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15 Best Businesses to Start in 2024 with Minimal Capital

Small Scale Business Ideas
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Great ideas often lead to wildly successful companies. But what exactly makes for a hot new business idea? 

According to business expert Richard Koch, it’s about diving into a fast-growing market with the opportunity to become a leader within a fast-growing niche. 

This is what Koch calls a Star Business. 

For instance, take a booming trend like eco-friendliness, and find a niche within it — say, reusable shopping bags with unique designs.

By finding a specific focus within a growing trend, you carve out a space where your business can thrive. 

This article lists 15 small business ideas that are affordable to start but have high potential, all aligned with rising market trends.

#1. Online Publisher

Key stat: Global internet use has grown by 82% since 2012.

Having a loyal audience is invaluable today because you can leverage that authority and trust to create a business with customers from day one. 

And platforms like a blog, YouTube, podcasts, and social media channels like Instagram and TikTok make it easier than ever to build an audience. 

With a loyal following, you can monetize through advertising, affiliate marketing and sponsorship deals. Transitioning from content creation to offering services like coaching, course sales or product sales can also be very lucrative. 

#2. Content Marketing Agency

Key stat: The global content marketing industry is expected to grow by $417 billion between now and 2025.

With rising advertising costs on platforms like Google and Facebook, more businesses are eyeing organic growth strategies like SEO and social media to drive sales. This trend opens the door to starting a content agency that serves business clients.

Content marketing done right can significantly boost a business’s visibility on platforms like Google, which can help drive sales. Notably, Microsoft flagged SEO as a vital skill for marketers in the next decade.

The most important hard skill for marketers.

Your agency can offer various services, from SEO optimization and repurposing existing content for different platforms to helping businesses kickstart podcasts to engage their audience.

#3. Buy a Local Business

As many baby boomers approach retirement, well-run local service businesses like HVAC, plumbing and carpet cleaning services are on the market. 

The situation today is very different than in the past, when businesses were traditionally passed down from one generation to the next. Today, many of the children of these business owners are pursuing different careers than their parents, leaving the owners of these very profitable (but what some might call boring) businesses to look for buyers. 

While this isn’t as easy as walking into your local HVAC office and making an offer, there is a lot of opportunity available to those who are willing to perform the necessary due diligence. 

Seller financing, which requires little money down but pays the owner from profits, is also a common strategy for those without capital. 

Learn more: Websites like BuyBizSell can help you find businesses in your area. Codie Sanchez dives deeper into this strategy in a recent interview on the BiggerPockets YouTube channel (see the video below).

#4. Digital Marketing Firm

Key stat: In 2022, U.S. digital advertising spending surpassed $567 billion. In 2026, it’s expected to surpass $835 billion.

As more businesses turn to the internet to sell their products and services, the demand for digital marketing specialists is skyrocketing. And while you can get started in digital marketing as a one-person show, it’s also a prime opportunity to develop an agency.

That’s because there are numerous niche skills within the field, including social media management, paid ad management, and even running an affiliate marketing program.

Clickminded’s guide to digital marketing lists seven different areas of specialization inside the field:

  • Sales funnels: writing and organizing content that turns prospects into paying customers.
  • Content marketing strategy: producing and promoting content that helps brands build their profile.
  • Search engine optimization (SEO): optimizing content so that it performs well on Google.
  • Email marketing: writing great emails that drive action, and targeting them to the right people.
  • Digital advertising: buying targeted ads on Google and other online platforms.
  • Social media marketing: buying micro-targeted ads on platforms like Twitter and Facebook.
  • Web analytics: reading and interpreting traffic trends to help clients better understand their website visitors and customers.

Being very good in one skill and combining that with a trend (e.g., web analytics experts for Shopify stores) can yield excellent results. 

#5. Web Design and App Development

Key stat: The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates a 23% increase in demand for web designers between 2019 and 2029 — a rate much higher than most careers.

The huge demand for quality web designers and app developers makes this a great business idea. What’s better is that web design and app development skills are surprisingly easy to learn, and people are willing to pay huge sums for quality web development work. 

Full websites on open-source platforms like WordPress can fetch anywhere from a few thousand dollars to $100,000+ for corporate clients, with average rates often well over $100 per hour. Custom websites built from scratch can command even more.

Graphic design is a key element of great web design and a lucrative business option in its own right. Graphic designers typically start with rates around $50 per hour but can earn well above that with experience. Learning to do great graphic design work can be a good first step to establishing a web design agency.

Learn more: Read our guide on how to make money building websites, and if you are interested in design, our guide on getting started as a freelance graphic designer.

#6. Sell Hand-Crafted Items on Etsy

Key stat: Etsy stores generated $2.6 billion in 2022, up from $ 2.3 billion in 2021.

Chart of Etsy revenue over time.

Etsy is a favorite of entrepreneurial-minded creative types because it’s a great way to sell unique, hand-crafted items without any of the hassles of setting up your own retail store.

The beauty of Etsy is that it already has a built-in audience of shoppers looking for handmade and vintage items. Therefore, you can leverage network effects with a high-quality product your customers love.

As an Etsy store owner, you’ll be responsible for creating your own product listings, managing customer service, and shipping the items yourself. While Etsy does take around 8% of the sale, there are no other significant costs associated with opening a store

Learn more: To learn more about how to start, read our comprehensive guide to making money on Etsy.

#7. Become a Reseller

Chart showing the volume of the secondhand goods market over time.

Think of reselling as buying an asset and selling it for a higher price. Your inventory can be anything — from designer clothes to vintage clothes to rare books, old video games and everything in between.

You can sell on various platforms, including your website, Amazon, Poshmark, Etsy, and eBay.

The key to a successful reselling business is to have an information advantage. That means understanding the market for what you’re buying better than the person selling the item.

A reselling business can start small, even with items you have on hand, but then scale up quickly by buying more inventory through places like wholesale markets, where you can purchase items in bulk.

#8. Service-Based Agency/Consulting Business

Key stat: In Q3 of 2022, revenue on the freelance marketplace Upwork increased 14% year-over-year, rising to over $ 1 billion.

Upwork, the largest freelance marketplace, publishes data regarding the fastest-growing jobs on the platform. This data shows the most in-demand, highest-paying jobs and skills.

The current list shows opportunities such as:

  • Automation specialists.
  • Data analytics.
  • Mobile application skills.
  • Machine learning.
  • Video production.

If you’re competent in any of these fields, or are willing to take the time to become competent, there’s plenty of highly-paid freelance or consulting work available to you. An alternative option to learning a new skill is to find reliable contractors to do the work for you.

Once you’ve started to freelance and gain experience, you can start an agency or consulting business specializing in that service. For more repeatable tasks, such as video production, hiring offshore virtual assistants to do the work at a lower cost based on the systems and procedures you set is possible.

Consider combining these skills with market trends, such as doing video production for TikTok creators, and you can have a successful service-based agency fast.

Learn more: Check Upwork’s list of the fastest-growing jobs and skills. If there’s a technical skill you’re looking to pick up, search for online certifications in that area, which are often free. And see our in-depth guide to winning clients on Upwork

Key stat: On average, Americans spend more than $700 per year on their pets.

In some ways, a dog walking business seems more like a job or a side hustle than a business. After all, you’re ultimately earning money on an hourly basis for providing a service to clients. 

But if you enjoy working with animals and have an entrepreneurial mindset, applying your business acumen to this industry can pay.

Rover is a great place to get started. Think of it as the Uber for pets: people will pay you good money to show up at a set time and take their dog for a walk, in addition to pet sitting.

As you build up a clientele and reputation on Rover, you should also consider ways to scale up and transition from being a freelancer to running a pet business. This can include offering other pet owners related services like training, grooming and boarding. Consider starting other types of businesses, such as an Etsy store selling pet supplies.

Learn more: Learn the ins and outs of the pet care business working part-time for Rover. You can often make between $20 and $40 per hour, building up your clientele.

#10. Wedding Planner/Event Planner

Key stat: According to wedding website The Knot, 32% of couples now hire a wedding planner.

Planning weddings is a popular home business idea with big-time earning potential.

For most people, their wedding is among the most important days of their life. And for better or worse, the rise of social media platforms like Instagram has made the day even more important.

After all, thousands of pictures will be taken by both the professional photographer and the guests, and those pictures will be enshrined on the internet forever. So brides and grooms understandably feel pressure to get the planning right and ensure everything looks incredible.

On one hand, this is a boon for the wedding planning industry. If you can keep the trains running on time and know how to make a wedding look great on Instagram, you can earn a huge price for your services.

But on the other hand, people are reluctant to take a risk on a planner with little experience or a limited portfolio. Working for a wedding planner in your hometown, even briefly, can be a good way to gain some legitimizing experience. 

If that’s not an option, you might be able to offer to help your friends and family with one specific aspect of their wedding for free and then use your successful execution of that responsibility as part of your portfolio.

If you don’t love the idea of being around weddings, there are many other opportunities in the event planning business. Other specialties include corporate events, conferences, formal parties, concerts and conventions.

Learn more: Here are six things to remember if you’re considering starting a wedding planning business.

#11. Green Deep Cleaning Service

Key stat: The market for green cleaning products is expected to grow to nearly $12 billion by 2029.

More and more offices are seeking deep cleaning services to fully sanitize their space. Another trend is that both consumers and businesses are looking for environmentally friendly cleaning options.

Combine those two trends, and you get an opportunity in extremely high demand and plenty of long-term growth potential.

While less flashy than some of the other ideas on this list, cleaning is a high-profit-margin business. This is because you can use independent contractors, who only incur costs when you get paid (instead of keeping employees on payroll).

Learn more: How to start a cleaning business in seven steps.

#12. Senior Care

Key stat: 75% of adults age 50 and older want to stay in their home as they age.

The combination of an aging population and the fact that this population wants to live in their homes for as long as possible means there’s massive potential for specializing in senior care within the healthcare industry.

Services you can offer include:

  • Home health and personal care aide agency.
  • Adult day care center.
  • Respite care agency.
  • Non-emergency senior transportation services.
  • Mobile beauty services.
  • Home repairs and renovations that allow seniors to stay in their home longer (e.g., making the home wheelchair-friendly).

These are just a few ideas, but you can see how many services this niche offers.

Learn more: For an in-depth look at the major demographic shifts ahead and what opportunities this presents, read the consulting firm McKinsey’s recent report titled “Planning for an Aging Population.”

#13. Personal Training

Key stat: The BLS reports a 19% increase in demand for personal trainers (much faster than average) through 2030.

With increased healthcare costs and increased expectations on how we look, more people than ever are trying to get into shape. And they pay big bucks for it.

The business is harder to scale up than most if you only work with client one-on-one. 

However, there are a lot of additional revenue streams available for personal trainers, and especially for those who specialize. These opportunities include offering online courses, sponsorships, and opening a store featuring their favorite fitness products.

Learn more: Get an idea of the big potential in “This Woman Turned Her Selfies Into a Million-Dollar Online Fitness Empire.”

#14. Test Prep and Other Educational Services

Key stat: The test prep market in the United States is expected to grow by more than $10 billion.

Parents are increasingly turning to private companies to support their children’s education and preparation for college entrance exams and admissions. This demand creates several lucrative opportunities for education entrepreneurs and specialists:

  • Test prep and tutoring for SAT, ACT, and other exams can be offered online at low cost.
  • Educational consulting to help students gain admission to top schools.
  • Assisting homeschooling parents with teaching resources and materials.
  • Providing specialized tutoring or instruction in areas like coding, music, arts, etc. leverages your skills.
  • Online courses teaching languages, academic topics, or soft skills

Besides test prep, these educational businesses are relatively low-cost to start and run from home. The key is identifying your specialty area or audience and tailoring high-value services for them.

Learn more: Read the StarterStory profile of Adam Shlomi of SoFlo SAT Tutoring, who created a $15,000-per-month online tutoring company in less than two years.

#15. Personal Organization and Junk Removal

Key stat: The waste collection industry has grown 4.9% per year since 2020.

With baby boomers downsizing and decluttering, and households filled with unused items, professional organizing and junk removal services are in high demand. 

As people look to simplify and create more space in their homes, a business that offers services like decluttering, organization, packing/unpacking and junk hauling away can capitalize on these trends. 

You can start small by offering your services directly to residential clients looking to organize their homes. Then over time, scale up by offering removal services (or partnering with a company that does) to remove unwanted items and clutter. 

Learn More: See your options for becoming a professional organizer

Spotting fast-growing trends before they explode is one of the most powerful ways to identify a lucrative business opportunity. 

When looking for accelerating trends, resources include:

Demographic shifts can also signal opportunities. 

With 10,000 baby boomers retiring daily in the U.S., industries like healthcare, senior living and financial services are rapidly expanding.

The rising adoption of new technologies like AI and automation creates demand for specialists who can help businesses implement these tools. 

As artificial intelligence becomes more accessible through innovations like ChatGPT, professionals skilled in AI will also have great opportunities. 

The key is not just spotting a fast-growing trend but identifying the niche within it where you can establish a leadership position. 

Of course, many great business ideas have come from entrepreneurs being heads-down in an industry for a long time, knowing the customer, and seeing ahead of the curve themselves. 

Immersing yourself in a market you’re passionate about can allow you to identify emerging needs before the data fully reflects those needs.

Combining data-driven trend analysis with your on-the-ground experience and instincts about where a market is headed is the best of both worlds. Staying on top of high-level trends and specific customer needs increases your chances of spotting that next big opportunity before others.

Hot Business Ideas FAQs

How do you develop a hot new business idea on your own?

This list of business ideas is meant to spark your creativity in developing an idea for your business. But let’s face it: most successful businesses today didn’t originate with the founder scanning a list of hot new business ideas.

What’s far more important is applying the principle of a Star Business, which is finding an industry growing at least 10% per year (ideally 30%) and creating your niche within that industry where you’re a market leader.

For quicker results, look for areas where you have industry expertise. Most industries have sub-niches that are booming, even if the industry as a whole is not.

What are the most successful small businesses?

The most successful small businesses — which we’ll define as the businesses with the lowest failure rates — are within the finance, insurance, and real estate industries.

According to data from, 58% of these businesses were still operating after four years.

The same study listed the most profitable business ideas as:

– Accounting, tax preparation, bookkeeping and payroll services: 18.4% NPM.
– Management of companies and enterprises: 15.5% NPM.
– Offices of real estate agents and brokers: 15.19% NPM.
– Automotive equipment rental and leasing: 14.55% NPM.

What businesses are hot now?

LinkedIn’s recent analysis of the hottest job growth rates found five total job categories with high potential in the coming years, which were:

1. Professionals on the front lines of e-commerce.
2. Loan and mortgage experts.
3. Healthcare support staff.
4. Business development and sales professionals.
5. Experts in workplace diversity.

Business startups, consultants, agencies and service providers within these industries can expect to see above-average growth in the industry as a whole for years to come.

How do you create a one-page business plan?

The book The One-Page Business Plan is a great model to follow to go from idea to action. Overall, it forces you to focus your plan on the big picture.

Once you have all of your necessary resources created — including industry research, competitor analysis, strategic vision and mission development, SWOT analysis and more — simply create a one-page overview of all of these points with key takeaways highlighted.

This will help you stay on track, measure your progress, and make necessary pivots along the way.

Hottest Small-Scale Business Ideas Summary

You don’t need a formal business education to take advantage of these hot new business opportunities, but you will need to spend a little bit of time thinking about how they mesh with your current level of resources, as well as your current and future life goals.

Do you have the time it takes to start one of these businesses, and do you have the wherewithal to stick with it even if success takes longer than you expect?

The reality is that even the best small scale business ideas will face obstacles and suffer setbacks along the way to success. That’s the nature of the beast. But the rewards for becoming your own boss are immense and absolutely worth it. And in most cases, you’ll have more income, which gives you more freedom to prioritize the things in life that matter the most to you.

What to read next: 10 Low-Cost Recession Proof Businesses Ideas.

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R.J. Weiss
R.J. Weiss, founder of The Ways To Wealth, has been a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ since 2010. Holding a B.A. in finance and having completed the CFP® certification curriculum at The American College, R.J. combines formal education with a deep commitment to providing unbiased financial insights. Recognized as a trusted authority in the financial realm, his expertise is highlighted in major publications like Business Insider, New York Times, and Forbes.

    1 Comment

    1. I came across this article while looking for freelancing ideas. I absolutely loved it and am doing additional research because of some of these ideas. I recently graduated with degrees in Business Management and Accounting but didn’t know what I actually wanted to do with them. I thought about starting my own business but didn’t know what type of business. Since I read this article I have some great ideas. Thank you for writing this!

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