or businesses. Learn more about tax preparation credentials from the IRS.
40. Accounting or bookkeeping: Accountants earn a median salary of $77,250, while bookkeepers earn a median salary of $45,560. As a business owner of an accounting or bookkeeping firm, you can set your rates for each business or individual you work with.
41. Travel consultant: Travel consultants can contract with travel agencies to access their marketing resources and clientele while having control over their own business venture.
42. Handyperson services: Offer repair and renovation services to homeowners and businesses in your area. Be sure to look at local laws regarding this type of business, as handyperson businesses often need to hold a license and carry insurance.
43. Freelance medical billing or coding: Get certified in medical billing or coding through the AAPC or another certifying agency. Then, contact medical offices, individual doctors, or healthcare organizations to offer your services.
44. Home or business appraisal: Have you worked as a credentialed appraiser at an appraisal agency? Transition to your own appraisal business to control how it operates. Check with your local licensing laws to determine what you’ll need before you get started.
45. Landscaping: Landscapers complete several projects during the spring and summer but can also add more services for colder seasons, such as leaf blowing, sidewalk shoveling, and plant winter-proofing, to keep them in business all year.
46. Fitness instruction: Start a fitness YouTube channel or contract with local gyms to provide fitness classes or personal training.
47. Career coaching: People with backgrounds in career coaching, such as guidance counselors or human resources managers, can turn their expertise into a career coaching business. For example, you might help college students search for jobs and prepare for interviews.
48. Notary public: The National Notary Association explains the steps to becoming a notary in each state. Notaries can charge fees for their services, making it possible to turn it into a side business, at minimum. Salary.com reports the median national salary for notaries as $39.331.
49. Nutrition or meal consulting: Dieticians can assist others in making healthier nutritional choices each day or tailor a meal plan to their dietary needs. You might also consider offering meal prep services for clients as an add-on service or as a standalone business.
50. Medical courier services: Medical couriers deliver equipment and laboratory supplies to hospitals and medical facilities. Getting certified in HIPAA regulations, biohazard containment, and bloodborne pathogen handling could help you gain clients.
Small businesses are the backbone of the country’s workforce, accounting for an overwhelming majority of United States businesses. The above ideas, from housesitting and petsitting businesses to coaching businesses, teaching arts or music classes online or in-person, catering, property management, and more, are just some of the many potential small businesses you can start as you transition into entrepreneurship. Here are 50 online small business ideas to also consider.
Whatever small business idea you choose, you’ll want to market your business online with a professional website and social media presence. Install social media share buttons on your blog or website to make it easy for your potential clients or customers to share your content with their like-minded friends and family members on their favorite social networks.