8 Great Business Ideas You Can Start Today

Most of them don't require much startup resources or capital, and many can be run from your home (or backyard).
June 30, 2010

Conventional wisdom says that starting a new business in an economic downturn is a bad idea. But we're learning that some industries are growing, despite the shaky economy. Here are some of the best ideas for starting a business right now. Most of them don't require much startup resources or capital, and many can be run from your home (or backyard). All you need is a little innovation and some elbow grease.

1. Mobile Design and Development

The mobile world is heating up. The smartphone market has exploded, and with the introduction of the iPad, mobile usage for websites is going to keep moving up. This presents a great opportunity for web designers and programmers to dip into a growing industry, and there are plenty of opportunities to develop things like custom branded web applications, design mobile sites for companies, and so on.

2. Local Farmer

"Local" and "green" have become incredibly popular buzzwords in e-commerce for the past couple of years. What's more local and green than being a local farmer? Local farming has taken off as well. More and more stores are starting to stock local food and promote local farming. 

There has been a massive push towards buying local, with major chains adding "locally grown" sections. Farmer's markets are becoming more popular too, with over 5,000 markets in the US, and growing. There is plenty of opportunity to be a local grower, with many options for specialty crops with relatively low startup costs.

3. Environmental Consulting

Because "going green" has become so popular among consumers, it's only natural that companies are jumping to make their products and services more environmentally friendly. Teaching these companies how to make themselves more environmentally conscious over the next few years is going to be booming business. IBISWorld estimates that there will be a 9 percent growth year over year within the environmental consulting industry.

4. Handmade Goods

Now that the Internet has made the world a little smaller, it's much easier for individuals without physical storefronts to create and sell products solely online. 

Sites like Ebay and Etsy have created entire marketplaces for buying and selling handmade goods. All you need is a Paypal account (which is free) to receive money, and you're ready to go. 

The best part about selling handmade goods is that it takes very little startup capital. If you have a hobby that you'd like to turn into a business, selling handmade goods is a quick and easy way to go.

5. Small-Scale Food Producer

Aside from being a local farmer, the small-scale food production industry is heating up. Typically these producers use a membership model approach to keep a recurring revenue in place, offering weekly deliveries of hand-made food and keeping a regular client base. The recurring model is great for maintaining a steady revenue stream instead of relying on one-off sales. The goods offered might include bread, fresh produce, dairy, and baked goods.

6. Bakeries

Bakeries, pastry, and bagel shops are growing at a rate of 5 percent. AnythingResearch.com believes that the research shows that people aren't indulging on bigger purchases and instead splurging on lower-priced niceties. Small, niche baked goods stores are growing rapidly.

7. Indie Video Games

It's become much easier to self-publish any type of video game with services like XBox Live. Microsoft has provided a development platform for small-time developers to create games to sell on their marketplace. The $44 billion video game market continues to grow, especially with the mobile and tablet markets taking off. Or you could try the iTunes App store for a mobile development platform. Nielsen found that of all the mobile applications that are being downloaded, 65 percent are games. There is plenty of opportunity and a low barrier of entry for game developers to tap into the massive mobile platform that Apple has created.

8. Pet Sitting

Americans spend more than $34 billion annually on their pets. When it comes to pets, Americans spend freely. This explains why niche industries like pet sitting have grown exponentially. Instead of owners leaving pets in a kennel, pet sitters feed, walk, and provide companionship while the owner is away at work or on vacation. For more information on how to set up a pet sitting or walking business, check out Pet Sitter's Center.


There are plenty of opportunities for entrepreneurs to start successful businesses in unstable economic times. With the recent emphasis on buying local, things like mom 'n pop niche shops are becoming successful. You don't even need a physical shop anymore to sell physical goods to people around the world thanks to the power of the Web.

Glen Stansberry is the co-founder of Howdy, a way for small business sites to improve site conversions. You can find more of Glen's business insights on Wise Bread, the leading personal finance community dedicated to helping people get the most out of their money.