Having mentored dozens of aspiring entrepreneurs throughout my career, I’ve seen great business ideas sprout from unexpected places. Take a client from last week (Marylyn Smith), whose hand-embroidered apparel I helped turn into a thriving Etsy boutique. Or James, who, after several hours of consulting, took a step to leverage his IT savvy into a successful home-based consultancy.
These entrepreneurs represent the fluid definition of a “small business” in its simplest form—an independently owned company with under 500 employees. But despite humble beginnings, small businesses drive tremendous economic growth through passion and ingenuity.
And if you are here, chances are you are either researching the net for the best small businesses to start in 2024. On the other hand, you may already have an idea for a business you want to start but need guidance.
Well, you are in luck because, in this article, I will pass on lessons from my journey nurturing small businesses and highlight unique launching pads for your entrepreneurial dreams: quick-scaling startups, lean “ecopreneur” side hustles, brick-and-mortar neighbourhood gems, and more. Through hard-won wisdom from real-life entrepreneurs, we’ll also explore achievable small business ideas, must-know startup steps for each approach, and resources to test your concept.
What Makes a Good Small Business Idea
For starters, not every small business idea is equal. Some require more effort and funding than others, whereas others can be launched with limited resources—or resources you already have. In other words, as a potential small business owner, you’ll want to save money on training, rent, supplies, and other expenses.
So, what exactly makes a good business idea?
- Needs little to no training. A good small business idea should leverage your existing expertise and require little to no training. This will not only shorten your time to launch, but it will also save you money, as training courses can be expensive. You’ll also feel more confident offering services that you know you can deliver.
- Setup costs are low. To begin, your business should be cheap. You may need a domain name for your website or a garage desk.
- Little hands-on inventory or supply management is required. A great business idea necessitates a few supplies and minimal inventory management. If you want to sell physical goods, you can use drop-shipping or make goods in small batches.
- Is a web-based service. The best small business ideas are found online and can be implemented from your computer. This will automatically reduce commuting costs and give you more control over your personal and professional lives.
- Few people can manage it sustainably. As a small business owner, you will not have the resources to hire others to assist you in running your company, at least not at first. A good business idea should enable you to run your company on your own.
Best Small Business Ideas 2024
Just recently, I stumbled on a quote by the co-founder of Airbnb, Brian Chesky. It read
“If we tried to think of a good idea, we wouldn’t have been able to think of a good idea. You just have to find the solution to a problem in your own life.”
If, like Brian, you’ve already considered a solution to a problem in your life—or are on your way to doing so—then starting a small business could be in your future. It may also be for you if you want to leave your nine-to-five job for good and become your own boss.
So, without further ado, here is my comprehensive list of the best ideas for starting a small business, complete with resources and examples to get you started.
If you are frequently called upon to help friends with small projects, then make it official. Create a website, conduct a competitive analysis to determine the value of your time and expertise, and seek referrals from friends you’ve previously helped.
A handyman business is a good idea if you’ve already developed a strong set of skills that can assist others in fixing up their homes. But consider specializing in what you feel qualified to do. For example, if you know your way around a sink and water system, you could start by providing sink repair services and then expand your offerings as you gain more experience.
This is a smart way to brand yourself or your small business while launching into this industry. It works every single time if done correctly. I know this because of my experience consulting for a couple of family members who went into this full-time.
The best part is that there are no certifications required to become a handyman, and there are no special education requirements. If you intend to perform jobs worth more than a certain amount, you may be required to obtain a license. Some states may not require this license.
Similarly, if you enjoy making beautiful furniture or other home goods out of wood, this could be a small business idea or opportunity for you. You can begin by listing a few of your pieces on sites like Etsy. Once you’ve established a following, consider starting a website, accepting custom orders, or expanding into refinishing and upholstery.
A woodworking small business is ideal if you already enjoy woodworking and have the necessary tools to begin fulfilling orders as they come in. However, because delivering a well-made product is critical to satisfying your customers, you should have at least one year of experience as a woodworking apprentice.
#3. Online Dating Consultant
Credit: Mikhail Nilov
Like business consultants, dating consultants typically charge for their time. They assist people in creating successful online dating profiles, sourcing potential matches from outside of traditional online channels, and providing a level of personalization that a site like Tinder cannot. Do you think you have a knack for the game? This may be the business for you.
Generally, online dating consultants must have excellent communication and interpersonal skills and high levels of empathy. The good news is that no special education or licensure is required; however, I recommend obtaining a certification such as IAP College’s relationship coach certification or Hart Academy’s online dating coach certificate.
Furthermore, to start an online dating consultant business, you’ll need a website that introduces you and provides free dating resources that your customers may find useful.
#4. Sewing and Alteration Specialist
People will always need clothing hemmed and buttons repaired, and you could be the one to do it. If you enjoy sewing and have a sewing machine at home, begin by providing simple services such as the ones listed above, then expand your repertoire to include dressmaking and design as your customer base and demand grow. I have personally mentored clients in this industry.
The best part is that you don’t need a special license or degree to start a sewing and alterations business, but you should improve your skills so you can handle more complex projects. High-end customers will want to personalize complex pieces of clothing, such as suits, pants, gowns, and dresses. That is where you will find the highest profit potential.
#5. Freelance Developer
Quality web development is currently in high demand, whether it is building websites for other small businesses or providing technical support for specific projects. As a web developer, you will undoubtedly have a technical skill set. So, for starters, you can refine your knowledge and expertise so that customers who lack your experience can understand what you will help them achieve.
To help with this, test your skills with friends and family unfamiliar with your work; at least, that’s how I started with consulting. Basically, if they can summarize what you do, your small business is likely to be effective even outside of your industry. You can start looking for your first freelance contracts by visiting various freelance websites. Because of my experience with some of these websites, I recommend Fiverr, Upwork, and Freelancer.
But unlike some of the other options on this list, a freelance developer requires some training to launch a successful business and begin accepting projects.
The good thing is that numerous boot camps are available to help you learn full-stack or front-end web development skills. Accredited technical schools even offer some of these boot camps.
If you need to research more about finding your feet as a Freelance Developer, our articles on What Is Web Design: Definition, Example, Software, Course & Package and FREELANCE WEB DESIGNERS: What They Do and Best Sites to Hire One covers everything you’ll need.
#6. Personal Trainer
To raise awareness, you can start a career as a personal trainer by providing in-home consultations, personalized nutrition and exercise regimens, and community boot camps.
For starters, you’ll need to fill your Instagram feed with inspirational quotes, free exercise videos, and delicious snack ideas. It’s a popular way fitness experts build their brands in today’s digital world.
Meanwhile, if you decide to go this route, starting small and scaling up is totally okay. Take MOURfit, a platform I discovered during my research, for example. MOURfit is a personal training company in Indianapolis that began in a shared gym before expanding to a private gym that provides group fitness, personal training, and nutrition services.
To start a personal training business, you must first obtain certification. If you already have a degree in an unrelated field, I recommend beginning with the nationally accredited NASM-CPT certification, which requires only a high school diploma or GED.
#7. Freelance Graphic Designer
Many businesses, including mine, hire experienced graphic designers for various projects, including website design and blog graphics.
And here’s the good news: There are no special education requirements for working as a freelance graphic designer. However, I recommend obtaining a credential (such as SAIC’s graphic design certificate or RISD’s graphic design certificate) or an associate’s degree in design so that you can confidently present your portfolio and complete your first few projects.
I also recommend looking at other people’s work on portfolio websites to get a sense of what is “trendy” and getting feedback as you grow your small business.
Check out our article on FREELANCE GRAPHIC DESIGNER: Definition, Salary, Resume & Work unsure about starting out as a graphic designer. It lays out everything you’ll need in this field
#8. Life/Career Coach
If you’ve successfully navigated career, personal, and social transitions, consider becoming a life or career coach. Several individuals are looking for career guidance, and it can be difficult to find someone willing to mentor them.
Life and career coaches are not cheap, but they can provide clients with the intensive and hands-on training and advice they require to make significant changes in their personal and professional lives. After all, everyone needs some encouraging words from time to time.
To confidently start your life or career coaching business, look for a certification program, then apply your skills as you take on new clients.
#9. Resume Writer
Creating a resume, cover letter, and, if necessary, portfolio for a new job can be challenging and time-consuming. That’s why a considerable number of people seek assistance. I worked in this space for a couple of years, and here’s what worked for me.
To start this career, you’ll need to help clients with tailored resumes, beautifully edited cover letters, and carefully crafted portfolios that employers cannot ignore. Well, simply put, this is what the business is all about in the first place. It sounds pretty easy, but not so much when faced with it in reality. If you’re nervous about writing resumes from scratch, you can start with the templates below:
A resume writing service is inexpensive, has low overhead costs, and has few educational requirements. We still recommend having an Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree and several resume samples on hand. If you still need to improve your resume writing skills, consider taking a course through Coursera or LinkedIn Learning.
Once you’ve mastered resume writing, you can expand your business to include cover letter writing and career coaching services.
#10. Freelance Writer
Someone is willing to pay you for your writing skills on several freelance websites. You can write a ton of blog posts, magazine articles, and website copies — just ensure you have a portfolio of work to show potential clients. Even if you make a few sample pieces to keep on hand, they will help you showcase your work and attract new clients.
But to become a freelance writer, like I did several years back, you must first choose a specialty. For example, I am also a business writer, amongst other business skills in my portfolio. This will generally mean that I limit my writing to publications in the business industry due to my 7+ years of experience helping startups stand on their feet. I can’t overemphasize the importance of specializing. It will help you identify your niche market and gain confidence as a new freelance writer.
Luckily, freelance writing has no educational requirements, but you should have strong writing skills and a bit of experience in the niche you wish to focus on. It also helps if you enjoy writing. While a certification may be useful, practice and writing every day are more important.
Plus, here is a video I sourced on YouTube to help you start your journey to freelance writing in 2024. Elna Cain is a successful freelance writer with a wealth of experience in this field. But aside from this video being one of the top-ranking videos on YouTube, I have learned a thing or two from watching it.
But feel free to do your research and get insights from someone you can relate more with.
Neighbourhood maintenance/landscaping includes mowing, tree trimming, and seasonal decor. Starting a landscaping business can be profitable if you have or can get the necessary equipment. It’s also an excellent option if you enjoy doing it for your home and have a keen eye for landscape design.
The good news is that you can begin small. For example, you could provide seasonal planting services to your neighbours, starting with a few perennial plants, or simply offer mulching services.
To expand your landscaping business, you should consider pursuing formal training. The following organizations provide courses:
After completing a course and gaining sufficient experience, you may apply for a certificate from a landscaping organization. And while a certificate is not required to work in the field, it can help you build your credentials and make industry connections to propel your landscaping business to new heights.
Meanwhile, from an extensive research I carried out, I also found that the Association of Professional Landscape Designers provides one possible certificate you could pursue.
On the other hand, some states require licensure, particularly if you plan to use pesticides or fertilizers. So, make sure you review the requirements for your state.
Video production requires a startup investment in equipment, which can be costly. However, this is also why your services will be valuable if you take the route. Starting out, ensure you have a reel of your work to share, or set up a website with a variety of your work available to interested viewers.
If you are confused about building a website, our article on How to Build a Business Website covers everything you’ll need.
There are no educational or licensing requirements to begin a video production business. However, again, as with my experience in business writing and other creative arts, specialization is beneficial.
For example, marketing videos are totally different from wedding videos, which differ significantly from in-studio interviews and testimonials. Specializing allows you to target a highly specific customer who will benefit the most from your services, as well as improve your skills in a single shooting style.
There are general videography classes available, but you should consider taking a class specific to the type of videography you want to do. Here are a couple of courses I have handpicked for clients seeking to go into this field in the past on Udemy. These courses have yielded results for them and have helped point them in the right direction.
Hot tip: If you want to specialize in video marketing, check out The Ultimate Guide to Video Marketing and download our starter pack below.
As a photographer it can be daunting finding your feet as a small business but a help tip i always give to clients in this field is: begin by organizing photo shoots for your family and friends. As you establish a body of work, solicit referrals and reviews. Photography businesses often grow through word-of-mouth, so set up a Facebook page where you can tag recent clients. Photos you tag with those clients will appear in their friends’ newsfeeds, allowing them to view your work. You can also request that they leave reviews on your Facebook business page.
If settting up a Facebook Business Page seems daunting, our ‘HOW TO START A FACEBOOK BUSINESS PAGE: Detailed Guide‘ article simplifies it all for you.
You should specialize, just as I recommended, with a small video production business. You should ask questions like: Will you shoot products or portraits? How about a wedding or fashion photo shoot? Once you’ve specialized, you’ll be able to produce a body of work that best reflects your strengths.
There are no educational or licensing requirements for starting a small photography business, but I do recommend taking a few photography courses, especially if you haven’t used your camera in a while. Some courses you could start with are:
From there, look for courses that will help you develop skills in your chosen specialty.
If you’re not sure where to start with freelance photography, check out our article on HOW TO START PHOTOGRAPHY BUSINESS: Detailed Guide.
#14. Bed and Breakfast Owner
This is another small business venture that will require you to research the proper licensure in your state but trust me when I say it will be well worth it to see your dreams come true. First off, you’ll need to consider the kind of individuals that will be visiting your area and create special packages and themed stays based on their interests.
To start a bed and breakfast business, you’ll need a physical location and a small staff to handle maintenance, customer service, and upkeep. As a result, I recommend it if you have the necessary funds to start your business. (Don’t have any? Learn how to crowdfunding to launch your new business.)
In my experience, a successful bed and breakfast business will also require an SEO-optimized website that includes a hotel reservation system. If you build your website on the WordPress platform, you can easily create a B&B website with a hotel booking plugin, eliminating the need to code the booking form from scratch.
With Airbnb and hotels stealing market share, the competition in the bed and breakfast space is fierce, so I recommend offering a unique perspective on the stay. As previously stated, stays can be themed — perhaps your B&B is a vintage home with all original furniture, or you serve traditional fare from your homeland.
Just incase you are not so sure what a Bed and Breakfast business looks like, below is a video i got from youtube to help you have a better understanding.
#15. Clothing Boutique Owner
If you want to create your own fashion empire, you can start with a local boutique. Create buzz through impressive clothing designs, inspiring social media accounts, and active community involvement. But while you can open a physical store, like my client, Marylyn Smith, you can easily begin online with Etsy and, if successful, expand to a local location. (Though, this wasn’t the same for Marylyn)
There are several ways to open a clothing boutique. To begin, if you have prior fashion design experience or know how to sew, knit, and curate colours and patterns, you can make the clothes yourself.
Alternatively, you can design specific aspects of the clothing, such as a graphic or a logo, and have it printed on-demand at a local print shop as orders come in.
Finally, you can dropship the items from a warehouse you’ve collaborated with. This method is less reliable because each item receives less quality assurance, especially if you never visit the warehouses yourself. Regardless of the method you choose, starting a clothing boutique is very doable, and a fashion degree is not required (though it certainly helps).
#16. Specialty Food Store Owner
Gourmet foods, cheeses, sake, wine—you name it, and there is a specialty food store for it. You can put your passion for exotic olive oils to good use by opening a store like American Provisions, where you can provide the kind of expertise and selection that your target audience would never expect from their local grocer.
To launch your speciality food store, curate and source items from makers you admire and trust. Ask around your community for local makers of the food you want to sell; the makers will most likely be open to collaboration, especially if they get a share of the profits.
When it’s time to sell, you’ll need to find a physical location, but if the initial investment is prohibitively expensive, you can begin by setting up stalls at food festivals and local markets. You can also go the e-commerce route and sell the products on your website, making sure to carefully pack perishable items.
If you need help setting up an eCommerce store, here is a video to help you get started:
#17. Food Truck Owner
Have you always wanted to own a restaurant but were unsure whether you were ready? You can try out your ideas on a food truck. It’s an excellent way to learn about food and restaurant licensing in your state, see what people like and dislike, and build a loyal following before opening or investing in a physical location.
Food trucks will require a larger investment, but thankfully, you can rent the truck itself. A couple of options I personally recommend to clients and friends are the Food Truck Group and Roaming Hunger. The costs often spike during big events, so I recommend renting one in advance of an event like a food festival or concert. You’ll be able to test the popularity of your cuisine and determine whether the food truck business is a good fit for you.
#18. Car Detailing Specialist
Car detailing services that take a trip to the client are convenient for busy people who don’t have time to go to the car wash. With this business, your clients only have to pay once; the service will be completed before they know it. Just ensure you have the necessary flexibility, transportation, and equipment to take your business on the road.
There are no educational requirements for car detailing, but you should take a course like Auto Finesse’s detailing training to learn the fundamentals and refresh your skills.
Meanwhile, you’ll need an SEO-optimized website and an online booking system to get your car detailing business.
Best Businesses to Start with Little Money
Credit: Karolina Grabowska
I’d be terrible at my job if I ignored the fact that a larger chunk of my clients always take the phrase “small business ideas” at face value. On several occasions, especially during webinars, I have had questions that gave off the idea that small business ideas were ideas that needed little funding. That’s partly true, but if you paid close attention to the “What Makes Good a Small Business Idea” section above, you should see things more clearly.
I went through all that to say, even if that was your opinion about small business ideas, I’ve got you covered. Here are a couple of options to try out in 2024:
If you speak a foreign language, launch a translation service. Consider specializing in a specific type of translation, such as medical or financial translation, as you may be able to meet a niche need in your community.
To become a translator, you should have a solid understanding of two languages, ideally near native level in both. You do not need special qualifications to become a translator, but obtaining certification will help you establish your business and gain clients.
In my experience, more certifications give you an edge and help you land high-income gigs.
#18. Garden Designer
If this business idea sounded familiar but way too professional that you almost thought it was something else, welcome to the 21st century. I was in your shoes a few years back until I stumbled upon it while researching for a business plan I was writing. I have since been fascinated by the high revenue opportunities around this business idea.
But who are garden designers in the first place?
Credit: Max Rahubovskiy
Many people are willing to do the dirty work in their backyards, but few know how to complete the first step of the process: designing and planning the backyard space.
Garden designers are highly experienced professionals who excel in creating beautiful landscapes and designing stunning gardens. They offer valuable advice to clients, oversee construction projects, and ensure the successful establishment and maintenance of the gardens they create.
They draw up designs for clients’ outdoor spaces and let them do the digging.
However, you can also provide installation services or hire your own contractors to complete the design.
To become a garden designer, you should obtain at least one credential to ensure that you understand the fundamentals and avoid damaging a client’s landscape.
#19. Travel Planner
The travel agent’s role may be fading, but people are still looking for those with a knack for more unconventional travel coordination. If you always plan the perfect vacations, complete with beautiful hotels, the perfect location, and a plethora of delicious restaurants lined up for each evening, consider advertising your services as a more modern approach to travel planning.
Quick Tip: To become a travel planner, start by volunteering to plan a few trips for family and friends. Try it and see how you like it. Once you’ve developed good taste, enrol in a travel planner program and become certified.
If you want to take a step further and build a sustainable business in this niche, here is a guide to help you stay on track: TRAVEL BUSINESS: Meaning, Ideas & Jobs.
#20. Home Inspector
A home inspector inspects a house’s drywall, electrical wiring, energy efficiency, and structural integrity to identify potential problems on behalf of a buyer. Home inspectors work in the field. They make in-person inspections of homes and provide written reports. Alternatively, some home inspectors provide virtual inspections, which could be a good fit if you prefer to work from home.
Working as a home inspector requires certification and extensive experience, but it can provide a flexible work schedule and a steady income. Before starting this type of small business, make sure you understand the licensing requirements in your state. You’ll want to make sure you’re giving your clients the best service possible by having all of your credentials organized.
#21. Personal Chef
We all enjoy eating, but very few people like me, have the time or energy to prepare nutritious, flavorful meals.
A very simple step in this niche could be to advertise your services to both local families and businesses. But to reduce start-up costs, consider scheduling specific groups of clients together, such as vegetarians, so you can prepare larger quantities of the same dish.
On the other hand, you could also start by selling food in bulk at local farmer’s markets or from a food truck. Once you’ve raised some awareness, you can move on to taking on clients. Alternatively, you can launch a delivery meal prep service by cooking 5-7 days’ worth of meals for customers.
#22. Property Manager
Many people keep properties they don’t live in, often in different cities or states. As a property manager, you can assist a property owner in maintaining their home, handling minor repairs as they arise, and acting as a liaison with renters. It helps if you have prior experience in real estate.
This option is perfect for you if you have exceptional organizational, administrative, and customer service skills. As a property manager, you’ll be responsible for everything from screening potential tenants to collecting rent.
But to become a property manager, you must first complete coursework in your chosen state. I recommend starting at an existing property management company to get your foot in the door. After you’ve learned the fundamentals, you can launch your own property management business.
Here is an article that covers everything from picking your business name to setting up a marketing strategy for you new property management business; Property Management Business: All You Need to Start From Scratch (+ a Workable Model)
#23. Massage Therapist
As a massage therapist, you can help your clients relieve pain and promote peace. You’ll also provide targeted, personalized care that outperforms in-store or mall massage services. To start this small business, you should enroll in customer service courses and obtain a massage therapy certification.
Consider looking into training and certification courses in your city and state, as well as purchasing a portable bed to use during client visits.
#24. Interior Designer
Similar to landscape design, many people have the means to purchase the furniture and home decor they require to fill their spaces, but few know where to begin. Building a portfolio may take some time, but documenting and sharing your projects online can result in a fanbase that exceeds your wildest expectations.
I recommend starting an interior design business by decorating your friends’ homes and working with their vision and specifications. One important aspect of interior design is providing excellent customer service and understanding how to achieve a client’s design vision while utilizing your interior design expertise.
Whether you’re a math prodigy, a pianist, or a Shakespeare fan, someone out there needs your expertise and is willing to pay for it. To spread the word and grow your customer base, advertise your services in local schools, community colleges, community centres, and even on social media.
To start a tutoring business, you should first gain experience educating others through volunteering or teaching friends and family. However, you can start immediately by listing your services locally and online and creating a tutoring website.
Make sure to define your niche. Will you tutor students at their homes? Alternatively, consider opening a tutoring centre in your area. What subject will you teach? Create handouts, use textbooks, and understand which online resources will best suit your tutee’s learning style.
Consider working as a consultant if, like me, you have extensive experience or knowledge in a particular field. Perhaps you are an expert in hiring practices, have a talent for SEO, or have led multiple sales teams to six-figure profits. Determine your expertise, market yourself as a consultant, and charge the going rate.
I must warn, though, that some consulting industries are more competitive than others, so conduct thorough research before starting a small consulting business. A keyword search can help you determine how competitive a consulting niche is. If your target niche is heavily searched or dominated by large corporations, you may have difficulty breaking in. Keyword research tools can help you find keywords with high volume and local demand.
#27. Event Planner
An event planning business is a great option if you have strong organizational and interpersonal skills, and it is relatively inexpensive to start. You could choose to specialize in a specific type of event, such as weddings or business meetings, or you could become an all-around event planner.
The good news is that event planners are constantly in demand. Unlike other ideas on this list, it is not a job that can be easily automated, so this small business idea is likely to thrive regardless of the digital landscape. To begin, look for a platform that allows you to easily advertise your availability, such as event planner directories like Eventective or WeddingWire.
If you are well-organized, detail-oriented, and have experience planning large events, it may be time for others to benefit from your expertise.
#28. Personal Assistant
Credit:August de Richelieu
Personal assistants help business owners and executives with administrative tasks. To start a freelance personal assistant business, take advantage of networking opportunities on LinkedIn and attend small business events hosted by local chambers of commerce. Most local business owners may not even realize they require a personal assistant until you market your services to them.
Becoming a personal assistant may be for you if you are a well-organized, detail-oriented individual. You don’t want to be stuck in one office or with one person all day, every day. Consider becoming a virtual assistant, giving you a more flexible work environment.
#30. Boutique Agency Owner
What is your specialty? It could be time to start your own marketing, social media, or public relations agency. Many other small businesses require this type of assistance but lack the resources or volume to justify a full-time position.
But, you should have at least a few years of experience in your field before starting an agency. You should also be prepared to interact directly with clients, meet their needs, and manage their expectations (if their demands result in an unreasonable amount of time).
Consider forming a small team and learning from other entrepreneurs who have successfully launched their own companies, such as Duane Brown of Take Some Risk.
#31. Coffee Shop Owner
Turn your caffeine addiction into a little more money. Opening a franchise or purchasing an existing shop are lower-risk entry points into the coffee business, but they usually require a bit more money upfront. Starting a business from scratch necessitates more planning and effort, but it also increases your earning potential in the future.
A coffee shop is an excellent choice if you already work full-time remotely and want to supplement your income with a small business. You can manage the coffee shop while working at one of the tables, but make sure you have enough money to hire an experienced barista to cover the gaps.
If you want to open and run a coffee shop full-time independently, you’ll need barista training, knowledge of global coffee sources, and exceptional customer service skills.
#32. Moving Company
Starting your own moving company requires a truck, moving equipment, manpower, necessary permits, and insurance. However, before purchasing your first fleet of trucks, you can start small with a moving van to keep costs down.
Still, it seems like too much of an initial investment. So you consider providing only packing services, which have a much lower financial barrier to entry. You can also collaborate with moving companies by offering to do their packing or having them refer clients to you.
Knowing how the best moving companies across the globe stay at the top is importannt. Here is an article that cover the best in the game: BEST MOVING COMPANIES OF 2023 ( Ranked)
#33. Home Staging
If you enjoy interior design, a staging service could be a creative outlet as well as a professional calling. You can build a portfolio with little initial investment by staging homes with the owner’s existing furniture and decor. Most stagers accumulate furniture inventory as they gain experience and network with local realtors.
You should focus solely on networking to get your first home staging clients. Find your local Realtors’ Association and attend their events, bringing business cards. Once you’ve secured your first clients and built your portfolio, you can share your designs on your home staging website.
Home Small Business Ideas 2024
These home business ideas provide additional business options that can be run from home or online.
This skill does not require in-person interaction with your clients, whether frontend, backend or any other type of code. However, active listening is a skill that you’ll want to bring with you from the in-person world to this type of business. It’s easy to lose focus while developing a product, but connecting with the client is just as important as writing the code for their website.
When you are unable to be physically present, keep the client in mind to ensure that your coding work meets their development needs.
#35. Vending Machine Owner
Since 2015, according to my research, the growth rate for vending machine businesses has increased by 1.4%. Even though social distancing restrictions remain in place, this business can still be profitable if you select the right locations. For example, high-traffic areas, such as hospitals, schools, and community centers, are perfect places to begin placing your machines to generate enough revenue to cover costs and turn a profit.
Do you have an aptitude for social media? As a social media manager, you can use your expertise to manage social media accounts for businesses and even individuals. Influencer marketing has become more common, and many influencers rely on marketing agencies or employees to manage their social media accounts.
#37. Data Entry Clerk
Many businesses hire data entry clerks to help them enter information into computer systems and spreadsheets. If you have excellent computer and typing skills, this could be the business for you.
#38. Audio or Video Editor
According to a business research I carried out, as of March 2021, there were 1.75 million podcasts available for listeners. As a result, brands are increasingly using audio and visual content to connect with their customers. The catch is that many people don’t have the time or skills to create this content. Audio and video editors are in high demand when it comes to creating quality content for hungry audiences.
#39. Voice Over Artist
In terms of podcasts and videos, many content creators recognize the value and professionalism that great voice talent can add to a project. There are opportunities for podcast intros and outros, narration for explainer videos, and even voice work for audiobooks.
SJohnsonVoiceOvers explains how to get into this industry and get yourself work-ready.
#40. Dog Walker, Groomer, or Trainer
Licensing and insurance will be the two most important aspects of starting a dog walking, grooming, or training business, but your canine colleagues will undoubtedly compensate for the initial red tape. Consider walking dogs through companies like Rover to test the waters before making a big commitment. Are you ready to run your own show? Consider a franchise such as Dogtopia.
#41. Candy Seller
If you grew up in a close-knit southern neighbourhood, you’ve probably heard of the “Candy Lady.” Anyone with a good reputation in the community can start this home business. Aside from selling the most popular snacks, a candy seller can provide the neighbourhood with fresh fruit and produce, which may be difficult to find if you live in a food desert.
Online Business Ideas
Many of my clients who come to me for consultation just love the idea of working online from anywhere in the world. To start a business online, consider the options listed below. These small business ideas are ideal for those seeking a passive income stream, and I personally engage in some of them actively or passively.
In other words, you should not have to do a lot of manual labour to start these businesses from your home or preferred business location.
#42. Become an online reseller
To become an online reseller, all you need is some business knowledge and the money to invest in product stock from manufacturers — or, of course, the willingness to sell your own used items. Generally, in my experience, this is a low-touch, high-performance approach to starting an online business that generates passive income.
Online resellers typically use a platform like Facebook Marketplace or Amazon Sellers to sell their own or manufacturers’ inventory. The advantage of using Facebook Marketplace is that you can start immediately with your Facebook account and simply list items you already own.
Interested buyers typically drive directly to your home for pick-up — but if you don’t want to deal with people, you can leave it outside and have the buyer pay through an online platform. I personally prefer the latter because the process is seamless
#43. Try affiliate marketing
An affiliate marketing business is an excellent choice if you already have a website or blog that you want to monetize. I’ve already discussed how blogging is a great business; if you’ve purchased a domain name and started writing content, it is an excellent option to launch your affiliate marketing business.
Affiliate marketers create blog posts and content with affiliate links. When a user clicks on that link, a cookie is added to their browser, which tracks their activity for a set amount of time. If they make a purchase through the affiliate website, you will receive a commission — usually recurring if you are selling subscription products.
There are numerous affiliate marketing programs available to help you start your own online business. These programs offer numerous benefits, including pre-made advertisements and lazy copy for you to use.
To start a successful affiliate marketing online business, you should first choose the right blog niche, such as technology, home decor, or fitness, and then look for affiliate marketing programs that offer products that your readers would be genuinely interested in.
#44. Become a content creator or influencer
Instagrammers, YouTubers, podcasters, and TikTok users with over 10,000 followers can eventually transform their accounts into a small online business that generates passive income.
As a social media content creator or influencer, you can monetize your audience in a variety of ways, including creating Instagram subscriptions, allowing companies to advertise on your YouTube channel, and creating a paid-only newsletter.
Becoming an influencer or content creator requires effort, but it can also be a fun way to start a small online business as long as you post content you enjoy creating. First, select a niche, such as thrift fashion, work-from-home hacks, or industry tips. Then, you should learn how to become a social media influencer and digital creator and create a social media content calendar.
Most importantly, have fun trying out this online business idea. The good news is that it has low overhead—all you need is a willingness to devote time to social media content creation.
#45. Create a Dropshipping Store
I’ve mentioned dropshipping a few times before, but it’s such a great online business idea that it deserves to be mentioned again. Dropshipping companies do not manufacture the products they sell, nor do they purchase stock from manufacturers beforehand. Instead, wholesalers fulfil orders directly after buyers place them through your website.
Opening an e-commerce store can be daunting for those who do not want to deal with inventory management or supply chain logistics. Dropshipping is the best option.
All you need is the desire to invest in an e-commerce website builder and the ability to manage relationships with local or international manufacturers. From there, all you need to do is publish your site and promote your brand through e-commerce marketing.
Here’s how to start a dropshipping business, complete with examples.
11 Dropshipping Business Ideas to Try in 2024
Do you believe that becoming an author is only for the extremely lucky? Think again. Whether you write historical epics or self-help guides, there is a market for your skill, and you can easily publish it online.
However, I recommend editing and proofreading your book or hiring someone to do so before self-publishing. Then, simply sign up for a self-publishing platform, such as Kindle Direct Publishing or Barnes & Noble Press, upload your file and cover, and publish. You’ll receive large royalties (up to 70%) and the option to unpublish the book any time if you discover a typo or want to make another change.
To start this online business idea well, create an author website, devote some time to social media marketing, and learn the fundamentals of book marketing.
#47. Make money by selling downloadable digital products
Downloadable journals, templates, art prints, and designs can be printed at home, saving money on paper and design costs. Downloadable digital products can be a profitable small business idea for those already familiar with design or who want to learn how to use an online design tool.
But if you’re not particularly crafty, you don’t have to create full-on journals or beautiful art prints; you can create templates for marketplaces like Canva. You can customize a base design to your specifications, so you don’t have to worry about creating something particularly beautiful — it’s all about functionality and customizability.
Meanwhile, if you intend to create digital products that customers can print at home, consider printing specifications such as recommended paper size, paper weight, PPI (pixels per inch; higher PPI results in better print quality), and so on. Providing a positive customer experience is crucial, even if users are ultimately responsible for the result.
We’ve already talked about becoming an independent author, but if long-form writing, like novels, seems out of reach, you can always opt for something much shorter and simpler: newsletters. The best part about paid newsletters is that you don’t usually need to have a separate website and blog; instead, you can sign up on a platform and start publishing immediately.
A website can certainly help, but the newsletter will be the primary source of revenue for you.
You can use newsletter monetization platforms like Substack or Patreon to publish shorter content that highlights your opinion, experience, and expertise.
After doing this for over a decade, I recommend combining this small business idea with a strong social media marketing strategy so your followers can learn more about you and be persuaded to subscribe to a gated newsletter.
Choose a niche in which you are passionate, and this online business idea will feel more like a profitable hobby than a job.
MARKET RESEARCH TOOLS: The 15 Best Market Research Tools in 2024
#49. Create an online course
Creating an online course is the best option if you want to monetize your expertise even more for your online business.
To create a course, I recommend signing up for an online course platform like WordPress or Teachable, planning out a curriculum, filming your lectures, and creating worksheets and guides. You can be as hands-on or hands-off as you want, but to make this online business as passive as possible, record all of your lectures at once and make them available to users for a premium fee.
On the other hand, if you want to try your hand at it first, you can create a course on a platform like Udemy and see if it feels viable to you.
To become an online course teacher, you don’t need a specific level of education, but you should have a solid understanding of the material you’re teaching and strong customer service skills to handle inquiries or course refunds.
#50. Transcribe videos, shows, and podcasts
A freelance transcription business is a perfect option for those who only speak one language but are passionate about improving communication. Transcribers listen to speech, write it down (usually verbatim), and deliver it to the original publisher in an organized format.
This small online business idea is ideal for those looking for a part-time side business. You should be able to type quickly and have an excellent listening ear. Indeed has identified the top transcription companies where you can get your foot in the door.
Once you understand how the industry works, you may want to start your own small transcription business and offer your services on freelancer marketplaces like Fiverr or Upwork.
Easy Small Business Ideas to Start 2024
Whether you want to start your venture right away or don’t want to go through the typical hoops of starting a small business, the following ideas are extremely simple to implement — all you have to do is sign up on a website or tell your friends about your services.
#51. Vacation Host
To become a vacation host, you only need to be friendly, courteous, and agile (in case of guest emergencies or language barriers). A customer service course will teach you how to welcome guests and make their stay pleasant.
You’ll also need to invest in supplies and toiletries, such as new bedding, one-time soaps, and toothbrushes, but the costs are minimal, and you can cancel at any time.
#52. Pet Sitter
Do you love pets? Consider becoming a pet sitter. While the pet’s owners are on vacation, you can either host their pet at your home or pay visits to their home. To get started, sign up with a pet-sitting service.
But if you decide to start a pet-sitting business, ensure you have prior experience with dogs, cats, and other household pets. You should also select a niche based on timing. For example, do you prefer long-term agreements? You can market yourself as a great vacation pet sitter. Do you only do single afternoons or weekends? You can attract clients by offering to care for their pets while they are on dates or weekend trips.
#53. Daycare Owner
Childcare continues to be in high demand. While nannies are popular right now, good daycare is difficult to find. Fill a void in your community by starting your own. As always, make sure you follow your city and state’s zoning, licensing, insurance, and inspection requirements.
Home daycares are especially suitable if you are an experienced parent with all the necessary supplies at home. However, you should be aware that you will need to purchase additional supplies to care for the additional children.
I recommend starting this business slowly by advertising to your friends, family, and close neighbours. This allows you to better determine whether it is a good fit for you and whether you want to make the full investment.
If, like me, you’re passionate about a topic, there’s a large audience out there who are as well. A blog can help to create an online community whose participation can be monetized. Affiliate marketing, sponsored content, and co-marketing are some ways to make money once your blog develops a following.
Blogging is one of the most accessible small businesses to start, and there are countless niches to choose from. That said, because there are many blogs online, you’ll need to learn blog SEO and keyword research to ensure your audience finds you. That way, you actually make money out of your blogging efforts.
The great news is that a small blogging business has a ridiculously low overhead. All you need is a custom domain and time for writing blog posts.
#55. Home-Baked Goods Seller
Warehouse-made, store-bought chocolate chip cookies will never compare to a batch made with love in your home. Simple desserts can be easily baked and packaged to sell at local events or around your neighborhood. Use custom labels and watch the word spread about your goods!
You can begin a baked goods business easily by opening a Facebook and Instagram profile. Facebook and Instagram are both excellent platforms to market your goods, show pictures of your previous baked products, and even showcase happy clients.
Build a loyal following slowly, and save on costs by asking clients to drive to your home to pick up their orders. Choosing a niche can be helpful here, or baking in a specific style that can’t be found at grocery store bakeries. The overhead can be especially low if you already have the most essential baking supplies.
#56. House Cleaner
With a low barrier to entry, house cleaning can be a great way to start doing what you love. Consider advertising to homes in your neighbourhood and get more bang for your buck by earning a few small businesses as clients as well. They’ll usually bring in a higher paycheck for similar work.
To become a house cleaner, you should be prepared to invest in cleaning supplies and accessories or be willing to use your own. If you plan to serve small businesses, you should buy industrial janitorial supplies so you can get work done more effectively.
Small Business Ideas for Students
Credit: Stanley Morales
#57. Etsy Shop Owner
Creating novelties by hand is a fun and unique way to start a small business, and you can easily sell them via Etsy. Whether you make jewelry, knitted comfort items, or even custom wigs, there’s probably a market for your products and an Etsy buyer who’s ready to purchase.
This idea is perfect if you’re already an expert in the craft you aim to sell. That way, you don’t need to pursue additional education or certification courses.
Once you set up your Etsy store, which is free, tap into your audience with creative marketing on social media and optimize your website using keywords that describe the products you make.
If you need help setting up your Etsy store, here is a video I have picked to guide you step by step.
#58. Tour Guide
Love the local history of your city or state? Consider becoming a tour guide. Sure, you’ll need to conduct plenty of research to be able to do the job well, but that’s half the fun. Set yourself apart by offering tours that speak to a specific niche of your community’s history.
You can start a tour guide business easily. First, decide what your specialty will be. Some tour guides, like the ones at Freedom Trail in Boston, offer historical walking tours of their town’s most haunted spots, while others curate guided foodie tours for guests to get a true taste of the city.
On the other hand, if you love the outdoors and are an experienced backpacker, you can offer hiking tours. To begin, use a platform such as TripAdvisor or Airbnb, where you can sign up as a tour guide provider.
Remember to launch a website and file for sole proprietorship status.
#59. Online Class Instructor
Tutoring is often done in person and with one client at a time. Remotely teaching an online class offers more flexibility because you can teach multiple students from home. English is a common subject for online classes because of how many people want to learn it. But anything that you have a mastery over could be translated into a virtual class.
#60. Small-Batch Goods Seller
Using organic, all-natural ingredients is more expensive but worth it. There are many products you can learn how to make at home without any preservatives, chemicals, or toxins. Candles, soaps, shampoos, and moisturizers are examples of goods you can create and tailor with custom scents.
#61. Makeup Artist
Many people prefer to have a professional do their makeup because they may lack the proper products or skills. It may be for a special occasion, photoshoot, video shoot, or any other event. Being able to do a variety of different looks will make your business more attractive to more customers.
Meanwhile, you’ll need to be social media savvy to run a successful makeup artist business. Instagram, in particular, is an excellent platform to advertise your services and get new clients.
You should also consider honing in on a specific niche. For instance, you might do wedding makeup exclusively.
#62. Professional Organizer
Many people struggle with clutter or disorganization in their homes and offices. It can be a big chore to create organized systems and habits. So, grab a lot of storage bins and a label maker, and get started!
But, to become an organizer, you’ll first need to have the chops: Is your own home organized? Do you enjoy making order out of chaos? Then, launch a website to market your services locally. Be sure to create local listings to ensure people find your business, including listings on Google, Angi, Houzz, and Thumbtack.
So, is your head buzzing with small business ideas yet? After all that brainstorming, you’ll need a practical plan to get started with your new small business.
How to Start a Small Business at Home
- Identify your small business idea.
- Start as a side business or hobby.
- Decide on your software.
- Create a business plan.
- Decide whether you’ll be an LLC or sole proprietorship.
- Create a business bank account.
- Determine if your business idea works well from home.
- Set up an office.
- Get to work!
#1. Identify your small business idea
Whether you choose an option from the list above or have another idea up your sleeve, it’s important to have the experience, training, or skills necessary to be successful. Say you want to run a daycare; for example, have you ever visited a successful daycare center? Spend time researching to learn whether this is really the right fit for your experience, interests, and target audience.
#2. Start as a side business or hobby
Can you get your business off the ground as something you do in the evenings or on the weekends (a.k.a. a side job)? This allows you to make mistakes, test the market, and understand whether your idea has legs before quitting your nine-to-five job and losing your primary income.
#3. Decide on your software
When you’re starting up, you’ll definitely have a lot on your plate. But one critical step (often forgotten by first-time entrepreneurs) is deciding on the software to help you be more efficient as your business grows.
Every business is different — but almost all companies can use software to help with analytics, project management, accounting, bookkeeping, email marketing, and other basic day-to-day tasks.
Here is a list of the best business software you should try out in 2024:
Business Software: 27+ Best Software & Programs For Your Small Businesses
#4. Create a business plan
No business plan; No business. Particularly if your small business idea requires investors, you’ll need to draft a business plan to provide an overview of your market positioning, financial projections, and unique competitive advantages. You can download BusinessYield’s free business plan templates to get started.
Your business plan should include the following elements:
- Executive summary — A high-level overview of your company and market placement.
- Business model — Outline what your business does, who your business serves, and how your business is structured. You should include a description of what products and services you offer, and how they meet the needs of your customers.
- Market condition — A summary of pertinent competitor information. Determine the strengths and weaknesses of your closest competitors.
- Products and services — Use this section to describe your products and services in detail, and outline what differentiates your product from others in the market.
- Operations and management — Outline your business’ organizational structure, key roles, and responsibilities.
- Marketing and sales strategy — This section should describe how you will market and sell your product. Include information on your ideal customer, how you plan to position your offering, and your sales strategy.
- Financial plan — Create a detailed outline of your business financials. Include your start-up costs, your initial financial productions, and how you anticipate generating funding.
- Appendix — Once the above pieces are complete, end the document with an appendix summarizing your business plan.
#5. Decide whether you’ll be an LLC or sole proprietorship
Limited liability corporations (LLCs) and sole proprietorships are two common legal structures for small businesses.
- An LLC is a more complex business structure than a sole proprietorship and can include individuals, corporations, and other LLCs as members. Additionally, LLCs are not subject to a separate level of tax and offer the business owner liability protection and tax advantages. LLCs are formed on a state-by-state basis.
- Sole proprietorships are businesses owned and operated by one person and are not identified as a separate entity from the owner by the government. While a sole proprietorship is the simplest business structure, sole proprietors are personally liable for their business.
Besides an LLC or sole proprietorship, there are a few other options for you to consider.
TYPES OF BUSINESS: Structures, Insurance, Degrees, Models & Loans
#6. Create a business bank account
Once you have a legally formed business and have been issued an Employer Identification Number (EIN), open a bank account specifically for your business. Having a business bank account is essential for keeping your personal and business finances separate, which can help you understand your business’s cash flow and financial health.
Additionally, keeping your personal and business finances separate makes bookkeeping and tax preparation easier.
Many banks offer business checking and savings accounts. Business checking accounts typically do not have a limit on the number of transactions that can take place and issue a debit card that can be used for making business purchases. However, these checking accounts do not accrue interest.
Business savings accounts typically earn interest over time but have a limited number of transactions that can occur each month. When you’re just starting out, look for a business bank account that does not have a minimum balance requirement so you are not penalized for having low funds as you work to build your business.
#7. Determine if your business idea works well from home
Ask yourself whether your business idea will work well from home. Some businesses simply aren’t suited to be based from home. If you want to run a dog boarding center but live in an apartment without a backyard, you might want to consider a dog walking business instead.
#8. Set up an office
If your business idea is well-suited for being run from home, it’s still important you have a designated workspace. While a home office might not be possible, consider setting aside a corner in your living room or putting a desk in your bedroom for a space that inspires you and creates the conditions for success. I did this when I first started out.
But if you conduct client-facing work requiring you to be on video calls, no one wants to see your rumpled sheets in the background. Check out local coworking spaces for memberships that earn you access to conference rooms, desk space, and more.
#9. Get to work!
You’ve put in the hard work and I’ve got good news — it’s only going to get harder. But most entrepreneurs will agree that the payoff of being your own boss, making your own hours, and working on projects that you’re passionate about will pay dividends for the rest of your life.
What are the types of small businesses?
The types of small business structures are sole proprietorships, partnerships, limited liability companies (LLCs), and corporations.
Which is the best business type?
The best business type is a limited liability company (LLC). Operating as an LLC means that your personal assets are separate from your business assets. If your business goes bankrupt, your personal holdings won’t be affected. That said, it’s also one of the costlier types, requiring a fee paid to the state.
The easiest business type to start is a sole proprietorship. The main downside is that there’s no differentiation between you and your business.
How do I create a business idea?
To create a business idea, determine your skill set, work preferences, startup budget, and available resources. It’s important to strike the right balance between what you can feasibly offer and what you can feasibly afford in the short and long term.
I recommend starting with your skill set so that you can easily determine the niche in which you can effectively compete. For instance, if you have ample experience as a writer, like I do, you might consider starting a freelance writing business. But if you know you’d prefer to work with clients face-to-face, you might choose to start a ghostwriting business instead. That’s why it’s so important to take your work preferences into account, as well.
After that, take a look at your budget and determine the type of business you can start based on the resources at your disposal. For instance, you might not be able to afford a physical office or location, so a location-based business will likely not be a good fit. In that case, starting an online business is your best option.
What are some of the most successful small businesses?
Every small business has the potential to be successful and profitable, provided a strong product-market fit and a robust business plan back it. These two elements are essential. Maybe post-natal services are one of the most successful small businesses to launch, but if you live in an area with a declining population or a large elderly population, then that small business idea won’t yield a high return on investment.
Think carefully about the market where you’re launching your business, and you’ll likely see lasting success.