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77 Small Business Ideas to Start in 2024 (+FREE Startup Cost Calculator))

Digital and E-commerce Businesses

Affiliate marketing

Millions of companies around the world will pay you a portion of the revenue they make from you recommending their products to other people. This model is typically referred to as “affiliate marketing” and is very popular among bloggers and other “audience builders.” You can start part-time to see if it’s right for you, and later turn it into a full-fledged full-time gig. 

eBay selling

If you’ve got an eye for hidden treasures at garage sales, you could make a killing starting a small business selling things on eBay, Amazon, or other online sites. Retail arbitrage is completely legal and can bring in a nice profit when you get your business up and running.

Etsy shop owner

Etsy has quickly grown to be the #1 place for makers and creators to sell their homemade goods. Etsy is a legit way to make a lot of money fairly quickly and from home. Take, for example, this 22-year old who made $28,139 selling art on Etsy.


One of the best ideas for making a profit quickly is to become a freelancer. You typically don’t need certifications or expensive equipment — just a computer, a roster of potential clients to get you started, and mad skills. This work-from-home option gives you the freedom to live your best life.

Online dating consultant

If you’ve got a knack for matchmaking, consider becoming an online dating consultant. For example, this dating coach makes over $20,000/mo teaching introverted men how to act around women. As long as you can get results, your referrals will be through the roof.

Online teaching

Thanks to the internet, the face of education is changing faster than ever. There are more opportunities to teach online than ever before. If you’re good at teaching in a virtual setting, you can start teaching through sites like Udemy or Skillshare.

Social media management company

Starting a social media management service is on-trend right now so you’ll have to sell yourself by standing out from the crowd. But, this small business model in social media is a hungry animal that always needs feeding with new content. There will always be a need for more.


Did you know that many “authors” don’t actually write their own books, blog posts, or newsletters? They often work closely with a ghostwriter to identify what they want to say, how they want to say it. If you don’t need to credit and are good with writing on someone else’s behalf, ghostwriting might be the gig for you.

Voiceover company

If people are always saying you sound like someone in a TV commercial, maybe starting a voiceover company is the right direction for you. To get started, you’ll need a microphone, recording equipment, a voiceover reel, and a memorable, unique voice. From there, you can hire yourself out on freelancing sites or get yourself an agent. Eventually, it might make sense to hire other voice artists in order to grow an agency, but if you’re just getting started with a business on the side, this is a great option.

Creative Arts and Design


You don’t need a fancy studio in order to become a photographer. You will need a professional camera (or upgrade your smartphone for a better camera) and an eye for the world around you. You can take pictures of people, landscapes, animals, photos of food for restaurants, or/and products for retail companies.


In 2023, over 2,500 minutes of video were uploaded to YouTube every minute; and businesses are paying attention. They know video is a great way to engage with customers. So many companies are hiring independent videographers or video services to churn out quality videos on a regular basis.

Logo design

Good with graphics and messaging? Look into logo design. While logo design is often far more complicated than most people think, it can also be learned through dedicated education and trial and error. Then, it’s a matter of getting clients and growing your referral network.

Custom embroidery

For the cost of an embroidery machine and some quick tutorials on how to use the software, you can start offering custom embroidery from your home. When you’re ready to grow, lease a small space and put in a few more machines, and train part-time workers to run them.

Dance instructor

If you’ve got a knack for teaching dance, becoming a dance instructor could be one of the best small business ideas to explore. All you’d really need to get started is a large practice space and a decent sound system. For performances, rent out a local school auditorium on the cheap. Once you’re ready to scale, hire more teachers and offer diverse classes.

Music teacher

If you’ve got musical talent — whether singing or playing an instrument — starting a small business teaching music is a great at-home business idea that can grow as you need it to. The good news is many families have multiple children whose parents will want them to learn music which means each family you bring on can mean many years of repeat business.

Culinary and Food Services

Baker (specifically, cakemaking)

The wedding industry is big business. But the betrothed are not the only ones who need custom cakes made on a regular basis. In addition to designing and selling wedding cakes, you could create and sell memorable corporate event cakes, birthday cakes, or special event cakes when you start your own cakemaking business.

Food truck owner

If you’re a good cook, have an interesting concept, and can fork over a sound $50,000 in startup capital to outfit your first truck, selling food on the street can be a lucrative small business idea.

You can also utilize your skills and food truck supplies to potentially offer catering at events or large gatherings for extra income from the same assets.

Organic farmer

The great thing about this small business idea is you can succeed with anything from a hydroponic indoor garden to a small patch of earth in your own backyard and beyond. The key is to identify unique items you can grow and sell and get the word out at local farmer’s markets and other local events.

Crafts and Handmade Products

Craft classes

As handmade work becomes more and more popular, people are excited to learn, in-person, from crafters who know what they’re doing. You can book a room at a local events center or even some public spaces like libraries depending on your community. Then work the cost of supplies into the class fee and you’re ready to go.

Creative arts day camp

If a singular class doesn’t bring in enough revenue or get you excited, you might consider an entire day camp teaching people how to create beautiful artwork. Day camps can have low overhead because they can be done outdoors or in large empty spaces and supplies are fairly inexpensive.

Sewing and alterations

If you find you’re good with a needle and thread, you can start a sewing and alterations business at-home. When you feel that you’re busting at the seams, rent a space with a storefront and grow from there.

Upcycling & restoring furniture

If you’re handy with fabric and other textiles and enjoy restoring old things, then a reupholstering business might just for you. You can start small from your home and grow as you get more clients. Alternatively, you can buy old furniture pieces on eBay or Craigslist and paint, reupholster, or polish them up to resell on those same sites for a nice profit. Vintage furniture in a modern room is all the rage.

Musical instrument leasing

If you’d rather not teach music, but you still have a passion for it, consider leasing musical instruments as a business. It requires some upfront investment in the instruments themselves and, from there, you continue to lease them year after year.

Personal Care and Wellness

Massage therapist

Consider massage therapy if you have a passion for healing people and a knack for using your hands. Of course, in most cases, you’ll need to get certified but, aside from that, all it takes is a nice space and a massage table to get this small business idea off the ground.

Personal trainer

If you have a passion for exercise and health, then becoming a personal trainer might be the small business idea for you. You don’t need your own gym or your self-branded protein bars, you can start with a small clientele at a local gym and grow from there. You’ll find it particularly easy to find new clients in January each year.

Mobile hair salon

The advantage of a mobile hair salon to you is low overhead (no building lease) and the advantage to your customers is they can get their hair done anywhere (at home, at work, etc). In most areas, you may need special training or certification before you can start offering your services. Check you local laws for more information.

Service-Oriented Businesses

Barbershop (or barbershop co-op)

One of the most popular and fast-growing small businesses right now is specialty barbershop co-ops. If you can find an inexpensive location to lease and a few fellow barbers to help pay for each chair, starting your own barbershop can be a fantastic way to get you going. Depending on where you live, you’ll need special training and a license to actually cut hair. If you’re not interested in the day-to-day of barbering, you could simply lease the chairs out to skilled barbers in your area.


Some small business ideas have little upfront investment, but require immense hustle to serve their customers. When starting a brick and mortar laundromat, you will pay upfront for the equipment and building lease, but having a storefront can often lure in customers easier than not. Yes, it will still take hustle, but this is a service that never goes out of style. 

If you need a more affordable way to start up, consider opening a from-home laundry service or a mobile laundry service where you pick up laundry around your city, take it home to wash, dry, press, and fold and then deliver it back to your clients.

Errand service

Running errands can be a real pain — particularly if you’re busy with work, family, and other important responsibilities. That’s why many people are willing to hire someone to run their errands for them. You could start this small business idea by testing out a service like TaskRabbit or DoorDash to see if you like the style of work. From there, you could go out on your own and find your own clients.

Storage service

Companies like allow peers to share their storage space with people in their city. If you’ve got a few hundred square feet in a shed or basement, you could start a small storage service and get paid just to store someone’s stuff for them.

Office cleaning

Offices don’t clean themselves. With an office cleaning service, you can start small and then grow your clientele to take it full time. It requires little investment, but you will need some hustle to find your first business clients.

Moving company

For anyone with a sturdy back and free weekends, starting a moving company can be a very lucrative venture. While targeting residential moves, there may be more money in commercial moves (helping companies move and install all their cubicles, for example).


Have you ever been locked out of your car or (worse) your home? I have. More than once. And while paying a nice chunk of cash to have someone come get me into my own house is never fun, I always pay it. That’s what makes starting a locksmith company a good idea for anyone who’s good at getting in without a key. Learn about the necessary locksmith training and tools here.

Car detailing

Of course, the outside of the car isn’t the only thing that needs cleaning. People will pay big money to have you detail the inside of their car ahead of an important date, business trip, road trip, or another special event. Some people even prefer to have their car detailed on a monthly basis. This business has great potential for repeat business.

Car wash

If you’re looking for an idea you can start without any special training, consider starting a car wash. You can either rent a piece of land and build a simple spray-n-wash-style carwash or lease a water truck and start a mobile car wash.

Child and Pet Care Services

Daycare service

Another small business idea you can do right from your home is to offer a daycare service. Although the work landscape is changing, there will always be a need for homes with parents in the workplace to drop their children off with someone they trust.


Becoming a nanny is a great way to start your own one-person small business. While you won’t be able to scale the business because you’re limited to your own hours in any family’s home, nannying is a fulfilling and exciting way to make a living running your own small business. In some areas, you may need a license or additional training to be hired as a nanny.

Dog walker, groomer, or trainer

People love their dogs and will do anything to keep them safe, happy, and looking good. If you love dogs too, you should consider starting a dog walking, grooming, or training business. You can start by simply walking dogs (no building or supplies needed) and slowly expand to offer more services and eventually
lease a building if need be.

Pet sitter

If you love animals more than humans then pet sitting might be the business for you. Start with friends and family to get some good word of mouth and then expand your business with email marketing, social media, and other communication methods.

Home and Exterior Improvement Services


With a handyman service, you can start out by fixing things on your own and gradually hire a team of fellow handymen (or women) who can go out on calls and help you scale your business.

If the housing market in your area is booming, you may want to try building fences as a way to start a small business. Installing fences takes some engineering know-how and a willingness to work hard and get your hands dirty, but it can also be very satisfying daily work.

Another small business idea with a low barrier to entry is gutter cleaning. Typically, this kind of small business also pairs well with similar services like window washing or power washing. Because gutters won’t stay clean, you’ll always have repeat clients.

Home staging

If you have an eye for interior design, a home staging business might be a solid niche to get into. You can stage (redecorate)  rooms in homes and businesses that are looking to sell.


Plenty of people are either too busy to clean their homes on a regular basis or simply hate cleaning enough to pay someone else to do it for them. If you enjoy making things look shiny and new again, consider becoming a housecleaner. 

Additionally, carpet and upholstery cleaning might be one of the most profitable small business ideas out there. With some basic equipment and a passion for cleanliness, you can start finding clients right away.

Interior designer

With the advancement of app technology, interior designers don’t even have to physically be in a space in order to design it. Virtual reality can put you “in a room” when you’re thousands of miles away, meaning starting an interior design business has never been easier since you can get clients all over the world.


Start a painting company where you can either paint rooms and buildings yourself or you can hire sub-contractors to paint while you focus on sales.

Tile layer

Another hands-on small business idea is to subcontract as a tile-layer. You can start with basic equipment like a tile saw, a few buckets, grout mixers, and other inexpensive tools you can find at your local hardware store.

Lawn service

Mowing and edging grass isn’t just reserved just for ambitious 14-year-olds. In fact, starting a lawn maintenance service can mean big bucks for any entrepreneur who’s willing to put in the work. The grass always keeps growing, and your customers will need you back for regular repeat business.

Pool maintenance and cleaning

Another thing people love to have but hate to maintain is their pool. Pool chemicals and cleaning processes can be tricky, but if you know what it takes, this is a small business idea that doesn’t require much overhead or supply cost and can be very lucrative.

Pest control service

Some professionals estimate there are over 200 million insects for every human living on this planet. That’s just nasty! Now you can see why starting a pest control company can be a very lucrative venture: everyone hates having too many bugs around. And with relatively low overhead — a truck, some chemicals, and some hustle — you can start building up repeat business fairly quickly.

Outdoor clean-up services

From unwanted litter to distasteful graffiti and more, there’s always an opportunity to make the area around businesses and public spaces more beautiful. Government agencies and private companies will pay big money to keep their grounds looking nice which can present a lucrative opportunity for you.

Outdoor adventures

If you’re more of an adventurer than a computer whiz, consider starting an outdoor adventure business. While this could mean an investment in land, ziplines, and other adventure supply overhead, you could also start small by offering outdoor tours, hikes, fishing, and camping adventures.

Landscaper or sprinkler installation

If you’ve got a green thumb and enjoy working outside, you may want to consider getting into landscaping. Typically, you can get a 50% deposit from a client before you ever order material for their landscaping project, allowing you to take on low financial risk. 

Installing sprinklers on your own can be a tedious, difficult, frustrating task. That’s why people hire sprinkler installation services who have the right equipment (which you can rent from a local big-box hardware store) to do the job for them. Target new homes or really old homes, neither of which usually don’t come with sprinklers installed.

Real Estate and Property Management

House flipper

Depending on where you live, flipping houses can be a great way to invest in real estate. Just beware, it’s not quite as simple as they make it look on television. This works best if you already have contractors you can rely on. Otherwise, it can be easy for costs to balloon out of control, leaving you with a loss instead of a profit.

Property manager

With the rise of sites like Airbnb and VRBO, more people than ever are renting out their properties which means there’s a growing need for property managers at every level. You can start by managing a couple of short-term properties and grow your network to manage larger apartment buildings or multi-family units.


There’s good money to be made as a general construction contractor. While you’ll need some special training and a contractor’s license, there’s lots of potential to grow by hiring sub-contractors to handle electrical work, HVAC work, etc.

In addition to building from new, you might choose to focus on repairs instead. No matter how efficient and well-built homes and business buildings become, there will always be a need for damage restoration. Floods, fires, mold, and more — there’s always someone in need of fixing what’s broken so they can get back to business as usual.

Hospitality and Entertainment

Airbnb host

If you enjoy working in hospitality or travel, one small business idea is to become an Airbnb host. You could start with your own singular listing on Airbnb and grow to either own or help manage an entire portfolio of properties.

Bicycle rentals

As travelers and tourists become more planet-conscious, starting a bicycle rental business can be lucrative and entertaining. Start by purchasing a few bicycles and then use the profits to slowly grow your fleet. You could offer bike tours as part of your business as well.

Event planning & organizing

If you thrive under pressure and love to coordinate loads of little details, then you should look into an event planning business. This business isn’t just for wedding and bar mitzvahs either — corporations pay big bucks to plan events to promote their products and services or celebrate their top employees.

Or if the music scene is your jam, then becoming a concert promoter could be a fun and profitable small business idea to try. Once you get good at promoting one or two events, you can also hire contractors to build out your team and grow a nice small business for yourself.

Mobile DJ

While targeting soon-to-be-married couples is an obvious idea for a mobile DJ, consider pairing with wedding venues, wedding planners, and other non-wedding opportunities such as school dances, corporate events, and more.

Wedding venue

All you need in order to start a wedding venue is a large, beautiful space that can be rented out on a regular basis. You can lease the space, build the space, or maybe convert a space you already have — like an old barn. From there, partner with wedding planners to promote your venue. If it’s a nice venue, word will spread.

Technology and IT Services

App development agency

If you have the technical skills to develop mobile apps, you can make big money as a freelancer or by building an app development agency servicing clients all over the world. Start small by finding freelance development jobs and then you can hire subcontractors to help you build an agency.

3D printing services

With very little startup cost (a few hundred dollars for a 3D printer and needed supplies) you can start a 3D printing service. Customers send you their 3D designs and ask you to print them. Alternatively, clients ask you to design and print something they’ve ideated.

Professional Services and Consulting

Arbitration service

Anyone who has ever been through a legal battle knows it can be terribly time-consuming and expensive. That’s why starting an arbitration service can be one of the most lucrative small businesses around. If you’ve got a law degree and are looking to get out of the legal rat race, this might be the right small business for you.


Unlike starting an accounting business, you don’t typically have to have special certification to manage a person or business’ books. With great math and organizational skills, and you can start a bookkeeping business from your own home. 

Eventually, you might consider the option of hiring CPAs to work on your team so you can offer full-fledged bookkeeping and tax services to clients.

Career counseling

People lose their jobs every day and wonder which next step to take. If you’re great at finding new jobs, applying for jobs, performing well in an interview, asking for a raise, or otherwise understanding how to climb a company ladder, you could try your hat at career counseling.

Translation service

While artificial intelligence is beginning to make work like transcribing a thing of the past, there’s still a need for real human beings to translate from one language to another. If you are fluent in two different languages, you might consider starting a translation service.


Becoming a consultant is one of the most common ways to start your own small business. People pay for consultants for everything from fashion to business to real estate. If there’s something you’re an expert at, take a chance on becoming a consultant.

Financial planner

If you’re good with money, consider becoming a financial planner or even growing a financial planning business in your city. In many places, you’ll need to become a registered investment advisor (RIA) before you can get started. You’ll then spend much of your time finding clients and helping them make the right decisions about their money.

Language teacher

Speaking another language is a talent not everyone comes by easily. Many people will pay good money to learn a second, third, fourth language. If you’re a patient person with a knack for teaching, this might be the job for you.

Resumé writer

Many small ideas become successful businesses because they focus on helping people accomplish something they either hate or don’t have the talent themselves to do. That’s where starting a resumé writing company can be a perfect match. To get started, here are 4 professional resumé writers to learn from (one of them made over $300K in a year).

Editing service

If you’re the kind of person who cringes at grammar mistakes — a  comma missing here, a misspelled word there, then you should consider looking into starting an editing service.

Tutoring services

If you’re especially talented and educated in one particular subject, become a tutor, a service that be done online, in-person, or a combination of the two.

Professional organizer

Did you know people and companies will pay you to organize their stuff? That’s right: people who are too busy or too overwhelmed to get their stuff together will hire your company to assess the situation, come up with a solution, and get their things organized. If you’re a neat freak and love having everything in its place, this small business idea is for you.

Marketing and Communication

Lead generator

If you’re skilled in online marketing, then starting a lead generation business might be just for you. Essentially, you pass customers on to companies who hire you and send you a referral fee for each lead you send. Then you hand off the work and get back to lead generation.

Local marketing service

Many companies are anxious to hire a marketing service to improve their local online rankings. If you’ve got a knack for local SEO and can help businesses improve their Google listings and other online elements, consider becoming an independent marketing contractor.


Another low-overhead business plan is starting a Publicity/PR agency. While you won’t need a lot of equipment, you will definitely need a broad network of people in high places, journalists, influencers, and other friends to get the word out on your clients’ products or new releases.


Of course, thousands of entrepreneurs choose to forego starting and growing their own small business ideas from scratch and, instead, opt to operate an existing business as a franchisee. The upside is everything comes “ready to use” including equipment, systems, and methods. The downside is it can be terribly expensive to pay a franchise fee, outfit a new building, and fill it with equipment.

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