If you’re looking for small business ideas, you’re probably interested in being your own boss.
Starting a small business is a great way to escape the 9 to 5 grind and earn passive income. It has never been more accessible to start making money with little or no upfront investment. That said, it can be tough to decide what type of small business you want to start. In this article, we will go over some of the most successful business ideas—whether you want to work from home, start a creative business, or if you live in a rural area.
What is a Small Business?
A small business is a business with fewer than 250 employees, although there are many different opinions on what exactly defines a small business.
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has a huge table of size standards based on the number of employees or annual revenue.
Out of 5.6 million employer businesses in the U.S, 99.7% are considered small businesses. These figures don’t include the 24.8 million owner-run businesses with no employees at all.
It’s clear to see: small business is big in America. Below you will see our small business ideas to inspire your journey into entrepreneurship.
5 Reasons To Start a Small Business
- Freedom to find your own work/life balance
- Start building assets
- Pursue your passions
- Make more money
- Learn new skills
5 Small Business Ideas from Home
1. Website flipping
Website flipping is simple in theory—buy a website, increase its value, sell it for profit. The idea comes from the real estate practice of house flipping. However, unlike house flipping, website flipping doesn’t require a huge investment.
You can start by browsing the Exchange marketplace for websites for sale. After you buy a website that seems to have potential, it’s time to get to work. You can increase the value of a website in many different ways, for example: improving SEO, rebranding, or launching a new advertising campaign. Then, you can make a profit by selling your website for more than the cost of buying and growing it.
Need more guidance? Check out our guide on how to start a website flipping business.
Dropshipping is one of the most successful business ideas out there, yet somehow it’s not very widely known. Dropshipping is a type of retail fulfillment in which you don’t buy product inventory upfront. You only buy goods after a customer has placed an order for the products.
You work with dropshipping tools like Oberlo to list a manufacturer’s products on your website. When a customer buys a product, the supplier then mails it out directly to your customer. You keep the price difference between what retail price the customer paid and the cost of ordering the product from the supplier. If you like the idea of dropshipping, but you don’t want to set up a brand new business, you can buy a dropshipping website and start selling from day one.
You can start a dropshipping business in minutes with Oberlo. No inventory means you can test products affordably and eliminate storage fees.
3. Online store / Ecommerce
With some inspiration and the right tools for the job, it’s possible to start an online store in a single afternoon. There are no limits when it comes to how much you can grow and profit from an online store. And the best part is, you can run this small business entirely from home in your pajamas.
Shopify is a great platform to start, manage, and grow your online store. It’s designed to grow with you from day one, through your first sale, and can help scale your business down the road. Need step-by-step guidance as you launch and grow your business? Be sure to check out Shopify Compass for tons of free courses and endless inspiration.
4. Affiliate marketing
If you want to stop trading your time for money and start making money online, you should consider affiliate marketing. In simple terms, this is the practice of promoting someone else’s products and earning a percentage of each sale.
This small business idea is a great option if you want to try your hand at selling products, but don’t yet have an idea for your own. You can start by choosing a niche for your affiliate marketing business—for example, vegan snacks. Now, assuming you’re interested in that niche and you want to find the best vegan snacks, your next step is to review all the vegan snacks you can get your hands on. Your product reviews can be in a blog or video form. The important thing is to include an affiliate link so that you get credit for any sales that come through your content.
5. Freelance developer
Coding is a skill that’s definitely in high demand. Depending on your interests, you may decide to specialize in developing websites, apps, software, or even video games. What you can charge for your development services depends on the amount of value that you provide to your clients.
You can provide a ton of value and make money building Shopify stores. On top of the fee that you charge your client for building the store, Shopify will also pay you a percentage of the client’s monthly subscription fee. Not bad!
5 Creative Small Business Ideas
Print-on-Demand is one of my favorite small business ideas for new entrepreneurs because you can design your products without having to buy a bunch of inventory that might not sell. It’s a good option if you want to work more creatively and want to outsource the manufacturing and fulfillment.
After you’ve signed up with a Print-on-Demand supplier, which you can find on the Shopify App Store, you can start selling your custom designed t-shirts, mugs, bags, prints, and much more. When your customer orders a product, the supplier will manufacture, package, and ship it directly to your customer. So you can focus on the more crucial parts of running your business: designing products and marketing.
The profit margin is smaller than buying in bulk, that’s for sure. If you find that one of your designs is consistently performing well, it’s a good indicator to start ordering inventory for that specific product so you can increase your profits.
If product design isn’t your strong suit, you can still run a print-on-demand store! Find print-on-demand websites for sale so you can start selling winning designs right away.
2. Social Media Manager
If your first instinct when you’re bored is to scroll through your various social media apps, you might be fit to start a small business as a social media manager. Keep in mind, you will need to have a good grasp of the major social media channels—Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Youtube, Pinterest, Snapchat, Tiktok, Reddit, Linkedin, and any others that might be relevant to your clients.
A social media manager acts as the voice of a brand across all social media channels. You would be responsible for creating content, planning posts, and engaging with the community to improve your clients’ online presence.
3. Music teacher
Maybe you’re a skilled musician, but performing on stage isn’t your jam. Or perhaps you’d like to make some extra income in between gigs. Starting a music teaching business can be a great way to earn recurring revenue doing what you love.
I’ve seen it happen, too—my mother-in-law’s full-time source of income is teaching fiddle lessons in person and over video call. She told me that getting those first few clients was the biggest challenge, but soon after word spread, and now her business is a reliable (and rewarding!) source of income.
Do you enjoy photography as a hobby, and take your camera with you everywhere you go? Maybe you should start a photography business! Photography can be expensive to start, but monetizing that hobby is a no-brainer if you already own the equipment.
Before starting your photography business, make sure you choose what type of services you will provide. Wedding photography is popular because it can be quite lucrative. But even if weddings aren’t your thing, the sky is the limit. You can specialize, for example, in professional headshots or product photography for brands.
Want to get more eyes on your photography and start collecting leads? You can contribute to the Burst library, which is a stock photo site for entrepreneurs.
You can make a lot of passive income from blogging if you approach it the right way. It won’t happen overnight, but as long as you’re consistent in producing content, the growth (and revenue potential) will be exponential.
First, you will need to find a topic that you’re passionate about, where your perspective would be useful to readers. For example, if you love dog training, why not start a blog to showcase your experience training your dog? You can write it diary-style, or you can take a more structured approach. You can review different training methods or dog training products. Readers will subscribe because they want to see a unique perspective on a topic they want to learn more about.
You can monetize your blog with pay-per-click ads, affiliate links, writing sponsored content, or using your blog as a platform to sell your products.
5 Small Businesses for Rural Areas
1. Rural house sitter
It can seem impossible to go on vacation if you have livestock to tend to. That’s because most house sitters would only be comfortable caring for a cat or a dog, not a chicken coop. If you live in a rural area, maybe you already have experience caring for horses, milking goats, and looking after a large property.
There’s high demand in rural areas for a house sitting service with these unique specializations. You can start this small business by posting flyers in your neighborhood or community areas. Remember to check with your local authorities what types of licenses and insurance you might need to obtain first.
2. Lawn care
In a rural area, this isn’t your average lawn-mowing gig. With large properties comes more complicated lawn care, requiring specialized equipment. You can lease a commercial mower and provide seasonal services to homes or businesses. One great thing about this business is that you can make a decent income working solo. However, scaling the company is as simple as hiring employees and acquiring the necessary equipment. You could also start offering different types of services, like landscaping or gardening.
3. Bed and Breakfast
Host guests in your home by turning it into a cozy bed and breakfast. A B&B is like the middle ground between staying at a friend’s house, or booking a room at a 5-star hotel. Many travelers love staying at a B&B because they enjoy the personal connection they can make with the owner. Keep in mind, however, that running a B&B can be a lot of work, so it’s crucial to have the right personality to get the job done. If you love meeting new people, cooking for a crowd, and live in a tourist destination, a B&B may be a good small business idea.
4. Tour guide
While we’re on the topic...if you can offer a native’s perspective on your town, why not start a tour guide business? A lot of travelers these days shy away from traditional tourism because they want to live like the locals or experience something unique.
The type of tour guide business you start will depend on several factors. Does your town have a unique history? Is it known for exporting a particular product or making a traditional dish? Did someone famous grow up there? Will you provide walking tours, bicycle tours, or tours by vehicle? It’s important to ask yourself all these questions before starting your tour guide business.
5. Local coffee shop
If you live in a rural area, likely, the same 2 or 3 coffee chains have already put down roots. But don’t mistake them for competition. Stand out from the big guys with freshly-roasted local coffee beans, high-quality, home-made pastries, and a unique, cozy atmosphere.
Aim to make your coffee shop more than just about coffee: it can also be a community hub, where folks can spend quality time together, host events, attend workshops, or even listen to local live musicians. Set up a bulletin board for your fellow small business owners. There are tons of ways to differentiate your local coffee shop from the franchises, and you’re sure to attract some devoted customers in no time.
Starting a small business can seem daunting when there are so many possibilities. The important thing is to focus on your passions and ensure it’s something you’re willing to stick with over the long term. Once you’ve narrowed down your small business ideas, you can start researching the market to get a more concrete idea of how you can challenge the status quo.
Have you decided on which of these small business ideas you want to start? Tell us in the comments below!