What Are Some of the Most Successful Small Businesses?

Some people go into business for themselves with a clear idea of what they want to do. They know what industry they want to take over and how they’re going to do it.

But it can be hard for many new business owners to figure out how to start a business and figure out what kind of business is the best one to invest in.

We’ve made a list of the most profitable businesses to help you get started. We looked at things like industry growth and competition, startup costs and barriers to entry, as well as the businesses’ potential for making money.

7 Most Profitable Small Businesses

Any good business idea could be successful and make money with hard work, a good business plan, and determination.

But businesses in industries with high growth and low startup costs may have a better chance of making money. With the rise of technology, for example, you might do better opening a virtual assistant business than a grocery store.

Some of the most profitable businesses are online, but others offer services in person, and some are great for entrepreneurs who are always on the go. Here’s our list of the small businesses that make the most money:

1. Food Trucks

Most Successful Small Businesses

A report from Grand View Research in 2021 says that the market for food trucks will grow to $6.6 billion by 2028. This growth has been steady over the past five years, and it’s expected to continue.

You can start a food truck business for less than a third of what it costs to open a brick-and-mortar restaurant. You also have more options for where to do business, the chance to make a lot of money, and the freedom to create your own menu.

Keep in mind that bigger, more trendy cities like San Francisco, Boston, and Washington, D.C., already have a lot of food trucks (and tougher rules for starting one), so this business might do better in a smaller city in the middle of the country.

Food trucks also have their own laws, business licenses, and safety rules. They also need insurance for food businesses, so you should call your local health department to find out what is needed.

2. Car Wash Services

A 2020 study by Consumer Reports found that people are keeping their cars longer because the price of new cars is going up and they have more features.

And as people keep their cars for longer, businesses like car washes that help them keep their cars in good shape are likely to keep growing.

The International Carwash Association says that between one and two times a month, or an average of 13 times a year, 66% of Americans wash their cars.

By 2028, the market for car washes is expected to grow from $14.7 billion in 2021 to $20.7 billion.

A car wash business could make even more money if it was a mobile service. Customers may pay more for a car wash that comes to them, especially if they have a luxury car and want a more personalized service.

As a mobile car wash and auto detailing service, you wouldn’t have to pay for rent and other costs that come with having a storefront.

3. Auto RepairMost Successful Small Businesses


IHS Markit says that the average age of cars and light trucks in the U.S. went up from 9.6 years in 2002 to 12.1 years in 2021. (now part of S&P Global).

People are keeping their cars longer than ever, which shows that the maintenance and repair business has a lot of room to grow.

Also, car owners are more likely to go to a small business for repairs. According to the Auto Care Association, more than 70% of repair business goes to independent repair facilities instead of dealerships or manufacturer-authorized repair facilities.

If you know how to fix cars and want to start a business, you might think about opening an auto repair shop. You can change the oil, add fluids, change the battery, fix the headlights, and more. And if you want to save money on overhead costs, you could make it a mobile service and go to your customers’ homes or offices to fix their cars.

4. Personal Trainers

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of jobs for fitness trainers and instructors is expected to grow by 39% from 2020 to 2030, which is much faster than the average for all jobs.

But if you want to turn your love of fitness into a job, you don’t have to work for a big corporate gym, and you don’t need your own place to train clients. Put some weights, bands, and yoga mats in the trunk of your car and take your fitness show on the road.

You can become a personal trainer by offering one-on-one sessions in your client’s homes or by advertising group classes at a local park or community center. Getting your clients more involved in fitness could be the key to helping you both reach your goals.

5. Enrichment Activities for Children

Even though Americans keep having kids, education budgets are getting smaller. This means that both traditional academics and extracurricular activities like music, art, and sports often take a big hit. If you want to start a business that does well, you could teach kids how to do things that make them more interesting.

A 2018 report from the U.S. Census Bureau says that kids are just as busy with activities outside of school as they were 15 years ago. Some studies show that almost half of the American parents spend more than $1,000 a year on their kids’ activities.

You could open a gymnastics center or music school, teach kids how to swim or do yoga or focus on some other activity geared toward kids.

If you have a skill that is easy to teach to young people, you might already have a business that can make you money.

6. Mobile Apps and Entertainment for Children

Most Successful Small Businesses

If you’re interested in making things and building things, you might think about making your technology easier for kids to use. Research shows that kids are buying more tablets, apps, and other mobile entertainment, especially if it helps them learn.

According to a report by the research firm Grunwald Associates for the Learning First Alliance on mobile devices and early childhood education, more than 60% of parents surveyed think that mobile devices and apps can help kids learn reading, math, science, and world languages.

Do you have an idea for an app that kids or parents can use to learn? If so, now is the time to take your great idea for the next generation and turn it into a business that could make you money.

7. Shared Home Improvement Equipment

Are you the person everyone in your neighborhood goes to for tools for their lawns, gardens, and home repairs? Why not turn those tools into a business by telling people outside of your immediate friend group that they are for sale?

You might even decide to buy more expensive, specialized equipment that will help people around you. And if a customer doesn’t know how to use a certain tool, you can make even more money by adding equipment rental to your mobile service.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, spending on home improvements has gone up. A study from Home Advisor found that U.S. households spent an average of $8,305 on home improvements in 2020. As more and more people buy houses that need work and fix them up, this could be a big chance.

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