Sometimes a new venture begins with a small business idea. Other times, the entrepreneurial itch comes first. If you know you want to start your own business—or even think you might—we’re here to help you find your great business idea.
How can the evolution of AI help you along your journey? How can I scale my business as it grows? These are just some of the topics we will cover in this guide.
So, let’s get to it. Here are the best businesses to start in 2024.
The Best Way to Start a New Business
Validating your small business ideas before you pour resources into them can save you time and money, in addition to giving you the confidence of knowing you have a tested and proven idea on its way to becoming a successful business.
No one wants to end up with 500 squeaky clown toys for dogs taking up vital space in their garage.
So. what’s the best way to do that? Start your business as a side hustle. That way, you can get a sense of what your potential customers want and build a client base before you quit your job and commit full-time.
1. AI Business
Would it really be an article about business ideas in 2024 if we didn’t talk about AI? Since it burst into the mainstream earlier this year, businesses have flooded social media adverts, claiming to offer a wide variety of AI solutions.
So you would be forgiven for thinking that the AI train has left the station and you’ve missed the departure time.
But you would be wrong. The battle for AI dominance across industries continues to roll on, giving you plenty of chances to join the fray as an early adopter.
To give yourself the best chance of success, try to utilize AI in a way that offers consumers something unique to differentiate yourself from other businesses.
2. Content Creator
The days of judging content creators for their unique behavior online are long gone. Now, becoming a social media superstar is the number one dream job for teens.
American teens, that is.
Creating content is not an easy career to get into, but if you do, it can be extremely lucrative. Pick your niche, choose your platform, and start creating. Don’t worry about the quality of content at first. The main thing is to get started. You can always fine-tune your content as you progress.
3. Ecommerce Store
The world of ecommerce boomed during COVID, and while some business struggled in the aftermath, many continued to thrive, with others joining them along the way.
While this spike in demand has also brought more competition to the market, the industry continues to grow, providing more opportunities for entrepreneurs with the right branding, products, and marketing plans.
All of this, combined with the minimal startup cost, makes an ecommerce business one of the strongest bets you can make when starting a new business in 2024.
Ready to take the leap? Read the guide to learn How to Start an Ecommerce Business.
Consulting can be an excellent business start, as it tends to be successful, regardless of the state of the economy.
The economy is growing? Let’s hire a consultant to help take us to the next level.
The economy is shrinking? Let’s hire a consultant to help get us back on track.
If you’re looking for low-cost business ideas, it can’t get much more appealing than a consulting business. Given that you and your expertise are the product, you can start your business with relatively low overhead. All you need is a solid consulting proposal and knowledge of how to set your fees/where to find clients, and you’re ready to go.
Consulting can also cover a wide variety of topics, allowing you to be flexible to the wants and needs of current consumers. For example, in the coming years, there is likely to be a need for AI consultancy, whether it be from a technical or marketing perspective.
5. Online Course
Online courses can be one of the most profitable small businesses to start. Once you complete the work of creating and marketing your course, the course can become a source of passive income. What’s more, the online education market is expanding at a record pace, and it’s expected to be a $350 billion market by 2025.
The minimal legwork required in maintaining an online course makes it ideal for aspiring entrepreneur who wants to start their business as a side hustle, either to validate their idea before they dive in or just for extra money while you keep your full-time job.
Sound like a dream? Learn how to make a 7 figure course from scratch.
6. Graphic Design
Graphic design will forever be one of the best businesses to start because there are so many businesses out there in need of graphic design services but they either can’t or won’t hire a graphic designer on staff. If you’ve got the design chops and have always dreamed of going out on your own, go for it.
Even in an era where AI image generation is possible, companies still require high-quality designers to tinker with the content generated, and fraphic design consistently ranks among the best businesses to start. There’s no time like the present to start making your dreams a reality.
7. Content Marketing
The demand for content marketing has continued to grow along with the increases in demand for businesses to acquire customers without paid ads. If you’re starting a content marketing business, you may want to consider specializing. As the market expands, it’s also becoming more crowded.
You’ll be better served by choosing one thing to do really well—social media campaigns, SEO-based content marketing—rather than trying to tackle it all to mixed results. This is especially true if you’re starting your business as a side hustle or one-person shop.
Keep Learning: The Ultimate Content Marketing Strategy for Startups
8. Cleaning Service
Cleaning services experienced a massive spike in demand as a result of the novel coronavirus pandemic, and it’s expected to continue for a while. That’s in addition to the attributes that consistently make cleaning services a good business idea. Cleaning services tend to generate repeat customers, reducing customer acquisition costs. There is steady demand—the windows will always need to be cleaned. And on top of all that, they’re profitable.
9. Affiliate Marketing
If there’s one industry that has consistently grown in recent years, it’s affiliate marketing. It has proliferated in the digital age, with many entrepreneurs seeing success from their SEO efforts.
It’s how Instagram influencers can make money, and even news organizations are getting in on the action (it’s the reason you see statements like “We may receive a commission if you purchase something from one of our links.”)
There’s no sign that affiliate marketing is going away or slowing down anytime soon, and the opportunities in the market continue to grow. There are a few ways to carve out a niche in affiliate marketing, but they all share one common denominator: you’ll need to build an audience first. Whether you choose YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, or your own website as your primary medium, you’ll need to build an audience to really break the bank with affiliate marketing.
Not sure about affiliate marketing? Read The Ultimate Guide to Affiliate Marketing for Beginners.
Dropshipping is a subset of ecommerce where a business owner sells goods online without actually keeping goods in stock.
It doesn’t have to just be random products, though, which is a common misconception. You can set up a brand and use tools like Printful to handle your stock levels until you have grown your audience to a substantial level.
As soon as a consumer places an order through your retailer, it’s automatically sent to the dropshipping supplier. They process the order and manage the shipment to the customer, and your business keeps a fee from the purchase.
The lack of inventory makes dropshipping one of the easiest ecommerce businesses to start. Plus, the dropshipping market is estimated to experience a 28.8% compound annual growth rate through 2025, making it an ideal time to make your move into this online business.
Dropshipping isn’t a get-rich scheme. Learn why.
11. Online Bookkeeping
Online bookkeeping, the practice of managing finance for individuals and businesses, will forever be one of the best businesses to start.
Why? It’s a truth universally acknowledged that most people don’t want to manage their own financials or taxes. In fact, I’m pretty sure even tax accounts don’t enjoy it, but it’s hard to argue with the income they generate!
Online bookkeeping generates steady business with repeat clients without limiting you to a geographic area—you can do it from anywhere and service clients in a broader area
Keep Learning: What’s the Most Profitable Business to Start?
12. Lawn Care Service
Lawn care is another industry segment that benefitted from the home-industry boom that occurred during the pandemic. With many of us spending more time at home due to hybrid or remote work, the desire to keep everything neat and tidy has risen substantially, which is great news for any lawn care business.
A lawn business is ideal to start because it’s customizable, stable, and reliable.
13. App Development
Smartphones have created an entirely new market for apps. If you know how to code—or if you’re good with tech and a quick study—you might want to consider working in app development. There are two ways to approach this.
First, you can develop your own app.
Second, you can work with an agency model, providing app development services for other companies.
Keep Learning: 14 Low-Cost Startup Ideas That’ll Save You Money
14. Virtual Assistant
A virtual assistant specializes in providing administrative tasks from a remote location, including scheduling meetings, making phone calls, arranging travel, and managing email. Virtual assistant work can be a flexible home business that’s accessible to a wide range of skills and experience. It’s ideal for anyone who is looking for full-time or part-time work.
You can find virtual assistant work through an agency, you can start your own sole proprietorship, or you can work as a consultant. It’s up to you!
Best Small Business to Start
So what’s the best small business to start? First, it needs to be something you’re passionate about. Without a desire to do the work, you’ll be stuck with a business that’s great in theory but not practical. Start by thinking about your purpose. Why are you going into business? What do you hope to accomplish? And how can you get there? The best small business to start is the one you’ll be committed to for the long haul, not a get-rich-quick scheme.
Fortunately for you, we have a selection of free training courses from finance to Facebook ads, taught by world-class experts that can help make your business dream a reality.
This article was updated with support from Graeme Whiles.