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19 Most Profitable Small Business Ideas Worth Starting in 2024

19 Most Profitable Small Business Ideas Worth Starting in 2024

Small businesses employ millions of professionals across dozens of industries. Every year, new companies open their doors and provide jobs to help drive their local economies. However, not all small business ideas are right for every moment.

This year, you’ll need to be prepared to adapt to shifting customer expectations, global conditions and economic realities. 

Thinking about starting a business this year? Here’s what you need to know.

  • What’s considered a “small” business?
  • How many small businesses are there in the United States and Canada as of 2024?
  • How can I start a small business?
  • What is a good business to start in 2024?

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What’s considered a “small” business?

The SBA defines a small business as any company that either employs fewer than 500 employees or falls beneath a specific annual receipts cap. 

Most small businesses in the U.S. are much smaller—the average small business employs 1 to 19 people.

How many small businesses are there in the United States and Canada as of 2024?

Recent statistics tell us that there were about 33.2 million small businesses in the United States and over 1.35 million in Canada. That’s a whopping 99.9% and 98.1% respectively of the total number of businesses in each country. 

Small business owners employ 61.6 million people, or almost half of the workforce in the US. In Canada, small businesses employ 5.7 million individuals across the country—just under 47% of the total private labor force.

How can I start a small business?

So you’re ready to be your own boss? Here’s what you need to do.

  • Research your small business idea.
  • Make sure to research wider economic conditions and outlook and the general health and makeup of businesses in your area.
  • Start planning your business. Download a business plan and start filling it out. Be as detailed as possible. The more solid your business plan, the stronger foundation you have to start your small business.
  • Secure funding. Start approaching sources of funding, like banks and investors. They’ll want to see your business plan.
  • Make sure the legal parts are covered. What certificates do you need? What permits? What laws should you be aware of? Get the right approvals.
  • Secure a location, if you need one. You should have scouted potential locations while making your business plan. Now that you have your funding, sign a lease.
  • Get your business management software.
  • If you’re opening a retail store or charging for services, you’ll need a point of sale system. If you have employees, you’ll need payroll management. No matter what, you’ll need accounting software.  
  • Acquire inventory. Find wholesalers for small businesses from which to source your products and start contacting them. Expos and online supplier directors are great places to start. 
  • Build a team. If you’re just starting, you may be able to run your business on your own. But as things progress, you’ll need to bring in part-time or full-time employees. Be sure to research average wages in your area.  
  • Build your website. Having an online presence is crucial, even if you’re not planning to sell anything online. Build a site and open your social accounts.

Want more advice?  Check out our in-depth article to starting a small business here.

What small business idea is most profitable?

There isn’t one answer to this question. The most profitable business idea changes depending on the economic environment you’re in. 

In an economic boom, profitable small businesses include luxury goods, travel and real estate.

In a recession, repair and resale retail are more likely to be profitable.

No matter what, for a business to be profitable, the return needs to be higher than the investment. That doesn’t always mean a low investment is guaranteed to pay off—some of the most lucrative businesses require high initial capital. 

However, businesses that require a high initial investment are always a higher risk. If you’re opening your first small business, a low investment business idea is probably going to be safer.

What businesses make a lot of money?

A business in a high-growth industry with low startup costs, less competition and a good long-term outlook is most likely to be profitable. Examples are financial services, personal services (like personal training or pet care), pet and baby supplies and well-positioned retail stores. 

No matter the industry, profitable businesses are well run, in demand and with a cost of goods sold (or COGS) that doesn’t completely overpower revenue. A business without a lot of competition can fail, and a business with a ton of competition can out-compete the others. 

If you want your business to make money, you need data. 

Before you start your business, you need data about the economic climate, the demographics of where you want your business to be based, the outlook and tactics of competitors and the cost of supplies, technology and labor.

Once your business is open, you need your own data. For example, if you open a retail store, you can use tools like Lightspeed’s built-in reports and Advanced Reporting to monitor your sales, trends and margins. With that data in hand, you can make decisions about profitability instead of relying on anecdotes and educated guesses. 

Without data, your small business might run into expensive potholes you never saw coming, and you might make decisions that aren’t in your best interest.

Which business will be most profitable in the future?

Innovation is key to keeping your business profitable in the future.

Again, this is where data is important. The way things have always been done isn’t always the best way. If you’re setting and measuring goals and key performance indicators, you can innovate and stay on top of what your customers need and how they’re evolving.

Consider financial services, for example. Everyone needs financial services, so it’s likely to still be a profitable industry in the future. But as more and more digital natives—people born after the internet took over our daily lives—grow up, how they interact with financial services will change. 

Is your financial services company equipped to serve clients online? It should be.

If you’re focused on the hottest business right now, you may not set yourself up for the long run. Don’t just throw yourself into the latest fads—they won’t always set you up for future profitability if you don’t address them properly. 

Take the retail industry for an example. As concern for the environment grows, fewer shoppers want plastic in their goods. Right now, vegan leather is a huge trend and is growing, which means it may be a good bet at the moment, but a lot of vegan leather is actually plastic

To ride the vegan leather wave now and into the future, it’d be best to carry vegan leather made from sources other than plastic. That way, you’re catering to current demand and future-proofing against growing consumer concerns at the same time.  

Which business is most profitable for beginners?

If you’re a first time business owner, you’ll want:

  • Reasonable startup costs. Every business has some startup cost, but there’s a difference between funding a small operation and funding a huge, specialized business. Keep in mind that startup costs should be reasonable, but not always as low as possible. Forgoing a physical location might make it harder to get off the ground, and opting for pen-and-paper instead of a cloud point of sale system will just add extra work.  
  • Manageable overhead costs. Once a business is established, you’ll need the operating costs to be reasonable.
  • Maximized inventory, if applicable. This doesn’t mean a lot of inventory. It means being smart about it—everything you order should be done with a strategy to sell it within six months (give or take, depending on the industry).

Examples of businesses that fit the bill are food trucks, cleaning companies, online stores,  drop shipping and pet services like grooming or walking. 

What is a good business to start in 2024?

19 small business ideas you can try

1. Home improvement services

While the housing market has slowed down in recent months, new homeowners often want to fix up their homes, which creates a demand for home improvement services. 

Individuals who have recently purchased a home may lack the necessary skills or knowledge to successfully carry out renovations, leading them to seek out the assistance of a professional. 

Services related to home improvement encompass a wide range of tasks such as interior design, carpentry, contracting, plumbing and landscaping. 

These services typically require specific training and access to specialized equipment and materials, resulting in relatively high startup costs. Additionally, the demand for such businesses may vary depending on the region, with some areas experiencing higher levels of home purchases and renovations than others.

2. Cleaning services

Cleaning services offer essential opportunities to both residential and commercial properties, helping to manage tasks many people do not enjoy or do not have time to complete. These services can function as home-based support one or more times per week, or as a daily resource for commercial operations. 

With a cleaning service, no physical office is required, equipment costs are low and can be billed back to the client and hours of operation are flexible. That’s why enterprising entrepreneurs can find success in this industry.

3. Tutoring services

Starting a tutoring service is a great way to help those struggling with core concepts or gain further mastery in a specific area. Here’s a sample list of the subject areas that your tutoring business could specialize in:

  • SAT/ACT prep
  • College essay prep
  • English
  • Sciences (biology, chemistry, physics)
  • Foreign languages
  • Mathematics
  • History
  • Computer science

Thanks to Zoom and other remote learning tools, there’s no need to hold lessons in person—all you need is a phone, tablet or computer, making the startup costs for this type of business relatively low. Depending on your location and level of education, your tutoring service could charge anywhere from $40 to $65 an hour.

4. Personal training and fitness instructors

Fitness trends change, but the demand for trainers and good content remains. Today, trainers can connect with clients on platforms like YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram Live. They use social media to find clients and offer personalized workout programs at a price that works for them.

Getting started in personal training can be fairly simple. You can take a formal certification exam. In some cases, just being a self-taught fitness nerd is enough to break into the industry.

5. Delivery services

Food delivery services have grown tremendously.

To ride this wave, you could offer your own local courier service to deliver groceries, medications or run other essential errands. In addition to charging a standard rate, you could charge additional fees for lengthier deliveries, rush orders or delivering heavy or bulky items.

6. Baby supplies

No matter the economic outlook, babies need clothes and supplies, and children need child care. 

You don’t need any formal training to open a retail store or sell online, but you do need the right tools. 

For a baby supply store, that can include loyalty programs to help parents save when they pick you over the competition.

7. Pet store

The pet store industry grew to $261 billion in 2022, and is on track to hit $350 billion globally by 2027. As more and more people adopt pets (66% of American households have pets, which is about 86 million households), more people will need pet supplies. 

Opening and running a pet store is a lot like a baby supply store. Pet owners will appreciate loyalty programs to save when they shop with you, which will help you build a loyal customer base for your new small business.

Tipping can also be a factor when your business does a little bit more than retail. In San Diego, South Bark Dog Wash offers grooming services in addition to pet supplies and training classes. Lisa Vella, the co-owner of South Bark, says that “a lot of people tip us on retail purchases. So with tipping through Lightspeed Payments, tips have gone up about 11% with people tipping on retail purchases, not just grooming.”

A labrador puppy gets a bath.

8. Digital marketing services

Having an online storefront is crucial… but not everyone knows how to build a website. 

To help small businesses build their brand and digital presence online, you can create your own digital marketing agency. 

A digital marketing agency typically offers services such as writing, social media management, web development and assistance with paid social media advertising.

Running an agency from home is simple and doesn’t require much money to start. You can work alone or hire experts in areas where you need help.

9. App development

Businesses are looking to go digital, and some may even seek to build their own apps to reach customers. 

App developers can help businesses make their visions a reality by building a custom iPhone or Android app. 

App development doesn’t require a formal degree, but prior training and experience building apps are important to have if you’re planning to break into the field. There are coding bootcamps and free online courses that can help you learn the fundamentals and get started.

10. 3D printing services

There’s rapidly growing demand for 3D printing services. In fact, this market is expected to grow to US$135.4 billion by 2033

This growth is driven by the increasing adoption of 3D printing in various industries like healthcare, automotive, and aerospace for its ability to create complex, customized, and lightweight components. 

But it can also be used for making 3D-printed figurines. Toronto’s Selftraits produces 3D selfies for individuals. That means people can use their tiny selves as cake toppers, to commemorate a special occasion, or anything else.

A staff member at Selftraits helps a customer buy their 3D figurine.

11. Accounting services

Individuals and businesses alike rely on accounting services every year to file tax returns, and assist with bookkeeping and financial planning. This consistent demand is definitely a plus if you’re looking to start a business and have the right skill set. 

There are very minimal overhead start-up costs for accounting, and the job is easily done from home. 

Accounting requires a lot of education and certifications. Most accountants have a college degree and some have additional licenses. Those with more qualifications can earn more money.

12. Fashion resale

While sales of new apparel rise and fall with economic conditions, the popularity of fashion resale is on the rise. 

With a projected 127% growth by 2026—eight times faster than overall apparel marketing in North America—if you want to open an apparel store, you should be considering fashion resale. 

It’s a good bet in both weaker and stronger economic conditions, thanks to discounts and a desire for sustainable fashion.

To start a fashion resale company, you’ll need a business license, some initial stock and a venue for sales—that could be online, your own brick and mortar or a spot in a marketplace. The financial barrier to entry can vary.

13. Bike store (with repairs)

More and more people are picking up their bikes. Hobbyists and serious cyclists both are driving growth globally. That means if you want to open a retail store, you might consider a bike store.

Think about a bike shop that does repairs. Repairs can help your business during both good and bad times. When the economy is slow, people are less likely to buy new bikes and more likely to fix their old ones. If you offer repairs, customers will come to you for help.

14. Auto parts and repairs

At some point, every car needs a little maintenance. 

You’ll need robust inventory management if you start this small business. With all the possible parts you could carry or order in for your customers, you don’t want anything to go uncounted. Make sure you have a point of sale that can handle that inventory from day one. 

15. Electronics repair

Seeing a pattern?

Repair shops help people hold onto their devices, and electronics repair is no different. 

With growing concerns about the use of rare materials to build electronics, more customers are looking to fix their phones instead of replacing them. 

While there may not be formal certifications needed to open an electronics repair store in your area, you still need to know how to do it (or you need to hire people who do). You might want to take a course in electronics repair before opening this business.

16. Dental offices

Dental health is an important part of overall wellness. 

The dental industry offers room for success for those with the right qualifications. Dentists must earn both a bachelor’s degree and a doctorate in dentistry, and most dental hygienist roles require a minimum of two years of specialized training. Consider, also, the cost of dental equipment. 

Still, dental procedures are also often expensive and can include added costs for fillings, x-rays, extractions, and root canals. Your dental practice could earn substantial profits from common treatments.

17. Candy store

This sweet idea could be your ticket to small business success. 

Candy stores are great for experiential retail. You can hold candy making classes and showcase the candy making process on the shop floor to entice customers. 

As more people want to be entertained when they shop, a candy store could be the answer. 

18. Discount store

Shoppers love a good deal. Across North America, major retailers are investing in discount stores—particularly budget-friendly groceries

You have room to be creative in this category. Do you want to open an independent dollar store? A liquidation store? What about discounted used inventory?

Do some research on your area to determine the best fit. Once you’ve got your idea, make a plan for how you’ll acquire inventory. Will you work with wholesalers offering discounted goods, or will you buy damaged and unsold inventory from other retailers?

19. Dropshipping

Finally, there is dropshipping, the ultimate side business and one of the most popular small business ideas.

Dropshipping is the practice of opening an online store and offering products for sale, but never physically stocking the item yourself. You interface with the wholesaler, and the wholesaler ships the product to the customers.

Dropshipping saves on inventory storage costs, as well as shipping fees. You just need an online store to get started.

However, dropshipping is competitive—a lot of people are selling online, and a lot of them could be selling the same things you are. If you want to go this route, make sure you have other unique selling points (or USPs) to ensure customers pick you. Like with baby supplies and pet stores, a strong loyalty program might help. 

Positioning your small business for profit

There are many elements to a successful small business idea: a good plan, powerful POS tools, business savviness and experience. 

While no industry is a guaranteed success, those that are flexible, resilient, in high demand and with good margins are a solid bet. This list of small business ideas is a starting point to get you inspired this year.

If you’re inspired to open a business and you’re looking for a POS that will work with you every step of the way, let’s chat!

Frequently Asked Questions

What type of small business is the most profitable?

Small businesses in consulting, online education, and digital marketing are usually very profitable. They have low costs and can charge high fees for their specialized services.

Which small business generates the most income?

Tech small businesses like software development and IT consulting make a lot of money. They offer valuable services to clients worldwide, bringing in a lot of revenue.

What small business is in high demand?

Small businesses in the health and wellness, home improvement, and eCommerce sectors are currently in high demand.

What is the cheapest, most profitable small business to start?

Businesses that require minimal upfront investment and can be operated from home are affordable and can be profitable. For example, freelance writing, virtual assistant services and dropshipping businesses can be started with a computer and an internet connection.

What is the easiest small business to start?

The easiest small businesses to start are those that require minimal technical skills and capital: pet sitting, house cleaning and personal shopping services are some examples.

What small business industry is expected to boom in 2024?

Ecommerce in specialized markets is expected to boom in 2024. As consumers continue to favor online shopping, small businesses that offer unique products or cater to specific niches are likely to see significant growth.


Editor’s note: Nothing in this blog post should be construed as advice of any kind. Any legal, financial or tax-related content is provided for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for obtaining advice from a qualified legal or accounting professional. Where available, we have indicated the first-hand sources of the information contained in this blog post. While we strive to provide accurate content, we cannot be held responsible for any actions or omissions based on such content. Lightspeed does not undertake to complete further verifications or keep this blog post updated over time.

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