free small business ideas

Maybe you’re ready for a career change.

Maybe you’re still unsure what career to pursue in the first place.

Maybe all you really know is that you want to run your own business, but are fresh out of small business ideas.

While looking at the booming industries year by year can be tempting, it’s also a good idea to look to your strengths. What is your skill set? What are you great at? This can be an excellent jumping-off point for coming up with the best business ideas. By focusing on where your skills are, and what type of thing you enjoy doing, you can come up with great business ideas that truly play to your strengths.

These suggestions should give you somewhere to start.

Did I miss your skill set? What are you great at? Share with me in the comments, or on Twitter, and we’ll continue brainstorming!

Want to jump straight to an idea? Click the link to skip ahead:

    1. Start a plumbing, electric, or “handyman” type business
    2. Start a construction business
    3. Start a mechanic business
    4. Start a sewing and alterations business
    5. Start an accounting business
    6. Start a financial planning business
    7. Start a personal training business or open a gym
    8. Start a life coaching business
    9. Start your own freelance writing business
    10. Start an editing and proofreading business
    11. Start a resume writing and help business
    12. Start a garden center
    13. Start a landscaping business
    14. Start a photography business
    15. Start a car-detailing business
    16. Start a house cleaning business
    17. Start a massage therapy business
    18. Start a beauty salon or spa
    19. Start a nonprofit
    20. Start a tutoring business
    21. Start a business teaching your skill set
    22. Build a much-needed app
    23. Start a consulting firm
    24. Start an event planning business
    25. Start a personal assistant business
    26. Start a bar, brewery, or a nightclub
    27. Start a cafe, bakery, or a coffee shop
    28. Open a restaurant
    29. Start a daycare center
    30. Start a doggy daycare, boarding, or pet grooming business
    31. Start a senior citizen assistance business
    32. Consider starting a business in an emerging industry

The Lean Business Plan Template

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If you’re Mr. or Ms. Fix-It:

Does your ideal career involve getting your hands dirty—or, at the very least, working with your hands, as opposed to sitting in an office?

There are, of course, a million possibilities here; however, I’ve researched a few to get you started.

1. Start a plumbing, electric, or “handyman” type business

If you’re a fan of tinkering and solving a problem, starting a plumbing, electrician, or general handyperson-type business might be a good fit for you.

While it’s not as simple as, hey, go start plumbing, if you’re looking for a hands-on career, you might want to consider seeking out a vocational degree in one of these fields and building a business around it. I’ve also linked our free sample plans below, including one specific to starting a plumbing business.

For more information:

2. Start a construction business

Similarly, a construction business could be a great fit for someone who enjoys hands-on work.

If you’ve been doing this sort of work for someone else, it can be gratifying to start your own business and be the one calling the shots. If you’re still more of an amateur, you’ll probably need to complete either an apprenticeship or a trade program to get started; however, if you already have some of the skills or have worked construction in the past (or simply have interest in seeking the education), this might be a great fit.

For more information:

3. Start a mechanic business

Do you love working on cars? Would you like to do it for a living?

Maybe you’ve been working on cars in your garage for a few years. Don’t write off your interest as merely a hobby; it could make a great small business idea.

For more information:

4. Start a sewing and alterations business

If you enjoy sewing, you might like a business specializing in altering or repairing garments.

While you don’t need a specific degree or training, you’ll need a certain level of skill to get started with this one. However, if you’re already great at sewing, an alteration business could be a great fit. It’s a perfect home-based business opportunity, and you’ll have limited overhead—if you have a sewing machine and a good iron, you’re halfway there.

For more information:

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If you’re a whiz with numbers:

5. Start an accounting business

Do you enjoy bookkeeping, preparing taxes, and generally managing money? Consider starting an accounting business. The field of Strategic Advising is growing, and there is more demand than ever for accountants to provide services beyond just routine tax prep.

Unlike many suggestions on this list, becoming an accountant and opening your own firm will require the right education—generally, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree, and you’ll also likely need to be licensed as a CPA.

For more information:

6. Start a financial planning business

Like starting an accounting business, you’ll want to look into the requirements for starting a financial planning businessHowever, if you have a background in finance, or would like to pursue the schooling, starting a financial planning business might be the right small business idea for you.

For more information:

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If you’re great at motivating people:

7. Start a personal training business or open a gym

If you’re into some aspect of fitness, opening a gym or starting a personal training business could be a great small business idea. From general fitness coaching to becoming an instructor (think Zumba or Pilates), to personal training, to opening your own gym, there are plenty of options in the fitness sphere, depending on where your interests lie. After all, the best business ideas for you will be the ones that play to your strengths.

Bear in mind that like many options on this list, you’ll need certification. NASM, ACE, and ACSM are a few of the most common and well-respected certifications, but the path you choose will depend on your specific focus.

For more information:

8. Start a life coaching business

Did you successfully navigate a difficult situation against all odds, and come out stronger on the other side? Do you see the best in people, and want to help them reach their full potential? If so, you could consider building a small business around life coaching.

For more information:

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If you’re a strong writer:

9. Start your own freelance writing business

Sites like Elance and Upwork are great places to get started freelance writing, and you can easily build a small business around your skills as a freelance writer, or potentially expand to include other writers (or graphic designers, web designers, and so on) down the road.

Another great thing about starting a freelance writing small business? You can tailor it to your strengths. Whether you’re interested in copywriting, technical writing, or writing for trade publications, writers are always in demand.

For more information:

10. Start an editing and proofreading business

Similarly, editing and proofreading services are always needed and would make a great small business idea. You can begin by taking on freelance work and go from there (and surprise—you’re already a sole proprietor!).

For more information:

11. Start a resume writing and help business

If you have an eye for detail (read: don’t let mistakes go unnoticed!) your skills might be put to good use helping job-seekers perfect their resumes.

For more information:

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If you have a green thumb:

12. Start a garden center

If you love gardening, but would rather share your expertise than physically help others with their personal gardens, starting a garden center might be the right small business idea for you. You can advise and educate other enthusiasts on what it takes to make their gardens beautiful.

For more information:

13. Start a landscaping business

If, on the other hand, you do love the idea of working hands-on, you might consider a landscaping or lawn care business. While you’ll certainly need the skill set to get started, some lawn care services are ultra-basic to start (think mowing) and you can learn and add on more services over time.

For more information:

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If you love to be creative:

14. Start a photography business

If you’ve got a great eye and are always the one who documents special moments, you might want to consider making a career out of your photography passion.

While the competition is pretty stiff, specializing in a specific area, such as pet photography, weddings, or portraits can help set you apart.

For more information:

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If you are detail-oriented:

15. Start a car-detailing business

Taking the idea of “detail-oriented” in the most literal sense, a car detailing business could be a small business idea that is not only lucrative, but that plays to your strengths.

For more information:

16. Start a house cleaning business

If you’re naturally tidy and enjoy keeping places clean, consider starting a house cleaning business. It’s fairly easy to start, requires no training or certification, and if you’re detail-oriented, it could really play to your strengths.

For more information:

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If you excel at making people feel relaxed and beautiful:

17. Start a massage therapy business

While it does take licensing to become a massage therapist, starting a massage therapy business can be a great career for someone who enjoys working with people, and making them feel relaxed and peaceful, or helping them manage pain or injury.

For more information:

18. Start a beauty salon or spa

Like a massage therapist, you will need a license to be a hairstylist, esthetician, or nail technician. However, if the training sounds enjoyable, consider looking into starting a salon or spa business.

For more information:

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If you enjoy helping people:

19. Start a nonprofit

There are endless ways that you can help others by starting a nonprofit business. What problem are you passionate about fixing? Starting a nonprofit business can be a rewarding life path, as it can enable you to both make money and make a difference.

For more information:

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If you are a natural teacher:

20. Start a tutoring business

If you know multiple languages, excelled at a certain subject in school, or are good at explaining concepts in a way that is easy to understand, consider starting a tutoring business. You can specialize in a particular area, depending on your skill set, such as paper writing, languages, math, or test preparation—the list goes on.

For more information:

21. Start a business teaching your skill set

So, you love to teach—but the idea of rehashing high school chemistry doesn’t really do it for you? Consider starting a business based on teaching what you do love.

Maybe you’re a skilled potter or a trained dancer? Love to practice yoga, and are interested in becoming an instructor? Whatever your skill, there are likely people who’d love a teacher.

For more information:

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If you are a born problem-solver:

22. Build a much-needed app

Do you have the solution to a common problem or pain point that you feel is experienced by many? Consider building an app—it’s easier than you’d think.

For more information:

23. Start a consulting firm

Similar to teaching a class based on your skills, you may want to evaluate what you currently excel at, and see if it would make a good consulting business.

Consulting firms exist covering a huge variety of topics, from business, to IT, to public relations, and more. Live and breathe social media? Start a social media consulting business, helping businesses leverage their social presence. You get the idea.

For more information:

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If you are impossibly organized:

24. Start an event planning business

If you get excited over a well-planned itinerary (hey, no judgement—I’m right there with you), you might want to look into starting an event planning business.

From weddings to parties to corporate events, if you can rise above the competition (which is admittedly very present), event planning is an ideal small business idea for the über-organized.

For more information:

25. Start a personal assistant business

Similarly, if you are great at keeping on task and getting things done efficiently and in an organized manner, starting a personal assistant business might be a good fit for you.

For more information:

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If you enjoy off-hours, early mornings, or late nights:

26. Start a bar, brewery, or a nightclub

If you’re the consummate night owl who enjoys interacting with people, starting a bar or a club might be a great fit for your personality.

No matter where you live, your area is likely full of bars to begin with—so make sure you do your market researchWhat is your community missing? What kind of place would you personally want to hang out in?

For more information:

27. Start a cafe, bakery, or a coffee shop

On the flip side, do you dream of a job that would leave your evenings free—and love a good cup of coffee and a pastry? Consider starting a coffee shop, a cafe, or a bakery. The food and beverage industry, in general, is a bit of a double-edged sword—perpetually popular, but hard to survive in—so make sure you’ve done your market research and validated your business idea.

For more information:

28. Open a restaurant

There’s no doubt that the restaurant industry is a difficult one to be successful in. However, if you value a career that is exciting, holds non-standard hours, and lets you fill a need in your community, opening a restaurant might be right for you—just be prepared to work hard to stand out.

For more information:

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If you love caring for others (including four-legged friends):

29. Start a daycare center

If you’re good with children, you’re in luck—childcare is always a needed service.

You also have plenty of options; you could go the full-time nanny route, establish a childcare service out of your home, or rent commercial space, depending on your goals.

For more information:

30. Start a doggy daycare, boarding, or pet grooming business

Do you love animals? Was dog walking your preferred job when you were in high school? Parlay this into a career by starting a pet boarding service, a daytime doggy daycare, or a pet grooming service.

For more information:

31. Start a senior citizen assistance business

Do you have a passion for helping the elderly have a better quality of life? If so, you could start a small business focused on assisting senior citizens.

Whether that be running errands, taking members to social functions, or helping them around the house, there are plenty of options, and starting a business helping others can be deeply rewarding.

For more information:

If you’re interested in taking advantage of new business trends

32. Consider starting a business in an emerging industry

If you like to be on the cutting edge, consider starting a business in a new, trending industry. It’s a potentially difficult route to take; there’s less precedent, after all, and the roads to success are somewhat unpaved, but in many ways that can be considered a pro.

Consider starting a business in one of these emerging industries:

Next steps

If you now have an idea for a business you’d like to start, it’s time to consider where to go next.

We recommend checking out Bplans gallery of sample business plans, which can be a great source of inspiration. Speaking of business planning, you may need to write a formal business planhere’s our guide on how to write one.

If you’re just looking to validate your idea to start, consider creating a Lean Plan with our Lean Planning Template—it’s faster and easier than a formal business plan, and is a great place to start.

Check out our Idea Validation Checklist as well—it will help you test your business idea to make sure it’s well thought out and likely to be successful. Finally, these tactics will help you validate your idea (and figure out if people will pay for it!), as well as determine if you really want to start a business.

Resources:

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Briana Morgaine
Briana Morgaine

Briana is the content marketing specialist for Bplans. She enjoys discussing marketing, social media, and the pros and cons of the Oxford comma. Bri is a resident of Portland, Oregon, and can be found working remotely from a variety of local coffee shops. She can also be found, infrequently, on Twitter.