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10 Profitable Small Business Ideas

August 11th, 2020

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The prospect of starting a small business venture can be intimidating to most. It’s common for many entrepreneurs to have creeping doubts about the profitability or worthiness of an idea. Usually, the hardest part of starting a business is to just take the plunge and do it.

It can also be a challenge if you’re itching to start a business but don’t exactly know where to start. But if you need a little inspiration to light the flame, we got you covered. Here are 10 of the most lucrative, profitable small business ideas.

1. Personal Trainer

Do you hit the gym on a regular basis? Do newer gym members usually ask for your expertise on exercise and form? Have you considered monetizing this expertise?

Since its emergence in the ’80s, the fitness “craze” seems like it’s here to stay; even now, more and more people are hitting the gym for the first time every day. And whether these new gym-goers need advice on how to exercise safely and effectively or they simply need someone to push them to their limits, the demand for personal trainers is sky-high.

The best personal trainers blend their experience and expertise with empathy in order to achieve the best results for their clients. It’s imperative to teach your clients to exercise safely while still pushing them to achieve their individual goals.

If you have the expertise, the personal training business can be a profitable and rewarding venture. You’re helping people achieve their ideal selves, the overhead costs are extremely low, and the business is potentially scalable — if you have enough success as a personal trainer, it isn’t difficult to hire another one in order to take on more clients.

You can advertise your personal trainer services in grocery stores, restaurants, gyms, or local media. As with most businesses, having a well-designed website will build brand ethos while potentially providing another engagement channel for potential clients.

2. Personal Shopper

Personal shopping has always been a small but lucrative niche for entrepreneurial spirits to get their start. However, with the proliferation of COVID-19, demand for personal shoppers has exploded — and many predict that the business will linger long after the pandemic dissipates.

When working as a personal shopper, you tend to be employed by those who have difficulty getting to the store during business hours such as the elderly, busy professionals, or night shift workers. At the start of every run, you will have a grocery list containing the desired items. You will have to strategize how to get the items in the most efficient way possible; and if the desired item is unavailable, you will need to use sound judgment to get a replacement that’s as close to the original product as possible.

Personal shopping has a fairly low barrier to entry due to its minimal requirements and overhead; all you really need is a vehicle.

Many personal shoppers get their start on apps such as Instacart. After you build up a client base, it may be a good idea to go solo in order to avoid the apps from skimming your earnings. If you have enough capital by this point, you can try advertising your business using pamphlets or direct mail targeted at communities with a high proportion of elderly residents.

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, many elderly and otherwise immunocompromised people now feel unsafe going to the store whenever necessary so the demand for personal shoppers has exploded. If you’re considering getting your start in this potentially lucrative business, now is the time!

3. Courier Services

Working as a self-employed courier is another potentially lucrative business idea with a fairly low barrier to entry; all you need is a vehicle.

The most lucrative hotspots for courier work tend to be in cities, especially in areas where residential zones border restaurant districts. You can sign up to run deliveries through services such as DoorDash or GrubHub or you could simply offer to run deliveries for a small business without a third party skimming money off the top. When working as a courier, it’s always important to be timely and polite to increase the total amount of tips you get.

While doing courier work on a bike has much less overhead than a car, a car may be ideal for time-sensitive deliveries — especially when there are customer tips on the line. Additionally, doing courier work on a bike is much more dangerous, especially in cities with poor bicycle infrastructure. Bicycle courier work is not recommended unless you are in good physical shape and are very skilled at riding a bicycle — but if you’re in great shape and you know your way around a bike, the sky is the limit.

If you have a large car or van — and some muscle or friends to boot — you can supplement your courier income by offering a personalized moving service. In cities with a high proportion of renters to homeowners, there are tons of household moves being made at the end of every month — and no one wants to move bulky or heavy furniture. This is where you can save the day by offering your moving services.

4. Website Design

Website design is a skill that will never go out of style. For many small businesses, website design is the difference between making a sale and losing a customer. Many businesses value good website design so highly, they’re willing to fork over serious cash for a competent web designer. On top of being potentially lucrative, web design lends itself to a flexible, independent work life. Many web designers work remotely whenever they want.

However, unlike some of the other items in this article, becoming a professional web designer will require a good amount of training and familiarization with certain concepts and programming languages. A good start would be acquainting yourself with the basics of HTML, CSS, and Javascript. Once you have a good grasp on each of these three, learn the ropes of WordPress — after all, 63% of websites are powered by this open-source CMS.

A great way to refine your craft as a web designer is to get intimate with websites that have great design. After spending enough time on these sites, you will develop a knack for good UX. UX, an industry term that means “user experience”, is an extremely important aspect of web design. Good UX can funnel potential customers to a sale while bad UX can cause the same potential customers to get lost in a web of clicks. Additionally, an elegant, well-designed website will give any brand some serious cred while a poorly designed one could scare off potential customers.

Web design is a highly scalable field — if you are bringing in the bucks, hiring additional designers is a no-brainer. Soon enough, you’ll have your very own startup!

5. Food Truck

If there is anything humans can universally agree upon, it’s that good food is second to none. And if you love to cook good food, there is a tone of demand for your skills in the marketplace. If you want the creative freedom of a head chef but can’t afford a brick-and-mortar restaurant, a food truck may be the perfect choice to get your start. Portable and culturally popular, food trucks will allow you to take your kitchen to wherever the hotspot du jour happens to be. If there’s a music festival in town, you can head on over to feed concertgoers; or if there’s a business conference, you could roll your kitchen out and serve up some power lunches. They say that one of the most important aspects of opening a restaurant is location, location, location — and with a food truck, your location can be wherever you want.

When operating a food truck, one of the most important tools you can have at your disposal is branding. Having a strong visual identity associated with your truck can help create repeat customers and establish a link between sight and taste. That way, if you’re driving your truck and a former customer sees your branding, their brain will associate it with the excellent meal they had, and they will crave your food again.

While it is possible to operate a food truck as a sole proprietor, this business tends to work more smoothly with one or two additional staff members — such as a dishwasher, a cashier, or a busser — so that you can cook more efficiently. When you have additional people on your payroll, it’s imperative to have solid bookkeeping. Operating a food truck is rewarding, but it is effort-intensive and time-consuming. It would be a great idea to hire a third-party bookkeeping service to help keep your business in good financial shape.

6. Copywriting

 If you have a knack for the English language and a desire to write, why not give copywriting a shot? Copywriting is far from a repetitive job; there are many different types of copy valuable to businesses — from snappy headlines on billboards to social media to long-form pieces such as the one you are reading right now. Businesses will always need content for marketing, branding, and advertising purposes, so the copywriter isn’t going anywhere any time soon.

One of the most important things to know when writing copy for advertising is that people only remember 10% of the copy they see — 4% for positive reasons and 6% for negative reasons. The rest — 90% — is noise. Unless you are copywriting for a more utilitarian purpose, such as SEO, a strong, individualistic voice is an incredible asset to have.

The bad news is that when you get your start in copywriting, it can be a fairly competitive field to break into. It may be worth taking several classes at a local college or entering copywriting contests in order to give you a competitive edge. Also, it’s imperative to have a strong, polished portfolio — if you have a friend with graphic design skills, it may be worth enlisting their help in bringing your copy to life.

The good news is that once your foot is in the door, copywriting can be a lucrative way to make money. As you continue to take more jobs and build your portfolio, the opportunities will only get better and better. The best part? It is entirely possible to be a professional copywriter and work remotely from the comfort of your home.

7. E-Commerce and Dropshipping

E-Commerce and dropshipping are fantastic ways to make money on you own schedule. The biggest draw to e-commerce and dropshipping is the low barrier to entry — oftentimes, these serve as a great first venture for any entrepreneur. And it can be lucrative; in 2019, e-commerce sales reached nearly 3.5 trillion dollars — and the number is expected to grow.

Many people have seen the term “dropshipping” but never quite knew what it meant. Simply put, dropshipping is an e-commerce business model that allows entrepreneurs to run stores without holding any inventory. This eliminates the risk and overhead that typically comes with holding inventory. There are three main components to the drophipping model: the customer, the retailer (your business), and the manufacturer/supplier. Once the retailer (your business) closes a sale, your supplier will ship the product directly to the customer’s doorstep — no packaging or warehouse costs required!

There are two minor downsides to dropshipping. The first downside is that, as the front-facing retailer, your business will assume all responsibility for service, even if the supplier makes a mistake. This means that you will have to be prepared to deal with customers and make amends for any mistakes on the supplier’s end.

The second downside is that if you sell a lot of product, keeping detailed and accurate financial records will become a huge burden on you. That is why it is highly recommended to look into accounting and bookkeeping services designed specifically for e-commerce ventures so that you can focus on the day-to-day operation of your business.

8. Furniture Restoration and Resale

Are you crafty? Do you have a van or a large car? Do you want to use your van or large car as the impetus for a potentially lucrative business with little overhead costs? Then furniture restoration and resale is a great avenue for you to explore.

When people move, they often throw out their furniture or give it away rather than lug it to their new place. This provides an excellent opportunity for anyone crafty enough to take advantage. The best way to find free furniture is free and for sale websites or social media groups, where people often post furniture and other items they are throwing out or giving away to anyone willing to haul it.

While you may be able to resell some of this free furniture for an immediate profit, some pieces will need a little extra TLC before they’re suitable for resale. However, these items are where the money is; if you learn the art of reupholstery and wood restoration, you can turn old chairs and tables into beautiful statement pieces that can fetch several hundred dollars each. And if you have storage space, save any spare parts or scrap wood! You never know when you’ll need them to create a truly one-of-a-kind piece.

Perhaps the best part about furniture restoration and resale, however, is building a useful skill. The longer you stay in the business, the better you get. And sooner rather than later, you will be a master of your craft.

9. Cleaning Service

There is a popular saying that goes, “in life, nothing is certain but death and taxes.” While this saying certainly rings true, we’d like to add “dirt” to the list. No matter what we do, our things collect dust and our floors get muddy. Many people simply don’t have the time to constantly clean their living spaces — this is where the demand for cleaning services come in.

It sure isn’t glamourous work — and it certainly is hard work — but a cleaning business has low overhead, which makes it highly profitable. On top of this, it’s very easy to scale a cleaning business; just hire a few extra cleaners you’ll be able to take on more jobs — and make more money. If you start to find yourself employing more and more cleaners, it is imperative to make sure your books are in order.

10. Tax Preparation and Bookkeeping

At FinancePal, perhaps we’re a little partial to the tax preparation and bookkeeping businesses. After all, it’s what we’re passionate about— and what we’re good at. But if you are great with numbers and have the expertise, we highly recommend getting involved in the business.

That being said, not everyone has a passion for numbers or a knack for bookkeeping. Many business owners are content to serve customers or run a food truck or plan for future expansion — hey, that’s okay! We have some great news for you: if numbers and keeping records aren’t your thing, it’s incredibly easy to delegate accounting and bookkeeping tasks to a third party. And with thousands of satisfied clients, we know just the people for keeping your business records organized and compliant.

About the Author

Jacob Dayan, Esq.

Jacob Dayan is a true Chicagoan, born and raised in the Windy City. After starting his career as a financial analyst in New York City, Jacob returned to Chicago and co-founded FinancePal in 2015. He graduated Magna Cum Laude from Mitchell Hamline School of Law, and is a licensed attorney in Illinois.

Jacob has crafted articles covering a variety of tax and finance topics, including resolution strategy, financial planning, and more. He has been featured in an array of publications, including Accounting Web, Yahoo, and Business2Community.

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About the Author

Nick Charveron, EA

Nick Charveron is a licensed tax practitioner, Co-Founder & Partner of Community Tax, LLC. His Enrolled Agent designation is the highest tax credential offered by the U.S Department of Treasury, providing unrestricted practice rights before the IRS.

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About the Author

Jason Gabbard, Founder and CEO of JUSTLAW

Jason Gabbard is a lawyer and the founder of JUSTLAW.

About the Author

Andrew Jordan, Chief Operations Officer at FinancePal

Andrew is an experienced CPA and has extensive executive leadership experience.

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