Ready to start a business but now sure which one is right for you? From side hustles and home-based gigs to e-commerce shops and photography and craft businesses, we’ve got ideas for every interest and circumstance.
Once you’re ready to get started, check out our step-by-step guide for starting a business.
Side business ideas
As a hardworking professional looking to earn some extra cash or pursue a hobby while still working full-time, consider starting a side gig. Here are some ideas to experiment with:
Are you bursting with stories and insight you’re dying to share? Are you passionate about a certain topic you know nearly everything about? Do you have a knack for speaking for others? If so, consider starting a podcast.
The podcast industry is booming today. As of 2019, there were about 86 million podcast listeners in the U.S., with forecasted growth to reach around 132 million by 2022. Capitalize on this trend by choosing a niche subject for your podcast, mapping out details of possible episodes, interviewees, etc. Podcasts offer great opportunities for revenue, like brand deals, sponsorships, advertising and more.
Similar to podcasters, if you have something to say, consider creating a blog. Not everyone is as comfortable with or willing to record themselves having conversations or interviews. If your talents and interests make you a better writer than speaker, you could find great success in maintaining a blog. In fact, 77% of internet users regularly read blog posts.
Of course, you don’t want to start just any blog where you share rants or journal-like entries. You’ll want to choose a specific topic you’re passionate about and create engaging, informative posts on a consistent basis. Like podcasts, managing a successful blog will attract many opportunities for increasing revenue and networking.
Today, it seems there are apps for everything. It’s no wonder the mobile app development industry is continuing to grow in both revenue and jobs created. In 2018, global mobile app revenue reached over $365 billion, and it is projected to reach over $935 billion by 2023.
Even in this congested industry, there’s always room for new ideas. If you notice a gap in the app development industry and you have an idea burning within you, don’t hesitate to pursue it.
In order to make it as an app developer, however, you must be a creative and motivated individual. You’ll also want to gain experience in application software development and familiarize yourself with mobile user interface (UI).
[Read: Here’s How to Turn a Hobby Into a Business]
Service business ideas
Rather than selling products, you can choose to sell your skills and time instead. Here are some service-based businesses to try out:
Home health care
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the home health care services industry is the No. 1 fastest growing industry. If you’re a healthcare professional, why not offer your services through an at-home healthcare business? Many patients require support and treatments on a daily basis. Receiving quality assistance in their own home, rather than visiting or even living in a hospital every day, can feel like a blessing to such individuals.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics also named management (along with scientific and technical) consulting services as another fast-growing industry. As a management consultant, you can help business owners grow their companies and tackle projects/obstacles. If you have a knack for problem-solving and professional expertise that might be valuable to your clients, consider opening your own management consulting business.
Life coaches are becoming more prevalent today, with many professionals channeling their life experience and insight to help their clients thrive. In fact, in 2018, life coaching was known as the second fastest growing industry.
As a life coach, you can help individuals set and reach their personal and professional goals through ongoing support and an actionable plan. Simply build a list of loyal contacts and clients, market your business and let your services do the talking for you.
[Read: How to Start a Service Business]
E-commerce business ideas
Brick-and-mortar shops are experiencing a steady decline, while e-commerce stores are on the rise today. Here are two popular e-commerce business ideas to consider:
In 2018, the global cosmetics market grew by around 5.5%. If you’re passionate about beauty products like cosmetics and skin care, opening your own beauty e-commerce business might be a good idea for you. Especially with a high demand for cruelty-free, vegan and organic cosmetics brands, you can take many unique approaches to set your company aside from the millions of others in the industry. Find a niche and gear your products toward bridging that gap in the beauty market.
Vitamin and supplements
Consumers are becoming more aware of how they treat and what they put into their bodies today. From meditation to medicine, many are starting to seek more holistic approaches to their health and wellness. As a result, taking vitamins and supplements has become routine for many health-conscious individuals.
In 2018, revenue from vitamin and nutritional supplement production reached almost $31 billion in the U.S. If you’re passionate about this industry, do your research and consider starting your own line of vitamins and supplements. (Just make sure you follow government guidelines!)
[Read: Choose the Best E-Commerce Platform for Your Business]
Home-based business ideas for moms
As a mom, you probably often feel torn between staying at home to care for the kids or going to work to help afford them. However, in today’s flexible work culture, you can now do both. Here are some home-based business ideas for moms:
Content marketing is a demanding industry today. Many businesses are looking to outsource their marketing efforts to talented individuals who understand the art of communication. In fact, nearly 50% of businesses expect to invest more in their content marketing and creation initiatives in 2020. With a knack for writing and experience in marketing, you can make a decent profit (from the comfort of your own couch) by writing advertising or marketing copy for various clients.
The projected growth for meeting, convention and event planners is expected to increase 7% (faster than average) from 2018 to 2028. While you might think event planning requires frequent outings and in-person meetups with clients and vendors, the majority of event planning work can be done at home. As long as you’re organized and skilled in project management, you shouldn’t have issues finding success in this industry. Networking efforts can be done via social media, and communication can be limited to emails, phone calls and even video chats. Today, in-person contact isn’t as crucial as it used to be. You’ll likely only be expected to meet for occasional venue tours or to prepare the day of an event.
With an anticipated market growth of 1.6% in 2020, dog walking is becoming a popular gig for many animal lovers today. While you’ll have to leave your house to venture a few blocks around your neighborhood for a bit, you can stay close to home (and even take your kids with you). Added bonus: You’ll get a daily workout in while earning a decent profit. Build up your client list, and you’ve got yourself a successful business.
[Read: 10 Ideas for Businesses You Can Start From Home]
The internet is a great platform for entrepreneurs, as it allows you to connect with a diverse audience across the globe.
Beauty business ideas
The global beauty industry is expected to reach a market value of almost $805 billion by 2023. There are many business opportunities in this market. If you’re interested in capitalizing on the beauty industry’s rapid growth, consider pursuing one of these beauty business ideas:
Makeup artist (theatrical and performance)
The makeup artist industry is booming, especially for theatrical and performance makeup: The mean annual wage for this niche market is nearly $70,000. If you have a passion for makeup and enjoy applying elaborate makeup for performers, consider starting a business in this industry.
However, where you operate your services matters. The best states in which to pursue this career are California, New York, Texas, Hawaii and Florida.
Many department store chains partner with fashion gurus to help promote their stores and products. If you have a well-read blog or platform with a loyal following, you can land sponsorships and brand partnerships that are relevant to your audience.
However, social media presence (namely on Instagram) is a must: According to a 2019 State of Influencer Marketing survey, 79% of respondents say Instagram is the most important for their influencer marketing campaigns. If you’re a guru, make sure you’re giving Instagram enough attention so you can capitalize on your opportunities.
[Read: Birchbox CEO on The Digital Beauty Darling’s Next Big Thing: Stores — ‘A Multibillion Dollar Opportunity’]
Internet business ideas
The internet is a great platform for entrepreneurs, as it allows you to connect with a diverse audience across the globe. Here are some unique business ideas you can start online:
Today, consumers aren’t just looking for products or services — they’re looking to learn and grow. In fact, the e-learning market is projected to surpass $243 billion by 2022.
Start a business geared toward offering online courses on topics like mental health, media or writing, and choose a subject you’re passionate about. Then, monetize your expertise by creating custom courses for individuals in your industry.
While many people look at the term “vlogger” as just a hobby for young individuals, the industry is actually booming — and only growing more saturated. A 2018 survey found that 85% of U.S. internet users watched online video content.
YouTubers especially land many deals outside of their vlogging careers, like sponsorships with brands, events and affiliates. Choose a topic you want to focus on, like beauty or even true crime, and deliver quality videos related to that topic on a regular basis.
[Read: Guide to Data Management, Protection and Storage]
Mobile business ideas
Working solely from your phone might have seemed impossible years ago, but developments in tech have allowed us the flexibility to do so. Here are some business ideas you can run from your mobile device:
According to Transparency Market Research, the global data analytics outsourcing market has a projected growth of 29.4% between 2018 and 2026. In other words, more virtual assistants will be needed than ever before.
Virtual assistants provide professional administrative assistance to their clients. This can be in the form of technical support, creative insight, task management, etc. However, the work is completed remotely, so these contractors don’t need to work in-person with their clients.
According to the Digital Marketing Institute, 71% of marketers think influencer partnerships are beneficial for business. That being said, many marketers are willing to invest big in influencer marketing efforts.
Would you consider yourself an “influencer”? Do you have a decent social media following and niche audience? If so, consider diving into the world of influencer marketing by securing sponsorships with brands you believe in and would want to work with.
[Read: Defining a Mobile Business Strategy]
Photography business ideas
Photography is a rewarding, creative outlet for many artists. However, it can be more than just a hobby. If you work hard enough at your craft and understand how to build a loyal following, you can earn enough to transform your talents and passion into a career. Here are two booming photography markets to consider dipping your toes into:
Real estate is a great market for professional photographers. Because listings with high-quality photos sell 32% faster, many sellers are investing in photographers to help market their homes. You can start your own business and offer services for various clients in the real estate industry, expanding your portfolio and building a name for yourself.
What’s a wedding without photographs to cherish for a lifetime? As a photographer, you can start your own wedding photography business and book various events with clients in your area.
According to a 2018 study, the national average cost of a wedding photographer is $2,679. Depending on how many clients you book and how well you market your services, you can turn wedding photography into a full-time job with decent revenue.
[Read: Interview with CEO of Thumbtack]
Craft business ideas
Are you known by your friends as the crafty DIYer of the group? If so, you could be onto something in the business world. Channel your creativity and passions into a fulfilling career by starting a small craft business. Here are some craft business ideas to inspire you:
Despite the continuous expansion of technology, there’s one thing many Americans will always cherish: greeting cards. In fact, 90% of households buy greeting cards each year, and their annual retail sales are estimated over $7.5 billion.
The handmade greeting card industry is competitive; but with the right preparation, skills and dedication to your business, you can find success in this unique market.
Candle-making is a multibillion dollar industry, and a great business idea for those crafty individuals looking to pursue a business without much funding.
If you’re looking to start a small business by selling your homemade candles, you won’t be plagued with hefty startup costs or expensive equipment. Additionally, all your work can be done entirely from home.
[Read: Artsy is Making Art Collecting More Achievable]
Drop shipping business
Drop shipping involves selling goods without keeping them in stock yourself, but rather transferring orders to their manufacturer, another retailer or a wholesaler for shipment. E-commerce and drop shipping profits have experienced a 7% year on year increase, reaching over $4 billion today. Here are a few drop shipping business ideas to consider:
Unfortunately for booklovers who enjoy the experience of browsing quaint bookstores for a new novel (or twelve), there aren’t as many brick-and-mortar booksellers today. On the other hand, physical books are still outselling digital copies.
This makes the perfect storm for those choosing to drop ship books, as many consumers opt for purchasing their reading online and having a print copy shipped right to their door.
It’s no surprise that fashion plays a major role in the drop shipping industry. In fact, women’s clothing is one of the most popular niches of drop shipping. From athleisure to intimates, this is a great idea to explore for your drop shipping business. However, don’t overlook the smaller accessories, like scarves and headbands.
As the second most popular drop shipping niche, jewelry is a top seller. Consumers are constantly searching for items like necklaces, bracelets and rings online. Take advantage of this market by starting your own jewelry drop shipping business.
[Read: The Complete Guide to Selling Online]
Food business ideas
The food industry is an exciting and highly competitive market. If you’re a major “foodie,” here are some food business ideas to consider:
The food truck industry generated $1 billion in revenue in 2019, and an annual growth of 6.8% from 2014-2019. If you have a unique idea for gourmet cuisine and are willing to offer it at an affordable price, you’re the perfect candidate for a food truck business owner. While startup costs are hefty (since it requires you to rent or purchase a truck), the turnaround is often worth it. Be sure to check the laws governing food trucks in your area before getting started.
A classic business idea, bakeries are still booming today, having generated $11 billion in revenue in 2019. Additionally, between 2014 and 2019, bakery cafes experienced an annual growth of 2.9%. What’s holding you back from pursuing your passion for dessert? Start your own bakery and create a custom menu with your favorite treats, so you can spread your love for sweets.
Like bakeries, caterers raised $11 billion in revenue in 2019. However, the annual growth rate for this occupation from 2014 to 2019 was 4.6%.
There are various types of catering, from corporate to wedding, sit-down to buffet, etc. Narrow down your options, choose your specialty, and decide whether you want to work from home or operate out of a separate location/eatery.
Instagram business ideas
Instagram is a great tool used in many social media marketing strategies. However, it can also be used to start a business in the first place. Here are three business ideas entirely built around and managed on Instagram:
Many consumers turn to reviews to vet a product before making a purchasing decision. In fact, 91% of young consumers trust reviews. Because so many buyers do their research before investing in a product, businesses are starting to pay certain individuals to review their products — even if their experiences with said products are poor.
This creates room in the market for product reviewers as solopreneurs, and they have the flexibility to run their business entirely from home/online. Instagram especially is a popular platform for product reviewers to share their thoughts on an item and generate a loyal following. As a product reviewer, you can make a living simply by testing and reviewing a wide array of products.
According to a 2019 study, 69% of U.S. marketers surveyed planned to invest in Instagram, far more than any other platform (the next was YouTube, with only 11%). Businesses understand the importance of having a strong presence on Instagram, and most are willing to pay big for an Instagram manager to oversee their account. If you’re passionate about social media, have a knack for aesthetics, understand the analytics behind the app and are organized in nature, you can find great success in this opportunity.
Why not get paid to travel and post your photos on Instagram? Many travel bloggers maintain an actual website where they write posts about their trips, but some do it solely on Instagram.
By now, you know that attracting a large audience on Instagram can open up countless opportunities to earn money. Choose a unique layout for your posts and start sharing.
Rental business ideas
Many people opt to rent supplies rather than buy. With the right equipment, you can earn a decent profit by renting certain goods to consumers. Here are some rental business ideas:
Sporting goods rental
Many people look to rent sporting goods, from surfboards to golf clubs, rather than actually purchasing them. For instance, maybe someone is on vacation and wants to catch a few waves, but doesn’t live in an area that would allow them to surf year-round. They might choose to rent a surfboard for the day or week instead.
There are many opportunities in this market. To start your sporting goods rental company, research affordable ways to buy your equipment and review any terms and conditions associated with your business type.
Party supplies rental
There are many small supplies needed for a party, such as tables, chairs, decorations and even tents to keep the rain out. However, if someone is planning a one-time event, they might consider simply renting these types of supplies for the duration of the gathering rather than investing in a purchase.
You can generate a consistent revenue by starting a party supplies rental business and offering equipment through a lease arrangement.
You’ve likely come across various bike rental shops in your life, whether in a busy city or quaint downtown. Since biking is a great means of transportation, as well as an enjoyable hobby, many individuals — especially tourists — opt to rent from businesses in the area they’re visiting. Consider opening your own bike rental shop in a popular location.
Small business ideas for rural areas
Rural areas are not considered cities or towns; they’re often referred to as the “countryside.” Here are three great business ideas entrepreneurs living in this area.
If you’re living in a rural area and you have farmland to grow crops and produce, why not open your open farmer’s market? Rural towns love to shop for their food locally. Set up a roadside stand or turn your barn into a shop to sell fruits, vegetables, homemade goodies and anything else you’d like to offer.
Antique shops are all the rage today, with many consumers valuing high-quality, vintage products over those sold in chain stores. Especially in rural towns, people love antiquing — it’s often a hobby for many. Collect new pieces from places like other antique stores, flea markets and even garage sales, then open your shop and resell the products at a higher price.
Have a knack for woodworking? Open a local shop or business for your rural town friends, selling handmade furniture, decor and other items. Many consumers today love the rustic look and prefer a unique product that can’t be found anywhere else. Become your town’s woodworker and even accept special requests from your customers.
Etsy business ideas
Etsy is a great e-commerce site to create a digital store and sell products. Here are three business ideas to start on Etsy.
Calligraphists often find success on artsy e-commerce sites like Etsy. From custom wedding invites to wall art, there are many items you can make at home and sell on your digital shop. To broaden your reach, make sure you allow your customers to request personalized products, like specific quotes or event invitations.
Journaling is a popular hobby/self-care practice for many today, but people don’t want just any notebook to write in. By creating and selling handmade journals, you’re taking advantage of a popular trend: notebooks and journals are the second most popular item sold on Etsy.
Etsy is the place to go when searching for unique home decor; and, in turn, it’s the place to sell it. In fact, it’s the fifth most popular item sold on Etsy. Whether you’re creating quirky coasters or lantern candle holders, you’re bound to find success with home decor products.
Nonprofit business ideas
Starting a nonprofit is a great way to give back to the community. Here are three great ideas for nonprofits.
There are many stray animals in danger, waiting for someone like you to give them the opportunity to find love and security. By opening an animal shelter, you’re not only helping people who want to adopt a pet, you’re also helping animals find a home, saving them from a life on the street — or worse. If you love caring for animals, this business idea is for you.
Teen mentoring program
Many teens grow up without love or guidance from those closest to them and, as a result, find themselves in trouble or struggling with their mental health. There are many programs geared toward offering support to such individuals. Many, especially those in this age group, only need a sense of community and people to lean on during difficult times. Make the difference in a young adult’s life by starting a program that allows you to be a mentor to teens in need.
According to the Food Aid Foundation, there are 795 million people in the world who don’t have enough food to lead a healthy life. If there’s a specific community you’d like to help, consider opening a local food bank that ensures members have access to nutritious meals. Find a place to store food donations and set up a food drive so you can distribute the goods to those in need.
Passive income business ideas
Passive income is a great way to earn quick cash. Here are three business passive income business ideas to try out today.
With affiliate marketing, you essentially earn commission by promoting other people’s products. If your marketing translates into sales, you’ll get a portion of that amount. Simply find products you like and advertise it to others, typically through an affiliate network, and let the money pour in.
Writing a book takes time and effort, but the ROI can be particularly high. E-books are inexpensive to publish, highly accessible and easy to digest. Choose a topic and genre, and dedicate some time and effort to the writing/editing process before publishing. Once you release the digital product, make sure you market it to your friends, family and others in your network.
Renting out a property is a great way to earn quick and consistent money. While you might have to keep up with any maintenance issues, if you find a decent tenant who pays on time and doesn’t cause trouble, you’re looking at earning an easy chunk of cash each month.
Travel business ideas
The traveling industry is booming today. Take advantage of these three business ideas.
People who travel often experience a language barrier, especially if they’re visiting foreign countries. If you’re fluent in multiple languages, consider becoming a translator, either through written form or verbal communication, and offer your services to travelers in your area.
Many individuals and corporations turn to travel agencies to help plan their vacations or work trips. By starting your own private travel agency, you can offer assistance to clients by finding them the right options that match their needs and resources.
Airbnb is a popular option for travelers looking for places to stay. By becoming a host with the company, you can rent out your properties to travelers in tourist-driven locations. Airbnb makes it easy to list your rentals and attract potential clients to your page.
Marijuana business ideas
With the rise of cannabis and many states legalizing marijuana, the industry is growing more and more popular. Here are three marijuana business ideas to try out.
Marijuana accessory store
The cannabis industry is a popular one right now, and selling accessories is a great way to get involved without as many risks. Whether it’s quirky clothing specifically made for smokers or rolling trays and joint kits, your products will be sure to sell in this saturated market.
Cannabis public relations firm
Every industry has its public relations firms, and cannabis is no exception. In fact, since the industry is fairly new and still controversial, PR firms can help clear up any misconceptions or confront any stigmas or concerns the public might have. Represent marijuana-related businesses by helping them educate their audience and cultivate positive attention to their brand.
Medical marijuana dispensary
If you’d like to start a more hands-on business in this industry, consider opening a medical marijuana dispensary in a state where it’s, of course, legal. Your shop can sell various types of marijuana to serve the needs of various individuals.
In this abundant list of business ideas, you’re bound to find at least one to spark inspiration for your entrepreneurial endeavors. Find what you love and build your business around that passion.
CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.
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Recap: The latest round of PPP assistance
Watch the recap from our latest Small Business Update that took place March 12, where we discussed the upcoming American Rescue Plan Act and what it means for small businesses and restaurants.
Published March 12, 2020