Is doing the daily grind taking a toll on your body and soul? Go through our list of small, profitable business ideas and see if it sparks something in you to leave the daily grind behind and start your own business.
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Thanks to the internet, there are now numerous opportunities for entrepreneurs of different backgrounds.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re a working student looking to augment your income, or an employee working 50 to 60 hours a week just to get by, or a retiree or almost-retiree looking to have some spending money in the twilight of your life.
If you have a computer and an internet connection, you can launch a business.
The internet has solved previously difficult problems for entrepreneurs: training, selling platforms, suppliers, marketing, and even temporary or full-time employees can now all be found online.
If you want to succeed so badly that you’re willing to learn everything you can and dedicate as much time to your business as you need, you’ll likely build a profitable business.
Here is a list of small but potentially profitable business ideas to inspire you to launch your own business.
Product-Based Business Ideas
A product-based business, as the name implies, sells actual physical, tangible items.
Many factors can drive the success of a business, but for product-based businesses, the major factor that can make or break it is the quality of the product you’re offering.
It doesn’t matter if your website looks good and functional, or if your buyers receive their products on time. If the product you’re offering is shoddy and poor quality, they’ll never buy from you again, and worse, they’ll let everyone know how bad your products are.
Here are some small product-based businesses that are potentially profitable.
1. Making and Selling Handmade Products
These are some handmade products you can make and sell.
Jewelry. You’ll need training, excellent tools, high-quality raw materials, and a unique creative instinct.
Wire-wrapped crystals, personalized engraved necklaces and bracelets, and beaded jewelry are some of the types of jewelry that sell best.
Home and living products. Handmade home décor, such as handpainted wall hangings, hand-poured candles, and handmade doilies are some products you can make and sell from home.
Aromatherapy products. Essential oils and blends are making a comeback, and making your own oil blends can get you some profits.
Shower steamers, inhalers, and roll-ons are some of the best-selling aromatherapy products on Amazon Handmade.
To be safe, though, thoroughly read the FDA guidelines on aromatherapy products.
Skin care and hair care products. With the increasing demand for environmentally friendly, organic, and natural skincare products and packaging, you can fill that demand with handmade products.
Some of the popular products in this category are soaps, shampoo and conditioner bars, moisturizers, and salves.
Bear in mind that skin and hair care products are classified as cosmetics, and there are FDA guidelines for these as well.
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Hair accessories. Headbands, floral crowns, and tiaras, especially for children, are currently trendy.
Other hair accessories you can make include decorative hair combs, sweat-wicking headbands for workouts, and one-of-a-kind hair clips.
More Reading: The Best Crafts to Make and Sell
2. Retail Arbitrage
Retail arbitrage, is the act of buying products from retail or online stores and then selling them for higher prices so you can make a profit.
It may have had a bad rep lately, but this is a small lucrative business idea that you can comfortably start from home.
The first and probably most important rule of retail arbitrage is to choose items that you can get for cheaper than what people are willing to pay for them.
When shopping for items for retail arbitrage, always have a smartphone with internet access so you can scan bar codes and compare to prices on Amazon or other marketplaces such as eBay.
This will help you determine whether the possible profit is worth the trouble, especially considering you’ll have to shoulder packaging and shipping costs.
Merchant fees also take away from your profit, so keep that in mind as well when you tack on your desired profit to the product cost.
Here are a few suggestions for products to buy and sell.
Clothing. You can get the most profit from brand-name items, and even more if they still have the original tag.
Kids’ toys. You can get toys on clearance for a lower price, sometimes even for a mere 10% of their original retail price.
Kids’ toys are in demand around the holidays, so make sure you have enough stock during the months of October to December.
Cosmetics. Makeup junkies are always on the lookout for discontinued shades or product lines.
Stationery. Journaling buffs are on the lookout for low-priced notebooks and writing implements.
You can find and buy these items from clearance racks of stores like Walmart, Target, Costco, Big Lots, Ross, Marshall’s, and TJ Maxx.
Even specialty stores such as Home Depot, Lowes, GameStop, Office Depot, Staples, Walgreens, and CVS may have random items on sale or clearance that you can sell.
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3. Thrift Store Flipping
Thrift store flipping is similar to retail arbitrage, but instead of buying and selling new, unused items, it involves buying secondhand, used items and reselling those.
If you’ve ever been to a thrift shop, you’d know that people will donate anything, and you’d have so many choices of products to sell.
Here are a few suggestions for products to look for.
Clothing. If you can find brand-name items, even if they already show some signs of wear, you can sell them for at least some profit.
You can also put together a collection or a clothing lot. For instance, you can put together 10 garments in the same size and the same type (e.g., blouses, summer dresses, winter coats) and sell them as a lot.
This way, you can move several products at once, save on shipping costs, and keep a larger profit.
Video consoles and video games. Older consoles and old games have a large nostalgia factor for gamers. As a general rule, the oldest ones and the newest ones sell best.
Book sets. Popular books can make you some money, but book sets are more profitable since people are willing to pay more for them instead of having to find each book in a set.
Limited-edition book sets, such as anniversary releases or boxed sets, can earn you even more.
Glassware. You’d be surprised at how many buyers look for glassware online.
Look for glassware in unique shapes and colors (blue glass is particularly in demand). Vintage Pyrex cookware also get snapped up pretty quickly by collectors, so keep an eye out for these.
Furniture. If you have a talent for repairing and refurbishing furniture, flipping furniture may give you the highest profit margins among all the other products I mentioned.
As the name suggests, your main sources of products are your local thrift shops. Other sources you can look into are flea markets, garage/yard sales, Craigslist (if you’re lucky, you might even get some items here for free!), and library book sales.
The main marketplace for thrift store flippers is eBay, but the site Decluttr is also popular.
If you manage to find vintage items like jewelry, rugs, silverware, and other antique items, you can also turn to Etsy to sell them.
Flipping Thrift Stores
Not everyone can make handmade products or have the time or access to source products in actual brick-and-mortar stores.
Fret not; another option you have is dropshipping.
Dropshipping is a fulfillment method in which the retailer (you) does not stock the items; instead, the retailer forwards the order and the customer details directly to the supplier, who then packages and ships the items directly to the customer.
The retailer is in charge of marketing and promoting the products, as well as processing customer payments and making sure the payment is forwarded to the suppliers.
The advantages of running this type of business are that it’s very simple to start (you can start now if you want to), you don’t have to put out a lot of money for inventory, and you can work from anywhere that has an internet connection.
Here are a few products to dropship that are currently more profitable than others.
Shapewear. This product category includes waist shapers, bodysuits, butt lifters, and any other garment designed to improve the body’s silhouette.
It first became popular a few years back, and with its popularity still growing, it may well become an evergreen product category.
Pet products. You can take your pet to a groomer, but more and more pet owners are now trying to do it themselves.
Pet grooming products, such as brushes, clippers, rakes, flea combs, dental care tools, and shampoos and conditioners specially formulated for pet hair.
Pet accessories also sell well. Pet clothes, diapers, fancy leashes, and beds are sought-after items.
Athleisure. Athleisure is growing faster than any other fashion category, as the line between activewear and daywear is slowly being blurred.
Athleisure includes hoodies, leggings, sweatshirts, sweatpants, sports bras, tank tops, and capris, all available in a wide range of colors and material.
Travel products. The travel industry continues to flourish, and travelers are always looking for ways to make their travel experience easier and more comfortable.
Packing cubes, travel-sized containers, travel pillows, and folding bags (for those times when you suddenly need to hand carry some items) are a hit with travelers.
Smartwatches. Wearable tech surprisingly remains popular, so make sure to find suppliers that provide high-quality smartwatches that can track steps, measure heart rate, and even monitor sleep.
Your choice of suppliers will make or break your business. Look for reputable suppliers who carry high-quality items, pack them carefully, ship on time, and address issues quickly and in a satisfactory manner.
5. Selling Private Label Products
Private label products are those that are manufactured by one company for another company or retailer (that’s you) that places their own brand on the products and sells them as their own.
It’s not like buying wholesale for a lower price and then selling at retail price, because in that scenario, you’re clearly a middleman; the brand is already established, and you’re merely making it available to people who want it but can’t access it, for instance.
When you’re selling private label products, you control the specifications, the packaging, and how you want to sell them, without having to build infrastructure for manufacturing.
The ideal private label products are those that are easy to ship, affordable, and are in demand.
Below are some suggestions of what to sell.
Clothing. Customers are always on the lookout for unique, high-quality clothing that fits their lifestyle.
Make up. There is a general movement away from conventionally produced makeup with preservatives, irritants, and potential carcinogens that are tested on animals.
Look for cruelty-free, paraben-free, fragrance-free, organic cosmetic private label products.
Packaged food. Health-conscious consumers are looking for “guilt-free” snacks that are gluten-free, nut-free, organic, non-GMO, and low in trans-fat.
Supplements. Various supplements addressing various needs or nutritional deficiencies are popular online.
Phone accessories. Cases for Apple AirPods, mobile phone grips, mobile card wallets, and self-charging mobile phone cases are a hit with customers online.
As with all product-based businesses, you’re only good as the quality of your products. Choose private-label manufacturers carefully. See the list below for some high-quality product manufacturers.
Service-Based Business Ideas
Instead of selling physical products, service-based businesses sell a service that involves skill and expertise.
In this type of business, your relationship with clients can significantly impact the success of your business.
Unlike product-based businesses where the quality of your product is the main factor of your success, in service-based businesses, your interactions with your clients largely dictate whether they return as clients, give you larger tasks, and recommend your service to others.
All of these businesses have you starting out as a freelancer or an employee.
Upgrading to a business almost always involves hiring your own freelancers or employees, while you become in charge of the management side of things: workforce and project management, training, and marketing.
Below are some service-based businesses that you can start from home.
6. Virtual assisting
Being a virtual assistant doesn’t sound very glamorous, but the pay can be decent if you have unique skills to offer.
You’ll need to be a good communicator and have great organizational and time management skills.
The duties may vary depending on your client, but usual tasks include organizing calendars, booking meetings, and replying to emails.
How to Find Virtual Assistant Jobs Online
7. Social media consultancy
Offer advice to businesses or individuals about how to use social media for promotion and marketing.
If you feel you don’t know enough about social media marketing, you can take online courses for you to learn basic to advanced knowledge and techniques.
8. Website development
Note: Need at least a certification, more preferably a bachelor’s degree.
Websites, quite simply, are in demand nowadays. Every business, online-based or brick-and-mortar, small to medium or multinational, needs a website to reach out to potential customers and widen their reach.
You’d need to have the programming knowledge to develop websites, and plenty of courses are available online that you can take within the comfort of your home.
Some of the projects you can do include building e-commerce pages (with product pages and shopping carts), online galleries (for showing off portfolios and artwork), and other specialty websites that are specific to the clients’ preferences and needs.
9. Graphic designing
If you’re an artist who knows how to use digital tools like Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator, you can put those skills to use as a graphic designer.
There is a constant demand for visual and branding elements for companies big or small. You can be asked to design logos, flyers, pamphlets, newsletters, infographics, slide decks, promotional emails, banner ads, and other marketing materials.
10. Financial advising
Note: Need at least a certification: Certified Financial Planner.
Managing personal finances is difficult to do on your own.
Add student loans and credit card debt to the mix, and you have a disaster in the making.
If you don’t have control over your personal finances, it can result in crushing debt and ruined credit.
Here’s where you can help.
Provide sound financial advice to individuals so they can get out of debt, avoid debt, or know where to invest their hard-earned money.
You can also help other entrepreneurs organize both their personal and business finances so they can separate personal and business expenditures and pay the right amount of taxes to avoid penalties.
11. Copy editing/proofreading
Nowadays, content is king.
But not if the content is error-laden.
If you have a knack for syntax and grammar, or if you have experience in teaching English or proofreading, this line of business can be a perfect fit for you.
There are hundreds of thousands of documents out there that need to be edited or proofread: from college application essays to college homework, from business proposals to marketing plans, from blog posts to sales pages.
Online Proofreading Jobs
If you’re bilingual, or at least reasonably fluent in more than one language, offer translation services to individuals and companies.
Marketing nowadays isn’t just limited to one’s local area; companies are now able to sell worldwide, and they’d always need translators to accurately communicate their marketing messages in the local language, considering social and cultural quirks.
13. Video production
If you’re already a videographer by trade, or if you’re proficient with video editing tools, such as Adobe Premiere Pro or Final Cut Pro, offering video production and editing services from home can be a lucrative business.
Video production is in demand for commercial and real estate applications, as well as for events and weddings.
You might also get an aspiring YouTuber or two who create compelling videos but can’t edit their videos to save their lives.
14. Travel planning
You can now purchase travel agency software online and book flights, hotel accommodations, car rentals, and tours.
If you love to travel, and love planning for travel, have great organizational and planning skills, and a talent for finding bargains and deals, this can be something you can help fellow travelers with.
15. Online teaching
Do you have teaching experience, or currently teaching? Online teaching may turn out to be profitable for you.
If you’re proficient in a few subjects, especially English, you’ll always find students who’ll need tutors like you. Offering this service online allows you to reach students from all over the country and even around the world.
Online English Teaching Jobs
Turnkey Business Ideas
Building an online business from the ground up can be a harrowing experience if you don’t have the technical, marketing, and social media expertise to start.
If you’re an entrepreneur with capital, willing to hit the ground running, and confident of your business idea, a turnkey business might be a good fit for you.
A turnkey online business is an existing business that is ready to operate at full capacity from the moment you purchase it.
It’s similar to buying a grocery store with the infrastructure built, licenses and permits current, electricity and water hooked up, complete inventory, employees, suppliers, and POS installed: all you have to do is turn the key in the doorknob and you’re open for business.
However, because you’re likely putting a great amount of capital into this business, you’ll want to research the business you’re buying very carefully. Always be clear about what is included in the price you’re paying and if you can, have it valued by a third party.
Here are a few turnkey business ideas that you can start from home.
Franchising is an agreement between a franchiser and a franchisee (that’s you) that enables the franchisee to use the brand and trademarks of the franchiser, as well as its business systems and processes, to sell products and services according to specifications set by the franchiser.
Franchising traditionally has been for brick-and-mortar businesses, such as coffee shops and fast-food restaurants, but nowadays, franchising an online business is now possible.
Check out sites such as Franchise Direct to read details about possible online businesses open for franchising, such as a website builder business, a social media agency, or video marketing agency.
The good thing about franchising is that the business model is already proven and tested. However, you may have to pay royalties continuously to the franchiser, depending on the franchise you purchase.
17. Direct selling/multi-level marketing (MLMs)
MLMs have been controversial, to put it mildly, but contrary to popular belief, MLMs aren’t always pyramid schemes.
Direct selling refers to selling products directly to the customer in a nonretail environment; that is, not in malls, stores, or kiosks. Instead, sales occur at home, work, or other non-store locations.
This eliminates many steps in the distribution process that drive up the price of the item so that consumers get the lowest price possible.
You or your mom has probably bought makeup from a Mary Kay beauty consultant, lotion from an Avon lady, or containers from a Tupperware dealer. Those are established, legal direct sales companies.
Multi-level marketing (MLM) is a technique used by direct selling companies to encourage existing distributors to recruit new distributors. They incentivize it by offering a percentage of their recruits’ sales.
So how do you know if an MLM company is legit?
A good way to ascertain if an MLM company is legitimate is to read the fine print and determine whether the focus is on making sales to consumers or on recruiting new members or “downlines.”
Does it encourage its sellers to make money from selling its products to consumers? Or does it encourage sellers to recruit new members to buy their products? If it’s the former, then it’s quite likely that it’s a legitimate MLM company. If it’s the latter, it’s likely a pyramid scheme.
Aside from that, search for any cases against the company from the FTC or any class action suits.
Some of the top legitimate MLM companies you can consider joining include the three companies I mentioned above, as well as Amway, Herbalife, and doTERRA.
18. Flipping websites
Perhaps you don’t like any of these other turnkey business ideas.
Why not try your hand at supplying a turnkey business?
Flipping websites involves checking out websites that have potential, buying them, improving them, and selling them.
Your prospective customers are those who want to run their own website but don’t have the time or inclination to start from scratch.
When customers buy from you, they expect a fully functional website, with content and special features required by them, such as ordering products, booking appointments, or enrolling in online courses.
They would also expect that the website already has a significant amount of traffic and their responsibilities will be to maintain that traffic.
These are businesses that don’t fall exactly into the categories above but are solid business ideas nonetheless.
19. Application development
“There’s an app for that.”
Thanks to application developers who create these apps, there’s an app to help with almost every conceivable problem, from the mundane to the extraordinary.
If you have a knack for creating apps, with or without experience, you can certainly take some online courses and study how to do it.
You can then create the application for a client, or let your creativity and problem-solving skills kick in and create an application by yourself.
Once you’ve created your application, promote it with a marketing strategy designed to promote your application to whoever needs it.
20. Stock photography
If you’re a professional photographer or even a passionate amateur, consider selling stock photos to photo selling websites or sell them from your own website.
You can also expand into selling prints of your photos, or daily items, such as mugs, t-shirts, mousepads, etc. with photos you’ve taken.
Which Small Profitable Business Idea Will You Launch Today?
Of the 20 business ideas I’d enumerated, which ones are you most interested in? Do you have any other small business ideas? Tell us below!