I sure wish the internet was around when I first opened my business in 1991. An easy web search would have made life much easier, especially because I would have been able to source the most profitable businesses to open, and would likely have gone that route!
When I first started in business, doing research was difficult. It meant I had to go down to the library to research different businesses and industries.
In fact, prior to opening my business, I spent days in the UCLA library reviewing what would be the next big, up, and coming industry.
I happened upon the telecom market, and the business that I opened subsequently, I operated for almost 30 years up and until my exit three years ago. The business did extremely well, I grew the company to over 50-employees, and sold for 8-figures to private equity. You can read the article and more about the sale of my business, and how I grew it, here, and if you want to know how to become a decamillionaire you can read that here.
Fast forward a few years, and the internet revolution was upon us.
Had the internet been around, it would have made doing business research that much easier.
Not only that, but, I definitely would have researched the best, and most profitable small businesses to open as I mentioned above.
If you’re going to open a business, some industries are less competitive than others, with greater profit margins, and have fewer barriers to entry.
Having said the above, let’s review some of the industries by profitability, and then I will review some of the possible small businesses that you can open. The goal, of course, is to help you figure out what business you should open, and this article will be an excellent starting point.
I am also very aware that COVID-19 has changed the business landscape, and in fact, if you’ve now found yourself without a job, or, are looking to create some financial independence in your life, then there’s no better time than the present to open a new business.
There’s no better time to start a business because we’re at the cusp of what will become some entirely new industries and unique business ideas that will span as a result of the virus, which has created havoc for some industries and created a real boom for others.
In addition, some costs, like advertising, for example, and some other startup costs could be lower today than they would have a year ago. The best eCommerce platforms are also cheaper than they used to be. You can read my thoughts on the changing business landscape and the opportunities here: There’s Never Been a Better Time to Open a New Business Than During COVID-19
Having said all of the above, it’s all too common for entrepreneurs to launch their business, and then almost “forget” how important profitability is to the business.
On this note, it’s essential to start with a business plan. You need to communicate a strategy to start your business. Having a business plan gives insight into actions to be taken, the tools needed to accomplish your company priorities, and a timetable of predicted results.
The Most Profitable Business by Sector:
Before we dive into my carefully crated list of small businesses you can open in 2021, I want to spend a minute highlighting a study done by Sageworks in 2017. In the study, they listed the industries and businesses that were most profitable by sector. I’ve cross-referenced that with the United States Census Bureau. Here’s what they found:
** To clarify what these percentages mean, they are the EBITDA margins. The amount of profit as a percentage of revenue.
- Accounting = 18.4%
- Lessors of Real Estate = 17.9%
- Legal Services = 17.4%
- Management of Companies = 16%
- Activities Related to Real Estate = 14.9%
- Office of Dentists = 14.8%
- Offices of Real Estate Agents = 14.3%
- Non-Metalic Mineral and Mining = 13.2%
- Office of Other High Practitioners = 13%
- Medical and Diagnostic Labs = 12.1%
- Privately-held Companies = 8.9%
27 Of The Most Profitable Businesses With Low Startup Costs to Open in 2021
Using the above list, I have compiled some businesses that are potentially ancillary, or complementary to the industries listed above. In addition, I am also mindful that the small business landscape has changed now as a result of COVID-19 and the current recession, which we’re (hopefully) now exiting.
Many of the businesses listed below are potentially even more suitable now considering the current small business landscape. With limited company formations being done at a low cost or, in some cases, for free, there might be many smaller businesses being erected and making way for entrepreneurs to create their own wealth. So, let’s review:
Although technically this one isn’t a small business, it is an easy way to make a few extra bucks, so I decided to throw it into the mix. And don’t worry, taking surveys isn’t one of the business ventures I’m recommending you start. You can take online surveys, even if you’re as young as 13, and you will be paid anywhere from $2 to $75 per survey. It’s a simple way to make extra money, it’s easy to do, it’s free to sign-up, and although you won’t get rich, you can still earn a few extra dollars while you’re watching TV or in your spare time. My kids have used Survey Junkie. You can sign up here.
In terms of managing your business, if there are times you worry about your employees plunge into online surveys too much, you can try monitoring their activity without being too much of an intruder. And if you’re wondering how to see someones search history without them knowing, mSpy is the best app to do that.
1. Start a Blog
The upside potential is huge in two ways. First, if you are able to build a blog that can produce profits of $1,000 per month, for example, then you’ve also built an asset that’s potentially worth upwards of $30K to $35,000 if you were to sell your blog, so, not only are you making passive recurring money, you’re also building your own small business that has sellable value. I’ve written about blog valuation here: How to Make a 600% Return on a Business Investment Inside 24-Months, and Compare Returns using IRR
2. Business Consulting:
Businesses of all sizes are willing to invest in consulting services, sometimes spending thousands, and even hundreds of thousands of dollars a year on consulting services. Perhaps you have a skill or were educated in a particular function, maybe even from a previous job. You can use those skills to offer consulting services to other businesses.
3. Courier Services:
Delivering packages is something that you can start on your own, and eventually build into a larger type of business. You, of course, need a website, and vehicle, some polished marketing, and you can pick up and deliver on your own, or even hire drivers to help. Should you decide to focus on a particular area of the city, let’s say the downtown core, you can even offer bicycle courier services.
4. Cleaning Services:
As families and households get busier, they look to outsource more of the responsibilities in order to free up their time. You can create some flyers, post them in your geographic area, and offer to clean homes for others. Cleaning is especially relevant now with people’s senses heightened because of viruses. You can open a business offering special COVID cleaning services, and even offer a “seal of approval”.
5. Personal Chef:
Similar to the home cleaning services listed above, families are stretched for a time after the end of a long workday. If you have some skills in the cooking area, you can offer to cook for other busy families, and presuming they live close to you, you could also cook meals for others.
6. Tutoring, both Online and In-person:
It’s homework time, and the kids need help with their math, English, or other studies. Many parents either don’t have the time to help their children, or, frankly, aren’t educated enough in grade 11 calculus, or Spanish, so, they hire a tutor, If you have skills in any particular area, you can start in person, or online tutoring. Once you establish a reputation in a particular area, you can subcontract others to help in additional subjects.
7. Logo and Design Services
Perhaps you have a skill in the arts? Or some experience using tools like Publisher, or Abobe Creative Suite. If so, then you can do a logo, and other graphic design services for other small businesses like Appy Pie Design.
8. Property Management:
If you live in a more populated area, then there will surely be apartment buildings around that you can manage. Many property owners don’t have the time, or inclination to manage their own properties and seek assistance from others to help them with the day-to-day management, record keeping, and rent collection.
9. Technology Consulting and Repair
Do you have a skill in computers? Perhaps you were a computer technician in a prior role? If so, then you can assist others who need assistance with doing computer installations, upgrades, bug repairs, virus scanning, network connections, and so on with technology consulting and repair businesses.
10. Marketing Services:
This is one that is near and dear to my heart. Marketing was at the core of the company that I started in 1991, and frankly, is at the core and success of most small businesses. If you have some skills in marketing, marketing automation, SEO, SEM, website design, and so on, then you can assist other small business owners who struggle in this area.
11. Personal Trainer:
I like to stay fit. I also go to the gym at least 4 to 5 times a week. While there, I often see others getting training from personal trainers with experience in weight lifting, cardio, and proper weight lifting form.
12. Have Van, Will Help:
From seniors to individuals in a rush, many need help with moving both small and large items from place to place. If you have a van and are willing to transport small and large items, then you can post on available search sites offering moving services for others.
13. Gardening and Grass Cutting:
The perennial (no pun intended) favorite for the high-school teen, gardening is something that every homeowner needs to be done, and since many won’t have the time to do this themselves, all you’re missing is a few tools, lawn signs, and voila, you’re in the gardening business.
14. Snow Clearing:
Winter happens upon us, like clockwork, from November to March every year, and invariably, people will need assistance cleaning their path walks and driveways of snow.
15. Real Estate Brokerage:
This one is somewhat trickier to get into, but, perhaps you have a skill or experience in real estate sales. If so, you can consider getting your brokerage license, and opening real estate brokerage service.
16. Mobile Hair Cutting:
Taking time out of a busy day is something that many just don’t have the time for, busy families especially. Imagine driving up to a family home, and doing the entire family of four inside of 90 minutes. It’s convenient for the family, and for the haircutter/barber as well.
Here’s an area where I can definitely use some help. I can change lightbulbs, and do some basic plumbing, but, outside of that, and I need help, as do so many others. And it’s always difficult to find a reliable, and skilled individual who can assist with the day-to-day things that need to be fixed, or done around the home.
18. Food Truck:
Have truck, will serve food. I’ve been to two adult parties in the last year where the adults hosted the party at their home, but, the people hosting the party either didn’t have the time, or inclination to cook a meal for 30 to 40 people. If you have skills in coking, perhaps you can offer your services.
19. Social Media Consultant:
Many small businesses need an online social media presence, but, they either don’t have the time, knowledge, skills, or all of the above, to do this themselves. If you do, then you can offer these services such as A/B Testing with Social Media to other small businesses, located anywhere really. You can set up your own website, and even advertise your services on Upwork, for example.
20. Tax Preparer:
It’s that time of year once again. Yes, just like winter arrives every year, so does tax time, and many have no idea where to even begin with regards to preparing their taxes.
If you can speak multiple languages, then you might have a job offering translation services for other people or companies. Other than a website, you don’t need any capital to get started, and as long as you have an internet connection, you can work from anywhere.
22. Video production:
Have camera, will travel. OK, this was similar to the wording I use with the food truck, but, same holds true for video production as well. If you have skills in video production and editing, then you can offer to take videos for births, weddings, parties, or other occasions.
23. Travel Planning:
One of my favorite things to do is travel. I also happen to enjoy planning the trip, and doing the research, but, not all do. This job might also allow you to travel the works and visit other interesting destinations from around the world.
I can’t even begin to explain how many cold-calls I made over the years, and frankly, I didn’t much enjoy doing the job. BUT, it was a necessary part of the business. As the business grew, I hired an inside sales team to assist. If you have sales skills and know-how to source leads, then you can offer telemarketing services to other small businesses. The startup costs are fairly low, and you can work from anywhere.
25. Bicycle Repair
Granted, bicycle repair could be somewhat cyclical based on season, or geographic location, but, for many who count on their bikes to commute from point A to point B, this could be an excellent small business to open. Not only are the start-up costs quite low, but, with a few tools, an excellent website, some SEO, and you could be up and running in no time.
26. Boat Cleaning
Granted, this one, like the bike repair, is also quite seasonal, but, could also be potentially extremely lucrative, especially if you’re mechanically inclined. It also falls under the axiom … “have tools, will travel”, only this time, you’re traveling by boat, and hopefully spending time in the sun. And like many on this list, all you’ll need are a few tools, some know-how, an excellent website from a marketing perspective (and you can get a marketing plan example here), and you’re off to the races.
27. Ride-Sharing Driver
For this one, you’re going to need a car of course, unless you can pull someone along on your bicycle (I’m kidding of course). But, if you do have a car, and don’t mind driving, then you can buy yourself a job by driving people around with either Uber or Lyft. All it takes is a sign-up on their website, load an app to your phone, and before you know it, you’re in business! I must admit, this one isn’t my favorite because you’re selling your time for money, and it isn’t that scalable, but, it can be somewhat profitable, and is definitely easy to get going with.
28. Coffee Shop
Last but not least, you can choose to open a coffee shop. People love coffee, they will have
it in the morning, afternoon, or any time of the day. To have the best coffee shop, you need to
invest in the right equipment, so that your customers keep coming while getting your
equipment, don’t forget to invest in the best budget coffee grinder so your clients can enjoy
the best cup of coffee and keep coming for more.
Hopefully, you’ve been inspired by the long list above.
Good luck with your business and wealth-creating journey.
If you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy this one: Profit Isn’t a Disease. It’s the By-Product of a Well-Run Company. If You’re Not Yet Profitable, Fix It or Get a Job.
You should also consider subscribing to my blog. I publish one article a week on small business and wealth creation. You can subscribe here.
Also, I published a book during the summer of 2018, “The Kickass Entrepreneur’s Guide to Investing, Three Simple Steps to Create Massive Wealth with Your Business’s Profits.” It was number 1 on Amazon in both the business and non-fiction sections. You can get a free copy here.