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17 Unique Business Ideas for You To Try This Year
- by Evan Ferguson
- Find an Idea
- Oct 17, 2022
- 21 minute read
One of the biggest challenges in starting your own business is figuring out how to set yourself apart from the competition.
If you’re selling a popular, widely available product, you can be sure that demand is high. But with high demand comes a competitive market and larger, more established players.
On the other hand, you might have a completely original product—something no other company is providing. Standing out here is easy, but how can you be sure there’s a high enough demand for the product to sustain your business?
Balancing these things is tricky, but easier when you start with a unique business idea.
Unique businesses in more niche industries tend to have less competition, but the competition they do have assures you that there’s an audience for your products. For a new business, starting from a point of uniqueness can make a world of difference when it comes to setting yourself apart from your competitors.
If you’re looking for a unique business idea , here’s a few of our favorites:
17 unique small business ideas for first-time entrepreneurs
1. be the head chef of your own food truck.
If you love cooking, you may have fantasized about one day opening your very own restaurant. But did you know that since 2016, growth in the mobile food industry has been outpacing growth of traditional restaurants ?
In fact, during the COVID-19 pandemic, while many restaurants struggled to keep their doors open, food trucks were experiencing a time of unprecedented growth . That makes the current moment perfect for newer brands looking to get a foothold in the industry.
For anyone who’s ever dreamed of developing their own unique menus, a food truck business offers the same business opportunity at a fraction of the price of opening a traditional restaurant. They also offer the advantage of mobility, meaning you can bring your restaurant to events and locations where you know there will be a lot of foot traffic and hungry customers.
Plus with food trucks, it’s easy to tie in multiple revenue streams, since the trucks themselves can double as a promotional tool for your other products. Take Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit , for example. It sells its products both out of a food truck and via its own website.
Multiple revenue streams can go a long way in making sure your business is sustainable, and food trucks offer a ton of ways to do this.
- A Food Truck Business Plan to Supercharge Your Start
- Selling Like Hotcakes: 13 Profitable Food Business Ideas for 2022
- How to Start an Online Food Business: The Ultimate Guide
2. Become a virtual interior designer and sell home decor products
Home decor became hugely profitable during the COVID-19 pandemic , with quarantined shoppers looking to spend more time redecorating. Since 2021, the industry has been growing, and it’s expected to continue to grow through to 2026 .
With the advent of augmented reality , online shoppers are now able to actually see how furniture and other home decor products will look in their home. This has given rise to a new type of business: the virtual interior designer .
Virtual interior design is still a relatively new industry, making it prime territory for new brands. There are even online services, like RoomPlays , that match virtual interior designers with clients looking for their services.
Learn more: How to Sell Furniture and Home Decor Online: The Ultimate Guide
3. Start a dog-walking and pet-sitting business
If you love dogs, chances are you’d leap at the opportunity to spend as much time with them as possible. Starting a dog-walking business is a great way to get some exercise, build personal relationships with clients, and make all kinds of four-legged friends.
A dog-walking business is especially reliant on good customer service , so if you’re a people person (and a dog person), dog-walking is a great business opportunity.
Dog-walking businesses are highly localized, so the types of service you offer depends on where you’re located. Take Salty Paws , for example. Aside from offering traditional dog-walking and pet-sitting services for pet owners, it also offers adventure walks to locations all along New Hampshire’s seacoast.
Learn more: How to Start a Pet Business
4. Become a virtual teacher and sell memberships to an online course
More colleges, universities, and even elementary schools are offering online courses than ever before. With people becoming more accustomed to learning online, there’s a growing market for remote teaching, a trend that’s expected to continue .
Online courses can teach just about everything a person might want to learn—from cooking to playing the piano, so it’s an industry that offers a ton of niching possibilities. A growing industry with a ton of niches is perfect for new merchants looking to establish themselves.
In terms of revenue streams—you could sell access to recorded lessons, sell tickets to live streaming sessions, and even sell relevant, accompanying products in an online store.
Or you might prefer a more hands-off approach. For example, Helm Publishing offers open-book, self-study courses with accompanying tests and textbooks so customers can learn at their own pace and test themselves when they’re ready.
Not sure what to teach? People tend to turn to Google when they want to know how to do something, so a good way to get your foot in the door of the industry is to perform some keyword research and see what types of lessons searchers would like to learn.
Learn more: The Beginner’s Guide to Ecommerce SEO
5. Work remotely as a virtual assistant for other businesses
Virtual assistants are contracted workers that can provide a wide range of services, from accounting to content marketing to personal tasks, like planning trips and managing schedules. You could assist virtually as a full-time job or a side business .
With so many businesses shifting their focus to online operations, the demand for remote workers is growing. Since businesses can hire virtual assistants from anywhere in the world, being a virtual assistant doesn’t restrict you to any specific location.
6. Become a social media influencer and partner with brands
Nearly everyone is on social media in one form or another, which might be why influencer marketing is growing in nearly every industry. Regardless of what they’re selling, businesses need customers, and that’s where influencers come in.
A social media influencer in someone who specializes in growing their social media following in a particular niche. Influencers have a certain authority with their audience, so when they partner with brands, audiences tend to take those brands seriously.
A lot of brands rely on influencers to promote their products. It’s especially important for businesses that sell a niche product, where it might be harder to find customers with a more broad content marketing strategy.
But what’s great about becoming an influencer is that the audience you’re building is your own , meaning you can create additional revenue streams by selling your own products. Take apparel brand Unxpectd , which uses its massive TikTok following to direct web traffic to its clothing line and promote its latest product releases.
7. Start a niche cleaning service business
It’s almost impossible to count the number of things that need to be cleaned regularly, but cleaning tends to be one of the most dreaded chores. When it comes to more complex cleaning of things like carpets, cars, or pets—sometimes it’s easier to delegate the task to a professional.
Cleaning services tend to stay in high demand, given people’s general aversion to cleaning combined with the requirement of doing it regularly. When you own a cleaning business, you’ll be building personal relationships with your customers that tend to be long lasting.
With so many things that need cleaning, there’s a ton of potential for carving out your own unique niche. Take PramWash , a Singapore-based stroller-cleaning service provider.
Stroller-cleaning might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of a cleaning service, but by zeroing in on an important chore that not many people want to do themselves, PramWash has cornered a very lucrative market.
On top of stroller cleaning, it also offers other services for new parents—like in-home disinfection treatments that use only baby-safe cleaning products.
8. Start a local grocery delivery service in your community
Everyone needs groceries, but not everyone has an equal degree of accessibility when it comes to shopping for them. Grocery delivery services let shoppers pick out items from the comfort of their homes and have them delivered.
While online shopping may be a globe-spanning exercise, grocery delivery often has to serve at a local level, since items like fresh meats and produce can spoil in shipping. That means that there are communities all over the world that have the potential to grow a niche grocery delivery business.
Retirement communities, college campuses, and densely populated areas tend to be perfect for starting a local business delivering groceries. Take, for example, Kiki’s Grocery Delivery Service , which provides fresh fruits, vegetables, baked goods, and all kinds of canned goods to customers throughout the Vancouver area.
9. Start your own online zine and sell digital subscriptions
If you love writing, chances are you’ve thought about founding your own magazine. “Zines” are small-circulation magazines that typically focus on niche topics. Zines tend to have a more independent element, so the industry is more open to newcomers.
The subject of your zine can have endless possibilities. Chances are, you’ll be more successful covering a topic that you’re passionate about, so this is a small business idea where it helps to stick with your instincts.
Whether you’re an artist, designer, or writer—a zine can be a great way to showcase your talent and make money doing something you’re passionate about.
Selling digital subscriptions to your zine is easy when using Shopify’s Digital Downloads app. If you wanted to sell physical copies, you could use a self-publishing app, like Lulu Direct .
And although you’ll likely want to have control on the creative direction of the zine, you don’t necessarily need to write every article yourself. You could hire freelance remote employees to help with creating some of your content.
10. Use a CNC router to design, build, and sell your own one-of-a-kind products
A CNC machine (also called a CNC router) is a computer-operated cutting tool that’s able to carve complex shapes out of materials like wood, metals, plastic, and glass. Since it operates via computer, CNC machines are able to mass produce goods in a fraction of the time it would take a professional builder.
Small-scale CNC machines are becoming increasingly affordable, making it easier for small businesses to mass produce their own custom-designed products on a shoestring budget from their garages, basements, and bedrooms.
Demand for CNC products tends to be especially high on online marketplaces like Etsy and Facebook Marketplace, since one-of-a-kind products tend to be highly sought after on these sites. This is also the reason audiences in the market for CNC products tend to be open to buying from newer brands, giving an advantage to small retailers.
There are a ton of products you could make with a CNC machine: home decor, cooking tools, toys and games, and a whole lot more. Oftentimes, it’s the uniqueness of the product itself that becomes the selling point.
Take Avocrafts , for instance. Its line of cedar coasters and placemats are cut from a combination of wood and resin in such a way that each individual piece has a unique pattern. Drawing on the demand for uniqueness, Avocrafts offers its customers a high-quality product that’s one-of-a-kind, but still easy to mass produce.
Learn more: Putting the Pieces Together: 26 CNC Projects That Sell
11. Provide freelance bookkeeping services for business owner
Being skilled at organizing financial information might not seem like the most glamorous specialty, but freelance small business accounting services are in high demand, especially for small business owners.
Startup costs can add up fast, and having a solid financial foundation to build a business on is crucial, making bookkeeping a much-needed service for any full-time entrepreneur.
As with virtual assisting, bookkeeping is a great home business for people who want to stay mobile, since it’s easy to work remotely. A good bookkeeper should be organized, detail oriented, and capable of multitasking, since they’re likely to be working with multiple clients at any given time.
Learn more: Bookkeeping 101: How to Keep Records for Your Small Business
12. Become an “author-preneur” and sell your own books and merch
So many writers dream of being published authors, but the idea of having to spend months negotiating with big publishing companies over the creative direction of their work (not to mention their cut of the profits) can be discouraging.
But the time of having to prove yourself to a publishing company before proving yourself to audiences is over. Whether your genre is romance, science fiction, or guides on how to build birdhouses, it’s never been easier for authors to self-publish and market their own books directly to audiences.
“Author-preneurship” is exactly what it sounds like: authors who not only write their own books but also sell them, cutting out middleman publishing companies and engaging directly with their fans. Author-preneurs take full ownership over the promotion of their own work, often using social media marketing to build a dedicated fan base.
With a number of print-on-demand book options to choose from, authors are able to have high-quality copies of their own books printed and shipped at the point of sale , meaning there’s no overhead and no need to hold boxes of unsold stock in your garage or living room.
Some of the most successful writers to emerge in the past decade have been self-published author-preneurs. Take Rupi Kaur .
View this post on Instagram A post shared by rupi kaur (@rupikaur_)
Kaur is a poet who began sharing snippets of her work on Tumblr and Instagram . Unable to find a publisher for her work, Kaur made the decision to move forward without one, instead focusing on growing and engaging her online fan base. The move paid off: her first self-published book, milk and honey , became the best-selling book in Canada in 2017 .
Along with her books of poetry, Kaur also sells her own merch to fans—such as clothing, prints, stationary, and temporary tattoos featuring her work. Creating additional streams of revenue like this on your store can help supplement income, giving you time to focus on writing.
13. Create your own novelty t-shirt company
T-shirts are one of the most common items of clothing, but they often act as more than just clothing. People use t-shirts to express themselves—their interests, identities, values, or sometimes just their favorite bands.
The custom t-shirt printing market was valued at $3.64 billion in 2020, and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 9.7% from 2021 to 2028 . You might not think of t-shirts themselves as “unique,” but the reason the industry seems so expansive is because the niching possibilities are endless.
Even with a high volume of competitors, no other brand will be selling your shirts. Whether they feature catchy jokes, intricate designs, stunning artwork, or rousing political slogans—no other product like yours will exist anywhere else.
Learn more: How to Start an Online T-Shirt Business: Everything You Need to Know
14. Become a personal trainer and promote your services on TikTok
TikTok is one of the fastest-growing social networks, meaning there’s a ton of potential audience members for your content. It also tends to be an especially personal app, with influencers relaying on their infectious personalities to build relationships with their audience.
Personal training is, well, personal —meaning building a high-level of trust with your clients is especially important. One-on-one sessions are a great way to build trust, but can be incredibly time consuming if you have a big audience. That’s where TikTok comes in.
When you grow a following on TikTok, you’re building personal relationships with huge swaths of followers through your content. Nurturing those relationships can take time, but having a dedicated following on a social media network like TikTok gives you a big head start on the competition.
And there’s a deep well of fitness-related content to choose from. You could post workout routines, engage your audience with fitness challenges, share nutritious recipes, or just post updates about your day-to-day life.
If you’re looking for inspiration, check out TikTok influencer Ulissesworld . A former professional bodybuilder, Ulisses has grown to become one of fitness-TikTok’s most popular content creators. His content is often fitness related, but he’s not afraid of deviating from fitness to show a more fun and personal side as well.
@ulissesworld Try this challenge with your partner 👫🏾 @sharah_ulisses_ #tiktok #foryoupage #waterchallenge #4u #coupleschallenge ♬ Rollin' (feat. Burna Boy) - MIST
Learn more: How to Make Money on TikTok: 8 Ideas for Monetization
15. Become a life coach and offer motivation and advice
If your best entrepreneurial asset is your ability to build personal relationships with clients, life coaching could be the perfect full-time job to utilize it.
Coaches can work with clients facing a number of challenges and may specialize in areas like relationships, career development, dealing with conflict, or just providing support to clients in the midst of overcoming obstacles.
While it’s not a substitute for professional counselling, life coaching can make a huge difference in the lives of your clients, making it an especially fulfilling online business to get into.
Life coaching usually focuses on identifying client goals, assessing obstacles to achieving those goals, and developing a plan of action for overcoming those obstacles. Since these challenges can take on many forms, there are a ton of untapped life coaching niches.
For example, take the life coaches at Gay Man Thriving . They’re relationship experts who work exclusively with gay men, helping them overcome the fear of rejection in the pursuit of love.
In a heteronormative world, it’s a lot harder for gay men to find good relationship advice, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a need for it. By focusing on an underserved community, Gay Man Thriving immediately sets itself apart from competing relationship advice programs.
16. Create and sell travel guides and tourist maps
Well-versed travellers know that the best guides are often locals. Whether looking for clubs, restaurants, events, or just the best hiking trails—it's the people who live in a travel destination that often have the best ideas for how to spend your time there.
If you live in an area with a lot of travellers, chances are they’ll be looking for things to do. Why not show them with your own line of local travel guides? Travel guides can take many forms—you could sell audio walking tours, books, maps, or even augmented reality tours .
And you don’t have to live in Paris or New York to create resources for tourists either. Often, smaller tourist destinations have a higher demand, since fewer tourist resources are available. Take TravelBrains , for example:
You don’t just have to niche by location either. You might make tourist maps and travel guides for a specific group of hobbyists. For example, MAD Maps offers state and city maps specifically for motorcyclists, detailing the best routes through the United States.
17. Launch a podcast and sell exclusive content
Podcasting is one of the fastest-growing forms of media. In 2018, 44% of Americans reported having listened to a podcast, a number that jumped to 57% in 2021 .
With the number of podcasts set to rise, there’s about to be a lot of room for new podcasts to build an audience. Podcasting is inexpensive, easy to learn, and one of the few collaborative media projects that can be done simultaneously from several different locations, making it perfect for working remotely.
Monetizing podcasts is fairly easy as well. While podcast listeners might not want to pay for each podcast, a common online business model for podcasters is to offer a shorter, free version of the podcast alongside a longer, more in-depth paid version.
As you start to build an audience for your podcast, you could start monetizing by selling merch. Depending on the audience for your podcast, you could also sell accompanying products.
For example, if you have a cooking-themed podcast, you could sell recipe books or cooking supplies. And as with being an influencer, podcasters tend to have a level of authority with their audience, making popular podcasts widely sought after by brands looking for partnerships.
Learn more: How to Start a Successful Podcast (For Under $100)
Got a unique business idea? Here’s what to do next:
Standing out is no easy task in the world of business, but when you’re trying to get your business off the ground, it’s crucial to set yourself apart from your competitors. Having a unique business idea is a great starting point, but here’s what to do next:
1. Come up with a unique selling proposition
You may have a unique idea, but it doesn’t mean you won’t have competitors. A competing business may not have the exact same service as you, but if customers can choose them over you, then you need a way to set yourself apart.
A unique selling proposition is the selling point that makes your business different from competitors. When customers are overwhelmed with options, it helps if they can quickly and easily understand what makes your business different.
That’s why it’s important to develop a unique selling proposition to guide your branding and digital marketing decisions. Focusing on a specific selling point in your marketing will help easily explain what makes your business different to customers, and help create a more memorable idea of your business in your audience’s mind.
Learn more: What a Unique Selling Proposition Is (And Isn't) Plus 10 Examples to Inspire You
2. Develop a business plan
There are a lot of steps to growing your business, from coming up with an idea to hiring collaborators to evaluating startup costs. A good business plan can help you clarify potential roadblocks and secure the resources you’ll need.
Good entrepreneurs can adapt to change, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a plan. Take the time to research your idea. Identify potential challenges, consider what you’ll need to grow your business, and come up with a timeframe for putting your plan into action.
Learn more: How to Write a Business Plan in 2022: a Roadmap You’ll Actually Use
3. Promote your business through SEO
Search engine optimization, or SEO, involves practices and strategies for bringing search engine traffic to your online store or social media profiles. SEO is especially important for unique businesses, since potential audiences are likely to be searching for a solution that your business offers.
SEO can be both technical and instinctual. Not only are you looking to create web content that’s picked up by Google’s web-crawling algorithm, but you also need to entice the actual humans that will be searching and clicking.
Studies have shown that users rarely click past the first page of search results, so getting to the top position for searches relevant to your audience can give you a huge advantage over potential competitors.
Learn more: The Beginner's Guide to Ecommerce SEO
4. Launch your online store
When you’re finally ready to launch your store, you might find it difficult to juggle all of the potential setbacks at once. With so many moving parts and things to consider, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed at having to prepare for launching your business.
Is your payment processor set up correctly? Do you have any dead links on your website? Are pages easy to navigate? Will your customers find what they’re looking for?
If your head’s spinning with endless questions, it might help to create a launch checklist to organize your thoughts and streamline all the tasks you’ll need to complete before opening your store.
Learn more: Starting up Starts Here: The Shopify Store Launch Checklist
Stand-out from the competition with a unique business idea
Starting your first business can be an incredibly exciting experience, but it also comes with challenges. Coming up with an idea is important, but remember that it’s how you execute the idea that will be the deciding factor in your success.
Try not to get bogged down in thinking of something that no other business has touched. It’s important to stand out, but the uniqueness of your business depends less on what your actual product is and more on how your product is different .
Smartphones were invented years before the iPhone, electric cars existed long before Tesla, and Amazon wasn’t the first company to sell products online .
The best business ideas aren’t always completely original. It’s their desire to do things differently that sets them apart.
Start your free trial of Shopify—no credit card required!
Unique business ideas faq, what are some unique business ideas.
The best business ideas usually either offer a new spin on an existing business or provide service to a niche market that might not be adequately served by existing products and services. To get some inspiration, check out the unique businesses above.
How can you make business ideas profitable?
There’s no easy answer for making a business profitable, but if you’re offering a unique service, it helps to promote your business through SEO and social media marketing, as well as to have multiple streams of income to draw from.
How do you come up with a unique business idea?
To come up with a great business idea, think about successful businesses that you find inspiring. What is it that sticks out to you about these businesses? What sets them apart? Then ask yourself what they could be doing better.
Oftentimes, identifying problems in competing businesses can ignite a new idea for your own successful small business.
What new business can I start?
If you’re looking to find even more business ideas , check out some of these resources:
- The 23 Most Profitable Business Ideas in 2022
- Side Hustle Ideas: How to Find Yours and Make an Extra $1,000 A Month (And More)
- Top 24 Achievable Business Ideas for Kids
- Becoming a Sidepreneur: 9 Part-Time Business Ideas to Start In Your Spare Time
- 26 Best Small Business Ideas to Start in 2022
About the author
Evan Ferguson is a writer, digital artist, and content creator at Shopify. He is best-known for once being retweeted by Ice T.
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60 Small Business Ideas for Anyone Who Wants to Run Their Own Business
Published: October 21, 2022
A good business idea may seem hard to come by, but with some planning and preparation, you can easily launch a small business to supplement your income — or become your own full-time boss.
Maybe you already have an idea of the business you’d like to start. But while you might feel ready for a new venture and passionate about your idea, you might be looking for some direction.
To help get you started, here's a list of small business ideas separated into a few sections:
Best Small Business Ideas
Best businesses to start with little money, home business ideas, easy businesses to start, how to start a small business at home.
The first step to becoming a successful entrepreneur is finding a business idea that works for you. In this article, you’ll find dozens of small business ideas you can start from home and scale up as your clientele grows. Let’s get started.
Free Business Startup Kit
Fill out this form to build your business plan today., what makes a good small business idea.
Not all small business ideas are made equal: Some require more effort and funding than others, while some can be launched with few resources — or resources you already have. As a potential small business owner, you’ll want to save as much money as possible on training, rent, supplies, and other necessities.
Let’s go over what makes a good business idea:
- Requires little to no training . A good small business idea will ideally leverage your existing field of expertise and require little to no training. That will not only shorten your time-to-launch, but also lessen your expenses, since training courses can cost a significant amount of money. Plus, you’ll be more confident offering services that you feel prepared to deliver.
- Requires low setup costs. Your business should be cheap to start. Maybe you only need to purchase a website domain or buy a desk for your garage.
- Requires little hands-on inventory or supply management . A great business idea needs few supplies and little inventory management. If you want to sell physical goods, you can either try drop-shipping and manually make goods in small batches.
- Is based online . The best small business ideas are based online and can be carried out from your personal computer. This will automatically lower your commuting costs and give you greater flexibility over your personal and work life.
- Can sustainably be managed by few people . As a small business owner, you won’t have the funds to hire other people to help you run your business — at least not at first. A good business idea should give you the ability to run your business on your own.
Airbnb Co-founder, Brian Chesky, said, "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 for a problem in your own life."
If you’re like Brian and you’ve already thought about a solution for a problem you encounter in your life — or you’re on the path to doing so — then starting a small business may be in your future. It may also be for you if you dream of clocking out of your nine-to-five job for the last time and becoming your own boss.
Below, we include the absolute best ideas for you to start your small business — with resources and examples to help you get started.
Are you always fixing things around the house? Often on-call when friends need small projects completed? Create a website , conduct a competitive analysis to determine what your time and expertise are worth, and turn to the friends you’ve helped before for referrals.
A handyman business is a good idea if you’ve already built a robust set of skills to help others fix up their homes. Consider specializing in what you feel well-prepared to do — for instance, if you know your way underneath a sink and water system, then you might provide sink fixing services to start, then expand your offerings once you earn more skills.
No certifications are needed to become a handyman, and there are no special education requirements. You might need, however, a license if you’re planning to undertake jobs worth more than a certain dollar amount. Some states might not require this license.
To start your handyman business, we recommend the following resources:
- Handyman License Requirements by State
- The Most Requested Handyman Services
- Association of Certified Handyman Professionals
Similarly, if you have a passion for crafting beautiful furniture or other home goods out of wood, that could be a small business niche for you. Get started by listing a few of your pieces on sites like Etsy . Once you build a following, consider starting a website, accepting custom orders, or expanding to refinishing work and upholstery.
A woodworker small business is ideal if you already have a passion for woodworking, as well as the tools to begin fulfilling orders as they begin to come in. Since delivering a well-made product is key to keeping your customers happy, you don’t want to be “training” as you create a custom shelf or a custom storage box. It’s recommended to have at least one year of experience as a woodworking apprentice.
To start a woodworking business, there are no special education requirements, but there are a wide range of woodworking training certifications online, so we suggest starting with a certification. The Woodwork Institute , YesTomorrow , and The School of Fine Woodworking are potential places to start.
3. Online Dating Consultant
Dating consultants usually charge for their time. They help people create successful online dating profiles, source possible matches from outside the typical online channels, and offer a level of personalization that a site like Tinder can’t. Think you’ve got a knack for the match? This might be the business for you.
Online dating consultants need to have strong communication and interpersonal skills, as well as heightened levels of empathy. The good news is that there are no special education or licensure requirements, though we recommend getting a certification such as IAP College’s relationship coach certification or Hart Academy’s online dating coach certificate .
To start an online dating consultant business, you’ll need a website that shares all about you and offers free dating resources your customers might benefit from. Once they download a resource, you can loop them in for a free consultation.
4. Sewing and Alteration Specialist
People will always need clothing hemmed and buttons mended — and you could be the person to do it. If you love sewing and have a sewing machine at home, start by offering simple services like those mentioned above and expand your repertoire to dressmaking and design as you build a customer base and demand.
You don’t need a special license or degree to begin a sewing and alterations business, but it’s essential to build your skills so you can take on more complicated projects. High-value clients will want to customize complicated items of clothing such as suits, pants, gowns, and dresses. That’s where you’ll see the highest potential for profits.
Altering these items require special skills, however. A few courses you might consider include:
- International Open Academy's Tailoring Course for Beginners
- Jackson Sewing Academy’s Basic Alterations Course
- American Bespoke Tailoring Academy’s Programs
You’ll also need to shop for sewing supplies of all colors to accommodate your clients.
5. Freelance Developer
From building websites for other small businesses to providing technical support for certain projects, quality web development is in high demand right now. As a web developer, you'll naturally have a technical skill set. Distill your knowledge and expertise so customers who don't have your experience are able to understand what it is you'll be helping them achieve.
To help with this, test your messaging on friends and family who don’t have a firm understanding of the work you do. If they’re able to summarize what you do, your messaging is likely effective among people outside of your industry. You can start finding your first freelance contracts by visiting different freelance websites .
Unlike a few other options in this list, a freelance developer does need some training to launch a successful business and start taking on projects, but if you’re a beginner, don’t worry. There are plenty of boot camps to get you up to speed with either full-stack or front-end web development. Some of these boot camps are even offered through accredited tech schools.
Some boot camps you might consider include:
- Coding Dojo
- Fullstack Academy
- Georgia Institute of Technology Coding Boot Camp
These vary in price, so be sure to do extensive research to find one that fits you and your budget.
6. Personal Trainer
Offer in-home consultations, personalized nutrition and exercise regimens, and community boot camps to get the word out. Don’t forget to populate an Instagram feed with inspirational quotes, free exercise videos, and yummy snack ideas as well — it’s a common way for fitness gurus to build their brands in our digital world.
If you choose to go this route, it’s OK to start small at first, then scale up. For instance, MOURfit is a personal training business in Indianapolis that started in a shared gym, then grew to a private gym that offers group fitness, personal training, and nutrition services.
To start a personal training business, you’ll need a certification. If you already earned a degree in an unrelated discipline, we recommend starting with the NASM-CPT certification , which is nationally accredited and only requires a high school diploma or GED. You can also get a Bachelor’s degree in physical and exercise science — here’s one example from Emory & Henry College .
7. Freelance Graphic Designer
Set your own hours, choose your projects, and build a portfolio and business you’re proud of. From website design to blog graphics and more, many companies seek out experienced graphic designers for support on a variety of projects.
The good news? There are no special education requirements for becoming a freelance graphic designer, though we recommend seeking a credential (like SAIC’s graphic design certificate or RISD’s graphic design certificate ) or an Associate’s degree in design so you can confidently present your portfolio and complete your first few projects.
If you’re just starting out with graphic design, try these tips and tricks that are ideal for beginners. If you’re more experienced but need to build your portfolio to attract clients, these prompts will get your creativity flowing in no time. We also recommend reviewing other people’s work on portfolio websites to get a feel for what is “trendy” and receive feedback as you grow your small business.
8. Life/ Career Coach
If you have experience navigating career, personal, and social transitions successfully, put it to good use as a life or career coach. Many of us are looking for guidance in our careers — and finding someone with the time to mentor us can be tough.
Life/career coaches don’t come cheap, but they are able to offer clients the intense and hands-on training and advice they need to make serious moves in their personal and professional lives. After all, everyone needs some uplifting advice from time to time.
To start your life/career coaching business with confidence, you can look for a certification program (like the Life Coach School’s or Diane Hudson’s ), then apply your skills as you acquire new clients.
A resume writing business is economical, has few overhead costs, and has few educational requirements. We still recommend having an Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree and a few resume samples on hand. If you still feel that you need to brush up on your resume writing skills, you can take a course like Coursera’s or LinkedIn Learning’s .
Once you’ve gotten resume writing down, you can expand your business to include cover letter writing, and even offer career coaching services in conjunction with these services.
10. Freelance Writer
If you have writing skills , there’s someone out there willing to pay you for them. Write blog posts, magazine articles, and website copy galore — just make sure you have a body of work built up to share with potential clients. Even if you create a few sample pieces to have on hand, they’ll help exhibit your work and attract new business.
To become a freelance writer, it’s essential to choose a specialty. For instance, you might choose to only write for publications in the healthcare industry (maybe because you were previously a healthcare worker), or focus on lifestyle publications. Whatever the case, specializing will help you find your niche market and gain confidence as a new freelancer writer.
There are no educational requirements to freelance writing, but you do need strong writing skills. It also helps to enjoy writing. While a certification may beneficial, getting practice and writing every day is more important. Try these writing prompts to start.
Mowing, tree-trimming, and seasonal decor are all neighborhood needs. If you have or can acquire the equipment, a landscaping business can be a lucrative affair. It’s also a great choice if you enjoy doing it for your own home and have a good eye for landscape design.
The good news is that you can start small. For instance, you could offer your neighbors seasonal planting services and start with a few perennial plants, or simply offer mulching services.
To grow your landscaping business, you should consider taking some formal training. The following organizations offer courses:
- New York Botanical Gardens
After completing a course and getting enough experience, you can apply for a certificate from a landscaping organization. While a certificate isn’t necessary to work in the field, it can build your credentials and help you make industry connections to take your landscaping business to the next level. The Association of Professional Landscape Designers offers one potential certificate you could pursue.
Some states require licensure, especially if you’ll be using pesticides and fertilizers. Be sure to review the requirements for your state.
Learn some of the basics now with this video on landscape design from Lowe’s:
Video production requires you to have invested in the equipment up front, which can be quite expensive. But that’s also what makes your services so valuable. Make sure you have a reel of your work to share or create a website with several selections of your work available for interested viewers.
There are no educational or licensure requirements for starting a video production business. As with writing and other creative arts, though, it pays to specialize. Real estate videos differ radically from wedding videos, and wedding videos differ radically from in-studio interviews and testimonials. By specializing, you target a highly specific customer who’ll benefit the most from your services, and you can also skill-up more effectively in one shooting style.
While you can find general classes on videography, you should consider taking a class in the type of videography you’d like to do. For instance, you could take The Complete Wedding Videography Course , if that’s the route you’d like to take.
Hot tip: If you’re interested in specializing in video marketing, check out The Ultimate Guide to Video Marketing and download our starter pack below.
Start by conducting photo shoots for your family and friends. As you build a body of work, ask for referrals and reviews. Photography businesses often grow by word of mouth, so create a Facebook page where you can tag recent clients. Photos where you tag those clients will show up in their friends’ newsfeeds, where they can view your work. You can also ask them to leave reviews on your Facebook business page.
Like with a video production small business, you’ll want to specialize. Will you do product shoots or portraits? How about wedding or fashion photo shoots? Once you specialize, you’ll be able to create a body of work that most accurately represents your strengths.
There are no educational or licensure requirements for starting a small photography business, but we recommend investing in a few photography courses, especially if you haven’t used your camera in a while. Some courses you might start with include:
- Cornell’s Digital Photography Certificate Program
- New York Institute of Photography’s Course
From there, seek courses that help you build skills in your chosen specialty.
If you’re not sure where to start with freelance photography, take a look at Erica Clayton’s journey into the business below. Her advice? Give yourself a firm deadline to turn a profit.
14. Bed and Breakfast Owner
This is another business venture that will require you to research the correct licensure from your state, but it will be well worth it to see your dreams come true. Consider what guests will be traveling to your area and create special packages and themed stays that coincide with their interests in your locale.
To start a bed and breakfast business, you’ll need a physical business location and a small staff for maintenance, customer service, and upkeep. For that reason, we recommend it if you have startup funds to start your business. (Don’t have any? Here’s how to start crowdfunding to launch your new business .)
A successful bed and breakfast business will also need an SEO-optimized website with a hotel booking system. If you create your website on the WordPress platform, you can easily create a B&B website using a hotel booking plugin — so there’s no need to code the booking form from scratch.
With Airbnb and hotels stealing market share, the competition is tough in the bed and breakfast space, so we recommend providing a unique angle to the stay. As mentioned, the stays can be themed — maybe your B&B is a vintage home with all original furniture, or maybe you offer traditional fare from your homeland.
15. Clothing Boutique Owner
If you dream of building your own fashion empire, why not start with a local boutique? Build buzz with impressive clothing styles, inspiring social media accounts, and heavy community involvement. While you can open a physical store, you can easily start online — and if that proves profitable, you can open up a local shop.
There are a few ways you can start a clothing boutique. First, you can make the clothes yourself if you already have experience in fashion design or know how to sew, knit, and curate colors and patterns.
Alternatively, you can design certain aspects of the clothing — such as a graphic or a logo — then send it to be printed on-demand at a local print shop when orders come in.
Lastly, you can dropship the items from a warehouse you’ve partnered with. This method is less reliable because there’s less quality assurance for each item, especially if you never visit the warehouses yourself. Regardless of the method you choose, starting a clothing boutique is highly doable, and you don’t need to have a fashion degree (though it certainly helps).
Take some inspiration from Sleep Ova , a luxury loungewear boutique based in Los Angeles, CA.
16. Specialty Food Store Owner
Gourmet foods, cheeses, sake, wine — you name a food, there’s a specialty food store out there for it. Put your passion for exotic olive oils to good use and open a store like American Provisions where you offer the kind of expertise and selection your audience couldn’t dream of getting from their local grocer.
To start your specialty food store, you’ll want to curate and source the items from makers that you love and trust. Ask around your community to find local makers of the food you want to sell, and the makers will likely be open to a partnership, especially if they get a cut of the profits.
When it’s time to sell, you’ll want to find a physical location, but if that investment is too high, you can start by setting up stalls at food festivals and local markets. Or you can go the ecommerce route and sell the products through your website, taking care to carefully pack perishable items.
17. Food Truck Owner
Always dreamt of owning a restaurant but not quite ready to take the plunge? Test out your concepts with a food truck. It’s a great way to become familiar with food and restaurant licensing in your state, see what people like and don’t like, and build a ravenous following before ever opening or investing in a brick-and-mortar location.
Food trucks will require a larger investment, but thankfully, you can rent the truck itself — the Food Truck Group and Roaming Hunger are two potential leasers you could look at. The cost will be high, so we recommend renting one in preparation for an event such as a food festival or concert. There, you’ll get to test out the popularity of your cuisine and see if the food truck business is right for you.
Taco Nganas , a taco truck in Memphis, TN, started with one food truck and expanded to three, building a loyal customer base along the way.
18. Car-detailing Specialist
The devil is in the details, and you can be too. Car-detailing services that travel to the client are convenient for busy people who can’t find the time to run through the car wash. With this business, your clients only have to pay and the service will be done for them before they know it. Just make sure you have the flexibility, transportation, and equipment to take your business on the road.
There are no educational requirements for car detailing, but you should still take a course such as Auto Finesse’s detailing training to learn core concepts and brush up on your skills.
To get your car detailing business off the ground, you’ll need an SEO-optimized website and a way for customers to book online with you. Before you take that step, however, consider listing your services on websites like Angi , Thumbtack , and even Nextdoor.com so you can get your first local clients.
Don’t have a lot of money to start your business? Check out the ideas below.
Speak a foreign language? Start a translation service. Consider specializing in a specific genre of translation, like medical or financial translation, as you might be able to fill a niche need in your community.
2. Garden Designer
Many people have the willingness to do the dirty work in their backyards, but few have the know-how to complete the first part of this process — designing and planning the backyard space. Draw up the designs for your clients’ outdoor spaces and let them do the actual digging.
3. Ecommerce Store Owner
Do you create, collect, or curate anything special? Consider starting an ecommerce store and turning your hobby into a full-time job. Whether you need somewhere to sell all that pottery you’ve been making, or an excuse to search for the sports memorabilia you love tracking down, an ecommerce store can make it financially viable for you to pursue your passion.
4. Travel Planner
The time of the travel agent might be passing, but people are still looking for those with a knack for more nontraditional travel coordination. If you always plan the perfect vacations complete with beautiful hotels, the ideal location, and a bevy of delicious restaurants lined up for every evening, consider advertising your services as a more modern approach to travel planning.
5. Home Inspector
Working as a home inspector requires certification and a great deal of expertise, but it can offer a flexible work schedule and stable income. Confirm the licensing requirements in your state before getting started with this type of small business. You’ll want to make sure you’re providing the best service to your clients by having all of your credentials in order.
6. House Cleaner
With a low barrier to entry, house cleaning can be a great way to start doing what you love — soon. Consider advertising to homes in your neighborhood 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 a similar amount of work.
Need some inspiration? This small business cleaning service grew virtually overnight on Instagram after their content went viral during the pandemic.
7. Personal Chef
We all love to eat, but few of us have the time or energy to cook healthy, delicious meals. Advertise your services to local families and businesses alike. To save on start-up costs, consider scheduling certain groups of clients together — say, vegetarians — so you can cook larger quantities of the same dish.
Chef Paul’s mouth-watering dishes are available to clients across the country. His clientele niche consists of athletes, corporate businesses, and local gyms.
8. Property Manager
Many people maintain properties they don’t live in — often based in different cities or states. As a property manager, you can help a property owner ensure their home is being well taken care of, handle small fixes as they arise, and serve as a liaison to renters.
9. Packing Services Facilitator
Moving is always a pain, and many people hire the entire packing process out. Want to have a steady stream of clients? Partner with a local moving service that will refer new clients to you.
10. Massage Therapist
Soothe aching muscles and promote peace for your clients as a massage therapist. Look into training and certification courses in your city and state and invest in a portable bed to take on client visits.
Creating novelties by hand is a fun and unique way to start a small business. Whether you make jewelry, knitted comfort items, or even custom wigs , there’s probably a market for your products. Tap into your audience with creative marketing on social media and optimize your website for the search engine using keywords that describe the products you make.
12. Interior Designer
Similar to landscape design — there are many people who have the ability to buy the furniture and home decor they need to fill their rooms, but few who know where to start. It might take some time to build a portfolio but documenting your projects and sharing them online can build a fanbase beyond your wildest dreams.
Need inspiration? Check out Sandra Cavallo’s interior design Instagram account.
13. Nonprofit Owner
If you dream of devoting your life to a cause you believe in, it might be time to start a nonprofit. You’ll need to incorporate your business and file for 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status — and then you’ll be required to meet ongoing standards of compliance, but the payoff is making a meaningful impact on a cause you believe in.
14. 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.
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.
Whether you’re a math whiz, piano master, or Shakespeare aficionado, there’s someone out there who needs a little help in your area of expertise and is willing to pay for it. Advertise your services through local schools, community colleges, community centers, and even social media to get the word out and build a customer base.
If you have significant experience in or knowledge of a specific subject, consider becoming a consultant. Perhaps you’re an expert at hiring practices, have a knack for SEO , or have led multiple sales teams to six-figure success. Identify your expertise and market yourself as a consultant and charge the going rate.
17. Event Planner
You might choose to specialize in a specific type of event — like weddings or company meetings — or set yourself up as an event planner of all trades. If you’re highly organized, are detail-oriented, and have experience planning large events, it might be time others benefit from your skills.
18. Personal Assistant
Again, if you’re an organized, highly-detailed person, the life of a personal assistant might be for you. Don’t want to be tied to one office or person all day, every day? Consider becoming a virtual assistant, which allows you a more flexible work environment.
19. Consignment Shop Owner
If you have an eye for style but don’t want to invest in the inventory of a brand-new boutique, consider going consignment. It will allow you to curate a collection of clothing that matches your goals and aesthetic, without the overhead of a boutique selling entirely new garments.
If that personal chef gig is too restrictive for your schedule, consider catering instead. Pick your projects, work on fewer but larger events, and hone in on your time management skills.
21. Gym Owner
Kickboxing gyms, yoga studios, CrossFit, oh my! Turn your passion for fitness into a community for others by creating your own gym — start one from the ground up, become an affiliate, or open a franchise location.
22. Boutique Agency Owner
What’s your specialty? Whether it’s marketing, social media, or PR, it might be time to start your own agency. Many other small businesses need this type of help but don’t have the resources or volume to necessitate a full-time position.
Consider building a small team and learn from other entrepreneurs who’ve successfully started their own agencies, like Duane Brown of Take Some Risk .
23. Coffee Shop Owner
Turn your caffeine addiction into something a little more lucrative. Opening a franchise or buying an existing shop are lower-risk entry points to the coffee game but they usually require a little more cash upfront. Starting a shop from scratch requires a little more planning and a lot more work — but it also maximizes your earning potential in the future.
24. Moving Company
A truck, moving equipment, manpower, and the correct permits and insurance are the building blocks of starting your own moving company . Before you buy your first fleet of trucks, however, start small with a moving van and keep your costs low.
Still sound like too much of an initial investment? Consider offering packing services only, which have a much lower financial barrier to entry.
You could even take a niche approach to the industry as Astro International has by offering international moving services.
25. Home Staging
If you have a flair for interior design, a staging service might serve as your creative outlet and professional calling. You can build a portfolio with little initial investment by staging homes using the owner’s existing furnishings and decor. Most stagers eventually build up an inventory of furniture as they become more established and network with area realtors.
26. Makeup Artist
Many people prefer to have a professional do their makeup because they may lack the proper products or just the skills. It may be for a special occasion, photoshoot, or video shoot, or another event. Being able to do a variety of different looks will make your business more attractive to more customers.
27. Professional Organizer
A lot of people struggle with clutter or disorganization in their homes and offices. It can be a large undertaking to create systems and habits that will create continuous organization. Grab a lot of storage bins and a label maker and get started!
Meg Golightly, founder at Gosimplified has made this small business idea into a successful career.
These home business ideas give you a few more business options that are either based at home or online.
Frontend, backend, and every type of code in between, this skill requires no in-person interaction with your clients. But one skill you’ll want to carry over from the in-person world for this type of business is active listening. It can be easy to zone out while building a product, but developing a connection with the client is just as important as developing the code for their website.
If you keep the client top of mind when you can’t be around physically, you can ensure that you’re meeting their development needs with your coding work.
2. Vending Machine Owner
Since 2015, the growth rate for vending machine businesses has increased 1.4%. Even as social distancing restrictions are still in place, this business can still be lucrative if you choose the right locations. High-traffic is key — places like hospitals, schools, and community centers are smart places to start placing your machines to generate enough revenue to cover cost and turn a profit.
3. Social Media Manager
Do you have a knack for social media? As a social media manager, you can use your skills to manage the social media accounts for companies and even individual people. Influencer marketing has become more common and many influencers rely on marketing agencies or employees to help them run their social channels.
4. Data Entry Clerk
Many businesses seek data entry clerks to help them enter information into their computer systems and spreadsheets. If you have strong computer and typing skills, this might be the business for you.
5. Audio or Video Editor
As of March 2021, there are 1.75 million podcasts available to listeners. For this reason, brands are turning to audio and visual content to connect with consumers. The catch is that many don't have the time to invest in the production of this content, or they don't have the skills to do it. Audio and video editors are in demand when it comes to producing quality content for hungry audiences.
6. Voiceover Artist
Speaking of podcasts and videos, many content creators recognize the value and level of professionalism that great voice talent can bring to a project. There are gigs out there for podcast intros/outros, narration for explainer videos, or even voice work for audiobooks. Learn how to get started with no experience from Kat Theo below:
7. Dog Walker, Groomer, or Trainer
Licensing and insurance will be the two most important factors in opening a dog walking, grooming, or training business, but your canine colleagues will surely make up for the initial red tape. To test the waters before jumping in, consider walking dogs through companies like Rover. Ready to run your own show? Consider a franchise like Dogtopia .
8. Candy Seller
If you grew up in a close-knit, southern neighborhood, you're probably familiar with the " Candy Lady ". This home business can be started by anyone who's trustworthy in the community. Aside from selling the most popular snacks, a candy seller can provide the neighborhood with fresh fruit and produce that may be harder to find if you live in a food desert.
9. 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 to a virtual class.
10. 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 some examples of goods you can create and tailor with custom scents. Try starting out making soap with this complete beginner’s guide to soapmaking:
Whether you’re looking to start your venture today or you simply don’t want to jump through the normal hoops of launching a small business, the below ideas are extremely easy to start — so easy, all you’ll need to do is sign up on a website or tell your friends about your services.
1. Vacation Host
Have you ever used a home-sharing service instead of a hotel? You could make a living by hosting visitors in your own home or renting out a room. Consider becoming a host with companies like Airbnb .
2. Pet Sitter
Do you have a passion for pets? Consider becoming a pet sitter. While the pet's owners are away on vacation, either host their pet at your home or make visits to their home. Join a pet sitting service like Wag to get started.
3. Daycare Owner
Childcare continues to be in high demand. While nannies and nanny shares are popular right now, a good daycare is hard to find. Fill a need in your neighborhood by opening your own. And, as always, make sure you’re complying with your city and state’s zoning, licensure, insurance, and inspection requirements.
If there’s a topic you have a heavy interest in, then there’s an audience out there with a heavy interest in it too. A blog can be used to build an online community whose engagement can be monetized. Affiliate marketing , sponsored content , and co-marketing are some ways to make money once your blog develops a following.
5. Home-Baked Goods Seller
Warehouse-made, store-bought chocolate chip cookies will never compare to a batch made with love in someone’s 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!
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.
- 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. Want to run a daycare but have never even visited a successful daycare center? Spend time conducting research 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 some mistakes, test the market, and understand whether your idea has legs before you quit your nine-to-five job and lose your primary income.
3. Decide on your software.
You’ve got a lot of things on your plate when first starting up. But one step that’s critical (and often forgotten by first-time entrepreneurs) is deciding on the software that can 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.
One of the most important software tools every small business should utilize is a free all-in-one CRM platform to keep track of important customer information in one central database. It will help align your team and make sure you stay organized as your business grows.
4. Create a business plan.
No business plan? No business. Particularly if your small business idea requires investors, you'll need to draft up a business plan to provide an overview of your market positioning, your financial projections, and your unique competitive advantages. You can download HubSpot's free business plan templates for free to get started.
Download Free Business Plan Templates
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.
Two common legal structures for small businesses are limited liability corporations (LLCs) and sole proprietorships.
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.
Sean Flannigan, Sendle's Content Manager, says, "While many small businesses might be best served by choosing an LLC or sole proprietorship, there are a few other options."
"Partnerships are great for businesses operated by several individuals. It hews most closely to a sole proprietorship in that the individuals take on the business liability and pay taxes on a personal level."
He adds, "To completely avoid personal liability, small businesses might choose to incorporate as a corporation, S corporation, or B Corp. S corporations avoid corporate taxation whereas B Corps must meet a threshold for public benefit and accountability."
Additionally, Flannigan says, "There are tons of great reasons to become a B Corp beyond just doing good business. All that said, many small businesses that aren't aimed at super-fast growth choose to go with an LLC to keep things simple while shielding owners from too much liability."
Learn more about choosing the right structure for your business from the Small Business Administration.
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 gain an accurate picture of 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.
Need a more professional space? 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.
Starting a Small Business: FAQ
What are the types of small businesses.
The types of small business structures are sole proprietorships, partnerships, limited liability companies (LLCs), and corporations.
Which business type is best?
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.
We 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, 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 it’s backed by a strong product-market fit and a robust business plan . 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 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 be more than likely to see lasting success.
What are the top growing small businesses?
The top growing industries are healthcare support, technology, personal care, food preparation, and community and social service. As such, launching a small business in any of these fields is bound to yield a high return on investment, but remember to take your target market into account.
Here are some small business ideas for each of those industries:
- In-home care assistant
- In-home elderly care provider
- Psychological care provider
- Pre-natal and post-natal support specialist
- Freelance programmer or web developer
- Freelance IT support specialist
- Freelance cybersecurity expert
- Hair stylist
- Nail technician
- Personal chef
- Food truck owner
- Food delivery
Community and Social Services
- Non-profit owner
- Education specialist
Brainstorm Your Next Small Business Venture
Selecting a small business idea to work on is a personal decision. Money is important, but you’ll need more motivation than that to keep going. Bounce ideas off your friends and family until you reach the perfect idea that works for your schedule, fulfills your life’s passion, and makes financial sense. Don’t be afraid to ask for help throughout this process — and remember to have a little fun while you’re putting in the work.
Editor's note: This post was originally published in August 2020 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.
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