A small business is defined as one that employs fewer than 500 people. According to statistics, there are about 28 million small businesses in the United States alone.
That number is probably much higher when you account for people who make money freelancing and trading on their skills without filing “Articles of Incorporation.”
It is safe to say that small businesses are the thing that drives economies and puts food on a majority of tables. In the U.S alone, small businesses employ up to 50% of the working population; that is well over 120 million people!
This goes to show you just how integral entrepreneurship is in our society today.
Now, because we have already established how widespread and important small businesses are, what are some of the factors that drive people to go into entrepreneurship?
Opportunities for the Daring
Business opportunities are born every day; from the smallest companies to larger-scale businesses, forward-thinking individuals are partaking in the contemporary trend of combining innovation, hard work, and fortitude to become the master of their own economic destinies and build a profitable business.
This is not to say that there isn’t any risk associated with starting a small business. There is an incredible amount of risk that comes with it. From financial to emotional – even your sanity might be brought into question depending on how outlandish your business idea is to the rest of the community.
Statistics show that about 50% of businesses may survive four to five years before going under. Of course, the probability of success increases greatly as the business ages, and the founder becomes wiser and more experienced. But do you have five years to learn the ropes, probably lose money, and go insane?
For the daring, the answer to that question will be a continuously repeated YES! Entrepreneurship, after all, is not for the faint-hearted. If you look at the list of the world’s richest people you will see a distinct pattern; most, if not all of them, are business people.
Yes, they run multi-billion empires now, but they did not start where they are today. They started small.
They started as wide-eyed dreamers who had grandiose ideas of conquering the world. Some failed tremendously and bounced back. They stuck to their guns because they knew the kind of advantages that come with owning your own business. Besides the fact that if you are successful, you will be financially independent, other factors make entrepreneurship worthwhile.
The Benefits of Starting Your Own Business
- There are many tax benefits, perks, and government-driven financial incentives: Business start-ups benefit from many incentives that can ultimately help drive the success of the business.
- Job security: Creating your own small business offers you the ability to live without fear of downsizing, firing, and layoffs that have become increasingly prevalent in the corporate world.
- Spare time and freedom in scheduling: While entrepreneurs will undoubtedly be faced with a plethora of tasks, responsibilities, and duties taking up the majority of their time, these individuals can freely choose when they need spare time and the type of work schedules and hours they desire.
- Independence and pride: There is no greater pride than building something from the ground up with your own hands, sweat and know-how.
- Unique networking opportunities: As a business owner, you get to rub shoulders with people of the same caliber and higher. This gives you an opportunity to learn more and create more business connections.
- The potential for profit and financial control: Small business owners readily enjoy the perk of controlling where their company profits go, how they are allocated, and how they may be invested to further the prowess of the company.
- Opportunity to become an expert at something: The more you learn about your business and how the business world works, the more you will increase your ability to spot and take advantage of other opportunities that come your way. Being an expert in a given field opens up many other doors for your personal and financial growth.
- Opportunity to learn other skills: As a business owner you will need to learn things like social media marketing, content marketing, and customer service. This only serves to increase your skillset repertoire.
Starting your own business enables you as an individual to make your mark in the world, in the economy, and to grow on a personal level that cannot be achieved anywhere else in the professional arena.
Tips for Starting a Small Business
The cost of starting your own business varies greatly depending on a number of factors:
- The field in which you want to venture
- How big you want to start
- The legalities involved in starting the business
- What type of business it will be (whether you need overheads)
Things like your projected capital expenditure are all factors that should be considered when writing your business plan. However, before you even go into all this, you need to ask yourself one thing: are you driven enough to see it through?
One of the main reasons why most businesses fail, especially online businesses such as affiliate marketing, is because the entrepreneur went into a field that he/she had absolutely no passion for nor cared to learn enough to make their venture successful.
This brings us to another set of factors that must be considered when starting a business, especially if you want to give yourself the best chance of success. Ideally, the best business ideas often have a balanced combination of these three things:
- They are something the entrepreneur likes doing (passion)
- They are something that the entrepreneur is good at doing (expertise)
- The idea is in demand (without the actual demand in the market your business idea will be going nowhere fast) (demand)
If you can find something that combines all these three factors, then you have a viable business idea worth exploring.
Our 18 Best Business Ideas
Many of the business ideas mentioned here are completely home-based and typically do not require that much capital to start.
The trick will be finding your customers, keeping them, and making them happy with your services enough to justify the kind of price you would ask. That being said, here are some simple business models you should consider:
1. Sell Your Crafts Online
There are platforms such as Shopify and Etsy that allow you to sell anything you want online. If you are good at creating things such as sweaters, clothes, or art, then you can host them on Etsy and advertise them for people to buy online. On Shopify, you can literally build a digital storefront where you can sell a wide variety of wares.
The idea is to find something that people like buying, find out where those people hang out online and redirect that traffic to your digital store. It takes quite a bit of work, but it is worthwhile. You will have to:
- Create high-quality products
- Create high-quality content to lure the traffic
- Deliver on your sales to get great reviews
After that, you rinse, repeat, and scale up your business as you see fit.
2. Professional Blogging
Technically speaking, about 1,000 websites are created every minute and hosted online. While that may seem like a huge number, the truth of the matter is that most of these websites do not offer the kind of value that readers like and want to be associated with.
Only a handful of the blogs online today give readers the kind of evergreen content that they keep coming back to; content that binds them to that blog and makes them lifelong readers and customers.
This opens potential business opportunities for those who have a flair for words. Starting a blog and monetizing it is one way to make a living online. The earning potential here is immense.
Bigger, more popular blogs like the Huffington Post earn more than $14,000,000 a month. $14 Million a month! If that is not madness, we don’t know what is! The point is, starting a blogging business is – big business. Potentially.
You will need to set yourself apart though if you want to succeed. Some of the things you will need to do include:
- Creating an attractive and easy to navigate a website, to begin with
- Offering evergreen, current, and relevant content
- Finding a niche that gets a lot of traffic
- Using the right keywords that will help drive traffic to your website
- Monetizing the blog through avenues such as Google Ads or selling your own merchandise on it
- Finding ways to engage and grow your audience.
Yes, it is incredibly taxing work to start, but once you get going and start making money, the growth can be exponential. It could take years for your blog to become profitable, but with consistency and high-quality content, it WILL be profitable.
3. Get into Affiliate Marketing
Have you ever wondered how companies such as eBay and Amazon make their money? Yes, they sell things online but how do they get their traffic? They use affiliate marketers.
Affiliate marketing is the art of harnessing online traffic and redirecting towards a certain platform or product and making a commission every time someone buys that product or from that platform using your affiliate link.
It is very much like being a digital salesman, only you do not have to get horrid body aches as you walk from door to door. Imagine the kind of potential for income this business has. Platforms such as Amazon offer up to 10% commission on every item purchased using your affiliate link. Other platforms and vendors offer higher commissions, some even going as high as 50% – 60% or more.
The good thing about this is that starting a blog isn’t that expensive. In fact, there are platforms such as Wix that allow you to build a website for free and very quickly. Of course, if you want to go professional, which is advisable, you are going to have to pay a designer and content creators who could increase your overhead expenditure a bit.
All in all, you could start a blog today and get well underway to making money passively in the future.
4. Become an SEO Expert
As an SEO expert (Search Engine Optimization), your primary job will be to help websites rank higher on search engine results pages. SEO is one of the most critical factors that affect web traffic. To reiterate just how important this is, studies have shown that falling below position 5 on Google’s first page removes about 75% of all the potential traffic your website might have got had it been higher. In fact, being the number one link on Google’s first page gives your website a third of all the potential traffic directed towards your specific keywords on Google.
That is millions and millions of potential clicks lost just because websites have not hired an SEO expert. Most webmasters know this, and some try to carry out SEO on their own. But to be honest, the kind of patience and technicalities involved with proper search engine optimization is either beyond most people or requires too much work and time. That’s where you come in.
As an SEO expert, some of your duties will include, but won’t be limited to:
- Researching high-traffic keywords for your clients
- Keeping up to date with Google updates
- Making sense of Google Analytics to your client’s advantage
- Analyzing and editing web content for your clients
- Keeping atop of industry trends as well as best practices
To start this kind of business, you will not need that much money. In fact, all you would need to do is create a website that advertises your business. Your website needs to be professionally done if anyone is to take you seriously. It also needs to rank well on Google because you cannot say that you will help them rank highly while your own website is languishing in the dark corners of the internet. You will also need to actually know a thing or two about SEO.
5. Internet Research
This line of work applies to those who are interested in learning new and diverse things online. However, to make money as an internet research assistant, you need to carve out a highly specific niche – one that is willing to pay you to find out information that cannot be easily found by a simple Google search. Notable examples of the kind of services you could offer include things like:
- Academic research for students, scholars, and other academics. In fact, college students pay handsomely to have expert researchers to help them out with their school term papers.
- Data research for scientists, novelists, bloggers and even businesses such as NGOs.
- Market research for people who want to start a business or even already established businesses that want to launch a product or break into a certain market.
- Industry research for novelists, television, and movies.
- Competitor research analysis for start-ups, small businesses, and huge corporations.
Some people will be more than willing to pay you to find out everything about them online. This is particularly true if they are interested in cleaning up their brand image because they either want to run for public office or are quickly becoming a prominent member of the society.
It is just a matter of finding what people are willing to pay for, finding where they go online to find those services, and offering them your research skills for a fee.
6. Computer Repair Services
If you have IT and computer experience and are familiar with concepts such as photo editing, word processing, spreadsheets, securities software, and the setting up of home networks, starting a computer repair service might be the ideal gig for you.
In Nigeria today, more than 50% of households own at least one computer. Almost all of these homes are connected to the internet where they can get computer viruses and other forms of malware. These are all potential customers. Provided you can offer these people a convenient and trustworthy service, there is a good chance that you can make a great deal of money running a computer repair service company.
7. Personal Training Services
Personal training services have surged in popularity in recent years. With increasing numbers of people looking for expert guidance on how to lose fat, build muscle and become more defined, fitness trainers have enjoyed being part of an industry that continues to grow.
From one-on-one services to group sessions, personal trainers offer services to clientele at a variety of price points that are accessible for many budgets.
The overall success of a personal trainer often relies on their degree of expertise and their ability to produce real, tangible results. Profits and growth of any fitness training enterprise are due in large part to word-of-mouth business, or referrals, and producing exceptional and appreciable results operates in tandem with a rise in referrals-based business.
Entrepreneurs seeking to carve out a niche in the personal training world need not rely on opening or working for a large corporate gym or franchise gym. Rather, they can start on a consultancy-style basis by offering their services and working hard to achieve results for their clientele, thus strengthening the overall prowess of their company.
8. Internet Technology (IT) Support
Internet Technology support services remain in high demand, particularly with the older clientele. Keeping up with the ubiquitous use of technology, senior citizens are often the proud owners of a personal laptop, cell phone, printer, and an array of other electronic devices.
However, they are often confused about how to set up networks, sync their devices, and even operate some of the equipment they own. Internet Technology support services readily answer the needs of these seniors and everyone else who may be unfamiliar with tech equipment. You could start a mobile tech support company that conveniently makes house calls.
A venture like this requires minimal start-up fees as the bulk of the capital will come from your own intellect and know-how. In addition to a very small amount of overhead; IT-skilled individuals will require a vehicle, cash flow for advertising, and the relevant skills to help a customer base with a variety of different needs.
9. Tutoring & Enrichment Activities
As mentioned earlier, families seeking healthy, wholesome, and enriching activities are often at a loss regarding discovering appropriate alternatives.
While fun family days can be planned at unique venues such as trampoline parks or rock climbing gyms, there are a wealth of activities that can be enjoyed during the week and after school hours.
Answering the demand of families for healthy and fun activities for their children, businesses providing enrichment activities have become increasingly popular and in demand, particularly in major cities across the United States.
Enrichment activities businesses have grown immensely not only because of consumer demand but also because of the unfortunate decline in educational funding.
The popularity of enrichment activities businesses can be attributed to its wealth of healthy, wholesome, and fun activities ranging from:
- Music lessons
- Art and crafts
- Martial arts
If you are an individual who holds expertise in skill and can easily teach it, providing enrichment activities can be a relatively simple endeavor achieved by advertising your services. Conversely, you can go big and open your own enrichment and recreation center inclusive of an array of activities geared towards children’s interests.
10. Virtual Assistant Services
The concept of virtual assistant services as online business has risen in popularity in recent years due to a robust economy and evolving technological times.
Presently, executives, managers, and even entrepreneurs employ virtual personal assistant services to cut down their workload affordably and effectively. Far more affordable than taking on a new full-time employee to help with tasks, virtual personal assistants are effectively temporary employees who help relieve the burden of overworked professionals.
Virtual assistants enjoy plenty of autonomy within their professions and can choose their clients, create their own schedules, and work the hours that they desire.
Job duties often include, but are not limited to, managing overloaded emails, scheduling meetings, making travel arrangements, and completing an array of tasks to help their clients run their businesses as smoothly as possible.
Becoming a virtual assistant is extremely affordable and requires just a laptop, internet connection, and the ability to successfully complete all tasks you are given.
You can find most listings on freelance websites such as Upwork, People per Hour or even Craigslist. You could also approach high-ranking corporate executives directly through professional websites like LinkedIn.
11. Graphic Design
Are you exceptionally skilled at software such as Indesign, Illustrator, and Photoshop? If the answer is yes, then you are an in-demand individual who can go into a business serving a broad base of clientele including individual business owners, groups, charities, and corporations.
While our population has grown by leaps and bounds regarding familiarity with personal technology, graphic design software has, for the most part, remained little understood by many.
The importance of graphic design can be found all throughout the world. From print advertising to the editing of photographs, the very means in which our populace consumes visual imagery is almost always related to the field of graphic design.
The overall unfamiliarity with the field has resulted in an industry that is filled with consultants, advisors, and assistants offering skilled knowledge in graphic design to produce exceptionally crafted visuals for small and large businesses.
Businesses employ individuals knowledgeable in graphic design in a full-time employee capacity or often as independent consultants.
Despite the role they take on within the company, those skilled at graphic design can be tasked with many crucial projects such as creating advertising and marketing materials featuring the logo and various information, as well as creating pamphlets and designing a company’s website.
Ultimately tasked with creating and promoting a polished, slick image for the company online and in print, graphic designers have become vastly essential employees within businesses of all kinds.
12. Social Media Management
Social media managers are a relatively new occupation that has experienced incredible growth over the last part of the decade. The immense post-millennial population that exists today in our country were essentially raised on social media. Keywords such as Myspace, Facebook, and Yahoo readily became part of a child’s lexicon at exceedingly early ages.
As those millennials have grown into teenagers and young adults, they have effectively joined the consumer base of the economy. Millennial consumers expect the businesses they deal with to not only have a robust social media presence but also to be able to partake in any customer service issues via a readily responsive social media avenue.
As a result, the use of social media among small-, medium-, and large-scale companies has veritably exploded in recent years. The employment of social media managers has become commonplace, with businesses actively seeking out individuals who are highly adept at various social media avenues and are able to facilitate and organize consumer communications in those avenues.
Social media managers command a relatively generous salary and can work comfortable hours doing what they enjoy. Crafting a job as a social media manager is as easy as being highly fluent in Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and LinkedIn, possessing a high degree of organizational management, and additionally having the ability to produce results on a fast basis.
13. Advertising Management
The online business environment is highly competitive. With most readers and potential customers having a 3-second attention span, not only do businesses have to create attractive and useful content, but they also need to find ways to drive traffic to their platforms. More often than not, this requires paid ads from substantial search engines such as Google and platforms like Facebook.
But just because a business can pay for ads does not mean that they will get value for their money. That is why they often need to turn to a professional who knows how to manage and drive the most useful kind of paid traffic to their websites. Understanding things like:
- The impact of retargeting
- Custom audience definitions
- Ebb and flow within a sales funnel
All of this can be confusing and quite frankly frustrating to an entrepreneur who still has to worry about things like product development, taxes, and overheads. You could help take this load off their plate.
If you understand and know all there is to know about paid advertising, you could start your own ad management company online and sell your services to the many websites and companies online that need it. The truth is, this is something that you can take the time to learn and really should.
Ads are the life force that runs through all these mega-companies such as Google and Facebook. They are not going anywhere any time soon. As things stand, more and more companies will be opting to pay for traffic to their websites through ads. They will need someone who knows how to manage all that and provide them with value for money.
14. Mobile Applications and Entertainment Business
If you are an individual who is interested in entertainment, technology, and mobile applications, consider opening a business geared towards teaching your skills and knowledge to children.
While there remains unfamiliarity with mobile applications and tech devices within many groups in society, particularly the senior citizen population, carving out a niche for yourself for training kids in technology can be a business-specific endeavor that is utterly unique and very attractive to parents.
Parents encourage their young ones to keep abreast of modern times by teaching them how to use common devices such as a cell phone or computer. Teaching children how to use a cellular phone is of crucial importance today and is particularly significant during emergencies and accidents when children need to know how to reach their parents immediately.
Additionally, knowing how to operate a computer confidently inevitably helps children for their future endeavors in schools, such as essay writing and research skills.
A business enterprise consisting of teaching various tech mediums to children can prove to be vastly profitable and requires only knowledge, hard work, and advertising dollars.
15. Business Coaching and Consulting
Becoming a consultant is among the most popular business ventures for contemporary entrepreneurs. Typically requiring no startup fees and minimal overhead costs, consultancy is a hot occupation that is projected to surge in popularity over the coming years.
Consulting is such an incredible market because it can be associated with nearly anything and everything of learning value. Whether it is expertise in antiquities, crafting, photography, art, cars, tools, home improvement, beauty, makeup, handbags, accessories, fashion, haircare, wellness, post-birth support, and education, consulting is merely comprised of in-depth know-how and an ability to instruct.
Today, there are consultants for every subject and topic imaginable. Self-proclaimed experts, gurus, and advisors impart their knowledge and skills to paying customers eager to learn in a convenient and effective fashion.
While the area of consultancy may seem ambiguous, the profits it can result in are very real. If you are an expert in your industry and have plenty of knowledge to share, customers will clamor for your services.
Independent consultants merely require cash flow for advertising, or a website, to be well on their way to carving a niche in the industry.
16. Self-Publishing eBooks
Writing a book is no longer as long-winded, boring, and difficult as it was in the past. Today, you do not have to deal with a multitude of publishing agents with stringent barriers to entry and almost no advances to offer you. If you have a flair for writing and would love to publish your own ebooks online, you can easily do so through Amazon.
While writing a book might not be everyone’s cup of tea, there are guides and lots of advice online that can help you get started. In fact, you don’t even have to write the book yourself. You can simply hire a ghostwriter to do it for you! It is actually not the writing itself that is the problem (although you have to provide people with something that they would enjoy reading and gain from in general) but in the promotion of the book. It is the marketing aspect of it that often gets most self-publishers out of the money.
Secret tip: If you can thoroughly promote your book before launching it so that it makes a few hundred sales within the first week of its launch, Amazon will take over and start pushing it to its customers. That will exponentially increase the amount of interest, traffic, and sales you get.
Here are some things that you can do to ensure that you make the most out of your self-published book/s:
- Have it reviewed by someone who has an audience of book lovers (kind of like what Oprah’s Book Club does)
- Stick to Amazon Standards when it comes to formatting the book
- Create a website dedicated to promoting the book and your writing prowess
- Price it accordingly ($0.99 – $5 is a good range considering all you will be selling will be PDF copies as opposed to hardcover copies that require shipping and storage)
Make the book as attractive and interesting enough to your target niche as you can and promote it wildly online. Once you host it on a popular platform like Amazon, you will have a potential source of income for as long as your book is online. By self-publishing several books, you could easily make a good amount of passive income every month.
17. Become a YouTuber
Don’t worry, even if you are camera shy you can still make money from hosting videos on YouTube. Video is quickly becoming an integral part of online interaction and content dissemination. From trends like Facebook Live to Instagram Videos and Snapchat Stories, using video is extremely easy and very likely to earn you an audience – provided you give them what they want.
Here are a few tips on how to earn with YouTube :
- Promote affiliate products through video on YouTube (you can do this by making videos on how best to use a certain product)
- Create a web TV series or podcast on a popular subject
- You can become a YouTube personality like PewDiePie and earn millions in merchandising, views, and public appearances
- Monetize your videos by joining the YouTube partner program
- Give tutorials on a subject you love or are an expert in like makeup application
Once you have found your niche and have flooded your channel with awesome videos of high content value and quality, the only thing left is to start promoting that channel and those videos. It is approximated that 1,000 views can earn you up to $4. Now imagine if any one of your videos gets hundreds of thousands or even millions of views!
18. Monetize Your Hobbies
If you haven’t been struck with inspiration by the ideas above, consider taking an in-depth look at your own personal set of hobbies, interests, skills, and passions.
Aside from your own expertise and specific skill set, consider how you can help people improve or change their lives, how you can help them further their careers and become more hireable, or even how you can teach others in the most unique and rare of subjects.
Entrepreneurs have created businesses based on everything from:
- Dog grooming
- Craft beer brewing
- A love for video games
- Pinball prowess
The options are endless and even lead to things like “how to eat chili peppers safely.”
The point is: if you know how to do something – anything – and you know how to do it well, you have a small business enterprise waiting for you to explore!
While those listed here are some of the best business ideas in the current market environment, finding one that suits you really depends on your interests and who you are as a person.
The trick is to find something that has a readily available market, create a product for that market, and convince them why they need to buy from you. If you can do that, then you sir/madam, are well on your way to being a self-made entrepreneur!