50 Best Small-Business Ideas to Start in 2024

Consider your interests, market needs and licensing and capital requirements when choosing a business idea.
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Written by Meredith Wood
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The best small business to start is one that fills a market need or offers a unique product, service or solution. But a winning idea also plays to your strengths and interests.

This list of business ideas can help you brainstorm your next move. From there, you can take preliminary steps, like conducting a market analysis and calculating potential startup costs.

Potentially easy business ideas may have smaller price tags; consulting, tutoring, personal training and pet sitting are businesses you can likely launch with less than $1,000 in your pocket. Other endeavors will require significant capital. Either way, expect to work hard and invest a lot of time — so choose an idea you’re passionate about.

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50 best small businesses to start

1. Accounting and bookkeeping

Are you a licensed CPA or a business accounting software wizard? Use your expertise to help other entrepreneurs keep their personal and business finances in order.

As a bookkeeper, you'll process invoices and payroll, compile expense reports and more. If you have a CPA license, you can help business owners file taxes, generate balance sheets and other accounting documents and make your professional recommendations about your client’s bottom line.

2. Business consulting

If you’ve been in the business world for a long time, folks might be clamoring for your knowledge and expertise within your industry. Why not turn all that know-how into a new career as an independent consultant? You can get paid to speak at industry conferences or events, serve on a board of advisors for a fledgling business or lend your expertise to shape the strategy of an existing business on a contract basis.

3. Marketing services

As an independent marketing professional, you can work with small businesses who don’t have the in-house bandwidth to execute their marketing plans. Write their blogs, firm up their SEO strategy, generate ad campaigns and deploy inbound marketing tactics.

4. Real estate business

If property is your passion, start your own real estate agency, working with businesses or private citizens to find the office space, house or apartment that's right for them.

You can also buy property of your own (if you have the business funding, of course) and become a property manager or landlord, renting out residential or office space to tenants, maintaining the property and serving as their point of contact for any potential issues.

5. Event planning

Event planners manage the design, logistics and coordination of a variety of major events, from corporate retreats and fundraisers to weddings and birthday parties. If you’re detail-oriented and have a roster of vendor connections, offer your services to businesses and families in your community or personal network.

6. Video production

Demand for those who can shoot, edit and package videos is high. And a video production business can meet many needs — like wedding or event videos, brand and marketing content or social media videos for TikTok or Instagram — or focus on one specific niche.

7. Podcasting

For those who have something to say or important stories to tell, you might consider starting a podcasting business. With the popularity of podcasts from newspapers and other media providers, private individuals have been able to jump on the trend — turning a hobby into a fully fledged business.

Podcasting will require an initial investment in some audio equipment and editing software. But once you get started, you'll be able to grow as fast as you can talk, produce, and of course market your podcast. Moreover, if you're specifically interested in online business ideas, podcasting can be done from home, and completely online.

8. IT consulting

Do you have experience with computers and other types of technology? If so, use this knowledge to your advantage and consider starting an IT consulting business. With limited budgets and resources, many small businesses are apt to hire an outside consultant to help assist them with installing, managing, updating, and troubleshooting their technology. As an IT consultant, you can offer remote services as well as on-site assistance, giving you freedom and flexibility while working in a field that's in high demand.

9. Catering

If you're a professional chef but tired of the restaurant grind, starting a catering service is a great opportunity to strike out into the world of self-employment. You’ll need access to a commercial kitchen, a part-time staff of servers and a couple of assistant cooks to start. But compared to opening your own restaurant, the overhead costs of starting and running a catering company are much more manageable.

10. Social media management

Social media marketing is a marketing specialty that most business owners know they need, but few are capable of doing well. If you’re on top of the latest TikTok and Instagram trends, have a knack for creating viral videos or can convert social views into sales, consider cultivating a client base of business owners who need help managing their brand’s social media platforms.

11. Business planning service

One of the best small-business ideas for seasoned business owners ready for their next venture is a business planning service. You can offer guidance and networking connections as businesses seek funding or scale, and provide services for startups like writing a business plan — including business funding plans, market analysis and competitor research.

12. Tax consulting

Filing and staying on top of business taxes can be one of the most complicated parts of running a business, so if you have experience in all things tax-related (and are a CPA or enrolled agent), business owners will be willing to hire you for your services. Plus, unlike individual taxes, many businesses are going to need a tax advisor to support them year-round, meaning your services will be in demand through tax season and beyond.

13. PR agency

Have a background in public relations and an extensive network of media and business contacts? Consider striking out on your own and offer your services to other small businesses. Your agency can assist entrepreneurs and companies with their public image and presence — including business marketing, events, press releases, outreach and more. If you have a network of contacts in a specific industry, your services will be even more attractive to businesses in that industry.

Plus, you can start your own PR business without too much initial financial investment and can bring on employees or rent office space as it grows.

14. Professional organizing

Organizing professionals work with businesses and individuals alike to offer tips and strategies for organization based on their space, as well as get hands-on and help them sort through the clutter. With the time and effort it often takes to clean up a room, house or office, professional organizing has become a service that people are willing to pay for.

15. Photography

Professional photographers are in high demand for weddings, corporate events, family portraits and more. Plus, because you can build this business out of your home (with the right tools, of course), a freelance photography business has relatively low startup costs. Moreover, you're in charge of your client load and schedule, so professional photography is a great way to build a side hustle while working full time elsewhere.

16. Event space

Take a look at your local market: If there's a demand for weddings, birthdays, corporate events and fundraisers, but few venues to host those events, seize the opportunity and start an event space yourself. You can offer planning services along with the venue, or partner up with another local event-planning business to become the ultimate party-planning team.

17. Interior decorating

Rather than redecorating your living room for the 14th time, apply your love of design to an interior decorating business. To start out, leverage your personal network to offer help decorating residential and commercial spaces. You can charge an hourly fee to clients for your work, partner with your favorite furniture stores or manufacturers to work on commission or do a combination of the two.

18. Woodworking or furniture building

Do you love working with your hands to build beautiful, custom furniture? Start your own custom woodworking business. You can take commissions, focus on a set of in-demand items or sell semi-custom options via Etsy or another online platform. You might start working weekends out of your garage, but as your business takes off, you’ll be well on your way to your own shop and a brand new, full-time career doing what you love.

19. Graphic design

With just a few handy computer programs — think Adobe, Sketch or Canva — you could be operating this lucrative business out of your home in weeks. You do need to find clients though, so try networking with small businesses in your community. Everyone could use a well-designed website, online materials, email campaigns, physical print work and more.

20. Clothing boutique

For the fashion-forward entrepreneurs out there, consider opening your own clothing boutique. Although you'll need some startup funding for this business idea, it can be successful if you find the perfect inventory and right market. Competing against large clothing retailers can be challenging, but if you can find a specific niche, like starting a T-shirt business or locally based store, you can use your creativity to stand out amongst all of the other generic options out there.

21. Bed and breakfast

Do you live in an interesting tourist destination? Does your home have a guest house, mother-in-law suite or even just a spare bedroom? Do you love to cook and entertain guests? If so, one of the best small business ideas for you might be to turn your home into your own B&B. Sites like VRBO and AirBnB have made it easier than ever to market your home to travelers in need, and you may even make new friends along the way.

22. Food truck

Food trucks are hugely popular, often offering unique, specialty foods that might not sell as easily in brick-and-mortar restaurants. Take your mom’s famous dumpling recipe or your off-the-wall dessert idea and hit the road to local events, farmer’s markets, your local town square, large corporate complexes at the lunchtime rush — wherever you’re likely to draw a crowd. Keep in mind that to run a food truck, you usually have to meet a special set of ordinances and safety compliance standards, so contact your local health department to determine what your mobile restaurant will require.

23. Restaurant or cafe

Opening a restaurant is one of the more risky and expensive business ideas on our list. But if you're truly culinarily (and entrepreneurially) ambitious, the risk may be worth the rewards. Restaurateurs can test the waters with popups or a ghost kitchen before investing in a full-fledged brick-and-mortar deli, diner, cafe or full-service restaurant. Or you can open a franchise of an established restaurant chain, and reap the benefits of an already popular brand.

24. Craft brewery

Craft breweries, aka microbreweries, are booming in the United States. So, if you've been tinkering with beer-brewing in your garage, calling it official and opening up a microbrewery can be a great way to monetize your hobby.

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25. Ice cream shop

Ice cream shops are the perfect small town or neighborhood business idea — though this type of business can be prone to big seasonal revenue fluctuations. You will need some funding to get this kind of endeavor started, but an ice cream shop typically requires less of an investment than other food-service businesses.

26. Personal chef

Similar to a catering business, but less involved and perhaps more flexible, you might start your own business as a personal chef. You can use your culinary expertise to cook for families or individuals, as well as help them with meal planning and recipes. With this kind of service business, you'll get more personal with your cooking, giving you the opportunity to work one-on-one with all different kinds of people and navigating their dietary restrictions, likes and dislikes.

27. Landscape services

If you have a green thumb and an eye for design, starting a landscaping business could be your next move. You'll mow lawns, plant and maintain flowers, trees and shrubs, and even design elaborate landscape plans for homes and office complexes.

28. Pet grooming

Animal enthusiasts can probably think of nothing better than hanging out with pets all day. It might take some time to build up the funding to open up your own pet-grooming facility. So, keep overhead low in the beginning by offering a mobile service, and bring your grooming skills and tools directly to your clients' homes. You can also offer dog walking services to supplement your grooming business.

29. Florist

If you have a green thumb and eye for arrangements, open a flower shop and use your skills to connect with your community. In addition to creating beautiful bouquets, florists can also design big-ticket arrangements for weddings and events, or host in-person or virtual flower arranging classes.

30. Massage therapist

As an occupation, massage therapy is in high demand: The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts an 18% growth in massage therapy jobs between 2022 and 2032, a much higher rate than average.

You’ll need special training and licensing to legally operate as a massage therapist, so check your state requirements to make sure you’re operating within local laws. But once you’ve jumped through the licensing hoops, you’ll be free to open an in-home studio, travel to your clients or eventually open your own facility.

31. Nutritionist

Nutritionists can help clients improve their relationship with food and build health goals and habits. Launching a nutrition business requires first getting trained and certified as a registered dietician. From there, you can offer custom meal plans or virtual nutrition coaching to help people achieve their nutrition goals.

32. Personal trainer or fitness instructor

If you're the first one in the gym every morning, or dream of taking over from your yoga instructor, the next step might be to take that physical energy and put it toward becoming a licensed trainer. As a licensed personal trainer, you can offer private training sessions in your own home or in clients’ homes, lead group sessions in local parks, become a certified instructor for a whole host of workouts (Zumba, anyone?) and, eventually, even open your own fitness studio or gym.

33. Beauty services

The beauty profession isn’t just for trained cosmetology graduates (though a degree can help). Thanks to social media, even self-taught makeup artists can develop a following — and build a business — giving makeup tutorials on TikTok and YouTube. Opening or working in a salon, or hiring out your services for events, typically requires you to have the appropriate licenses.

34. Life coach

If you have a passion for helping people reach their true potential, becoming a life coach might be the perfect small-business idea for you. As a life coach, you'll work with clients to sort through problems or parts of their lives that they'd like to change and help them create plans to move forward and reach their goals. Although you don't necessarily need a certification to become a life coach, getting certified can help you as you start out looking for clients.

Once you've marketed your services, and your clients can attest to your skills, however, you'll be well on your way to a successful business.

35. Tutor

Private tutors can earn between $40 to $80 an hour, depending on your location, as well as factors like the subjects and grade levels you’re teaching. You can opt to be a solopreneur, offering freelance in-person or online tutoring. Or enlist some equally qualified, eager-to-teach partners and establish a full-service tutoring business.

36. Daycare provider

Opening a home-based daycare or full-fledged daycare center can be a solid business idea for someone who has a passion for early childhood development. You can focus on a specific teaching approach, such as Montessori, or offer language immersion if you’re fluent in another language. Read up on the licensing and reporting requirements in your area before diving in; these can vary by state, city and municipality.

37. Senior care provider

As the baby boomer population ages, more and more senior citizens are in need of at-home care. These needs range from medically specific requirements to simple companionship or help with cooking, tidying up or transportation to and from appointments. This is a great option for anyone with nursing experience who would like to move into working for themselves.

38. Interpreter or translator

If you can speak multiple languages, this is an easy and inexpensive way to start a small business where you can utilize those skills. If you become an interpreter or translator, you can work with individuals, businesses or even simply online clients — translating meetings, phone calls, articles and more. As you work successfully with more and more clients, they'll continue to turn to you when they require these kinds of services — and you'll be continuing to grow your language abilities on top of it all.

39. Housecleaning

Everyone wants to keep a clean house. If you have a great work ethic and you’re willing to get your hands dirty, you could start a cleaning business on the cheap. Or, if you have dreams of a larger enterprise, hire a few employees or contractors and you can manage several cleaning teams. Overhead might include equipment, marketing costs and wages for personnel, but otherwise starting a cleaning service is a relatively low-cost enterprise.



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40. Automotive repair

From oil changes and engine repairs, to tire services and bodywork, to interior and exterior deep-cleans, automotive repair businesses run the gamut of all things car-care. Alternatively, car repair businesses can focus on an automotive specialty, such as foreign cars, antique cars or specific brands. Whatever niche you choose for your car repair business, watch out for state licensing or insurance requirements to make sure your venture complies with local laws.

41. Handyman services

With a handyman (or woman) business, you can offer services ranging from small repairs and painting to more specialized trade work like plumbing, electrical, locksmith, home security installment or HVAC work. It all depends on your skill set, and on whether you have, or are willing to earn, special licensing (your state might require a contractor's license to do certain repair work). Once you've established a client base, you can hire a team of handymen with complementary skills to your own.

42. Dry cleaners

Starting a dry cleaning business will certainly require a storefront, some startup funding and supplies. But you can quickly become a go-to service in an area, especially with the right marketing and word-of-mouth recommendations.

43. Hardware store

Another local small-business staple, if you want to extend your handyman services into a storefront, you should consider opening a hardware store. When residents are doing home projects or spring cleaning, they're always going to find themselves in need of certain tools or supplies — and probably won't want to wait for online delivery. Your hardware store can service your local area and all the better if you can offer advice and tips along with the physical products you sell.

44. Self-storage business

Starting a self-storage business can be lucrative, especially close to a city — where apartments are small and people are going to need access to space to store their extra belongings. You'll certainly need the capital and real estate to get started in the self-storage game, but once you've gotten set up, it can be relatively simple to maintain this kind of business, especially once you've started bringing in clients and filling up your space.

45. Freelance copywriting and content creation

A copywriting or content creation business can be a great option for self-motivated wordsmiths who want to work from home full time. The startup cost for this business idea is low, but the time investment can be high as you build up a roster of regular clients to keep a steady income.

46. Rideshare driver

As a rideshare driver, you use your own car and mobile device and choose your own hours. If you don't mind driving, this can be a quick and easy way to make money—whether on the side or as a full-time gig.

47. Website development and design

Every business needs at least a basic website to succeed, but many business owners don’t know how to set one up for themselves. So, if you're an IT and design wizard, you'll have endless opportunities to custom-build websites. Use a platform like Upwork or Envato to gain your first clients, then use your portfolio and word-of-mouth recommendations to grow your client base (and eventually boost your prices).

48. Sell clothes online

Thanks to online marketplaces like eBay, Amazon and Etsy, and apps like Poshmark, it's easier than ever to sell custom-made, vintage or secondhand clothing online. Opening an e-commerce clothing store helps minimize overhead costs — you don’t need to lease or staff a storefront — and you can reach customers beyond your immediate area.

49. SEO consultant

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving a website or webpage's rank for specific keywords in organic search engine results. An SEO agency is tasked with improving a client's organic search results to generate more inbound visitors and thus leads for top-of-funnel keywords by optimizing the client's website, building links to the website and/or optimizing the website technically.

50. App development

Launching a successful app is no easy task — but there have never been more resources at your disposal to help you get started, including AI tools that can help with potential technological roadblocks. Whether you want to develop apps for Android or iOS, there are large markets available for games, productivity tools and much more.

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