Small Business Ideas

Small business ideas are everywhere. How do you choose one that is right for you? That's not easy to answer because you need to have a business that you enjoy, will make you reasonable income, and one that has income growth potential.

Let's look at ideas for small business that might appeal to you. If you are thinking about opening a small business, then now is the time to consider a range of possibilities. I can’t list every business that you might operate successfully, but I have a handful for you to consider.

The discussions here will be kept at a general level so we can explore things quickly. If you're thinking about opening a small business, you'll have to do some careful thinking to make sure that what you select matches well with your passion, ability, experience and natural aptitude.

Marketplace is also an important factor when selecting a business. If you stay focused on a marketplace you are familiar with, and use your strengths to your best advantage, you'll have much better chances of success.

Here are some general types of small businesses that you might consider if there are needs to be met in the marketplace, and it otherwise satisfies your interest in operating your own small business.

Service Type Businesses

These are usually good ideas for small business because they are often quick and easy to start. The idea is to perform a service for individuals, landlords, companies and government facilities. The service can be performed in response to a request, by special appointment, or on a regular basis. Be mindful that some services can require considerable labor, and others may require special skills and experience. Still others will require tools, equipment and certifications that aren't commonly found in the community.

Let’s look at some examples:

- Commercial and industrial lawn care and landscape service - Property management - Massage therapist in a medical office - Housecleaning - Photography studio - Residential and commercial house and building painter - Clothing designer - Dog kennel operator and breeder - Commercial window washing service - Removal and hauling - Tow truck operator - Vehicle and fleet service center - Computer software development - Auction house operator

To evaluate each of these small business ideas, you might focus your self-assessment on:

  • Demand for the service - how much demand is there for a dog kennel operator?
  • Skills and experience - how good am I at property management?
  • Resource requirements - what tools would I need to be a handyman?
  • Travel requirements - will I service vehicles at my place or on the road?
  • Seasonal demand - what will I do in the winter if I offer lawn services in the summer?
  • Insurance - what kind and level of insurance will be required for liability?
  • Job satisfaction - do I really enjoy running an auction?
  • Certifications - what are the certifications I should have to be a software developer?
  • Special training and certification - as might be required for a massage therapist.

Product Sales

These small business ideas center on creating and/or selling a product. Products can be made by others, created by the small business owner, or manufactured according to specifications of the small business owner.

Products can be sold locally to retail establishments, offered on consignment, displayed and sold at the location of the small business, sold on a mobile concession stand, sold by mail order, or offered on Ebay.

Examples of products to create and sell include:

- Sandwiches and pizza - Street food vendor - BBQ tools - Candles - Custom jewelry - Cat and dog houses - Home furnishings - Paintings and photographs - Artwork - Novelties and souvenirs.

To evaluate each of these small business ideas, you might focus your self-assessment on:

  • Inventory management - how large a warehouse will I need for my cat and dog houses?
  • Demand - how much demand is there for the artwork that I enjoy producing?
  • Production - will I be able to create products easily and inexpensively so I can meet demand and make a reasonable profit?
  • Investment - how much investment in material will I need to make in order to make a range of custom knives for my customers?
  • Customer interaction - how well can I handle conflict with customers?
  • Product line - how diverse do I have to make my product line to ensure general appeal to marketplace demand?
  • Display of products - do I sell at a booth in the mall, have products displayed in a showroom, or do I take pictures and sell items on eBay?


Small business ideas that focus on providing sales of information are usually easy and inexpensive to launch. Some information products are created ahead of time, and other on demand. The one thing you'll need is specialized knowledge in your area of focus. You'll need to be an expert of sorts in order to persuade your customers that you provide information that is value-added. This makes it worthwhile for them to do business with you.

If you are an expert in one or more areas, here are examples of information you could provide:

- Research on demand - Topical guidance books - Novels - Creation of cutomized websites - Magazine and newspaper articles - Public domain document reprints - Data compilation - Investigator for hire

To evaluate each of these small business ideas, you might focus your self-assessment on:

  • Area of expertise - is my experience sufficiently specialized and robust enough to be in demand and provide acceptable income?
  • Ability to communicate and persuade - are my writing and speaking abilities good enough to "get me in the door" and retain customers?
  • Education - is my education suffient for my intended customer base?
  • Marketplace - what niche in the marketplace can I serve with reprinted information, and is that market large enough to make a reasonable living at such an activity?


This small business idea is typically easy to start, and not especially expensive to fund. It does require specialized skills and knowledge that others are looking for. You have to be on top of your game to advise others on technical and management matters. The business also generally requires travel. Your work could take you all around the world. One of the benefits of your own consulting business is the numerous and varied tasks you'll be involved in. Your work is usually non-routine and therefore doesn't become boring.

If you are an expert in one or more areas, here are examples of services you could provide:

- Request for proposal (RFP) writing - Grant request preparation - Technical problem solving - Market analysis - Process audits - Negotiations - Project and task scheduling and management - Recruiting

To evaluate each of these small business ideas, you might focus your self-assessment on:

  • Service area - where is my service area, and am I comfortable with conducting business there?
  • Associations - do I have good connections with industry organizations and other businesses that can help me identify prospective clients?
  • Travel requirements - can my personal life handle a lot of travel?
  • Education - are my educational credentials "up to snuff" in the eyes of my customers?
  • Communication - are my writing and speaking skills of the quality that my customers expect?

Real Estate

As a small business idea, real estate is a service, but it deserves its own category. It's activities and demands are not typical of other service providers. Real estate offices dot the map like popcorn, and people from all walks of life are getting into real estate. It seems there is good potential for a wide range of individuals to be successful in a business like this.

Let's look at examples of what you might do in the area of real estate:

- Agent with your own office - Broker - Property manager for apartments - Landlord and manager of your own property - Apartment manager in residence - Home appraiser - Inspector for home buyers

To evaluate each of these small business ideas, you might focus your self-assessment on:

  • Training - are you willing to train for a career in real estate to be a licensed agent?
  • Knowledge - are you experienced in real estate and have an aptitude for finance and law?
  • Communication - is spending time on the phone something you are comfortable with?
  • Travel - driving around showing people various homes and unimproved properties will consume much of your time. Is that something you'll enjoy?
  • Management - are you fair minded when dealing with people? You'll need to be with tenants?
  • Work hours - can you respond 24 hours to tenant problems?
  • People skills - can you "read" people, and are you willing to pre-qualify them so you aren’t spending time with people that are just "kicking tires"?


Again, here are small business ideas that involves selling things, but they are really in a category of their own. Reselling can be fun and profitable, especially if you enjoy shopping and trading. It requires a knack for getting bargains. It also requires that you know what customers want and provide them with the product efficiently. Also, you must be on the "beaten path" where it is convenient for customers to do business with you.

Items for resale can be found at estate sales, rummage sales, auction, and garage sales. The key to this small business idea is knowing the value of things so you buy them at a low price, and mark them up for reasonable profit. You need to make good return on investment for each item to cover the cost of your time and transportation. It is likely that storing and shipping items, and advertising will be part of this type of business.

Examples of reselling include:

- Space at outdoor flea markets - Booth at an indoor flea market - Selling items on eBay - Operating a shop that buys, fixes and resells equipment or appliances

To evaluate each of these small business ideas, you might focus your self-assessment on:

  • Shipping - will you enjoy packaging things up for shipping?
  • Scavenger - are you a good scavenger and do you have time for that?
  • Appraising - do you have the experience and judgement required to place value on items?
  • Marketing - can you make your products attractive to potential buyers?
  • Stock - what kind of room will you need to store items for sale?
  • Display - how will you display and organize items for prospective buyers?
  • Effort - are you willing to pickup, advertise, sell and deliver/ship items?
  • Investment - do you have the resources to buy things, knowing that it may take months to sell them?
Regardless of the small business idea you select, remember to perform an extensive "what if" analysis. You need to consider, among other things: how to attract and retain customer; how to differentiate yourself from competitors; your natural ability and aptitude for the business; physical and mental demands of the activity; potential for income; anticipated travel requirements; depth and breadth of the marketplace; upfront investment in infrastructure and inventory; and, requirements for licensing and certification.

After narrowing your choice of small business ideas, it's time to take the best of the ideas and put together a business plan. This is one way to help make certain the business you are considering is well suited for you and will get off to a good start.

Done with Small Business Ideas, take me Home

The only business you'll really ever be part of is your own.

Wondering about what to do with your savings so inflation doesn't eat it up? Start your own enterprise. It's a good way to invest your capital and make it work for you. Who will be better at keeping an eye on your investment than you?