If you’re thinking about starting a new business, you might want something without a lot of competition but that you can start without spending a fortune. Maybe you want a new side hustle to make up for rising costs or you need to supplement what you’re making while laid off or on a strike from work. Finding new business ideas is easy. What’s hard is finding one that you can start and make successful.
First, you should think about what your skills are and what you’re passionate about. The Small Business Administration estimates around 33.2 million small businesses exist in the United States. The number changes a bit from year to year but has been on an upward trajectory since the pandemic.
Unfortunately, around 32% of small businesses survive the 10-year mark and about 20% close during the first year. Figuring out how to navigate the challenges and come out on the other side requires starting with the right idea in the first place.
You’ll want to seek an industry that isn’t overcrowded in your area. Invest only what you can afford to lose. Join local chamber of commerce groups and plugin to the small business community in your area before figuring out the new business ideas most appealing to you.
We spent some time brainstorming, talking to small business professionals and thinking about the types of companies people might start. We’ve come up with a selection of common options, unique ones, businesses to start on a shoestring budget and ones requiring a bit of capital. Here are our 30 favorites!
1. Personal Chef
Check the food business laws in your state to see if this type of business is a possibility. You can have clients and go cook in their homes–okay in most states.
But, if you live in a state with generous cottage food laws, you may be able to cook a meal in your kitchen, box it up and deliver it to your clients so they have a warm dinner ready when they get home from work.
If you have a hard time understanding the law as written, contact your local health department and talk to them about requirements. Some may want you to rent a commercial kitchen or pass an inspection. Find out what you need to do before starting a food business.
2. Children’s Parties Character
Do you love children? You might enjoy dressing up as a favorite character and attending children’s parties for a fee. Think about something unique no one else is doing. If you can get a few friends to join in, you might go as Luigi, Mario and Peach. Dress up like Rapunzel or a knight and go tell fairy tales to the kids and lead them in a fun activity.
3. App Developer
If you’re a bit technical, you could learn how to develop new apps fairly easily. Consider what isn’t available that might make people’s lives better and create an app for it. As your skills grow, you can likely pick up some business clients who’ll hire you to create an app for their customers.
Sites like Codecademy and Udemy offer courses to lead you through the basics and help you create your first programs.
Taking care of other people’s children while they work isn’t a new concept. However, it is a business you can start almost immediately. If you have children of your own, you’ll be able to stay with them rather than spending time apart. Some daycares become quite lucrative.
Some things to keep in mind are licensing and rules in your state. You may be limited to a certain number of children if running the daycare out of your home.
It’s smart to ake out an umbrella insurance policy that covers the business to protect your personal assets. You can always hire helpers and find a commercial location later as your brand grows.
5. Mobile Dog Groomer
If you love working with pets, you may want to take some certified courses in dog grooming. Make sure you invest the money to learn the necessary skills. The last thing you want to do is accidentally nick someone’s pet or botch their cut because you don’t know what you’re doing.
Once you’ve gained the skills, buy a used van and convert it into a mobile grooming station. You can charge more to go to people’s homes and work on their pets.
Mobile dog groomers often stick with smaller breeds, pointing to the fact that they often have a tighter space to work and must pick the animal up and put it on a table. The work is back breaking if you have to lift a 90-pound critter.
6. Clothing Boutique Owner
If you love unique and fun clothes, you might want to come up with a clothing boutique. You can sell the items online or in a retail shop. The key is to find things no one else offers.
One local children’s boutique owner called “Tootsie’s Children’s Boutique” uses a unique approach. She shares upcoming finds to a Facebook group. People say if they want to order the item and state what size or other details. Then, she sends an invoice, orders the clothing and ships or lets people pick it up at her home.
By using an online pre-ordering system, you can get started but avoid the overhead of buying inventory and retail space. The key is to find seasonal items people can’t get anywhere else.
7. Tour Guide
If you live in an area with a lot of fun sights or unique things, turn yourself into a tour guide and hire out your services to groups. Take them on a ghost walking tour of the town. Host a hike through the local forestry and teach them how to forage. Think about what you love most about your area and turn it into a business.
8. Environmentally Friendly E-commerce Store
Starting an e-commerce store is likely one of the easiest new business ideas you can try. You can sell nearly anything you might imagine, including digital goods. Find something you enjoy selling and then consider how to give it a green edge.
For example, if you sell clothes, sell bamboo ones because of their sustainability and high quality, soft fibers. If you offer cooking utensils, seek ones that are made ethically and without toxic materials.
9. Custom Clothing Designer
Do you know how to sew and have a desire to create fashion? Become your own clothing designer no matter where you live. With the popularity of online shopping and platforms such as TikTok, you can create beautiful designs and share them with the world from the smallest town imaginable.
10. Organic Vegetable Grower
For those who have an organic vegetable garden, one new business idea is to grow a few types of plants and sell the fruit and veggies. Try to grow things that bring bigger profits, such as ginseng, garlic or things that aren’t easy to find in the grocery store.
11. Dog Walker/Sitter
An almost zero overhead business you can start is being a dog walker and/or sitter. People need someone to come walk their dogs in the middle of the day while they work or to stay with them when they go out of town. Boarding isn’t a good option for every pet.
You can list your services on a site such as Rover or you can create flyers and put them in mailboxes around town until you get enough clients to make it worth your while. Make sure you’re bonded and insured to protect you and the client.
12. Elderly Errands Companion
Older people often have a hard time getting out and going shopping alone but their family isn’t available to help. Enter the companion, who can take them to the grocery, drug store or wherever they’d like to go. Charge by the hour and provide a valuable and compassionate service to help people in their elder years.
13. Mobile Windshield Repair
Buy a kit and learn how to repair windshields. You’ll want some training as it could create liability if you fix a window and then it breaks while the person is driving. You can also buy into a franchise and combine the windshield repair with a replacement location for those pesky cracks that can’t be fixed with a repair.
14. Car Detailing
Speaking of cars, buying just a handful of items can help you start a quick car detailing business. Detailing is a great side hustle because you can take on as many or as few clients as you’d like. You can also offer the cleaning in the evenings or on weekends to work around a full-time job.
15. Dog Pooper Scooper
People who own dogs don’t always scoop their poop when they have a fenced back yard. It piles up and then they need it gone. No one likes doing the job, except someone getting paid to do it. With a scooper, some plastic bags and gear such as plastic gloves, you can start this business and make a tidy profit.
16. Window Cleaning
Window cleaning is another business that costs very little to get into. Spray bottles, soft rages and squeegees are all you need. You can do whatever jobs come your way or specialize in commercial or residential properties. Like other situations where you’re working on someone else’s property, get insured and bonded for your protection and theirs.
17. Office Catering
If you enjoy making bento boxes for your kids’ lunches, you might like putting a personalized charcuterie to go together. Sell to companies for their meetings or take orders on a specific day and deliver to office workers.
Again, check food safety procedures and laws in your state. You may also need a business license and to collect tax on food orders.
18. Professional Cuddler
Hear me out. Huffington Post did a deep dive into various research and found people need around eight to 12 hugs per day for stability and growth. A mere four hugs helped with depression. People need hugs but some have no one in their life to give them.
Hugging someone doesn’t have to be creepy. Just make sure to lay out the ground rules and vet people carefully for your protection. It’s not for everyone, but if you need some hugs, too, you might want to consider starting a professional cuddler brand.
19. Tree and Plant Doctor
Do you love anything green? You can take courses through your local college extension and get certified to be a tree or plant doctor. People can call on you when they aren’t sure what to plant or are worried about a tree’s health.
A tree doctor assesses the situation and then figures out what might help the plant thrive. They can also decide if something is beyond help so you can remove and replace it.
20. Aerial Photography and Videography
Do you love playing with drones? Aerial photography and videography may be the gig for you. Do special events, still images of people’s property and weddings. You will need to invest in a drone that can either carry a high resolution camera or take excellent images. Ideally, you’ll add more than one but you can start with a single drone and build your business from there.
21. Box Subscription Service
Do you have a great idea for a box subscription service? Start one today and send monthly selections to your mailing list. The great thing about a box subscription is that the money rolls in every month. You might need to replace clients as they leave so keep up with advertising. However, the initial costs to get started are small.
You also can run a box subscription business as a side hustle while working your main job. If it begins to grow beyond what you can handle on your own, hire a few high school students to help you fulfill orders.
22. WordPress Theme Designer
Web designers probably know how complex it can be to find the perfect WordPress theme to meet a client’s needs. If you have a bit of coding experience, you may want to create themes and sell them or offer a free and professional version to users.
WordPress is the most popular content management system (CMS). Here at Designerly, we feature a different plugin each month. However, themes are also a crucial part of creating a new site via WP, so designing them could be quite lucrative.
23. Organizational Consultant
Have you ever gone into a store, doctor’s office or community building and thought to yourself that if they were just more organized, they’d do better? Turn your great organizational skills into a side hustle or full-time business by offering your skills to local companies.
Offer a free consultation and then a free solution to one thing they can change to become more efficient. Once they see the value of what you do, they’ll want the full plan and will hire you to come in and overhaul everything from procedures to the way employees interact with customers.
24. Online Influencer
Do you have a great personality or inside knowledge no one else has? If you can pick up a camera and come across as interesting and authoritative, you can have a following large enough to get paid for promoting products or per view.
Find a niche that makes sense for you and start creating content for social media platforms such as TikTok, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. You can start without any money as long as you have a phone with a high resolution camera. You’ll only need to invest your time and effort at first.
25. Home Inspector
Do you know a lot about how things work inside the home? If you can spot a foundation problem a mile away, becoming a home inspector may be the job for you. You should create a checklist so you don’t miss any crucial points. If you don’t know one area as well as others, take the time to train in that area.
Being a home inspector lets you help people find their dream home without the risk of buying a money pit.
26. Mortgage Specialist
Also in the housing field, a mortgage specialist might work with a number of underwriting companies to help home buyers find financing. You’ll need to be good with numbers. Know what options are available for first time home buyers, low income and military.
Find the companies that will take a chance on those with less than perfect credit scores. Bend over backwards to help your clients qualify for the home they want and you’ll develop a reputation in the industry for being a miracle worker.
27. Gravesite Cleaning
Cleaning old tombstones requires knowledge of the materials they’re made of and a few cleaning supplies. You’ll be surprised what you can accomplish with a little soap and elbow grease. Sell a gravesite cleaning service package where you go back once or twice a year and fresh up the site.
You can also add in some extras such as placing new flowers at the site.
28. Wheel Repair for Bikes, Wheelchairs, Etc.
If you’re good at fixing things, you may want to become a repair person for bike and wheelchair wheels. When the economy fluctuates, you’ll have a recession-proof business. People won’t want to spend extra on a new chair or bike so they’ll happily pay you to fix the problem.
29. Unique Delivery Business
Forget singing telegrams. What if you could be at the forefront of letting people deliver a unique experience to their loved ones for a birthday or other special occasion. Be the person who fills the yard with pink flamingos and a birthday banner.
30. Plant Waterer
If you have a green thumb, you might want to start a business keeping up with houseplants. You’ve likely seen them in shopping malls, doctors’ offices and professional buildings. Someone has to come in to water, fertilize and care for the plants. It might as well be you.
More New Business Ideas
If you haven’t checked out our graphic designer salary series and you have a design degree, check it out now. Finding a new business idea is simple. Once you’ve started the business, you’re not even halfway there. Take the time to apply smart principles to your new endeavor. No matter what type of new business idea you embrace, you’ll need the basics of running a small business to succeed.
About The Author
Eleanor Hecks is the Editor-in-Chief of Designerly Magazine, an online publication dedicated to providing in-depth content from the design and marketing industries. When she's not designing or writing code, you can find her re-reading the Harry Potter series, burning calories at a local Zumba class, or hanging out with her dogs, Bear and Lucy.