Working for yourself can be a tough gig, but yet many Americans do just that. In fact, the US government estimates that there are over 32 million small businesses in the United States- about 99% of all businesses in America!!
This is because many Americans view small business as the key to financial and personal freedom. Here we’ll be taking a dive into the most popular kinds of small businesses, taking inspiration from a list created by the Small Business Administration, both so you can get a picture of what’s what, and maybe so you can get inspired to run a small business of your own!
And now really is a good time to consider opening your own small business. The economy is booming, the population is expanding, and potential clients are ready to spend dollars. Every single day new small businesses launch.
1. Health Care and Social Assistance
Health care is, without a doubt, one of the biggest aspects of the US economy. No matter how you slice it, healthcare is immense. And there’s a good reason for that- after all, if there are people, there are probably sick people who need healthcare. And with America’s population ever rising, there’s a lot of sick people.
There’s also a massive variety of possible businesses in healthcare- senior homes, visitations, ear, nose and throat doctors, nurses, hospital staff, secretaries, assistants- the list is endless. While difficult to break into at times, it can be a hugely profitable business idea.
That said, there are some things to watch out for. If the market location you are about to enter is saturated already, it’s possible that you’ll have to work significantly holder to gain a foothold. Don’t let this stop you of course- if you run a tight ship, people will want to ride on it. This industry includes a diverse range of options from tests centers to private clinics. If you have a medical degree, this small business fits you perfectly.
2. Accommodation and Food Services
Food. While a portion of the population gets sick, every single person needs to eat. And as the stereotype goes, Americans certainly looove to eat. This is a booming sector, and you don’t need a fancy eight-year medical degree to break into it. Food services, like the medical sector, are extraordinarily varied, and include things like owning a McDonald’s restaurant or catering for weddings. Depending on the state you may need various permits, but don’t let that stop you!
Food services aren’t for everyone of course. For one, you’ve got to get used to smelling, well, food smells all day. And the hours are not always superb- cleaning up after a big catering event can be taxing. But if you work and establish a foothold and a good name, you’ll go far in this field.
3. Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation
Arts? Yes, I can hear your eyes rolling now. Indeed, arts do not have a high reputation for landing the big bucks. But not everyone sets out to make a fortune- some people set out to just do what they love. And indeed, “art” usually falls into that subject.
Like many items in our list, this is a very, very broad category. Some small businesses include selling paintings, photography, independent filmmaking, dance studios, and many more. Some, like selling paintings, aren’t guaranteed to make a lot of dough. But some, like photography, can be relatively lucrative! All sorts of places and businesses need photographers.
4. Personal Trainers
Personal training has taken off like a shot, and for good reason. Modern culture pushes people to look as good as they can- and that’s where personal trainers come in. Though theoretically anyone can train, most personal trainers have state certificates and have gone through actually learning how to work key muscle groups.
The difficulty here is getting your name out there, and convincing prospective clients that they don’t need to go to a gym. Oftentimes being a personal trainer means coming to your clients instead of them coming to you, which can take time. However, the harder you work and the more you get your name out there, the more successful you can become. Some trainers focus on particular types of clients, like high school football players or senior citizens looking to stay fit.
5. Site building and web design
It’s the 21st century. Every business, and we do mean every business, needs a website. Without an online presence, any company will fail in competition. Fliers stapled to poles are useful, and business cards are crucial, but without a website on that flier or business card—even if it’s just an Instagram page—a small business will struggle mightily to get its name out there.
If you know the tools for site building or have good taste in design, you can do incredibly well in this modern atmosphere. Like any other business building your brand is important, but if you do well enough some companies may permanently contract your business out to work with them for years, as they themselves grow and need to expand their website.
This, like all others, comes with a caveat: don’t forget to improve your skills and keep up-to-date with internet trends. Times change quickly; a Snapchat expert is useless if Instagram stories are the name of the game.
6. Local Auto Repairs
Some people like to get down and dirty and can’t go a day without working with their hands. Quick repairs and are always in high demand, and if your prices are fair and your knowledge is good, your popularity can easily increase with word of mouth.
If you like tinkering with cars, it’s not a bad idea to look into starting a local mechanic business. The “town mechanic” is a classic idea in American culture, and for good reason. Americans love their cars more than most countries on Earth, and that means, as we said earlier, quick repairs are always necessary.
Plus, most people prefer not to take their cars to a dealer for repair since the services are costly. From basic advice to repairs and maintenance — you can easily turn your hobby into your business.
7. Secondhand (Online) Stores
Over the last few years, secondhand stores have seen a boom in popularity. Why this is is not totally clear—maybe because of Mackelmore, maybe because millennials don’t want to pay 75 dollars for a pair of jeans—but for whatever reason, they’re booming. Why not get in on it?
Making a secondhand store into a success takes work, as it usually involves trying to sniff out what’s hot and what’s not. Keeping up with popular trends is key, as is bargaining- you’ve got to get the clothes first so that you can re-sell them later!
Of course, our lives are entirely internet-integrated, and shopping online is a natural extension of this integration. Taking your secondhand store online is relatively low-cost, since most websites can be bought for cheap and aren’t terribly difficult to set up (as we said earlier, there’s a boom market for site building and web design). Throw in free shipping for clients and you’re gold.
No, don’t roll your eyes (again). Pet sitting is also a fast-growing business, primarily due to the nature of the job. In a booming economy, people have more money. Where do people spend money? On pets and on vacations. Since you usually can’t take the first on the second, well- that’s where pet sitting comes in!
Many people treat their pets as beloved family members, but they still have to travel and stay at work for long periods of time. Offering pet sitting services requires almost no initial cost, though some opt for certificates which will make the job look a little more professional. The only necessary experience is personal pet ownership or other pet-related experiences. This kind of side job can be turned into a quality small business that includes pet hotels and grooming services.
One upside is that this is a job any mature person can do. So even if you’re 16 years old and just are trying to save up for college or a fun summer trip, this could be the job for you.
This is a very widespread small business idea. With the internet and the advent of mobile devices and internet-connected phones, the ability to more easily work wherever one wished led to people wanting to work in public. This in turn led to a boom of the so-called “internet café,” which boomed so much that they aren’t even called “internet cafes” anymore- they’re just called cafes. Give yours a theme, make it comfy, locate it well, and you’ll have caffeine-searchers in no-time.
You don’t need a specific education to launch a café, but doing so often involves many things which are not evident at first glance. And besides red tape issues, it requires solid funding.
10. Real Estate
It’s been this way since Lucy told Charlie Brown in the 1960s that she intended to go into the field, but real estate will always exist- especially in a strong economy. People need places to live, be it an apartment or a 50-acre farm.
Many people start out making good money as real estate agents and dream of launching their own agency. This business is full of challenges, but it’s dynamic and very attractive. To do well here, you’ll need to completely understand the industry and have good (and persuasive!) communication abilities.
As you can tell by now, there’s a common theme in each field: each of them requires some extent of experience or education and training, but each is booming and, if you play your cards right, each can be lucrative.
Starting a small business is tough. It requires sacrifice, hard work, long nights spent calculating budgets. Sometimes it can take a couple years before you start to see a profit.
But when you do see a profit, you’ll know it’s because YOU worked for it, and you earned it.
So in order to succeed, all you have to do is get started! Now that you are equipped with this list of tried-and-true small business ideas, go get ‘em!
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