Working a 9 to 5 job can be exhausting. Considering the rising cost of living, your salary may not be enough to pay all your bills.
However, you can set up your own business to make extra money.
If you haven’t been able to come up with any business ideas, this article will set you in the right direction.
Sometimes, lucrative business ideas are borne out of the problems around us that we yearn to solve or even from the skills we already have.
So, it would make a lot of sense to look around and within you to discover what you should do to generate funds.
The small business ideas below should give you a head start.
22 Best Small Business Ideas For Inspiration
Some business ideas on our list have been trending for some time, which makes them less risky but highly competitive.
However, we made sure to include online business ideas that you can start with little to no capital and scale up as you increase your clientele base.
1. Online Teaching
During the pandemic, the EdTech industry experienced significant growth. Although online classes were available, more people turned to online learning platforms since schools weren’t in session.
This gave rise to more online courses, from teaching pure academic subjects like math, science, and essay writing to teaching skills such as cooking, photography, and graphics design.
Because people can now learn various skills online, the customer base for online teaching businesses is growing at a rapid rate.
So, if you can teach an academic subject or a skill, don’t hesitate to jump on this small business idea.
But you have to invest in a good camera. Whether it’s a phone or a video camera, you’ll need one to record your classes.
You’ll also need lights, software for video editing, an attractive website to launch your courses, and a plan for marketing your online teaching business.
2. Mobile App Development
In this internet age, almost every service has an app for it. You can book flights, make hotel reservations, order breakfast, and shop for clothes and shoes from your smartphone.
App development is a lucrative small business idea as you can make money from the comfort of your home. So, your skill is in high demand if you know how to design, build, and manage a mobile app.
3. Graphic Design
Graphic designers create visuals of physical or digital products, including infographics, logos, brochures, animations, and poster designs.
Because the industry is vast, you’ll have to specialize in website graphics, branding, advertisements, print design, packaging, or motion graphics.
The good thing is that as more businesses move online, graphic designers will always be in demand. Even if you don’t have a college degree in graphic design, it’s quite easy to learn if you’re determined to create a successful business.
You can take paid online courses, use YouTube to access free content, and even participate in online graphic design communities. You should also consider investing in tools like Adobe Photoshop and InDesign.
When you’ve officially set up your small business, you can gather clients from job boards, freelance marketplaces, social media, or networking with other business owners.
4. Dropshipping Business
If you’re keen on buying and selling, dropshipping should be your first port of call. You don’t have to own a brick-and-mortar store or even a physical inventory; everything you need is online.
Dropshipping is an online business that allows you to buy products from manufacturers or wholesalers and sell them to customers without actually buying them.
All you need to do is set up an online store, then locate dropshipping suppliers who’ll give you access to their product catalog. You’ll select the products you want to display in your store, then your supplier will send you the photos.
Many dropshipping platforms are automated such that once a customer visits your store and places an order, the supplier receives it and delivers the product on your behalf.
You don’t have to take any action because you’re the middleman, linking customers to products at an affordable cost.
Also, you’re dealing with manufacturers and wholesalers, which means you’ll get huge discounts and make reasonable profits.
This small business idea is less risky and doesn’t require any capital investments because you’re neither paying rent nor directly involving yourself in manufacturing or delivering the products.
Other people will do the heavy lifting for you while you concentrate on growing your customer base.
5. Medical Courier Service
This is one of the best business ideas that you can start if you have a reliable vehicle for transporting blood samples, prescription drugs, and medical supplies.
You should also have a valid driver’s license, motor carrier license, and a good knowledge of handling and transporting biological materials.
Because this business idea is not like other delivery services, it’s highly regulated. So, to stay on the good side of the law, you should check with your local authorities to know what certifications are required.
When you’re set to get contracts, you should check nursing homes, blood banks, local clinics, and hospitals.
6. Food Truck Business
If cooking is your passion, you can convert it into a profitable business.
The amazing thing about running a food truck business is that you don’t need to rent a shop or purchase equipment.
You also don’t have to own a truck as you can easily lease one that’s fitted with equipment, while you save up money to get yours.
But it’s important to find out whether there are food truck rules and regulations in your locality. Some neighborhoods aren’t truck-friendly and may not offer suitable parking spaces for your business.
You should also consider the hours that are suitable for running the business.
For instance, if you’re around a commercial area, you may have a breakfast and lunch or brunch menu. But if you’re around a college or an area that gets busier at night, you should consider snacks or a dinner menu.
7. Online Dating Consultant
As a dating consultant, you’ll help clients find their romantic match.
Now, if you have your way around ladies or guys and you’re excited about helping people find true love, starting an online dating consulting business may be the jackpot you’ve been looking for.
Your job role may include suggesting dating tips based on their personality, creating attractive online dating profiles, and sourcing potential matches outside conventional online dating platforms.
Some consultants offer short courses on dating to either individuals or groups. You may also decide to work with either female or male clients or a specific category, such as disabled or divorced persons seeking love.
Online dating consultants should have a background in psychology, marketing, social work, or experience in dating various kinds of people. They should also pay attention to details and possess interpersonal and communication skills, including an ability to hold difficult conversations without judging.
But if you don’t have a college degree, you can take courses on sexuality, counseling, and other related areas. You should also attend relationship conferences to learn new approaches to dating issues.
8. Web Developer
As more businesses rely on the internet to sell their products and services, the need for responsive and easy-to-navigate websites is increasing.
So, if you’re a technical person, you may want to delve into web development. You’ll be responsible for creating websites for brands and making them accessible globally. You’ll also fix bugs and errors on existing websites.
To become a web developer, you should have a degree in computer science or website design. However, you can take online courses in programming languages such as HTML, CSS, PHP, Python, Ruby, and Java.
You can also get certifications such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) Certified Developer and Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate to gain credibility as a freelance developer.
Acquiring skills isn’t enough to attract your first client; you should have a portfolio to showcase them. So when you’re all set, you can start searching for contracts on freelance websites like Upwork and Fiverr.
9. Personal Trainer
Everyone wants to live a long, healthy life. So, keeping fit is necessary.
If you love working out and are passionate about helping people get into shape, you should consider becoming a personal trainer.
You’ll work with groups or individuals to attain their fitness goals, including increasing flexibility, strengthening cardiovascular abilities, and improving endurance. Sometimes, you’ll need to create a nutrition plan or work with a nutritionist.
As a self-employed personal trainer, you need certain certifications like the American Council on Exercise (ACE), National Council on Strength and Fitness (NCSF), and National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA). They’re all accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA).
Additionally, you should complete a program in automated external defibrillator (AED) and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), so you’ll know what to do if there’s a medical emergency and no doctor is on site.
Other things you need to kickstart your personal training business are a valid license, professional and general liability insurance, equipment, and location.
Since you’re starting a small business, you can pay a fitness center or a gym to use their space and equipment. However, if you can provide simple equipment such as dumbbells, resistance bands, and kettlebells, you can schedule workouts in the client’s home, a park, or a suitable outdoor space.
Now, when it comes to getting clients, you’ll have to utilize social media accounts like Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. Posting exercise videos, motivational quotes, and healthy snacks will help you gain visibility. You should also set up a website, join professional groups, and attend events where you can network and tell people about what you do.
10. Cleaning Service
Some people don’t have the time to clean their homes and offices regularly, while others don’t enjoy doing such chores.
So, starting a small business that offers cleaning services like dusting, scrubbing, and vacuuming will cater to the needs of other business owners and homes. This business idea has low startup costs—all you’ll need are sponges, spray bottles, cleaning liquids, reusable and disposable towels, and tools like brooms, brushes, and mops.
You may also consider purchasing equipment like a carpet cleaner or a steam vacuum for deep cleaning. Your cleaning business will require a license and personal liability insurance because working in the home or office of clients may not be risk-free.
Marketing your cleaning services is usually done by word of mouth, but you can build your own website or set up a social media page. If you already have a few clients, you can request referrals and offer discounts to encourage them to spread the worth about your business.
11. Freelance Writer
A freelance writer works on different projects for one or more clients.
So, if you can write stories (fiction and non-fiction), blog posts, web copies, magazine articles, and so on, there’s much money to be made from that skill.
But first, you should consider niching down because the writing industry is vast. For instance, you can choose health and wellness if you have a medical background or parenting and pregnancy if you’ve got experience raising kids. Choosing a niche helps you streamline your work and become good at what you do.
Next, you should build a portfolio containing your own work because you want to prove to potential clients that you’ll offer value for their money. Even if you haven’t worked as a professional writer, you can create some writing samples.
You don’t need any certifications to start a freelance writing business, but you can brush up your skills through regular training and practice.
If you’ve been shooting for some time and want to turn that passion into a successful business, then you should start a photography business.
But if you’ve suddenly developed a love for photography, who says you can’t act on this small business idea?
You can start by taking photos of your friends and family members to build your portfolio. You can also show up at events, go to the beach, or visit other fun places where people need to take pictures. Then, offer your services.
As you progress, you should request reviews and recommendations because word of mouth helps to grow photography businesses. And there’s social media where you can post your photos, then tag your clients. Friends of your clients will get the notification on their newsfeed. Then, they’ll see your work and contact you or even recommend you to others.
It’s also important to ask your clients to leave you a review on your Instagram or Facebook page or a third-party review site like TrustPilot because it helps people trust you and your business.
Since you’re starting a small business, you should consider specializing. There are several photography niches, such as travel, fashion, food, architecture, sports, real estate, nature, and lifestyle, to name a few. Specializing helps you to create a portfolio that highlights your strengths.
On the legal side of your business, you may not need a license, but you should confirm with your state and local government.
More importantly, you should consider taking some photography courses and investing in high-quality cameras and accessories, such as lenses, external drives, and memory cards. You’ll also need editing software and a computer with large storage space and a high bandwidth because photos usually have large file sizes.
13. Landscaping Business
Maintaining a yard is a lot of work, so people need help with weeding, mowing, and other lawn maintenance tasks. If you love nature or outdoor designing, landscaping is the perfect business idea for you.
Landscaping involves improving the aesthetics of a portion of land by planting trees, grasses, or flowers and installing features such as paths, fences, and walls. It’s a lucrative business idea because of the increasing demand for adding value to residential buildings.
Also, landscaping helps the environment by planting trees that will consume carbon dioxide and aid the survival of good insects like butterflies and bees.
Before launching your business, you should acquire the necessary tools and equipment such as shovels, rakes, shears, gloves, safety boots, and a mower.
In terms of marketing, you can start by knocking on doors to announce your services. You can also attend local networking events and contact local businesses if you’re offering commercial landscaping.
14. Online Clothing Boutique
An online clothing boutique is a small shop selling fabric, clothes, and accessories via the internet.
If you love trade shows and looking through vintage shops for special items, or you’re obsessed with matching outfits with accessories, then starting a fashion business may be right for you.
Like other small business ideas we mentioned earlier, you need to choose a product niche because you can’t sell everything.
You have to target a segment of the market, whether it’s men’s sportswear, children’s party clothes, or women’s accessories. Also, you should think about selling products that will keep your customers coming back because it’s easier to retain existing customers than to find new ones.
After selecting the products, you have to build an online store. E-Commerce platforms like Shopify, BigCommerce, and WooCommerce enable you to start a business online even if you don’t know how to build a website.
Another thing to consider is the business model. First, you can make the clothes if you’re a fashion designer or have experience in sewing, knitting, and mixing and matching patterns and colors. This model is quite expensive and labor-intensive but doable if you know your customers can pay for the outfits.
Second, you can run the business as a print-on-demand such that you’ll design the graphics or logo, then print them on clothing items at a local shop when customers place their orders.
Third, you can run a white-label store, which involves partnering with a manufacturer who will make the products, then you’ll add your business name.
The next business model you should consider is dropshipping. In this model, you’ll partner with wholesalers to display their product catalog in your store, while they fulfill customers’ orders.
When it comes to a clothing boutique, you can set up a physical shop, but starting online is a profitable business idea.
15. Dog Walking Business
Dog walking is one of the best small business ideas to start if you love pets.
Many pet owners are busy with work, so they need someone to keep their furry friends active, healthy, and happy.
Besides the high demand for dog walking services, the startup costs are minimal. You need to obtain a limited liability company business license and pet insurance to protect you against unexpected lawsuits from people who may claim to have been injured by the pets. Additionally, you should have CPR skills and knowledge of pet first aid in case of emergencies.
You can market your small business on your website and through word-of-mouth. People like getting recommendations from friends, family members, and colleagues when assigning someone to care for their pets.
Offering referral programs for customers, such as free walks, helps to keep them happy and willing to recommend your services.
16. Professional Organizer
Becoming a professional organizer is among the best small business ideas for people who know how to turn chaos and clutter into a functional space for businesses and households.
People are embracing minimalism, but it may be difficult for them to discard some items. Therefore, as an organizer, it’s your duty to find out how your clients feel about certain objects so that you can give advice on the items to store or throw away. Since your job may include painting, you should learn about your clients’ color preferences.
Before you start this business idea, you should decide whether you want to generalize or specialize in commercial or residential organizing. You also need to get a business license, insurance, and a blog or website to promote your work.
You can hold seminars or webinars to teach people how to organize their space. This will not only earn you income but also advertise your services.
You can further promote your business by showcasing before and after pictures of the areas you’ve organized. These pictures can serve as your portfolio to attract more clients.
17. Virtual Assistant
If you’re venturing into online businesses, becoming a virtual assistant is one of the best home business ideas to start.
Small business owners, consultants, and executives are busy with achieving their core objectives and need help with the technical and administrative aspects of the business.
So, as a virtual assistant, you will get paid to answer phone calls, manage inboxes, schedule meetings, coordinate travel arrangements, and other administrative tasks.
Depending on your bachelor’s degree or skills, you can offer specialized services like project management, search engine optimization, bookkeeping, writing and editing business blog posts, and running social media campaigns.
Whether you’ve received formal virtual assistant training or not, communication is essential in the business. You’ll work remotely and clients need to know that you’re picking up and acting on all the tasks they send to you.
When starting a new business, virtual assistance is relatively affordable. In most cases, you can start with tools and skills that you already have, such as a smartphone or laptop and stable internet.
Also, you can get your first set of clients by reaching out to your network, which includes friends, family members, colleagues, and social media followers.
18. Affiliate Sales and Marketing
Affiliate marketing is a strategy that rewards people (affiliates) for promoting and selling products or services. It’s a business idea that can earn passive income through this business idea if you already have a blog, website, or social media page that gets tons of traffic.
Also, this small business idea is low-risk, offers flexibility, and requires little or zero startup costs.
However, you should note that not all companies offer the same commission. While some offer a percentage, others have a flat fee for each sale.
The first step to starting an affiliate marketing business is choosing a niche where you can create content and become an authority.
This is important because you want people to know you for a particular subject so that when you start selling products or services within that niche, they’ll respond positively.
Afterward, you can choose which platform to use when promoting products. It could be YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, or TikTok.
19. Event Planning
When you think about event planning, weddings might be the first thing that pops up in your mind. Although wedding planners are highly paid, it’s a competitive business idea.
But you can start as a generalist, covering not just weddings but also birthdays, seminars, conferences, get-togethers, anniversaries, and so on.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, many events were held online, giving birth to a new way of organizing meetings. So, if you’re good at connecting people and organizing events, virtual event planning is a new business idea that you should explore.
You’ll help clients from around the globe plan virtual meetings, virtual trade shows, networking events, celebrations, and webinars.
Also, you’ll ensure the event streams on various social media platforms with a hashtag that will make it a trend.
With the introduction of Facebook’s Metaverse, more people can now host virtual parties and corporate events, which means more business opportunities for event planners.
20. Social Media Manager
Social media is an important marketing channel in today’s world because almost 60% of the world’s population uses social networks such as TikTok, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram.
So, as a social media manager, you’ll help business owners to plan, create, and publish content that represents their brand identity. You’ll also engage followers, run ads, and analyze the performance of your content on different social platforms.
If you want to excel as a social media manager, you should possess excellent copywriting and communication skills. You should also know how to use tools like Canva for creating designs and repurposing user-generated content, such as memes.
To kickstart your business, you need to know how social platforms work, take online courses, and practice building your online presence.
As you grow your online following, you’re gaining experience that you can show off to potential clients.
21. Beauty Business
If you’re passionate about helping people look beautiful and want to start your own business, the beauty industry is where you should be.
You can make healthy homemade skincare products, but the beauty business is beyond producing and selling products.
Here are some beauty business ideas to explore:
- Freelance facialist for fashion and film projects
- Freelance makeup artist and hair stylist
- Spray tan artist
- Reselling new beauty products
- Lash, brow, and nail technician for microblading, brows, lamination, and tinting.
- Start a beauty blog
- Sell hair extensions
22. Property Manager
A property manager serves as the middle person between tenants and owners. So, if you know people who have rental properties, you can help manage them.
Your duties include advertising vacant properties, showing the properties to potential renters, managing the paperwork, collecting rent when due, and overseeing repairs.
Property managers can specialize in commercial, residential, or retail properties and may have a background in real estate.
Becoming a small business owner is not for the faint-hearted. It takes a lot of guts to get the ball rolling.
We’ve suggested some small business ideas that you can start with little capital or even from the comfort of your home.
Choose one that aligns with your skills and passion, and ensure you get the required licenses and certifications, and enjoy growing your own business.