20 Small Scale Business Ideas – Our List Of Favorites
Entrepreneurs have more options for starting a new business than ever before.
So many that it can be hard to decide on a business model.
To give you some ideas, we’ve compiled a list of 20 small scale business ideas; small enough that you could start within the next week if you wanted.
Define Your Goals
Before starting a business, it’s helpful to know what you want out of running the business.
Ask yourself these questions:
- What kind of lifestyle do you want? – If you enjoy your work, you might want a more involved business such as a professional service. If you’re looking to work less so you can pursue hobbies outside of business, a more scale-able business model might be appropriate.
- What do you want to accomplish? – What do you want your business to provide to the customer/client?
- How much do you want to earn? – Obviously, we all want to earn a lot. Higher earnings tend to take more time and effort, though. It comes back to lifestyle; are you fine earning a modest but healthy income while keeping your business smaller, or do you want to create a multi-million dollar empire?
- Exit plan? – Do you want to hold onto this business forever and pass it down, or are you looking to stack a few years of profits then sell the business and start something else?
Find Your Target Audience
The key to business success is finding a hungry market begging for your product, then playing off those “hunger pangs” for maximum sales.
Some entrepreneurs are fortunate to be a member of their own target audience, having an easier time selling themselves by relating to their audience. For example, a personal trainer who used to be out of shape can speak to their market’s issues.
However, you won’t always be in your target market. Sometimes, the business model that works best for you doesn’t have you within its target market. For example, if you don’t own a dog, you aren’t in the target market as a dog-walker.
Once you pick your business model, create a unique angle to sell it with. Then, pick a broad audience that might benefit from your services and narrow it down to an audience that will be receptive to your offering.
Easier said than done, but there are entire courses out there on this subject.
Blogging’s an excellent business model for those who love writing and love passive income. You can blog about whatever you want, provided you’re giving your audience useful content if you’re hoping to build an audience and make money.
Blogs can be monetized passively through ads, affiliate marketing, info products, and membership content, but you can also add time-intensive services like coaching or consulting.
All you need to start is a domain, web hosting, and an idea.
2. Niche Sites
Normal blogs aim to make money, but they’re usually cover one niche more broadly. Niche sites are basically blogs that hyper-focus on one topic within a niche and use low-competition, highly-search keywords to draw in the most qualified of customers.
Niche sites can be started and monetized the same way as blogs; the only difference is the breadth of topics covered.
3. Freelance Writing
Love writing, but don’t want to manage your own sites? Why not offer your writing services to others?
Freelance writing is by far one of the easiest businesses to start. It takes $0 and almost no time to kick off your business.
There are tons of writing services you can offer:
- Blog posts (SEO or otherwise)
- Web content
- Sales copy
As for clients, they’re everywhere:
- Freelancer marketplaces (Upwork, Fiverr)
- Job boards (both general and writing-specific boards)
- Social media
- Content buying/selling sites (Content Gather)
As long as people sell things, they’ll need writers to create content that earns them more customers and profits.
Want to launch a product business but hate managing inventory?
Enter dropshipping. It’s essentially online retailing without holding inventory.
Here’s how dropshipping works:
You find suppliers and list their products on your store at a higher price. When a customer buys a product, they pay you. You then order the product from the supplier using the customer’s order details. The supplier ships the product directly to the customer.
The difference between your price and the supplier price is your profit before accounting for other expenses (domain/hosting/E-com platform).
Shopify is the gold standard in dropshipping/E-commerce platforms, offering tons of tools at a fair subscription price. Check them out if you’re interested in dropshipping.
5. Flip Items On eBay
eBay has millions of people who will buy just about anything for the right price. Thus, you can make a real business out of buying items and selling them for more on eBay.
Don’t have any spare cash to buy items for flipping? Start by selling junk around your house to get your “startup capital”. As a bonus, you’ll orient yourself with eBay and get some sales practice at no cost to you (other than eBay’s fees), both of which are important to your success on eBay.
Check out the following places to find items for your online flipping business:
- Garage sales
- Thrift stores
- Facebook marketplace
6. Website Flipping
Some have called websites “digital real estate”; it’s an accurate description if you think about it. Websites gain value as they gain more visitors, just like how real estate increases in value if more people move into the area (supply and demand).
If you’re great at identifying internet trends and predicting which websites will succeed, you can engage in the digital version of house-flipping.
You could also buy and sell domain names. In this case, you’ll want to have a keen understanding of a specific niche as well as grasping SEO basics.
7. Virtual Assistant
Companies are increasingly outsourcing administrative tasks to remote virtual assistants, or VAs.
Tasks you’ll complete could include
- Email management
- Call management
- Booking appointments
- Follow-up communications
You can find VA clients in the same ways you can find freelance writing clients or really any other freelance clients. If you are interested in becoming a virtual assistant, make sure to read out full guide on how to become a virtual assistant here!
8. Computer Repair/IT Services
Tech-savvy? Most people aren’t. They’ll pay handsomely for tasks that a tech-savvy individual will find relatively easy and even fun.
Need a target market idea? How about elderly individuals?
As you’d expect, older adults tend to struggle with computers and related tech. But they also tend to have more money for obvious reasons, and will gladly shell out some cash for you to fix their computer.
Still, be reasonable with pricing. Your tech skills give you a lot of power in today’s world – don’t abuse it.
Bookkeeping is an excellent gig for people who are good with numbers.
Accounting students and grads will definitely have a leg up here. However, if you’re good at selling yourself and have a basic grasp of accounting (which can easily be learned for free online), then landing clients won’t be too difficult.
Of course, securing certifications could help you charge more and offer more services.
10. Web Development
Web development; another one of those services that will always be in high-demand as long as we walk the planet.
Getting into web development is easier than you think. Start out building simple WordPress websites for clients while you study more advanced topics like programming languages and other website features.
Then you can charge more to offer additional services.
11. Application Development
Got programming skills? Make your own app!
Since you don’t have clients, you can take as much time as you need to work on an app. If all you got is an hour a day, that’s fine.
Also, you barely need any startup cash.
When you’ve built your app, put together a coherent marketing strategy to spread awareness.
Do it right, and you can make money 24/7.
12. Graphic Design
Businesses need a website and excellent content, but they also need attractive visuals that match their brand.
The only things you need to start as a graphic designer are a computer, graphic design applications (like Photoshop), and some basic design knowledge.
As a graphic designer, you could be responsible for making:
- Website visuals
13. Professional Photography
Photography is easy to break into and it’s an enjoyable way to get paid to take pictures.
Photography does require a little more startup capital than other business models; you need a camera at the minimum, as well as other gear like a tripod and several lenses.
Also, you might need to prove yourself first through either education or a portfolio of work with cheaper clients.
But you can make great money doing professional photo shoots for weddings, graduations, senior pictures, company outings, and business marketing materials.
14. Selling Photos Online
This may be a better route for the hobbyist who doesn’t want to spend a large amount of time managing clients and shoots and similar topics.
However, professionals can benefit from selling photos online as well.
It’s much easier to get started selling them online than it is to acquire clients; also, you can build a decent side income stream by uploading enough quality photos.
Start out on stock photo sites like Getty Images, then when your portfolio has grown enough, make your own website and start charging your own rates.
If you’ve succeeded in some area and are great at motivating others, you could become a coach in that area.
For example, you could become a personal finance coach. As a personal finance coach, you’d educate your clients on money management basics and work with them to create a plan unique to their situation they can use to improve their finances.
Coaching requires no startup money, but investing in a website at minimum will make you look more professional and give clients an opportunity to find you online once your business is going.
Consulting differs from coaching in that the topics are more technical. You’re supposed to be the expert solving the problem rather than guiding someone through the process.
In other words, you’re providing the answers, NOT getting the client to discover the answers themselves.
For example, you could be a marketing consultant, working on ways to help a business increase its conversions.
You’ve got traditional areas like marketing or finance, sure.
But you could consult on nearly anything.
17. Pet Services (Walking, Grooming, Training)
Many pet owners worry about both their pet and their home when they’re traveling. Some even worry while they’re away at work all day.
You can start a pet services business with no monetary investment and offer services like
Walking and pet-sitting are easy, but you might have to learn how to properly groom and train pets.
Also, you get to hang out with pets for pay. Can’t beat that!
18. Cleaning Services
No one likes cleaning. Many people will gladly pay good money to have someone else do it for them, making this service easy to sell. In addition, you don’t need any formal training as long as you know how to use cleaning products.
You could either offer discounted services if you can use the customer’s own products, or charge extra for providing them yourself.
Houses aren’t the only potential customer; you could earn a lot more by acquiring businesses as clients and cleaning them after hours.
19. Lawn Services
A classic. Most entrepreneurs get their first taste of business in lawn care, mowing the neighbor’s lawns for cash.
You won’t get rich mowing lawns right away, but starting is as simple as owning a lawnmower and asking neighbors if they’d like their lawns cut for a fee.
To boost your earnings, you could add more services like weed pulling/killing or fertilizing the grass. As the business grows, you could then hire employees to scale.
20. Rent Your Residence
Got a spare room? Turn it into an income stream by renting it out!
Airbnb is the best platform for doing this.
Frequent travelers, consider listing your whole home on Airbnb. You can charge a lot more for a whole residence than just a guest room.
Check with your landlord or homeowner’s association as well as local laws regarding renting your home. Any rental income you earn is not worth the legal headache, not to mention most of that income will be lost to fees charged by your landlord and/or the law.