Nine of the most profitable small businesses to start this year

Editorial Team

6 min read
Woman doing sit ups with personal trainer

In 2021, more than 47 million people voluntarily quit their jobs. This so-called Great Resignation shifted the work landscape in a variety of ways–especially towards entrepreneurship.


Many of the people who left other work weren’t content to just sit on the couch. Instead, they were ready to create a business of their own. Pandemic relief funds provided critical seed money for people to invest in a new business. As a result, new business applications have soared over the past year. What has worked? Some of the most profitable businesses are ones you might not have considered, like auto repair shops.

For savvy, potential entrepreneurs, one element to consider when starting a business is the average overhead rates by industry. In other words, what are business types that have high profit margins or those with a robust return on investment when you are talking about building a business from scratch? What is a good profit margin for a small business? According to studies, anywhere from 7 to 10 percent is considered a solid return.

Best small businesses to start

Read on to learn about nine of the most profitable businesses to start this year and how considering important elements of the business–including a point-of-sale system–can make a difference.

Cleaning services

With no physical location needed and low equipment costs, opening a cleaning business can be quite profitable–especially considering the value of word-of-mouth marketing. Entrepreneurs can decide whether they want to focus on residential or commercial cleaning, factoring in that the commercial cleaning market is predicted to grow 6% annually by 2026.

When thinking about handling payments, Clover offers handheld POS devices such as the Go and the Flex that allow you to securely process credit cards, debit cards, gift cards, and mobile wallet payments like Apple Pay® while in the field.

Dog walker

The pandemic pet rush was very real. And now that many people have returned to their daily responsibilities, making sure Fido remains happy and healthy has shifted to enterprising people who have opened dog care businesses. With no major start-up costs, this is a get-started-and-go field that can turn a profit quickly.

The average hourly rate for a self-employed dog walker is $28 per hour, so it just takes a few clients to build a solid business–the perfect scenario for a pet lover.

Mobile car wash

There’s something about a clean car that just feels good. And helping people keep their rides shining can be a profitable business. According to the International Carwash Association, the car wash market is expected to boom from $14.7 billion in 2021 to $20.7 billion in 2028. Opening a physical car wash means huge outlays in overhead, but a mobile car wash shifts the ROI in your favor.

Customers will pay more for a service that comes to them, and there’s no concern about the expenses required with a physical location and upkeep of complicated mechanical parts. Using an app like Cojilio allows customers to book appointments and you to charge cards saved on file after the service is performed.  


If you’ve got expert-level knowledge in a particular field of study, becoming a private tutor is an easy way to help others–and there are very few limitations on when and where you can teach lessons. Video chats have made it simple to conduct sessions with potential students around the world or you can focus on in-person classes in your hometown.

Rates can range from $25  to $50 per hour, depending on your experience. Some tutors even factor in travel costs if taking in-home appointments.

Personal Training

People are always in search of fitness hacks, and given the sedentary nature of today’s work-from-home setups, many people are looking for someone to help them get back into shape. This is where an entrepreneur can step in. Personal training doesn’t require high overhead to get started–all you need is knowledge, desire, and a few pieces of equipment. Some states may require certification, but the cost for that is typically low.

The fitness training industry is expected to grow by 30 percent over the next decade, which makes the present a great time to hang up a personal training shingle. Having a Clover Flex or Mini can help you process payments on the spot.

Social Media Expert

If you’re the type that’s always online, with deep skill and ability to spot what’s trending on social media, a digital strategy business is a great way to create profit with just a laptop. Today’s businesses are leaning on social media to communicate with customers, but many don’t have the ability to do it well.

A social media-savvy entrepreneur can take the reins of a company’s accounts and optimize visibility and engagement. In addition, skills like copywriting and search engine optimization can make your startup even more valuable.

Food Trucks

The food truck craze is here to stay. It’s now a $2 billion industry. And while the overhead costs may be higher than some of the other businesses listed here–around $50,000–the revenues can be four times that amount if you’re successful. It can take some effort to stand out from the crowd–a unique menu and a location not swamped by other trucks. There’s no denying, though, that a good food truck can turn a nice profit.

Entrepreneurs can use Clover’s Customer Engagement tools to share the truck’s location, use email to run promotions, announce new menu items, and publicize special events and innovations. Plus, Clover offers loyalty programs, like punch-card style programs that add up with each visit.


If numbers are your thing, a bookkeeping business is a low-overhead way to help individuals and businesses stay organized. All you’ll need is some software, a computer, and printing capability. Bookkeeping businesses are on the decline, so this is an industry where an enterprising entrepreneur can make inroads.

Be aware of the differences between bookkeeping and accounting. Some clients may want a certified public accountant (CPA) while others want someone to help them with day-to-day tasks.

Kids activities

Live in an area filled with young children? Starting a business that provides enrichment activities for kids could be a big winner. In many areas, afterschool, art, music and summer programs have been reduced due to budget cuts, opening the door for talented entrepreneurs to fill the gaps.

You could launch a gymnastics center or a music school, become a swimming instructor or kids’ yoga teacher, or focus on some other child-centered activity. Hosting activities in a local park can cut down on overhead costs, or you may be able to rent a room at the local community center to save money.

See for yourself how Clover can help entrepreneurs get their payment systems up and running and start building customer relationships quickly and easily.

This information is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal, financial, or tax advice. Readers should contact their attorneys, financial advisors, or tax professionals to obtain advice with respect to any particular matter.