Starting your own business requires a giant leap of faith, and the type of business you open could mean the difference between a dream deferred and a thriving business of your own. Forget the fancy degrees and bank loans — you can now start a profit-generating venture with a WiFi connection and a little seed money.
While launching a new business of your own is risky and requires long hours and sacrifice, you can soon be reaping the benefits of being your own boss and perhaps making more money than in your former 9 to 5. Depending on the economic climate and current trends, certain industries and types of businesses may prove more successful than the 10 worst businesses to start right now.
(Download our free eBook: Opportunity Knocks: How to Find and Pursue a Business Idea That’s Right for You)
Here are 25 small business ideas you can start right now. While they span industries, audiences, and financing, they’re all within reach for someone who’s determined to climb out of their cubicle.
1. Mobile Food Business
Forget the Golden Arches, we’re in the Golden Age of the Food Truck! All across the U.S., families and the hungry lunchtime crowd are flocking to food trucks for fresh, affordable local eats and the fast, convenient dining experience. Born out of a slow economy in the late aughts, when people were hard-pressed for time (longer hours, fewer breaks) and looking for a quick, cheap bite, the mobile-food concept is now more appealing than ever.
Market size has skyrocketed from $615 million in 2012 to $2.7 billion in 2017 — solidifying mobile dining as the fastest growing segment in the food industry. Startup costs are a fraction of opening a restaurant, so if you have a knack for whipping up delicious eats and a desire to keep on truckin’, consider meals on wheels as your next venture.
2. Bike Service, Rentals, and Repairs
Turn your weekly cycling class addiction into a profitable business. With increasing fuel prices, the popularity of bike rental programs, and consumers becoming more conscious of leading a heart-healthy life, biking has become the seventh most popular recreational activity in the U.S. According to the National Bicycle Dealers Association, bike sales, rentals, and repairs make up a $6.2 billion market. Get the word out about your services by connecting with local bicycling clubs and organizations, and contracting overflow work from bicycle retailers in your community.
3. Home Elder Care
With an aging population determined to remain independent, home elder care services promise to be an in-demand business for the foreseeable future. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Community Living, 19% of the U.S. population will be 65+ by 2030. You can start your business by providing home care services, such as cooking, companionship, and running errands. If you have a background in nursing, you could command a higher rate for your services.
4. Mobile App Development
Here’s a staggering stat: By 2021, consumers in the Americas will have downloaded more than 74.7 billion apps to their smartphones, and the trend shows no signs of slowing down. Capitalize on the $16 billion spent each year on mobile app investments by building your own portfolio of projects. Whether you’re an expert programmer or someone who wants to get started in the app game (websites like Lynda and Udemy offer affordable online classes), this lucrative home-based venture requires just a little capital, a computer, and an online connection.
5. Online Bookkeeper for Freelancers
Freelancers will make up 43% of the U.S. workforce by 2020, according to a study by Emergent Research and Intuit. From navigating seismic shifts in tax laws to categorizing expenses and deductions, bookkeepers will be an integral part of a freelancer’s life. If you have number-crunching skills, technology know-how (most bookkeeping and expense tracking systems have migrated online), and customer service skills, you’re primed to cash in on the gig economy.
6. Pet Sitting
Pampering a pet is no longer a pastime of only the uber rich. According to research from Mintel, 40% of customers in the pet care industry are aged 30-49 and they’d rather splurge on their furry friends than themselves. Consumers will spend a premium for peace of mind while traveling. As a pet sitter, you can set your own schedule, define your service area, and create additional services for your clients (such as walking, grooming, or training). Spread the word about your services by pitching local veterinarians, pet supply retailers, dog trainers, dog walkers, and pet-grooming services.
If you want to transition from pet lover to pet pro, first research what licenses or certifications you will need, based on the scope of your business.
7. Image Consultant
Do you have a way (and the means) of making people feel confident in their own skin? If so, you may want to consider a business in image consulting, where you can help people put their best foot forward. Image consultants can help clients secure a new job, make a memorable first impression, and ensure they have all the tools they need to feel good about the image they’re projecting out into the world.
From a wardrobe makeover and enhancing a client’s communication skills, to etiquette and voice projection training, your venture can impact corporate executives, sales professionals, singles looking for that perfect mate, and people in the job market who want to stand apart from the resume pack.
8. Healthcare Consulting
The Affordable Care Act, coupled with an aging population, has created a thriving healthcare consulting market. As an independent healthcare consultant, you can offer hospitals and doctors data analysis and management services that help ensure they stay current on legislation and continue to provide efficient and effective healthcare.
9. Translation Services
An increasingly global marketplace means that communicating across cultures and languages will become more commonplace, and this means a demand for translators. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects the employment of interpreters and translators to grow 18% from 2016 to 2026. If you are adept at more than one language, you can work on projects from document translation to being an interpreter at important business meetings.
10. WordPress Theme Developer
Did you know that WordPress runs nearly 30% of the internet, dominates 50-60% of the global content management systems (CMS) market, and has more unique page views than Amazon.com? According to blogging resource CodeinWP, websites such as USA Today, Spotify, and TIME run on the platform, and 50,000 new websites are launching daily. Small business owners love WordPress because it’s affordable, easy-to-use, and compatible with every e-commerce solution in the market.
Having a website is fundamental to running a business, and the more professional the design, the better. If you’ve got graphic design and programming skills, you can make a tidy profit building website templates that can be sold on websites such as ThemeForest.
11. SEO Consultant
Small business owners know the impact search results have on their bottom line: According to WordStream, 72% of consumers who performed a “near me” search ended up visiting a location within a five-mile radius, and localized searches have doubled year over year. If you know how to optimize a company’s website and social media channels to help with their organic search efforts, and have the wherewithal to know when the time is right for a paid investment, you could help scores of businesses transform search results into paying customers.
12. Handy Person
The 2008 recession and resulting plummet in construction projects caused many contractors to leave the market. Now, with an improving economy, a cultural obsession with home improvement projects, and a multimillion-dollar home repair industry, being a Jack (or Jill) of all trades is in high demand. From painting and drywall, to furniture assembly and plumbing, get started right away by offering up your services on apps like Task Rabbit and Thumbtack.
13. Investments and Trust Assistance
Helping aging baby boomers manage their estates is an increasingly profitable business. Rally the assistance of a group of accountants, investment advisors, lawyers, and insurance agents, and you can provide boomers one-stop assistance that will earn you a lucrative referral/coordination fee.
14. Bounce House Rentals
Make no mistake — bounce houses are not relegated to children’s birthday parties, they’re also an entertainment staple at corporate and community events, as well as charitable, social, sporting, and church functions. The business of inflatables is a lucrative one, since rentals are easy and your profits are based on the delivery, setup, and pickup of the amusement game.
15. Career Coach
Career coaches help both seasoned executives and promising talent bring their best selves forward in the office as well as in their lives. From delivering confidence boosting and work/life balance tools, to communication and leadership advice, business coaches can bolster employee productivity and performance. According to IBISWorld research, coaching is a $1 billion market in the U.S. with a growth rate of 4.7% — outpacing overall economic growth. If you have a desire to help transform talent from good to great, you can secure a coaching certification at many universities or via online training programs.
16. Virtual Assistant
Who hasn’t experienced email fatigue? For most executives and small business owners, their inbox has spiraled out of control — preventing them from getting the important work done. As a virtual assistant, or VA, you could be their solution. Consider the VA an air traffic controller for the small business owner. From scheduling appointments and prioritizing and managing correspondence, to social media channel management and graphic design — being a virtual assistant could be the perfect outlet for someone who wants a home-based business. Rapid technological advancements in communication and organization have made it easier for businesses to contract remote talent.
According to Global Market Insights, Inc., the market for remote assistants will experience a staggering 35% annual growth rate over the next seven years with automotive, IT, telecom, education, healthcare, and retail driving demand. Getting started is simple. Build up your experience and professional network by taking projects on sites like Upwork or Indeed.
17. Environmental Consultant
As more people are becoming aware of their global footprint, and government regulations require that businesses go green, the field of environmental consulting is booming. If you have a background in science, advocacy, or law, you may want to consider researching compliance rules in your state and consulting with businesses on how to navigate them.
18. Employee Monitoring Service
With an increasing number of employees working flextime and from home, it can be difficult for employers to track hours and productivity. A number of computer software programs are available to track employee activity, but company management may not have the resources to oversee such systems effectively. Offer businesses employee monitoring services, and you’ll find yourself with plenty of work.
19. Commercial Cleaning Service
So long as offices exist, there will always be a need to clean and maintain them. Over three million people work in the cleaning services industry in the U.S., and that number is growing with the advent of specialized services such as organic/non-toxic commercial services. Like residential cleaners, commercial cleaners dust, vacuum, and polish — but on a larger scale. Office maintenance workers also empty trash receptacles, replenish cleaning and kitchen supplies, and wax and strip floors.
Securing work will require you to knock on doors, but if you have your own supplies, and are able to work nights and weekends (when offices are closed), you can earn a premium for your services.
20. Content Writer
If you have a talent for writing in a clear, concise manner, you may want to set up shop in the rapidly growing field of content marketing. Content writers help build a company’s customer base by creating compelling and useful copy for brochures, corporate training videos, advertising campaigns, websites, and social media. Not only can good content cultivate relationships with existing and prospective customers, but it can also help optimize search results.
Glassdoor reports that content writers earn an average of $48,454 nationwide, up to $75,000 a year. Visit websites such as Indeed, Contently, Scripted, and Upwork to start building your portfolio and brand relationships.
21. Virtual/Augmented Reality App Development
Pokémon was just the beginning. Virtual and augmented reality create immersive experiences that merge advanced hardware technology (such as headsets and mobile devices) with real world environments. Shipments of virtual reality headsets in a quarter topped one million for the first time in Q3 2017, according to industry analyst Canalys, and growth is expected as new entrants continue to expand the market. You may want to freshen up your programming skills because, with a market of $108 billion by 2021, virtual/augmented reality isn’t just hype, it’s real.
22. Meditation and Mindfulness Training
Believe it or not, meditation is big business, bringing in over a billion dollars in 2017, according to IBISWorld. Between employers investing in corporate wellness programs that foster productivity and an influx of app-based meditation classes that promise a Zen-filled morning commute, meditation has become mainstream. Studies have shown that a regular meditation practice reduces stress, bolsters productivity, and amps the brain’s blood circulation — helping make for a creative, focused workforce.
According to a study by the National Business Group on Health, in 2017, 35% of companies offered some form of mindfulness training at work — and another 26% plan to in the future — reaping the benefits of a centuries-old practice. If you have a background in medicine, psychology, fitness, or massage therapy, breaking into the mindfulness industry may be as easy as working with an app developer to bring a little OM into someone’s smartphone.
23. Online Education
Do you have a very particular set of skills — skills you have acquired over a very long career? Well, you may not be Liam Neeson in Taken, but you can still capitalize on your knowledge by selling online training classes. Get started today with this comprehensive online tutorial from Udemy, which addresses everything from creating your first lesson and putting the course together, to recording and hosting your lectures, promoting your course, and, of course, selling it.
24. Amazon Reselling
If you’re the type to wake up early on a weekend to hit the local flea markets and garage sales, launching a home-based reselling business might be your ticket to consistent income. Amazon offers a built-in platform and a receptive audience. Don’t know where to start? Learn the resell market basics.
25. Personal Chef
Do friends and family rave about your mouth-watering culinary creations? Do you love cooking for a crowd? If so, take your pots, pans, recipes, and passion on the road as a cook for hire. Whether you’re making meals for corporate luncheons, private parties, or special events such as birthdays, reunions, after-school games, and anniversaries, clients are looking for home-cooked meals beyond the stale sandwich tray. Start small and local by catering within your community and then you can check out services such as Hire A Chef and If Only.
Next Steps: Now that you have some big new small business ideas, download our eBook, Opportunity Knocks: How to Find and Pursue a Business Idea That’s Right for You, to transform your dream, step-by-step, into a profitable reality.