10 SMALL PROFITABLE BUSINESS IDEAS

10 Small Profitable Business Ideas 

I’m often asked, “what are some small profitable business ideas that I can start today?”

I love this question. This is how I got started. I started small, with a niche website in the insurance space (you can see all of my niche site ideas here). I wasn’t trying to be the next Bill Gates, I wasn’t trying to launch the next Silicon Valley tech company to hit it big with an IPO. I wasn’t looking for angel investors, partners, and startup capital. I paid $50, got a website up and running, and turned a simple business idea (selling online courses in the insurance industry) into a highly profitable small business generating upwards of $8,000 in income per month.

Now, that’s not to say that I won’t be working on the next big tech idea launching myself into the Silicon Valley startup craze at some point in my life. This is just the first step. The first small stepping stone on a path to bigger and better ideas. I’m going to keep building businesses. It’s not going to stop with this one small business idea. This is just one small highly profitable business idea that will help me achieve financial freedom with recurring passive income so I can leave my regular 9-5 job and work on building other businesses, pursue my passions, pursue new hobbies, and enjoy my life. The other big businesses will come later. I’m still learning.

What I’m saying is, start small. Start with a small easy idea to quickly generate profit and support yourself financially. Start with something to get your foot in the door, get your bearings, and learn the ropes before hitting it big on your next business.

Consider this your first stepping stone. Start with one small profitable business idea, one that can generate around $10,000 income per month. Then, expand on that business and move on to your next big idea. You do not need angel investors, partners, and startup capital. You do not need 1 million YouTube subscribers, you do not need 100,000 monthly web hits, you do not need to go viral, you do not need 3 million app downloads. You need one small business and a couple hundred loyal customers (maybe less) to become financially free. As Kevin Kelly said in his famous blog post 1,000 true fans, all you need is 1,000 people to pay you $100 per year. That is a business generating $100,000 annual income. Now that is achievable. That you can do.

Start with one small profitable business idea. And start today.

This Blog – 10 Small Profitable Business Ideas

Today, I’m giving you ten ideas that you can take to turn into your first business. The business that will help you achieve financial freedom so you can live the life of your dreams and move on to bigger and better things.

And remember, if you haven't already, be sure to download my five favorite niche site ideas for step by step instructions to building your first online business. 

How To Read This Blog - Small Profitable Business Ideas

As always, there are three ways to consume this content. I'm a content marketing junky so I like to create different types of content. You can review these Small Profitable Business Ideas in the blog, as a video, or as a SlideShare. Select how you want to view the content with the buttons below. 

Small Profitable Business Ideas - Video

Small Profitable Business Idea #1 - Online Business

Online business is my go-to. This is where I make my living. It’s highly profitable, easy to get started, and there are countless opportunities in the online business space.

Contrary to popular belief, starting an online business is easy and cheap. All you need is an idea and a little hustle to get the business off the ground. My first business cost me $20 total. My online business that now generates a minimum of $5,000 per month in recurring passive income cost me $50 to start. You can do this for cheap. You can make money online with an investment of $50 or less. All you need to get started is an idea, a domain name for $1 on GoDaddy, and a WebHost (which usually costs about $50 for the year).

Finding an idea is the hard part. I recommend starting niche. If you are struggling to think of ideas, I recommend you download my five favorite online business ideas (the businesses I would start if I had more time).

Find a niche that you are passionate about and familiar with. If you like to cook, that can be your niche. Maybe your specialty is baking gluten-free desserts. Great, there is your niche business. You can create a whole website dedicated to gluten-free dessert recipes where you sell a cookbook and earn affiliate revenue recommending the best cooking utensils.

Don’t start too broad with your online business. You want to be as specific and niche as possible. Start with one niche and build the site out from there. It’s easy and cheap to start an online business.

Small Profitable Business Idea #2 – Local Service Business

Why don’t you start with a local service business? This can be any service you can provide. Here are just a couple of local service business ideas that I can think of off the top of my head, many of which I’ve personally paid for:

  • Landscaping
  • Painting
  • Dog walking
  • Window washing
  • Car detailing
  • Maid service
  • Snowplowing
  • Junk removal

This is the definition of a small profitable business idea, this is what most people think of first when they hear “small business”.

Think to yourself, what is one service I could provide in my town or immediate geographic area?

Did you work landscaping for a few summers? You can start a landscaping business or lawn mowing service.

Do you live in New England like me? Buy a plow or pick up a shovel and start a snow removal or plowing business in the winter.

Why don’t you get set up on Rover and start a dog walking business? There are a thousand small profitable business opportunities if you think about your local town and the services you can provide.

Personally, I have never started a physical or local service business. Not yet at least. But I’ve worked with a number of clients that have started small profitable businesses generating thousands of dollars every month, hiring small teams to take the work off their own plate, and eventually selling the business to move onto bigger and better projects with less manual labor.

Here are a couple of “how-to” resources that I’ve stumbled across in the past that I’ve saved for myself. These are real case studies on how to get set up and get a business running with each of the below small profitable business ideas:

Small Profitable Business Idea #3 - Amazon FBA

Amazon FBA can be your first small business, and it can be incredibly profitable if done right. Just check out how successful Greg Mercer from JungleScout is. He is constantly launching six-figure businesses through the Amazon FBA program. I recommend following along with the JungleScout Million Dollar Case Study to see exactly how Greg does this. I launched my product on Amazon by following Greg’s case study.

Amazon FBA is the process of selling physical goods on Amazon through Amazon’s inventory and delivery program. In this process, you work with a manufacturer (most likely in China) to create a product, buy inventory, ship it to Amazon’s warehouses, sell the products on Amazon, and Amazon will fulfill the orders and ship the products to your customers.

Through this process, you are finding a niche within a type of physical good. Preferably a physical product that is already invented and well known so you don’t have to create a totally new invention. You are just taking a popular product and improving it in some way.

Such as taking a bookcase and making it lightweight and foldable. Taking a baby blanket and making it softer and more durable. Taking an inflatable chair and making it stronger and easier to inflate. Take a product that is already being searched for on Amazon, read the bad reviews, and improve the product to sell a better version of a product that is already selling on Amazon. This is how you find your niche using Amazon FBA.

It's a bit of pay to play. My Amazon FBA product (which was not successful, though I will try again) cost me $13,000 upfront to buy inventory and ship the products to the Amazon warehouse. That being said, if you follow Greg’s instructions at JungleScout, you can easily get an FBA product up and running for around $2,000 upfront cost for inventory.

Small Profitable Business Idea #4 - Your Day Job

Your day job can be your first niche business. I talk about this in my list of niches blog, but I will reiterate it here because it’s such a great idea. Plus it’s one of the ideas I use my business, so I guess I’m biased.

Is there something you do during the day that you could turn into a business? Are you a mechanic, marketing analyst, or CPA? All of those can be turned into an online business.

You can turn your day job into a coaching practice, you can teach people one-on-one or in a mastermind setting how to become a mechanic. You can write a book about how to climb the corporate ladder as a CPA. You could start a blog about the best firms to work at for new lawyers just entering the workforce. You can coach people one on one about how to improve their job performance and how to advance their careers. You could create a group program and sell your coaching B2B where you host training classes at the employer’s office to coach employees.

There are a lot of options here. You are likely an expert at something in your day job. Turn that into your first niche business.

Small Profitable Business Idea #5 - Print on Demand

Print on demand is great for anyone that wants to start a business without holding inventory, and with minimal upfront costs. In fact, it’s one of the ideas from my blog how to make money online without paying anything.

Print on demand is a program to print your products and ship them directly to the customer after the customer orders.

Such as a t-shirt design, the print on demand company will print your design on a t-shirt and ship it to your customer. This means you don’t hold any inventory. The customer places an order through Amazon, your print to order company prints the product and ships it directly to the customer. You pay a small flat fee for the printing and shipping, and the rest is profit. For example, if you are selling a T-shirt you pay $10 for the T-shirt and printing, but you charge the customer $15 so you make $5 profit.

The biggest pro to the print on demand niche, there is no inventory. And you only pay when a sale is made. There is no upfront cost, other than hiring a designer if needed. But you can do that on Fiverr for $5.

With this niche site idea, your print on demand company will do everything for you. You just need to set up the product. They will conduct the transaction, print your product, and ship it to your customer.

Personally, I use Teelaunch. They have a ton of print on demand products. Things like t-shirts, sweatshirts, socks, coffee mugs, canvases, blankets, dog bowls, and so much more. The whole program is through Shopify, making it super simple to use. You can sync this with a website and Amazon with just a couple of clicks. Meaning all you need to do is upload a design to the website and drive traffic to have people buy your product, TeeLaunch will do the rest.

I got hooked on the idea after reading this post on Reddit where someone is making $150,000 selling Tshirts on Amazon using TeeLaunch. This one post introduced me to the print on demand business model and got me hooked on the idea, I now earn a little revenue through TeeLaunch and plan to experiment more with the process under my own print on demand Amazon business.

Small Profitable Business Idea #6 – Retail Arbitrage (Amazon Reseller)

I first heard about the idea of a “retail arbitrage” on Pat Flynn’s podcast. It’s an interesting idea. The concept is incredibly simple. Buy products for cheap, or at a discounted price, and resell them on Amazon.

I’ve seen the same process with people buying used items from garage sales and reselling the items on Craigslist or eBay. I’ve seen people making tens of thousands each month simply through the process of buying cheap products and selling them for a profit on Amazon or eBay. What a simple process!

It’s a process I will experiment with in the future. I recommend checking out Pat’s podcast where he interviews Jessica from The Selling Family for a full breakdown of this idea. Here is a snippet of the process that Jessica talks about on the podcast: “… you can download the Amazon seller app which is a completely free app that connects directly to Amazon. Then you just head out to a store and scan the barcode of a product and then it will pull it up on Amazon and tell you the difference. You can do that at home with just stuff that you have or you can do it at a clearance aisle, a discount store. I always recommend that people start with clearance just because it kind of limits you a little bit on what to look for.”

Small Profitable Business Idea #7 – Freelance

Freelancing is an easy business to get started with. A freelancer is a person that works as a contractor, offering services to people and businesses for a fee.

This is very broad. A freelancer can be someone that does video editing, answers emails, designs logos, records audio voiceovers, does SEO work, or conducts marketing campaigns. A freelancer can do anything or provide any services for a fee.

You can become a freelancer, providing any service that you can render. You put in the work, you get paid for your time and the work you complete. This is one of the easiest ways to get started making money online for beginners.

I higher freelancers all the time. At this moment, I have a team of five virtual assistants. I also hire various freelancers to perform tasks such as video editing, website design, and logo design. There are three main places where I hire freelancers:

  • Upwork – you can sell your freelancing services on Upwork. People are posting new jobs here every day, go in and apply to these jobs and offer your services to each new job poster to get hired.
  • Fiverr – you can sell your freelancing services on Fiverr. Here you post your services and let people find and hire you.
  • Facebook/Reddit – there are groups on Facebook and Reddit where people post looking for freelancing help. For example, the Facebook group Virtual Assistant Jobs and the Reddit Community r/forhire. Check out these communities and contact the poster to be hired as a freelancer.

Getting started as a freelancer is easy. Just go to one of the listings above, create a profile, and begin applying to jobs. Once you get a few clients you will get reviews and recommendations. You will begin to build a client list and then the clients will come to you (rather than you applying to each job).

Small Profitable Business Idea #8 - Vending Machines

Personally, I’ve never attempted to generate money from vending machines. But strangely enough, I’ve met a lot of people who have. And I’ve found some good resources over the year to help you get started.

Essentially, with a vending machine business, you set up vending machines around your town and earn passive income from vending machine purchases. I know almost nothing about this process, so I recommend checking out this website for a full guide to getting started with a vending machine business.

I also recommend reading this Better Business Bureau article, it goes deep into the pros and cons of the vending machine business (it’s not pretty). I do not want you to think that this is an easy business, it can be ugly and difficult if you don’t do your homework. The article states “The hard truth is that many inexperienced people who try to establish vending machine businesses are doomed to failure. This booklet is an attempt to assist investors by describing the pitfalls a potential vending machine operator must sidestep.”

Small Profitable Business Idea #9 - Laundromat

Once again, I do not own a laundromat nor do I ever plan on starting a laundromat business. But yet again, I’ve met a lot of people in my connections with entrepreneurs that started their entrepreneurial journey with a laundromat business. I recommend checking out out this YouTube channel for a breakdown of how to get started in the laundromat business, this video channel was recommended to me by laundromat entrepreneurs.

Costs

According to this article at entrepreneur.com, getting into this business can be pricey. The article states “you also need to consider that getting into the laundry business requires a large initial investment. The average-size laundromat could cost you in the neighborhood of $200,000 to $500,000 -- whether you choose to purchase an existing laundry or build one in a retail space.”

Profit

The upside is a laundromat business can be very profitable. As stated in this same entrepreneur.com article: “The amount of money you can make from a laundry varies tremendously. According to the Coin Laundry Association's Brian Wallace, the annual gross income from one store can range from $30,000 to $1 million. The expenses incurred while running a store range between 65 and 115 percent of the gross income. That means that for a store grossing $30,000 per year, at best it nets $10,500 and at worst it loses $4,500. For a store grossing $1 million per year, the profit could be as high as $350,000, or there could be a loss of up to $150,000, depending on expenses. Wallace says these profit margins have less to do with the size of the store than with its owner. An owner who runs his or her store well-who keeps it clean, repairs its equipment quickly, uses energy-efficient systems and offers good customer service-will see profit margins of about 35 percent.”

Small Profitable Business Idea #10 – Coach or Mentor

Coaching is a very profitable small business opportunity, and it costs $0 to get into this business. You just need to spend time helping people.

Coaching is the process of helping someone one on one. You can be a coach for anything. I’m a coach helping people start their own online businesses. It is completely free to be a coach.

To be a coach, all you need is a cell phone or the ability to meet with people in person. For coaching, all you need is yourself and the willingness to help others. Use Stripe to collect payments and use Zoom to conduct video conferences for free.

Coaching Opportunities

The coaching niche is very broad. There is a lot you can do here, you can be a coach for just about anything. Below are a couple of ideas for starting a niche site using coaching:

  • Corporate coach
  • Entrepreneurship coach
  • Fitness coach
  • Diet coach

Getting started as a coach is easy, you just need to start helping people. What are you an expert at? Did you lose 100lbs on the Keto diet? Great, you can be a Keto coach. Go on Facebook and Reddit and start participating in the conversations going on in Keto related groups and communities. Start to solidify yourself as a go-to resource for Keto, then offer your coaching services for anyone that needs additional help.

Conclusion - Small Profitable Business Ideas

It’s time to get started. Choose one of these ten business ideas and take your first step today. The sooner you get started, the sooner you take that first step, the sooner you will build a highly profitable small business.

As a recap, here are the 10 small profitable business ideas that I recommend to new entrepreneurs:

  • Online Business
  • Local Service Business
  • Amazon FBA
  • Your Day Job
  • Print on Demand
  • Retail Arbitrage (Amazon Reseller)
  • Freelance
  • Vending Machines
  • Laundromat
  • Coach or Mentor

If you just need some help sparking an idea for your new business, I recommend you download my five favorite business ideas. These are the businesses I would start today if I had more time, and exactly how I would get started.

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