Great Small Business Ideas to Start in 2021


You know you want to start a business, but you're having a tough time articulating your idea. If you want to become an entrepreneur, it's important to start with a great business idea. All you need is a bit of inspiration. It all starts with an idea that has room to grow over time.

If you are thinking of starting a business in 2021, it is critical to take the new normal into account. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed so much about how people consume products and services. While starting a retail business or restaurant might have been good ideas previously, you might be best served to reconsider those thoughts until you see how the next year plays out. Instead of some more traditional businesses, think about those that can support how people are now living their lives.

Great small business ideas

Consultant

If you are knowledgeable and passionate about a specific topic (business, social media, marketing, human resources, leadership, communication, etc.), starting a consultant business can be a lucrative option. You can start your consulting business on your own, then grow your business and hire other consultants over time.

Online reseller

Those passionate about clothing and/or sales may want to consider starting an online reseller business. Although it takes a lot of time and dedication – and an eye for fashion – this is a great idea that you can start as a side hustle and turn into a full-time resale business. You can start by using online store websites like Poshmark and Mercari to sell your unwanted clothing, eventually expanding to your own resale website.

Online teaching

The demand for online education has opened up a wide possibility for entrepreneurs to start their own ventures. Since this is an online business idea, you can choose any subject you are knowledgeable about and teach a course regardless of your location. If you don't have advanced knowledge in any particular subject, you can always consider teaching English as a foreign language online to students overseas.

Online bookkeeping

As with education, technology allows many bookkeeping services to be performed online. If you are an accountant or bookkeeper who wants the freedom and autonomy of running your own business, you can take advantage of modern technology to start your own online bookkeeping service, taking on other companies as clients.

Medical courier service

If you have a reliable vehicle and good time management skills, you may want to consider creating your own courier service – more specifically, a medical courier service. As a driver, you would be responsible for transporting medical items like lab specimens, prescription drugs and equipment. The healthcare industry is expanding, which is great for medical courier service job stability. You could start your courier business on your own or hire other drivers to work for you.

Transcription service

If you have a good ear and can type quickly, a transcription service is a great business idea that allows you to work from home with a flexible schedule. Medical transcription services are especially needed as voice recognition technology proliferates for healthcare provider dictation. If you're not looking to start all at once, or if you have a day job you would like to keep for the time being, you can accept as few or many transcription jobs as you'd like. To boost your business prospects and justify charging more, consider becoming a certified transcriptionist and delving into a few specialties.

Medical transcriptionists typically charge 6 to 14 cents per line of transcription, which can quickly add up. The typical turnaround time for transcription work is 24 hours, so it's important to stay on top of the jobs you accept. However, the flexibility to accept only a few requests to get started means you can scale up as you are ready, making transcription an easy service to start up slowly. Best of all, there is very little startup cost and overhead. You simply need a computer, the appropriate software and a secure messaging service.

Cleaning service

If you like to clean, you can easily turn it into a business. With a few staff members, a host of cleaning supplies and transportation, you can offer cleaning services to homeowners, apartment complexes and commercial properties. Most cleaning services charge between $25 and $50 per hour. Cleaning services are straightforward businesses that require relatively little overhead; you simply need planning, dedication and marketing to get your business noticed.

If you're looking to differentiate yourself from other cleaning services, consider adding premium options like floor waxing or exterior power washing for an additional fee. These services could be the deciding factor between your new cleaning service and seasoned companies that maintain too large a client list to provide that level of cleaning.

Freelance copywriter

If you're a natural wordsmith with a bit of marketing knowledge, you can establish yourself as a freelance copywriter. Whether you write blogs, web content or press releases, plenty of companies will pay for your services. You can increase your value by bringing SEO knowledge to the table to help your clients craft a strategy to attack specific keywords that their target audience is already using in their online searches. Most freelance copywriters charge $40 to $50 per hour, but those with expertise in a given vertical could charge even more.

Freelance copywriting is a great business to run, because as long as you have an internet connection, you can work. It's a business that you can operate from the comfort of your own home, or even from the road if you travel. If you establish a large enough network and gain referrals from satisfied clients, you could even make freelance writing your full-time job.

Home care service

A background in care and hospitality can go a long way to support housebound seniors who require in-home care. It's also a service for which demand is only going to grow. According to the National Institute on Aging, between 2010 and 2050, the 85-and-over population is projected to increase 351% globally, and the global number of centenarians (those over age 100) is projected to increase tenfold. Many will need care and assistance, oftentimes in their own homes.

Luckily, you don't need a background in healthcare to help seniors and grow a successful business at the same time, although those skills are certain to be in demand as well. Many seniors need help with everything from errands to repairs around the house. With some experience, you could consider growing your business to help seniors transition from their homes to assisted living facilities, offering services such as packing, transporting, setting up, or storing their furniture and possessions.

Translation service

According to research from IBISWorld, the translation services industry saw a decline in 2020, as did many industries; however, it is projected to rebound nicely in 2021. That projected growth isn't surprising, as the internet has opened up entrepreneurs in other countries to English-speaking markets and vice versa.

This trend has created an opening for multilingual speakers to offer specific services, such as document translation and the translation of website information into languages for use in other markets. If you know multiple languages, carving out a niche in the translation services industry could be a successful endeavor.

Digital marketing

The importance of the internet grows with every passing day, making it harder all the time for businesses to cut through the clutter and properly market themselves. Digital marketing services are always in demand, and many small and midsize companies would rather outsource it than establish a costly in-house team. If you've got chops in SEO, content marketing, pay-per-click, web development or social media management, you could have a business opportunity that allows you the freedom to work from home.

Digital marketing is an important part of a brand, so it's critical for you to respond to developments in your clients' marketing strategies. Social media management entails watching for comments and messages around the clock, not just scheduling posts in a "set-it-and-forget-it" mindset. If you enjoy strategizing and implementing plans meticulously, digital marketing could be the right business for you. You may also consider becoming an affiliate marketer, which is another form of digital marketing.

Food truck

With indoor dining limited in many locations right now, aspiring restaurateurs might find more success with a food truck. Food trucks come in all shapes and sizes, serving up a wide range of snacks and cuisines. Take your favorite style of food on the road and sell your culinary passions directly to hungry customers. Sure, you'll be working, but you'll be in a space you're passionate about, with a chance to connect to people who have similar interests. 

Food trucks might sound like a wild idea, but the industry is growing. The overhead and upkeep for a truck costs significantly less than owning a restaurant, and you have the added benefit of mobility. If you're interested in serving up smiles, check out our guide to getting your food truck business rolling full speed ahead.

Rideshare driver

If starting your own business seems daunting or too much of a risk, you can always use your car to become a rideshare driver. The overhead and responsibility of running the company falls on the rideshare service, giving you the freedom to work as much or as little as you need. Rideshare applications such as Uber and Lyft have enabled people to start side hustles that pay well and require little more than a willingness to drive people to their destinations and make occasional friendly conversation.

Rideshare drivers have the independence of a small business owner without the heavy workload required to manage the logistics behind the scenes. If any of the other business ideas seem like they require too much effort or upfront capital, ridesharing might be a great way for you to dip your toes into the world of entrepreneurship.

T-shirt printing business

Just like with graphic design, you might enjoy launching a T-shirt printing business if you've got a sharp artistic sense – or maybe you just enjoy taking someone else's visuals and screen-printing them onto a blank shirt. Either way, if you have space for a T-shirt printing setup, you can easily get the necessary tools and start your small business.

Pet sitting

About two-thirds of U.S. families have a pet. When these families go away for extended periods and need someone to watch their pets for them, your pet-sitting small business can give them peace of mind. As a pet sitter, you'll watch over your clients' dogs, cats or other pets at their house, making sure to feed them, give them water, play with them, spend time with them, and (with dogs) walk them as needed. You'll also need to regularly update your clients on how their pets are doing.

If you have other sources of income that require merely an internet connection and a laptop, pet sitting may be an especially apt small business idea. Almost all pet owners will be glad to let you do work on your laptop while you spend time at their home with their pets, meaning that you can run two income streams simultaneously.

What are the most successful small businesses?

Small businesses that involve website design, a subset of digital marketing, tend to be among those that make the most sales and bring in the most profit. People now learn about businesses on the internet more often than via other avenues, so finding clients and a steady income stream isn't usually difficult. Cleaning services and real estate businesses also have high success rates, which makes sense – all people need homes, and they prefer them clean.

What would be a good small business to start?

If you're concerned about maximizing your profit while minimizing your workload, a good small business to start might be any of the ones that most frequently prove successful. However, if you're more interested in incorporating your passions into your work while earning enough money to live, a good small business to start is any that fulfills you, requires you to use your skills and offers you a good work-life balance. There are so many great business ideas that this question has no objectively correct answer – you know better than anyone what small business ideas will bring you happiness, success and stability.


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