Entrepreneur’s Guide: Best Small Business to Start

It may have always been your dream to start your own business to take control of your financial destiny. Like others, you may have been caught up on what the best small business to start is, particularly one that doesn’t require a lot of upfront investment and also happens to be something you can do on the side.

There are plenty of profitable business ideas that you can consider, even if you don’t have any prior experience, or would prefer to work from the comfort of your home. The internet has also made it much easier to explore new business opportunities remotely. The 15+ business ideas highlighted in this blog will give you plenty of inspiration to achieve your entrepreneurial dreams. 

16 Best Small Business Ideas 

You need to find a business idea that works well for you, regardless of whether you’re able to pour a lot of money into it initially or not. Ideally, the type of business you start will be better suited to your current circumstances, so that you can operate it effectively.

1. Rideshare Driving

This has long been a preferred side business for a lot of people as it provides them with the flexibility to drive whenever they want and make money in the process. It’s best for students and those with other jobs as it’s not as demanding as a full-time or even a part-time position. The signup process for major ridesharing services is fairly simple and you could be up and running within a matter of minutes. 

You’ll require a vehicle to work as a rideshare driver. If you don’t already have one you’ll need the capital to acquire one. Even a decent used car would be enough to get started and you can subsequently upgrade to a better vehicle once you make enough money. You can also take what you learn while working as a rideshare driver to eventually expand into the private car-for-hire business.

Pros of Rideshare Driving

  • Easy to get started
  • Plenty of demand
  • Tips can increase earnings

Cons of Rideshare Driving

  • Need to have a vehicle
  • Platform fees eat into your income
  • Working hours are generally longer

2. Dog Walking

What may have been a side hustle for you back when you were a kid actually has the potential to become a lucrative small business. Dogs need to be taken out for a walk at least once a day to answer nature’s call. Many dog owners, particularly in major cities, don’t have the time to do that, so they delegate that task to dog walkers. 

Dog walkers can make decent money and it doesn’t require much apart from being responsible with other people’s pets. It’s a great option for people who love walking, as it helps them get their exercise for the day as well. If that’s something you enjoy, you could earn good money as your clients would likely recommend your services to people they know, helping you expand the business. 

Pros of Dog Walking

  • Sustained high demand in major cities
  • Good hourly rates
  • Potential for significant expansion

Cons of Dog Walking

  • Greater responsibility for other people’s pets
  • Not as lucrative in smaller cities
  • Physically taxing

3. Print-on-Demand

People will always buy t-shirts, hoodies, tote bags, hats, and other items. If you’ve got great designs, you don’t need to get a huge inventory printed first to sell them. You can use a print-on-demand platform to promote your design and only have the items printed and shipped to customers who order them. 

Even if you’re not a designer, you could work with online freelance designers to create cool concepts with catchy images, quotes, taglines, etc. that you think would sell well online. Just research the trends and create your products accordingly. This is a good small business idea for people who want to start something with a very low upfront cost.

Pros of Print-on-Demand

  • No significant initial investment required
  • Printing, logistics, and payments are handled by third party
  • Ability to scale up very quickly

Cons of Print-on-Demand

  • Margins tend to be lower
  • Little control over product quality
  • Highly saturated

4. Freelance Writing

If you’ve got a knack for writing, you could transform that passion into a small business. Whether you’re into creative or technical writing, ghostwriting books, or creating ad copy, there’s incredible demand for great writing talent even in the age of AI, as quality clients would always prefer human-written content. 

You can get started in this business with little more than a computer. There are plenty of online platforms where you can find freelance writing jobs. Most students and even professionals prefer having this as their small business since it’s something that they can flexibly manage with employment. 

Pros of Freelance Writing

  • Sustained demand from quality clients
  • Ability to express your creativity
  • Potential to establish a creative writing agency

Cons of Freelance Writing

  • Highly competitive
  • Significant platform fees
  • Difficult to win clients directly in the beginning

5. Tutoring

Whether you’re great at math or playing the guitar, chances are there’s someone out there who needs help with what you’ve mastered. You can use your experience and knowledge to establish a small business through which you offer tutoring services. There’s little upfront investment required, as you’re essentially leveraging your knowledge to make money.

Approach this as a business to give yourself the best chance to grow. Create useful resources, establish your reputation as a great tutor and people will eventually recommend your services to others in their network, allowing you to make considerable revenue from your tutoring.

Pros of Tutoring

  • Higher rates for personal lessons
  • Potential to expand through referrals
  • Reach more people through online tutoring

Cons of Tutoring

  • Limited by the scope of your knowledge
  • The market can become saturated if you’re in a small city
  • Can be competitive 

6. Electronics Repairing

People have a lot of electronics these days, from smartphones to tablets, wearable devices, gaming consoles, televisions, and more. It’s not uncommon for these products to often need repairs and many users would first prefer to get them repaired before it becomes inevitable to buy a new product. 

If you have the necessary skills, electronics repairing can be a lucrative small business. The startup cost will typically be a few thousand dollars as you’ll need some specialized equipment to do the job. Even if you don’t have a space to operate out of, you could provide home visitation services and fix devices at the customers’ place. 

Pros of Electronics Repairing

  • Sustained demand for repair services
  • Can typically charge higher rates
  • Potential to establish a full-fledged repair business

Cons of Electronics Repairing

  • Requires specialized skills
  • May require investment in spare parts
  • Increased competition

7. Handyman

People often need assistance with all sorts of tasks, whether that’s assembling furniture, cleaning out their garage, changing light bulbs, or fixing other stuff around the house. As a handyman, you could charge a decent hourly sum to help people with whatever they need assistance with. 

If you’ve got specialized experience with plumbing or carpentry, for example, you could potentially earn even more. Once you’ve established a name for yourself in the community, you could begin to expand the team by adding more workers, allowing you to service a larger customer base and increase your earnings in the process.

Pros of Handyman

  • There’s always going to be demand
  • Potential for significant expansion
  • Higher hourly rates for specialized jobs

Cons of Handyman

  • Higher-paying jobs require more skills
  • May take some time to build a reputation
  • Income may not be consistent initially

8. Affiliate Marketing

If you already have a blog or an online audience that you can monetize, affiliate marketing is a great small business idea that you should consider. Companies will pay you a commission to generate sales for their products and services. Choose products that best align with the interests of your audience to increase your chances of generating high commissions. 

Even if you don’t already have an audience, you can get started with affiliate marketing by creating quality content and running paid ads to bring in traffic. It’s important to have some knowledge of how all this works so that you’re not setting your money on fire, as you could spend a considerable amount on paid ads and not generate the desired results if you don’t know what you’re doing. 

Pros of Affiliate Marketing

  • Potential to generate very high commissions
  • Requires little upfront investment
  • Can get started with just your phone

Cons of Affiliate Marketing

  • Extremely competitive
  • Paid ads can be very expensive
  • Difficult to make commissions if it’s not something you understand

9. Makeup Artist

This is a great small business idea that lets you channel your creativity and also make good money in the process. People will always want to look their best for a special event. They may not have the necessary skills or knowledge of the best products to use. That’s why so many of them turn to makeup artists who can create their desired look. 

It’s great for those who are passionate about makeup and can demonstrate their skills to potential clients. Makeup artists must be social media savvy as that’s how most clients will find you these days. Create and share interesting looks, product recommendations, and other tips to build an audience and expand your client base.

Pros of Makeup Artist

  • Can be a high-income-generating business
  • Easy to get started with little upfront investment
  • Possible to go viral online and reach a lot of new potential customers 

Cons of Makeup Artist

  • Tough to expand beyond the immediate locality
  • Takes time to establish a reputation
  • Significant knowledge and skills required

10. Cleaning Service

Cleaning homes, offices and other places is a great way to start your entrepreneurial journey. People will always need cleaning services and they’ll rely on service providers when they’re unable to attend to their spaces themselves. It doesn’t require much more than some basic cleaning supplies that you can get for a few hundred dollars and a good work ethic.

Start by reaching out to homes and businesses in your area and advertise your cleaning services. Offer competitive rates so that they’re encouraged to take a chance on your new service. Once they’re satisfied with the services provided, they’re highly likely to keep calling you back and also recommend you to other people, enabling you to gradually expand your business. 

Pros of Cleaning Service

  • No need to buy a lot of equipment to start
  • There’s always going to be demand
  • Significant potential for expansion

Cons of Cleaning Service

  • May need to offer lower rates initially to win customers
  • Needs a lot of physical labor
  • Can be highly competitive 

11. Content Creation

People now consume online content more than ever before. It’s become their go-to source of entertainment, product research, and shopping recommendations. Content creation doesn’t require much more than a smartphone to start but it can be challenging to find your niche and build an audience that regularly engages with your content. 

However, it’s a very lucrative business opportunity for those who can leverage their ability to create compelling content. It opens the door to affiliate marketing opportunities, brand deals, advertising revenue from online platforms, and much more. The expansion opportunity is limitless; there’s no cap on how large your audience can be. It’s a suitable option for those who have an eye for catching online trends, photography, and videography. 

Pros of Content Creation

  • Easy to start with just a smartphone
  • Potential to reach local and international audiences
  • No limit to how large your audience can be

Cons of Content Creation

  • Extremely competitive
  • Can be difficult to find your niche
  • Keeping the audience engaged can be challenging

12. Translation Services

If you speak multiple languages, you can leverage that skill into a potential business opportunity, particularly if the other languages that you speak are very well known. People may need translators to assist them in business meetings or to translate documents. 

You don’t need any equipment to get started, as you can simply rely on your knowledge of another language. Start marketing your products through local advertising as well as online ads. You can typically charge good hourly rates for translation services. As much of the work can also be done remotely, you can assist clients wherever they may be in the world.

Pros of Translation Services

  • Ability to cater to a large client base
  • Good hourly rates for work
  • Doesn’t require any equipment

Cons of Translation Services

  • Demand for services can vary
  • The market could be saturated
  • Competition can be tough

13. Personal Assistant

Business owners, busy professionals, and executives often need assistance to manage their tasks. They prefer having a personal assistant who can take a lot of stuff off their plate so that they can focus on things that matter the most to them. If you’re a detail-oriented and highly organized person, this could be a lucrative small business for you.

You don’t need a lot of resources to get started in this business. It’s not like you need a business loan to become someone’s personal assistant. Polish up your CV, have business cards on you to hand out during networking events, and demonstrate your ability to keep your clients on schedule. You’ll gradually build up a reputation as a valuable resource and may soon have a long list of clients willing to pay you good money for your services.

Pros of Personal Assistant

  • Easy to get started
  • Ability to make a positive impact in clients’ lives
  • Potential to work as a virtual assistant remotely

Cons of Personal Assistant

  • Working hours can be longer
  • Can take a while to get your first client
  • Networking requires considerable effort

14. Dropshipping

Here’s another small business idea that you can start online. As a drop shipper, you won’t be manufacturing any products or holding onto inventory. You’ll simply relay the order to a wholesaler who’ll fulfill it, while you get to pocket the price difference. Getting started is simple enough. You need a laptop and relationships with local and international wholesalers and distributors. 

Create an e-commerce store yourself or pay someone to do it for you. It’s then a matter of driving traffic to the website, either organically via search or through paid ads. The products you sell should be compelling enough and priced competitively so that people are encouraged to make a purchase. It’s a good option for those who want to start a business without significant upfront costs.

Pros of Dropshipping

  • Can run multiple stores simultaneously
  • No money tied up in merchandise
  • No need to manufacture items

Cons of Dropshipping

  • Finding winning products can be difficult
  • Supplier issues can derail your progress
  • Paid ads in top markets can be expensive

15. Food Trucks

If you’re passionate about food and have an interesting concept but can’t quite open a full-fledged restaurant initially, consider getting a food truck. It’s a great way to test your concept and build awareness for the brand. Once success follows, you’ll have the momentum to eventually open up a restaurant. Food trucks do require considerable upfront investment as you’ll need to acquire the truck and equip it with everything needed to make the food. 

You’ll also have a lot of operating expenses and will need the relevant permits from the city to run the food truck. The benefits are immense, too. You can frequently change locations and find more new customers. People like going to food trucks to try new foods and this natural appeal will help bring new customers to you. Create brand awareness through social media to build a loyal customer base that sticks with you.

Pros of Food Trucks

  • Attainable way to prove your concept
  • Food trucks have become a major trend in metro areas
  • Potential to eventually launch your restaurant

Cons of Food Trucks

  • Greater upfront investment required
  • Getting required permits can be a hassle
  • Higher operating expenses

16. Travel Planning

A lot of people find travel planning to be incredibly stressful. They’d much rather share their preferences with a travel planner and have them work everything out for them so that they can have a stress-free holiday knowing that everything from their flights to accommodation, transport, activities, and reservations has been meticulously planned for them. 

Select a niche that you’d like to operate in, such as luxury or adventure travel, and start offering travel planning services online. You can do this business entirely online and for clients anywhere in the world using nothing more than a computer. It doesn’t cost much to become a travel planner and you can gradually build your brand online to expand to new markets.

Pros of Travel Planning

  • Ability to work remotely
  • Helping people have their dream vacations
  • Catering to a vast client base

Cons of Travel Planning

  • Need to be constantly up to date with the latest travel trends
  • Being available to provide support to clients on trips
  • Convincing clients why paying for bespoke travel planning is better

How to Start a Small Business?

It’s one thing to pick the best small business to start, it’s another to actually get it off the ground. All this brainstorming likely has you buzzing with impatience to just dive in and see how it goes. Such temptations are best avoided as it’s important that you follow a step-by-step process to launch a business and increase your chances of success. Listed below are the steps to follow when starting your own business.

Develop a Business Plan

You can’t have a business without a business plan. The idea alone won’t be enough to become successful. You need to create a detailed business plan that highlights the opportunity in the market you want to target, includes adequate research on the competition, and a clearly defined strategy for you to establish a competitive advantage over others in the industry. 

The business plan will serve as a roadmap for you to follow as you establish and eventually scale the business. This ensures that you’re not making shots in the dark and are making informed decisions for the success of the business. 

Create a detailed business plan that clearly defines the business model you’ll follow. Include details of the products and services offered as well as how pricing and other advantages will be secured to compete with rivals. Outline the organizational and management structure in the business plan as well so that the roles and responsibilities are clearly established. 

The business plan should also include detailed workings on the business’s finances, marketing and sales strategy, as well as any other relevant information.

Choose Your Business Structure

There are several different types of structures that you can choose from. It’s important that you choose the business structure that suits the unique needs and goals of your business the best. 

Sole Proprietorship

It’s one of the easiest business structures to understand and set up. As a sole proprietor, you take on individual responsibility for all business operations. A sole proprietorship isn’t required to file income tax forms separately from the owner. This means that all the business income and expenses will be declared on your individual tax return as the owner. 

Many small business owners start with a sole proprietorship as this business structure has a low initial cost and no major reporting requirements. However, owners do take personal liability for the debts and obligations of the business. 

Partnership

If you’re looking to establish a business with two or more partners, a partnership is a simple structure that you can consider. It’s quite similar in the way it operates to a sole proprietorship as the entity isn’t considered to be separate from its owners. 

What this entails for owners is that they have to report the income and profit/loss figures of the business on their personal tax returns through Form 1065. It’s a useful, low-cost structure for businesses that have multiple partners even as they remain personally liable for the obligations of the business.

Limited Liability Company

The limited liability company or LLC is a preferred business structure for most business owners. It provides them with the protection of the corporate veil, reduces their personal liability, and enables them to take advantage of several tax benefits. The profits and losses pass through and owners have to declare them on their tax returns. 

There are some paperwork requirements for setting up an LLC but they’re not as significant as some other entity types. There are no restrictions on the number of shareholders that an LLC can have. 

Meanwhile, an LLC does have to meet some regulatory requirements and might need the assistance of expensive resources like attorneys to remain in compliance with all legal and regulatory obligations.

Corporation

A corporation is a complicated structure further divided into two types, the C-Corporation and S-Corporation. A C-Corporation is a legal entity that’s entirely separate from its owners while an S-Corporation works as a partnership that may have up to 100 shareholders. 

Shareholders have the maximum personal liability protection with a corporation. The corporation remains liable for all federal and state taxes while shareholders are required to report dividend payments on their personal returns. A corporation has the advantage of being able to raise funds through the sale of shares, however, it does have the most reporting and regulatory requirements of any business structure.

Register Your Business

The process of registering your business goes beyond merely selecting the type of entity you prefer. There’s still a lot more that needs to be done so that all compliance requirements are met. This ensures that your business doesn’t run into any problems down the line. 

Get the Required Licenses and Permits

Depending on the type of business you’re launching, you may be required by a federal, state, or local government to obtain the relevant licenses or permits before you can conduct business. For example, you’ll need to get a liquor license if you want to open a wine shop. 

Even though they may sound the same, there’s a difference between a license and a permit. A government agency issues licenses so that you may perform activities that are not otherwise allowed. A permit is simply a permission to do something. For example, it’s illegal to drive a car without a license while a construction permit is a one-time permission to carry out construction on a particular job.

The qualification and application requirements for licenses and permits can vary by state as well as by city or county. Search for the appropriate licensing authorities in your area and seek the relevant information from them. They’ll guide you on what paperwork needs to be filed along with the application so that it can be processed quickly and you can get your license.

Open a Business Bank Account

It’s imperative that you separate business finances from your personal finances. This will streamline the financial management of your business and will also make tax season less stressful since you wouldn’t have to sort out which expenses were personal or business. 

Opening a business bank account is simple enough but it does require a bit of effort. You’ll need to provide your bank with the formation documents as well as other relevant documents that they may ask for, such as business licenses and the federal Employer Identification Number (EIN).

The bank will likely provide several different accounts to choose from. Pick the one that’s best for your business. The charges and fees will differ for the various options. You may even be required to pay an account maintenance fee if the balance falls below a certain limit every month. Be mindful of the terms and conditions when picking a business bank account. 

Get Business Insurance

Every business needs insurance to protect itself against various liabilities, including but not limited to employee injuries, trademark disputes, stolen or damaged products, general liability, etc. This ensures that your company can mitigate potential losses and recover from disruption in operations. 

There are different types of business insurance you can choose from. Opt for policies that are specific to the industry that you’re operating in, as business insurance policies are developed to mitigate the unique risks that specific businesses face. In some states, you may also be required by law to ensure adequate insurance coverage for the business.

Some of the most common types of business insurance include general liability insurance, which covers a wide variety of claims from injury to property damage; professional liability insurance, which protects your company against claims of negligence; product liability insurance which covers physical products; and workers’ compensation insurance, which provides benefits to employees that suffer an injury on the job.

Promote Your Business

You need to be proactive in getting the word out about your business. It’s difficult to survive in today’s day and age without a website, so make sure that you have a solid website that looks great, provides adequate information about your products and services, as well as makes it easier for people to get in touch. 

Promote your website and services through search engine optimization, so that it’s shown higher up on search results when people are looking for relevant products online. It’s also important to have an active social media presence these days. Create accounts on all leading platforms and share relevant content so that people can discover your business on the platforms they use the most. 

Attending industry events is also a great way to network with like-minded business owners and raise awareness for your business. Joining professional organizations related to the industry you’re in can also prove to be effective in expanding the network and interacting with peers who may help you grow the business.

Bring Your Small Business Idea to Life with doola 

It’s exciting and often a bit unnerving when you’ve decided on a business idea and are now looking to execute it. There’s a lot of homework to be done before a properly structured business that complies with all its legal and regulatory requirements can be launched. Fortunately, doola helps take the stress out of the process, enabling you to focus on what matters the most. 

doola is a powerful solution that handles everything from business formation to bookkeeping and banking for you. With just a few clicks, you’ll have experts in the field getting everything up and running for you. The whole suite of services is also available for non-US founders, enabling you to establish a full-fledged US business from anywhere in the world.

FAQs

Are there any government grants or loans available for small business start-ups?

There are many government grants available for small businesses through various federal, state, and local governments. Special loan programs such as SBA loans are also available for startups at competitive rates and flexible terms.

How long does it take for a small business to become profitable?

Establishing a profitable business takes time and patience. It typically takes a couple of years for a business to become profitable. That could happen sooner or later as well, depending on different factors, such as the level of competition in the industry and product competitiveness.

Are there any tax benefits or incentives for small business owners?

There are several tax credits that small businesses can take advantage of, including the work opportunity tax credit, R&D credit, tax relief for natural disasters, new markets credit, employee retention credit, and more.

doola's website is for general information purposes only and doesn't provide official law or tax advice. For tax or legal advice we are happy to connect you to a professional in our network! Please see our terms and privacy policy. Thank you and please don't hesitate to reach out with any questions.

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