Small business ideas are easy to find, but some are total duds. To be your own boss, you need a business that will make you money and make you happy.
Luckily, this list is packed with profitable, scalable business ideas.
Whether you want to launch a dropshipping store or flex your skills with a website design business, you can find a customer base in 2021.
- Create an online presence with one of the best free website builders
Why should you start a small business now?
It takes confidence to start a business, but entrepreneurs have a lot to gain by going it alone. Here are some of the big perks running a small business can bring you:
- Independence - Small business owners can do things their own way, from the business plan and marketing to services or products sold.
- Flexibility - Although starting a business takes a decent amount of effort, the payoff is being able to work from home or fit clients around your schedule.
- Innovation - When you’re the person in control of the business, new ideas, projects, and opportunities are easy to grab hold of.
Feeling ready to start your business, but still need some inspiration? Read on for 7 of the best business ideas in 2021 for entrepreneurs.
- Here's our list of the best small business apps
1. eCommerce business
Let’s start out with one of the most versatile business ideas out there. If you’ve ever been tempted to launch a retail business, now is the time.
An eCommerce store is perfect for small business entrepreneurs who want a job they can do from home with surprisingly minimal startup costs.
Sure, you might want to make and store the products that you sell, but it’s easy to choose a business model like dropshipping that takes away the inventory management side of things.
With dropshipping, you order and ship products from suppliers based on demand from your customers. It’s a super low-investment option which still has traction.
Whatever ideas you come up with, you’ll need a website. The central function of eCommerce businesses, becoming a website owner isn’t as hard as you might think.
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Overview of eCommerce Platforms
The fastest and most low-cost way to start a business online is with a website builder.
Although they’re low-cost, great website builders provide powerful tools to small businesses. Plus, you won’t need any coding skills to get started.
The very best website builder platforms have impressive eCommerce functions for your online store, too. Here’s a quick overview of what you can expect from the key players:
- Zyro — Fast and intuitive with smart AI features to help with branding and imagery, Zyro’s online store builder is beginner-friendly, ideal for users with new business ideas.
- Wix — Another feature-filled all-rounder, building an online store is made simple on this platform thanks to easily editable website templates and a worldwide customer base.
- Shopify — Used globally by businesses and entrepreneurs, Shopify stores come with tons of integrations. Just beware the transaction fees if you don’t use Shopify Payments.
- WooCommerce — Built for WordPress and packed with add-ons, this ecommerce platform is a great place for people with a little more website building and business experience.
- BigCommerce — Ideal if you’re dropshipping products on your online store, this highly configurable platform has plenty of support for its users.
- Also check out our roundup of the best ecommerce platforms
2. Create online courses
There are plenty more business ideas, if having an online store isn’t quite your thing. Instead of selling products, you could sell your skills with online courses.
It’s a lucrative home-based business to start in 2021 as people look for new learning opportunities. You can likely find clients willing to pay for your expertise in most industries.
Whether you’re a makeup artist or you can teach writing skills, figure out what sets you apart. Which courses are in demand?
Put together a business plan that takes your idea from side business to main business. Think about things like subscription models and creating video content.
Starting a business like this can be low-investment and easy to launch with just an internet connection. Just make sure that you have a niche and – most importantly – some expertise.
3. Affiliate marketing
Get businesses to pay you to promote their products. If you’re a confident kind of person or a marketing pro, this is one of those business ideas that can grow exponentially.
With affiliate marketing, you promote the products that another business or store sells, and earn commission from your clients if customers end up buying from your referral.
It’s a well-known side hustle that’ll bring in money while you focus on other business ideas, but some people are able start a business focused on affiliate marketing services.
To thrive as an affiliate marketer, it pays to establish a standout online presence and grow from there. You can easily get started from home.
Set up a blog, website, or leverage your social media accounts to bring your clients a wide range of customers.
4. Online coaching
Some of the best business ideas are about inspiring other people, not just selling products and services. If you’re that type of person, this idea is for you.
Self-improvement is always in style. If you’re able to offer a service like fitness, life, or career coaching, now is the time to start finding clients.
You’ll have to be an expert at the job, whether you’re a personal trainer or a content marketing guru. Most coaching clients are professionals searching for a high-impact service.
If you want to start a business coaching others, consider carving your niche by creating step-by-step programs or self-publishing a guide.
This is a cool low-cost online business idea that you can start from home. People are willing to pay for self-improvement, so set up a slick website and write your business plan.
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5. Healthy catering service
Whether you’re a pro chef or a talented home cook feeding friends and family, there’s a small business opportunity waiting for you, too.
Foodie entrepreneurs have been changing the food business landscape for the last few years, making it easier for customers to find and buy healthy options.
People are embracing creative catering services more than ever, so this is an exciting business model to grab onto. Is there a niche that no one has thought of yet?
Storyboard some ideas for your catering service and get cooking. You could cater to specific clients or serve themed food, for example.
While a catering business is cool, make sure you’ve got the right permits if you turn this into your full-time job – especially if you work from home.
6. Craft beer and cocktail making
Some small business ideas aren’t super low-cost but they are super fun. Beer and cocktail making is one of them.
If you have the talent (and the startup capital), this is a cool and profitable business to start. The demand for craft beer and cocktail kits seems to be soaring.
A lot of people start a business like this from a hobby or passion. It’s possible to get brewing at home, but as with catering services you’ll need to check for certification requirements.
Craft beer and cocktail making takes some real skills, so prepare for the startup costs and the learning curve.
That said, if you work with the right people and nail your marketing efforts, you can create incredible in-demand products. Check out some brewery success stories to inspire you.
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7. Virtual assisting
If you’re set on starting a low-cost small business from home, offering your services as a virtual assistant is a worthwhile move.
You might even be surprised to find out that businesses pay good money for someone else’s organizational skills. So if you’re an organized person, get networking.
As a virtual assistant, you could offer a range of services, starting from filing emails to planning calendars and streamlining the day-to-day life of a business professional.
This kind of service takes a proactive approach and a great network of customers. That said, it’s a great home business idea and pretty low-investment to start.
Why not think differently with your business marketing, and use your social media accounts to reach out to younger professionals or other small businesses?
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8. Consulting business
One of the best small business ideas for industry professionals is to simply share your expertise. With some effort, you can seriously monetize your insider knowledge.
Consultants are often in high demand by both large and small businesses looking to scale, adapt, or change how they do things. What do you specialize in?
Include written or video testimonials from previous clients, or ask previous coworkers for positive references when you’re only just starting out with this business idea.
Embrace social media platforms, too. With channels like LinkedIn and Instagram, you can build a global network of business contacts.
9. Graphic design
People need graphic designers for a huge number of tasks, from building bespoke websites to designing packaging or event posters.
If you’re a trained or immensely skilled graphic designer, it’s time to put yourself out there. This is another business idea that you can start from home.
Like every impressive small business, it starts with a website. Show off your graphic design portfolio with a dedicated site, packed with photos and back-stories.
Stick to what you know, and don’t try to appeal to every business out there to make money. Advertise what makes you unique as a graphic designer and let people find you.
To help them, be sure to nail your marketing efforts. Get on social media, set up a business email address, and perfect your search engine optimization (SEO) setup.
- Check out our picks of the best graphic design software
10. On-demand printing
Like the idea of having an online store, but don’t like the idea of storing inventory? Start printing on-demand: it’s low-cost, high-reward, and easy to get started.
From greeting cards to t-shirts, you can create custom designs and outsource the printing and production to a manufacturer. They’ll handle shipping, too.
This is one of the coolest business ideas for creative people who want to earn extra money from a side hustle – you can use your flair for design and let someone else manage logistics.
If you want to go all-in with on-demand printing and turn it into a small business, this is one idea you can easily scale.
Consider sharing your products and services on marketplace sites as well as your own website – before you know it, you’ll be building your own brand.
11. Translation services
There are many advantages to speaking multiple languages, especially when it comes to business opportunities. For starters, you can become a translator.
Translation is an invaluable service for tons of organizations, from governments and schools to blogs and marketing campaigns.
Start a small business from home and make money with a simple translation service, or grow it into a range of services and offer a whole catalog of ways to help people.
You could create online courses, provide virtual interpreting services, and even become a freelance writer if you can speak, read, and write in other languages.
If you’re looking for small business ideas that will make the most of your linguistic skills, look no further. The best part? You can work from home – or anywhere you’d like.
- We've also rounded up the best translation software
12. Online bookkeeping
If you’re an accountant looking for a new challenge, or just a super organized person who’s great with numbers, consider this small business idea.
You can build an online business with a wide range of clients, specializing in one industry or generalizing by offering your services far and wide.
Plenty of businesses require bookkeeping support, so if you’re a savvy accountant who wants to make money from home, start networking.
Advertise your services on your professional website, on platforms like LinkedIn, and by reaching out to businesses that you’d love to work with.
Online bookkeeping can be a really low-cost yet lucrative way to build a small business. Make sure that people know you’re trustworthy and ready to assist.
13. Social media marketing
One of the most in-demand services in this list of business ideas, social media marketing is crucial to pretty much every modern online business.
Using social media to get engagement, new leads, and website traffic is key these days, whether you run a big or small business.
If you know how to help people blow up in the right way on social media platforms, start selling your services. Make sure that your own social accounts are in great shape.
From social media consultants to scheduling help and ideas planning, businesses will be looking for a wide range of assistance.
This is one of those business ideas that requires a solid portfolio of work or a network of happy contacts. If you’ve got that, what are you waiting for?
- These are the best social media management tools
Small business ideas don’t have to be huge. If you’re simply keen to make money from home while flexing your writing skills, look for some copywriting opportunities.
For a low-cost route, advertise your services on freelance or task websites so that people or businesses looking specifically for copywriters can find you.
Of course, having your website is a great idea. You can fill it with examples of your work, positive testimonials, and contact information.
If you don’t have any experience, make and share examples of your writing styles and show people how versatile you can be.
There are plenty of businesses that could use freelance writers – you could do anything from affiliate marketing to SEO blogs, storytelling, or news articles.
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How to choose the right business idea for you
So many small business ideas – how do you know which business to start? Well, that’s down to you.
If this long list of business ideas has inspired you, but you’re still not sure whether to open a store or offer cleaning services, here’s how to work it out:
- Find your passion - A small business can be low-cost to start, but demanding to run. Ensure you’re pursuing business ideas and customers you’ll love.
- Know your strengths - Starting a business needs expertise. Impress people by creating a small business you understand.
- Determine your capital - There are plenty of low-cost business ideas out there, but you might need to spend money to make money.
- Conduct market research - Make sure you’re offering services or products that people want. Only pursue small business ideas that are in demand.
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