Many small businesses are synonymous with family members using their savings, working from the garage, and not hiring until it becomes necessary. However, other small enterprises may require drafting a business plan and seeking loans from money lenders.
If you're considering starting a small business, there are many options to choose from, and the market keeps evolving. In this post, we discuss what a small business is, the five phases of such a business, 15 of the most profitable ventures, and tips for becoming a successful small business owner.
A small business is a sole proprietorship, partnership, or privately owned corporation with less than 1,500 employees and $41.5 million annual revenue. Small businesses usually have a single owner responsible for all management decisions. They often have one outlet in a limited geographical area until there's enough growth to warrant expansion. Many small businesses don't utilize technology too much as most labor comes from the workforce (for example, a small business aimed at producing and selling pastries).
Unlike big corporations, small enterprises are flexible, enabling them to adjust to changes and implement new ideas faster. In our example of the pastry shop, such an entrepreneur could decide to add ice cream to the menu to target more customers during the sweltering heat of summer. These businesses also have less waste as they often utilize every available resource during daily operations.
If you’re looking to become an entrepreneur, here are the five stages of successful small business ventures:
When starting a small business, you may wonder which ideas are the most promising for the current economic climate, especially since the world is still reeling from the Covid-19 pandemic.
Here are 15 of the most profitable business ideas you could try:
A food truck is a big mobile vehicle serving food on street corners, often catering to corporate executives who don't wish to trek around the city to find a restaurant. They're usually located near office buildings to serve this clientele. While many prefer in-venue dining, some don't have the luxury of waiting for a table, and getting a quick meal from a truck is more convenient and affordable.
Opening a food truck business requires about a third of the capital required to open a restaurant. You can get a food truck from $50,000 to $250,000. If you're low on funds, consider leasing or buying a used truck instead. The low barrier of entry makes the food truck industry attractive to novice entrepreneurs.
There are many advantages of opening a food truck business over a restaurant. You can quickly relocate as the market shifts, there's more room for creativity (such as designing a new product), and you can increase profitability by moving to high-demand areas and festivals.
According to a recent report, there are more than 35,512 food trucks across the U.S. Food truck businesses usually serve varied cuisines depending on their locations, so understand the staple foods of your target market.
Most food truck owners once worked in high-end restaurants and have culinary training. Unfortunately, the Great Recession of the 2010s led to mass layoffs. As executive chefs lost their livelihood, many sought solace (and found success) in the mobile food business. However, you don't have to be a celebrated chef to own a food truck. You can research new ideas or put a spin on existing menu items.
Note that food trucks are prone to lawsuits and bad reviews due to contamination. It is vital you adhere to all food safety protocols, train your employees, and incorporate your business to safeguard it in case of lawsuits. In addition, apply for all necessary permits and licenses, including an Employer Identification Number (EIN), and renew them as required.
The health and fitness industry keeps soaring as people seek to achieve body fitness and improve their overall well-being. RunRepeat reveals that as of 2021, memberships at health and fitness clubs and gyms raked in $35 billion, an increase of $2.7 billion since 2019. Unfortunately, fancy gyms charge exorbitant fees of $30 to $40 per workout session, which is unaffordable for many people.
Enlisting a personal trainer may be a better option in a struggling economy. Personal trainers help clients stay accountable and maintain their exercise and nutrition plans, providing a cheaper option for achieving optimal health. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reveals there will be a 39% increase in the demand for personal trainers from 2020 to 2030.
Childhood obesity is a longstanding problem affecting many communities. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 19% of children and adolescents are obese, which represents 14.7 million children aged 2–19. These worrisome figures illustrate a ripe market and opportunity for fitness instructors.
You could open a gymnasium catering to different age groups and offer one-on-one training sessions. Clients also like personal training at home or outdoors. You could take this business further by partnering with a certified nutritionist to offer clients comprehensive services. For example, a nutritionist could work with clients to develop healthy meals for the week, depending on their health needs and fitness goals.
Personal trainers can also offer online coaching for clients who live in faraway places. Remote personal training helps to keep clients on track with their goals without the hassle of commuting. Personal trainers will also come in handy if more lockdown measures occur due to Covid-19 or other potential health-scares like monkeypox.
The real estate market is booming as builders struggle to provide enough inventory to satiate rising demand. However, Bloomberg warns that this housing boom could indicate a looming recession. The doom and gloom notwithstanding, real estate continues to be a lucrative business venture.
No matter the prevailing real estate hurdles, buying a home is a personal decision. Prospective buyers make adjustments to suit their families' budgets and needs, and this flexibility keeps the industry going. If you wish to become a real estate agent, the journey starts with understanding your state's requirements. Here are the main conditions for becoming a real estate agent:
Once you get your real estate license, joining a real estate brokerage would be prudent. The goal is to gain firsthand experience with a busy firm and start making connections. Working for real estate behemoths such as Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices or Sotheby's International Realty is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. You'll network with experienced brokers and these industry connections will be handy when you set up your firm.
The average salary of a real estate broker is $62,990, but this figure is modest. Some brokers earn incomes in the seven figures, especially when they're attached to successful agencies. As such, many agents remain attached to big firms as they grow their brokerages. This dynamic allows them to remain gainfully employed until they can break away.
For the highest annual income, consider setting up your business in a city with a lucrative real estate market, such as Austin, Tampa, Nashville, or Atlanta.
Social media sites like Instagram and WhatsApp are so ubiquitous in everyday life hat more than 50% of the world's population uses these platforms regularly. The Pew Research Center reports that seven in ten people in the U.S. connect with friends and family through social media.
Companies are observing these trends and taking advantage of these connections to reach potential and existing customers. A social media management team helps companies run their social pages and create brand awareness. They make and edit content following a stipulated schedule while engaging followers in comments, private messages, and company websites.
Since many people are well-versed with social media platforms, there's not much training needed to start this business. However, you could take a course on recording and editing videos to be more marketable.
Self-training enables you to adapt and grow your skills as these platforms change constantly. For example, YouTube videos can show you how to use the best and latest video editing software on the market.
The capital outlay for this small business is almost zero. You can use a laptop or desktop computer you likely already own and work remotely. Although some clients may request on-site visits from time to time, this is manageable too.
It may appear as if the blogging market is saturated, but there's plenty of room for fresh ideas. As regular use of the internet grows, so does the demand for online content. Whatever the situation is, there's always an opportunity to venture into the blogging world.
Start by examining renowned blogs in different fields. Identify what makes them unique and the kind of content they share. You'll discover that successful blogs stem from a passion rather than a fleeting idea. If you like wine, for example, you could explore the world of wine and chronicle this journey. Blog readers want the authenticity of personal blogs because they resonate with that relatability.
Furthermore, you could take another hobby like technology and write about a specific technology product you like, such as smartphones. Once you discover a topic and start writing, the next step is interacting with readers in the comment section. Blogs will typically have links to social media sites where followers can interact with you and other community members.
Go further and learn search engine optimization (SEO) skills to help your blog's ranking on the Google index. Once your blog starts to attract new followers, leverage this fan base to establish a personal brand. For example, Harvey Levin is a legal analyst and lawyer who began TMZ, a celebrity gossip site. As a result, his brand has grown, and he's now a respected pundit on celebrity stories for CNN and other national networks.
Monetizing a blog is the next stage. Start with a simple rate card for clients whose products or services align with your content. For example, you can pitch your idea to a smartphone manufacturer if you're in the technology niche. If they like your blog and readership, they can sign you up as an influencer. One happy client paves the way for more. With time, you could have anchor clients giving you a stable income.
If opening a food truck business doesn't appeal, try becoming a personal chef to the elite. This option doesn't require much capital if you have the required credentials. You only need to network with the right people to start your business.
Personal chefs can start by catering minor parties and events like birthdays in offices, retirement parties, or baby showers. All you need is to invest in kitchen equipment, a mini-van, and perhaps one helper. In most cases, the client will invite you to their premises, meaning you can use their kitchen equipment. The most revered personal chefs can earn anywhere from $180 to $750 per job.
The cleaning industry is constantly booming as more and more people hire domestic and commercial premises cleaners. A typical cleaning service requires a crew, cleaning supplies, and a means of transportation. Fortunately, the barrier of entry is low, making recruiting personnel much more straightforward.
When starting, the first step is to invest in branding and uniforms for your team. The next step is preparing a winning proposal to share with potential clients, such as corporates in the city. For example, one building can house hundreds of companies, and they all need cleaning services. Malls and schools are other prospective clients who need around-the-clock cleaning services.
Cleaning homes can also be lucrative, especially if you can get clients from wealthy neighborhoods. These homes may already have housekeepers and nannies, but the massive size of the houses makes it impossible for them to do it all. Moreover, this clientele loves entertaining family and friends, presenting more opportunities for cleaning companies. A maid or cleaning service can earn $117 to $235 per job.
Growing in this line of work depends on positive word-of-mouth advertising. If your crew is excellent at house cleaning, you can have daily bookings and expand your team soon enough. You can also create a website or Facebook page and request your current clients to leave testimonials there.
Acquiring and honing technology-based skills is essential to succeed in this industry. You don't have to attend a traditional college to learn graphic design — take a Skillshare course or sign up at another trusted site and start training. In addition, many platforms allow people to freelance with various skills. For example, Upwork will enable users to create profiles detailing their work, and you can use this profile to seek paying opportunities.
Whether you seek a side hustle or a primary source of income, becoming a graphic designer allows you to work on many projects for different clients. The rates on these sites vary depending on your skill level, experience, and the client's budget. However, a single job can earn you between $15 to $150 per hour. Upwork also helps members to reach clients, and vice versa, by enhancing their visibility.
Take courses regularly to improve your skills and adopt the newest technologies to avoid falling behind competitors. Graphic design is a noble industry, and honing your skills will push you further ahead. In addition, becoming an avid self-learner may inspire you to attempt coding, another highly marketable skill.
Helping women after they deliver babies is yet another avenue for making money. The Health Care Cost Institute (HCCI) reports that women spend an average of $3,100 on personal care in the first year after giving birth. The help they need could be in the form of nutrition so they can produce enough milk for nursing, resting time, getting back in shape, and childcare for other kids.
You can focus on mothers in this situation and charge a consultation fee. Many mothers don't have the luxury of escaping to the gym even if they desperately want to lose weight. As such, your service could include connecting them with personal trainers to help achieve their fitness goals. The promise to help a woman get fit and healthy and boost her mental health, appearance, and overall wellness is a great selling point for would-be customers.
Housework is another area that suffers when a woman brings a newborn home. Your business can offer cleaning services to alleviate the pressure around the house. Raising a baby can be nerve-racking, especially for first-time mothers. Your business can advise those dealing with issues like sleep training, potty training, or weaning.
Transporting goods from retail stores to people's doorsteps is also lucrative. A recent report reveals there are 365,312 couriers and delivery services. California has the most delivery companies (1,819), followed by Florida (1,265) and Texas (1,108). These states are densely populated, resulting in more people needing items shipped to their offices or homes.
Covid-19 increased the demand for online shopping, food delivery, and curbside grocery delivery. There are many big players like Amazon, UPS, and ShipBob, but there's also plenty of room for smaller companies to thrive. You can research underserved areas, the problems big companies face, and the solutions they need.
Offering same-day delivery is a great selling point that will get you hired. People may want you to deliver groceries, prescriptions, machinery, or even clothing. The shortage of items in one area also creates a business opportunity to provide that item from other sources. A small delivery service can bridge the gap when there's a lack of vital supplies.
Teaching kids how to play the piano can be a profitable business. For example, you can open a piano studio in a populated area and distribute flyers door-to-door. You could host and teach both group and private classes, and vary your rates accordingly.
Piano lessons can cost between $30–$50 for each student in a weekly group session. If parents want individual attention for their children to hone their skills, they can pay a bit extra and sign up for solo sessions. You can charge between $40–$100 for private weekly sessions. If you don’t have a full studio at your disposal yet, you could simply start with a piano area in your own home.
Middle and upper-class parents will be willing to pay for piano lessons to boost their children's extracurricular activities. In addition, you can pitch your business idea to schools that need a piano teacher and do this full-time.
Decluttering homes and offices is another small business idea that's gaining traction due to people's affinity for shopping excessively. There's a longstanding ideology of selling consumerism to combat the societal decline, which started after World War II. Encouraging people to spend on things they don't need accounts for 70% of the gross domestic product. These purchases eventually become impossible to live with, hence the need for decluttering services.
At the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, the internet was awash with great ideas on decluttering your space. Many people had more free time and needed hobbies, while others required inviting spaces for newly remote work. The art of decluttering spaces isn’t new. There are many experts like Marie Kondo. She developed the “KonMari method” to guide home cleaning endeavors and published a book in 2014, which regained popularity during the pandemic.
You can help clients declutter their space by removing unwanted stuff to create room for only what they need. Moreover, you can organize yard sales for them so they can dispose of the unwanted goods and still make money. Aside from helping them reclaim their space, decluttering reduces the stressors in their lives, prioritizing their mental health.
Hiring remote workers is nothing new, but many top employers began hiring their personal assistants to work remotely during and after the pandemic. Many busy professionals require the help of a personal assistant and nearly all of the tasks can be done remotely.
You can offer your virtual personal assistant services to clients who need to do desktop research, order supplies for them online, book appointments, make travel plans, schedule dinners, and just about any assistance you can deliver remotely. Virtual personal assistants can charge up to $85 per hour, depending on the assignment.
Depending on your availability, you can do these tasks on the side or full-time. Besides the great earnings, virtual assistants work for diverse clients, increasing their skill sets and their networking power. In addition, some clients may want you to get advanced training on something specific, and they can offer to pay. You get more skills to add to your repertoire and you get paid for your time.
The U.S. is a melting pot of many cultures from different parts of the world. The Migration Policy Institute reports that 22% of American households don't speak English as their native language. Such families speak other languages at home, meaning millions of children may struggle to assimilate into society.
Research published by the CATO Institute concluded that being fluent in English is a prerequisite to being considered American by the masses. Further, those who speak English well earn higher incomes and often have an easier time socially. Unfortunately, the government doesn't provide free English courses for immigrants.
When training resources are inaccessible and unaffordable, immigrants often turn to popular TV shows to help them learn the language. Offering English language classes to immigrant families could be a lucrative business idea. You can arrange flexible classes depending on your clients' availability, such as after work or during their days off from work engagements, and could offer special pricing for the whole family to learn.
If you have room to spare, list it on Airbnb to attract renters. These could be people traveling on business or for leisure and need a place to stay for a few days. Adjust your rates depending on your offerings and the season.
People who lost their livelihoods during the pandemic and have yet to find gainful employment must devise creative ways to stay afloat financially. For example, if you struggle to honor your mortgage payments, renting out part of your home can prove to be helpful. Some homeowners credit Airbnb for saving their properties from foreclosure.
Although all these ideas may seem viable, running a small business is challenging since they're prone to losses and closure. However, you can achieve success by considering the following tips:
Most of the above options require specific skills and pitching to clients seeking those services. However, innovative problem-solving will push you ahead of the pack and grow your business to profitable levels.
At Smith.ai, we can help take your small business to the next level. Our virtual receptionists can respond to new clients’ inquiries, screen your leads, collect payment, and other tasks while you’re busy doing other things. With our help, you’ll never miss a potential client.
Here at Smith.ai, we want you to feel confident we’re the right fit for your small business. We offer a 14-day, money-back guarantee so you can find out for yourself. Schedule your free 30-minute consultation today to learn more.