20 of the Most Profitable Small Businesses

most profitable small businesses

Small businesses are a vital part of the economy, accounting for more than half of all jobs in the U.S. And while there are many different types of small businesses, each with their own unique challenges and perks, they all have one thing in common: The potential for big profits.

Meanwhile, some small businesses are inherently more profitable than others. This can be due to expenses and overhead being low or the business charging a lot for its services or products. Still, all businesses, no matter how profitable they are, can be a challenge getting started.

Any Profitable Business Can be a Challenge

While starting your small business can be incredibly rewarding in so many ways, it takes a certain kind of person to successfully run a small business.

It pretty much takes someone who is passionate about what they do and has the patience to deal with business challenges—someone who is willing to work hard and often for long hours.

As mentioned earlier, some small businesses are going to be more lucrative than others. On the other hand, you may prefer to make less money and find a small business that gives you joy and a sense of fulfillment. Of course, if you are like the majority of small business owners, you do want to make a profit.

Most Profitable Small Business Ideas

If you yearn to run your own business and are ready to put in the work, take a look at the following 25 most profitable small business ideas.

Tax Preparation and Bookkeeping

Without needing fancy premises or expensive equipment, tax preparation and bookkeeping services come with low overheads. Furthermore, the standard rate for quality tax preparers and bookkeepers is a decent salary to live on.

That said, if you’re not good with numbers, preparing people’s taxes and keeping their finances up-to-date, won’t be the business for you.

Catering Business

You don’t need expensive, fancy kitchens and professional chefs to run your own catering business. Also, you could even operate your service from home, keeping overhead to a minimum. People and businesses are willing to pay for quality caterers, making this business profitable for those who work hard and have the determination to succeed.

Website Design

Websites have become the ‘windows of every successful business.’ As a result, quality and creative website designers remain in high demand. Again, low expenses and high rates make web design one of the most profitable businesses to run, providing you have the creative and technical know-how that is!

Business Consulting

A lot of people want more freedom and flexibility in their lives. If this is something that appeals to you, consider starting a consulting business.

Business owners are almost always willing to invest in quality business consultants who can help them achieve the results they are looking for.

They’re also willing to pay hefty amounts for the right advice, which, tied in with low overhead, makes business consulting a profitable business to embark on.

Of course, effective business consultants do require sound business acumen and knowledge, so this isn’t necessarily the right opportunity for everyone.

Courier Services

Other than having a vehicle with good insurance and workers to deliver the goods, self-employed couriers don’t have a large overhead. That fact makes them one of the more profitable business ideas on this list.

Getting lucrative contracts from the major courier firms can prove profitable. However, in a competitive market, being awarded juicy contracts can be a challenge.

Mobile Hairdresser Services

Granted, you can never charge a fortune to cut someone’s hair but that doesn’t take away from the fact that quality hairdressers will always be in demand.

Furthermore, other than a quality pair of scissors and some hair dye, if you run a mobile hairdressing salon, your business expenses are surprisingly low, making mobile hairdressing a profitable business to run.

That said, mobile hairdressers are not difficult to find, so you’ll probably need to spend some money marketing your services.

Cleaning Services

All you need to start your own business tidying up residences and offices is a vacuum, polish floor cleaner and, preferably, a car.

Millions of small businesses are doing it, but there is still high demand for this niche. After all, busy lives and dirty places aren’t going away anytime soon that we can tell.

With comparatively low overhead and little in the way of training required, cleaning can be a profitable small business to get into.

So why isn’t everyone doing this? Well, if you’re looking for a more creative way to make a living that isn’t messy, cleaning might not be for you.

Online Tutoring

If you are good at math, a native Spanish speaker, a nifty guitar player, or something along those lines, you have a skill you can teach others. Whatever your talent, offering to tutor online can become a profitable small business for you.

Also, you can earn a good income with exceptionally low expenses. Depending on how much time you want to spend on it, a tutoring small business can be your main source of income or a side hustle that supplements earnings from your current profession.

One of the main downsides to online tutoring? You need to have a skill that others will want to learn!

Real Estate Brokering

The profits associated with real estate remain high and if you want to enter this industry one of the most cost-effective ways to do so is to set up a real estate brokering firm.

Real estate brokers act as an intermediary between sellers and buyers and all you need to get started is a brokerage license. That said, finding your own clients can be challenging, given the number of real estate brokers there are.

Logo Design

Got an eye for a great logo? If so, you might be on your way to starting a business where you can charge a tidy sum while not having to fork out on expensive overhead.

For being one of the most successful small businesses around, logo designing is a competitive industry. You’ll have to come up with some unique and inspiring logos to remain at the top of your trade.

Warehouse Storage

Got a spare garage or building that’s not being used? If so, warehousing is one of the easiest of profitable small businesses you can go into.

Providing a place for businesses and individuals to store goods and items can provide a highly profitable and predominantly passive income. Though it must be said, the job isn’t exactly stimulating and therefore isn’t for everyone!

Property Maintenance

Although it isn’t glamorous, property management is one of the more profitable small businesses. There will always be a demand for people who are willing to clean gutters, repair chimneys or pull out stubborn weeds.

While the hourly rate for property maintenance might not make you rich, with low overhead and high demand, property maintenance can be a profitable business to enter—as long as you don’t mind getting your hands dirty!

Technology Repair Services

Got a good eye for technology and how it works? If so, setting up your own technology repair business could see you in high demand as the world becomes increasingly dependent on technology.

Repairing people’s much-loved gadgets can pay well and without much overhead, can prove to be a lucrative business. Naturally, those without a knack for technology will want to steer clear!

IT Support

As we become more reliant on IT to run businesses and go about our daily lives, those who offer IT help and support are extremely sought-after.

Quality IT support technicians can charge a decent rate for their skills and don’t require too much overhead or equipment to run their businesses. However, IT support is a competitive industry, so you’ll need to efficiently market your services to get noticed.

Personal Trainer

If you’re willing to put in the hard work and have a real passion for helping others get fit, personal training could be your ticket to starting a profitable small business.

Personal trainers can earn around $50 per hour and, depending on where they choose to do their sessions (home or gym), may require little overhead. The only downside to becoming a personal trainer is that it requires you to be passionate about exercise and fitness!

Online Coffee Shop

The online coffee industry is booming and with a little start-up capital, you could set up your own online coffee shop that sells high-quality, freshly roasted beans. Also, shoppers consider the coffee they get from a small business to be better quality than what they get at a larger company.

While the initial investment does require some capital, once you are up and running, your expenses will remain low since you don’t have to pay for an expensive storefront or office space.

Plus, with so many people looking for an online coffee shop these days, it won’t be long before your business starts to boom.

Aquaponics Farming

As food sustainability becomes more of an issue, aquaponic farming has become all the rage. In a nutshell, in order to produce organic fruits and vegetables without using chemicals or pesticides, farmers use fish waste as fertilizer for plants, which then filter the water for the fish.

Aquaponic farming is still in its infancy, so there’s a lot of room for growth and those who enter this industry now could be at the forefront of this new trend.

With aquaponics farms requiring little space to operate, it’s a great option for those who want to start their own small business.

Freelance Writing

Thanks to the internet, freelance writing has become a viable career option for many people. If you’re a talented writer with a knack for SEO and know how to market yourself, freelancing can be an extremely profitable way to make money from home.

And the great thing about freelance writing is that you can work on a variety of projects simultaneously, giving you the freedom to make your own hours.

Marketing Services

Businesses and organizations will always want a quality marketing team behind them to boost brand awareness and bring them results.

Marketing agencies can charge a lot for their services and thanks to advancing remote technology and the internet, marketing efforts can be done remotely, keeping startup costs low and profits high.

Still, it must be said, marketing agencies are highly competitive and in order to be a success, you’ll have to show you can deliver results.

Personal Training

Those who want to be fitter, slimmer and healthier, insure there will always be demand for personal trainers (PTs). Earning a qualification in personal training is not overly expensive and once you’re professionally qualified, you can offer your PT services.

Startup costs and overhead is inherently low in this industry, making personal training a profitable and sought-after business.

One of the biggest challenges PTs face is building up a network of clients in a competitive environment.

Tree Plantation

Non-profit small businesses don’t make you rich. In fact, they exist not to make money, but to benefit others.

Still, there is other wealth besides cold hard cash, and the right non-profit organization can give you a sense of satisfaction and fulfillment that can be priceless. If you’ve got a green thumb, tree plantation could be the side business for you.

Tree planting is an industry in extremely high demand, and it is probably one of the sanest non-profit small business ideas nowadays. It comes with low overhead costs, as you don’t have to purchase or maintain expensive equipment. Oh, and you pay the world with more oxygen to boot. Other small business non-profit ideas include animal shelters, food banks, and non-alcoholic clubs.

Food Truck

Providing quality food and drink will always be in high demand, though with expensive overhead, running a restaurant isn’t always as profitable as you might think. Serving food from a food truck, on the other hand, requires much lower overhead and can be one of the most profitable small businesses you can get into. The downside is you have to work out of a van day in, day out slinging hash, which isn’t everyone’s idea of a rewarding business.

Legal Services

Quality legal advice and support come at a price and therefore those with legal knowledge can earn a tidy sum for their expertise, making it one of the most profitable small businesses on this list. That being said, becoming qualified to provide legal advice takes time and money and the amount of training and education required to be able to offer legal services can put many people off.

Delivery Services

Got a van and some spare time? Well, you’ve got your business already mapped out! With virtually no expenses other than keeping your van roadworthy, helping people move and deliver items in your van can be an effective way to earn an income.

The downside? There’s a lot of competition, so make sure your delivery services stand out.


Another profitable business idea is gardening. In addition, people love their gardens and so decent gardeners will always be in demand. The skill of growing plants is healthy and fulfilling work, but it requires an element of creativity to launch and maintain a successful business.

Although gardeners require several tools for their trade, overhead is comparatively low, making gardening a profitable business. Though again, to ensure you get the work, you may have to spend some money on advertising your services.

Whichever profitable business you decide to pursue, make sure that it’s a business idea that you believe can solve a specific problem.

What Do I Need to Start My Own Business?

After what are the most profitable businesses? this is a question that plagues many would-be entrepreneurs. The answer, unfortunately, is not a simple one as it depends on the type of business you want to start.

Generally speaking, you’ll need some money to get started (though there are always exceptions). You’ll also need to have an idea of what it is you’re hoping to achieve. With the right amount of strategic training and passion, having a profitable small business is possible.

What are the Most Profitable Small Businesses?

So what are the most profitable small businesses? Actually, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the most profitable small businesses vary depending on the industry.

However, a few profitable businesses on this list make the cut for bettering your bottom line significantly, including property management, personal training, food trucking and legal services.

So there you have it! These are just some of the most profitable small business ventures that can be started with little overhead and without having to break the bank. If any of these businesses appeal to you, don’t wait around! Get out there and start building your empire today.

Related reading: 51 Business Ideas for 2020

Image: Depositphotos 45 Comments ▼

Gabrielle Pickard-Whitehead Gabrielle Pickard-Whitehead is a professional freelance writer and journalist based in the United Kingdom. Since 2006, Gabrielle has been writing articles, blogs and news pieces for a diverse range of publications and sites. You can read "Gabrielle’s blog here.".

45 Reactions
  1. Not surprisingly, many are service businesses that don’t require much capital or equipment.

  2. Sit at airport with seniors, Sit at doctor office with seniors.

    • Hi Carolyn,
      Would this serve as a companion business? Do you know how to market this type of client base?

      • Tyra,
        Yes this would be companion/caregiving services. You would want to market this type of service as a companion aid or caregiver with pamphlets/ brochures at dr offices/ medical places

  3. A man with a van
    I’m interested in this business
    I Seek proper guidance

  4. unfortunately local politics is the best self employment in india

    • True sir. Politics is the best way to make money but investment is also huge. Also should loose the self-respect to enter into this..

  5. Hi
    I am interested in a courier service can anyone help with more info on how to start please

  6. Chalanda Sinkfield

    I am trying to start a vape shop. Already found a location but not sure where to go from there.

    • My suggestion is look elsewhere. I know in GA vapes are about to be banned and I can only imagine other states will follow. Also, “vaping” is soooo 2017 LOL. That trend has moved on. It’ll be a risky business if you ask me.

    • Alibaba to purchase directly from ecig manufactures in China. Stick to big brands like Smoke, Sigelei etc. Check out fasttech website to see what devices are popular. The money however is in the ejuice. There are ejuice wholesellers you can buy from. If you live in California go to downtown LA wholesell district, theirs an entire block of ecig wholesellers. I’f not may be worth checking out the wholesell districts at your local big city. But you must know what’s popular and follow new consumer trends like Salts etc. Good luck!

  7. Hi
    I am interested in a courier service can anyone help with more info on how to start please

  8. I am looking to own a maid/housekeeping referral agency. Does anyone have experience in this field?

    • Gwendolyn Brandon

      Try maid right. They are the sister company of janpro and will set you up with clients and supplies for a monthly fee. It’s a n easy way to get started and the prices are high enough that you’re able to quickly make a profit. Alot of people who start their own business don’t charge enough per hour to really get off the ground.

  9. In most states running a catering business from your home kitchen is against the law, based on food health requirements. Real catering equipment is not cheap and a requirement to keep food at safe temperatures.

    • Right you are!

      I own a dessert catering service and it’s far from a cheap business. If you prepare non-perishable food, (candy; cookies, chocolates, etc.) you can prepare them at home, but you do need an inspection of your home to obtain a permit. And they charge hefty prices for each inspection.

  10. In the United States, we have local community colleges and small business development centers that help individuals interested in starting a business. Check in your country what resources are available. Apart from the aspects that are specific to your particular business, all businesses need the basics — legal structure, accounting, regulatory issues, etc. However, the most important aspect is marketing. How will your customers learn about your business and why should they choose you over your competition? Consider finding someone who needs help with their business and tell them straight away that your ultimate goal is to have your own business. Learn the business first, then strike our on your own. Best of luck and success to all budding entrepreneurs!

  11. Why do these lists never include insurance agent? The courtesy of the license is minimal and many have gone on to build books of business that generate millions in lifetime income!

  12. You can still start a catering business…. look for an old restaurant thats closed down…..talk to the landlord about renting the kitchen on a percentage of gross revenue basis..
    Rather than monthly rent….this way you pay more when you’re busy and less when things are slower….

  13. Royce Marie Patton

    Does anyone know how I can find out where Energy Healing, especially Chakra healing falls in this category? I’m trying to find out how much money, on average, is spent on things pertaining to the 7 Chakra System

  14. Hi, I was interested in logo designing

  15. hi, I am interested in possibly starting a service of watching homes while people are away. I am a home owner and want to offer this service to other homeowners or renters in the neighborhoods near me.

    I live in a very busy city on the West Coast and would offer others the security that another home owner would be taking care of their home while away. The service I would like to offer would be an hourly charge based on each client’s specific requirements and those would range from feeding their cat to bringing in their mail/deliveries to watering their plants and moving their cars for street cleaning. I came up with this idea because I had the same issues when traveling and would always have to rely on a friend or relative which was a pain.

    Anyway I would like to talk with someone about how to get this set up and if there area any similar people that do this outside of the typical college student offering house sitting.

    Bob Mone

  16. Madhusudan Dewangan

    The business ideas are really good. One of them is real estate brokering which I am interested in. Is there any post for real estate brokering business.

  17. Hi my self Rajesh I’m searching for to start the new business but I’m not looking for any support plz give any suggestions to start the work…

  18. I’m a cna and I would like to open a business helping kids and adults

  19. I am trying to open a place where young kids and youth can come and play and for the older kids a place where they can come and chill . the place is where all the kids can come for birthday parties or any kind of gathering. Can someone please help me get this started? Any information will help me.

    • hy bro! i loved your idea but both kids and teenagers are not interested in same place to chill so kindly prefer whether you are ready kids or teenagers.if your option is kids then start place like park with snacky stuff otherwise start place like casino place where every one can chill

  20. I am interested in starting a place where adults, children and seniors are able to come to learn skills in crafts, carpentry, technology, etc or if someone just needs the space to be able to do their own creating. There would also be rooms available for parties, showers,etc. I know many skilled individuals who would teach classes or just help someone with hands own help. I could supply supply materials for a small fee and would consider selling projects for individuals for a small percentage. Can anyone give me any ideas or help in how I could go about this type of venture.

  21. i would start with the following:
    1. finding the need in your community (church and or schools) to know what classes to offer
    2. building and location
    3. organizing your helpers
    4. applying for grants
    5. fund raiser

  22. I wanted to start up small business with low budget
    Can anyone one help me out with good ideas

  23. do tou think mini super market is a good business, im currently residing in japan, and im planning to put an asian and latin products since latinos are 2nd to the most population here in japan

  24. I have a lot of retail experience, I love organize clothes exc
    I would like to start a business where I can go to clients house , remodel their closet for them. Can anyone help how I can start that or have experience on that .

  25. I own a hair salon, not mobile. It is not the most lucrative business without being mobile. Now imagine adding travel expenses to it. I’m not sure how accurate this article is.

  26. Check out Facebook. I started a house call luxury pet grooming company and thanks to the groups on Facebook I was really able to build my company into a full time gig. I also looked into doing house cleaning groups (really just to learn cleaning tips) but I still get notifications on posts being made to those house cleaning groups and the information that they share is invaluable. I’d highly suggest looking there first. The have all types of pamphlets documents, spread sheets, contract agreements etc. any thing you need those groups have it. I’m sure they probably have at least half a dozen groups for each small business being asked about above. Had I not found those groups I would have never been able to do what I’ve done.

  27. I think a mini catering service is a good idea for a start from my kitchen since I wouldn’t need catering equipment at this stage. Please can someone offer a tip on how to go about it in my neighbourhood’s?

  28. Khaleefat Uthman Abdulsalam

    My name is kally Abdulsalam. I want to start a catering service and a bakery business. I finished college few years ago and I’m still unemployed. This is because here in Nigeria, there are no jobs for the youth. Baking and catering is my passion and I really want to pursue it. If you’re touched in any way to help me out financially, please kindly reach out to me on WhatsApp 08179906809. Thank you and God bless🙏❤️