At WiseGEEK, we're committed to delivering accurate, trustworthy information. Our expert-authored content is rigorously fact-checked and sourced from credible authorities. Discover how we uphold the highest standards in providing you with reliable knowledge.

Learn more...

How Do I Choose the Best Small Business Startup Ideas?

Sheri Cyprus
Sheri Cyprus

The best small business startup ideas are those in which a minimum investment in resources has the potential to result in a maximum of profit. In order to create a profit, the demand for the business' product or service must be there. A clear, well-researched, well-written business plan is crucial once the best small business startup idea is chosen. The best idea for a small business startup for you will depend on your interests, skills and the target market in your area. Ideas that are popular for many small business startups include providing services to homes or businesses or selling unique products.

Internet-based startups are often said to be great for beginning business owners. They have the potential to reach a large target audience at a relatively low cost. E-commerce or e-tail website can also be started with just a few pages and grown gradually into a large site. A blog that adds personality to the website is one of the best small business startup ideas as anyone with good communication skills can write one. The products you may want to sell using an Internet-based method should be those for which you have a strong passion.

A freelance photographer may specialize in wedding photography.
A freelance photographer may specialize in wedding photography.

Direct selling products in person is another small business model to consider. This may be right for you if you love face-to-face contact with people such as in party settings. You could either create your own product to sell through home or workplace parties or focus on selling another company's items. Direct selling types of small business startup ideas could also be done through a mall kiosk or street cart model depending on the zoning laws in your community. Depending on the demand and desire of your target market, you may want to consider direct selling jewelry, clothing or children's items.

A person interested in starting a small business should first write a business plan.
A person interested in starting a small business should first write a business plan.

Service types of startups that may work for you could involve dealing with homeowners and/or commercial businesses. Bookkeeping, organizing, personal shopping and interior design are examples of service skills that could transfer well into small business startup ideas. Other possibilities include wedding planning, child or elder care, tutoring, errand running and pet care, taxiing or grooming. If you have a freelance skill such as photography, web design or copywriting, you could also consider turning it into a small business startup. You should consider all of your small business startup idea options before settling on one and creating a solid plan for it.

Discussion Comments


@Saraq90 - While you could fill that pseudo need with your business idea, you could also fill what I like to call after reading your post a "need-need". Like the car company who filled a need for people that need part-time cars because they live in a city and only need a car few times a week or few times a month.

I could go on, but in the end I agree with the others who have mentioned small business is difficult, but I would have to add - *rewarding* and *exciting*.


In addition to be motivated, there is another key word that my husband who owns a small business likes to add into the mix. Another way to choose a business startup idea is to continually change the idea around this question, "What is something that is needed?" The key word being needed, of course.

Many could argue that there are many companies that do not feel a quote "need" for example companies that sells novelty items such as those bracelets that form into shapes when you take them off, or rocks that you keep as pets, or stuffed animals that come with names and are sold often in "limited editions"?

But then I would have to say that even these companies fill a need that we have proven that we have in this country - a need for trends and collectibles.

Heck, a friend of mine just told me that his retired parents buy the toys from fast food kid's meals and sell them on the internet because they have found that people want them to complete their fast food kids' meals toy collections...


@backdraft - I have to agree with you. I recently read statistics on small businesses and there was a high percentage (over fifty percent and it may have even been as high as seventy five percent) of small businesses that fail.

Again, that is not to be discouraging to those entrepreneurs out there. I think that entrepreneurs keep our economy going as well as the competitions going for corporations, so we need great entrepreneurs!

And I am sure that most corporations started small from our infamous mega-Walmart and McDonalds chains!


@sunnySkys - That's good advice. I'd also advise people not to get caught up in multi-level marketing scams if you want to start your own business. There are plenty of reputable ways to start a business without doing multi-level marketing.

I would also like to suggest people start small business while they still have some other kind of job. But the, eventually, you have to take the plunge and quit your full-time job to focus on your business. Each individual has to decide when that point will be though!


I too think that people need to be very careful when choosing a small business startup idea. For instance, one person may be very sociable and really thrive on the idea of direct marketing. In fact, this kind of thing would be great if you know a lot of people to host sales "parties" for whatever you're selling.

However, if you aren't good with people and don't have a very large social network, I think the chance for failure with a direct selling business is very high.

In fact, I had a friend who tried to sell Pampered Chef products awhile back and she totally failed at it. She got all hyped up by the advertising and didn't really do her homework about what direct selling entails!


@Latte31 - I think that is a great point and I also wanted to add that when you are considering a business start up you might want to look at franchises. Franchises are great because they offer training support and tell you how to run your business so that it takes the guesswork out and you have a higher chance of being successful. Also, many franchises have name recognition which will help your business achieve instant credibility with customers which gives you a huge advantage.

Some of these businesses could even be run from home or with absentee ownership. I think that if you have never started a business before this would be a better way to go. You can also look to groups like SCORE which is a nonprofit organization that offers guidance to new entrepreneurs.

These counselors are retired business executives and entrepreneurs that list the areas of expertise that they have. They are considered experts in their industry and an excellent source of training support. I have been to some of their workshops and they do offer a lot of valuable advice.


@Summing- Those are good points and I want to add that you should really do something that you love because if not when the difficult times happen you will absolutely hate your business.

People that are passionate about their business always do well regardless of the business model because they are dedicated and the passion carries them through the rough patches. I think that you should really take stock of what talents you have and what your interests are and then try to put together a list of potential businesses in those areas.

I would also consider working as a part time employee in the business that you are interested in because you might find that the business is really not for you after you work a few months into it.

I had a friend that was interested in buying a children’s gym and after working part time in a kids play center she realized that she did not want a business like this but instead was more drawn to educating children so she started her own afterschool tutoring business.

While working in a play gym slowed down her progress for developing her own business, the time was valuable because she did not make the mistake of investing in something that she did not like.


Market research is a good strategy for finding out if your idea has legs or if it will just be a flash in the pan. I know so many people who have started various small businesses because their wife or their friends told them it was a good idea. Once they were in business they realized that their wife and their friends are the only ones interested in what they have to sell.

You have to know for sure that the customers are out there and that they like the way you sell. If you cannot rely on a steady stream of customers and by extension a steady stream of revenue you will be out of business in months.

There are a number of companies that specialize in market research and they can conduct a professional study with reliable results for you. Its worth the money. Might as well make sure there is water in the pool before you jump in.


I would just like to add a bit of caution to this thread. When you are choosing an idea to start up a small business you will need to do lots of research and planning. But even if you have a great idea and you execute it perfectly there will be a lot of uncertainty.

Running a small business is always hard, there is always competition gunning from you, and in this economy all the normal pressures are just multiplied. I am not trying to discourage anyone I just want them to be realistic. You can make this work but don't expect to be rich in a year or to get through the day without a ton of stress and worry.

Post your comments
Forgot password?
    • A freelance photographer may specialize in wedding photography.
      By: Deklofenak
      A freelance photographer may specialize in wedding photography.
    • A person interested in starting a small business should first write a business plan.
      By: Kablonk Micro
      A person interested in starting a small business should first write a business plan.
    • The best business startup are created from a person's passions.
      By: gemphotography
      The best business startup are created from a person's passions.
    • A tutoring business requires very little overhead.
      By: Marcel Mooij
      A tutoring business requires very little overhead.
    • Small business startups may focus on fitness.
      By: michaeljung
      Small business startups may focus on fitness.
    • Business startups may begin as a mall kiosk to build a customer base.
      By: Photocreo Bednarek
      Business startups may begin as a mall kiosk to build a customer base.
    • E-commerce businesses can be conducted from home, using just a few web pages.
      By: Eugenio Marongiu
      E-commerce businesses can be conducted from home, using just a few web pages.
    • A home based entrepreneur could focus on working as a direct seller of perfumes.
      By: adisa
      A home based entrepreneur could focus on working as a direct seller of perfumes.