Starting your own small business is a big decision. Of course, you want to start a business in a field that you enjoy, but you also want to set yourself up for success by choosing one that’s likely to turn a profit. 

But how do you know which are the most profitable small businesses to start? There are some factors to consider, like overhead costs and the level of demand in your area. But there are also certain industries that are seeing a wave of popularity right now. 

If you’re looking for a business idea that will be profitable and have low startup costs, consider one of these in-demand options that allow you to be your own boss.

The 7 most profitable small business ideas

Although there are many different types of small businesses which can turn a profit, there are some which are objectively considered the most profitable today. We’ll dive into each one more deeply, but here’s a quick overview of the 7 top profitable business ideas:

  1. Personal training and health coaching
  2. Web design and development
  3. Social media marketing and management
  4. Technology repair services
  5. App development and coding
  6. Cleaning services
  7. Virtual assistant services 

Identifying the most profitable small businesses

The most important step is determining what you’re passionate about and the skills you can leverage. By focusing on your strengths and interests, you’ll set yourself up for success as a small business owner. 

The most profitable small businesses usually solve a problem or meet a need in the market. They have low startup costs and high earning potential. These include:

Website and app development. 

Building websites and mobile apps for clients is a highly profitable business. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job market for web developers and software engineers is growing much faster than average. The startup costs are low and you can work from home.

Digital marketing and social media management

Helping businesses improve their online presence through services like social media marketing, search engine optimization, and pay-per-click advertising is a lucrative small business idea. The demand for digital marketers and social media managers is high, and many small business owners need help creating an online presence and marketing their business. Overhead costs are low and you can work remotely.

Creating online courses

Creating and selling your own online course is a popular and profitable business model. People are always looking to learn new skills online. If you have expertise in a subject area, consider packaging that knowledge into an online course. Production costs are typically low, and once you’ve developed the content, you can sell it to students over and over again. Popular course topics include business, personal development, and skills training.

Personal training

For fitness enthusiasts, becoming a personal trainer can be a rewarding small business. Personal trainers are in high demand and you can charge premium rates. While startup costs vary depending on if you need equipment, you can get started with relatively low overhead, and the earning potential is high. Many trainers run their business out of a local gym or train clients at their homes.

Low overhead costs are key for profitability

Overhead costs are ongoing business expenses not directly attributed to creating a product or service. Things like rent, utilities, and admin staff represent a significant portion of small business expenses. High overhead costs can eat into profits and make it difficult to compete against other businesses, so to build a profitable small business, it’s essential to keep overhead costs low.

Some of the most profitable small businesses to start are those with low startup and overhead costs. Keeping costs low and choosing a business model with high profit potential will set you up for success as a small business owner. With hard work and persistence, you can build a thriving business.

Working from home can maximize profits

One of the best ways to boost your profits is by having employees work remotely. When your team works from home, it cuts down on major overhead costs like office space, supplies, utilities, and equipment. This means more of your revenue can go directly into your pocket.

Working remotely is a win-win for both employers and employees. Employers can enjoy:

  • Greater productivity and revenue. Remote teams can get more work done in less time since they avoid commute times and office distractions.
  • Lower costs. Eliminating expenses like lease payments, furnishings, and office upkeep saves thousands per year.
  • Access to top talent. You can hire the best candidates from anywhere, not just your local area.

For employees, remote work means:

  • No commute. Working from home saves hours of time and frustration sitting in traffic each week.
  • Flexibility. Remote workers can create their own schedules and work when they’re most productive.
  • Better work-life balance. Working remotely makes it easier to avoid burnout by balancing work and personal responsibilities.

Most of the businesses we’ll discuss below are suitable for remote work. With remote capabilities, small business owners can build highly profitable companies with minimal overhead costs. And by giving employees the option to work from home, you’ll attract top talent, gain their loyalty, and motivate them to do their best work. For those looking to start a small business, going remote could be your key to success.

Personal training and health coaching

Personal training

If you’re looking for a business idea with high demand and the potential for high profits, consider becoming a personal trainer or health coach. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of fitness trainers and instructors is expected to grow 14% from 2022 to 2032, much faster than the average for all occupations.

As a personal trainer, you focus on improving your clients’ physical fitness through exercise and physical activity. You can help people get into shape, build strength and flexibility, lose weight, train for a sport, or improve their quality of life. 

To become a certified personal trainer, you’ll need to complete a training program and pass an exam. Then you can work at a gym, train clients in their homes, or start your own business. Here are some of the advantages to setting up a personal training business:

  • Low startup costs. The initial investment is relatively low. You need liability insurance, some basic equipment, and a way to find and schedule clients.
  • High earning potential. Experienced personal trainers can make $50,000 per year or more, and even entry-level trainers can charge $25 per hour-long session.
  • Flexible schedule. You can set your own hours and work as much or as little as you want. Some trainers work part-time while others train clients full-time.

As a health coach, you help clients make positive lifestyle changes to improve their health and wellness. You provide motivation and accountability, help set goals, suggest meal plans, and offer education about nutrition, exercise, stress management, and more. 

To become a certified health coach, you complete a training program. Then you can work with individuals or for businesses. Here are some of the advantages to setting up a health coaching business:

  • High demand. With rising obesity and healthcare costs, demand for health coaches is growing. Many gyms, hospitals, and corporate wellness programs employ health coaches.
  • Location independent. Much of a health coach’s work can be done remotely via phone, video chat, and email, so you have the flexibility to work from anywhere.
  • Multiple revenue streams. In addition to working one-on-one with clients, health coaches can develop online courses, sell informational products, speak at events, and build a social media following.

Whether as a personal trainer or health coach, you can start a rewarding business helping others achieve their fitness and wellness goals. By keeping costs low and providing a needed service, these types of businesses can be very profitable.

Web design and development

Web design and app development

Every small business needs a professional website, but not everyone has the skills to create one, so web developers are in high demand. If you have an eye for design and good technical skills, web development could be the perfect business idea for you.

Building mobile-friendly websites for small businesses allows you to work from home with low overhead costs. Web designers typically charge around $75/hour, and even a basic website costs over $6,000. Some of the most profitable web development services to offer include:

  • Website design and build: Creating eye-catching yet user-friendly websites tailored to a client’s brand. This includes layout, graphics, and content.
  • E-commerce sites: Building websites to sell products or services online. This allows small business owners to reach more customers and increase revenue.
  • Content management systems: Installing systems like WordPress to allow clients to easily update their own website content.
  • Search engine optimization: Optimizing websites to rank higher in search engines like Google. This leads to more organic traffic and potential customers.
  • Maintenance and support: Providing ongoing support and updates to client websites. Offering service contracts is a great way to generate recurring revenue.

The startup costs for a web development business are low. You’ll need a laptop, design software like Photoshop, and learning resources to keep your skills up to date. Many web developers work as freelancers, while some start their own agency. With some technical skills and an entrepreneurial spirit, you’ll be building websites and growing your own profitable small business in no time.

Social media marketing and management

Social media management

These days, most businesses understand the importance of an online presence. Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn provide a way to connect with customers, build your brand, and drive sales. If you have a knack for social media, offering social media marketing and management services can be a profitable small business idea.

Social media managers help businesses establish and achieve their social media goals. As a social media manager, you would create social media strategies, post content, engage with followers, and analyze metrics to optimize results. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of social media and other media marketing managers is projected to grow 6% between 2022 and 2032, which is faster than average.

To start a social media management business, you need experience with multiple social platforms and an understanding of digital marketing best practices. You’ll have low overhead costs since you can operate from home. Many social media managers charge between $50 to $150 per hour, depending on experience. With a steady roster of clients, this can translate into a six-figure income.

Some of the most in-demand and profitable social media services include:

  • Social media strategy development and consulting
  • Content creation for posts, blogs, and video
  • Community management, engaging with followers, responding to comments and messages
  • Social media advertising, managing paid ads on platforms like Facebook and Instagram
  • Reporting and analytics, monitoring key metrics and optimizing based on insights
  • Social media account management, posting, scheduling, and general maintenance of social profiles

If you have a passion for social media and digital marketing, starting a social media management business could be an ideal small business idea. With low startup costs, high demand, and the ability to work remotely, social media consulting checks all the boxes for a profitable small business opportunity.

Technology installation and repair services

Technology repair services

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for telecommunications equipment installers and repairers is projected to grow at 6% between 2022 and 2032, which is faster than average. Everyone relies on their tech these days, so there’s a great need for skilled people who can install and repair devices and systems. Tech repair is also a business idea with typically low startup costs and overhead.

Tech repair covers everything from fixing cracked phone screens and repairing tablets to servicing computers and networking equipment. As a small business owner in this field, you have flexibility in the types of services you want to offer based on your skills and interests. Some of the most profitable tech repair businesses to start include:

  • Phone repair: From screen replacement to battery replacement, phone repair is always in high demand. With some technical training, you can handle most common phone issues.
  • Computer repair: Diagnosing and fixing issues with laptops, desktop PCs and computer hardware is a useful skill that many small business owners and individuals will pay for.
  • Data recovery: Helping customers recover lost or deleted data from phones, tablets, and computers is a valuable service. With the right data recovery tools and software, you can retrieve lost data in many cases.
  • Networking services: Managing business networks, troubleshooting connectivity issues, and handling equipment like routers and switches are niche services that many small business owners need.

The benefits of a tech repair business are many. You can work from home with low startup costs, tap into an evergreen industry, build a loyal customer base, and enjoy a flexible work schedule as a small business owner. With some technical skills and training, a tech repair business could be the perfect entrepreneurial path for you.

App development and coding

App design and coding

With the massive growth of smartphones and mobile apps, app development and coding businesses are poised for success. You might have an idea for an app, or want to offer your capabilities to others. Whether you learn how to code apps yourself or start an app coding service, this business idea could be very profitable if you have a knack for design, development, and working with clients. 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for software developers is very high. Between 2022 and 2032, the field is predicted to grow by 25%. You can learn how to code apps through online courses on sites like Udemy or Coursera, or by using tutorials and resources from Apple and Google. The startup costs are low, so you can start making money quickly.

Here are some of the most profitable services you can offer:

  • Mobile app development for iOS and Android. You can build custom apps for businesses, or create your own apps to sell or monetize with ads or subscriptions. Many small businesses need mobile apps, so there’s lots of opportunity.
  • App coding services, where you connect clients with freelance developers. You handle the business side like customer service, marketing, and project management, without needing technical skills. The key is finding quality developers to work with.
  • Sell app templates, themes, and source code to other developers and small business owners. You only have to build the apps once, then you can generate income from sales and licensing for years to come. 

Cleaning services 

Cleaning services

Cleaning services are always in high demand, because homeowners and businesses always need help keeping their spaces clean. You can charge between $25 to $50 per hour for residential cleaning and $50 to $100 per hour for commercial cleaning. 

Residential cleaning businesses have much lower overhead costs compared to other ventures. You don’t need an office space to get started, so you can operate the business from home, and equipment costs are low. Your main expenses will be supplies like mops, brooms, vacuums, and cleaning products. You’ll also need liability insurance in case anything is damaged on the job. Market your services on social media to keep down advertising costs.

Focus on residential cleaning to start since it has lower overhead. As your business grows, you can expand into office cleaning and hire other cleaners to work for you. With low startup costs and solid demand, a cleaning service can be quite profitable.

Here are some tips for starting a successful cleaning service:

  • Focus on a specific market like residential, office or post-construction cleaning. Specializing will make you an expert in that area.
  • Build a website to help you rank in local search and allow customers to book services online.
  • Create social media profiles on Facebook, Nextdoor, and Instagram to market your services to local homeowners. Run promotions and post tips for finding a good cleaning service.
  • Focus on customer service and do a great job. Referrals and word-of-mouth will drive a lot of new business.
  • Consider eco-friendly cleaning products and methods. Many customers prefer greener cleaning services.

With hard work and persistence, a cleaning service can become a very profitable small business. Low costs and steady demand provide an opportunity to build a successful company. If you deliver great service, your cleaning business can thrive.

Virtual assistant services

Virtual assistant services

Virtual assistants (VAs) are in high demand. Many small business owners and entrepreneurs need help managing their schedules, inboxes, travel plans, and more but can’t afford full-time staff. Hiring a VA allows them to delegate important but time-consuming tasks so they can focus on growing their business.

As a VA, you provide administrative support to clients remotely. It’s one of the most profitable small businesses you can start today, partly because the startup costs are minimal. You can get started by setting up a dedicated workspace in your home, investing in high-speed internet and a laptop, and promoting your services on social media and your own website. You’ll want to highlight your relevant experience, skills, and certifications to attract clients.

Some of the specific services you can offer as a virtual assistant include:

  • Inbox and calendar management
  • Appointment setting
  • Event planning
  • Travel arrangements
  • Social media management
  • Basic bookkeeping

The global virtual assistant market size is expected to grow from $2054.5 million in 2021 to $8613.5 million by 2028, an increase of 22.3%. VAs might start out by charging around $20-$25/hour, but as you gain experience you can increase your rates, with skilled VAs charging $100 or more per hour. By building up a roster of clients and working full-time hours, you can generate $40,000 a year or more.

Starting a virtual assistant business lets you help other entrepreneurs achieve their goals while building something for yourself. And since you can operate the business from home, you’ll enjoy an ideal work-life balance as well as freedom and flexibility. 

The best small business to start today is up to you

You’ve got a ton of options when it comes to the most profitable small businesses to start in today’s world. From personal training to app development and social media marketing, there are plenty of business ideas with high demand and lower startup costs. What’s most important is to consider your skills and interests to determine the type of business that’s the best fit for you. With a little sweat equity and smart digital marketing, you can turn your small business idea into a thriving company.