Many of the most profitable small businesses can be founded with minimal investment.
While rent, payrolls, consulting fees and other costs prevented many would-be-owners from opening their own businesses, today, the ubiquity of smart devices and online connectivity have lessened overhead costs for many aspiring entrepreneurs.
Let’s explore 35 potentially lucrative business ideas for you to consider.
Identifying the Most Profitable Businesses to Start in the U.S.
Often, the most successful small business ideas originate when entrepreneurs hone in on a highly profitable niche or focus on the service sector. Additionally, some of the most lucrative small businesses have low startup costs (e.g., no need for a storefront, raw materials, inventory, etc.) or few barriers to entry (e.g., no patent issues, low competition, minimal licensing or regulatory oversight, etc.).
With that in mind, when you’re looking to start a business, here are 35 profitable business ideas to consider:
1. Healthcare-Related Business
By 2024, the U.S. home-care market is expected to reach $225 billion, according to Statista. Additionally, the global medical-equipment market is estimated to grow to nearly $940 billion by 2026. Needless to say, numerous healthcare business ideas can be very profitable.
Examples of specific healthcare-related businesses you could pursue include medical transportation, respite services for caregivers, in-home patient care services and medical supply sales, among others. Though not required in all cases, it may be helpful to have a background in a healthcare field.
2. Personal Training
If you have a background in exercise science or a related field, a good build and a knack for exercising, you may consider venturing into this field. Personal training certification programs, such as through the National Academy of Sports Medicine, are also available.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the job outlook for fitness trainers and instructors is projected to grow at a much-faster-than-average pace from 2021-2031. Additionally, the average salary for personal trainers in the U.S. is roughly $65,000.
3. Personal Wellness Coaching
Are you an existing healthcare professional who’s looking to transition into a different field? Or perhaps you have a strong personal interest in health and wellness and helping others. In either case, you may consider becoming a personal wellness coach.
You can earn health coach certifications through industry organizations, such as American Fitness Professionals and Associates (AFPA). Health and wellness coaches average almost $62,850 annually, according to Salary.com.
4. Career or Life Coaching
Perhaps you have a background in human resources or social services, as many in this field often hold a related bachelor’s degree. You can put your experience to use helping others manage professional or personal challenges so they can better their lives. Though not required, you may also consider earning a professional certification to help you stand out.
Career coaches average almost $61,000, while life coaches average just around $62,000 annually.
5. Pet Care
People love their pets, which is why pet grooming and sitting services make our list. You could specialize in one service or both and provide them from your home or travel to your clients.
If you prefer to focus on grooming, you could complete a training program in a matter of weeks. Alternatively, you could market your pet-sitting business on sites such as Rover. If business booms, you might consider investing in a storefront space.
According to Indeed, pet groomers in the U.S. average around $43,000 annually, while pet sitters earn nearly the same. Additionally, the job outlook for animal care and service workers is expected to grow much faster than the average rate from 2021-2031, according to the BLS.
6. Food Truck Business
If you have culinary skills or a knack for cooking, you might consider running a food truck business. While some entrepreneurs may buy a truck, others lease one to avoid a large upfront expense, often spending $2,000-$3,000 a month for a rental vs. $50,000 or more for a purchase. Other costs to consider include permits and licenses, which could run upwards of $1,000 annually and parking for when the food truck isn’t in operation, which could be $500-$1,000 a month.
Earnings for a food truck owner can vary significantly depending on such factors as location, hours worked, size of the truck and offerings. That said, the income for this specialty business can go up to $153,000 a year in some cases.
Perhaps you’re a retired teacher, are fluent in 1 or more foreign languages or have a degree in a school subject, such as science, mathematics or English. Whatever the case, you could start a business tutoring school-aged children or adults. There are even opportunities throughout the world to obtain a job as a virtual tutor to teach English as a secondary language.
Private tutoring could provide a very flexible schedule where you could earn approximately $50,000 per year.
8. Junk Removal
Do you own a truck and have the strength to lift and move heavy objects? If so, you might consider providing junk hauling services. This is not a 1-person job, however, so you’ll need to keep that in mind when you’re estimating startup costs.
Items you may be called upon to dispose of might include electronics, furniture, construction debris or yard waste. Responsible junk removal companies will transport items to a legitimate waste management and recycling center.
On average, junk removal pays almost $44,400 a year, according to Glassdoor.
9. Car Wash and Detailing Services
Whether you service customers from a specific location or offer mobile services, car detailing is another one of the most profitable small businesses to consider. It doesn’t require a significant background or investment but is something that can drive significant revenue. Car detailers average about $36,700 annually.
10. Auto Repair
If you’re skilled in auto repair, consider starting your own business. This is a business in which once you satisfy a customer, they’ll likely come back to you time and again. They’re also more likely to offer word-of-mouth referrals, which can bring about a lot of additional business.
You may decide to focus on a particular type of auto care, such as engines, bodywork, air conditioning or electronics, or you could offer bumper-to-bumper services.
The average annual salary for auto repair technicians in the U.S. is $46,880.
11. Home Repair
Depending on your experience, you could focus on general home repair or capitalize on a specialty skill, such as heating, ventilation and air conditioning, cabinetry work, plumbing, electrical or masonry work. The national salary for home repair professionals is roughly $47,400, according to ZipRecruiter.
12. Cleaning Services
You can start a cleaning business geared toward commercial clients or everyday people looking to keep their homes looking great. You could even offer organization services as an add-on. However, keep in mind the different equipment needs depending on your target market and the services you’ll be offering.
According to ZipRecruiter, cleaning business owners earn approximately $55,700 a year.
13. Freelance Writing
If you have a solid writing portfolio, consider starting a freelance writing business. Freelance writers can offer unique value to businesses that could use original content but might not have the need or the budget to keep a writer on payroll full-time.
Additionally, as a freelancer, you can take on as many or as few clients as you can reasonably handle. Much of this work can also be conducted virtually, which means you can find business well beyond your current geography.
Freelance writers earn an average salary of approximately $51,150.
Along the same lines, you may consider becoming a professional blogger. If you start your own website where you blog on a specific topic and build a good audience, you could earn money from advertisers who want to place ads on your site. You could also guest blog on other websites. Bloggers average roughly $45,000 annually.
15. Affiliate Marketing
These days, the rise of affiliate marketing has made zero-cost (or low-cost) ecommerce a viable option for many capital-strapped entrepreneurs. An affiliate markets another company’s products or services in exchange for a commission. Every time a sale is made from the affiliate’s efforts, the affiliate earns money.
In the U.S., the average salary for affiliate marketing is nearly $155,000 annually, making this business one of the most lucrative small businesses on our list.
16. Ecommerce Business
Whether you’re trying to take a creative at-home business idea to the web, such as candle or soap making, or want to start a new online storefront, you can in a few simple steps. Platforms such as Shopify allow users to easily create ecommerce websites where they can market their wares to virtual shoppers.
The average salary for ecommerce business professionals is approximately $68,465.
Some of the most profitable small businesses to start require minimal startup capital — online services that offer dropshipped products fall in this category. When you run a dropshipping business, you sell products but don’t keep any inventory. Instead, when buyers purchase items from you, you pay a supplier who has the product in stock to ship it directly to the customer for you.
Professional drop shippers can earn an average of roughly $42,750.
18. Digital Marketing Services
Depending on your background and skill set as a digital marketer, you could offer one or more of these services:
- Search engine optimization
- Creative consulting
- Content creation
- Social media management
- Paid search consulting
- Web design
Digital marketing salaries in the U.S. average approximately $60,300.
19. Social Media Influencing
Influencers don’t have to be famous people. Today, many social media users with significant followings can earn money this way. If you have a large following on TikTok, Instagram or YouTube, consider becoming an influencer. You could make money by endorsing products or services through sponsored posts and affiliate links.
Influencers with 10,000-50,000 followers could earn $40,000-$100,000 a year.
20. Graphic Design
If you have training in graphic design, consider becoming your own boss. You can market your skills on freelancer sites, such as Fiverr or Upwork. Work with individuals or businesses to create logos, landing page graphics, ebook designs and more. If you have video editing skills, you can market those as well.
Freelance graphic designers average nearly $43,900, according to Glassdoor.
21. Online Education
In the knowledge economy, an increasing number of aspiring experts are eager to advance their skills by learning from those at the top. As such, some of the most successful small businesses are those offering online education.
For established experts, virtual instruction can be one of the most profitable online business ideas you’ll stumble upon. While many course creators earn $1,000-$5,000 a month, some of the highest earners can earn $10,000-$50,000 monthly.
Childcare opens the door to plenty of profitable small business ideas. With so many families needing both parents to work full-time, there’s an opportunity for small business owners to cater to and accommodate busy caregivers. There are also opportunities to offer babysitting services during off-hours.
You could offer services out of your home, go to your clients’ homes or operate a childcare facility, though additional licenses and permits are required.
A daycare owner averages just shy of $51,300 annually.
23. Child Enrichment
In a similar vein, you might consider offering training to kids in a specialty area. Depending on your background and experience, you could give lessons in the following:
Income will vary depending on factors such as the specific subject area, number of clients and location. However, piano teachers average roughly $72,950 annually, while swim instructors earn an average of approximately $62,650, for example.
24. Vacation Rentals
Do you have a second home? If so, consider renting it out on such sites as Airbnb or VRBO. Income varies widely depending on such factors as home type, amenities, location, nearby tourist attractions and frequency of rentals. That said, in 2021, the average annual revenue for short-term rentals was $56,000.
25. Real Estate Services
Whether you want to be a broker or an independent agent at an existing real estate firm, you can run your own profitable small business. In either case, you’ll need to have the appropriate license in your state to practice. On average, the owner of a real estate firm earns just over $77,400 annually, while agents earn approximately $94,400.
If you have accounting or bookkeeping experience, consider offering your services for hire. In addition to marketing yourself for work, you can browse freelance bookkeeping work on websites such as FlexJobs and Upwork. On average, bookkeepers earn nearly $42,800 per year.
27. Event Planning
Do you have a knack for organizing parties and planning special events? If this sounds like you, consider putting your skills to use as an event planner, planning corporate events, weddings, milestone birthdays and more. Once you gain a book of business, you’re likely to generate referrals from satisfied clients.
According to the BLS, the employment outlook for meeting, convention and event planners is projected to increase at a rate much faster than average from 2021-2031. Event planners earn an average salary of approximately $52,960 annually.
If you have culinary training and want to branch out on your own, a catering business may be just the right fit. You could cater corporate gatherings and special events or open a small business delivering meals to individuals at their homes. Catering businesses average roughly $43,840 annually.
29. Personal Chef Services
Along a similar note, you might consider offering your culinary skills as a private chef, another one of the most profitable small business ventures, with these professionals averaging approximately 90,750 annually. Keep in mind, you’ll need to cater to the needs of your clients, so this will require you to be flexible in your menu planning and approach to preparing meals.
With a few pieces of equipment, including a mower, edger and hedge trimmer, you could have a fairly profitable business you can start without help. If your skills extend to gardening, you could market those services too. (If you’re in a climate that experiences seasonal extremes, you could even consider turning your landscaping truck into a snow plow during the winter to ensure income year-round.) The average salary of landscape owners is $73,660.
To run a profitable business in this field, you could sell your prints at galleries or art festivals. Alternatively, you could work as a portrait photographer or an event photographer. You could even specialize in a niche, such as real estate, fashion or travel photography. If you’re new to the scene, you may consider offering free photo shoots to build your portfolio.
The average annual salary for a photographer is approximately $44,320.
32. Technology Services
If you have a background in information technology (IT), consider offering your skills as a contract consultant, another opportunity on our list of the most profitable small businesses. You could offer services in IT support, security, development, system audits and more. The estimated total pay for technology consultants is $114,490, according to Glassdoor.
33. Business Consulting
If you have experience in business management or have run successful entrepreneurial ventures, you may branch out to offer your knowledge, skills and experience as a business consultant. You may offer advice and strategies regarding one or more of the following facets of running a business: sales and marketing, operations, finance, supply chain management or human resources. On average, these professionals earn approximately $78,550 annually.
34. Virtual Assisting
With different time zones and the rise of remote businesses, virtual assistants are a prized commodity these days. Support companies from anywhere by managing files, answering phone calls, making travel arrangements, scheduling appointments, overseeing project timelines and more. The average salary for a virtual assistant in the U.S. is just over $74,740.
35. Translation Services
The last on our list of most successful small businesses is translation services. If you’re fluent in languages, consider this venture. Job growth for professionals in this field is estimated to be much faster than average from 2021-2031, according to the BLS. Additionally, translators average just over $55,000 annually.
Operating the Most Profitable Small Business to Ensure Success
Often, profitable small businesses are those that capitalize on a niche or an underserved sector of the market. Analyzing which industries generate high net profit margins is a great way of identifying the most profitable businesses. These type of businesses will allow you to support yourself and the business even with modest sales.
Starting a new venture doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing endeavor from the start, however. If, for financial or personal reasons, your new business can’t be your full-time job in its early days, start small and tip-toe into the project on weekends and evenings.
Once you’ve decided what type of business could be most profitable for you, start working on your business plan. Also, consider how you’ll structure your business, whether a sole proprietorship, limited liability company or corporation.
After just a few months in operation, you could qualify for financing to fund marketing campaigns, purchase equipment or finance other business ventures that offer a high return on investment.