Ranking the best small business ideas

If you’re ready to leave the 9-to-5 grind in the dust…

You’re in luck.

There’s no better time than now to take control of your life and start your own small business.

In this post, I’m going to show you 22 of the best small business ideas available today.

Most will be easy to get up and running—and give you a good income in a short time. All of them will be fun and interesting…

And give you the satisfaction of being your own boss.

You only need to find one that fits your personality, skills, and experience, and you’ll be set for success.

So let’s get started: the best small business ideas I’m seeing today.

1. Paid ads

There’s definitely money to be made online—if you know how.

And there’s no smarter way than through paid ads.

Every online business needs to find buyers interested in their offers. As a paid ads expert, you’ll provide these businesses an invaluable service—and they’ll pay handsomely if you do your job well.

The top two channels for online ads are Facebook and Google, and you can specialize in one or both.

Here’s how to open shop as a paid ads specialist.

Step 1: Build your portfolio of successful ad campaigns. You need to be able to show real numbers, including ad spend and ROI.

Step 2: Build a website for your paid ads business. Be sure to show off your track record and talk about your ad services.

Step 3: Market your services through advertising, social media, and content marketing, so you can attract a steady stream of high-paying clients.

Example:

Best place to learn:

2. Marketing agency

start a marketing agency

Ad skills aren’t the only skills businesses need. If you write sales content, do SEO, or create killer funnels—and especially if you’re skilled at all of them—you can set up shop as a marketing agency.

As a marketing agency, you can work alone or with a team that rounds out your expertise. You can also be the strategist, coming up with the ideas and outsourcing the work.

How you operate your agency is entirely up to you.

Here’s how to get started.

Step 1: Build a portfolio of A-level marketing campaigns—including the stats to prove your campaigns generate results.

Step 2: Build a website explaining who you, what you do, and who your services will benefit. (You can be a full-stack marketing agency or specialize in one particular skill.)

Step 3: Create a lead generation funnel with a tool like Clickfunnels, blog about marketing, and leverage social media to attract clients. Create case studies to show off your successes.

Example:

Best place to learn:

3. e-Commerce and dropshipping

Today, you can set up an e-commerce shop selling physical or digital products with NO previous experience, NO big bankroll, and NO warehouse full of products.

The key is dropshipping, where you find sources for your products, and submit individual orders after your customers buy from you.

Of course, you’ll need to treat your shop like a business, but if you’re looking for an online business that’s easy (and affordable) to start, this is it.

Here’s how to get started.

Step 1: Choose a niche or a type of product you want to sell. Look on Wish.com and AliExpress.com to make sure you’ve got good sources at a low price.

Step 2: Sign up at Shopify and build your shop. Add the products you’ve chosen from Wish and AliExpress.

Step 3: Use paid advertising and social media to market your products. Be sure to follow up with customers, so they’ll turn into repeat buyers.

Example:

Best place to learn:

4. Life coach

become a life coach

Sometimes we all need a little friendly advice from someone who’s traveled the road we’re on. And if you’ve already achieved some impressive goals that other people strive for, you’re in a good position to offer that friendly advice.

As a life coach, you’re not a consultant, counselor, or leadership mentor. You’ll provide a road map for achieving a specific outcome, and you’ll work with your clients until they succeed.

What type of goals can you help people with? As a life coach, it could be as simple as getting organized or improving a relationship.

And the good news is you can do all your coaching online through Skype or Zoom, or on the phone.

Here’s how to get started.

Step 1: Identify the solution you’ll offer people through your coaching.

Step 2: Set up a website that shows off your coaching credentials. (People want to see experience or certification.) And be sure to include a blog where you can share the unique ideas you bring to the table.

Step 3: Help your clients achieve massive success and feature their testimonials on your website.

Example:

Best place to learn:

5. Etsy or eBay seller

Before Etsy, if you were a professional crafter, you had to make the craft fair circuit. Today, you can build a crafting business without ever leaving your house!

Etsy is an e-commerce marketplace specifically designed to help you sell your homemade wares. And if you prefer reselling other people’s wares, look no further than eBay, where you can sell products outright or set up an online auction.

It’s easy to get started.

Step 1: Choose a niche or a type of product to sell.

Step 2: Open your shop and create your first listing. Be sure to optimize it for search, so it comes up when people search for items like yours.

Step 3: Market your products with social media, paid advertising, or a blog. And take good care of your customers so they leave you good reviews.

Example:

Best place to learn:

6. Virtual assistant

become a virtual assistant

If you’ve got Spidey sense that helps you know what your boss wants or needs before they ask… you’re organized… and a good communicator… you’ve got what it takes to succeed as a virtual assistant.

As a VA, you’ll work from home, providing administrative support for VIPs, entrepreneurs and small businesses. Tasks might include email, phone calls, travel arrangements, writing, editing, bookkeeping, and social media.

Best of all, no experience is required. Just a strong “get it done” attitude.

Here’s how to get started.

Step 1: Build a website with a “Hire Me” page. Be sure to highlight the unique skills you bring to the table, such as speaking multiple languages, writing skills, or tech experience.

Step 2: Get the word out that you’re available: connect with potential clients through LinkedIn and Twitter, and register on Upwork, Freelancer, and TaskRabbit.

Step 3: Get recommendations from your happy clients and feature them on your website.

Example:

Best place to learn:

7. Multilevel marketing

If you’re a natural marketer, multilevel marketing (MLM) could be attractive to you. After all, you get to work with a team of people who are as passionate as you are about the brand you represent… you can focus on selling (not running a business)… and it’s your “job” to throw a lot of parties.

But MLMs aren’t everything they’re cracked up to be, you need to do your due diligence. While a few people do make a million and some do create a stream of income, most people end up going in the hole. And just about everyone ends up alienating their family and friends.

If you want a better way, check this out.

If you’re set on multilevel marketing, here’s a list of popular MLMs to consider. And here’s how to get started.

Step 1: Sign up with a company that’s got great products and a good reputation. Make sure it also pays well and treats its distributors well.

Step 2: Set up your sales channels—especially the web page or social media support provided by the company.

Step 3: Talk about the products online, to your friends, and to anyone you think your products would help. Focus on sales and recruiting, so you can quickly rise through the ranks.

Example:

Best place to learn:

8. Handyman

start a handyman business

Like fixing things around the house? Turn your home repair skills into a profitable business.

As a professional handyman, you can be a jack of all trades, doing whatever your customers need. But you can often make more money if you specialize. Like painting, laying tile, or remodeling.

It’s easy to get started.

Step 1: Choose the service (or services) you’ll provide. Get whatever licensing and insurance your state requires.

Step 2: Set up your business. You’ll probably need a truck or van, tools, and good suppliers for the building materials you’ll need.

Step 3: Get the word out that you’re available for hire. Consider building a website, advertising in your local paper, or putting a listing in Angie’s list.

Example:

Best place to learn:

9. Lawn care specialist

Mowing the neighbors’ lawns may be a good side gig for teenagers, but it can easily morph into a full-time home-based business.

If you love being outdoors and have a green thumb, consider starting a lawn care business. You can focus on mowing, but you can also offer special services, such as weed control, landscaping, and more.

Here’s how to get started.

Step 1: Choose the type of lawn care services you’ll provide and set the location of your business. (You’ll save time and money if your customers are close by.) Check out state requirements for licensing and insurance.

Step 2: Set up shop. You’ll need a high quality (aim for commercial grade) lawn mower, a truck, a trailer, and other equipment.

Step 3: Build a website promoting your services. Pass out flyers. And ask your customers to tell their friends about your services so you get some good word-of-mouth advertising.

Example:

Best place to learn:

10. Home cleaning service

start a home cleaning business

Cleaning is no one’s favorite chore, so most people are happy to pay someone else to do it for them. If you don’t mind doing windows (or baseboards or toilets), you can make good money cleaning homes.

As with any business, you’ll do well to specialize. For instance, you could use only non-toxic or aromatherapy cleaning products, clean new construction sites, or specialize in business offices.

It’s easy to get started.

Step 1: Choose your specialty and the geo-area you’ll work in. Also, obtain any necessary licenses, permits, an insurance coverage.

Step 2: Get set up. You’ll need cleaning equipment, cleaners, and a van to transport it to each customer’s home.

Step 3: Start promoting your business by building a website, advertising, and listing your services on Angie’s list.

Example:

Best place to learn:

11. Property manager

Today, more people are choosing to rent over buying. And all that rental property needs management—from overseeing repairs to finding tenants and collecting rent.

Before diving in, though, check out your licensing requirements. You may need to have a real estate license or special certification. And even if it’s not required, it’s worth the effort. Professional credentials can build trust and set you apart from the competition.

Here’s how to get started.

Step 1: Learn your state and local laws around rental properties and the landlord-tenant relationship. Get certified as a property manager.

Step 2: Start with properties you own or in a neighborhood you’re familiar with, so you can learn the ropes. Set up a process for managing the properties, your renters, and finances.

Step 3: Start networking with real estate agents. Market your services to local residential and commercial owners.

Example:

Best place to learn:

12. Online bookkeeping service

start an online bookkeeper business

If numbers are your thing, you can bring home 6-figures as an online bookkeeper. And it’s a business that is in high demand. After all, every business needs to maintain their books—and they need your services all year round.

Unlike an accounting business, as a bookkeeper, you don’t need a degree or professional certifications. (They might help, though, so check them out.)

What you do need to know are the basics, like double-entry bookkeeping, bookkeeping software, report generation, and reconciling discrepancies.

It’s easy to get started.

Step 1: Choose a niche, like nonprofits or professional services.

Step 2: Build a website that explains what you do, the niche you serve, and how you work. Be sure to add testimonials from happy customers as you get them.

Step 3: Get your first few clients. Network with business owners in your niche on sites like LinkedIn. Sign up for freelance sites like UpWork, where prospects can find you. Attend live events where you can meet potential clients.

Example:

Best place to learn:

13. Childcare service

Love children? Start a childcare service.

You can start with babysitting services and, once you’re established, formalize your services by setting up as a child care center. And you can offer whatever types of care you like: mother’s day out, daycare, after-school care, evening care, or even date night childcare.

Once you’re ready to set up a center, here’s what you need to do.

Step 1: Decide the type of childcare you’ll provide, where and when you’ll provide it, and how much you’ll charge. Get any certifications you need.

Step 2: Set up your childcare facility with child-safe equipment. Get inspected and licensed by state and local regulators. Protect yourself with the proper insurance.

Step 3: Market your business. Set up a website or list your services on Care.com. Advertise in local papers.  And network to build word-of-mouth advertising.

Example:

Best place to learn:

14. Personal chef

become a personal chef

Everyone eats—and a large majority of people hate cooking. Which means you can create a profitable business as a personal chef.

While you don’t need experience or training (all you really need is a reputation as a fantastic cook), you’ll gain confidence if you get a little training. The Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN) will teach you how to feed your client’s well.

Best of all, it’s easy to get started.

Step 1: Decide the type of cooking you want to do (vegan, Southern, etc.). Then identify your ideal client. Remember, you’ll be going into people’s homes to cook for them, so you need to find clients within a small radius.

Step 2: Build a website to promote your services. Talk about your cooking in social media.

Step 3: Wow your clients and ask for recommendations, so you can quickly grow your business.

Example:

Best place to learn:

15. Event planner

An event planning business can easily be run from your home. So if you’re organized and enjoy playing host, this is the perfect business for you.

As an event planner, you can plan a wide range of events: business meetings, conferences, weddings, and parties.

And getting started is easy.

Step 1: Decide whether you want to specialize in one type of event or be a generalist. Get any required licenses and insurance.

Step 2: Build a website and set up social media accounts. Buy whatever equipment and tools you’ll need for your events.

Step 3: Get the word out and get some events under your belt. Then ask for testimonials you can feature on your website.

Example:

Best place to learn:

16. Photographer

Photography is a terrific small business for creatives with a flair for snapping impressive photos.

Your options are endless. You can specialize in weddings, graduations, corporate events, baby pics, family portraits, or pet photos. You’re the creative. Come up with a unique approach that sets you apart from the competition.

You can start by taking pictures of friends and family. But once you’re ready to go pro, here’s how to get started.

Step 1: Pick a niche or two or three. Get whatever equipment you may need.

Step 2: Build a website or Facebook and Instagram pages. Show off your photography everywhere you can online.

Step 3: Think big. Be creative. And wow your clients with a fun (and photogenic) experience. Be sure to ask for referrals!

Example:

Best place to learn:

17. Personal trainer

start a personal trainer business

For health nuts, the best small business opportunity is to become a personal trainer.

You can work with people in their homes, outdoors, in a private studio, in corporate offices, or health clubs. And you can do group training or one-on-one sessions with private clients.

You may also choose to specialize in specific areas, such as bodybuilding, weight loss, seniors, women, or handicapped people.

And it’s easy to get started.

Step 1: Choose your specialty and get certified—AFPA offers Personal Trainer Certification and specialty certifications. Look into getting professional liability insurance too.

Step 2: Build a website or Facebook and Instagram pages. Talk about your work in fitness and training, so people recognize you as an expert.

Step 3: Meet with potential clients to evaluate their goals and determine whether you’re a good fit. Then help them meet or beat their goals. Be sure to ask for recommendations so you can build your client list.

Example:

Best place to learn:

18. Yoga teacher

Teaching yoga won’t make you rich. The payout is peace and contentment, not dollars in the bank.

That said, if you already practice yoga, becoming a teacher could be fulfilling—and you’ll get paid to do what you love.

You can teach without investing in a private studio. Just hold your classes in your home, local gym, or conference room. And don’t worry about certifications. They aren’t required, though you should register with Yoga Alliance, the standardizing body for yoga in America.

Here’s how to get started.

Step 1: Choose the style of yoga you want to specialize in, such as Ashtanga, Iyengar, Kundalini, or Vinyasa. Get teacher training if you haven’t already, and register with Yoga Alliance.

Step 2: Start teaching. Offer private or group classes to friends and family. Talk to local businesses about offering group classes to their employees. Or offer classes during lunch at your workplace.

Step 3: Get the word out. Build a website or blog. Talk about your practice in social media. Hand out flyers in local businesses.

Example:

Best place to learn:

19. Music teacher

become a music teacher

Teaching music can be anywhere from a good side gig to a full-time income. The key is to attract long-term students and build multiple streams of income from your music.

As a music teacher, you’ll teach students how to play an instrument or sing, either one-on-one or in a group setting. You may also teach music performance and theory.

While you don’t need a degree to get started, you do need to be proficient in at least one instrument, be able to read music, and teaching experience.

It’s easy to get started.

Step 1: Post ads near your home and on social media. Create a post on Thumbtack. Talk with music groups and band directors in your area about offering private lessons to their members and students.

Step 2: Get one student and knock it out of the park with them. Then let word-of-mouth kick in.

Step 3: Keep adding students—and have fun while you’re building a solid income with your music.

Example:

Best place to learn:

20. Tutor

Most people need help with difficult subjects. If you’re a whiz at a tough subject like math or foreign languages, or if you hold a higher degree, you can make good money as a tutor.

You can tutor students in specific subjects or specific grades. You can also help them study for academic tests like SAT or GMAT, or help them prepare for professional certification like CPA exams or insurance certification.

Remember, on Skype you can tutor people online, which means you aren’t limited to students near you.

Here’s how to get started.

Step 1: Start close to home. If you hear of someone struggling with a subject you’re an expert in, offer to help. Let friends and family know you’re doing tutoring and ask them to recommend you.

Step 2: Talk to local schools and universities, and ask them to recommend your services to students who are struggling. Sign up on sites like Care.com or Chegg Tutors. Build a Facebook page for your tutoring.

Step 3: Start adding students and helping them succeed. Then ask them to recommend you to their friends.

Example:

Best place to learn:

21. Bed and breakfast owner

Bed and breakfasts host 50.5 million guests each year, with 50% of rooms filled every day and prices skyrocketing. While B&Bs don’t often make you rich, you can definitely make a profit.

But running a B&B isn’t all pancakes and teacups. It’s hard work providing a luxury breakfast buffet, elite maid service, and all the extra touches your customers expect.

You also need to be sure you’re located in a travel destination or your home is historic or quirky enough to become a destination. If not, I hate to break it to you, but you either need a new home or a new small business idea. (Sorry.)

Here’s how to get started.

Step 1: Make sure your property is zoned, licensed, and insured for a B&B. Set up your home for paid guests.

Step 2: Get the word out. Advertise. Set up a website. List your home on B&B websites, AirBnB, and Craigslist. Share pics in social media. Build an email list of customers and prospects, then email them on a regular basis.

Step 3: Start booking customers and making money.

Example:

Best place to learn:

22. Caregiver/Companion

start a caregiver business

The need for private, non-medical care is on the rise. If you’re compassionate with a strong nurturing bent, you can start a successful small business as a caregiver.

As a caregiver, you may provide help with daily living activities, meal prep, housekeeping, and transportation. If you’re also a licensed nurse or rehab specialist, you can offer additional services.

It’s easy to get started.

Step 1: Choose the types of services you’ll provide, for whom, and where. Check your state requirements for training.

Step 2: Build a website. Create social media pages. List your services on ElderCare.com and other caregiving websites.

Step 3: Start offering compassionate care to your customers, and feel good about yourself while bringing in the money.

Example:

Best place to learn:

Which is your favorite?

Those are my 21 favorite small business ideas. All of them valid. Most of them easy to break into and start making money with.

Now I’d like to hear from you…

Which small business idea are you ready to try?

Have you started another type of small business that’s working great for you?

Let me know in the comments below.

Meet the Author

Kathryn

Kathryn Aragon is a copywriter, content strategist, and author. She writes about marketing, success, health, and living the good life. Follow her on KathrynAragon.com.

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