top money making small business ideas

30 Ideas for Small Businesses that Make Money

Elizabeth Macauley

How to Make Money in Business with a Side Hustle

Gone are the days of searching print ads for a job to make a living. In today’s environment, the internet is at your fingertips, making it easier than ever for small businesses that make money to start. In fact, setting up two streams of income can be a simple task. Just ask yourself:

  • Do you have any personal skills or expertise that would make you a natural candidate to start a certain type of lucrative business?
  • Is there a vexing problem that you could solve with a small business?
  • Are there any emerging trends or technologies that could be used for a source of income?
  • Is there a current product that you could make and sell cheaper or better?

The internet provides ample opportunities to finance and start small businesses that make money quickly. Many of these opportunities use the skills you already have. These skills can be anything from grammar or technical skills to social media skills.

For example, a nutritionist could easily make the case for starting a health food company. Meanwhile, an accountant could partner with a software developer to create a better tax preparation service. You may be better positioned than most people to take advantage of an opportunity by leveraging the expertise you already have.

Just because you already have a full-time job doesn’t mean you can’t make multiple streams of income through side jobs. As you pursue these jobs, keeping a positive mindset will be a key to your success.


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30 Top Money Making Small Business Ideas

The internet is built for convenience. People no longer have to commute to the same building for work every day. Employees can log in remotely from virtually anywhere on the globe and work successfully. This means that anyone has the opportunity to make a steady income from wherever they are. All you need is an internet connection, a computer, and an idea of how to pursue your new small business. Check out our top money making small business ideas below.

1. Proofreading Services 

If you love to correct grammar and punctuation, being a proofreader may be your calling. Perks can include working from home and setting your own hours. Startup costs are generally low. You’ll typically need a computer, grammar style guides (such as the latest AP Stylebook and Chicago Manual of Style) and perhaps certain software programs used by your clients. You can promote your service on sites like Upwork, LinkedIn, and other places where prospective clients may look.

2. Social Media Manager

Do you know the ins and outs of Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and other social channels? Help businesses keep up with the latest trends and tricks for building and engaging audiences through social media. Then show your value by using analytics to gauge how well your social campaigns perform.

3. Podcast Producer or Editor 

You may hear the term “content marketing” more than you hear about advertising these days. Companies are seeking to engage their prospects and clients via all types of content. Podcasts are an integral part of content marketing and can be a great niche for someone who wants to have a thriving content marketing business. It all comes down to experience and having a portfolio of existing work to sell your expertise to new clients. A professional website with examples of your best work is a must.

4. Graphic Designer 

Even if you have a degree or ample experience in design, it’s important to stay current on all the latest design programs and trends. If you need a refresher, graphic design courses at local colleges can help. Designers who also have animation and web development experience typically have the most opportunities. Develop an attractive website that houses samples of your best work to show to prospective clients. Then network through business networking groups and in places where businesses look for graphic designers, such as Upwork and LinkedIn.

5. Travel Agent 

Dreaming of a job where your “research” involves traveling to exotic destinations? A travel agency could be the business for you. You’ll need to take some travel planning courses, such as those offered by the International Air Transport Association (IATA). Or you could get a degree in travel and tourism. A handful of states, including California and Florida, also require travel agents to register. It doesn’t hurt to serve a specific niche. For example, a geographical niche might mean becoming the go-to person for Orlando, Fla. theme parks or for trips to Central America. Or you could channel your inner Rick Steves and become a European vacation expert.

6. Career or Life Coach 

If you like counseling people and helping them help themselves, being a career or life coach may be your calling. You can get training and certification through organizations accredited by the International Coach Federation (ICF). Rather than being vague about your expertise, refine your area of coaching to attract a certain group of clients. Whether that’s leadership coaching or helping people who are making career transitions.

7. Food Delivery Services 

how to make money in business

Depending on your location, you may need several licenses and permits, including those that allow you to handle food. Consider partnering with popular local restaurants and food businesses for a win-win. They can bring in more business while you benefit from their established recognition in the community. (If you plan to prepare the food yourself, you may need to work from a commercial kitchen.) You’ll need a website unless you work with an established food delivery company, such as BiteSquad.

8. Furniture Maker

Demand for well-crafted home furnishings has been growing. The time could be right for more high-end, uniquely designed, domestically-made furniture. Success in this area will likely depend on finding a niche and utilizing unusual signature designs. Your marketing strategy will also be key: Will you want to sell online, get your furniture into retail stores, or both? Your operations initially can easily be set up right from home, either in a garage, basement, or designated room.

9. Bookkeeper

For someone who knows how to manage financial records, this can be a solid business opportunity that requires minimal startup capital. You may even work from home. Get acquainted with bookkeeping through online courses or get a head start on a two-year associate degree in bookkeeping or accounting. Certification from the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers could also enhance your credentials.

10. Professional Organizer

Being a “neat freak” could make you a natural fit for this type of startup. Professional organization is perfect if you like to stay abreast of trends in home and office organization and be savvy about how you market your services. Industry groups such as the National Association of Professional Organizers offer training and certification. They also provide pointers on how to launch a profitable small business and network with prospective clients. Many professional organizers use social media to share organizational tips and meet potential clients.

11. House Cleaner

If you are in good physical health and enjoy washing and organizing, then cleaning homes may be a good work opportunity. It’s strenuous, gritty work, but it’s an affordable business to start. All you need are cleaning supplies and transportation to get to your clients’ locations. Do some market research to determine what kind of housecleaning service would be most in-demand in your area. Then carve your niche and come up with a competitive pricing structure. For example, many startup cleaning services focus on using environmentally-friendly practices and products.

12. Food Delivery

This is a good option if you want a flexible schedule. Food delivery drivers work at any time during the day and can set their own hours. There are usually opportunities to make extra money during peak hours.

13. Photographer

Enthusiastic shutterbugs can turn their pastime into a paycheck. Interning or apprenticing with an established professional photographer can help you learn the business. Avoid a common trap while starting a photography business: buying a ton of expensive equipment and photo editing software. Instead, buy used and slowly build your equipment inventory based on your needs. Building a strong portfolio and finding a niche can help: Are you interested in shooting sports events, weddings, family portraits, or something else?

14. Grocery Delivery

This may seem like a crowded field, with competing companies ranging from Peapod to Amazon to established grocery stores. There may, however, still be ways to carve out a niche. Perhaps you’ll focus on sourcing groceries from health food stores or co-ops that offer organically grown produce. Or you can provide extra perks such as recipes and accompanying ingredients.

15. Miscellaneous Services

Do you have some decent handyman skills? Are you a great wedding DJ? You might try offering your services on sharing economy websites, such as TaskRabbit or Thumbtack. Note that you may have to work odd hours or change plans when work comes your way. If you’re lucky and have skills that are in demand, you may be able to build a reliable base of clients who regularly seek your services.

16. Freelance Writer or Editor

These professionals can stay at home and produce content for a variety of venues. All they need are writing skills, editing skills, a computer, and an internet connection. Then start accessing companies or individuals who have a need for the work they do.

17. Jewelry Repair Business

Setting up a jewelry repair shop in your own home is easy, convenient, and inexpensive. Customers can drop off their jewelry in need of fixing directly to your home. On-the-job training is a must, and some vocational classes could help. As you establish your own business, you might consider seeking one of the four certification levels offered by Jewelers of America.

18. Professional Blogger/Social Media Influencer

Thinking about starting a blog and turning it into a business venture? Blogs are a great method for how to make money in business. Professional bloggers earn money through selling advertising and affiliate marketing on their own blogs or by getting paid to blog for another company or organization. Popular topics for bloggers include travel, cooking, health, technology, and finance.

19. At-Home Pet Sitter

small business ideas that make money

Want to turn your love of dogs and cats into a business? Becoming a pet sitter could be an option. Reputation is going to be everything, and you may have to offer discounts as you build the pet sitting business.

20. At-Home Daycare

Are you great with kids and have a home that’s a safe environment for children? Or, are you a single mom in need of side hustle? You already know what you’re doing when it comes to childcare. Now you can make these skills work for you by offering babysitting and childcare services. Daycare could be a business option.

Note that every state has its own licensing rules regarding home daycare providers, which often involve home inspections, background checks, and following specific regulations. Consider getting experience by working at a licensed daycare center. Gain a good reputation, and you could have a successful, home-based business.

21. Sell Handmade Products Online

Do you have a talent for making things? Have you always been crafty? If so, Etsy may be the place for you. The website hosts countless profitable small businesses that offer homemade goods. These goods include jewelry, clothing, toys, craft supplies, and home decor. Etsy sellers also sell vintage items. Etsy allows sellers to channel their inner creative spirit while taking in extra cash each month. For the crafty, this could be the perfect small business side hustle.

22. Web Designer

Websites are necessary for selling products and services in our modern economy. This means that businesses especially need websites to sell products to their customers, as well as to communicate with them. Therefore, if you have website building skills, the market is booming with opportunity. All you have to do is get the word out about your website design services and begin. Building and optimizing your own website can be a good starting point.

23. Online Tutor

Math, science, and English are common subjects students need help with. If you have teaching experience, a degree, or are knowledgeable about these subjects, online tutoring could be for you. Certain companies also hire current college students for tutoring jobs. To find online tutoring opportunities, check out Aim-for-A or Chegg Tutors.

24. Virtual Assistant

Working as a virtual assistant can be more profitable than many people would think. Online tasks such as proofreading blog posts, formatting email newsletters, and responding to customer questions are time-consuming for companies. Virtual assistants can step in and finish these tasks easily while working from the comfort of their own home. All you need to do is search for job openings to start.

25. Photograph Seller

In the age of social media, taking photos has become so much more common. Today, sites like Shutterstock and iStock by Getty Images will allow you to sell photos for money. So the next time you capture that breathtaking landscape for your Instagram account, think about turning a profit.

26. Survey Filler

Expressing your opinion may just get you paid. Companies like Survey Junkie will pay users cash to fill out surveys. This is a good way to get a little extra income flowing in, although it has the potential to become time-consuming.

27. Search Engine Optimizer (SEO) 

Reaching customers on the internet is only becoming more challenging and complex. Understanding SEO means you can help companies successfully navigate Google and other search engines. These skills can earn you money in today’s market. To start learning the basics of SEO, read through the guides in Moz’s learning center.

28. Video Editor

As more companies turn to video to communicate their messages to consumers, video editing skills become more valued. This skill can be used to assist businesses, or even to assist individuals, with making videos.

29. Invest in Real Estate

Renting real estate to tenants can bring in passive income without much effort. And today’s landlords don’t need to deal with the hassle of long leases and bad tenants. With Airbnb, you can simply rent a spare room in your home or extra property.

30. Food Truck

Have a love of food, but don’t have the capital or desire for a full-blown restaurant? Think about starting a catering business or food truck. Starting can be low-cost if you purchase or lease a used trailer. This business venture is in high demand for weddings, farmer’s markets, and other events.

The Key to Small Businesses That Make Money

Making money starts with knowing what’s out there. The key to success as a business owner is finding the right job to fit your needs, skills, and preferences. Today’s digital environment makes it easier than ever to sync multiple streams of income in support of a single well-supported lifestyle.

It doesn’t matter if you’re looking for a full-time job or already have one. Adopting the right mindset and putting your skills to work can help lead to a money-making victory.

13 Responses to "30 Ideas for Small Businesses that Make Money"
    • Nitin | April 5, 2021 at 10:27 am

      This is a wonderful article. I can see that you have done a lot of research and your subject knowledge is good and impressive.

    • Wendy W Pearson | February 10, 2021 at 10:28 pm

      I’d love to learn how to be a successful Notary Public in Colorado (other than getting the license). How do you market yourself etc.

    • Brian Winch | February 10, 2021 at 10:16 am

      Consider offering a litter cleaning service outside commercial properties for property management companies. People have always thoughtlessly discarded their used drink cups, candy and food wrappers and cigarette butts outside parking lots. Now they are doing the same with PPE. This service is easily and safely done on foot using simple hand tools. I know because I have been doing it for 40 years. I started this service as a side hustle and grew it into a profitable full-time business that I still operate today.

      • Small Biz Ahead | February 12, 2021 at 1:59 pm

        Thank you for sharing, Brian! A litter cleaning service is a good idea.

    • Lewis Lefrancois | February 10, 2021 at 9:51 am

      Interested in an online side business.

    • Martin | February 9, 2021 at 11:10 pm

      I have some info to share on items #13 and #25 about selling photography.

      #25 mentions Shutterstock and iStock which are BIG and it would be easy for your work to be overlooked amid all the other similar shots. Marketing your work, so it ends up in front of interested potential customers, can be hard.

      In item #13, it’s asked: what kinds of things are you interested in photographing? If you answered “people,” you might have better luck using a smaller site called whose focus is on helping photographers sell pictures to the subjects IN their photos.

      This video is certainly slanted toward getting you to use their service…

      …but even if you don’t end up using, there are a lot of good ideas in the video, like having good credentials so you look professional, and where you might find opportunities to take pictures where there’s already a built-in audience who’ll want to buy your shots.

    • Marria Zullo Alonge | February 9, 2021 at 11:00 pm

      Wedding Business
      Doing Hair & Makeup
      For Bridal Party

      Any chance you can give some

    • Daniel Harris | February 9, 2021 at 10:40 pm

      Thank you!

      • Small Biz Ahead | February 12, 2021 at 1:57 pm

        You’re welcome, Daniel!

    • Sipho | May 3, 2020 at 7:43 pm

      I would like to learn more about business opportunities

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