There are many ways to start a business that let you focus less on the logistics and upfront costs and more on getting your ideas started. Let’s get you past the first major mental hurdle of wondering, “What kind of business should I start?”
These 60+ small business ideas make a great entry point for beginners, bootstrappers, or anyone with a busy schedule, and let you start a side business without having to drop everything else.
Easy-to-start small businesses
You can easily launch a small business with the right idea, such as selling custom t-shirts or providing specialized services, leveraging your skills and using turnkey solutions. Here are some small business ideas easiest to start now.
1. Design and sell print-on-demand t-shirts
Print on demand puts inventory, shipping, and fulfillment in the hands of a third-party supplier. The benefit of print on demand is you’re customizing products with your own designs to create something original.
T-shirts, hats, phone cases, hoodies, skirts, tote bags, and more become canvases for your creativity. You can think up witty slogans for developers or references that resonate with cat owners—if there’s passion and pride within a community, there’s a potential t-shirt business you can start.
Even if you’re not a designer, you can find one to work with using freelance sites like Fiverr, Upwork, Dribbble, or 99Designs. You can even use t-shirt mockup templates so you won’t need to spend money on a full photoshoot for every new design.
2. Sell a service
Offering services isn’t passive, but it can be a lucrative way to move toward self-employment. With services-based small business ideas, “time” is your inventory and your biggest investment. You’ve only got a limited supply of hours in your day. However, that makes it easier to get up and running if you’ve got in-demand skills.
Writers, graphic designers, virtual assistants, SEO practitioners, cleaning service providers, dog walkers, real estate professionals, and more can build a business around their skills. You could offer these skills as an ongoing service or start a consulting business that advises on projects.
You can also offer your services through a freelance marketplace like Upwork to increase your chances of getting discovered by the people who need your skills.
3. Join an affiliate marketing program
Affiliate marketing refers to a performance-based marketing tactic where a business pays people, a.k.a. affiliates, to promote and sell products for them. Every time an affiliate brings in a new customer, they receive a commission from the business.
Affiliates can promote products on their blogs, social media accounts, or websites, or in communities. For many, affiliate marketing is a low-cost side hustle that turns into a profitable business over time.
To join an affiliate program, do the following:
- Find an affiliate program on sites like ShareASale, CJ, or LinkShare.
- Choose offers you want to promote.
- Get an affiliate link.
- Promote that link across your assets.
- Get a commission every time someone signs up or makes a purchase through your link.
Commission rates vary, depending on the company and offer. You could earn as low as 5% for each sale, while some commissions can be as high as 50% if you’re promoting a class or event. Some affiliate programs also offer a flat rate versus a percentage.
4. House and pet sitting
As travel increases, so does the need for home and pet care while people are away. And with the prevalence of remote work, long-term holidays are more commonplace—so while people might be able to leave their home unoccupied for a weekend, a month-long trip may require some more care.
House and pet sitting are good business ideas to start if you feel comfortable caring for and staying in a stranger’s home, potentially with their pets.
You can create your own website on Shopify to market and sell your services, and there are also dedicated home and pet care websites and apps you can use. Here are some examples:
- HouseSitter.com: This website is for both house and pet sitting. You can create a profile and apply to postings. People who need house/pet sitting can also browse sitters and reach out to them.
- Rover: Rover is a website and app specifically for pet sitting. On it, you can create a profile and apply to gigs. These arrangements include drop-in visits but not overnight visits (or house sitting).
- Care.com: Care.com is a listing site where pet sitters can create a profile and list their experience. You can also apply to jobs posted by people seeking pet sitters. Care.com is a good site to use if you offer senior care, tutoring, housekeeping, and child care services.
- TrustedHousesitters: TrustedHousesitters is a great place to start if you need experience or testimonials. The platform specifically prohibits paid gigs, so these arrangements are viewed more as an exchange—you get a free place to stay, and they get free sitting.
Consider that some pet sitters offer on-site services while others care for pets in their own homes. You can even add a dog-walking element to appeal to a wider range of people. Regardless of your choice, it’s important to communicate this upfront.
Tutoring school kids or adults who want to learn a new skill can bring in extra income around your regular working hours. You might be great at math, playing the drums, or speaking French, so why not teach others? You can promote your tutoring services on local Facebook groups and in nearby schools to get the word out and build up your client base.
6. Personal assistant
Becoming a personal assistant requires little upfront expenditure and means you can work with a range of businesses. You’ll essentially be helping business owners take care of admin tasks, like booking appointments, responding to emails, and taking notes in meetings. Start networking with business owners on LinkedIn and market your services to them.
7. Dog walker
Dog walking is a fun and rewarding job (and you get a bit of exercise at the same time). Check your local state laws to see what licensing and insurance you’ll need, then set up a Facebook profile or a local website to advertise your dog walking services. If you don’t want to manage the administrative aspects, sign up with a company like Rover, a directory that owners can use to connect with potential dog walkers.
8. Airbnb host
You don’t need a fancy second home to become an Airbnb host—in fact, the accommodation platform originally started as a way for homeowners to temporarily rent out their spare room for extra cash. If you have the extra space in your house, you can create an account with Airbnb and rent it out at weekends, for overnight stays, or whenever suits you.
9. Sell baked goods
Are you always called on to bake cakes and sweet treats for your friends and family? If the answer is yes, you can sell baked goods to locals in your community. As well as baking cakes for birthdays and events, you can also create batches of baked goods to sell in local coffee shops and cafés.
10. House cleaner
If you’re a stickler for cleanliness, starting a cleaning business can be a fulfilling way to make money. Create a batch of flyers to stick through doors in your neighborhood and advertise your services on local Facebook groups. If you do a good job, chances are word of mouth will help you organically pick up customers.
11. Car washer
Car washing has long been a source of fundraising for high schoolers, but it can also work as a business for adults too. If you’ve got space outside your house or a nearby yard, you can offer car washing and valeting services to locals. Alternatively, you can go door-to-door to hand out flyers and wash cars on the road while you build up your business.
Best businesses to start with little money
Short on cash and want to start a small business? Check out these cost-effective businesses you can start today.
12. Start a dropshipping business
Dropshipping is a fulfillment model where a third-party supplier stores and ships inventory to customers on your behalf. It’s one of the best businesses to start, because it’s low overhead, hands-off, and scalable.
💡 TIP: With Shopify, it’s easy to start a dropshipping business and start selling without the hassle of managing inventory, packaging, or shipping. Orders are sent directly from your wholesaler to your customers, so you can work on what matters—your products, marketing, and customers.
You don’t need to handle any products yourself—you just need to make the sales and pass orders on to your supplier. In fact, it’s one of the quickest and cheapest businesses to start.
You can curate products from one or more suppliers into your own online store under a theme that focuses on a specific dropshipping niche, like gear for yoga enthusiasts or water bowls for dogs. When a customer buys a product from you, the order is sent to your supplier, who fulfills it on your behalf. However, you are still responsible for marketing and customer service.
Dropshipping is a great way to sell trending products and launch a business before you invest in your own original products.
13. Build an audience you can monetize
In today’s connected world, the ability to capture and keep the attention of others is an asset. It’s one many businesses are willing to pay for and one many creators are able to convert into a business with multiple revenue streams.
- Sponsored posts on behalf of brands
- Becoming an influencer
- Selling physical or digital products (via any of the ideas on this list)
- A combination of the above (they’re not mutually exclusive)
Taking an audience-first approach to your small business idea means you’re playing the long game (it might be months until you’ve figured it out). But you don’t need millions of followers to do it: Instagrammer Kat Gaskin, for example, pulled off a $10,000 product launch with only 3,000 followers for her brand, The Content Planner.
14. Offer child care
The rise in demand for child care services with a decreasing supply is a perfect mixture for starting a new business. If you enjoy taking care of kids and can get the proper licenses, a new child care business could be a good business idea for you.
15. Become a handyman
Everyone has a go-to handyman in their family. You know, the person who’s always doom chores around the house: a plumbing issue, installing tile, cleaning out gutters, putting up a fence. They’re always the person friends and family call on for odd jobs. If this is you, why not get paid for your work?
The home repair and improvement industry sits at around $570 billion in market value. Whether it’s fixing a boiler or building a patio deck, if you’re a handyman who likes to fix things, this could be a lucrative business for you.
16. Life coach
Life coaches help people navigate career changes and build lifestyles they love. If you’re good at helping people make decisions, are a great communicator, and enjoy guiding people toward their dream lives, this could be a good business idea for you. You’ll need a qualification to get started, but otherwise, you can start picking clients up on social media, via local advertising, and, eventually, through word-of-mouth marketing.
If you’re a specialist in a certain area or have deep knowledge of a particular subject, you can monetize that by opening a consultancy. For example, you might decide to offer consultancy services to companies looking to improve their hiring practices or, if you’re skilled at search engine optimization (SEO), you might open a business offering your knowledge as a service.
Newsletters offer a direct line of communication to a prebuilt audience. If you’ve got an online presence and knowledge to share, consider starting a newsletter business. There’s little you need to get started—just an email marketing provider and a way to generate subscribers—then you can make money selling sponsorships, products, or services directly through your newsletter. Alternatively, when the numbers are high enough, you can charge subscribers to receive your newsletter in a subscription-style model.
19. Bicycle repair
Love fixing bikes? Start a business repairing and building bikes for your local neighborhood. As the cycling trend continues to grow, more people will seek out repair services to get their trusty steeds back on the road. Advertise your services in local Facebook groups, draw up some flyers to stick around local shops, and create a simple website to get the word out.
At-home business ideas
You can also start your own business at home, giving you complete flexibility and freedom. Whether you’re interested in writing a book, creating digital courses, or managing social media for brands, there are numerous opportunities for home-based businesses.
20. Launch your own book
Cookbooks, picture books, comic books, poetry books, photo books, coffee table books, and novels—if you’ve got the knowledge or creativity, there are a variety of original books you can bring to the market. The options are endless—that’s why it’s one of the best small business ideas to start.
Lulu xPress and Blurb are popular platforms to create, order, and distribute your own books as physical and digital products. You could also sell it on third-party marketplaces like Amazon or Powell’s.
While you can order one book at a time, costs naturally go down when you buy in bulk. Consider preselling or crowdfunding your book idea to ensure there’s demand, and guarantee a certain number of sales so you can feel confident making a bulk order. Launching your own book can be a great way to monetize a blog if you have or are looking to start one.
21. Create digital products or online courses
Digital products like music, courses, podcasts, and templates are unique on this list of low-investment small business ideas. Unlike the others, they’re not tangible. There aren’t recurring manufacturing or shipping costs to worry about, so your margins can remain high, making it another no-brainer for being one of the best businesses to start.
The trick is figuring out what makes for a good digital product, and how much people are willing to pay for it.
Some good digital products include original instrumental beats, stock photos that can be licensed to other creators, and information products and templates that help people level up their skill sets in a particular field.
If you’ve got a talent that can be turned into a digital product, think about packaging it into a new stream of income.
Shopify has a free Digital Downloads app that lets you offer digital products in your store as easily as physical products.
22. Test app development
Creating a million-dollar app or your own business is not easy. In fact, 99.5% of consumer apps fail. Most apps don’t have product-market fit. They need a ton of marketing, and they’re expensive to create.
So, why bother putting this on our easy business ideas list? Because consumer app development isn’t the only path for entrepreneurs. New apps for the Shopify App Store crop up daily, with a market of motivated businesses eager to find the tools they need.
Sound interesting? Check out How to Build a Shopify App: The Complete Guide on our Partners blog to learn more.
23. Start an online coffee shop
Selling coffee can be profitable with a strong brand and the right marketing plan. Sure, coffee has a lot of competition. But that shouldn’t scare you away from this multibillion-dollar industry. Selling a high-commodity product like coffee has many benefits:
- There is a high volume of customers.
- Customers typically associate small brands as having a higher quality than corporate brands.
- There are many positioning opportunities.
Because coffee is so widely available, it’s easier to sell. People already want coffee—you only need to make them want your coffee.
24. Become a social media management consultant
As of 2023, there were over 4.9 billion active social media users around the world. That’s nearly 60% of the world’s population. Between YouTube, Instagram, Facebook Messenger, TikTok, and all the other social networks available—brands need help managing their accounts.
A social media manager is responsible for creating and analyzing content for brands’ social accounts. Clients will pay you to create engaging content, write attractive bios, respond to comments, run ads, and more. You could charge by the hour or by project rate.
25. Offer résumé writing services
Resumes are crucial to landing a new job, so if you’ve had good responses from previous employers, consider helping job seekers optimize theirs. You can offer two different services:
- Writing résumés and cover letters from scratch
- Improving and optimizing existing résumés
It’s often much more difficult for us to write our own résumés than it is for an objective third party. Use this to your advantage and sell résumé writing services on your website or social media, or via local recruitment centers.
Are you fluent in another language? If the answer is yes, you have a great in-demand skill under your belt. Translators can do everything from translating website copy from one language to another to translating in-person conversations. Consider specializing in a specific form of translation, such as translating medical journals or finance publications. Then, create a website to advertise your services or create flyers to drop through doors.
27. Travel planner
If you’re always the person who gets asked to plan upcoming trips, there might be a career for you in travel planning. While people are using travel agents less and less, there’s still a market for bespoke, luxury travel planning. Set up a website and start advertising your services on social media to generate interest.
28. Virtual assistant
Similarly to personal assistants, virtual assistants help business owners manage tasks they don’t have time for. The only difference is virtual assistants don’t have to be in the same city (or even the same country) as the businesses they work for. Virtual assistant services vary wildly and can include social media work, graphic design, general admin, and sales.
The growing digital landscape calls for more coders (also known as developers). These are the people who build websites from the back end, turn designs into fully functional sites, and build apps from scratch. There are online courses you can take that arm you with the basics, but the best way to improve your coding skills is to practice. Build a website to showcase your skills, reach out to brands you’d like to work with, and create a portfolio of websites and apps.
30. Data entry
Every business uses data, which means data entry clerks play an important role in collecting, storing, and managing vast quantities of information. If you love a spreadsheet or are well-versed in setting up systems and processes, this could be the business for you. Start by reaching out to local businesses to offer your services and promote your business on social media to reach a wider range of potential clients.
31. Become a content creator
There are more than 207 million content creators—a positive sign the creator economy is a blossoming industry to get involved in. Content creators are people who post videos, stories, and content on social media to build an audience and make money. This can be done via brand partnerships, product promotions, selling products, or advertising revenue. If you already create content and enjoy sharing stories on social media, it may be a no-brainer to become a content creator.
32. Sell digital products
Digital products include templates, journals, checklists, guides, and designs people can download and use from the comfort of their homes. It’s easy to experiment with a variety of different product types to see what sells—simply use a design tool like Canva to design your downloads, and create a website or use a marketplace like Etsy to sell them on.
Good with numbers? Why not start a bookkeeping business? You’ll be in charge of monitoring and recording small business accounts each month to make sure your clients are on top of their finances. You might need a relevant degree or certification before you get started, but once your business is set up you can work with clients from the comfort of your own home.
Unique small business ideas
Small business owners can also be innovative and make an impact on people’s lives. Want to change the game in a particular market? Check out the ideas below.
34. Start a charitable business
Starting a nonprofit organization isn’t the only path you can take to help fund a better world.
Having a mission to go along with a business and setting aside some profit for a cause gives social entrepreneurs a unique way to position their company in the market while addressing the issues they care about most.
While many social enterprises offer their own original products, you can also take any of the low-cost small business ideas above and partner with a nonprofit or execute that social good with your own hands, as long as you’re transparent about how it works.
The Give & Grow Donations Shopify app makes it easy to partner with charitable organizations and incorporate your mission into your business. You can set it up to donate a specific amount or a percentage of sales or ask your customers to add a donation at checkout.
35. Start a pet business
The pet industry is an industry that’s worth more than $300 billion and ripe with opportunities. Your pet business could be product- or service-based—selling accessories, food, or toys, or offering grooming, walking, or training expertise.
Perkie Prints makes personalized printed pet products—everything from apparel to framed prints, plus fun projects in between. On the service side of things, Let the Dog Out offers dog walking and “bathroom breaks” to its customers.
36. Create a membership program
Online memberships are ideal for entrepreneurs with an established active and engaged community. They work much like a subscription-based business—customers make recurring payments in exchange for a virtual product or service.
Memberships are great for managing members-only access to content on a website, and even for physical businesses that offer guided sessions online. Yoga studios, gyms, clubs, and art schools are a few examples of businesses that can take advantage of this business model.
It’s easy to start your membership-based business with Shopify. Set up a new product just like you would for a physical product, but create a name and description that tells people about your membership services.
37. Become a virtual event planner
Virtual event planning is a profitable business idea if you enjoy organizing and connecting people. The significant rise in business events and the adoption of virtual tools for conducting meetings will keep this market growth high. As a virtual event planner, you’ll be responsible for creating virtual conferences, networking opportunities, and educational sessions for companies around the world.
38. Start a landscaping business
Got a love for nature and outdoor design? A landscaping business is a great option for you. Landscaping, also referred to as lawn care, means modifying and maintaining the visible features of an area of land. You’re responsible for creating beauty out of natural, living elements like flowers, grass, and trees.
There’s a growing demand for residential outdoor landscape maintenance in younger households across the country. Competition in the market is moderate. You’ll face a few leading landscaping companies, like TruGreen, as well as smaller local service providers.
39. Invest in vending machines
Here’s a unique business idea: vending machines. Yes, there’s money to be made with vending machines. Though the industry took a hit during the COVID-19 pandemic, projections indicate vending machines will bounce back.
Offer the right products at the right location to make your vending business a success. Do your research to find high-traffic areas, who is walking by, and what they might need at that moment. Consider the various airport vending machines. You’ll find the expected vending machines with snacks and drinks, but there are also machines with makeup and accessories, like phone chargers and headphones. With a strategic approach, vending machines can be a profitable business with a small investment, and an overall great business idea.
40. Online dating consultant
Consider yourself a bit of a matchmaker? Become an online dating consultant and help singles find love. Besides helping people set up online dating profiles, you can source potential matches, and offer coaching through the initial first dates. Try it out on some willing friends first and use these success stories to promote your services to other singles.
41. Personal trainer
If you enjoy going to the gym and staying active, consider starting a personal training business. You’ll need a qualification to get started, but once that’s in place you can build up a roster of clients who regularly come to work out with you.
Take it a step further and offer personalized training plans, nutrition advice, and exercise mentoring to make additional income. You can advertise your business on local Facebook groups, create flyers to stick around the neighborhood, or create a website to attract remote clients that you can train with via video call.
42. Personal chef
If you love to cook and often find yourself hosting delicious dinner parties for friends and family, a personal chef business might be for you. Start small by cooking meals for your neighbors’ dinner parties and expand to include downloadable menus and personalized multicourse meal plans. It can help to specialize in a specific cuisine or style of cooking to build up your name, such as vegetarian meals or Japanese dishes.
43. Meal prep
Meal prepping is all the rage as people’s lives get busier—just take a look at the success of meal subscription boxes like Hello Fresh and Blue Apron.
Tackle this pain point by offering a meal prep service where you batch-cook food for the week and deliver it to your clients. You can even enhance segments of your meal prep by offering related food, like a line of condiments. Promote your business locally and hand deliver meals or advertise online to a wider audience and send meal boxes by post.
44. Moving company
If you’ve got a truck and enjoy physical labor, consider opening a moving company. Make sure you’ve got the correct permits and insurance to start and then build up a name for yourself by sending out flyers, advertising on local Facebook groups, and encouraging word-of-mouth referrals.
45. Voiceover artist
Got a voice smoother than Morgan Freeman’s? Become a voiceover artist who narrates television adverts and online videos. The sheer popularity of video today means there’s plenty of work to go around. Set up a website to advertise your services and sign up for voiceover directories to connect with potential clients.
46. Tour guide
Becoming a tour guide can be a fun way to show people around your city, especially if you enjoy and are knowledgeable about the local history. Consider differentiating your business from other tour guides by focusing on a specific activity, like food, music, or culture. Advertise your services online and create flyers to distribute in well-known tourist spots.
47. Teach classes online
While tutoring often takes place in person, you can also share your subject expertise online by teaching online classes. You can either teach one-to-one classes or get a group of students together at the same time. Decide what skill (or two) you’ll teach and advertise your services online or through local Facebook groups. As well as teaching subjects like English, math, or science, you can also teach workshops on specific topics, like résumé writing or financial planning.
48. Professional organizer
If you’re known as the “organized one” in your group, consider starting a business as a professional organizer who helps people declutter and restore order in their homes. It can be really difficult for people to juggle day jobs and organize their homes to a high standard, so you might find yourself in high demand. This job is obviously geared more toward a local client base, so rely on local Facebook groups, handing out flyers, and word-of-mouth referrals; you can also increase your revenue with organizational videos and paid downloadables.
49. Personal shopper
Personal shoppers help their clients find the right clothes, furniture, or jewelry. If you’ve got a good eye for fashion or interior design, this can be a rewarding way to make money. Start by choosing what kind of personal shopper you’d like to be and then advertise your services locally via Facebook or flyers to spread the word.
Creative small business ideas
Start an exciting business that explores your creativity and self-expression with the following ideas.
50. Sell print-on-demand posters, greeting cards, and prints
If you’ve already got an engaged online following—say you’re a cartoonist or an urban photographer—you’re in an especially good position to sell your art online.
Depending on the printer you work with, you can turn your work into products such as posters, framed wall art, or even greeting cards. There are plenty of low-cost digital templates and mockup generators like Placeit that you can use to showcase your products without having to print out each item and conduct your own photoshoots.
51. Create an online fashion boutique
If you love fashion and sharing your sense of style, you can consider creating your own online fashion boutique. You don’t need to become a fashion designer—you can curate items from other vendors into your own online store (using the dropshipping model we discussed earlier).
Dresses, shoes, swimwear, accessories, and more—you can build your own fashion brand using one of several product-sourcing apps, model them on your own with product photos and social media posts, and build an online following as a trendsetter. Apps like MyOnlineFashionStore let you import various styles into your Shopify store.
52. Sell handcrafted and homemade goods
If you’re a maker—whether that’s DIY soap, candles, sauces, or pottery—you’re in a position to find a small business idea, because product development and procurement are literally in your hands.
Unlike many of the other ideas on this list, you will need to consider shipping and inventory management, but you can start out simple on a per-order basis or with a small batch until you start generating consistent sales.
In fact, many makers on Shopify started out with a home business idea, selling on Etsy or eBay, or to friends and family through word of mouth, and grew into full-time small business owners after establishing demand for their products.
Just be mindful of any regulations in your product category, especially for anything customers will eat, inhale, or put on their skin.
53. Sell your photography
Got a passion for taking photos? Turn your hobby into a full-time online photography business. Today, you don’t just have to sell services for weddings and corporate ad campaigns. You can easily set up a store and sell prints, posters, NFTs, and more. Or you can sell your photos on stock photography sites.
54. Start a beauty business
The beauty industry really pulled through the pandemic and the momentum continues to build. Businesses that sell online with unique positioning and enhanced delivery services will continue to win.
Some product ideas with high demand are:
- Personal care products like hand soap and sanitizer
- At-home spa rituals like face masks
- Beauty technology like massage guns, smart mirrors, and makeup refrigerators
Consider launching a makeup brand or a hair care line and targeting a specific audience segment, like curly girls or teens.
55. Phone accessories
Because so many people own mobile phones now, there’s a huge market for phone accessories. And there are many different ways you can go with these accessories—print-on-demand, handmade, niche by product type, dropshipping, and more.
Some ideas for phone accessories to sell include:
- Phone cases
- Car and desk holders
- Bluetooth speakers
- Portable chargers
- Wireless chargers
When listing your phone accessories for sale, remember to include which devices they’re compatible with. You don’t want to create a negative yet avoidable experience for customers who receive an item they can’t even use.
56. Sell subscription boxes
If you’re not interested in creating your own products to sell, you can curate them. One of the best small business ideas is to sell subscription boxes with curated products that follow a certain theme.
One of the great parts about subscription boxes is you can create them for pretty much every niche out there. For example, featuring merchants and makers in your community is one of the best local business ideas for subscription boxes. You can also go for themes like yoga, beer brewing, or pets—the possibilities are limitless.
Like memberships, subscriptions are good business ideas to start because they create a recurring revenue stream. People have to proactively cancel their subscription if they don’t want to continue paying for it.
Subscriptions also lend themselves to collaboration. When you curate products from different merchants, you can get in front of their audiences—a whole group of potential new subscribers.
57. Alterations specialist
People will always need a button sewn back on or a hem altered. If you’re good with a sewing machine, you could be the person to do it. Start small by offering to hem or mend your neighbors’ clothes and, as you grow, add services to your repertoire like dressmaking and alterations.
58. Makeup artist
If you love makeup and enjoy making others look good, start a business as a makeup artist. You can offer your services for weddings, photoshoots, or special occasions and decide whether you want to work with locals or are willing to travel to build your client base. As well as advertising your services on local Facebook groups, create a website and flyers where people can find out more about what you offer.
59. Furniture restoring/upcycling
Furniture upcycling gained huge momentum during the pandemic as people upgraded their living space. If you’ve picked up a few restoration skills along the way and enjoy refurbishing a well-loved piece of furniture, why not open a furniture restoration or upcycling business? You can either buy items from local charity shops or reclamation centers to do up and sell, or you can offer to upcycle people’s existing furniture.
Physical small business ideas
These business ideas may appeal to those who enjoy face-to-face interaction and tangible services. People who are passionate about creating active income streams might find these business ideas appealing, as they require a personal touch and physical presence to succeed.
60. Open a B&B
Opening a B&B isn’t a small feat, but if you’ve dreamed of creating a cozy place for travelers to stay in your area, it could be a great business idea for you. You’ll need a big enough space to get started, but after that, you can decide what theme you want your B&B to take on, what packages you’ll offer to guests, and how you’ll create a welcoming experience that keeps people coming back.
61. Open a food store
If you’re a specialist in a specific type of food (or you simply love a specific product), consider opening up a dedicated food store. Whether it’s cheese, wine, craft beers, or specialty olive oil, you can create a commercial hub for like-minded people to share your passion. As well as sourcing products from local makers, you can use your store to host relevant events, like wine tasting or cheesemaking for extra income.
62. Start a food truck
Food trucks cost less upfront than a restaurant because you only need a vehicle and the cooking equipment to get started. Set yourself up for success by narrowing your offerings down to a specific cuisine or food type—remember, you have limited space in a food truck.
If you don’t want to (or can’t afford to) buy a truck upfront, you can always lease one from a company like the Food Truck Group to get you on your feet. If you’re successful, you can open a restaurant later on down the line, like The Cheese Bar.
63. Massage therapist
Trained massage therapists are always in high demand. There are three ways you can operate your massage business:
- Visit client homes to provide massages.
- Open a salon where clients can come to you.
- Work on a contract basis for a chiropractor, salon, or acupuncturist.
You’ll need a qualification to get started, but once you’re all set up you can expand your list of services to include other beauty and relaxation treatments.
64. Coffee shop
Turn your love of coffee into a physical coffee shop. Choose to invest in a franchise or start your own coffee shop from scratch. Once you’re set up, you can differentiate your business from competitors by running in-house events, offering special deals, and turning your coffee shop into a valuable community hub.
How to start a small business
To start a business you need more than just a dream. To put the wheels in motion, you’ll need to:
- Use the time you have available: It’s good to have a balance of ambition and realism with your business aspirations.
- Identify a new business idea: This could come from your personal interests, a market opportunity, an experience—anywhere, really.
- Validate your business idea: This is where you identify if your idea is viable or not. Are people willing to spend money on this?
- Find a business name: A strong name should be short and simple, memorable, and original. If you need help, check out our business name generator.
- Make a plan: Your business plan is critical for keeping your business on track, as well as securing partners, investors, lenders, and more.
- Understand business finances: Open your business bank accounts, secure funding, and set up strong bookkeeping and accounting processes. It might be a good idea to build out your goals in a business plan template to help secure funding.
- Develop your product or service: The fun part! This is where you bring your product or service idea to life.
- Pick a business structure: Your business structure influences taxes, operations, personal liability, and more. Choosing the right business structure is about balancing the legal and financial protections you need with the flexibility offered by different options.
- Research licenses and regulations: Your business is subject to the laws governing businesses in your area, as well as laws and regulations specific to your industry. It’s important to understand this to avoid bigger problems down the road.
- Select your software systems: Accounting, email, ads, project management—you need an entire tech stack to run your business.
- Find a business location: Identify where you can open up a shop based on space, retail needs, and fulfillment needs.
- Plan workload and team size: If you plan to do all of the work yourself, you’re limited by the time you have available to invest. If you plan on hiring help, you’ll need to account for those costs—as well as the time involved in finding and onboarding freelancers or employees.
- Launch your business: Leverage your network, build buzz with promotions, and test paid ads to get word out about your newly launched business.
Coming up with great business ideas
There are many ways to come up with profitable business ideas of your own. You or someone you know might have a poor personal experience with a company—and you know you can do better. Or maybe there’s a complete gap in the market: for example, demand for a specific product but no one meeting it. Other ideas come from everyday moments, in the shower or right before you fall asleep.
Brainstorming business ideas
If you’re feeling stuck on good business ideas or want to come up with more, there are a few ways to brainstorm even further. Write down all your ideas. Keep a brainstorming board, be it tactile or digital, and plaster your ideas there whenever they come to mind. Then revisit it with fresh eyes.
There’s power in numbers, too. Recruit help from colleagues or friends and family to brainstorm new ideas. Survey your existing customer base or audiences and get their ideas. Look at what people are saying on social media or searching for online. Start with lots of ideas and then refine your list to the top ideas to explore further.
Protecting good small business ideas
Most business owners have a few options when it comes to legal protection of their small business ideas, both now and in the future. The right one depends largely on the types of businesses you’re talking about.
- Copyright: Copyrighting protects your intellectual property, meaning others can’t use it without your permission. This applies to text, art, photography, music, graphic design, and similar mediums.
- Trademark: Trademarking is another intellectual property protection. Essentially, you “own” a word, phrase, logo, symbol, or design—preventing others from using it.
- Patent: Patents are applicable for inventions—a patent prohibits anyone else from making, selling, or using your invention in their business for a period of time.
- Confidentiality and nondisclosure agreements (NDAs): These legal documents prohibit people from sharing information, as outlined in the NDA.
- Noncompete agreement: If you hire employees or contractors, you can have them sign this document, which prevents them from working with direct competitors.
- Work-for-hire agreement: Another document—this one is only for employees—that means any work they do during their term of employment belongs to the employer, not the individual.
Getting funding for a business idea
One of the toughest but most important parts of starting a business is finding the money to get your idea off the ground. There are a few ways to get funding for your business idea:
- Small business loans: Shopify Capital offers funding for eligible merchants, who can apply to receive between $200 and $2 million in capital to grow their business.
- Investors: Lots of investors look for the next big thing—the types of businesses that go viral. Craft a pitch for your business idea to present to investors.
- Crowdfunding: Crowdfunding is similar to getting investors, except you need lots of investors who are each willing to make a small financial commitment.
- Fund it yourself: It’s not realistic for everyone, but less expensive business ideas make it easier to come up with the cash yourself. Just be aware of the risks involved.
💡 TIP: Need funding to run and grow your business? Shopify Capital makes it easy to apply for funding quickly to use for inventory, marketing, and more. Automatically make payments as a percentage of your daily sales. No compounding interest. No schedules. No surprises.
Now you know what business to start
Thanks to a combination of technology, third-party suppliers, and the ability to quickly test ideas online, it’s easier than ever to build a successful business and start making sales without getting caught up in sourcing products, renting space, and managing inventory.
With this approach, you can test ideas before you invest in them, or start making good money part-time without all the inventory-related commitments that might stand in your way.
The small business ideas can even be combined in a variety of ways to start a business that’s uniquely yours. If the idea of sourcing, storing, and shipping inventory has kept you from starting a business before, begin with an inventory-free, low-cost business model and grow from there. Use this list of online business ideas to get the creative juices flowing.
The world of self-employment can be challenging, but with a little hard work and know-how, you can work toward building your own business.
Small business ideas FAQ
What are the most successful small business ideas?
- Ecommerce store owner
- Food trucks
- Personal trainer
- Pet businesses
- Online courses
- Online tutoring
- Personal wellness
- Bookkeeping and accounting
What are the top 10 businesses to start?
- Dropshipping business
- Selling print-on-demand shirts
- Selling digital products
- Become a blogger
- Selling freelance services
- Create homemade products to sell online
- Media (podcast, YouTube channels, etc.)
- Affiliate marketing
- Pet sitting and products
- Online fashion store
What is the easiest business to start?
The easiest businesses to start would be anything online: dropshipping stores, online courses, tutoring, fashion stores, or selling services. Online businesses require minimal startup costs and can easily scale, so you can earn more profit and do less work over time.
What business services are in high demand?
- Freelance writing
- Accounting and tax advice
- Consulting (content marketing, search engine marketing, etc.)
- Web development
- House cleaning
- Pet grooming
- Uber driver