Not every small business has to be built on a trendy, billion-dollar startup idea. Nor does it have to be based on a generation-to-generation family trade.
Some successful small businesses have been built simply from the drive, dedication and work ethic of founders who wanted to work for themselves, without first having a groundbreaking idea or plan. And with the rise of the gig economy, availability of third-party services and openness of digital markets, there are plenty of opportunities for self-starters who want to own their own thing.
Here is some inspiration for services you can offer if you know you want to start your own small business, but aren't exactly sure what you want to do:
If you have a technical knack, why limit yourself to fixing your own computers, cars and appliances?
For repair work, consider the demographics in your area. Are there a lot of homeowners, bicyclists or other small businesses? If so, you might fill a niche with a business offering upholstery, bike and electronic repairs respectively.
Other business ideas include refurbishing items for resale or recycling materials for future use. If your endeavor is socially conscious or benefits the environment, so much the better!
Some people find dusting, vacuuming and polishing to be relaxing. Cleaning can provide a sense of accomplishment— and a source of revenue.
It’s relatively easy to build a cleaning business, especially if you live in a residential area. Think through the time of day you’d most like to work because that will influence your service choice. For instance, most house cleaners operate during daytime, while office, store and restaurant cleaners tend to be more active at night. And if there are too many broad cleaning businesses in your area, you could further specialize with pet, rug or car cleaning.
3. Side Gigs
The gig economy—a labor market composed of individuals who work via short-term or freelance engagements—has opened up an array of new business potential. Thanks to this new way of working, many newly-minted small-business owners are creating work schedules on their own terms.
Base business ideas on local demand—think home inspection, energy auditing and cosmetic and spa services.
Even if you already have a job, you can take on the occasional side hustle to supplement your income by performing tasks for others like driving, grocery shopping, administrative support and event planning.
Most gig workers work hourly, but consult existing business owners who purchase the service you want to offer to calibrate pricing.
If you enjoy children and derive meaning from your interactions with them, there are a variety of small business ideas in the childcare space. In-home daycare centers require licensing, but provide consistency and flexibility. Alternatively, you can work full-time through a nannying business, or part-time with occasional babysitting.
Also, given the large population of aging baby boomers, business ideas involving senior or pet care specialty might be a smart bet.
5. Digital Creative and Editorial Services
Should your resume include skills like digital design, website production or content development, you can parlay your experience into a small business that offers these services to other companies.
As a member of the gig economy, you can charge lower fees and compete more effectively against larger firms with more overhead. And the best news of all? You can do most if not all of the work online, from the comfort of your home.
You can start your freelance career by inquiring about needs inside former employers or partners.
6. Language and Writing Services
The business world is increasingly global, but artificial intelligence hasn’t advanced enough to provide accurate translation or transcription or to understand the nuances of human communication. Therefore, companies need people to perform these services.
If you are fluent in a foreign language or have a strong writing background, consider business ideas that incorporate document translation, copywriting, copyediting or proofreading.
7. Business Services
Do you have a degree or certification in an in-demand business service like:
- tax preparation,
- financial planning,
- database management,
- law or
- real estate?
If so, investigate business ideas that can affordably support other small to medium-sized organizations. Local companies and independent contractors especially will appreciate lower cost offerings to support their growth.
8. Get Certified
Many new business owners seek to earn a living by pursuing their passions or niche areas that pique their interest. Consider your local market demand for business ideas such as home inspection, energy auditing and cosmetic and spa services. Proving your expertise may be as simple as taking a single certification course.
The certification process can also introduce you to small-business owners in the same or adjacent professions and help you expand your network.
9. Teach What You Know
If you have a knack for an academic subject like math or language arts, why not leverage your education to tutor your neighbors or serve the local homeschooling population?
You might also partner with park districts or community centers to teach specialized skills like gardening, interior design, and fitness. Remember that when it comes to the instructor life, word of mouth is extremely important, so start by offering classes for free in exchange for referrals.
Whether you’re repairing, cleaning or babysitting, or you're performing a business service like financial planning or copywriting, launching a small business requires ingenuity and persistence. Therefore, it’s in your best interest to select business ideas that inspire you. The excitement helps make the hard work worth it!
Read more articles on growth opportunities.
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