11 small business ideas for 2021

Editorial Team

8 min read
Person coding on laptop

If you’re like a growing number of Americans who are either unemployed or working remotely, you may have thought about launching your own small business. After all, you’d get to be your own boss, set your own hours, and determine your salary.

However, with COVID-19 causing so much economic uncertainty, which entrepreneurial ventures are worth pursuing in 2021 and beyond?

A small business ideas list for the new normal

Hopefully, you’ll discover a truly unique idea or invention that can’t easily be duplicated. Try to focus on business models that:

  • Have minimal startup costs. This can be a mixed blessing, since the lower the barrier to entry, the more competition you’ll likely face.
  • Inspire you. You will be spending a lot of time working on your chosen venture over the next several months. Pick something interesting that will energize you – rather than a generic idea that offers only monetary fulfillment.
  • Inspire others. As with all good small business ideas, you must have a ready and willing audience who will respond to your unique offerings.

However, there is one additional criterion worth adding.

Some of the most successful small business ideas of previous years may no longer be sustainable in the new normal. It’s more important than ever to choose a business model that helps shield you from any lasting, negative effects of the pandemic.

Below are 11 small, profitable business ideas that are worth considering.

1. Online tutoring

If you have a special skill or desirable expertise, online tutoring can be one of the easiest markets to break into. Depending on the field, your startup equipment may be limited to a laptop and an internet connection. Plus, there is no shortage of monetizable skills, with “pupils” around the world paying for everything from makeup tutorials to language instruction to the culinary arts.

This was true before the pandemic, but with layoffs and stay-at-home orders, there are even more people around the globe with idle time. So, take a moment to look at your skill set. With the right approach, there’s a good chance someone out there will pay a premium to learn what you already know.

2. House cleaning

With an average salary of $25 to $50 an hour, house cleaning is a relatively lucrative hustle.1 With so many people working or learning from home, there is a demand for thorough cleanings – especially if you can safely sanitize.

There is one downside, however. As with many small-town business ideas, you’re limited to clients in your geographic region, so take that into consideration.

3. Food trucks

Opening a restaurant in 2021 may be risky when lockdown restrictions are in place. Starting a food truck, however, could be a safer bet. Because you’re selling food, your business will likely count as an essential service.2 Plus, unlike with restaurants, you’re not tied to any single location. Because you provide takeaway options, you should be able to weather potential lockdown restrictions.

Note, however, that the average startup costs for food trucks can range from $70,000 to $130,000 – depending on the vehicle you use and the jurisdiction in which you operate.3

4. Consulting

Similar to online tutoring, consulting allows you to translate your current skills into new revenue streams. Instead of teaching others, however, you’re advising clients on matters ranging from personal organization to tax accounting to fashion accessories.

With some exceptions, consulting doesn’t normally require any official certification. You simply have to know what you’re talking about – and be able to produce results. Like many of the ideas on this list, online consulting allows you to connect with a global pool of potential customers, in addition to those who live or work within driving distance.

5. Translation services

Are you fluent in two or more languages? If so, translating written copy into other languages might be one of the easiest jobs imaginable. Even better, this small business idea allows you to target two different groups of clients (i.e., those who want to translate Language A to Language B – and vice versa).

6. Copywriting

There’s a person behind every blog post, food label, advertisement, instruction manual, and newsletter ever created. In 2021 and beyond, that person could be you. Even if you’re not an experienced writer, learning how to write persuasive copy is a skill anyone can learn.

7. Coding

If you’re looking for a truly in-demand small business idea, coding is worth exploring. As we become more digitally connected, there will be even more demand for the software developers, network administrators, and web designers fueling this technological shift.

Just as with copywriting, programming is a learnable skill with countless online resources to help you master the basics. If you’re looking for guidance, check out some online boot camps that offer a wide range of programming languages.

8. Graphic design

Just as copywriters are behind most of the written content you see on a daily basis, graphic designers are responsible for all the visual content you see – in advertisements, packaging, websites, and more. If you have a sharp eye and some artistic talents, it’s worth monetizing these skills.

9. Pet sitting

Do you love animals? Pet sitting is a small business idea worth exploring. The potential market is huge, with an estimated 66% of American households owning a pet or planning to get one in the future.4 However with so many people working or learning from home, demand for dog walkers, cat sitters, and fish feeders could fluctuate from time to time.

The same is true with childcare. If parents work outside of the home, they may need someone to watch the kids. However, if parents work from home, it could go either way. Some may be unable to juggle meetings with parenting responsibilities and remote learning issues, and therefore, your service could be needed.

10. Homecare

After millennials, baby boomers are the largest demographic age group in the country.5 They are retiring in droves, creating unprecedented demand for various levels of at-home and late-stage care.

This was already true pre-pandemic. However, with so many retirees legitimately concerned about transmission risks at nursing facilities, there is a growing movement to stay home in the golden years. Although some homecare jobs require nursing degrees or hospice training, others might only require that you provide living assistance, housecleaning, errands, and companionship.

11. eCommerce

All of the business ideas discussed so far are service-oriented. While some are quite lucrative, you’re typically trading time for money. As such, there is a theoretical limit to how much you can make. If you charge $100 an hour, for example, the most you could possibly earn is $2,400 per day – and that’s without taking any breaks to eat or sleep.

However, if you sell goods online, you can generate sales around the clock – even when you’re eating and sleeping. Better still, there is no limit to how much you can make since you’re trading products for money. This is especially true with commodities such as online courses, membership subscriptions, and eBooks – all of which are digital goods with zero inventory to manage.

However, it’s important you understand that the startup cost for an eCommerce business is not zero. In addition to having a website with online payment options, you also have to invest a lot of time upfront developing whatever products you hope to sell.

If you prefer selling physical goods such as clothes, electronics, or artisan crafts, you don’t necessarily have to store inventory on-site (in your home). With drop shipping, for example, you can partner with manufacturers on the other side of the globe who can fulfill incoming orders as they come. This approach could help keep your startup costs low – both in terms of time and money.

Let Clover help your small business scale

We specialize in providing small business owners with the tools they need to easily accept a wide range of payment types – from credit and debit cards to ACH and contactless payments. Even better, you can expand our payment processing solutions with any number of software integrations from the Clover App Market. You’ll find dedicated apps for every industry imaginable – from retail to restaurants to professional services. Moreover, we offer many POS options, including:

To learn more about our complete range of PCI-compliant payment processing solutions for small business owners, schedule a free consultation with our merchant services team today.

1 “House Cleaners on Thumbtack Cost $150-$180,” Thumbtack
2 “What Counts as an ‘Essential Business’ During the Coronavirus Crisis?” Washingtonian, 23 March 2020
3 “How to Start a Food Truck,” Webstaurant Store, 17 July 2019
4 “Pet ownership is growing amid the coronavirus lockdown. Here’s what Realtors need to know,” Chicago Agent, 24 April 2020
5 “Millennials overtake Baby Boomers as America’s largest generation,” Pew Research Center, 28 April 2020

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