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10 of the Most Profitable Small Businesses To Start in 2021

List of Most Profitable Small Businesses

Looking for a list of the most profitable small businesses to start? Good idea. 

In the best of years, 20 percent of small businesses fail in the first year, and 50 percent fail within five years. 

And let’s face it: Starting a business in 2021 isn’t exactly as straightforward as it used to be. These days, we must take into account COVID-19, the resulting economic recession, and a turbulent political landscape. 

Still, just because the world’s a little crazy right now doesn’t mean you can’t start a successful business. 

There’s an old Chinese proverb that goes, “When the winds of change blow, some people build walls, others build windmills.” 

But which type of “windmill” should you build?

In this strategic guide, you’ll learn about 15 of the most profitable small businesses to open in 2021, along with tips on why they may be a good bet.

Let’s get into it.

1. Ecommerce

When much of the world is self-isolating at home and actively avoiding going to stores and malls, it’s no wonder ecommerce is on the rise.

Most Profitable Small Business Industries: Ecommerce Growth

So, if you’re looking for the most profitable small business ideas, consider selling products online.

You can sell virtually anything online – from furniture and homeware to fashion and hosiery. Heck, you could even ride the wave of the pandemic and sell fashion-forward masks.

Most Profitable Small Business Ideas: Sell Masks Online

Plus, it’s never been easier to start an ecommerce business.

For example, you can use the Shopify platform to create an ecommerce website in minutes – sign up for the free trial to get started.

Most Profitable Small Businesses to Own: Ecommerce Store

You could also use Handshake to source products from some of the best hand-chosen, verified wholesale vendors in the USA.

Hey, shameless plugs are fair game when they’re this useful, right?

2. Dropshipping

If you don’t have the money to purchase wholesale inventory upfront to sell online, don’t worry. You can always start a dropshipping ecommerce business.

With this business model, you can build an online store, add products, and then start marketing them online to get sales. 

Then, whenever you land a sale, the order will automatically be forwarded to your supplier, who will ship the product to your customer for you and receive their cut of the sale.

Most Profitable Small Business in USA: Dropshipping

Dropshipping must be pretty complicated to set up though, right? Nope. With a dropshipping tool like Oberlo, you can get up and running in minutes.

The Most Profitable Small Business: Dropship with Oberlo

Oh, and did I mention it’s free to get started?

Once you’ve set up your account, you can start searching for products to sell. For example, you may decide to start a home fitness equipment brand so you can tap into the surge of people working out at home due to gym closures.

Most Profitable Home Businesses: Dropship Fitness Products

3. Print-on-Demand

One of the downsides to dropshipping is that you can’t brand the products and packaging you sell. This can make it a little more challenging to differentiate yourself from other sellers online.

However, you can get around this issue by using a print-on-demand service.

Most Profitable Small Businesses: Print-on-Demand with Shopify

Print-on-demand works in the same way as dropshipping, except – you guessed it – your supplier will print your designs on the products you choose before shipping them to your customers.

You can sell all sorts of products, such as clothing, accessories, homeware, jewelry, and more. Check out some ideas from print-on-demand service Printful:

Most Profitable One Man Business: Print-on-Demand with Printful

Again, it’s easy to get started. Simply sign up for Shopify and install a print-on-demand app, such as Printify, Printful, or teelaunch.

Most Profitable Businesses to Start From Home: Print-on-Demand Apps

4. Coffee Subscriptions

Previously the host of morning mingling and lunch break romance, many coffee shops have closed their doors for good or been reduced to queues on the sidewalk. 

In fact, the coffee market research group Allegra World Coffee Portal reports that COVID-19 has killed 24 percent of the total US coffee shop market value in the last year.

It’s no wonder that many people have decided to take their daily caffeine hit into their own hands and have their coffee delivered.

The upshot? Coffee subscription services could be one of the most profitable small businesses to own in 2021.

The drawback? Coffee is a fresh product that goes stale over time. 

So, how can you keep the sales flowing so your stock doesn’t go off? Check out a Shopify dropshipping app called Dripshipper. This little app allows you to sell dropshipped fresh coffee online under your own brand.

Most Profitable Small-Scale Business: Dropship Coffee with Dripshipper

5. Landscaping and Gardening

With so many people stuck at home due to COVID-19, interest in gardening has boomed.

Plus, many people have started keeping chickens and growing their own vegetables and fruits to protect themselves against potential food shortages.

Seed supplier and Shopify user Hudson Valley Seed Co. saw demand increase in online orders due to COVID-19. Jack Whettam, Hudson Valley Seed Co.’s sales manager, said:

“The greatest spike in interest has come from people taking food security into their own hands, mostly first-time customers that are gardening. Usually, we see vegetable and flower sales split fairly evenly, though at this time, we’ve seen a much greater interest in vegetable seeds, especially high-calorie types like potatoes, corn, beans, and squash.”

So, why not start a gardening supplies business? There are countless gardening products on Oberlo that you could sell.

Very Profitable Small Businesses: Dropship Gardening Products

What’s more, landscaping and lawn care could be among the most profitable small businesses to start in 2021.

Although many people are spending more time in their gardens, not everyone has the time or inclination to do the work themselves. So, if you prefer to work with your hands, weigh the option of starting a landscaping and yard care business.

This may be a sure bet, too. A 2020 report on the US landscaping market discovered that not only is the industry growing, but there’s also more demand for landscaping and groundskeeping workers than there is supply.

6. Furniture

It should be no surprise that furniture supplies has also seen a rise in demand due to COVID-19 and is one of the most profitable small businesses right now.

Google Trends shows how interest in furniture soared in 2020 and has remained strong since.

Small Businesses That Make the Most Money: Furniture on Google Trends

Furniture Today reports

“The home furnishings business, which for decades had taken a back seat to travel, entertainment, and other segments of the economy that rely heavily on consumers with disposable income, was unexpectedly thrust into the driver’s seat in 2020. Since June 2020, record-breaking months have been the norm for both furniture manufacturers and retailers.”

In other words, when you’re stuck at home and can’t spend your money on a vacation, why not get a new sofa, bed, or home office setup?

So, whether you open a local store selling vintage pieces or dropship furniture online, you could start a furniture business to ride the surge in demand.

List of Most Profitable Small Businesses: Sell Furniture with Shopify

7. Web Design

COVID-19 lockdown measures and the economic recession have forced many small businesses to close their doors and move their operations online. 

However, many small business owners don’t have the skills or knowledge to expand their business online successfully, and they need someone to help.

As a result, web design could be considered one of the most profitable small businesses to start.

You don’t need to be an expert either. If you’re interested, there are plenty of free online courses that you can use to learn web design.

Top 10 Most Profitable Small Businesses: Learn Web Design

When you’re ready, you can find web development jobs on platforms like Gun.io, Stack Overflow, or GitHub Jobs.

Plus, there are more than one million businesses using Shopify that need your help to optimize their online store and increase sales. Check out the Shopify Partner Program to learn more.

Most Profitable Small Business Ideas: Become a Shopify Partner

8. Online Advertising

Many businesses also need help with digital marketing – after all, there’s no use in a beautiful website if it doesn’t generate sales, right?

Online advertising might be one of the most profitable small businesses to own. If you’re interested in tinkering around with analytics and copywriting, think about starting an online advertising service.

There are a few different types of online advertising that you could specialize in, such as:

  • Running ad campaigns in Google’s search results (also known as search engine marketing or SEM)
  • Social media advertising on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter
  • Video advertising on platforms like Facebook and YouTube

You could specialize in a particular ad platform, such as Facebook, Google, or LinkedIn.

Again, you can learn more about digital marketing from free online courses, such as those on Shopify Compass.

Most Profitable Small Businesses: Learn Web Design with Shopify Compass

9. Social Media Management

Similarly, with millions of people social distancing, our social lives seem to rely more and more on social media platforms. As a result, networks like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok are the place to promote small businesses.

So, perhaps social media management could be one of the most profitable small businesses to start in 2021.

If you’re a fan of social media, you could start a social media management service to help small businesses to grow their sales online. You could also provide influencer marketing services to help companies promote their products and services to niche audiences.

Check out some free online courses to learn the ropes – for example, you could start with Oberlo’s Instagram course.

Most Profitable Small Business Ideas: Oberlo's Instagram Course

Then check out some of the great social media tools online to help you manage your client workload, such as:

  • Buffer: Schedule social media posts to be shared automatically across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.
  • Hootsuite: Schedule posts across multiple platforms and monitor your client’s social media mentions, comments, and more.
  • Canva: Whip up social media-friendly images and graphics in no time using an extensive library of templates.
  • Post Planner: Find trending content quickly to repost on your client’s social media channels.
  • CoSchedule: Manage your social media projects with five specialist organization tools.

Look into using a platform like Freelancer, Fiverr, or Upwork to find clients, or join the Shopify Partner Program.

10. Cleaning

Deadly contagious illness sweeping the globe? Better keep things clean then.

Professional cleaning services are in more demand than ever, with families and businesses desperate to prevent the spread of COVID-19 under their roof. 

In fact, according to a US market report, the professional cleaning services market is expected to grow significantly between 2021 and 2026. So, cleaning services may just be one of the most profitable small businesses to own.

Consider targeting local small businesses to clean offices, restaurants, cafes, and shops. There are plenty of great YouTube tutorials that you can use to learn more.

Most Profitable Small Business Ideas: YouTube Cleaning Tutorials

You could also build an ecommerce store to start selling soap, sanitation products, and cleaning supplies. Check out the wholesale cleaning products available on Handshake for ideas.

Most Profitable Small Business Industries: Sell Cleaning Supplies

Summary: Top 10 Most Profitable Small Businesses To Start 

Starting a business can be incredibly challenging – remember, half of small businesses fail within five years. So, it makes sense to choose the most profitable small business idea that you can to give yourself the best chance of success.

What is the most profitable small business to start? 

Ultimately, there’s no clear-cut answer. However, we can consider the winds of change in the world right now, think strategically, and check out some research to come to some conclusions.

In summary, here’s our list of the most profitable small businesses to start in 2021.

  • Ecommerce
  • Dropshipping
  • Print-on-demand
  • Coffee subscriptions
  • Landscaping and gardening
  • Furniture
  • Web design
  • Online advertising
  • Social media management
  • Cleaning

Take some time to dive deeper into each of these very profitable small business ideas to find out if one of them feels right for you!

What small business are you thinking about starting? Let us know in the comments below.

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