Are you looking for the best small business ideas?
Whether you are looking for an online business that you can start and do from home, an in-person business, or something else, there are many different businesses that you can start.
According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, there are 31.7 million small businesses in the U.S. And 81% of these small businesses (25.7 million) have no employees.
If you’ve dreamed of being one of those 30 million plus people who work for themselves, then this list of small business ideas is for you!
Many of the businesses on this list are affordable to start and require minimal equipment. And you will probably be surprised that you already have what you need to start many of these top small business ideas.
I have been running my business (this blog!) for a little over 10 years now, and I am extremely grateful for it. Even though I’ve made seven figures from my blog over the years, it’s still a very small business overall.
What I love about my business is that I don’t have to commute, I get to be my own boss, I can decide how I earn a living, I am able to create a flexible schedule, and I can travel whenever I want.
There are many other small business ideas on this list that offer the same positives I have experienced from blogging.
Many small business owners I talk to will tell you about benefits!
Today, I am going to talk about the many different small business ideas that you can start this year. I hope you are able to find the perfect one for you and your liking and needs.
36 Small Business Ideas
Like I said above, out of all of the small business ideas on this list, blogging is my favorite.
This can be a great online option for beginners, as you don’t need previous experience, and the majority of bloggers are brand new to blogging.
I was completely new when I started my blog, and I learned everything I know along the way through trial and error (I’ll be honest, I made a lot of mistakes!), by reading free resources, and by networking with other bloggers.
Since I started Making Sense of Cents, I have earned over $5,000,000 from my blog through affiliate marketing, sponsored partnerships, display advertising, and online courses.
Blogging allows me to travel full time, have a flexible schedule, and I earn a great income doing it.
You can learn how to start a blog in my free How To Start a Blog Course.
Here’s a quick outline of what you will learn:
- Day 1: Why you should start a blog
- Day 2: How to decide what to write about (your blog niche!)
- Day 3: How to create your blog (in this lesson, you will learn how to start a blog on WordPress)
- Day 4: The different ways to make money with your blog
- Day 5: My advice for making passive income with your blog
- Day 6: How to get pageviews
- Day 7: Other blogging tips to help you see success
Other similar small business ideas online include starting a YouTube channel and creating TikToks.
2. Selling printables from home
If you’re looking for small profitable business ideas that have low startup costs, then selling printables on Etsy may be a good fit for you.
Creating printables can also be quite passive because you just need to create one digital file per product, which you can then sell an unlimited number of times. Because you only need a laptop or computer and internet connection, it can be quite affordable to start.
But what are printables?
Printables are digital products that customers can download and print at home. Some examples are bridal shower games, grocery shopping checklists, budget planners, invitations, printable quotes for wall art, and patterns.
You can sign up for this free ebook that helps you figure out where to start when it comes to selling printables on Etsy.
You can also learn more at How I Make Money Selling Printables On Etsy.
3. Litter cleanup business
If you’re a business owner, having trash and litter on your property isn’t the best way to welcome people to your business. That’s why business owners and property management companies are willing to pay to have their property cleaned up before open hours and make it more presentable to customers.
Property management companies contract with all types of service vendors to maintain their commercial properties, such as litter cleanup.
This is a small business idea you can start on your own, and you can get paid $30 to $50 an hour.
Litter cleanup is a simple service performed on-foot using unique tools that make the work almost as easy to do as going for a walk.
You will need a broom, dustpan, and grabber tools, and you can have a fairly flexible schedule with a litter cleaning business.
It’s an ideal side hustle or business for early risers, introverts or semi-retired people who enjoy the early morning work and rest of the day to do as they please.
Brian Winch offers free coaching to those who buy his book and start the business.
You can learn more at How I Started A $650,000 Per Year Litter Cleanup Business.
4. Virtual assistance
A virtual assistant is someone who works for a person, company, or business owner to do administrative and business tasks to help a business run smoothly. Think of them like in-person assistants, except they work at home and online.
Becoming a virtual assistant is one of the most popular small business ideas at home.
In fact, I used to work as a virtual assistant!
I worked for several startups and small business owners. I did not have previous experience, and I simply learned the skills as I worked. It allowed me to earn a great income, plus I was able to work from home.
This is one of several small business ideas on this list that is growing quite quickly, and more and more people are in need of virtual assistants.
Virtual assistant (VA) tasks may include:
- Social media management
- Managing a person or company’s calendar
- Formatting and editing content
- Scheduling appointments or travel
- Creating or assisting with slideshows or presentations
- Email management
- Communicating with clients or customers
And so much more.
The type of work you do depends on the needs of your employer.
Usually, you can start out as a virtual assistant earning at least $15 to $20 per hour, but sometimes you may be able to start at double or even triple that depending on the field you work in and the services that you offer.
As a full-time virtual assistant, you may be able to earn over $10,000 a month.
You can learn more at How I Earn $10,000 Per Month From Home as a Virtual Assistant.
If you are interested in finding virtual assistant jobs, I recommend signing up for the free workshop 5 Steps To Become a Virtual Assistant. There, you will learn how to become a virtual assistant, even if you have no experience.
5. Selling stickers from home
Creating stickers to sell on Etsy is one of the most fun low-cost and small business ideas for creative people, and stickers are really popular.
My friend Mim started without any graphic design skills, and she didn’t know how to create stickers when she first started. It’s something she learned as she went, and she has now turned this into a $100,000+ yearly business.
I interviewed her here on Making Sense of Cents and asked her:
- Does someone need to be a graphic designer to make and sell stickers?
- Why do people buy stickers online?
- Do stickers sell well online?
- How much money can you make selling stickers as a small business idea?
You can head over to How To Make $1,000+ A Month Selling Stickers Online to read more.
6. Pet sitting and dog walking business
Yes, you may be able to start a part-time or full-time business pet sitting or walking dogs.
You may be watching pets in your home or going over to the pet owner’s home to take care of the pets.
As a dog walker, you can earn $20 an hour or even more.
For pet boarding, you can make around $25+ per day for watching someone’s dog or other pet in your home. This is a great service to offer, and if you love animals (which you should if you are going to do this), then it could be fun as well!
Rover is a company you can sign up with and list your dog walking and/or pet sitting services.
A bookkeeper is someone who helps manage and track the financial side of a business. They typically keep track of sales, expenses, and produce financial reports.
This is a skill you can learn from home.
My friend Ben, from Bookkeepers, helps people start their own bookkeeping businesses even when they don’t have any experience. Ben is a CPA who founded his business after realizing that many business owners needed better bookkeepers.
I interviewed Ben and asked:
- What exactly is a bookkeeper?
- Who are the typical clients of a bookkeeper? How can I find clients?
- How much money do new bookkeepers make?
- How can a person learn how to become a bookkeeper without previous experience?
You can read all of his answers to these questions and more in our interview Make Money At Home By Becoming A Bookkeeper.
Plus, you can sign up here for a free resource that will teach you more about starting and running one of the most profitable business ideas as a bookkeeper.
8. Reselling items
Finding items to resell may be one of the best small business ideas on this list because we all have things in our house we could probably sell.
Plus, there are always things that you can buy for a low price and possibly resell for a profit.
This is such a profitable idea that Melissa’s family earned $133,000 in one year through buy-and-sell flipping, and they were working only 10-20 hours per week.
Since then, they have turned this into an even bigger and more profitable business!
Some of the best items they’ve resold include:
- Something they bought for $10 and flipped for $200 just 6 minutes later
- A security tower they bought for $6,200 and flipped for $25,000 just one month later
- A prosthetic leg that they bought for $30 at a flea market and sold for $1,000 on eBay the very next day
If this is one of the small business ideas you’re interested in, learn more at How Melissa Made $40,000 In One Year Flipping Items.
9. Freelance writing
Freelance writing is a business idea that doesn’t require a background in writing or a degree in English or creative writing. Some people are naturally good writers, but you can also develop the skills to become one.
A freelance writer is someone who writes for a number of different clients, such as websites, blogs, magazines, advertising companies, books, and more. They don’t work for one specific company, rather they work for themselves and contract out their writing.
If you are interested in learning more about how to become a freelance writer, please head to the article 14 Places To Find Freelance Writing Jobs – (Start With No Experience!).
10. Selling items on Amazon
Selling items on Amazon is another one of the most fun small business ideas.
Even if you have no experience selling on Amazon, you can earn money selling household goods, books, electronics, and so on.
My friend Jessica Larrew and her family started selling things on Amazon FBA without any experience, and they made over $100,000 profit in their first year! And they were working less than 20 hours a week total.
Jessica has a FREE mini course that will teach you everything you need to know in order to start selling on Amazon. You will learn how much it costs to start an Amazon business, the supplies you need, how to find inventory, and more.
Proofreading is an in-demand job, making it one of the best small business ideas if you’re good at catching and correcting writing errors.
To become a proofreader, you simply need a laptop or tablet, an internet connection, and the skills to proofread.
Proofreaders look for punctuation mistakes, misspelled words, lack of consistency, and formatting errors. They edit blog posts, articles, website copy, advertising, books, academic papers, emails, and more.
In one year, my friend Caitlin made a little over $43,000 as a freelance proofreader.
I interviewed Caitlin on what it takes to become a proofreader, and she explained:
- What proofreaders do
- How much money proofreaders make
- The steps to become a proofreader
You can learn more at How To Become A Proofreader And Work From Anywhere.
Also, Caitlin created a FREE 76-minute workshop where she answers all of the most common questions about becoming a proofreader, and she even shows you how to use the most popular tools used by proofreaders around the world. You can sign up for free here.
12. Creating and selling Canva templates
Creating and selling Canva templates can be a great way to make extra money because you just need to create them once, and you can sell them an unlimited number of times.
Working just a few hours a week, my friend Maliha is able to earn $2,000 each month selling Canva templates online.
I interviewed Maliha about this topic and asked:
- What exactly is a Canva template? What is Canva?
- How do I sell my designs on Canva?
- Why do people buy Canva templates?
- Can someone with no tech skills create a Canva template?
Please head over to the article to learn more at How I Make $2,000+ Monthly Selling Canva Templates.
13. Podcast virtual assistance
There is currently a large demand for podcast virtual assistants.
Even though there are over 2,000,000 podcasts, that number continues to grow – why it’s one of the best small business ideas!
While the podcast host can record themselves, other tasks like editing and publication take time, so many podcasters outsource work to virtual assistants. It’s a more efficient use of their time, and they can focus their time on other areas of their business.
Some of the different podcast services you may provide include:
- Editing audio
- Marketing and promotion of the podcast
- Publishing the podcast episode
- Show note creation
If this is one of the small business ideas you’re interested in, learn more at How I Make $1,500 A Month As A Podcast Virtual Assistant.
Freelancers own their business and contract out their services to other business owners or individuals. A business may hire you for one-time gigs, or you may get a long-term freelancing job with a company.
In addition to some of the freelance jobs I’ve already mentioned (writing, proofreading, and bookkeeping) there are even more freelance small business ideas, including:
- Graphic design
- Web design and development
- Personal training
- Search engine optimization (SEO)
This is one of the best small business ideas because you can use a skill you already have and start finding work on job platforms like UpWork and Fiverr.
15. Help Google evaluate search engine results
A Search Engine Evaluator (also known as a Google Rater) is a person who rates websites based on their quality and usefulness.
You are rating websites to help Google improve their search engine results.
This can be a good beginner online job idea to start because you don’t need previous or technical experience. Google wants average people rating their sites.
And because Google operates in nearly every country, you can work on sites that are in your native language.
Learn more at How To Become a Search Engine Evaluator.
16. Voice over acting
A voice over actor is the person you hear but rarely see on YouTube videos, radio ads, explainer videos, corporate narration, documentaries, e-learning courses, audiobooks, TV commercials, video games, movies, and cartoons.
This job doesn’t require previous experience or special skills – you just need to have the voice the company is looking for.
In 2014, Carrie replaced her salaried day job to become a full-time voice over actor. Because people are constantly asking her how she got her start and how they can too, Carrie created a six-week online course, which sold out! Several of her students booked voice acting jobs before the class was even over!
You can read my interview with her at How To Become A Voice Over Actor And Work From Anywhere.
17. Managing Facebook ads for small businesses
By managing Facebook ads, you are helping small businesses expand their market and find new customers, and you can make around $1,000 to $1,500 extra a month per client.
Companies spend tons of money every day on Facebook advertising. But most small business owners don’t really know how to create Facebook ads, which is where you get involved.
My blogging friend Bobby knows a lot about this topic, and I interviewed him about running Facebook ads for small businesses. In our interview, you will learn:
- Why do small businesses pay for Facebook ads?
- How can a person find their first paying Facebook ads client?
- How much can you earn doing this type of work?
Also, Bobby has a free webinar on this topic (you can sign up here), which will teach you how to start this business even if you’re brand new, how to find paying clients, and more.
18. Transcribing audio or video files into text
Transcription is when you turn audio or video content into a text document.
There are many businesses looking for transcriptionists too – since general transcriptionists convert audio and video to text for virtually any industry, there really isn’t a typical client. Some examples of clients include marketers, authors, filmmakers, academics, speakers, and conferences of all types.
Beginning transcriptionists earn around $15 an hour to start, and this is one of the small business ideas on this list that doesn’t require previous experience.
You can learn more about how to become a transcriptionist in the interview Make Money At Home By Becoming A Transcriptionist. The interview covers topics such as:
- The steps to become a transcriptionist
- How much money you can expect to make
- The type of training you need to become a transcriptionist
Scoping is when you are editing legal documents for court reporters. This is different from proofreading for court reporters.
Scopists who are working with an average court reporter tend to make around $30,000 to $45,000 per year working pretty much full time.
I interviewed an expert on the topic – Linda from Internet Scoping School. She has been scoping for over 35 years and has taught scoping online for nearly 20 years.
She also has a free course that will introduce you to scoping so that you can decide if it’s one of the small business ideas you want to pursue. You can find the free course by clicking here.
You can learn more at How To Become A Scopist.
20. Starting a home dog bakery
Do you love dogs? If so, this is one of the best unique business ideas. No previous baking experience is needed, as this is a skill you can learn.
You can make dog treats, cupcakes, cookies, cakes, and more.
With a dog treat bakery business, you may be able to earn an extra $500-$1,000 a month or more.
You can learn more at How I Earned Up to $4,000 Per Month Baking Dog Treats (With Zero Baking Experience!).
Plus, you can sign up for this free training workshop that teaches you the small business plan for starting your own pet bakery.
21. Food photography
Did you know you can make money taking photos of food for bloggers, websites, and more?
Bloggers often hire food photographers to recreate recipes and take pictures of them so that the pictures can be shared on their blog.
Many food photographers are making $50,000 a year – some making over $100,000 each year – by working for bloggers.
You can learn more at How To Become a Food Blog Photographer And Earn Over $50,000 Each Year.
22. Start an online store
Yes, you can start your own online store, and you don’t need to have tons of experience or a lot of money to do so. Many people even start with no background in retail management.
I had the opportunity to interview Jenn Leach of E-commerce and Prosper, who explains how she started an online store, determined inventory, and saw lots of success with it.
Since she started her small business, she has developed and grown three successful online e-commerce stores earning an average of $19,000 per month.
You can read our interview at How Jenn Makes Over $10,000 A Month With Her Online Store In Less Than 10 Hours Per Week.
23. Social media management
With a social media management business, you are managing the social media accounts for a business.
As a social media manager, you may be managing a company’s TikTok, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and so on. You may specialize in one platform (such as TikTok), or you may help a company in more than one area.
Social media can be a great way to bring new customers to a business, which can help a business grow.
24. Real estate agent
A real estate agent is someone who helps people, like you and me, find real estate to buy or sell. This may be a storefront, a home to live in, rental real estate, land, and more.
A real estate agent is typically paid by commission of a percentage of the property’s sale price.
To become a real estate agent, you only need a high school diploma and a professional license. The 2021 median pay according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics is $23.45, or $48,770 per year.
However, there are many, many real estate agents who earn much more money than this.
25. Event planning business
Do you enjoy planning events? Do you want to become a wedding planner or plan other types of events?
With an event planning business, you may specialize in planning weddings, birthday parties, corporate meetings, conventions, reunions, parades, fairs, product launches, and so much more.
Event planners are responsible for completing tasks related to designing the event, finding event space/location, deciding and planning on food, arranging transportation for attendees, coordinating the events for the day, and more.
Your attention to detail is greatly needed in this position, as you don’t want anything to be overlooked.
26. Airbnb Experience host
An Airbnb Experience is an activity that you host for travelers and list it on Airbnb. The events can be in person or virtual.
Here’s the official description of Airbnb Experiences:
“Airbnb Experiences are in-person or online activities hosted by inspiring local experts. They go beyond typical tours or classes by immersing guests in a Host’s unique world.”
There are many different experiences that you can host such as:
- Astronomy tours
- Cooking classes
- Walking tours
- Bike rides
- Pub crawls
- Kayak adventures
If you’re wondering “What unique business can I start?” then this is it, and you can learn more at How to Make Money as an Airbnb Experience Host.
27. Vending machine business
Have you thought about starting a vending machine business?
You may be able to earn $1,000+ a month by running a vending machine business.
You can learn more at How To Start A Vending Machine Business – How I Make $7,000 Monthly, including:
- Is there room for new people to have a vending machine business?
- How much does the average vending machine make in a day?
- What type of vending machines make the most money?
- How much does an actual vending machine cost?
- How many hours does it take each week to run a vending machine business?
- What are the negatives of owning a vending machine business?
28. Rental real estate business
What small businesses are most profitable? Real estate is one of them!
Rental real estate is when you own a property and you rent it out. You may be renting it out to a long-term renter who is looking for a home to live in, a short-term Airbnb rental, commercial real estate, and more.
Some helpful blog posts that you may enjoy about this topic include:
29. Rent out your garage
Yes, you can earn an income by renting out your garage.
Neighbor is the Airbnb of storage space.
Instead of hosting guests, you are hosting storage!
You can use this website to list your unused space for rent and make up to $15,000 per year by doing so. With Neighbor, you can rent out your garage, driveway, basement, or even a closet.
You can set your own prices and decide for yourself which reservations you want to approve and host.
30. RV rental business
If you have an RV you aren’t using, then you may be able to make $100 to $300 a day, or more, by renting it out to others through RVShare.
There are some people who make this a full-on small business, and they buy several RVs for the sole purpose of renting out and making money too.
RVshare is one of the best money-earning apps because it helps travelers save money by cutting out the middleman and offering RV rentals directly from RV owners.
Think of RVshare as Airbnb for RVs.
You can rent all kinds of RV on RVShare, such as:
- Class B camper van
- Travel trailer
- Fifth wheel
- Pop-up trailer
- Class C Motorhome
- Class A Motorhome
- Toy hauler
RVshare also securely handles all payments and releases funds to your bank account one business day after the start of each rental.
You can learn more at How To Make Extra Money By Renting Out Your RV.
31. Affiliate marketing business
Affiliate marketing is when you earn money by placing a referral link on your website, blog, Instagram, and so on and have people purchase a product or service through your referral link.
An example would be Amazon book sales, where you link to a specific book on your blog and try to get people to purchase the book through your affiliate link. Amazon and other companies want quality affiliates under their belt because they want all the help they can get to promote the products and services they are selling.
If you get someone to sign up through your affiliate link, the company rewards you for promoting their product.
You can share an affiliate link with your audience in many different ways, such as:
- By adding an affiliate link to your blog (you can do this by inserting a link within a blog post, page, email, etc.)
- Sharing it on social media
If you want to learn more about affiliate marketing, I recommend signing up for Affiliate Marketing Tips For Bloggers – Free eBook.
32. Selling an online course
I created Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing in July of 2016 as my first online course. Since then, I have earned $1,000,000 from that single course.
You might not realize it, but you probably have a course in you too!
There are successful courses covering all sorts of different topics, such as:
- Dog training
- Playing an instrument
- Teaching a language
- Watercolor painting
And so much more!
Creating an online course is one of the fastest ways to leverage your time, increase your earning ceiling, and help more people.
33. Writing a book
Writing your own book is a great way to make money from home, and there is probably something super helpful that you could write about (even if you think otherwise!).
In fact, my friend Alyssa self-published her first book and has sold more than 13,000 copies.
She was able to earn $6,500 in one month alone!
Learn more at How Alyssa is making $200 a DAY in book sales passively.
Another great article to read on this small business idea is How I Made $2,000 in 1 Week by Writing an eBook.
34. In-home daycare small business
This is one of the best small business ideas for parents because it allows you to easily stay home with your kids while making money.
Even if your kids are grown up and out of the house, your experience as a parent will go a long way with this job.
Depending on where you live, there may be some special licensing required. However, you may be able to start with just one or two children and not need to do any extra legal work. Just make sure you check with your city or state first.
You should also make sure your home is safe for kids and be CPR certified. Remember, safety is extremely important in this field.
35. Cleaning houses
Cleaning houses isn’t one of the most glamorous small business ideas, but you can make anywhere from $25 to $50 per hour cleaning for other people.
There are cleaning businesses you can work for, but you will make the most money if you work for yourself.
This is a very affordable business to start because you probably already have the cleaning supplies you need, and you can list your services on Facebook, tell your friends and family, or create an account on Care.com.
36. Handyman services
Busy people are always paying handymen to take care of small household tasks, like hanging new light fixtures, installing a new doorbell, fixing grout, or painting.
Most charge between $60 to $100 per hour. Listing your services on local social media groups or using word-of-mouth is one of the best ways to find your customers.
If this is one of the small business ideas you’re interested in, see what your state’s rules are regarding licensing. Some states have strict rules, while others don’t.
What else can I do to make extra money?
There are many different things that you can do to make extra money, in case you are wanting something other than to start a small business.
Some of the different ways to make extra money include:
Which business is best for beginners?
The best small business ideas for beginners are the ones that are flexible and have minimal startup costs. Freelancing, where you can leverage existing skills, can be a great place to start.
What small business ideas are successful?
If you want to become an entrepreneur and start your own business, there are many ideas that you may be interested in pursuing.
This may be dependent on your current expertise, what you are interested in learning about, your passions, whether you want to work full-time or part-time, and more.
Some of the best business ideas include:
- Selling printables from home
- Litter cleaning business
- Virtual assistance
- Selling stickers from home
- Pet sitting and dog walking business
- Reselling items
- Freelance writing
- Selling items on Amazon
- Creating and selling Canva templates
- Podcast virtual assistance
- Helping Google evaluate search engine results
- Voice over acting
- Managing Facebook ads for small businesses
- Transcribing audio or video files into text
- Starting a home dog bakery
- Food photography
- Starting an online store
- Social Media Management
- Real Estate Agent
- Event planning business
- Airbnb Experience Host Business
- Vending machine business
- Rental real estate business
- Renting out your garage
- RV Rental business
- Affiliate marketing business
- Selling an online course
- Writing an book
- In-home daycare small business
- Cleaning houses
- Handyman services
And, the list doesn’t end here. There are many, many other small business ideas that you can start.
Are you interested in starting a small business? What is your favorite small business idea?
*Small business statistic from the U.S. Small Business Administration