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Small businesses are the backbone of many economies around the world. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, small businesses make up 99.9% of all businesses in the country. Small businesses not only create jobs but also contribute to local communities, innovation, and economic growth.

If you're considering starting a small business, you may be wondering what kind of business you should start. In this comprehensive guide, we'll explore the 50 best small business ideas that are viable, profitable, and have a high growth potential.

Criteria for selecting the best small business ideas

Before we dive into the 50 best small business ideas, it's important to understand the criteria used for selection. These criteria include:

  • Viability and profitability: The business idea should be able to generate a consistent and sufficient amount of revenue to cover expenses and make a profit.
  • Market demand: The business idea should address a need or solve a problem consumers are willing to pay for.
  • Passion and interest: The business idea should align with your interests, skills, and values. Starting a business that you are passionate about increases your chances of success and fulfillment.
  • Scalability and growth potential: The business idea should have the potential for growth and expansion in the long term.

Service-based business ideas

Service-based businesses are those that offer a service or expertise to customers. They are often lower cost to start and have a lower overhead than product-based businesses. Here are some examples of service-based business ideas:

Personal services

  • Personal training: With a growing focus on health and wellness, personal training is a lucrative and in-demand service. You can offer one-on-one sessions, group classes, or online coaching. Certification may be required in some areas.
  • Massage therapy: Massage therapy is a highly sought-after service that can help alleviate stress, pain, and tension. You can offer services in your own space, at clients' homes, or even at corporate events.
  • Pet grooming: People love their pets and are willing to pay for grooming services to keep them looking their best. You can offer a range of grooming services, including bathing, trimming, and nail clipping.

Business services

  • Accounting and bookkeeping: Many small businesses don't have the resources or expertise to manage their finances effectively. As an accountant or bookkeeper, you can help businesses stay on top of their finances and make informed decisions.
  • Virtual assistant services: With more people working remotely, the demand for virtual assistants has increased. You can remotely offer administrative support, social media management, customer service, and other tasks.
  • IT consulting: As businesses become more reliant on technology, the need for IT consulting services has grown. You can provide network security, software installation and upgrades, and troubleshooting services.
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Product-based business ideas

Product-based businesses are those that sell physical or digital products to customers. They often require more upfront capital than service-based businesses but can be more scalable in the long run. Here are some examples of product-based business ideas:

Physical products:

  • Clothing and accessories: Clothing and accessory businesses can range from boutique shops to online marketplaces. You can specialize in a specific type of clothing or accessories, such as eco-friendly or handmade items.
  • Handmade goods: Handmade products are unique and can appeal to customers looking for something different. You can make and sell products such as jewelry, pottery, or soap.
  • Beauty and skincare products: The beauty and skincare industry is booming, with many consumers looking for natural and organic products. You can create and sell your own line of products or source and resell products from other manufacturers.

Digital products:

  • Online courses: Online courses are a popular way to share knowledge and skills with others. You can create and sell courses in various topics, from business and marketing to personal development and hobbies.
  • E-books: E-books are a digital alternative to traditional books and can be sold on platforms such as Amazon or your own website. You can write and publish your e-book or work with other authors to create a digital publishing business.
  • Software: Software products can range from mobile apps to enterprise-level software solutions. You can create and sell software products to businesses or consumers if you have programming or development skills.

Food and beverage business ideas:

The food and beverage industry is a popular choice for entrepreneurs, with many opportunities available. Here are some examples of food and beverage business ideas:

  • Food trucks and carts: Food trucks and carts are a low-cost way to enter the food industry. You can specialize in a specific type of cuisine or offer a variety of options.
  • Specialty food stores: Specialty food stores can focus on a specific niche, such as organic or gluten-free products, or offer a wide range of unique food items.
  • Catering services: Catering services are in demand for weddings, corporate events, and other special occasions. You can offer a variety of menus and services, from drop-off catering to full-service events.

Home-based business ideas:

Home-based businesses are a great option for those who want to work from home or have limited resources. Here are some examples of home-based business ideas:

  • Home-based daycare: If you have experience with children, you can start a home-based daycare. You will need to comply with licensing and safety regulations in your area.
  • Freelance writing: Freelance writing is a flexible and low-cost business idea. You can write for different clients, including blogs, websites, and magazines.
  • Graphic design services: Graphic design services are in demand for businesses and individuals who need logos, marketing materials, and other visual assets. You can work with clients remotely and offer a range of design services.
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Online business ideas:

Online businesses offer a variety of opportunities for entrepreneurs, from e-commerce stores to affiliate marketing. Here are some examples of online business ideas:

  • E-commerce store: An e-commerce store allows you to sell products online without the need for a physical storefront. You can create a website or sell on platforms like Amazon or Etsy.
  • Dropshipping: Dropshipping is a business model that allows you to sell products without holding inventory. You can work with suppliers to fulfill orders directly to customers.
  • Affiliate marketing: Affiliate marketing allows you to promote other people's products and earn a commission on sales. You can promote products through social media, email marketing, or your website.

Franchise opportunities:

Franchising is a popular way to start a small business, as it provides a proven business model and support from the franchisor. Here are some of the best franchise opportunities for small businesses:

  • 7-Eleven: 7-Eleven is a convenience store franchise with over 70,000 locations worldwide. Franchisees receive support with site selection, training, and ongoing operations.
  • Subway: Subway is a sandwich shop franchise with over 40,000 locations worldwide. Franchisees receive support with site selection, marketing, and ongoing operations.
  • UPS Store: The UPS Store is a retail shipping and printing franchise with over 5,000 locations worldwide. Franchisees receive support with site selection, training, and ongoing operations.

Funding options for small businesses:

Starting a small business requires capital, and various funding options are available. Here are some of the most common funding options for small businesses:

  • Small business loans: Small business loans are offered by banks and other financial institutions and can provide funding for start-up costs, working capital, and expansion. Loans may be secured or unsecured, and interest rates and terms will vary based on the lender and the business's financials.
  • Crowdfunding: Crowdfunding allows entrepreneurs to raise funds from a large number of individuals online. Platforms such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo allow entrepreneurs to pitch their business idea and receive funding from supporters in exchange for rewards.
  • Bootstrapping: Bootstrapping refers to starting and growing a business with little to no outside funding. This can include using personal savings, credit cards, and revenue from the business to cover expenses. While bootstrapping can be challenging, it allows entrepreneurs to maintain control of their businesses and avoid debt.


Starting a small business is an exciting and rewarding endeavor, but it can also be challenging. You increase your chances of success by choosing a business idea that aligns with your interests and skills, has market demand, and has the potential for growth. Whether you decide to start a service, product, or online business, countless opportunities are available.

By exploring the 50 best small business ideas in this guide, you can find inspiration and guidance for your entrepreneurial journey. Remember to research and plan carefully, and don't be afraid to seek support from mentors and advisors along the way.

Hady ElHady
Hady is Content Lead at Layer.

Hady has a passion for tech, marketing, and spreadsheets. Besides his Computer Science degree, he has vast experience in developing, launching, and scaling content marketing processes at SaaS startups.

Originally published Apr 8 2023, Updated Jun 26 2023

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