Step-by-Step Guide to Writing a Simple Business Plan

By Joe Weller | October 11, 2021

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A business plan is the cornerstone of any successful company, regardless of size or industry. This step-by-step guide provides information on writing a business plan for organizations at any stage, complete with free templates and expert advice. 

Included on this page, you’ll find a step-by-step guide to writing a business plan and a chart to identify which type of business plan you should write . Plus, find information on how a business plan can help grow a business and expert tips on writing one .

What Is a Business Plan?

A business plan is a document that communicates a company’s goals and ambitions, along with the timeline, finances, and methods needed to achieve them. Additionally, it may include a mission statement and details about the specific products or services offered.

A business plan can highlight varying time periods, depending on the stage of your company and its goals. That said, a typical business plan will include the following benchmarks:

  • Product goals and deadlines for each month
  • Monthly financials for the first two years
  • Profit and loss statements for the first three to five years
  • Balance sheet projections for the first three to five years

Startups, entrepreneurs, and small businesses all create business plans to use as a guide as their new company progresses. Larger organizations may also create (and update) a business plan to keep high-level goals, financials, and timelines in check.

While you certainly need to have a formalized outline of your business’s goals and finances, creating a business plan can also help you determine a company’s viability, its profitability (including when it will first turn a profit), and how much money you will need from investors. In turn, a business plan has functional value as well: Not only does outlining goals help keep you accountable on a timeline, it can also attract investors in and of itself and, therefore, act as an effective strategy for growth.

For more information, visit our comprehensive guide to writing a strategic plan or download free strategic plan templates . This page focuses on for-profit business plans, but you can read our article with nonprofit business plan templates .

Business Plan Steps

The specific information in your business plan will vary, depending on the needs and goals of your venture, but a typical plan includes the following ordered elements:

  • Executive summary
  • Description of business
  • Market analysis
  • Competitive analysis
  • Description of organizational management
  • Description of product or services
  • Marketing plan
  • Sales strategy
  • Funding details (or request for funding)
  • Financial projections

If your plan is particularly long or complicated, consider adding a table of contents or an appendix for reference. For an in-depth description of each step listed above, read “ How to Write a Business Plan Step by Step ” below.

Broadly speaking, your audience includes anyone with a vested interest in your organization. They can include potential and existing investors, as well as customers, internal team members, suppliers, and vendors.

Do I Need a Simple or Detailed Plan?

Your business’s stage and intended audience dictates the level of detail your plan needs. Corporations require a thorough business plan — up to 100 pages. Small businesses or startups should have a concise plan focusing on financials and strategy.

How to Choose the Right Plan for Your Business

In order to identify which type of business plan you need to create, ask: “What do we want the plan to do?” Identify function first, and form will follow.

Use the chart below as a guide for what type of business plan to create:

Is the Order of Your Business Plan Important?

There is no set order for a business plan, with the exception of the executive summary, which should always come first. Beyond that, simply ensure that you organize the plan in a way that makes sense and flows naturally.

The Difference Between Traditional and Lean Business Plans

A traditional business plan follows the standard structure — because these plans encourage detail, they tend to require more work upfront and can run dozens of pages. A Lean business plan is less common and focuses on summarizing critical points for each section. These plans take much less work and typically run one page in length.

In general, you should use a traditional model for a legacy company, a large company, or any business that does not adhere to Lean (or another Agile method ). Use Lean if you expect the company to pivot quickly or if you already employ a Lean strategy with other business operations. Additionally, a Lean business plan can suffice if the document is for internal use only. Stick to a traditional version for investors, as they may be more sensitive to sudden changes or a high degree of built-in flexibility in the plan.

How to Write a Business Plan Step by Step

Writing a strong business plan requires research and attention to detail for each section. Below, you’ll find a 10-step guide to researching and defining each element in the plan.

Step 1: Executive Summary

The executive summary will always be the first section of your business plan. The goal is to answer the following questions:

  • What is the vision and mission of the company?
  • What are the company’s short- and long-term goals?

See our  roundup of executive summary examples and templates for samples. Read our executive summary guide to learn more about writing one.

Step 2: Description of Business

The goal of this section is to define the realm, scope, and intent of your venture. To do so, answer the following questions as clearly and concisely as possible:

  • What business are we in?
  • What does our business do?

Step 3: Market Analysis

In this section, provide evidence that you have surveyed and understand the current marketplace, and that your product or service satisfies a niche in the market. To do so, answer these questions:

  • Who is our customer? 
  • What does that customer value?

Step 4: Competitive Analysis

In many cases, a business plan proposes not a brand-new (or even market-disrupting) venture, but a more competitive version — whether via features, pricing, integrations, etc. — than what is currently available. In this section, answer the following questions to show that your product or service stands to outpace competitors:

  • Who is the competition? 
  • What do they do best? 
  • What is our unique value proposition?

Step 5: Description of Organizational Management

In this section, write an overview of the team members and other key personnel who are integral to success. List roles and responsibilities, and if possible, note the hierarchy or team structure.

Step 6: Description of Products or Services

In this section, clearly define your product or service, as well as all the effort and resources that go into producing it. The strength of your product largely defines the success of your business, so it’s imperative that you take time to test and refine the product before launching into marketing, sales, or funding details.

Questions to answer in this section are as follows:

  • What is the product or service?
  • How do we produce it, and what resources are necessary for production?

Step 7: Marketing Plan

In this section, define the marketing strategy for your product or service. This doesn’t need to be as fleshed out as a full marketing plan , but it should answer basic questions, such as the following:

  • Who is the target market (if different from existing customer base)?
  • What channels will you use to reach your target market?
  • What resources does your marketing strategy require, and do you have access to them?
  • If possible, do you have a rough estimate of timeline and budget?
  • How will you measure success?

Step 8: Sales Plan

Write an overview of the sales strategy, including the priorities of each cycle, steps to achieve these goals, and metrics for success. For the purposes of a business plan, this section does not need to be a comprehensive, in-depth sales plan , but can simply outline the high-level objectives and strategies of your sales efforts. 

Start by answering the following questions:

  • What is the sales strategy?
  • What are the tools and tactics you will use to achieve your goals?
  • What are the potential obstacles, and how will you overcome them?
  • What is the timeline for sales and turning a profit?
  • What are the metrics of success?

Step 9: Funding Details (or Request for Funding)

This section is one of the most critical parts of your business plan, particularly if you are sharing it with investors. You do not need to provide a full financial plan, but you should be able to answer the following questions:

  • How much capital do you currently have? How much capital do you need?
  • How will you grow the team (onboarding, team structure, training and development)?
  • What are your physical needs and constraints (space, equipment, etc.)?

Step 10: Financial Projections

Apart from the fundraising analysis, investors like to see thought-out financial projections for the future. As discussed earlier, depending on the scope and stage of your business, this could be anywhere from one to five years. 

While these projections won’t be exact — and will need to be somewhat flexible — you should be able to gauge the following:

  • How and when will the company first generate a profit?
  • How will the company maintain profit thereafter?

Business Plan Template

Business Plan Template

Download Business Plan Template

Microsoft Excel | Smartsheet

This basic business plan template has space for all the traditional elements: an executive summary, product or service details, target audience, marketing and sales strategies, etc. In the finances sections, input your baseline numbers, and the template will automatically calculate projections for sales forecasting, financial statements, and more.

For templates tailored to more specific needs, visit this business plan template roundup or download a fill-in-the-blank business plan template to make things easy. 

If you are looking for a particular template by file type, visit our pages dedicated exclusively to Microsoft Excel , Microsoft Word , and Adobe PDF business plan templates.

How to Write a Simple Business Plan

A simple business plan is a streamlined, lightweight version of the large, traditional model. As opposed to a one-page business plan , which communicates high-level information for quick overviews (such as a stakeholder presentation), a simple business plan can exceed one page.

Below are the steps for creating a generic simple business plan, which are reflected in the template below .

  • Write the Executive Summary This section is the same as in the traditional business plan — simply offer an overview of what’s in the business plan, the prospect or core offering, and the short- and long-term goals of the company. 
  • Add a Company Overview Document the larger company mission and vision. 
  • Provide the Problem and Solution In straightforward terms, define the problem you are attempting to solve with your product or service and how your company will attempt to do it. Think of this section as the gap in the market you are attempting to close.
  • Identify the Target Market Who is your company (and its products or services) attempting to reach? If possible, briefly define your buyer personas .
  • Write About the Competition In this section, demonstrate your knowledge of the market by listing the current competitors and outlining your competitive advantage.
  • Describe Your Product or Service Offerings Get down to brass tacks and define your product or service. What exactly are you selling?
  • Outline Your Marketing Tactics Without getting into too much detail, describe your planned marketing initiatives.
  • Add a Timeline and the Metrics You Will Use to Measure Success Offer a rough timeline, including milestones and key performance indicators (KPIs) that you will use to measure your progress.
  • Include Your Financial Forecasts Write an overview of your financial plan that demonstrates you have done your research and adequate modeling. You can also list key assumptions that go into this forecasting. 
  • Identify Your Financing Needs This section is where you will make your funding request. Based on everything in the business plan, list your proposed sources of funding, as well as how you will use it.

Simple Business Plan Template

Simple Business Plan Template

Download Simple Business Plan Template

Microsoft Excel |  Microsoft Word | Adobe PDF  | Smartsheet

Use this simple business plan template to outline each aspect of your organization, including information about financing and opportunities to seek out further funding. This template is completely customizable to fit the needs of any business, whether it’s a startup or large company.

Read our article offering free simple business plan templates or free 30-60-90-day business plan templates to find more tailored options. You can also explore our collection of one page business templates . 

How to Write a Business Plan for a Lean Startup

A Lean startup business plan is a more Agile approach to a traditional version. The plan focuses more on activities, processes, and relationships (and maintains flexibility in all aspects), rather than on concrete deliverables and timelines.

While there is some overlap between a traditional and a Lean business plan, you can write a Lean plan by following the steps below:

  • Add Your Value Proposition Take a streamlined approach to describing your product or service. What is the unique value your startup aims to deliver to customers? Make sure the team is aligned on the core offering and that you can state it in clear, simple language.
  • List Your Key Partners List any other businesses you will work with to realize your vision, including external vendors, suppliers, and partners. This section demonstrates that you have thoughtfully considered the resources you can provide internally, identified areas for external assistance, and conducted research to find alternatives.
  • Note the Key Activities Describe the key activities of your business, including sourcing, production, marketing, distribution channels, and customer relationships.
  • Include Your Key Resources List the critical resources — including personnel, equipment, space, and intellectual property — that will enable you to deliver your unique value.
  • Identify Your Customer Relationships and Channels In this section, document how you will reach and build relationships with customers. Provide a high-level map of the customer experience from start to finish, including the spaces in which you will interact with the customer (online, retail, etc.). 
  • Detail Your Marketing Channels Describe the marketing methods and communication platforms you will use to identify and nurture your relationships with customers. These could be email, advertising, social media, etc.
  • Explain the Cost Structure This section is especially necessary in the early stages of a business. Will you prioritize maximizing value or keeping costs low? List the foundational startup costs and how you will move toward profit over time.
  • Share Your Revenue Streams Over time, how will the company make money? Include both the direct product or service purchase, as well as secondary sources of revenue, such as subscriptions, selling advertising space, fundraising, etc.

Lean Business Plan Template for Startups

Lean Business Plan Templates for Startups

Download Lean Business Plan Template for Startups

Microsoft Word | Adobe PDF

Startup leaders can use this Lean business plan template to relay the most critical information from a traditional plan. You’ll find all the sections listed above, including spaces for industry and product overviews, cost structure and sources of revenue, and key metrics, and a timeline. The template is completely customizable, so you can edit it to suit the objectives of your Lean startups.

See our wide variety of  startup business plan templates for more options.

How to Write a Business Plan for a Loan

A business plan for a loan, often called a loan proposal , includes many of the same aspects of a traditional business plan, as well as additional financial documents, such as a credit history, a loan request, and a loan repayment plan.

In addition, you may be asked to include personal and business financial statements, a form of collateral, and equity investment information.

Download free financial templates to support your business plan.

Tips for Writing a Business Plan

Outside of including all the key details in your business plan, you have several options to elevate the document for the highest chance of winning funding and other resources. Follow these tips from experts:.

  • Keep It Simple: Avner Brodsky , the Co-Founder and CEO of Lezgo Limited, an online marketing company, uses the acronym KISS (keep it short and simple) as a variation on this idea. “The business plan is not a college thesis,” he says. “Just focus on providing the essential information.”
  • Do Adequate Research: Michael Dean, the Co-Founder of Pool Research , encourages business leaders to “invest time in research, both internal and external (market, finance, legal etc.). Avoid being overly ambitious or presumptive. Instead, keep everything objective, balanced, and accurate.” Your plan needs to stand on its own, and you must have the data to back up any claims or forecasting you make. As Brodsky explains, “Your business needs to be grounded on the realities of the market in your chosen location. Get the most recent data from authoritative sources so that the figures are vetted by experts and are reliable.”
  • Set Clear Goals: Make sure your plan includes clear, time-based goals. “Short-term goals are key to momentum growth and are especially important to identify for new businesses,” advises Dean.
  • Know (and Address) Your Weaknesses: “This awareness sets you up to overcome your weak points much quicker than waiting for them to arise,” shares Dean. Brodsky recommends performing a full SWOT analysis to identify your weaknesses, too. “Your business will fare better with self-knowledge, which will help you better define the mission of your business, as well as the strategies you will choose to achieve your objectives,” he adds.
  • Seek Peer or Mentor Review: “Ask for feedback on your drafts and for areas to improve,” advises Brodsky. “When your mind is filled with dreams for your business, sometimes it is an outsider who can tell you what you’re missing and will save your business from being a product of whimsy.”

Outside of these more practical tips, the language you use is also important and may make or break your business plan.

Shaun Heng, VP of Operations at Coin Market Cap , gives the following advice on the writing, “Your business plan is your sales pitch to an investor. And as with any sales pitch, you need to strike the right tone and hit a few emotional chords. This is a little tricky in a business plan, because you also need to be formal and matter-of-fact. But you can still impress by weaving in descriptive language and saying things in a more elegant way.

“A great way to do this is by expanding your vocabulary, avoiding word repetition, and using business language. Instead of saying that something ‘will bring in as many customers as possible,’ try saying ‘will garner the largest possible market segment.’ Elevate your writing with precise descriptive words and you'll impress even the busiest investor.”

Additionally, Dean recommends that you “stay consistent and concise by keeping your tone and style steady throughout, and your language clear and precise. Include only what is 100 percent necessary.”

Resources for Writing a Business Plan

While a template provides a great outline of what to include in a business plan, a live document or more robust program can provide additional functionality, visibility, and real-time updates. The U.S. Small Business Association also curates resources for writing a business plan.

Additionally, you can use business plan software to house data, attach documentation, and share information with stakeholders. Popular options include LivePlan, Enloop, BizPlanner, PlanGuru, and iPlanner.

How a Business Plan Helps to Grow Your Business

A business plan — both the exercise of creating one and the document — can grow your business by helping you to refine your product, target audience, sales plan, identify opportunities, secure funding, and build new partnerships. 

Outside of these immediate returns, writing a business plan is a useful exercise in that it forces you to research the market, which prompts you to forge your unique value proposition and identify ways to beat the competition. Doing so will also help you build (and keep you accountable to) attainable financial and product milestones. And down the line, it will serve as a welcome guide as hurdles inevitably arise.

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Business plan template FAQ

What is a business plan template?

A business plan template is a document designed to help streamline your ability to write a business plan. It handles the structure and organization so that you can focus on filling in the blanks and defining the key aspects of your business.

Why choose this business plan template?

There are a few key features that make this business template more functional and effective than your average template.

  • Written by planning experts:  This business plan template wasn't just thrown together. It was crafted by seasoned planning experts with a combined 40 years of experience writing and reviewing business plans. Throughout this template, you find their expert tips and tricks, along with detailed instructions.
  • Free course access: When you download your business plan template, you'll get access to a week-long email course covering critical business planning mistakes to avoid.
  • Works with other Bplans resources: Need additional guidance to write your business plan? Our free business planning guide  is built to support this template—giving you even more detailed walkthroughs for each section.
  • Designed for funding:  Even if you're not going right to the bank, using this template will prepare you to pursue funding and impress potential investors whenever you're ready. This template ensures your plan is in SBA format.

What is included in this business plan template?

This template includes definitions, guidance, and examples for every business plan component needed to start, fund, and grow your business. After downloading the full template, you'll receive instructions for how to fill out each of the following sections.

Executive summary:  The brief summary of your business plan that introduces everyone to your business, the problem you solve, and what you're asking from your readers. It's the first chapter of your business plan and the last thing you write once you have the details from your full plan.

Problem & solution: More than a simple description of your products and services - here you define the problem you're solving and the value you provide. It's also your chance to showcase any initial traction that shows you're on the right track.

Market analysis and target market: A detailed assessment of the market you intend to enter, including the size and value of the market, potential customer segments, and their buying patterns.

Competition: Show that you know who your competitors are, what advantages you have, and how you're positioning your business to be competitive.

Marketing & sales: Describe how you'll reach and sell to potential customers with a detailed sales plan and chosen marketing channels.

Operations: What makes your business run? Outline the day-to-day workflows, and what still needs to be set up for your business to deliver a product or service.

Milestones & metrics: Set goals for your business that include the dates and people responsible to accomplish them. This is what you'll use to manage responsibilities, track growth, and execute your larger strategy.

Company overview and team: Provide a brief rundown of the legal and structural components of your company including your history, current team, and gaps you need to fill.

Financial plan: Create well-structured and accurate financial statements to help you pitch to investors, land funding, and achieve long-term success. All without the help of a financial advisor or a degree in accounting.

Appendix: While not required, this last section of your business plan is a great place to drop in additional documents that support and strengthen the rest of your plan.

What file formats are available for this business plan template?

You can download and use this business plan template as a Google Doc, .docx (Microsoft Word), or PDF.

Can you print out this template?

This is a printable business plan template that can be downloaded and printed no matter which format you choose.

Why should you start with a business plan template?

Starting with a good business plan template (like this one) includes everything you need to get started. It helps you organize your thoughts, and provides guidance, instructions, and examples to create an investor-ready and SBA-approved business plan format. It really speeds up the planning process. Oh, and it's 100% free!

Why do you need a business plan?

Writing a business plan will help you develop a strategy for success, reduce the risk of starting a business, explore new business ideas, attract investors, and get funding. Learn more about how you can get value out of your business plan .

Is writing a business plan easy?

Using a business plan template can make writing a business plan easier. Additionally, if you focus on just getting your information down quickly, with the expectation that you'll revisit and revise your plan, you can speed up and simplify the process .

What are the 5 elements of a business plan?

While there are more than five sections of a business plan, you can group the key elements of a plan into the executive summary, business opportunity, execution, company overview, and financial plan. Thinking of the plan in this way can help you break up the writing process and make tackling each strategic component a separate and focused task.

Can someone write your business plan for you?

If you're still struggling to write your business plan even when using a template, you can look into hiring a professional business plan writer. We even have a free resource to help you ask just the right questions  to make sure you find the right plan writer.

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Conducting Market Research

Crafting a business plan, reviewing funding options, understanding legal requirements, implementing marketing strategies, how much does it cost to start a business, what should i do before starting a business, what types of funding are available to start a business, do you need to write a business plan, the bottom line.

Building an effective business launch plan

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Starting a business in the United States involves a number of different steps, spanning legal considerations, market research, creating a business plan, securing funding, and developing a marketing strategy. It also entails decisions around a business’s location, structure, name, taxation, and registration.

This article covers the key steps involved in starting a business, as well as important aspects of the process for entrepreneurs to consider.

Key Takeaways

  • Entrepreneurs seeking to develop their own business should start by conducting market research to understand their industry space and competition, and to target customers.
  • The next step is to write a comprehensive business plan, outlining the company’s structure, vision, and strategy. Potential funders and partners may want to review the business plan in advance of signing any agreements.
  • Securing funding is crucial in launching a business. Funding can come in the form of grants, loans, venture capital, or crowdfunded money; entrepreneurs may also opt to self-fund instead of or in combination with any of these avenues.
  • Choosing a location and business structure can have many implications for legal aspects of business ownership, such as taxation, registration, and permitting, so it’s important to fully understand the regulations and requirements for the jurisdiction in which the business will operate. 
  • Another key aspect of launching a new business is having a strategic marketing plan that addresses the specifics of the business, industry, and target market.

Before starting a business, entrepreneurs should conduct market research to determine their target audience, competition, and market trends. 

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) recommends researching demographic data around potential customers to understand a given consumer base and reduce business risk. It also breaks down common market considerations as follows:

  • Demand : Do people want or need this product or service?
  • Market size : How many people might be interested?
  • Economic indicators : These include income, employment rate, and spending habits of potential customers.
  • Location : Where are the target market and the business located?
  • Market saturation : How competitive is the business space, and how many similar offerings exist?
  • Pricing : What might a customer be willing to pay?

Market research should also include an analysis of the competition (including their strengths and weaknesses compared to those of the proposed business), market opportunities and barriers to entry, industry trends, and competitors’ market share .

There are various methods for conducting market research, and the usefulness of different sources and methodologies will depend on the nature of the industry and potential business. Data can come from a variety of sources: statistical agencies, economic and financial institutions, and industry sources, as well as direct consumer research through focus groups, interviews, surveys, or questionnaires.

A comprehensive business plan is like a blueprint for a business. It will help lay the foundation for business development and can assist in decision making, day-to-day operations, and growth. 

Potential investors or business partners may want to review and assess a business plan in advance of agreeing to work together. Financial institutions often request business plans as part of an application for a loan or other forms of capital. 

Business plans will differ according to the needs and nature of the company and only need to include what makes sense for the business in question. As such, they can vary in length and structure depending on their intended purpose. 

Business plans can generally be divided into two formats: traditional business plans and lean startup business plans. The latter is typically more useful for businesses that will need to adjust their planning quickly and frequently, as they are shorter and provide a higher-level overview of the company.

The process of funding a business can be as unique as the business itself—that is, it will depend on the needs and vision of the business and the current financial situation of the business owner. 

The first step in seeking funding is to calculate how much it will cost to start the business. Estimate startup costs by identifying a list of expenses and putting a number to each of them through research and requesting quotes. The SBA has a startup costs calculator for small businesses that includes common types of business expenses. 

From there, an entrepreneur will need to determine how to secure the required funding. Common funding methods include:

  • Self-funding , also known as bootstrapping  
  • Seeking funding from investors, also known as venture capital  
  • Raising money by crowdfunding
  • Securing a business loan
  • Winning a business grant

Each method will hold advantages and disadvantages depending on the situation of the business. It’s important to consider the obligations associated with any avenue of funding. For example, investors generally provide funding in exchange for a degree of ownership or control in the company, whereas self-funding may allow business owners to maintain complete control (albeit while taking on all of the risk). 

The availability of funding sources is another potential consideration. Unlike loans, grants do not have to be paid back—however, as a result, they are a highly competitive form of business funding. The federal government also does not provide grants for the purposes of starting or growing a business, although private organizations may. On the other hand, the SBA guarantees several categories of loans to support small business owners in accessing capital that may not be available through traditional lenders.

Whichever funding method (or methods) an entrepreneur decides to pursue, it’s essential to evaluate in detail how the funding will be used and lay out a future financial plan for the business, including sales projections and loan repayments , as applicable.  

Legally, businesses operating in the U.S. are subject to regulations and requirements under many jurisdictions, across local, county, state, and federal levels. Legal business requirements are often tied to the location and structure of the business, which then determine obligations around taxation, business IDs, registration, and permits.

Choosing a Business Location

The location—that is, the neighborhood, city, and state—in which a business operates will have an impact on many different aspects of running the business, such as the applicable taxes, zoning laws (for brick-and-mortar, or physical locations), and regulations.

A business needs to be registered in a certain location; this location then determines the taxes, licenses, and permits required. Other factors to consider when choosing a location might include:

  • Human factors : Such as the target audience for your business, and preferences of business owners and partners around convenience, knowledge of the area, and commuting distance
  • Regulations and restrictions : Concerning applicable jurisdictions or government agencies, including zoning laws
  • Regionally specific expenses : Such as average salaries (including required minimum wages), property or rental prices, insurance rates, utilities, and government fees and licensing
  • The tax and financial environment : Including income tax, sales tax, corporate tax, and property tax, or the availability of tax credits, incentives, or loan programs

Picking a Business Structure

The structure of a business should reflect the desired number of owners, liability characteristics, and tax status. Because these have legal and tax compliance implications, it’s important to fully understand and choose a business structure carefully and, if necessary, consult a business counselor, lawyer, and/or accountant.

Common business structures include:

  • Sole proprietorship : An unincorporated business that has just one owner, who pays personal income tax on profits
  • Partnership : Options include a limited partnership (LP) or a limited liability partnership (LLP)
  • Limited liability company (LLC) : A business structure that protects its owners from personal responsibility for its debts or liabilities
  • Corporation : Options include a C corp , S corp , B corp , closed corporation , or nonprofit

Getting a Tax ID Number

A tax ID number is like a Social Security number for a business. Whether or not a state and/or federal tax ID number is required for any given business will depend on the nature of the business, as well as the location in which the business is registered.

If a business is required to pay state taxes (such as income taxes and employment taxes), then a state tax ID will be necessary. The process and requirements around state tax IDs vary by state and can be found on individual states’ official websites. In some situations, state tax IDs can also be used for other purposes, such as protecting sole proprietors against identity theft.

A federal tax ID, also known as an employer identification number (EIN) , is required if a business:

  • Operates as a corporation or partnership
  • Pays federal taxes
  • Wants to open a business bank account
  • Applies for federal business licenses and permits
  • Files employment, excise, alcohol, tobacco, or firearms tax returns

There are further situations in which a business might need a federal tax ID number, specific to income taxation, certain types of pension plans, and working with certain types of organizations. Business owners can check with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) about whether they need an EIN.

Registering a Business

Registration of a business will depend on its location and business structure, and can look quite different depending on the nature and size of the business. 

For example, small businesses may not require any steps beyond registering their business name with local and state governments, and business owners whose business name is their own legal name might not need to register at all. However, registration can include personal liability protection as well as legal and tax benefits, so it can be beneficial even if it’s not strictly required. 

Most LLCs, corporations, partnerships, and nonprofits are required to register at the state level and will require a registered agent to file on their behalf. Determining which state to register with can depend on factors such as:

  • Whether the business has a physical presence in the state
  • If the business often conducts in-person client meetings in the state
  • If a large portion of business revenue comes from the state
  • Whether the business has employees working in the state

If a business operates in more than one state, it may need to file for foreign qualification in other states in which it conducts business. In this case, the business would register in the state in which it was formed (this would be considered the domestic state), and file for foreign qualification in any additional states.

Some businesses may decide to register with the federal government if they are seeking tax-exempt status or trademark protection, but federal registration is not required for many businesses.

Overall registration requirements, costs, and documentation will vary depending on the governing jurisdictions and business structure.

Obtaining Permits

Filing for the applicable government licenses and permits will depend on the industry and nature of the business, and might include submitting an application to a federal agency, state, county, and/or city. The SBA lists federally regulated business activities alongside the corresponding license-issuing agency, while state, county, and city regulations can be found on the official government websites for each region.

Every business should have a marketing plan that outlines an overall strategy and the day-to-day tactics used to execute it. A successful marketing plan will lay out tactics for how to connect with customers and convince them to buy what the company is selling. 

Marketing plans will vary according to the specifics of the industry , target market, and business, but they should aim to include descriptions of and strategies around the following:

  • A target customer : Including market size, demographics, traits, and relevant trends
  • Unique value propositions or business differentiators : Essentially, an overview of the company’s competitive advantage with regard to employees, certifications, or offerings
  • A sales and marketing plan : Including methods, channels, and a customer’s journey through interacting with the business
  • Goals : Should cover different aspects of the marketing and sales strategy, such as social media follower growth, public relations opportunities, or sales targets
  • An execution plan : Should detail tactics and break down higher-level goals into specific actions
  • A budget : Detailing how much different marketing projects and activities will cost

The startup costs for any given business will vary greatly depending on the industry, business activity, and product or service offering. Home-based online businesses will usually cost less than those that require an office setting to meet with customers. The estimated cost can be calculated by first identifying a list of expenses and then researching and requesting quotes for each one. Use the SBA’s startup costs calculator for common types of expenses associated with starting a small business.

Entrepreneurs seeking to start their own business should fully research and understand all the legal and funding considerations involved, conduct market research, and create marketing and business plans. They will also need to secure any necessary permits, licenses, funding, and business bank accounts.

Startup capital can come in the form of loans, grants, crowdfunding, venture capital, or self-funding. Note that the federal government does not provide grant funding for the purposes of starting a business, although private sources do.

Business plans are comprehensive documents that lay out the most important information about a business. They are important references for the growth, development, and decision-making processes of a business, and financial institutions as well as potential investors and partners generally request to review them in advance of agreeing to provide funding or work together.

Starting a business is no easy feat, but research and preparation can help smooth the way. Having a firm understanding of the target market, competition, industry, business goals, business structure, funding requirements, tax and operating regulations, and marketing strategy, and conducting research and consulting experts where necessary, are all things that entrepreneurs can do to set themselves up for success.

U.S. Small Business Administration. “ Market Research and Competitive Analysis .”

U.S. Small Business Administration. “ Write Your Business Plan .”

U.S. Small Business Administration. “ Loans .”

U.S. Small Business Administration. “ Fund Your Business .”

U.S. Small Business Administration. “ Pick Your Business Location .”

U.S. Small Business Administration. “ Choose a Business Structure .”

U.S. Small Business Administration. “ Get Federal and State Tax ID Numbers .”

Internal Revenue Service. “ Do You Need an EIN? ”

U.S. Small Business Administration. “ Register Your Business .”

U.S. Small Business Administration. “ Apply for Licenses and Permits .”

U.S. Small Business Administration. “ Marketing and Sales .”

U.S. Small Business Administration. “ Grants .”

  • How to Start a Business: A Comprehensive Guide and Essential Steps 1 of 25
  • How to Do Market Research, Types, and Example 2 of 25
  • Marketing Strategy: What It Is, How It Works, and How to Create One 3 of 25
  • Marketing in Business: Strategies and Types Explained 4 of 25
  • What Is a Marketing Plan? Types and How to Write One 5 of 25
  • Business Development: Definition, Strategies, Steps & Skills 6 of 25
  • Business Plan: What It Is, What's Included, and How to Write One 7 of 25
  • Small Business Development Center (SBDC): Meaning, Types, Impact 8 of 25
  • How to Write a Business Plan for a Loan 9 of 25
  • Business Startup Costs: It’s in the Details 10 of 25
  • Startup Capital Definition, Types, and Risks 11 of 25
  • Bootstrapping Definition, Strategies, and Pros/Cons 12 of 25
  • Crowdfunding: What It Is, How It Works, and Popular Websites 13 of 25
  • Starting a Business with No Money: How to Begin 14 of 25
  • A Comprehensive Guide to Establishing Business Credit 15 of 25
  • Equity Financing: What It Is, How It Works, Pros and Cons 16 of 25
  • Best Startup Business Loans 17 of 25
  • Sole Proprietorship: What It Is, Pros & Cons, and Differences From an LLC 18 of 25
  • Partnership: Definition, How It Works, Taxation, and Types 19 of 25
  • What is an LLC? Limited Liability Company Structure and Benefits Defined 20 of 25
  • Corporation: What It Is and How to Form One 21 of 25
  • Starting a Small Business: Your Complete How-to Guide 22 of 25
  • Starting an Online Business: A Step-by-Step Guide 23 of 25
  • How to Start Your Own Bookkeeping Business: Essential Tips 24 of 25
  • How to Start a Successful Dropshipping Business: A Comprehensive Guide 25 of 25

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Marketing | How To

How to Create a Small Business Marketing Plan (+ Free Template)

Published February 19, 2024

Published Feb 19, 2024

Michael DeVault

WRITTEN BY: Michael DeVault

  • 1 What’s in a Small Business Marketing Plan
  • 2 How to Create a Marketing Plan in 6 Steps
  • 3 Why You Should Invest in Marketing Your Small Business
  • 5 Bottom Line

Whenever I’m tasked with launching a new small business or helping an existing business increase sales, I sit down with the owner to develop a small business marketing plan. You might be surprised how many small businesses overlook the importance of creating a marketing plan, opting instead to thrust blindly into one advertising medium or another.

Taking a few moments to familiarize yourself with the components of a small business marketing plan will help you navigate the process. It’ll also set you up to maximize your brand presence .

What’s in a Small Business Marketing Plan (+ Free Marketing Plan Template)

When assembling a plan for marketing and advertising your small business, you’ll be pulling together several diverse components from across your small business and the industry in which you’re operating. The parts of your plan may vary slightly, but overall they should include:

  • Customer personas: If you can’t identify your core customers, how do you plan to talk to them? Customer personas help you accomplish this.
  • Marketing and advertising goals: Without setting goals, how do you know what’s working? Setting trackable and achievable goals will guide your planning.
  • Unique value proposition: What sets your business apart from the competition? This is your unique value proposition, which is what drives customers to buy your product.
  • Types of marketing: Where will you market and advertise your products or services? Whether it’s on a small business website or in the local newspaper, you should consider all your options.
  • Marketing budget: How much can you afford to spend on marketing and advertising your company? Setting a realistic budget and sticking to it is key to a successful campaign.

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To get expert advice and guidance with your marketing plan, get a free consultation from Straight North. Branding and marketing experts will outline effective strategies to build and grow your business without the hassle of running your own marketing plan.

How to Create a Marketing Plan for a Small Business in 6 Steps

Creating a plan to launch and manage your marketing campaign is straightforward. You can create an effective plan in just six steps. See the steps below to learn more about what you’ll need to do.

Step 1: Identify Your Target Customers

You can’t do a good job talking about your product or service without knowing who you’re talking to. And you certainly don’t want to waste time and money talking to people who aren’t potential customers for what you’re selling. Think about it: If you own a landscaping company, you don’t want to advertise to people living in a condo, right? That’s where identifying your customers comes into play.

The first thing you’ll do is make a list of attributes you think your core customers share. These attributes include age, demographic information, geographic location, and general interests. You can even divvy up customers by age bracket—known as generational marketing . Here are a few key details you should identify about your customers:

  • Service area: Where do your customers live and work? Without knowing this, you won’t be able to adequately target ads to them.
  • Demographics: Are your customers predominately one gender? Maybe they fit into an age bracket. Understanding the demographics of your customers allows you to tailor a message to them.
  • Economic factors: Will customers be able to afford your products or services? You’ll need to consider the income level of potential customers and weigh that against how many people meet those criteria.

This is a good start. But gathering information about potential customers is just a start. You can go a step further with customer personas. A customer persona is a fictional “perfect customer” you create from the information you’ve gathered. The goal is to have a specific individual you’re crafting each marketing message for. Creating a customer persona is easy, especially once you’ve identified some key details about your customer.

Step 2: Set the Right Goals for Your Campaign

It may seem like a given—the notion that you should set goals for your campaign. However, many businesses fail to set proper goals in their marketing plan and, as a result, fail miserably. So what makes the “right” kind of goal? Goals for your campaign should meet four criteria:

  • Be achievable: Your goals should be reasonably achievable with the marketing tools and resources available to your business.
  • Be specific: Each goal you set should have a specific target attached to it. It’s not good enough to say the goal is to “increase sales.” Instead, specify your program will “increase sales by 20%.”
  • Be quantifiable: Even if you set a specific target, you need to be able to measure it. Your goals should be based on things you measure, such as per-ticket sales or new customer counts.
  • Be justifiable: You might set a goal to double your sales, but if doubling your sales costs more in marketing budget than profits generated, you’ve missed the mark. The finish line should justify the effort.

Step 3: Differentiate Yourself From the Competition

With millions of small businesses operating in thousands of industries, it’s a crowded marketplace. How you stand out will greatly affect how your marketing impacts people who may be looking for what you are selling. Ask yourself this question: What makes my product different and better than my competitors?

The answer to this question is your unique value proposition (UVP). Also known as a unique selling position (USP), this differentiating factor drives customers away from your competitors and to you. For example, for a catering company, a unique selling proposition might be “the best vegan food in town.”

The point of a unique value proposition is to set yourself apart from literally everyone else. This question could well be the most important question to ask yourself before opening a small business. Every business should have a unique selling position. After all, if you’re not bringing something unique to the table, why would customers choose you? Ultimately, your unique selling proposition will drive a large part of a startup marketing strategy .

Researching Your Competitors

It probably goes without saying, but in order to differentiate yourself from your competition, you’ll need to learn a little bit about the companies you’ll be competing with. That means spending time on their websites, social media profiles, and the web to understand their positions in the market, how they’re reaching customers, and their value propositions.

Competitor research provides you with insights on pricing and buyers as well as details you can use to create customer personas or help plan your advertising campaign.

Step 4: Choose the Types of Marketing You’ll Do

Armed with your customer personas, a list of achievable goals, and a unique selling position, you’re now ready to pick the kinds of marketing you’ll want to do. Since the ultimate goal is to reach as many potential buyers as possible, you’ll want to focus your efforts where you can reach the most of them.

Generally speaking, there are four types of marketing to consider. Each type of marketing requires different resources and impacts customers in unique ways. Here is a broad overview of each of the four areas:

Internal Marketing

You’ve already done some thinking about internal marketing. Internal marketing includes that unique value proposition, which is part of your brand identity . Additional components of internal marketing include:

  • Mission statement
  • Vision statement
  • Core values statement

Internal marketing shapes everything you’ll say in the rest of your marketing efforts. Start with your internal marketing positions and you’ll have a strong message to share with customers.

Online Marketing

Online marketing includes literally every activity your business undertakes online. Over the years, online marketing has become an increasingly important part of a small business digital marketing plan. This includes:

  • A well-designed website
  • Search engine optimization (SEO)
  • Online advertising through Google, Bing, and more
  • Social media marketing on Facebook, Instagram, X (formerly Twitter), and more
  • Email marketing
  • Press releases
  • Online reviews and ratings

Each of these types of marketing requires attention and planning of its own. Consider how you’ll establish a website for your small business. Will you pay someone to create a website for you? Or will you do as many small business owners do and choose to do it yourself with the help of a drag-and-drop website builder ?

Online marketing through social media, SEO, email, and a small business website requires specialized tools. These tools include data tracking and analytics, design, and more. They make up part of your marketing technology—or MarTech—stack. Learn more about how to build a MarTech stack with our how-to guide.

Offline Marketing

Not all marketing happens on the interwebs. Depending on the type of business you own and the market you’re in, you’ll probably need to invest in some offline marketing as well. Offline marketing includes those “traditional” types of advertising like newspaper and print ads, as well as some of the newer practices, like vehicle wraps.

While it’s true offline marketing plays a lesser role than it has in the past, it’s nevertheless important to consider what resources you want to devote to this medium. Billboards and direct mail continue to be remarkably effective and affordable ways to reach clients who aren’t at a computer, with the cost-per-impression (CPI) of billboards ranging from $2 to $9.

Offline marketing also includes materials and activities you might not think of as marketing. Business cards, flyers, and brochures are just some of the kinds of marketing materials at your disposal.

Broadcast Marketing

Broadcast marketing is the most familiar form of advertising and marketing. It’s also among the most expensive. Broadcast media includes television, radio, and most recently, podcasting and streaming.

For some small businesses, broadcast will play a role in getting your message out. However, many small businesses find tremendous success without ever investing a dime in broadcast advertising. Only you can determine what forms of advertising are right for your business.

Step 5: Craft a Marketing Budget & Calendar

Now that you’ve got a handle on what you want to say, who you want to say it to, and where, you’re ready to book your ads. Unless your budget is unlimited, it’s not as simple as just picking up the phone and placing orders. You need to decide how much money you can spend and where you can get the most bang for your buck.

That’s where a marketing calendar comes in. Working with local ad representatives, you can determine how much offline advertising will cost you. You can also get a reasonable idea of how much you’ll spend on pay-per-click (PPC) ads on Google and Facebook. To help maximize your budget, spread out your ad spend over the course of each month with a media calendar.

Below is a link to our local marketing media calendar template. You can use this template to map out your advertising efforts.

Marketing Calendar Template

Step 6: Track Progress & Update Your Campaigns

With your advertising and marketing efforts now up and running, you’ll want to keep tabs on three core metrics: how much you’re spending, how many people are seeing your ads, and how much your sales are increasing. Measuring each of these relies on different tools, and in many cases, you’ll have to rely on specific tools for individual types of advertising.

For example, if you’re measuring the reach of your Google Ads placements, you’ll spend time in the Google Ads control panel, tracking how many clicks each ad receives—as well as how much each click is costing you. For broadcast advertising, your ad reps will provide you with the estimated number of impressions each ad gets.

Fine-tuning Your Advertising & Marketing

The most important metric to track will be your revenues. You’re advertising to gain business, right? It only makes sense to track how much business you’re receiving. While you can take a top-line view and assume your ads are driving increased revenues, you can and should try to determine which ads are producing the best results and which ones are falling short.

Online advertising makes this easy because you’ll receive reports from Google and Facebook about how many clicks they’ve sent your website. Your website is also a powerful tool to track where customers are coming from. Email marketing is another easily trackable advertising form, as email marketing platforms provide ample data to quantify how well your message is landing.

For offline marketing, it can be more challenging to measure the effectiveness of a campaign. However, it’s not impossible. Offering pricing specials or coupons can help you measure where customers are hearing about you. Also, many broadcast outlets provide tools to help track the success of your program.

Why You Should Invest in Marketing Your Small Business

Now that you’ve developed a marketing plan, you’re ready to get started growing your business. However, you may still be wondering why you should invest the time and money into marketing efforts that may or may not work. The answer is simple: Marketing is the only way customers have to find out about your business and what you’re offering.

Put another way, everything you do to spread the word to potential customers that you can fill their needs—from television ads to handing out business cards at a trade show—is all marketing. Plan well and your efforts will bear fruit.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is a marketing plan.

A marketing plan is a written strategy outlining target customers, sales and revenue goals, the kinds of marketing you’ll use, and when you’ll run the ads based on that plan. Marketing plans control everything from billboards to Facebook ads. With an effective marketing plan, you can control expenses, grow your customer base, and drive sales.

How do you create a marketing plan?

To create a marketing plan, you must identify your target audience, set goals for your marketing campaign, and differentiate yourself from your competition. Then, you’ll choose the kinds of marketing and advertising you want to use, such as running ads on television or launching a website. Set a budget you can afford—a good rule of thumb is 10% of gross revenues—and track the progress of your marketing efforts, updating your plan as you go.

Do I have to make a marketing plan for my small business?

While no one is forcing you to create a marketing plan, it’s still a good idea to make one. A marketing plan guides the message you create and provides a framework for sharing that message to potential customers. It also gives you the ability to control expenses, maximize return on investment (ROI), and modify marketing plans that aren’t working.

Bottom Line

Creating a marketing plan for your small business doesn’t have to be a challenge. In fact, it’s really quite simple. Identify your customers, craft your message, and decide where you should share that message. Once your marketing plan is up and running, remember to take some time to make sure it’s producing the results you want, and make adjustments to help maximize return on your investment.

About the Author

Michael DeVault

Find Michael On LinkedIn

Michael DeVault

Michael DeVault is a career journalist with more than 20 years in media and marketing. He has an extensive background in franchise marketing, having worked with some of the biggest names in franchising, including iconic names like SONIC, Captain D’s, and Fantastic Sam’s.

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70 Small Business Ideas for Anyone Who Wants to Run Their Own Business

Meg Prater (she/her)

Published: July 31, 2023

A good business idea may seem hard to come by, but with some planning and preparation, you can easily launch a small business to supplement your income — or become your own full-time boss.

Small business ideas symbolically showing the spirit of a small business

Maybe you already have an idea of the business you’d like to start. But while you might feel ready for a new venture and passionate about your idea, you might be looking for some direction.

Get HubSpot's Free CRM to Start Your Business

To help get you started, here's a list of small business ideas separated into a few sections:

Best Small Business Ideas

Best businesses to start with little money, home business ideas, easy businesses to start, how to start a small business at home.

The first step to becoming a successful entrepreneur is finding a business idea that works for you. In this article, you’ll find dozens of small business ideas you can start from home and scale up as your clientele grows. Let’s get started.

business plans for small business

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9 templates to help you brainstorm a business name, develop your business plan, and pitch your idea to investors.

  • Business Name Brainstorming Workbook
  • Business Plan Template
  • Business Startup Cost Calculator

You're all set!

Click this link to access this resource at any time.

Free Business Startup Kit

Fill out this form to build your business plan today., what makes a good small business idea.

Not all small business ideas are made equal: Some require more effort and funding than others, while some can be launched with few resources — or resources you already have. As a potential small business owner, you’ll want to save as much money as possible on training, rent, supplies, and other necessities.

Let’s go over what makes a good business idea:

  • Requires little to no training . A good small business idea will ideally leverage your existing field of expertise and require little to no training. That will not only shorten your time-to-launch, but also lessen your expenses, since training courses can cost a significant amount of money. Plus, you’ll be more confident offering services that you feel prepared to deliver.
  • Requires low setup costs. Your business should be cheap to start. Maybe you only need to purchase a website domain or buy a desk for your garage.
  • Requires little hands-on inventory or supply management . A great business idea needs few supplies and little inventory management. If you want to sell physical goods, you can either try drop-shipping and manually make goods in small batches.
  • Is based online . The best small business ideas are based online and can be carried out from your personal computer. This will automatically lower your commuting costs and give you greater flexibility over your personal and work life.
  • Can sustainably be managed by few people . As a small business owner, you won’t have the funds to hire other people to help you run your business — at least not at first. A good business idea should give you the ability to run your business on your own.

Airbnb Co-founder, Brian Chesky, said, "If we tried to think of a good idea, we wouldn’t have been able to think of a good idea. You just have to find the solution for a problem in your own life."

If you’re like Brian and you’ve already thought about a solution for a problem you encounter in your life — or you’re on the path to doing so — then starting a small business may be in your future. It may also be for you if you dream of clocking out of your nine-to-five job for the last time and becoming your own boss.

Below, we include the absolute best ideas for you to start your small business — with resources and examples to help you get started.

1. Handyman

small business idea example: handyman

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Are you always fixing things around the house? Often on-call when friends need small projects completed? Create a website , conduct a competitive analysis to determine what your time and expertise are worth, and turn to the friends you’ve helped before for referrals.

A handyman business is a good idea if you’ve already built a robust set of skills to help others fix up their homes. Consider specializing in what you feel well-prepared to do — for instance, if you know your way underneath a sink and water system, then you might provide sink fixing services to start, then expand your offerings once you earn more skills.

No certifications are needed to become a handyman, and there are no special education requirements. You might need, however, a license if you’re planning to undertake jobs worth more than a certain dollar amount. Some states might not require this license.

To start your handyman business, we recommend the following resources:

  • Handyman License Requirements by State
  • The Most Requested Handyman Services
  • Association of Certified Handyman Professionals

2. Woodworker

Similarly, if you have a passion for crafting beautiful furniture or other home goods out of wood, that could be a small business niche for you. Get started by listing a few of your pieces on sites like Etsy . Once you build a following, consider starting a website, accepting custom orders, or expanding to refinishing work and upholstery.

A woodworker small business is ideal if you already have a passion for woodworking, as well as the tools to begin fulfilling orders as they begin to come in. Since delivering a well-made product is key to keeping your customers happy, you don’t want to be “training” as you create a custom shelf or a custom storage box. It’s recommended to have at least one year of experience as a woodworking apprentice.

To start a woodworking business, there are no special education requirements, but there are a wide range of woodworking training certifications online, so we suggest starting with a certification. The Woodwork Institute , YesTomorrow , and The School of Fine Woodworking are potential places to start.

3. Online Dating Consultant

Dating consultants usually charge for their time. They help people create successful online dating profiles, source possible matches from outside the typical online channels, and offer a level of personalization that a site like Tinder can’t. Think you’ve got a knack for the match? This might be the business for you.

Online dating consultants need to have strong communication and interpersonal skills, as well as heightened levels of empathy. The good news is that there are no special education or licensure requirements, though we recommend getting a certification such as IAP College’s relationship coach certification or Hart Academy’s online dating coach certificate .

To start an online dating consultant business, you’ll need a website that shares all about you and offers free dating resources your customers might benefit from. Once they download a resource, you can loop them in for a free consultation.

4. Sewing and Alteration Specialist

small business idea example: sewing and alterations

People will always need clothing hemmed and buttons mended — and you could be the person to do it. If you love sewing and have a sewing machine at home, start by offering simple services like those mentioned above and expand your repertoire to dressmaking and design as you build a customer base and demand.

You don’t need a special license or degree to begin a sewing and alterations business, but it’s essential to build your skills so you can take on more complicated projects. High-value clients will want to customize complicated items of clothing such as suits, pants, gowns, and dresses. That’s where you’ll see the highest potential for profits.

Altering these items require special skills, however. A few courses you might consider include:

  • International Open Academy's Tailoring Course for Beginners
  • Jackson Sewing Academy’s Basic Alterations Course
  • American Bespoke Tailoring Academy’s Programs

You’ll also need to shop for sewing supplies of all colors to accommodate your clients.

5. Freelance Developer

From building websites for other small businesses to providing technical support for certain projects, quality web development is in high demand right now. As a web developer, you'll naturally have a technical skill set. Distill your knowledge and expertise so customers who don't have your experience are able to understand what it is you'll be helping them achieve.

To help with this, test your messaging on friends and family who don’t have a firm understanding of the work you do. If they’re able to summarize what you do, your messaging is likely effective among people outside of your industry. You can start finding your first freelance contracts by visiting different freelance websites .

Unlike a few other options in this list, a freelance developer does need some training to launch a successful business and start taking on projects, but if you’re a beginner, don’t worry. There are plenty of boot camps to get you up to speed with either full-stack or front-end web development. Some of these boot camps are even offered through accredited tech schools.

Some boot camps you might consider include:

  • Coding Dojo
  • Fullstack Academy
  • Georgia Institute of Technology Coding Boot Camp

These vary in price, so be sure to do extensive research to find one that fits you and your budget.

6. Personal Trainer

Offer in-home consultations, personalized nutrition and exercise regimens, and community boot camps to get the word out. Don’t forget to populate an Instagram feed with inspirational quotes, free exercise videos, and yummy snack ideas as well — it’s a common way for fitness gurus to build their brands in our digital world.

If you choose to go this route, it’s OK to start small at first, then scale up. For instance, MOURfit is a personal training business in Indianapolis that started in a shared gym, then grew to a private gym that offers group fitness, personal training, and nutrition services.

To start a personal training business, you’ll need a certification. If you already earned a degree in an unrelated discipline, we recommend starting with the NASM-CPT certification , which is nationally accredited and only requires a high school diploma or GED. You can also get a Bachelor’s degree in physical and exercise science — here’s one example from Emory & Henry College .

7. Freelance Graphic Designer

Set your own hours, choose your projects, and build a portfolio and business you’re proud of. From website design to blog graphics and more, many companies seek out experienced graphic designers for support on a variety of projects.

The good news? There are no special education requirements for becoming a freelance graphic designer, though we recommend seeking a credential (like SAIC’s graphic design certificate or RISD’s graphic design certificate ) or an Associate’s degree in design so you can confidently present your portfolio and complete your first few projects.

If you’re just starting out with graphic design, try these tips and tricks that are ideal for beginners. If you’re more experienced but need to build your portfolio to attract clients, these prompts will get your creativity flowing in no time. We also recommend reviewing other people’s work on portfolio websites to get a feel for what is “trendy” and receive feedback as you grow your small business.

Free Download: How to Hire and Work with Freelancers

8. Life/ Career Coach

If you have experience navigating career, personal, and social transitions successfully, put it to good use as a life or career coach. Many of us are looking for guidance in our careers — and finding someone with the time to mentor us can be tough.

Life/career coaches don’t come cheap, but they are able to offer clients the intense and hands-on training and advice they need to make serious moves in their personal and professional lives. After all, everyone needs some uplifting advice from time to time.

To start your life/career coaching business with confidence, you can look for a certification program (like the Life Coach School’s or Diane Hudson’s ), then apply your skills as you acquire new clients.

small business idea example: Career Coach Nariah Broadus

A resume writing business is economical, has few overhead costs, and has few educational requirements. We still recommend having an Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree and a few resume samples on hand. If you still feel that you need to brush up on your resume writing skills, you can take a course like Coursera’s or LinkedIn Learning’s .

Once you’ve gotten resume writing down, you can expand your business to include cover letter writing, and even offer career coaching services in conjunction with these services.

10. Freelance Writer

If you have writing skills , there’s someone out there willing to pay you for them. Write blog posts, magazine articles, and website copy galore — just make sure you have a body of work built up to share with potential clients. Even if you create a few sample pieces to have on hand, they’ll help exhibit your work and attract new business.

To become a freelance writer, it’s essential to choose a specialty. For instance, you might choose to only write for publications in the healthcare industry (maybe because you were previously a healthcare worker), or focus on lifestyle publications. Whatever the case, specializing will help you find your niche market and gain confidence as a new freelancer writer.

There are no educational requirements to freelance writing, but you do need strong writing skills. It also helps to enjoy writing. While a certification may beneficial, getting practice and writing every day is more important. Try these writing prompts to start.

11. Landscaper

Mowing, tree-trimming, and seasonal decor are all neighborhood needs. If you have or can acquire the equipment, a landscaping business can be a lucrative affair. It’s also a great choice if you enjoy doing it for your own home and have a good eye for landscape design.

The good news is that you can start small. For instance, you could offer your neighbors seasonal planting services and start with a few perennial plants, or simply offer mulching services.

To grow your landscaping business, you should consider taking some formal training. The following organizations offer courses:

  • New York Botanical Gardens

After completing a course and getting enough experience, you can apply for a certificate from a landscaping organization. While a certificate isn’t necessary to work in the field, it can build your credentials and help you make industry connections to take your landscaping business to the next level. The Association of Professional Landscape Designers offers one potential certificate you could pursue.

Some states require licensure, especially if you’ll be using pesticides and fertilizers. Be sure to review the requirements for your state.

Learn some of the basics now with this video on landscape design from Lowe’s:

12. Videographer

Video production requires you to have invested in the equipment up front, which can be quite expensive. But that’s also what makes your services so valuable. Make sure you have a reel of your work to share or create a website with several selections of your work available for interested viewers.

There are no educational or licensure requirements for starting a video production business. As with writing and other creative arts, though, it pays to specialize. Real estate videos differ radically from wedding videos, and wedding videos differ radically from in-studio interviews and testimonials. By specializing, you target a highly specific customer who’ll benefit the most from your services, and you can also skill-up more effectively in one shooting style.

While you can find general classes on videography, you should consider taking a class in the type of videography you’d like to do. For instance, you could take The Complete Wedding Videography Course , if that’s the route you’d like to take.

Hot tip: If you’re interested in specializing in video marketing, check out The Ultimate Guide to Video Marketing and download our starter pack below.

→ Access Now: Video Marketing Starter Pack [Free Kit]

13. Photographer

Start by conducting photo shoots for your family and friends. As you build a body of work, ask for referrals and reviews. Photography businesses often grow by word of mouth, so create a Facebook page where you can tag recent clients. Photos where you tag those clients will show up in their friends’ newsfeeds, where they can view your work. You can also ask them to leave reviews on your Facebook business page.

Like with a video production small business, you’ll want to specialize. Will you do product shoots or portraits? How about wedding or fashion photo shoots? Once you specialize, you’ll be able to create a body of work that most accurately represents your strengths.

There are no educational or licensure requirements for starting a small photography business, but we recommend investing in a few photography courses, especially if you haven’t used your camera in a while. Some courses you might start with include:

  • Cornell’s Digital Photography Certificate Program
  • New York Institute of Photography’s Course

From there, seek courses that help you build skills in your chosen specialty.

If you’re not sure where to start with freelance photography, take a look at Erica Clayton’s journey into the business below. Her advice? Give yourself a firm deadline to turn a profit.

14. Bed and Breakfast Owner

small business idea example: bed and breakfast

This is another business venture that will require you to research the correct licensure from your state, but it will be well worth it to see your dreams come true. Consider what guests will be traveling to your area and create special packages and themed stays that coincide with their interests in your locale.

To start a bed and breakfast business, you’ll need a physical business location and a small staff for maintenance, customer service, and upkeep. For that reason, we recommend it if you have startup funds to start your business. (Don’t have any? Here’s how to start crowdfunding to launch your new business .)

A successful bed and breakfast business will also need an SEO-optimized website with a hotel booking system. If you create your website on the WordPress platform, you can easily create a B&B website using a hotel booking plugin — so there’s no need to code the booking form from scratch.

With Airbnb and hotels stealing market share, the competition is tough in the bed and breakfast space, so we recommend providing a unique angle to the stay. As mentioned, the stays can be themed — maybe your B&B is a vintage home with all original furniture, or maybe you offer traditional fare from your homeland.

15. Clothing Boutique Owner

If you dream of building your own fashion empire, why not start with a local boutique? Build buzz with impressive clothing styles, inspiring social media accounts, and heavy community involvement. While you can open a physical store, you can easily start online — and if that proves profitable, you can open up a local shop.

There are a few ways you can start a clothing boutique. First, you can make the clothes yourself if you already have experience in fashion design or know how to sew, knit, and curate colors and patterns.

Alternatively, you can design certain aspects of the clothing — such as a graphic or a logo — then send it to be printed on-demand at a local print shop when orders come in.

Lastly, you can dropship the items from a warehouse you’ve partnered with. This method is less reliable because there’s less quality assurance for each item, especially if you never visit the warehouses yourself. Regardless of the method you choose, starting a clothing boutique is highly doable, and you don’t need to have a fashion degree (though it certainly helps).

Take some inspiration from Sleep Ova , a luxury loungewear boutique based in Los Angeles, CA.

small business idea example: sleep ova

16. Specialty Food Store Owner

small business idea example: specialty food store

Gourmet foods, cheeses, sake, wine — you name a food, there’s a specialty food store out there for it. Put your passion for exotic olive oils to good use and open a store like American Provisions where you offer the kind of expertise and selection your audience couldn’t dream of getting from their local grocer.

To start your specialty food store, you’ll want to curate and source the items from makers that you love and trust. Ask around your community to find local makers of the food you want to sell, and the makers will likely be open to a partnership, especially if they get a cut of the profits.

When it’s time to sell, you’ll want to find a physical location, but if that investment is too high, you can start by setting up stalls at food festivals and local markets. Or you can go the ecommerce route and sell the products through your website, taking care to carefully pack perishable items.

17. Food Truck Owner

Always dreamt of owning a restaurant but not quite ready to take the plunge? Test out your concepts with a food truck. It’s a great way to become familiar with food and restaurant licensing in your state, see what people like and don’t like, and build a ravenous following before ever opening or investing in a brick-and-mortar location.

Food trucks will require a larger investment, but thankfully, you can rent the truck itself — the Food Truck Group and Roaming Hunger are two potential leasers you could look at. The cost will be high, so we recommend renting one in preparation for an event such as a food festival or concert. There, you’ll get to test out the popularity of your cuisine and see if the food truck business is right for you.

Taco Nganas , a taco truck in Memphis, TN, started with one food truck and expanded to three, building a loyal customer base along the way.

18. Car-detailing Specialist

small business idea example: car detailing

The devil is in the details, and you can be too. Car-detailing services that travel to the client are convenient for busy people who can’t find the time to run through the car wash. With this business, your clients only have to pay and the service will be done for them before they know it. Just make sure you have the flexibility, transportation, and equipment to take your business on the road.

There are no educational requirements for car detailing, but you should still take a course such as Auto Finesse’s detailing training to learn core concepts and brush up on your skills.

To get your car detailing business off the ground, you’ll need an SEO-optimized website and a way for customers to book online with you. Before you take that step, however, consider listing your services on websites like Angi , Thumbtack , and even Nextdoor.com so you can get your first local clients.

Don’t have a lot of money to start your business? Check out the ideas below.

1. Translator

Speak a foreign language? Start a translation service. Consider specializing in a specific genre of translation, like medical or financial translation, as you might be able to fill a niche need in your community.

small business ideas: translator

To become a translator, you should have a rock-solid grasp of two languages — ideally, you’ll be near native level for both. You don’t need special credentials to become a translator, but a certification (such as from the American Translators Association ) will legitimize your business and help you get clients.

Prior to gaining a certification, you can also pursue an online certificate, which will teach you the basics of translation. Some providers include:

  • University of Massachusetts Amherst
  • The University of Arizona
  • University of Georgia

2. Garden Designer

Many people have the willingness to do the dirty work in their backyards, but few have the know-how to complete the first part of this process — designing and planning the backyard space. Draw up the designs for your clients’ outdoor spaces and let them do the actual digging.

But you can also offer installation services, or hire your own contractors to fulfill the design.

small business ideas: garden designer

To become a garden designer, you should seek at least one credential so you’re well-versed in the basics and prevent damage to a client’s landscape. The American Academy of Garden Design offers courses and certificates that start at $450. A cheaper option is New Skills Academy’s Garden Design Certification ($120).

Remember, the goal is to start a business for cheap, and a certification can have a high ROI after you book your first few clients for garden design.

3. Travel Planner

The time of the travel agent might be passing, but people are still looking for those with a knack for more nontraditional travel coordination. If you always plan the perfect vacations complete with beautiful hotels, the ideal location, and a bevy of delicious restaurants lined up for every evening, consider advertising your services as a more modern approach to travel planning.

You don’t have to only plan trips for individuals, either. If you’re experienced enough, you can even start a group travel company, like Art N Soul Escapes .

You can become a travel planner by first volunteering to plan a few trips for your family and friends. Try it and see if you like it. Once you feel like you’ve gotten a good taste, attend a travel planner program and get certified. Some options include:

  • The Travel Institute Training & Certification Program
  • Penn Foster Travel and Tourism Specialist Diploma

You can also seek employment at a travel agency first, then strike out on your own once you’ve learned the basics.

4. Home Inspector

A home inspector examines a house’s drywall, electrical wiring, energy efficiency, and structural integrity to find potential issues on behalf of a home buyer. Home inspectors work in the field. They visit homes in person and provide a written inspection report. Alternatively, some home inspectors offer virtual inspections, which may be a good fit if you’d prefer to work from home.

small business ideas: home inspector

Working as a home inspector requires certification and a great deal of expertise, but it can offer a flexible work schedule and stable income. Confirm the licensing requirements in your state before getting started with this type of small business. You’ll want to make sure you’re providing the best service to your clients by having all of your credentials in order.

To become a home inspector, you should invest in a certification program, such as:

  • International Association of Certified Home Inspectors
  • ATI Home Inspector Academy

Be sure to check local authorities and universities for a course.

5. Personal Chef

We all love to eat, but few of us have the time or energy to cook healthy, delicious meals. Advertise your services to local families and businesses alike. To save on start-up costs, consider scheduling certain groups of clients together — say, vegetarians — so you can cook larger quantities of the same dish.

You can also begin by selling food in batches at local farmer’s markets or via a food truck. Once you’ve generated some awareness, you can begin taking on clients. Alternatively, you can start a delivery meal prep service by cooking 5-7 days’ worth of meals for clients.

small business idea example: personal chef

Chef Paul’s mouth-watering dishes are available to clients across the country. His clientele niche consists of athletes, corporate businesses, and local gyms.

6. Property Manager

Many people maintain properties they don’t live in — often based in different cities or states. As a property manager, you can help a property owner ensure their home is well taken care of, handle small fixes as they arise, and serve as a liaison to renters. It’s helpful if you have a background in real estate.

This option is a great fit if you have stupendous organizational, administrative, and customer service skills. As a property manager, you’ll be handling everything from screening potential tenants to collecting rent.

To become a property manager, you must first complete coursework in your desired state. We recommend working at an existing property management company to get your foot in the door. Once you’ve learned the basics, you can then start your own property management business.

7. Massage Therapist

Soothe aching muscles and promote peace for your clients as a massage therapist. As a massage therapist, you’ll offer targeted, personalized care that’s an edge above in-shop or mall massage services. To start this small business, you should invest in customer service courses, as well as a massage therapy certification.

small business idea example: massage therapist

Be sure to look into training and certification courses in your city and state, and to invest in a portable bed to take on client visits.

8. Interior Designer

Similar to landscape design — there are many people who have the ability to buy the furniture and home decor they need to fill their rooms, but few who know where to start. It might take some time to build a portfolio, but documenting your projects and sharing them online can build a fanbase beyond your wildest dreams.

To start an interior design business, we first recommend trying your hand at decorating your friends’ homes and working with their vision and specifications. One big aspect of interior design is providing fantastic customer service and knowing how to fulfill a client’s design vision while employing your interior design expertise.

You can then take an interior design course to round out your knowledge, such as the one offered by The New York Institute of Art and Design .

Need inspiration? Check out Sandra Cavallo’s interior design Instagram account.

small business idea example: interior designer

9. Nonprofit Owner

If you dream of devoting your life to a cause you believe in, it might be time to start a nonprofit. You’ll need to incorporate your business and file for 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status — and then you’ll be required to meet ongoing standards of compliance, but the payoff is making a meaningful impact on a cause you believe in.

The best thing is that you can begin a nonprofit easily from your home, even before filing for 501(c)(3) status. First, create a non-profit website (ideally with a .org top-level-domain). Define your mission and goals, and figure out how you’ll execute your non-profit activities. For instance, if you’re raising money to buy books for local schools, who will deliver them? Which retailer will you use? Start small, then expand.

Thereafter, apply for exempt status so that you’re not taxed like a regular business. The profit margins may be smaller, but the job is endlessly rewarding.

Whether you’re a math whiz, piano master, or Shakespeare aficionado, there’s someone out there who needs a little help in your area of expertise and is willing to pay for it. Advertise your services through local schools, community colleges, community centers, and even social media to get the word out and build a customer base.

To start a tutoring business, you should first gain experience educating others by either volunteering or even teaching friends and family. But you can begin straight away by listing your services locally and online and launching a tutoring website.

Be sure to define your niche. Will you be tutoring students in their homes? Or opening a local tutoring location? Which subject will you teach? Create handouts, use textbooks, and know which online resources will be best for your tutee’s learning style.

11. Consultant

If you have significant experience in or knowledge of a specific subject, consider becoming a consultant. Perhaps you’re an expert at hiring practices, have a knack for SEO , or have led multiple sales teams to six-figure success. Identify your expertise and market yourself as a consultant and charge the going rate.

Download Now: Free Consultant's Success Kit

Some consulting industries are more competitive than others, so be sure to complete your research prior to starting a small consulting business. One way to find out how competitive a consulting niche is by doing keyword search . If your target niche is highly searched or already is dominated by big companies, you may have a harder time breaking in. You can use keyword research tools to uncover keyword volume and local demand.

12. Event Planner

An event planning business is an excellent choice if you have great organizational and interpersonal skills, and it’s relatively cheap to start. You might choose to specialize in a specific type of event — like weddings or company meetings — or set yourself up as an event planner of all trades.

The good news is that event planners are always in demand. It’s not a job that can be easily automated, so this small business idea is set to thrive regardless of the digital landscape. To start, you’ll want to look for a platform that will easily allow you to advertise your availability, such as event planner directories like Eventective and WeddingWire .

If you’re highly organized, are detail-oriented, and have experience planning large events, it might be time for others to benefit from your skills.

13. Personal Assistant

Personal assistants help business owners and executives take care of administrative tasks. To launch a freelance personal assistant business, you should leverage networking opportunities on LinkedIn and attend small business events at local chambers of commerce. Most local business owners might not even know they need a personal assistant until you market your services to them.

If you’re an organized, highly-detailed person, the life of a personal assistant might be for you. Don’t want to be tied to one office or person all day, every day? Consider becoming a virtual assistant, which allows you a more flexible work environment.

To become an assistant, choose a niche — will you be helping women business owners specifically? Do you have a specific field of expertise, like bookkeeping? A website can also go a long way, and be sure to print business cards for you to hand out during networking events.

14. Consignment Shop Owner

If you have an eye for style but don’t want to invest in the inventory of a brand-new boutique, consider starting a consignment shop. It will allow you to curate a collection of clothing that matches your goals and aesthetic, without the overhead of a boutique selling entirely new garments.

The beauty of a small consignment business is that you can now start one online. You can sign up on a platform such as Poshmark , Depop , and even Etsy , then easily start selling your own used fashion from home.

Once you’ve defined your niche — such as vintage clothing, unique locally made art, or colorful shoes — you can begin sourcing new products from your local stores and thrift shops.

15. Caterer

If the personal chef gig is too restrictive for your schedule, consider catering instead. Pick your projects, work on fewer but larger events, and hone in on your time management skills.

Becoming a caterer is a natural step for those who are used to cooking for large events — for instance, you may have already catered your friend’s wedding, or brought a 20-person meal to a potluck (that counts, too!).

It’s essential that you have enough temperature-regulated storage for the meals prior to each event, and that you arrange for reliable, temperature-controlled transportation to and from your home kitchen. Alternatively, you can lower your costs by inviting customers to pick up their order at your home.

16. Gym Owner

Kickboxing gyms, yoga studios, CrossFit, oh my! Turn your passion for fitness into a community for others by creating your own gym — start one from the ground up, become an affiliate, or open a franchise location.

Available franchise opportunities include Anytime Fitness, Orangetheory Fitness, Pure Barre, Planet Fitness, Crunch Fitness, and more. Be prepared to take out a loan to finance your franchise — most agreements start with fees upward of $20,000. But the payoff can be tremendous due to brand recognition. You’ll have no trouble recruiting new members as long as you use local marketing strategies .

Alternatively, you can create a local studio, but ideally, it should be for a specific activity instead of general fitness. Yoga, pilates, bootcamp-style gyms, and martial arts perform well as independent fitness studios.

17. Boutique Agency Owner

What’s your specialty? Whether it’s marketing, social media, or PR, it might be time to start your own agency. Many other small businesses need this type of help but don’t have the resources or volume to necessitate a full-time position.

To start an agency, you would ideally have worked in your specialty for a number of years. You should also be prepared to interface directly with clients, fulfill their requirements, and temper their expectations (if they want results in an unreasonably short amount of time).

Consider building a small team and learn from other entrepreneurs who’ve successfully started their own agencies, like Duane Brown of Take Some Risk .

18. Coffee Shop Owner

Turn your caffeine addiction into something a little more lucrative. Opening a franchise or buying an existing shop are lower-risk entry points to the coffee game, but they usually require a little more cash upfront. Starting a shop from scratch requires more planning and work — but it also maximizes your earning potential in the future.

A coffee shop is an excellent fit if you already have a full-time remote job and wish to supplement your income with a small business. You can manage the coffee shop as you work at one of the tables, but be sure to have the budget to hire an experienced barista who can pick up the slack.

If you would like to open a coffee shop and run it full-time on your own, you’ll need to undertake barista training, understand worldwide coffee sources, and have excellent customer service skills.

19. Moving Company

A truck, moving equipment, manpower, and the correct permits and insurance are the building blocks of starting your own moving company . Before you buy your first fleet of trucks, however, start small with a moving van and keep your costs low.

Still sound like too much of an initial investment? Consider offering packing services only, which have a much lower financial barrier to entry. You can partner with moving companies and offer to do their packing, or have them refer clients to you.

You could even take a niche approach to the industry as Astro International has by offering international moving services.

small business idea example: moving company

20. Home Staging

If you have a flair for interior design, a staging service might serve as your creative outlet and professional calling. You can build a portfolio with little initial investment by staging homes using the owner’s existing furnishings and decor. Most stagers eventually build up an inventory of furniture as they become more established and network with area realtors.

To get your first home staging clients, you should first rely exclusively on networking. Find your local realtors’ association and attend their events with business cards handy. Once you’ve gotten your first clients and built your portfolio, you can begin posting your designs on your home staging website.

small business ideas: home staging

If you don’t yet have enough experience, be sure to pursue an interior design course before opening this small business.

These home business ideas give you a few more business options that are either based at home or online.

Frontend, backend, and every type of code in between, this skill requires no in-person interaction with your clients. But one skill you’ll want to carry over from the in-person world for this type of business is active listening. It can be easy to zone out while building a product, but developing a connection with the client is just as important as developing the code for their website.

If you keep the client top of mind when you can’t be around physically, you can ensure that you’re meeting their development needs with your coding work.

Download Now: 25 Free HTML & CSS Hacks

2. Vending Machine Owner

Since 2015, the growth rate for vending machine businesses has increased 1.4%. Even as social distancing restrictions are still in place, this business can still be lucrative if you choose the right locations. High-traffic is key — places like hospitals, schools, and community centers are smart places to start placing your machines to generate enough revenue to cover cost and turn a profit.

small business idea example: vending machine owner

3. Social Media Manager

Do you have a knack for social media? As a social media manager, you can use your skills to manage the social media accounts for companies and even individual people. Influencer marketing has become more common and many influencers rely on marketing agencies or employees to help them run their social channels.

→ Free Download: Social Media Calendar Template [Access Now]

4. Data Entry Clerk

Many businesses seek data entry clerks to help them enter information into their computer systems and spreadsheets. If you have strong computer and typing skills, this might be the business for you.

5. Audio or Video Editor

As of March 2021, there are 1.75 million podcasts available to listeners. For this reason, brands are turning to audio and visual content to connect with consumers. The catch is that many don't have the time to invest in the production of this content, or they don't have the skills to do it. Audio and video editors are in demand when it comes to producing quality content for hungry audiences.

6. Voiceover Artist

Speaking of podcasts and videos, many content creators recognize the value and level of professionalism that great voice talent can bring to a project. There are gigs out there for podcast intros/outros, narration for explainer videos, or even voice work for audiobooks. Learn how to get started with no experience from Kat Theo below:

7. Dog Walker, Groomer, or Trainer

Licensing and insurance will be the two most important factors in opening a dog walking, grooming, or training business, but your canine colleagues will surely make up for the initial red tape. To test the waters before jumping in, consider walking dogs through companies like Rover. Ready to run your own show? Consider a franchise like Dogtopia .

8. Candy Seller

If you grew up in a close-knit, southern neighborhood, you're probably familiar with the " Candy Lady ". This home business can be started by anyone who's trustworthy in the community. Aside from selling the most popular snacks, a candy seller can provide the neighborhood with fresh fruit and produce that may be harder to find if you live in a food desert.

Online Business Ideas

If you want a business idea that you can run entirely online, check out the ones below. These ideas are ideal for those looking for a passive income stream. In other words, you shouldn’t need to do too much manual work to launch these businesses from your home or preferred business location.

1. Become an online reseller.

To become an online reseller, all you need is some business savvy and some funds to invest in product stock from manufacturers — or, of course,the willingness to sell your own used items. Generally, this is a low-touch but high-performance way of creating a passive income online business.

Online resellers usually use a platform, such as Facebook Marketplace or Amazon Sellers, to sell either their own or manufacturers’ stock. The benefit of using Facebook Marketplace is that you can begin today with your own Facebook account, and simply list items that you already own.

Interested buyers typically drive directly to your home for pick-up — but if you’re not interested in human interaction, you can leave it outside and have the buyer pay via an online platform.

online business ideas: amazon seller

Amazon Sellers requires a little more up-front investment, but the yield is usually higher and you can turn your Amazon reselling business into a more passive income stream. Amazon allows you to buy stock from various manufacturers, which they then keep in their warehouses. When an Amazon user buys from you, Amazon will fulfill that order and then give you a substantial cut.

2. Try affiliate marketing.

An affiliate marketing business is a great fit if you already own a website or a blog you wish to monetize. We’ve already shared how blogging is a great business to start — if you’ve already bought a domain name and begun writing content, then using it to start your affiliate marketing business is a great option.

Affiliate marketers create blog posts and content that contain affiliate links. When a user clicks on that link, a cookie is added to their browser that tracks their activity for a specified period of time. If they make a purchase at the affiliate website, then you get a commission — usually recurring, if you’re selling subscription products.

There are countless affiliate marketing programs for you to start your online business. These programs come with many benefits, such as pre-made advertisements and lazy copy for you to use.

To create a viable affiliate marketing online business, you should choose the right blog niche , such as technology, household decor and organization, or fitness, and then find affiliate marketing programs that offer products your readership would be genuinely interested in.

3. Become a content creator or influencer.

Instagrammers, YouTubers, podcasters, and TikTokkers with more than ten thousand followers can eventually turn their accounts into a small online business that generates passive income.

As a content creator or influencer on social media, you can not only earn money from sponsored partnerships, but you can monetize your audience in other ways, such as creating Subscriptions on Instagram , allowing companies to advertise on your YouTube channel, or creating a paid-only newsletter.

online business ideas: content creator

Becoming an influencer or content creator takes hard work, but it can be a fun way to create a small online business, assuming you’re posting content that you enjoy creating. First, you should choose a niche, such as thrifted fashion, work-from-home hacks, or even industry tips. Then, you should learn how to become a social media influencer and digital creator , then create a social media content calendar .

Most importantly, have fun with this online business idea as you give it a try. The good news is that it has little overhead — all you need is a willingness to spend time on social media content creation.

4. Open a dropshipping store.

We’ve mentioned dropshipping a few times already, but this is such a great online business idea that it’s absolutely worth mentioning again. Dropshipping businesses don’t manufacture what they sell, or even buy stock from manufacturers in advance. Instead, wholesalers fulfill the order directly after a buyer places an order through your website.

Opening an ecommerce store can be forbidding for those who don’t want to deal with inventory management or supply chain logistics . Dropshipping is the best alternative.

The only thing you need is the willingness to invest in an ecommerce website builder and the ability to manage relationships with local or international manufacturers. From there, you need to only publish your site and advertise your brand via ecommerce marketing .

Learn how to start a dropshipping business here , with examples.

5. Sell print-on-demand products.

Print-on-demand (POD) is another way to start a dropshipping business, except it’s a little more frictionless because most POD services allow you to create a storefront right on their website, instead of you needing to look for a separate ecommerce site builder.

With a POD online business, you design unique artwork. The print-on-demand provider will allow you to place that design on t-shirts, hats, tote bags, phone cases, and more. You do not keep any inventory; instead, the POD provider will print it only after a buyer makes an order, then ships it directly to them.

online business ideas: print on demand shop

The only thing you need to start this small online business is a penchant for design and the budget to pay for a print-on-demand subscription (although most providers are free, and they simply take a cut of the sale). Get acquainted with design principles and color theory , and you can get started with this business in no time.

6. Become an independent author.

Think becoming an author is only for those who are extremely lucky? Think again. Whether you write historical epics or self-help guides, chances are that there’s a market to read your work, and you can now easily publish it online .

We recommend editing and proofreading your book, or hiring someone to do it, before self-publishing it. Then, it’s as simple as signing up on a self-publishing platform such as Kindle Direct Publishing or Barnes & Noble Press , uploading your file and cover, and pushing it live. You’ll enjoy benefits such as large royalties (up to 70%) and the ability to unpublish the book at any time, in case you find a typo or another change you’d like to make.

To get this online business idea off to a strong start, invest in an author website , spend some time doing social media marketing , and learn the basics of book marketing .

7. Sell downloadable digital products.

Downloadable journals, templates, art prints, designs… Some people would simply prefer to print these at home, instead of paying for the full price of the paper and the design. Downloadable digital products can be a profitable small business idea for those who are already design-savvy or who are willing to learn how to use an online design tool .

online business ideas: digital products

But if you’re not too crafty, you don’t need to create full-on journals or beautiful art prints, either; you can create templates for marketplaces such as Canva’s . There, people are able to customize a base design to their specifications, so you don’t have to worry too much about creating something specially beautiful — it’s more about functionality and customizability.

If you plan to create digital products that buyers can print at home, think about printing specifications, such as recommended paper size, paper weight, PPI (pixels per inch; a higher PPI results in better print quality), and so on. It’s essential to create a positive customer experience, even if users are ultimately responsible for what the final result looks like.

8. Publish a subscription-based newsletter.

We’ve already discussed becoming an independent author, but if long-form writing, such as novels, seems out of reach, you can always go for something much shorter and simpler: Newsletters. And the best part about paid newsletters is that you typically don’t need to have a separate website and blog; instead, you can sign up on a platform and begin publishing right away.

A website can, of course, benefit you, but the core of your revenue will come from the newsletter itself.

online business ideas: paid newsletter

With newsletter monetization platforms such as Substack or even Patreon , you can publish shorter content that features your opinion, experience, and expertise. We recommend pairing this small business idea with a robust social media marketing strategy , where your followers can learn more about you and be swayed to subscribe to a gated newsletter.

Choose a niche you’re passionate about, and this online business idea can feel less like work and more like a profitable hobby.

9. Create an online course.

If you want to monetize your expertise a little further for your online business, then creating an online course is the best choice.

To create a course, you’ll need to sign up on an online course platform such as WordPress or Teachable , sketch out a curriculum, film your lectures, and create worksheets and guides. You can be as hands-on or as hands-off as you’d like, but to make this online business as passive as possible, you’d ideally record all your lectures at once and allow users to access them by paying a premium fee.

If you’d like to try your hand at it first, you can try publishing a course on a platform such as Udemy and see if it feels viable to you. To become an online course teacher, you don’t need a specific level of education, but you should have a strong grasp on the material you’re teaching and a strong set of customer service skills to handle inquiries or course refunds.

10. Transcript videos, shows, and podcasts.

A freelance transcription business is an excellent idea for those who speak only one language and are passionate about improving communication. Transcribers listen to speech, write it out — usually verbatim — and deliver it to the original publisher in an organized document.

This small online business is a good fit for those who are looking for a part-time side business. You should be able to type quickly and have a good listening ear. Indeed has listed the top transcription companies where you can get your foot in the door.

Once you understand how the industry works, you can consider opening your own small transcription business and offering services on freelancer marketplaces such as Fiverr or Upwork .

Whether you’re looking to start your venture today or you simply don’t want to jump through the normal hoops of launching a small business, the below ideas are extremely easy to start — so easy, all you’ll need to do is sign up on a website or tell your friends about your services.

1. Vacation Host

Have you ever used a home-sharing service instead of a hotel? You could make a living by hosting visitors in your own home or renting out a room. Consider becoming a host with companies like Airbnb .

To become a vacation host, you don’t need any special skills except friendliness, courteousness, and agility (in case of guest emergencies or language barriers). A customer service course will prepare you to welcome guests and give them a pleasant stay.

You’ll need to invest in supplies and toiletries, such as new bedding and one-time soaps and toothbrushes, but the overhead is relatively small, and you can stop at any time.

2. Pet Sitter

Do you have a passion for pets? Consider becoming a pet sitter. While the pet's owners are away on vacation, either host their pet at your home or make visits to their home. Join a pet sitting service like Wag to get started.

small business idea example: pet sitter

If you start a pet sitting business, be sure to have some experience with dogs, cats, and other household pets. You should also choose a niche based on timing. For instance, do you prefer long-term arrangements? You can market yourself as an excellent vacation pet sitter. Do you only do single afternoons, or only on weekends? You can pull in clients by telling them you’ll take care of their pets during their dates or weekend trips.

3. Daycare Owner

Childcare continues to be in high demand. While nannies and nanny shares are popular right now, a good daycare is hard to find. Fill a need in your neighborhood by opening your own. And, as always, make sure you’re complying with your city and state’s zoning, licensure, insurance, and inspection requirements.

Home daycares are especially a good fit if you’re an experienced parent and have all supplies ready at home. But be warned that you’ll also need to buy more supplies to accommodate the additional children you’ll need to take care of.

We recommend getting a soft start with this business by advertising it first to your friends, families, and close neighbors. That way, you can better gauge whether it’s a good fit for you and whether you want to make the full investment.

If there’s a topic you have a heavy interest in, then there’s an audience out there with a heavy interest in it too. A blog can be used to build an online community whose engagement can be monetized. Affiliate marketing , sponsored content , and co-marketing are some ways to make money once your blog develops a following.

→ Download Now: 6 Free Blog Post Templates

Blogging is one of the most accessible small businesses to start, and there are countless niches to choose from. That said, because there are many blogs online, you’ll need to learn blog SEO and keyword research to ensure your audience finds you. That way, you actually make money out of your blogging efforts.

The great news is that a small blogging business has a ridiculously low overhead. All you need is a custom domain and your time for writing blog posts.

5. Home-Baked Goods Seller

Warehouse-made, store-bought chocolate chip cookies will never compare to a batch made with love in someone’s home. Simple desserts can be easily baked and packaged to sell at local events or around your neighborhood. Use custom labels and watch the word spread about your goods!

You can begin a baked goods business easily by opening a Facebook and Instagram profile. Facebook and Instagram are both excellent platforms to market your goods, show pictures of your previous baked products, and even showcase happy clients.

Build a loyal following slowly, and save on costs by asking clients to drive to your home to pick up their order. Choosing a niche can be helpful here, or baking in a specific style that can’t be found at grocery store bakeries. The overhead can be especially low if you already have most essential baking supplies.

6. Ecommerce Store Owner

Do you create, collect, or curate anything special? Consider starting an ecommerce store and turning your hobby into a full-time job. Whether you need somewhere to sell all that pottery you’ve been making, or an excuse to search for the sports memorabilia you love tracking down, an ecommerce store can make it financially viable for you to pursue your passion.

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Starting an ecommerce store is simple and easy. You can set up a shop using an ecommerce website builder , all of which start at a minimal monthly subscription (some even start at free). Be sure to take good photos of your products and write descriptive product pages .

If you don’t have inventory, you can always own an ecommerce store by using dropshipping . Instead of creating and shipping your products yourself, you’ll instead partner with a dropshipping website and have them mail out the orders directly to your client.

7. House Cleaner

With a low barrier to entry, house cleaning can be a great way to start doing what you love — soon. Consider advertising to homes in your neighborhood and get more bang for your buck by earning a few small businesses as clients as well. They’ll usually bring in a higher paycheck for a similar amount of work.

To become a house cleaner, you should be prepared to invest in cleaning supplies and accessories, or be willing to use your own. If you plan to serve small businesses, you should buy industrial janitorial supplies so you can get work done more effectively.

Need some inspiration? This small business cleaning service grew virtually overnight on Instagram after their content went viral during the pandemic.

small business idea example: go clean co

8. Packing Services Facilitator

Moving is always a pain, and many people hire the entire packing process out. As a packing services facilitator, you’ll be going to people’s homes and packing up their smaller items into organized boxes. To start this business, you must be comfortable with face-to-face contact and with manual labor.

small business ideas: packing services facilitator

You can begin this business by advertising in your own neighborhood. Once you’re ready to expand, consider partnering with a local moving service that will refer new clients to you. That way, you’ll have a steady stream of clients, and you won’t have to invest in a moving truck (the moving service will take care of that for you).

Business Ideas for Students

1. etsy shop owner.

Creating novelties by hand is a fun and unique way to start a small business, and you can easily sell them via Etsy . Whether you make jewelry, knitted comfort items, or even custom wigs , there’s probably a market for your products and an Etsy buyer who’s ready to purchase.

small business ideas: etsy shop owner

This idea is excellent if you’re already an expert in the craft you aim to sell. That way, you don’t need to pursue additional education or certification courses. Once you set up your Etsy store, which is free, tap into your audience with creative marketing on social media and optimize your website using keywords that describe the products you make.

2. Tour Guide

Love the local history of your city or state? Consider becoming a tour guide. Sure, you’ll need to conduct plenty of research to be able to do the job well, but that’s half the fun. Set yourself apart by offering tours that speak to a specific niche of your community’s history.

You can start a tour guide business easily. First, decide what your specialty will be. Some tour guides, like the ones at Freedom Trail in Boston , offer historical walking tours of their town’s most haunted spots while others curate guided foodie tours for guests to get a true taste of the city.

small business idea example: tour guide

Maybe you love the outdoors and are an experienced backpacker — you can then offer hiking tours. To begin, use a platform such as TripAdvisor or Airbnb, where you can sign up as a tour guide provider. Remember to launch a website, and to file for sole proprietorship status .

3. Online Class Instructor

Tutoring is often done in person and with one client at a time. Remotely teaching an online class offers more flexibility because you can teach multiple students from home. English is a common subject for online classes because of how many people want to learn it. But anything that you have a mastery over could be translated to a virtual class.

4. Small-Batch Goods Seller

Using organic, all-natural ingredients is more expensive, but worth it. There are many products you can learn how to make at home without any preservatives, chemicals, or toxins. Candles, soaps, shampoos, and moisturizers are some examples of goods you can create and tailor with custom scents. Try starting out making soap with this complete beginner’s guide to soapmaking:

5. Makeup Artist

Many people prefer to have a professional do their makeup because they may lack the proper products or just the skills. It may be for a special occasion, photoshoot, or video shoot, or another event. Being able to do a variety of different looks will make your business more attractive to more customers.

To run a successful makeup artist business, you’ll need to be social media savvy . Instagram in particular is an excellent platform to advertise your services and get new clients.

You should also consider honing in on a specific niche. For instance, you might do wedding makeup exclusively.

6. Professional Organizer

A lot of people struggle with clutter or disorganization in their homes and offices. It can be a large undertaking to create organized systems and habits. Grab a lot of storage bins and a label maker and get started!

To become an organizer, you’ll first need to have the chops: Is your own home organized? Do you enjoy making order out of chaos? Then, launch a website to market your services locally. Be sure to create local listings to ensure people find your business, including listings on Angi, Houzz, and Thumbtack.

Meg Golightly, founder at Gosimplified , has made this small business idea into a successful career.

Is your head buzzing with small business ideas yet? After all that brainstorming, you’ll need a practical plan to get started with your new small business.

  • Identify your small business idea.
  • Start as a side business or hobby.
  • Decide on your software.
  • Create a business plan.
  • Decide whether you'll be an LLC or sole proprietorship.
  • Create a business bank account.
  • Determine if your business idea works well from home.
  • Set up an office.
  • Get to work!

1. Identify your small business idea.

Whether you choose an option from the list above or have another idea up your sleeve, it’s important to have the experience, training, or skills necessary to be successful. Want to run a daycare but have never even visited a successful daycare center? Spend time conducting research to learn whether this is really the right fit for your experience, interests, and target audience.

2. Start as a side business or hobby.

Can you get your business off the ground as something you do in the evenings or on the weekends (a.k.a. a side job)? This allows you to make some mistakes, test the market, and understand whether your idea has legs before you quit your nine-to-five job and lose your primary income.

3. Decide on your software.

You’ve got a lot of things on your plate when first starting up. But one step that’s critical (and often forgotten by first-time entrepreneurs) is deciding on the software that can help you be more efficient as your business grows.

Every business is different — but almost all companies can use software to help with analytics, project management , accounting, bookkeeping, email marketing, and other basic day-to-day tasks.

One of the most important software tools every small business should utilize is a free all-in-one CRM platform to keep track of important customer information in one central database. It will help align your team and make sure you stay organized as your business grows.

4. Create a business plan.

No business plan? No business. Particularly if your small business idea requires investors, you'll need to draft up a business plan to provide an overview of your market positioning, your financial projections, and your unique competitive advantages. You can download HubSpot's free business plan templates for free to get started.

One-Page Business Plan Template

Download Free Business Plan Templates

Your business plan should include the following elements:

  • Executive summary — A high-level overview of your company and market placement.
  • Business model — Outline what your business does, who your business serves, and how your business is structured. You should include a description of what products and services you offer, and how they meet the needs of your customers.
  • Market condition — A summary of pertinent competitor information. Determine the strengths and weaknesses of your closest competitors.
  • Products and services — Use this section to describe your products and services in detail, and outline what differentiates your product from others in the market.
  • Operations and management — Outline your business’ organizational structure, key roles, and responsibilities.
  • Marketing and sales strategy — This section should describe how you will market and sell your product. Include information on your ideal customer, how you plan to position your offering, and your sales strategy.
  • Financial plan — Create a detailed outline of your business financials. Include your start-up costs, your initial financial productions, and how you anticipate generating funding.
  • Appendix — Once the above pieces are complete, end the document with an appendix summarizing your business plan.

Every business is different — but almost all companies can use software to help with analytics, project management, accounting, bookkeeping, email marketing, and other basic day-to-day tasks.

5. Decide whether you’ll be an LLC or sole proprietorship.

Two common legal structures for small businesses are limited liability corporations (LLCs) and sole proprietorships.

An LLC is a more complex business structure than a sole proprietorship and can include individuals, corporations, and other LLCs as members. Additionally, LLCs are not subject to a separate level of tax and offer the business owner liability protection and tax advantages. LLCs are formed on a state-by-state basis.

Sole proprietorships are businesses owned and operated by one person and are not identified as a separate entity from the owner by the government. While a sole proprietorship is the simplest business structure, sole proprietors are personally liable for their business.

Besides an LLC or sole proprietorship, there are a few other options for you to consider.

Sean Flannigan, Sendle's Content Manager, says, "While many small businesses might be best served by choosing an LLC or sole proprietorship, there are a few other options."

"Partnerships are great for businesses operated by several individuals. It hews most closely to a sole proprietorship in that the individuals take on the business liability and pay taxes on a personal level."

He adds, "To completely avoid personal liability, small businesses might choose to incorporate as a corporation, S corporation, or B Corp. S corporations avoid corporate taxation whereas B Corps must meet a threshold for public benefit and accountability."

Additionally, Flannigan says, "There are tons of great reasons to become a B Corp beyond just doing good business. All that said, many small businesses that aren't aimed at super-fast growth choose to go with an LLC to keep things simple while shielding owners from too much liability."

Learn more about choosing the right structure for your business from the Small Business Administration.

6. Create a business bank account.

Once you have a legally formed business and have been issued an Employer Identification Number (EIN), open a bank account specifically for your business. Having a business bank account is essential for keeping your personal and business finances separate which can help you gain an accurate picture of your business’s cash flow and financial health.

Additionally, keeping your personal and business finances separate makes bookkeeping and tax preparation easier.

Many banks offer business checking and savings accounts. Business checking accounts typically do not have a limit on the number of transactions that can take place, and issue a debit card that can be used for making business purchases. However, these checking accounts do not accrue interest.

Business savings accounts typically earn interest over time but have a limited number of transactions that can occur each month. When you’re just starting out, look for a business bank account that does not have a minimum balance requirement so you are not penalized for having low funds as you work to build your business.

7. Determine if your business idea works well from home.

Ask yourself whether your business idea will work well from home. Some businesses simply aren’t suited to be based from home. If you want to run a dog boarding center but live in an apartment without a backyard, you might want to consider a dog walking business instead.

8. Set up an office.

If your business idea is well-suited for being run from home, it’s still important you have a designated workspace. While a home office might not be possible, consider setting aside a corner in your living room or putting a desk in your bedroom for a space that inspires you and creates the conditions for success.

Need a more professional space? If you conduct client-facing work requiring you to be on video calls, no one wants to see your rumpled sheets in the background. Check out local coworking spaces for memberships that earn you access to conference rooms, desk space, and more.

9. Get to work!

You’ve put in the hard work and I’ve got good news — it’s only going to get harder. But most entrepreneurs will agree that the payoff of being your own boss, making your own hours, and working on projects that you’re passionate about will pay dividends for the rest of your life.

Starting a Small Business: FAQ

What are the types of small businesses.

The types of small business structures are sole proprietorships, partnerships, limited liability companies (LLCs), and corporations.

Which business type is best?

The best business type is a limited liability company (LLC). Operating as an LLC means that your personal assets are separate from your business assets. If your business goes bankrupt, your personal holdings won’t be affected. That said, it’s also one of the costlier types, requiring a fee paid to the state.

The easiest business type to start is a sole proprietorship. The main downside is that there’s no differentiation between you and your business.

How do I create a business idea?

To create a business idea, determine your skill set, work preferences, startup budget, and available resources. It’s important to strike the right balance between what you can feasibly offer and what you can feasibly afford in the short and long term.

We recommend starting with your skill set so that you can easily determine the niche in which you can effectively compete. For instance, if you have ample experience as a writer, you might consider starting a freelance writing business. But if you know you’d prefer to work with clients face-to-face, you might choose to start a ghostwriting business instead. That’s why it’s so important to take your work preferences into account, as well.

After that, take a look at your budget and determine the type of business you can start based on the resources at your disposal. For instance, you might not be able to afford a physical office or location, so a location-based business will likely not be a good fit. In that case, starting an online business is your best option.

What are some of the most successful small businesses?

Every small business has the potential to be successful and profitable, provided it’s backed by a strong product-market fit and a robust business plan . These two elements are essential. Maybe post-natal services are one of the most successful small businesses to launch, but if you live in an area with declining population or a large elderly population, then that small business idea won’t yield a high return on investment.

Think carefully about the market where you’re launching your business, and you’ll be more than likely to see lasting success.

What are the top growing small businesses?

top growing small businesses as reported by the bureau of labor statistics

The top growing industries are healthcare support, technology, personal care, food preparation, and community and social service. As such, launching a small business in any of these fields is bound to yield a high return on investment, but remember to take your target market into account.

Here are some small business ideas for each of those industries:

Healthcare Support

  • In-home care assistant
  • In-home elderly care provider
  • Psychological care provider
  • Pre-natal and post-natal support specialist
  • Freelance programmer or web developer
  • Freelance IT support specialist
  • Freelance cybersecurity expert

Personal Care

  • Hair stylist
  • Nail technician

Food Preparation

  • Personal chef
  • Food truck owner
  • Food delivery

Community and Social Services

  • Non-profit owner
  • Education specialist

Brainstorm Your Next Small Business Venture

Selecting a small business idea to work on is a personal decision. Money is important, but you’ll need more motivation than that to keep going. Bounce ideas off your friends and family until you reach the perfect idea that works for your schedule, fulfills your life’s passion, and makes financial sense. Don’t be afraid to ask for help throughout this process — and remember to have a little fun while you’re putting in the work.

Editor's note: This post was originally published in August 2020 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

Apply for a job, keep track of important information, and prepare for an  interview with the help of this free job seekers kit.

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How to start a small business at home in 2024

Blair Travers

Sierra Campbell

Sierra Campbell

“Verified by an expert” means that this article has been thoroughly reviewed and evaluated for accuracy.

Published 8:07 a.m. UTC Feb. 16, 2024

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Featured Image

PeopleImages, Getty Images

Starting a small business at home can help you turn your passions, skills or ideas into financial prosperity. There are some unique perks and challenges to consider when deciding to start a home-based business. 

You’ll also want to have a solid plan and follow some key steps to get your business off on the right foot. It’s helpful to know where you can find ideas, answers to your questions and other resources you need to run an at-home business successfully.

Should you start a business at home?

There are many factors to consider when deciding to start a small business at home. On the one hand, it’s important to make sure there is demand for your business. On the other hand, you want to be able to handle the amount of business you receive. Gauging things like demand, profit margins and the ability to scale your business early on can help you avoid trouble down the road.

Across the country, at-home businesses make up a large portion of small businesses. C.E. “Tee” Rowe is the president and CEO of America’s Small Business Development Centers (SBDC), which provides free or low-cost support for small businesses in partnership with the U.S. Small Business Administration. “Here at America’s SBDC, we have seen an uptick in home-based businesses that started during the pandemic but continues to date,” said Rowe. 

Pros of a home business

Here are some key benefits to starting a business at home:

  • Increased flexibility: Set your own hours, freeing you up for other commitments as needed.
  • Less commuting: Save time and money by skipping the drive to work.
  • Comfortable work environment: Design your workspace how you want it. After all, it is your home.
  • Money-saving perks: Pay lower startup costs compared to larger businesses by avoiding costs like renting retail or office space. Take advantage of tax breaks for at-home businesses.
  • Reduce risk: Protect yourself by limiting your liability and avoiding the cost and risk of maintaining commercial space.
  • Rewards for your hard work: Work hard for your business, and your business reaps the benefits instead of some other employer.

Cons of a home business

These are some of the disadvantages of starting a business at home:

  • Limited space: You give up part of your home, and even then, you may still need more space for your business.
  • Distracting work environment: Crying babies, barking dogs and loud neighbors can all be distracting when running a business at home.
  • Professional boundaries: Some people may feel awkward about meeting to discuss business at your home or a public location.
  • Increased mental health risks: Running a home business can feel isolating for some. A lack of social interaction, time outside, work-life balance or effective time management can also threaten mental health.
  • Growth restrictive: If your home-based business scales too rapidly, you may outgrow your workspace quickly. In this situation, success creates a problem for home businesses to solve.
  • Increased costs: Whether you’re paying new employee salaries or wages or forking over more money for higher utility bills, you may feel the financial squeeze.

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7 steps to start a home business

After considering the pros and cons, does the idea of taking the reins and starting a home business appeal to you? You’re not alone. 

“When we work with individuals seeking to start a home-based business, it is frequently based on a desire to control their own circumstance and success, which are great reasons, but it always needs to be thought out carefully,” Rowe explained.

Planning is key. From creating a business plan and determining your business structure to securing funding and setting your marketing strategy, there’s a lot to think through. Follow the steps below to get on the right track to starting a small business at home.

1. Find your niche

Plenty of successful at-home businesses arise from emotion: a passion to do what you love, a frustration with the status quo or excitement to seize on a timely opportunity.

If you’re struggling to find your niche, ask yourself:

  • What do you love to do that others may find challenging?
  • What is a need that no business currently has the right solution for?
  • What are you good at? What do people ask for your help with?
  • What high-demand skills or services do you have to offer?

2. Draft a business plan

Having a business plan is essential for running your business effectively. As Rowe pointed out, “Every business needs a solid, comprehensive plan to guide them to success. That plan needs to focus on skills, finance, revenue and marketing.”

A business plan outlines the direction of the business — its goals, strategies, structure, ways of measuring success and plans for dealing with things like change and risk. Simply put, it’s the roadmap to success for your business.

When creating your business plan, include key sections such as an executive summary, a business description, market analysis and financial projections. For more on what to cover, check out this step-by-step guide to drafting a business plan .

3. Select a business structure

According to the IRS, the most common business structures are sole proprietorships, partnerships , corporations and limited liability companies (LLC) . Each business structure comes with its own set of operational, legal, financial and tax considerations. 

A sole proprietorship is a business owned and operated by a single individual, while a partnership is jointly owned by two or more individuals who share responsibilities. 

In contrast, corporations — like C corporations and S corporations — are independent legal entities. C corporations limit shareholder liability but are highly complex. S corporations feature pass-through taxation, distributing income (and losses) to shareholders.

While sole proprietorship is a common structure for just starting out, LLC is another popular option for at-home businesses. It combines elements of a corporation and a partnership, offering limited liability to its members and the flexibility of pass-through taxation. Members of an LLC can choose to be taxed as a sole proprietorship, partnership, C corporation or S corporation.

4. Register your business and get an EIN

After you choose a business structure, you’ll need to register your business with state and federal governments. Select a business name , pay fees and provide required documents, which vary by state.

After getting registered with your state, you can then apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS. Once you’re approved, you’ll receive this unique nine-digit number that is essential for all sorts of business purposes, from filing your taxes to hiring employees. 

Not all businesses need an EIN, such as sole proprietors and single-member LLCs with no employees.

5. Get any required licenses and permits

Depending on your industry and federal, state and local requirements, you may also need to obtain licenses and permits for your business. 

Here are some examples of licenses and permits you may need, depending on your business:

  • Occupational, professional or trade licenses.
  • Online business permits.
  • Sales tax permits.
  • Health department permits.
  • Safety permits.
  • Home-based child care licenses.
  • Zoning, signage, environmental and other permits to operate an at-home business, as required by local government, HOA or deed restrictions.

6. Obtain funding for your business

Many owners fund their businesses using their own savings. Self-funding is a viable choice if you can get up and running without much money, can come up with the needed funding from your own accounts or can ask for help from family or friends. 

You can also apply for a business loan . Banks will likely want to see a rock-solid business plan, strong financial projections, good personal and/or business credit history and any collateral you’ll use for your loan. If you are a good candidate for lending, make sure that shows in your application so that you can get the best funding and terms for your business.

If you don’t have much personal or business credit history, it may be easier to get a business credit card . This gives you benefits like payment flexibility, credit card rewards and essential early or emergency spending power. It will also help your business establish or strengthen its credit so you can get favorable terms on future loans and other credit.

7. Launch and market your business

You’ve planned out your business, defined its structure and gotten your business registered, licensed, permitted and even paid for. Now it’s showtime. For many who seek to start a small business at home, the launch is the most exciting part of the journey. You are now ready to conduct business.

It’s also important to get others excited about your small business — and keep them engaged. Here are some of the most common marketing strategies for small home-based businesses:

  • Social media marketing: Reach potential customers on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and X (formerly Twitter) by sharing engaging content and updates.
  • Business website: More than just a place to sell your products or services online, your business website should help users find what they want to meet their needs. It should also help achieve business objectives by offering features like payment services or e-commerce functionality .
  • Advertising: Platforms such as search engines and social media can help you reach your target audience.
  • Content marketing: Write blog posts, produce videos or create helpful graphics to explain what your business offers and to establish trust and authority.
  • Email marketing: To keep business coming back, build an email list to communicate using promotions, newsletters and updates.
  • Word of mouth: In the early stages, many small home-based businesses rely on word of mouth. You can also ask for customer reviews on platforms like Google and Yelp.

Weigh the costs and benefits when deciding on your marketing plan, so you choose what’s best for your business.

Top home business ideas

Check out these home business ideas to find the right fit for you:

  • Retail: Sell products you make — including crafts and customized gifts — or resell products you get for less than what you pay for them.
  • Case-based services: Open up an in-home daycare, provide home-based care for adults or even take care of pets by offering pet sitting and mobile grooming.
  • Events: Plan weddings and events. Create the perfect look as a makeup artist or stylist. Play music in a band or take your place on the 1s and 2s as a DJ.
  • Art and creative services: Capture the moment as a photographer, or maybe you’d rather bring your vision to life as an artist. More of a words person? Write, edit or translate content. 
  • Education: Teach the next generation how to do math, play an instrument or learn a new language. Provide adults with specialized training in arts and crafts, life coaching or test preparation.
  • Health and wellness: Become a personal trainer to get people in the best shape of their lives or a mental health counselor to help them find their inner peace.
  • Home and real estate: Transform homes by organizing, decorating or even staging. Produce virtual home tours for real estate agents, or become a realtor yourself.

Resources to start a business

For more resources and guidance on how to start a small business at home, check out these guides and articles:

  • Follow our step-by-step guide on how to start a business from the ground up.
  • Learn how to start an LLC if that’s your chosen business structure.
  • Discover how to start a business with no money so funding doesn’t hold you back.
  • Skip the overhead that comes with brick-and-mortar stores and find out how to start an online business .
  • Explore options to accept payments online and start making money in your sleep.
  • Find the cheapest payroll services to pay your employees and contractors.
  • Build a successful business by attracting loyal, repeat customers. 

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

The cost of starting a business at home varies widely and depends on several factors. Some businesses, including sole proprietorships, can get away with paying little to no money to start their business. Other home-based businesses, including those with manufacturing or inventory expenses, could have considerably higher startup costs.

Yes, you can use your home address to register a business. However, you’ll want to make sure that usage does not go against local laws, HOA bylaws or property covenants. It’s also a good idea to check with your mortgage and homeowners insurance companies to make sure that running a business out of your home does not introduce unforeseen headaches.

Blueprint is an independent publisher and comparison service, not an investment advisor. The information provided is for educational purposes only and we encourage you to seek personalized advice from qualified professionals regarding specific financial decisions. Past performance is not indicative of future results.

Blueprint has an advertiser disclosure policy . The opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Blueprint editorial staff alone. Blueprint adheres to strict editorial integrity standards. The information is accurate as of the publish date, but always check the provider’s website for the most current information.

Blair Travers

Blair Travers is a business writer and content strategist with over a decade of experience breaking down complex problems to help businesses move forward with confidence. He brings a wide range of technology, banking and retail expertise. Blair enjoys helping businesses figure out complex processes and make choices that are right for them. His work has been published in U.S. News & World Report and Carfax.

Sierra Campbell is a small business editor for USA Today Blueprint. She specializes in writing, editing and fact-checking content centered around helping businesses. She has worked as a digital content and show producer for several local TV stations, an editor for U.S. News & World Report and a freelance writer and editor for many companies. Sierra prides herself in delivering accurate and up-to-date information to readers. Her expertise includes credit card processing companies, e-commerce platforms, payroll software, accounting software and virtual private networks (VPNs). She also owns Editing by Sierra, where she offers editing services to writers of all backgrounds, including self-published and traditionally published authors.

How to start a small business: A step-by-step guide

How to start a small business: A step-by-step guide

Business Eric Rosenberg

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Business Unlimited plans

Switch and get truly unlimited data, plus double the premium hotspot data with select plans.

  Select the number of lines to see how your Business Unlimited plan monthly price would change.

Plans available with a month-to-month or device payment agreement. Prices include $5 savings per month per line when you sign up for Auto Pay and paper-free billing. 

Enjoy your business essentials.

$70 without Auto Pay and paper-free billing discount

$60 without Auto Pay and paper-free billing discount

$45 without Auto Pay and paper-free billing discount

$40 without Auto Pay and paper-free billing discount

$35 without Auto Pay and paper-free billing discount

  • 5G/4G LTE Unlimited 5G and 4G LTE data; in times of congestion, your smartphone and mobile hotspot data may be temporarily slower than other traffic (network management). 5G access requires a 5G-capable device. 5G Ultra Wideband access is not available. Domestic data roaming at 2G speeds.
  • Unlimited talk, text & data Unlimited 5G and 4G LTE data; in times of congestion, your smartphone and mobile hotspot data may be temporarily slower than other traffic (network management). 5G access requires a 5G-capable device. 5G Ultra Wideband access is not available. Domestic data roaming at 2G speeds. In times of congestion, your mobile hotspot data may be temporarily slower than other traffic (network management). After 5 GB/line/month, mobile hotspot reduced to speeds up to 600 Kbps for the rest of the month.
  • Mobile hotspot data In times of congestion, your mobile hotspot data may be temporarily slower than other traffic (network management). After 5 GB/line/month, mobile hotspot reduced to speeds up to 600 Kbps for the rest of the month.
  • Call Filter Reduce spam calls with call screening, auto-blocking and easy reporting of unwanted numbers. Activation required. Terms apply.
  • 480p video streaming Video streaming at 480p.

Boost your productivity.

$80 without Auto Pay and paper-free billing discount

$55 without Auto Pay and paper-free billing discount

$50 without Auto Pay and paper-free billing discount

  • 5G Ultra Wideband Our fastest 5G network experience. 5G access requires a 5G-capable device.
  • 100 GB Premium Network Access Get 100 GB of premium smartphone data per line per month. In times of congestion, your 5G and 4G LTE smartphone data may be temporarily slower than other traffic after 100 GB premium network access/line/mo. There is no network management for 5G Ultra Wideband (UW) data. Domestic data roaming at 2G speeds.
  • 100 GB premium mobile hotspot data After 100 GB line/mo premium hotspot data, mobile hotspot reduced to speeds up to 600 Kbps (4G LTE and 5G) and 3 Mbps (5G UW) for the rest of the month.
  • Call Filter or Call Filter Plus Call Filter: Reduce spam calls with call screening, auto-blocking and easy reporting of unwanted numbers. Call Filter Plus: Adds caller ID, spam look up and risk meter, a personal block list and the ability to block by category. Activation required. Terms apply.
  • Business Mobile Secure Help protect and manage your company devices with this bundle of security features curated specifically for small businesses. Lookout for small business: Helps keep your data safe with anti-phishing and Wi-Fi network protections. Mobile Device Management: Lets you manage and apply controls across company smartphones and tablets. Dedicated chat support: Expert help via Chat for onboarding, setup and troubleshooting of your security features. Activation required. $5/device monthly charge offset by $5 credit while on qualifying price plan. Terms apply.
  • Up to 4K video streaming Video streaming at 4K when inside a 5G Ultra Wideband coverage area. High-definition 1080p video streaming on 5G / 4G LTE when you activate it in your plan settings. Otherwise video streaming at 480p.
  • TravelPass (2 days per month) Get 2 TravelPass days each month. Each TravelPass day gives you 24 hours of unlimited talk and text, 2GB of high speed international data then unlimited data at 3G speeds thereafter. TravelPass days do not carry over and expire at the end of each month. TravelPass is available in 210+ countries and destinations. 5G or 4G world device required.

Get more of what you need.

$85 without Auto Pay and paper-free billing discount

$75 without Auto Pay and paper-free billing discount

  • Unlimited Premium Network Access Get unlimited premium smartphone data that isn’t slowed based on how much data you use. Domestic data roaming at 2G speeds.
  • 200 GB premium mobile hotspot data After 200 GB line per month premium hotspot data, mobile hotspot reduced to speeds up to 600 Kbps (4G LTE and 5G) and 3 Mbps (5G UW) for the rest of the month.
  • TravelPass (4 days per month) 4 TravelPass days are included each month. Each TravelPass day gives you 24 hours of unlimited talk and text, 2GB of high speed international data then unlimited data at 3G speeds thereafter. TravelPass days do not carry over and expire at the end of each month. TravelPass is available in 210+ countries and destinations. 5G or 4G world device required.
  • 50% off on Unlimited Pro Tablet plan

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 Choose the Business Unlimited tablet plan that works best for you.

Tablet Start

Save $10/mo when you add a line.

Unlimited data so you can work as flexibly as you need

  • 5G/4G LTE Unlimited 5G and 4G LTE data; in times of congestion, your smartphone and mobile hotspot data may be temporarily slower than other traffic (network management). 5G access requires a 5G-capable device. 5G Ultra Wideband access, machine to machine services and mobile hotspot are not available. Domestic data roaming at 2G speeds.

Save 50% with Business Unlimited Pro smartphone plan.

Unlimited mobile hotspot data so you can meet on the go

  • 5G/4G LTE 5G access requires a 5G-capable device. Not available for machine to machine services. Domestic data roaming at 2G speeds.
  • 35 GB Premium Network Access Unlimited 4G LTE, 5G and 5G Ultra Wideband (UW) data; in times of congestion, your tablet data may be temporarily slower than other traffic after 35 GB/line/mo premium network access (network management).
  • 15 GB Premium mobile hotspot data, then unlimited lower speed data After 15 GB/line/mo premium hotspot data, mobile hotspot reduced to speeds up to 600 Kbps (4G LTE & 5G Nationwide) and 3 Mbps (5G UW).
  • Up to 4K video streaming Video streaming at 4K when inside a 5G Ultra Wideband coverage area.

 Choose the Business Unlimited laptop plan that works best for you.

Start Laptop

Unlimted data to help you take on the day

  • 5G/4G LTE Unlimited 5G and 4G LTE data; in times of congestion, your data may be temporarily slower than other traffic. 5G access requires a 5G-capable device. 5G Ultra Wideband access and machine-to machine services are not available. Domestic data roaming at 2G speeds.

Up to 4K video streaming to help you meet in HD

  • 50 GB Premium Network Access Unlimited 4G LTE, 5G and 5G Ultra Wideband (UW) laptop and mobile hotspot data. After 50 GB/line/mo premium network access, data reduced to speeds up to 600 Kbps (4G LTE and 5G) and 3 Mbps (5G UW) for the rest of the month.
  • Up to 4K video streaming Video streaming at 4K when inside a 5G Ultra Wideband coverage area. High-definition 1080p video streaming on 5G/4G LTE when you activate it in your plan settings. Otherwise video streaming at 480p.

 Choose the Business Unlimited mobile hotspot plan that works best for you.

Plus Data Device

Enough data for easy hotspot streaming and to meet on the go

  • 60 GB Premium Network Access Unlimited 4G LTE, and 5G and 5G Ultra Wideband (UW) data. After 60 GB/line/mo premium network access, data reduced to speeds up to 600 Kbps (4G LTE and 5G) and 3 Mbps (5G UW) for the rest of the month.
  • Up to 4K video streaming Video streaming at 4K when inside a 5G Ultra Wideband coverage area. 720p video streaming on 5G/4G LTE.

Pro Data Device

Plenty of data to stay productive during those longer workdays

  • 100 GB Premium Network Access Unlimited 4G LTE, 5G and 5G Ultra Wideband (UW) data. After 100 GB/line/mo premium network access, data reduced to speeds up to 600 Kbps (4G LTE and 5G ) and 3 Mbps (5G UW) for the rest of the month.

Choose the Business Unlimited smartwatch plan that works best for you.

Standalone Smartwatch

Premium data so you don’t miss a beat at work

  • 15 GB of premium 5G/4G LTE data Unlimited 5G & 4G LTE data. After 15 GB premium data/line/month, data reduced to speeds up to 200 Kbps for the rest of the month. 5G access requires a 5G capable device. Not available for 5G Ultra Wideband access, mobile hotspot or machine to machine services. Domestic data roaming at 2G speeds. Additional terms apply.

Numbershare Smartwatch

Your connected smartwatch can use your mobile number

  • 22 GB of premium 5G/4G LTE data Unlimited 5G & 4G LTE data. After 22 GB premium data/line/month, data reduced to speeds up to 200 Kbps for the rest of the month. 5G access requires a 5G capable device. Not available for 5G Ultra Wideband access, mobile hotspot or machine to machine services. Domestic data roaming at 2G speeds. Customer must also subscribe to select smartphone data plan. Both smartphone & smartwatch plans must be part of same sub-account. Additional terms apply.

New plan + new device

Find the plan that fits your budget and business needs, then check out our devices page for the 
latest smartphones.

New plan + your own device

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What are the benefits of Verizon Business Unlimited 5G smartphone plans?

Verizon Business Unlimited 5G smartphone plans provide unlimited data, talk and text on Verizon’s 4G LTE and 5G networks. Plans also include access to Verizon’s business-class features, such as mobile hotspot data, call filtering, video streaming and mobile device management (available with select plans). Customers can choose from a variety of plans with different features to meet their business needs.

Can I add multiple lines to a Business Unlimited 5G smartphone plan?

Yes, Verizon’s Business Unlimited 5G smartphone plans allow you to add multiple lines. There are multiple options for businesses, ranging from single-line plans to multiple-line plans. The amount of lines you select is based on your company’s requirements.

Do Verizon Business Unlimited 5G smartphone plans offer any international benefits?

Yes, unlimited talk and text is available in Canada and Mexico along with 2 GB of high speed data per day with unlimited data at 3G speeds thereafter. If more than 50% of your total talk, text or data usage in a 60-day period is in Canada or Mexico, use of those services in those countries may be removed or limited. Additionally, Verizon Business Unlimited Plus 5G and Unlimited Pro 5G plans offer TravelPass that include international talk and text in over 210 countries and destinations.

Can I bring my own device or do I need to purchase a new device with the Business Unlimited 5G smartphone plan?

Verizon’s Business Unlimited 5G smartphone plans offer the flexibility to bring your own device (BYOD) or purchase new devices . If you already have compatible devices, you can simply activate them on a Business Unlimited plan. Alternatively, Verizon offers a wide range of devices for purchase if you prefer new devices for your business.

Are there unlimited data plans for other devices?

Yes, Verizon offers a variety of plans with unlimited data for tablets, laptops, smartwatches and hotspots. This provides the right solution for businesses requiring reliable connectivity while on the go.

Offer and Pricing Details

All Offers:  Offers available to new business customers only, subject to credit review. Not available in all areas/locations. Depending on speed tier purchased, promotional pricing for Internet and voice guaranteed for 12 consecutive months ($10 increase starting month 13 with 2 year contract), or 24 consecutive months ($10 increase starting month 25 with 2 year contract), or 36 consecutive months ($10 increase starting month 37 with 2 year contract) or 60 consecutive months ($10 increase starting month 61 with 2 year contract) (60 month guarantee not available in all areas where Fios is sold) subject to continuation of qualifying products; price guarantee applies to base monthly rate only; excludes optional services and equipment charges; prices subject to increase thereafter. With no annual contract, price increases to then current market rate subject to the applicable guarantee period. Select installation charges may be waived. Additional charges apply for inside wiring and/or other installation services. $49 activation fee may apply. Offers may be fulfilled via bill credit(s); other taxes, fees & terms apply.  Early termination fees  for a 2 year contract: 35% of base monthly charges for unexpired term. 2 year term automatically renews at then-current term rates unless canceled within 30 days prior to or 60 days after the term is renewed.  Money Back Guarantee  (MBG) is available with 2 year contract only and requires cancellation within 30 days of installation; excludes subscriptions, per minute usage, labor/material charges in excess of standard installation and month-to-month service plans, including Fios TV service. Wireless Verizon Router is available for $399.99 purchase and $18/mo rental (except in Maryland, where the wireless Fios Router is available for $299.99 purchase and $15/mo rental).  Wireless router models and prices are subject to change. Phone equipment purchase required with VoIP, starting at $85. Equipment must be returned within 30 days of cancellation. Equipment restocking fee may apply if order is canceled or service is terminated within 30 days. MBG and/or promotional offers do not apply to service ordered for temporary, short term or special events.  Firm Price Quote  is valid for 5 business days and is an estimate based on current pricing, promotions and taxes that are subject to change. Quote does not include additional charges for nonstandard installations. Verizon Wi-Fi available in select areas with qualifying packages. Software limitations and other terms apply. Visit business.verizon.net/wifi for details.  Offers are available for a limited time only and are subject to change without notice.  Wired speeds advertised. Wired & wireless speeds vary due to device limits, multiple users, network & other factors. See  www.verizon.com/yourspeed  for more info. Service availability varies.

Fios Internet & Phone Bundle (VSB):  Usage charges apply on basic line. Activation fee of $49 may apply based on speed tier purchased. Wireless Verizon Router is available for$399.99 purchase and $18/mo rental (except in Maryland, where the wireless Fios Router is available for $299.99 purchase and $15/mo rental).  Wireless router models and prices are subject to change. Backup battery available for Fios voice services & E911. VSB not available with 2048/2048 Mbps Internet (2 Gigabit Connection).

Fios Internet & Business Digital Voice (BDV) Bundle:  Pricing for BDV line(s) with the Fios bundle: For speeds 200/200 Mbps and higher: the first BDV line is available for $20/mo. and $25/mo. for each addl. line. Pricing reflected in the cart. No annual contract required. $49 activation fee may apply. Wireless Verizon Router is available for $399.99 purchase and $18/mo rental (except in Maryland, where the wireless Fios Router is available for $299.99 purchase and $15/mo rental). Wireless router models and prices are subject to change. Business Digital Voice requires phone equipment purchase starting at $85.00.

Basic Internet & Phone Bundle : $49.00 activation fee applies with 2 year contract; $99.00 activation fee applies with no annual contract. Wireless router available for $49.00, subject to change. Basic Internet will be provisioned at our fastest speed available at your location of up to 1Mbps, 3Mbps, 5Mbps, 7Mbps or 10-15Mbps based on VZ line qualifications requirements.

$5/month Auto Pay & Paper-Free Billing discount:  For new and existing Fios Internet or Basic Internet customers on select plans. May not be combined with all offers. $5/mo. discount begins when you sign up for Auto Pay (ACH or debit card only) & paper-free billing (registration on  verizon.com/mybusiness  required). $5 discount will be applied each month as long as auto pay and paper-free billing stay active.

$85 Business Digital Voice Phone Discount:  Offer available on select IP Phones with purchase of a new Fios Internet and Business Digital Voice bundle with a two year agreement. Fulfilled via bill credit. Taxes apply. Limit one discount per phone model. Restocking fee may apply if canceled within 30 days. Available to select customers in select areas only. Offer ends 3.31.24.

Included Router Rental Fee:  Available only to Fios Internet customers on the Gigabit Connection plan (up to 940/880 Mbps) or 2 Gigabit Connection plan (up to 2048/2048 Mbps) where available. Qualifying customers will receive a monthly bill credit for the applicable monthly router rental fee for as long service with qualifying plan is on the account.  Promo credits end when eligibility requirements are no longer met.  If your Fios service is cancelled, you must return the Fios router subject to Verizon’s standard return policy. 

Fios Switching Allowance Offer:  Offer for new business customers in select areas only who sign up for qualifying Fios internet service with a two year agreement (subject to credit review) and who terminated their prior internet service and incurred an early termination fee (ETF). To redeem offer, you must email documentation of the ETF from your prior service provider w/in 30 days after receipt of final bill. Offer fulfilled via a bill credit to your Verizon account in the amount of the billed ETF, up to $1,500. Credit will be issued starting after 30 days of service, and will appear on your Verizon bill within 2-3 billing cycles. You remain solely responsible for paying the ETF to your prior service provider. Offer is non-transferable, has no cash or refund value, and may not be combined with all offers. Other terms apply. Offer ends 3.31.24.

Visa Prepaid Card Offers : Businesses who sign up for qualifying Fios Internet with our mid-tier or high-tier speeds with a two-year agreement will receive a Visa Prepaid Card, with the Visa Prepaid Card amount based on speed tier purchased, as follows: (i) $100 Visa Prepaid Card for Fios 500/500 Mbps Internet; or (ii) $500 Visa Prepaid Card for Fios 940/880 Mbps Internet (Gigabit Connection) or 2048/2048 Mbps Internet (2 Gigabit Connection). May only be combined with select offers. Only available in select locations, including the Philadelphia metro area, parts of New York state and parts of central Massachusetts. Call or visit the website to confirm availability.  Visa Prepaid Card is issued by Pathward®, N.A., Member FDIC, pursuant to a license from Visa U.S.A. Inc. No cash access or recurring payments. Can be used everywhere Visa debit cards are accepted. Card valid for up to 12 months, funds do not expire and may be available after card expiration date, fees may apply. Terms and conditions apply.  Must register for card online and keep qualifying Verizon service for 60 days from install, with no past-due balance 65 days from install. Card mailed within 90 days of install date. Limit one card per account. Other card terms and conditions apply. Offers end 3.31.24.

Visa Prepaid Card Fast Start Offers : Businesses who sign up for qualifying Fios Internet with our mid-tier or high-tier speeds with a two-year agreement will receive a Visa Prepaid Card, with the Visa Prepaid Card amount based on speed tier purchased, as follows: (i) $400 Visa Prepaid Card for Fios 500/500 Mbps Internet; or (ii) $800 Visa Prepaid Card for Fios 1 Gig Internet (940/880 Mbps) or Fios 2 Gig Internet (2048/2048 Mbps). May not be combined with all offers. Not available in all locations, including the Philadelphia metro area, parts of New York state and parts of central Massachusetts. Call or visit the website to confirm availability.  Visa Prepaid Card is issued by Pathward®, N.A., Member FDIC, pursuant to a license from Visa U.S.A. Inc. No cash access or recurring payments. Can be used everywhere Visa debit cards are accepted. Card valid for up to 12 months, funds do not expire and may be available after card expiration date, fees may apply. Terms and conditions apply.  Must register for card online and keep qualifying Verizon service for 60 days from install, with no past-due balance 65 days from install. Card mailed within 90 days of install date. Limit one card per account. Other card terms and conditions apply. Offers end 3.31.24.

Fios Business Internet/Business Unlimited Offer:  Offer available to new and existing business customers in select areas only who sign up for both: (i) a qualifying Fios Business Internet plan & (ii) a qualifying Verizon Wireless Business Unlimited plan (eligible smartphone required, device payment purchase or bring your own device). Existing customers are eligible with Fios Business Internet plan upgrade or Business Unlimited plan upgrade or a new line, as applicable. Customers with Fios Gigabit Connection (speeds up to 940/880 Mbps) or Fios 2 Gigabit Connection (speeds up to 2048M/2048M), where available, and Verizon Wireless Business Unlimited Pro plan (at least 1 line) are eligible for a total credit of $80/mo, all other combinations of service plans are eligible for a total credit of $40/mo. Offer fulfilled as a credit of $20/mo. or $40/mo. each to your Fios and Verizon Wireless bills, for a total credit of $40/mo or $80/mo as applicable. Credit is fulfilled at an account level and only one promotional credit per account. Discounts are applied once both services are activated. All discounts apply as long as Verizon provides & business maintains both services at the qualifying levels. Limited time offer.

$100 One-Time Discount:  Offer available only to business customers who are new to Verizon and who sign up for a qualifying Fios Business Internet plan and a qualifying Verizon Wireless Business Unlimited plan. Existing Verizon customers are not eligible. One time $100 discount offer fulfilled as a bill credit to your Verizon Wireless account and will appear within 1-2 billing cycles. May only be combined with select offers. Limited time offer.

Fios Internet Only:  $49 activation fee applies based on speed tier.  Wireless Verizon Router is available for $399.99 purchase and $18/mo rental (except in Maryland, where the wireless Fios Router is available for $299.99 purchase and $15/mo rental).  Wireless router models and prices are subject to change.

Basic Internet Only: $49.00 activation fee applies with 2 year contract; $99.00 activation fee applies with no annual contract. Wireless router available for $49.00, subject to change. Verizon Basic Internet will be provisioned at up to 1Mbps, 3Mbps, 5Mbps, 7Mbps or 10–15Mbps based on VZ line qualifications requirements. Availability subject to final confirmation by Verizon.

Preferred Voice Only:  Offer available to new and existing customers. Requires 2-yr term agreement. Includes unlimited direct-dialed voice calls to anywhere in the US. Selected activation and installation charges are waived. Additional charges may apply for inside wiring and/or other installation services. Additional Universal Service Fee, taxes and other charges apply. Call detail is not provided for unlimited calling.

Business Digital Voice (BDV) Only:  Offer available to new customers with 100 voice lines or fewer in select areas only, subject to credit review. BDV requires an existing Internet connection of 5Mbps or higher. $99.99 activation and $200 installation fees apply. Additional charges apply for inside wiring and/or other installation services. Phone equipment purchase req’d, starting at $85.00. Call detail is not provided for unlimited calling.

Fios TV:  Wireless Verizon Router is available for $399.99 purchase and $18/mo rental (except in Maryland, where the wireless Fios Router is available for $299.99 purchase and $15/mo rental).  Wireless router models and prices are subject to change.. $99.99 activation and $89.99 installation fees (first three existing TV outlets) apply. Additional charges apply for inside wiring and/or other installation services. $11.99/mo. HD set top box, franchise and regulatory fees, up to $8.89 Regional Sports Network (RSN) fee, $11.49 Broadcast Fee, other taxes and fees apply. Equipment shipping charge may apply. Program availability varies by location. Number of channels is approximation. High Definition (HD) TV with HD STB required for HD programming. Certain TV plans, Pay Per View (PPV) and Subscription or fee-based Video On Demand (VOD) are not permitted for viewing in restaurants, bars or other customer service areas. Channel lineup is subject to change and not all channels will be available at all times. Blackout restrictions apply. Month-to-month service without an annual contract required.

Fios TV Mobile app:  Req. compatible device and Fios® TV. Content restrictions may apply. Fios Internet req’d for in-office use. Full channel access and DVR streaming require Fios Multi-Room DVR enhanced or Premium Service. Max. combined 5 simultaneous live TV streams and/or DVR streams per media server. Streaming of TV shows and movies On Demand included in your plan is available to all business customers. Streaming of rented/purchased TV shows and movies On Demand is only available to Private Viewing business customers. Requires acceptance of Terms of Service and Private Viewing conditions at  verizon.com/mybusiness . Early access to Fios TV Mobile app begins with activation & ends upon installation or in 14 days, whichever comes first. Wireless data charges may apply.

Veterans / Active Military offer:  Offer available to eligible and verified members of the U.S. military and U.S. Veterans in select areas with Business Fios Internet with a two year agreement, subject to credit review. Not available in all areas/locations. Upon military service verification through Veterans Advantage, eligible customers will receive a discount in the amount of $5/month for speeds up to 500M/500M; or $10/month for 940/880 Mbps and 2048/2048 Mbps (where available), for as long as that customer maintains qualifying Business Fios Internet service. Not available for month-to-month plans. Eligible customers must complete the military service verification process within 30 days of the order to get the discount.

Business Internet Secure:  Available to businesses with 19 employees or less. Requires current Fios Business Internet service. Business Internet Secure licenses are sold in packs of 5, 10, and 25 with one license covering one device (laptop, desktop, smartphone or tablet). One license pack at a time per customer account. Prices are monthly and exclusive of taxes and fees. Terms and conditions apply. System requirements: Windows 7 and above; Mac OSX 10.9 and above; Android OS 5.0 and above, or Apple iOS 10.0 and above.

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Small Business Trends

Sba launches enhanced equity action plan to bolster small business growth and economic equity.

business plans for small business

Isabel Casillas Guzman, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Administrator, has unveiled an updated Equity Action Plan in a bid to foster inclusivity and economic opportunity. This initiative is set to transform the landscape for America’s 33 million small businesses and startups, particularly benefiting those from underserved communities.

The SBA’s refreshed Equity Action Plan zeroes in on crucial areas such as improving access to capital, enhancing entrepreneurial support services, and broadening economic opportunities to advance the national economy. This plan is part of the administration’s broader commitment to equity, initiated by President Biden’s Executive Order on his first day in office, mandating a comprehensive equity assessment across federal agencies.

Empowering Diverse Entrepreneurs

“As America continues to enjoy an unprecedented Small Business Boom, the SBA remains determined in its efforts to boost entrepreneurship among people of color, women, veterans, and those from rural communities, and this updated Equity Action Plan is a testament to that commitment,” stated Administrator Guzman.

The Equity Action Plan is pivotal in acknowledging and harnessing the value these entrepreneurs bring through job creation, innovation, and competitiveness on both domestic and international fronts.

Strategic Enhancements and Achievements

The 2023 Equity Action Plan outlines strategic improvements in several key areas:

Small Business Deals

  • Access to Loan Capital: Introducing new lenders capable of reaching underserved markets, simplifying lending rules, and promoting policies to support justice-involved entrepreneurs.
  • Federal Government Procurement: Enhancing Small Disadvantaged Businesses (SDBs) access to contracting opportunities and advocating for their inclusion in federal agency contracts.
  • Disaster Assistance: Modernizing application processes and bolstering support for underserved communities in disaster recovery efforts.
  • Business Counseling and Training: Tailoring resources to meet the specific needs of underserved entrepreneurs.
  • Investment Capital: Implementing rules to diversify fund managers within the Small Business Investment Company (SBIC) Program, aimed at directing more investments toward underserved entrepreneurs.

These strategies build on the successes of the initial Equity Action Plan, which notably increased Community Advantage lending, expanded SBLC licenses targeting underserved businesses, and enhanced SBIC financing to minority-owned, women-owned, and veteran-owned businesses.

Community Engagement and Resource Allocation

The SBA’s engagement with the small business community has been instrumental in shaping the Equity Action Plan. Through nationwide outreach, training events, and consultations with Resource Partners and trade associations, the SBA has honed its strategies to meet the evolving needs of small business owners. Noteworthy accomplishments include the launch of new Small Business Lending Companies (CA SBLCs), significant increases in SDB contracting, and the implementation of the Disaster Loan Program Modifications Rule.

Forward Momentum

As the SBA continues to refine its approach to equity and inclusivity, the updated Equity Action Plan stands as a testament to the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to creating a more equitable economic landscape. By addressing systemic barriers and fostering a supportive environment, the SBA aims to ensure that all entrepreneurs have the resources and opportunities needed to thrive.

For more information on the SBA’s efforts and to read the complete Equity Action Plan, visit the SBA’s official website.

This initiative not only promises to reshape the future of small business ownership in the U.S. but also reinforces the government’s role in facilitating equitable economic growth and resilience.

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Tax Season 2024: 5 Changes That Small Business Owners Need To Know

Business reports, blank paper sheet, data tables and charts - directly above view of office table workspace with TAX REFORMS text.

If you run a small business, particularly one that has employees and offers benefits such as a workplace retirement plan, then recent tax changes could affect you this tax filing season .

By keeping up with tax changes, you can potentially find legal ways to lower your tax liability while staying compliant, like when it comes to reporting requirements.

The specific changes that affect your company can depend on factors such as your business structure and size, but in general, some of the more notable tax changes that small business owners should be aware of this year include the following. The first three are already law, while the last two are potential changes that could still affect this tax filing season.

Increased Employer Pension Startup Credit

The SECURE Act 2.0 introduced several new retirement-related tax changes, one of them being an increased tax credit for small businesses that offer retirement plans.

Starting with tax year 2023, “the small employer pension startup credit is increasing from 50% of administrative costs to 100% for the first three years for those employers with up to 50 employees,” explained Hector Castaneda, principal at Castaneda CPA & Associates, PS .

Increased Employer Retirement Contribution Credit

In addition to tax credits for starting retirement plans, small business owners may be eligible for tax credits based on making contributions to employee retirement accounts.

“An additional credit equal to a percentage of the amount contributed by an employer — with under 101 employees — on behalf of its employees is available,” Castaneda said, “with a maximum limitation of $1,000 per employee, provided that the plan is a defined contribution plan.”

Be sure to confirm the specific percentages that apply to your situation.

Student Loan Payments Counting as Elective Deferrals

This one is a bit more complicated, but basically the SECURE Act 2.0 gives employers an incentive to make student loan payments on behalf of employees. 

“To assist employees who may be unable to save for retirement due to obligations to repay student loan debt, SECURE 2.0 permits such employees to receive matching contributions by reason of repaying their student loans,” Castaneda said.

While there are some nuances that you should be aware of, he said, “If you’re a business owner looking to find additional deductions, this may be a great opportunity for you and your employees.”

Extended 100% Bonus Depreciation

One potential new tax change, which hasn’t been signed into law yet, could affect the speed at which employers can depreciate assets, which affects tax liability.

“Yes, 2023 is over, and the tax filing season is already underway, but that doesn’t mean the tax laws can’t shift. Small business owners especially need to be aware of potential big changes ahead,” said Tom Wheelwright, a CPA and CEO of WealthAbility .

That includes the bipartisan Tax Relief for American Workers and Families Act, which was passed in the House on Jan. 31, 2024, and would be retroactive if signed into law soon, explained Wheelwright.

“One of the biggest business benefits — especially for real estate investors — in the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was 100% bonus depreciation,” he said. “However, that legislation included a gradual phase-out of this tax incentive, starting with a drop to 80% in 2023. The House version of the Tax Relief for American Workers and Families Act extends 100% bonus depreciation through 2025.”

Expanded Research and Development Deductions

If this new bill becomes law, it could retroactively increase tax deductions related to R&D expenses.

“ The act allows businesses to deduct the full cost of investments in U.S. research and development instead of spreading it over several years,” Wheelwright explained. “These tax incentives would be great for many small business owners, if they become law.

“The problem is that the legislation is stalled in the Senate even as the April 15 tax deadline is ticking, so taxpayers don’t really know what the rules are when it comes to their 2023 taxes.”

While that might make your tax filing confusing this year, it’s important to plan ahead.

“Small business owners should work closely with their tax advisors on a strategy,” Wheelwright said. “If either of these incentives — or any of the act’s other provisions — would impact your taxes, you want to be prepared.

“Depending on your circumstances, you may want to prepare your tax return but hold off on filing until the legislative questions are settled. You also could plan to file an extension, giving you until Oct. 15 to file your return. Just remember that an extension only gives you more time to file; you still need to pay the taxes you’ll owe by April 15 or face penalties and interest.”

Lastly, Wheelwright pointed out that this new act could also remove some tax advantages.

“The Tax Relief for American Workers and Families Act isn’t all potential good news for small business owners,” he said. “One of the ways the legislation pays for the new tax incentives is by limiting the Employee Retention Tax Credit to those that were claimed by Jan. 31, 2024. If it passes with this provision, it is already too late to file a claim. If it doesn’t pass, there still isn’t much time; businesses need to file before April 30 to avoid losing any of their 2020 benefits.”

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GUIDANCE DOCUMENT

Select Updates for the Medical Device User Fee Small Business Qualification and Certification Guidance Draft Guidance for Industry and Food and Drug Administration Staff February 2024

Not for implementation. Contains non-binding recommendations.

This guidance is being distributed for comment purposes only.

Submit Comments by 04/22/2024

Although you can comment on any guidance at any time (see 21 CFR 10.115(g)(5)), to ensure that the FDA considers your comment on a draft guidance before it begins work on the final version of the guidance, submit either online or written comments on the draft guidance before the close date.

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All written comments should be identified with this document's docket number: FDA-2018-D-1873

FDA has developed this draft guidance to propose select updates to the FDA guidance document Medical Device User Fee Small Business Qualification and Certification.  This guidance provides additional information for the granting of the small business registration fee waiver. The existing guidance on small business user fees remains in effect, in its current form, until this draft guidance is finalized. FDA is seeking feedback on revisions proposed in this select update.

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Small Businesses Sound Alarm Over Weakening German Economy

Thousands of companies, concerned that Germany is facing a recession, are calling for an end to political infighting that has blocked a possible stimulus plan.

People walking through a train station platform with a train beside them.

By Melissa Eddy

Reporting from Berlin

Thousands of the small and midsize companies that form the backbone of the German economy warned this week that the country was losing its edge, as the country’s central bank signaled the threat of a recession would loom over Germany in the first three months of 2024.

“Every day, Germany is losing its ability to remain internationally competitive,” read an open letter to the government signed by 18 associations representing the businesses, in industries ranging from technology to trucking to taxi companies.

The aim of the letter was to urge lawmakers to overcome partisan fighting that is blocking passage of a law intended to provide tax credits for investments that speed the transition to a green economy. But the sweeping statement ticked off a list of concerns facing businesses, including high energy prices, labor shortages, slow efforts to digitize the bureaucracy and high taxes. “The economic downturn is homemade,” it said.

Those strains are reflected in a report released on Monday by Germany’s central bank, the Bundesbank, which said that the country’s economy, Europe’s largest, was poised to shrink in the first three months of the year. After a contraction of 0.3 percent in the final months of 2023, a second consecutive decline would land the country in a technical recession.

The Bundesbank cited a weak export market, price-conscious consumers who remain cautious about spending and a lack of investment by companies spooked by higher borrowing costs.

The country’s minister for the economy, Robert Habeck, called the state of the economy “dramatically bad” last week.

On Wednesday, he presented the government’s economic report for 2024, which included projections of just 0.2 percent annual growth, scaled back from the 1.3 percent expansion forecast issued last year. “We are emerging out of the crisis more slowly than hoped,” Mr. Habeck said.

Mr. Habeck’s ministry has drafted legislation, inspired by the U.S. Inflation Reduction Act, to provide billions in tax credits to companies that invest in green energy. The idea is to attract many German firms that have shifted their investments to the United States.

Corporate taxes in Germany are among the highest in Europe, at more than 29 percent, compared with about 25 percent in neighboring France and the Netherlands. .

The lower house of Parliament passed the law in November, but members of the conservative opposition parties are blocking its final passage through the upper house. They point out that application of the proposed law will fall to the states, which lack sufficient resources. They are also demanding that planned cuts for subsidies to agricultural diesel fuel — a proposal that sent farmers into the streets in nationwide protests last month — should be dropped in exchange for their support.

The public appeal from the business associations is an unusual campaign for groups that usually remain in the background. It reflects the frustration felt by many of the small and midsize firms — known as the Mittelstand — over the government’s willingness to spend billions to attract large firms such as the chipmaker Intel or the battery producer Northvolt, said Jens Südekum, a professor of economics at the Heinrich Heine University in Düsseldorf.

“That’s why this law is so important — it is an instrument for everybody,” Mr. Südekum said. “For small and midsize enterprises, this is really essential.”

Melissa Eddy is based in Berlin and reports on Germany’s politics, businesses and its economy. More about Melissa Eddy

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    Creating a marketing plan for your small business doesn't have to be a challenge. In fact, it's really quite simple. Identify your customers, craft your message, and decide where you should share that message. Once your marketing plan is up and running, remember to take some time to make sure it's producing the results you want, and make ...

  19. 70 Small Business Ideas for Anyone Who Wants to Run Their Own Business

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  20. How to Start a Small Business at Home in 2024

    4. Register your business and get an EIN. After you choose a business structure, you'll need to register your business with state and federal governments. Select a business name, pay fees and ...

  21. Best Small-Business Insurance 2023: Compare Options

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  22. Business Unlimited Phone Plans

    Fios Internet & Business Digital Voice (BDV) Bundle: Pricing for BDV line (s) with the Fios bundle: For speeds 200/200 Mbps and higher: the first BDV line is available for $20/mo. and $25/mo. for each addl. line. Pricing reflected in the cart. No annual contract required. $49 activation fee may apply.

  23. SBA Launches Enhanced Equity Action Plan to Bolster Small Business

    Isabel Casillas Guzman, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Administrator, has unveiled an updated Equity Action Plan in a bid to foster inclusivity and economic opportunity. This initiative is set to transform the landscape for America's 33 million small businesses and startups, particularly benefiting those from underserved ...

  24. Cybersecurity threats impact small businesses ...

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  25. Tax Season 2024: 5 Changes That Small Business Owners Need To Know

    The SECURE Act 2.0 introduced several new retirement-related tax changes, one of them being an increased tax credit for small businesses that offer retirement plans. Starting with tax year 2023, "the small employer pension startup credit is increasing from 50% of administrative costs to 100% for the first three years for those employers with ...

  26. Select Updates for the Medical Device User Fee Small Business

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  27. How to get a business phone number

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  28. Small Businesses Sound Alarm Over Weakening German Economy

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