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10 Most Profitable Small Business Ideas

stevenwalters
Steven Walters Updated: June 26, 2023 • 9 min read
Woman working at her own business

Want to start a business, but are unsure where to invest your time and money? The truth of the matter is that the size of the investment isn’t the most important factor in starting a business. If you have a good business plan and are willing to work hard and consistently, then you can probably make any business a profitable success in time.

However, if you want a faster track to potential profits, then choosing one of the most profitable businesses in a high-growth industry will help. And if that business has low startup costs, even better. Launching your own business will require hard work, but earning a higher monthly income will pay off.

Most Profitable Business Ideas

To help you get started, we’ve put together this list of 10 top money-making business ideas. We’ve not only considered profit potential, but have also factored in the amount it will take you to launch your business, also known as startup costs.

1. Food trucks

The food truck business has seen consistent growth over the past five years, despite the pandemic, and that growth is expected to continue. A 2021 report from Grand View Research projects that the food truck industry will grow to $6.6 billion by 2028. The good news for potential small business owners is that a food truck can be launched for less than one-third the cost of a brick-and-mortar restaurant. In addition, a food truck gives you geographic mobility, lower operating costs, and the ability to create a custom menu that generates high returns on your investment. If you’re debating where to launch your food truck, you might want to think small town rather than big city. Major metropolises such as Boston, San Francisco, or Portland already have a saturated food truck market, and tougher regulations to get started as a result. However smaller cities such as Boulder and Santa Fe are still ripe for the picking.

Keep in mind that food trucks also come with their own set of regulations and food safety standards, not to mention business insurance, so be sure to look into those requirements as part of your business planning.

Average Startup Costs: $100,000
Average Yearly Profits: $100,000

2. Personal trainers

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the profession of fitness trainers and instructors will grow at a rate of 39% from 2020 to 2030, which is far faster than the average growth rate of most occupations. But becoming a fitness instructor doesn’t mean you have to work for a national corporate gym. Instead, you can start your own small business training people at their homes, or in public spaces like local parks and community centers. Another option for fitness training is to create an online fitness studio. You can post workout videos on social media platforms like Youtube, or create your own online training course. By making fitness more easily accessible, you could turn your love of fitness into a profitable small business.

Average Startup Costs: $23,000
Average Yearly Profits: $64,100

low startup costs maintain profitability

3. Entertainment mobile apps and games

If you’re interested in kids and you have some background in coding, you might think about creating fun apps and games for the younger crew. Research has shown demand for apps and games for mobile devices and tablets to be significantly on the rise, especially if they have an educational component. Based on a report released by Learning First Alliance, over 60% of the parents feel that mobile games and apps have the potential to provide educational experiences in mathematics, science, languages, and reading. That means developers of educational apps should have a strong demand for their products.

If you think you’re capable of building a good app for kids, one that can also teach them something in the process, then now could be the perfect time to make your ideas a reality and turn them into one of these profitable businesses.

Average Startup Costs: $10,000
Average Yearly Profits: $93,000

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4. Vacation rentals

Renting out your home or another property to travelers has become quite lucrative in recent years thanks to the rise of apps like Airbnb and VRBO. According to data from Airbnb, the average rental income in the U.S. is $13,800 a year. If you already own the property, that can be almost pure profit for you. If you don’t have a property, you’ll have to make a personal decision and weigh the risks of investing in real estate right now.

Airbnb has made becoming a host quite easy, and the demand for these types of rentals from tourists has continued to grow. As an example, in 2020, Airbnb reported that 251.1 million nights were booked in its rentals. In 2021, that number grew to 356.9 million nights. The downside is that some cities have passed ordinances and regulations that limit where and how you can use your property for Airbnb, so be sure to check the regulations in your area before giving this business idea a try.

Average Startup Costs: $3,000 (assuming you already own a property that can be rented out)
Average Yearly Profits: $13,800

5. Electronics repair

Smartphones and computers have become almost a necessity in the U.S. According to the Pew Research Center, 85% of Americans own a smartphone and over 75% own a laptop or desktop computer. And that number is only likely to continue increasing. Added to that is the trend of working from home, and it's easy to see that more and more people will be reliant on their electronics in the coming years. Because these electronics are so necessary to daily life in the U.S., when they break, people need to have them fixed as quickly as possible. Have you ever tried going several days without your smartphone? It’s not an easy task. That’s why an electronics repair business could be so lucrative. The Business Research Company reported in 2022 that  the global electronics repair and maintenance market is expected to grow from about $8 billion in 2021 to $9.6 billion in 2026.

An electronics repair business could keep you very busy, as proven by the long repair wait times at Apple Stores, Best Buy, and other electronic retailers. Their struggles are your opportunity. And if you turn this into a mobile business you might find even more success. People are more than willing to pay for convenience, and what’s more convenient than having a mobile electronics repair tech come right to your house.

As an added bonus, a mobile electronics repair business avoids the overhead costs associated with having a physical location.

Average Startup Costs: $12,000
Average Yearly Profits: $64,000

 

6. Courses in hobbies or interests

There are many courses that have been created as a way to increase career prospects or help in making some major life changes, but you could just as easily design a course, or series of courses, around some hobby or interest. These more niche hobby courses can also benefit from having lower competition. There are any number of ideas for creating a course around your hobbies and interests. Are you an amateur astronomer? Create a course on stargazing and space phenomena. Maybe you like to make your own wine, beer, or spirits. That can definitely be turned into a course. Literally any hobby could have a course attached to it, and people are willing to pay top dollar to learn a new hobby, so long as the content is good. A quick search through online course platform Udemy shows there are courses for software coding, drawing and graphic design, resin arts, theater, and many spiritual and religious courses.

Don’t know how to create your own course? You’re in luck, because there are even courses that can teach you how to create an online course. It’s like trading business ideas. How handy is that!

Average Startup Costs: $7,600
Average Yearly Profits: $66,000

7. Bookkeeping and accounting

Nearly every business needs bookkeeping and accounting services, making these professions constantly in high demand. The truth is that most business owners aren’t thrilled with the accounting aspects of their business, and are generally happy to pay someone else to do these tasks. And that creates a business opportunity for you.

The good news is that you don’t necessarily have to be a certified public accountant (CPA) to provide bookkeeping and accounting services for most individuals and small businesses. And the profitability of this business type is among the best there is, with a 2017 Sageworks report putting the average net profit margin at 18.4%, making this one of the best investments for monthly income.

As a bookkeeper, you are able to process invoices and payroll, compile expense reports and much more for your clients. If you want to expand your services, the best way to invest money into your business is to get a CPA license. With that, you can help business owners file taxes, generate balance sheets and other accounting documents, and even make professional recommendations about your client’s bottom line. Adding these services will make you more valuable to clients and can generate more revenue for your business.

Average Startup Costs: $1,500
Average Yearly Profits: $55,000

invest in high growth industry

8. IT support

As mentioned earlier, usage of personal electronics in the U.S. is immense. The growing reliance on tech makes a business centered around IT support one that can be quite profitable and enjoyable. IT employment is projected to grow at 9% per year from 2020 through 2030 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The IT support role would see you helping customers when they have issues with their internet or computer software, as well as installing security programs and network updates. If you already have a solid background in technology, or are willing to learn, and you have a good dose of patience then the best business for you might be IT support. And if you want to be even more valuable to your customers you can consider a mobile IT support business.

All it takes is some time and patience, reliable transportation and your own knowledge and you could soon be providing a valuable service and generating high profit revenues.

Average Startup Costs: $23,200
Average Yearly Profits: $64,000

9. Graphic design

One of the most important parts of any business is its branding. And that means polished logos and other imagery - all of which is delivered by graphic design artists. And while research from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows the graphic design industry only growing by 3% from 2020 through 2030, there are still plenty of opportunities for freelance graphic design work. In fact, IBIS World reports that in 2021, 90% of graphic designers did at least some freelance work. And research from Adobe shows that 73% of companies that are investing in design are doing so to stand out from the competition. If you have a solid understanding of Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign, you could be the one delivering those eye-catching designs. As an added bonus, you’ll have very little overhead, meaning you’ll keep most of your revenue. Plus, you’ll have the satisfaction that comes with creating something stunning that helps other small business owners.

Average Startup Costs: $22,700
Average Yearly Profits: $53,400

10. Marketing copywriter

If you’re a talented writer and communicator, launching your own business creating content for other businesses might be a good fit. Creating marketing copy is especially lucrative, since companies then use this copy to generate sales. They make more money, and that can mean you make more money as well. According to LinkedIn data, digital marketing hiring grew 33% year-over-year from 2019 to 2020. Similar roles like content creators (including roles such as blogger, creative writer and editor) grew by 49% in that same time frame.

Because this type of work is typically done from home, there are very few startup costs. That means your business can be profitable quite quickly. And as your client base grows it becomes even easier to attract new clients, simply through word-of-mouth and referrals.

Average Startup Costs: $5,900
Average Yearly Profits: $90,700

small business requires funding

Conclusion

The small business ideas we’ve presented cover quite a span of industries, and have a wide degree of startup costs and time commitments. If any of the ideas interest you, before you can start making any profits, you’ll need to get the business off the ground. Here are three steps to take to get started:

  • Do your research: No matter what business you choose to start, researching the market, competition, and costs is crucial before you commit and invest your money into any idea.
  • Create your business plan: Your business plan is your roadmap – detailing your company’s goals and how you plan on achieving them. It should also include detailed financial projections that can help keep you on track to becoming profitable.
  • Finance the business: While many of the ideas we presented come with minimal startup costs, there will still be some capital needed to get any business started. If you don’t have the savings yourself to fund getting your business off the ground, you could consider using a crowdfunding or microloan platform to fund your startup. Friends or family can sometimes be a source of funds for a new business. Or you can go the traditional route and approach a bank or credit union for a business loan.
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FAQ

What is the richest industry in the world?

According to data from the U.S. Federal Reserve, the richest industry in the world is financial services industry, worth $109 trillion in 2020.

What industry has the highest profit margin?

According to research done by New York University, the industry with the highest net profit margin is banks (including both regional banks and money centers). The net profit margin runs from 31.31% to 32.61%.

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Steve has been writing in the financial products space for over a decade, with interests ranging from personal loans to investing. He is also deeply into the blockchain space. In his free time, you can find him in the kitchen preparing delicious meals, or outside hiking and biking.