Some of the most successful entrepreneurs rose to prominence with daring, revolutionary ideas. They debuted innovative business models, capitalized on untapped markets, or offered products or services no one had ever seen before. This created the widespread notion that entrepreneurship can only mean stepping way, way outside of the box.
But contrary to popular belief, today’s entrepreneurs don’t have to reinvent the wheel in order to achieve success. Many new businesses come from the same industries we all know and love. So, if you’re wondering what kind of business to start, there’s still plenty of opportunity in the more conventional routes.
You just have to figure out which industries make the most sense from the perspectives of demand and your personal skill set. From there, you can filter your options even further with factors like work environment, budget, etc. Then, it’s time to put that brain to work and determine how you can surpass the efficiency and execution of your competitors.
To help with these questions, we’ve compiled this list of 18 business ideas that continue to hold and build substantial relevance in 2019. Regardless of what happens to the economy, you won’t have to look far for customers in any of the following businesses:
Best Small Business Ideas: B2B
It’s usually easier to attract customers when you narrow down your target audience. B2B (business to business) companies serve other businesses, instead of the general public. An increasing number of businesses have found that outsourcing certain services allows them to save money without falling behind in any area. Here are some of the most popular services outsourced by businesses today:
Accounting and Bookkeeping
The responsibilities of accountants and bookkeepers tend to overlap as they grow closer to their clientele. But all accountants must have CPA licenses, whereas bookkeepers technically don’t need any certifications. Accountants typically help business owners file taxes, create financial statements (income statement, cash flow statement, balance sheet,) and offer strategic advice related to cash flow and profitability. It’s the accountant’s job to provide an accurate picture of your financial health and explain what you can do to improve it.
Bookkeepers, on the other hand, typically stick to processing invoices, managing payroll, creating expense reports, and maintaining up-to-date and organized records. These days, bookkeepers must also master the most popular accounting software tools for small businesses.
The perennial need for accountants and bookkeepers makes this profession one of the most lucrative in existence. You’ll have very little expenses if you work from home, which will come in handy during tax season when accountants and bookkeepers get so busy they have to work into the night.
If you thrive on new challenges, marketing might be the career for you. Every business has their own obstacles preventing them from reaching more customers and standing out from the crowd. Examples include competition, budget, audience, new technology, etc. Marketers must figure out how to conquer each client’s unique obstacles (there’s usually more than one) while creating the content their audience wants to see. Yup, it’s just as hard as it sounds.
That’s why there’s so many marketing firms out there. Regardless of their track record, no firm has the winning formula that works for every type of business. What works fabulously for one business could do absolutely nothing for another business in the same industry.
But this also gives independent marketers more opportunities to outperform their larger competitors. You don’t necessarily need a massive budget to develop and correctly execute the right strategy. Smaller businesses cannot afford in-house teams, so they’ll depend on you to determine effective techniques for bringing in more customers. Much of your job will likely consist of gathering data on audience behavior and then taking the most sensible course of action.
Securing your initial clients might not be too difficult since you can offer the key to any successful campaign: time.
Social Media Management
Virtually all businesses need social media but very few entrepreneurs know how to craft the perfect post on the right channel for their audience. Social media specialists have the main platforms (Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram) down to a science. After researching the business’s audience and competitors, they can put together posts that adhere to strict guidelines without seeming unoriginal or disingenuous. If the quality of your posts starts to decline, your followers can easily find another account that shows them what they want.
In addition to composing posts, social media specialists spend lots of time responding to followers and studying data. Tremendous thought must go into each caption and image. And after all, many companies look at social media when deciding which products or services to offer next.
The role of technology has increased dramatically for small businesses. A great deal of entrepreneurs, however, don’t know how to use the tools required for their industry. Like marketing, smaller businesses don’t have the funds to hire an in-house IT professional. It makes more sense to outsource these services, which include installing technology, keeping the tools up to date, and troubleshooting when difficulties arise (and they always do).
Instead of specializing in certain industries (real estate, finance, etc.), plenty of IT consultants help small businesses improve their websites, launch Ecommerce services, or build their own apps.
Public relations specialists and marketers have similar goals but use different resources. Instead of emails and/or advertisements, PR specialists form connections with other companies and individuals to increase the client’s exposure. They arrange press coverage, appearances at busy events, or inclusion in anything media-related. For example, if an audience favors certain publications, TV channels or podcasts, PR agencies can work their magic to get their clients in the spotlight.
In addition to maximizing their networks, PR agencies develop eye-catching stories their clients that can increase their popularity. Many businesses don’t know how to sell themselves or how to become more likeable, and that’s where PR agencies come in.
Best Small Business Ideas: Creative Entrepreneurs
All entrepreneurs must have visions of their goals, but creative entrepreneurs take this to another level. They have the ability to picture the finished product in their heads and use their artistic mode to put it into action. While their work might not always suit their personal taste, they can still apply the same meticulousness and imagination that goes into all artistic endeavors.
Here are the most in-demand business ideas for creative entrepreneurs:
Freelance photography has very low startup costs, which allows new professionals to charge low fees for all sorts of occasions. Established photography companies are notoriously expensive. But today, someone can just pay a freelancer with a digital camera a fraction of the price for the same quality photos. Your clientele would therefore consist of the countless people who don’t want to pay an arm and a leg for photos of their wedding, engagement, or family. Small businesses also require professional photography when the time comes to re-do their websites.
If you don’t think event planning is an art, then you’ve never seen a professional at work. Consider all of the materials used in big parties: invitations, table settings, music, photo booths, the list goes on. Event planners devote incredible attention to the tiniest details (i.e. font, color scheme, etc.) of these materials to create the perfect day or night for their clients.
Few careers are born out of personal hobbies more often than event planners. Most of them have been doing their jobs their whole lives, but just weren’t getting paid. And since so much work goes into each job, it only takes one successful party to launch a career. With all the referrals from your first client (and the more appreciative guests), you might have to start building your own team much sooner than expected.
To an outsider, graphic design seems pretty complicated. Anyone who does it for a living, however, will confirm that this is surely not the case. Many professional graphic designers only needed a few short courses and inexpensive computer programs to start their businesses. Typical tasks include new websites, company logos, advertisements, and much, much, more.
In addition to creative flare, arguably the most important attribute for this job is patience. Your first clients will likely have trouble expressing exactly what they want. New freelance designers will quickly get used to making corrections over and over again, even if they followed the client’s directions to a tee. Once you establish a track record, you’ll have more control over the projects you accept as well as their turnaround times (due dates).
Freelance designers often enlist their services on reputable websites like Behance and 99designs. These sites can also be used to seek advice from other designers, such as the average turnaround times for different projects, and how to negotiate better compensation.
The demand for video product, especially in advertising, has skyrocketed as of late. Research has shown that video advertisements on social media draw attention much more effectively than traditional ads. Many business websites center their homepages around introductory videos as well. Videos can benefit any business that makes products requiring instructions or wishes to educate their audience about their industry or services. For these industries, you could even say that video marketing has become as essential as social media marketing as a whole.
Much like graphic design, all you need to become a video production specialist are a few online courses and just one or two tools. And once your videos go live, you won’t have to put much effort into marketing yourself because your work will do that for you.
Handmade Item Designer
Compared to the other job ideas in this section, handmade item designers have significantly more requirements for success. It’s not enough to create unique designs with high quality materials for a competitive price. Designers must also know the size of their audience, how they plan on marketing their products, and be able to guarantee exceptional customer service. There’s serious competition in arts and crafts, so you can’t just assume that people will organically find your products and buy them because they look nice.
Customers on sites like Etsy, for example, often base decisions on reviews. Your first customers must therefore be pleased enough to leave glowing reviews and advertise your products on social media for free.
Best Small Business Ideas: Food Lovers
Despite the countless uncertainties of entrepreneurship, at least one rule still holds up: people will always love good food. It’s relatively safe to assume that if you love an item, many others will most likely love it too. Yes, there’s tremendous competition and revenue tends to fluctuate dramatically throughout the year. But no matter what happens, your recipes will never stop producing the desired result. As you can see, there’s a sense of order in food service businesses that you can’t find in other industries.
Here are the most logical business ideas for food-obsessed entrepreneurs:
People are busier than ever, but they also enjoy discovering new, unique items. The combination of these two preferences has opened up a marvelous opportunity for food trucks. Items sold in food trucks probably wouldn’t sell as well in traditional restaurants, hence the need for extra exposure. And as any restaurant owner knows, there’s already plenty of risks in this business.
Food trucks can gain traction at community fairs, farmer’s markets, or corporate complexes within major cities. Location plays a huge role in restaurant success, so you’d better capitalize on your larger array of options. In order to start serving customers, you’ll have to obtain the necessary licenses and permits, which might include city ordinances specific for mobile restaurants.
Restaurant or Café
The restaurant business is one of the most challenging and expensive businesses in existence. Most restaurateurs started their businesses because they craved the lifestyle that comes with it. You’ll spend more time at your restaurant than with your family or friends, and few types of teams are closer than restaurant staff. Adrenaline junkies will relish in the incomparable rush of a busy night. The level of risk is attractive as well: If you win, you win big.
If you love the restaurant atmosphere but would rather avoid the risk of opening your own, consider opening another franchise location instead. It’s much less expensive and you’d get to skip one of the most difficult tasks of new restaurants: marketing a completely unknown business.
Ice Cream/Frozen Yogurt Shop
Another cheaper alternative to a full-service restaurant is an ice cream or frozen yogurt shop. These businesses do exceptionally well in small towns, especially those with lots of families and summer activities. Getting through the colder months could be an issue. But plenty of independent ice cream or frozen yogurt shops were able to find solutions. For example, it’s common for these businesses to maintain cash flow through special deals, like Carvel’s buy one get one free deal every Wednesday.
Best Small Business Ideas: Working from Home
If you’re especially concerned about saving money and work hours, your most logical business idea might be working from home. You can make your own hours, avoid crushing expenses, and still earn just as much money as a traditional entrepreneur. As long as you meet your financial requirements, you can take days off as you please.
Here are some of the best home-based business ideas:
An increasing number of companies are outsourcing administrative services to remote workers. Virtual assistants communicate through instant messages while using online tools to keep track of files, schedule calls and meetings, assign and keep track of tasks, and more. As for expenses, all you really need is your laptop. The most important skills are organization and multi-tasking, as your workload will likely escalate very quickly.
Freelance writing can be an extremely idyllic career but building a readership base takes a lot of work. You have to market yourself very aggressively and essentially take any assignment that gets offered to you. For this reason, your specialty will likely turn out to be whatever you write about most, as opposed to your personal interests. Eventually, you’ll reach the most coveted position for freelance writers: Getting the bulk of your work through referrals and only having to accept assignments that fit your specialty.
The incredible demand for rideshare drivers is showing no signs of slowing down. Few other jobs allow you to literally choose your own hours. And you don’t really have to learn any new skills, aside from becoming more familiar with certain routes. This job is especially appealing for residents of smaller, up-and-coming areas since you’ll have less competition and more demand.
Best Small Business Ideas: Tech-Savvy Entrepreneurs
Tech-savvy people have a myriad of career options, though some are more practical in terms of cost and demand. The following ideas can also begin providing steady income very early into your career.
Website Development and Design
The availability of low-cost web development and design services is a comfort to countless tech-phobic business owners. Far too many small businesses have outdated websites in need of significant improvement. They often work in similar industries, and know plenty of other businesses looking for the same services. So, if you establish a reputation within the right community, opportunities will be coming your way left and right. When you’re starting out, you might want to use sites like Upwork to score your first jobs and speak to experienced web developers about appropriate price points.
Ecommerce is all about marketing and connections. If there is demand for your products and have an idea of where to market them (social media, events, etc.), it is perfectly feasible to launch yet another successful Ecommerce business. Most of your predecessors likely took full advantage of the fact that Ecommerce stores are open 24/7. Capitalizing on this opportunity would surely maximize your earnings capacity.
Best Small Business Ideas: Making Your Decision
After starting your business, one of your first challenges will be building a solid customer base. So, when mulling over the aforementioned options, you should probably consider your current accessibility different audiences. For many new businesses, their initial customers came from personal connections and then branched out farther and farther.
With that in mind, you might want to ask yourself: What kind of people are within my reach? What kind of services are heavily valued by the people you know? Your answers are your first batch of hard data. If you can find more data to back that up, your opportunity is waiting right in front of you.