30+ Small Business Ideas That Use Skills You Already Have

Maybe you’re ready for a career change.

Maybe you’re still unsure what career to pursue in the first place.

Maybe all you really know is that you want to run your own business, but are fresh out of small business ideas.

While looking at the booming industries year by year can be tempting, it’s also a good idea to look to your strengths. What is your skill set? What are you great at? This can be an excellent jumping-off point for coming up with the best business ideas. By focusing on where your skills are, and what type of thing you enjoy doing, you can come up with great business ideas that truly play to your strengths.

These suggestions should give you somewhere to start.

Did I miss your skill set? What are you great at? Share with me in the comments, or on Twitter, and we’ll continue brainstorming!

If you’re Mr. or Ms. Fix-It:

Does your ideal career involve getting your hands dirty—or, at the very least, working with your hands, as opposed to sitting in an office?

There are, of course, a million possibilities here; however, I’ve researched a few to get you started.

1. Start a plumbing, electric, or “handyman” type business

If you’re a fan of tinkering and solving a problem, starting a plumbing, electrician, or general handyperson-type business might be a good fit for you.

While it’s not as simple as, hey, go start plumbing, if you’re looking for a hands-on career, you might want to consider seeking out a vocational degree in one of these fields and building a business around it. I’ve also linked our free sample plans below, including one specific to starting a plumbing business.

For more information:

  • Your local community college is a great place to start when it comes to vocational training, as well as by searching local trade schools in your area
  • For further reading, check out this article: How a Self-Employed Handyman Earns $3,000 a Week
  • If you’re ready to get started, check out our construction and engineering sample business plans or our plumbing sample business plan
  • Look into your state’s requirements for certification for plumbers, electricians, and handy-persons or general contractors.

2. Start a construction business

Similarly, a construction business could be a great fit for someone who enjoys hands-on work.

If you’ve been doing this sort of work for someone else, it can be gratifying to start your own business and be the one calling the shots. If you’re still more of an amateur, you’ll probably need to complete either an apprenticeship or a trade program to get started; however, if you already have some of the skills or have worked construction in the past (or simply have interest in seeking the education), this might be a great fit.

For more information:

  • Check your local community college and trade schools in your area for vocational training options
  • Read our article on starting a construction company: How to Start a Construction Company
  • Check out our complete startup guide: Construction Business Startup Guide
  • If you’re ready to dive in, check out our free construction and engineering sample business plans

3. Start a mechanic business

Do you love working on cars? Would you like to do it for a living?

Maybe you’ve been working on cars in your garage for a few years. Don’t write off your interest as merely a hobby; it could make a great small business idea.

For more information:

  • Check your local community college and trade schools in your area for vocational training options
  • If you’re ready to get started, check out our business plan for an auto repair service business, as well as our auto repair shop business plan

4. Start a sewing and alterations business

If you enjoy sewing, you might like a business specializing in altering or repairing garments.

While you don’t need a specific degree or training, you’ll need a certain level of skill to get started with this one. However, if you’re already great at sewing, an alteration business could be a great fit. It’s a perfect home-based business opportunity, and you’ll have limited overhead—if you have a sewing machine and a good iron, you’re halfway there.

For more information:

  • Check out your local community college for sewing classes; your local community center may offer classes as well
  • Read our article on how to start a sewing business
  • Check out our complete sewing business startup guide
  • Head over the Penny Hoarder for this guide on starting an alterations business
  • Check out our clothing business sample plans

If you’re a whiz with numbers:

5. Start an accounting business

Do you enjoy bookkeeping, preparing taxes, and generally managing money? Consider starting an accounting business. The field of Strategic Advising is growing, and there is more demand than ever for accountants to provide services beyond just routine tax prep.

Unlike many suggestions on this list, becoming an accountant and opening your own firm will require the right education—generally, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree, and you’ll also likely need to be licensed as a CPA.

For more information:

  • The LivePlan Strategic Advisors blog contains great insight and resources for Strategic Advisors and is well worth reading if you’re interested in breaking into the field
  • Make sure to read this article from Accounting Web on pitfalls to avoid when starting your own accounting business, so you can make sure you don’t make any easily avoidable mistakes
  • If you have questions, the Accounting Coach blog is a great place to go for answers
  • Check out our accounting business plans if you’re ready to get started

6. Start a financial planning business

Like starting an accounting business, you’ll want to look into the requirements for starting a financial planning business. However, if you have a background in finance, or would like to pursue the schooling, starting a financial planning business might be the right small business idea for you.

For more information:

  • If you’re interested in becoming a certified financial planner, read this guide
  • Check out our financial planning business plan
  • And, before you get started, make sure you’re ready to go it alone: Going Solo—The True Costs of Starting Your Own Financial Planning Firm

If you’re great at motivating people:

7. Start a personal training business or open a gym

If you’re into some aspect of fitness, opening a gym or starting a personal training business could be a great small business idea. From general fitness coaching to becoming an instructor (think Zumba or Pilates), to personal training, to opening your own gym, there are plenty of options in the fitness sphere, depending on where your interests lie. After all, the best business ideas for you will be the ones that play to your strengths.

Bear in mind that like many options on this list, you’ll need certification. NASM, ACE, and ACSM are a few of the most common and well-respected certifications, but the path you choose will depend on your specific focus.

For more information:

  • Check out our article on how to start a gym or fitness center
  • We also have a complete startup guide for starting a personal training, gym, or fitness business
  • If you’re ready to get started, check out our gym and fitness center business plans
  • Check out this article from American Fitness Professionals and Associates: 17 Tips for a Successful Personal Trainer Business
  • If you’re interested specifically in becoming a fitness instructor, check out this series of articles: Become a Fitness Instructor

8. Start a life coaching business

Did you successfully navigate a difficult situation against all odds, and come out stronger on the other side? Do you see the best in people, and want to help them reach their full potential? If so, you could consider building a small business around life coaching.

For more information:

  • Check out this article: How to Start a Successful Life Coaching Business
  • This article by Coach Pony is also worth a (fun) read
  • Download and read our psychological health center business plan for planning inspiration

If you’re a strong writer:

9. Start your own freelance writing business

Sites like Elance and Upwork are great places to get started freelance writing, and you can easily build a small business around your skills as a freelance writer, or potentially expand to include other writers (or graphic designers, web designers, and so on) down the road.

Another great thing about starting a freelance writing small business? You can tailor it to your strengths. Whether you’re interested in copywriting, technical writing, or writing for trade publications, writers are always in demand.

For more information:

  • Our article on launching a writing business will help you determine if it’s the right path for you
  • Check out this article: How to Start a Freelance Writing Business
  • Our free sample business plans are a great source of inspiration if you’re ready to get started with the planning process

10. Start an editing and proofreading business

Similarly, editing and proofreading services are always needed and would make a great small business idea. You can begin by taking on freelance work and go from there (and surprise—you’re already a sole proprietor!).

For more information:

  • Check out this article by professional proofreader Louise Harnby: Setting Up a Proofreading Business: 10 Things You Need to Know and 10 More You Need to Do
  • If you’re ready to get started, check out our free sample business plans or our guide to Lean Planning

11. Start a resume writing and help business

If you have an eye for detail (read: don’t let mistakes go unnoticed!) your skills might be put to good use helping job-seekers perfect their resumes.

For more information:

  • Check out this article on starting a freelance resume writing business
  • Consider taking the advice of the pros and learn how professional resume writers think you should get started
  • Our sample business plans gallery is a good source of inspiration when you’re ready to write a business plan

If you have a green thumb:

12. Start a garden center

If you love gardening, but would rather share your expertise than physically help others with their personal gardens, starting a garden center might be the right small business idea for you. You can advise and educate other enthusiasts on what it takes to make their gardens beautiful.

For more information:

  • Start by reading our guide to starting a garden center
  • Check out our garden nursery business plan

13. Start a landscaping business

If, on the other hand, you do love the idea of working hands-on, you might consider a landscaping or lawn care business. While you’ll certainly need the skill set to get started, some lawn care services are ultra-basic to start (think mowing) and you can learn and add on more services over time.

For more information:

  • Check out this article from The Garden Continuum on starting a landscaping business
  • Download and read our landscaping sample business plans

If you love to be creative:

14. Start a photography business

If you’ve got a great eye and are always the one who documents special moments, you might want to consider making a career out of your photography passion.

While the competition is pretty stiff, specializing in a specific area, such as pet photography, weddings, or portraits can help set you apart.

For more information:

  • Read our article on how to start a successful photography business
  • Check out our complete photography business startup guide
  • If you’re ready for business plan inspiration, download and read our photography studio business plan

If you are detail-oriented:

15. Start a car-detailing business

Taking the idea of “detail-oriented” in the most literal sense, a car detailing business could be a small business idea that is not only lucrative, but that plays to your strengths.

For more information:

  • Start by reading this article: Five Tips for Starting a Mobile Auto Detailing Business
  • If you’re ready to start planning, check out our car wash business plan

16. Start a house cleaning business

If you’re naturally tidy and enjoy keeping places clean, consider starting a house cleaning business. It’s fairly easy to start, requires no training or certification, and if you’re detail-oriented, it could really play to your strengths.

For more information:

  • Start with our article on how to start a cleaning business
  • Be sure to check out this article from Page’s Cleaning as well
  • Check out our cleaning sample business plans

If you excel at making people feel relaxed and beautiful:

17. Start a massage therapy business

While it does take licensing to become a massage therapist, starting a massage therapy business can be a great career for someone who enjoys working with people, and making them feel relaxed and peaceful, or helping them manage pain or injury.

For more information:

  • Most cities will have a massage therapy school where you can become an LMT—find one here!
  • Our massage business plans will give you inspiration and show you how to get started on your business plan
  • If you’re interested in starting a day spa, check out our beauty salon and day spa sample business plans

18. Start a beauty salon or spa

Like a massage therapist, you will need a license to be a hairstylist, esthetician, or nail technician. However, if the training sounds enjoyable, consider looking into starting a salon or spa business.

For more information:

  • Find your local cosmetology school to get started on the path to becoming a licensed hairstylist, esthetician, or nail technician
  • Second, read our article on how to open a successful hair salon
  • Check out our salon business startup guide
  • If you’re ready to get started, download and read our hair and beauty salon business plan

If you enjoy helping people:

19. Start a nonprofit

There are endless ways that you can help others by starting a nonprofit business. What problem are you passionate about fixing? Starting a nonprofit business can be a rewarding life path, as it can enable you to both make money and make a difference.

For more information:

  • First, read our step-by-step guide on how to start a nonprofit
  • For more specifics on writing your business plan, check out: How to Write a Nonprofit Business Plan
  • If you’re ready to plan your nonprofit, download and read our free nonprofit sample business plans

If you are a natural teacher:

20. Start a tutoring business

If you know multiple languages, excelled at a certain subject in school, or are good at explaining concepts in a way that is easy to understand, consider starting a tutoring business. You can specialize in a particular area, depending on your skill set, such as paper writing, languages, math, or test preparation—the list goes on.

For more information:

  • Start with this article from Side Hustle Nation: How to Start a Tutoring Business
  • Check out our education and training sample business plans, specifically our tutoring business plan

21. Start a business teaching your skill set

So, you love to teach—but the idea of rehashing high school chemistry doesn’t really do it for you? Consider starting a business based on teaching what you do love.

Maybe you’re a skilled potter or a trained dancer? Love to practice yoga, and are interested in becoming an instructor? Whatever your skill, there are likely people who’d love a teacher.

For more information:

  • To get started, try listing your skills on sites like Craigslist or Thumbtack
  • If you’re especially interested in teaching online, this article is a good starting point
  • Check out our education and training sample business plans for inspiration, or if you’re ready to get started

If you are a born problem-solver:

22. Build a much-needed app

Do you have the solution to a common problem or pain point that you feel is experienced by many? Consider building an app—it’s easier than you’d think.

For more information:

  • To start, find out how you can learn programming and launch your app in three months (no experience required)
  • Next, read our interview with Jillian Darlington of Momco, who started an app-based business without a tech background
  • Check out our complete SaaS and subscription business guide for more on how to get started

23. Start a consulting firm

Similar to teaching a class based on your skills, you may want to evaluate what you currently excel at, and see if it would make a good consulting business.

Consulting firms exist covering a huge variety of topics, from business, to IT, to public relations, and more. Live and breathe social media? Start a social media consulting business, helping businesses leverage their social presence. You get the idea.

For more information:

  • Start with our article on how to start a consulting business
  • Check out our free consulting sample business plans

If you are impossibly organized:

24. Start an event planning business

If you get excited over a well-planned itinerary (hey, no judgement—I’m right there with you), you might want to look into starting an event planning business.

From weddings to parties to corporate events, if you can rise above the competition (which is admittedly very present), event planning is an ideal small business idea for the über-organized.

For more information:

  • If you’re looking to start an event planning business from your home, check out this article from the Event Manager Blog
  • Download and read our personal event planning business plan for inspiration and guidance when you’re ready to plan

25. Start a personal assistant business

Similarly, if you are great at keeping on task and getting things done efficiently and in an organized manner, starting a personal assistant business might be a good fit for you.

For more information:

  • This article from The Guardian on how to set up a home-based virtual assistant business is a good place to start
  • Self Employed King covers how to be a concierge—starting a personal concierge business
  • Our administrative service business plan will help you get started on the planning process

If you enjoy off-hours, early mornings, or late nights:

26. Start a bar, brewery, or a nightclub

If you’re the consummate night owl who enjoys interacting with people, starting a bar or a club might be a great fit for your personality.

No matter where you live, your area is likely full of bars to begin with—so make sure you do your market research. What is your community missing? What kind of place would you personally want to hang out in?

For more information:

  • Start with our resource guide on starting a bar or nightclub
  • Check out our bar and nightclub sample business plans
  • If you’re interested in learning more about the industry, check out the Nightlife Association

27. Start a cafe, bakery, or a coffee shop

On the flip side, do you dream of a job that would leave your evenings free—and love a good cup of coffee and a pastry? Consider starting a coffee shop, a cafe, or a bakery. The food and beverage industry, in general, is a bit of a double-edged sword—perpetually popular, but hard to survive in—so make sure you’ve done your market research and validated your business idea.

For more information:

  • Read our article on opening a successful coffee shop, as well as our guide to opening a successful bakery
  • Our Bakery Startup Guide and Cafe and Coffee Shop Startup Guide have information on business planning and tips for growing your coffee shop or bakery
  • Check out our free restaurant, cafe, and bakery sample business plans
  • The American Society of Baking and the National Coffee Association are also worth looking into

28. Open a restaurant

There’s no doubt that the restaurant industry is a difficult one to be successful in. However, if you value a career that is exciting, holds non-standard hours, and lets you fill a need in your community, opening a restaurant might be right for you—just be prepared to work hard to stand out.

For more information:

  • The National Restaurant Association is a good place to start your research
  • Consider these 39 things to ask yourself before starting a restaurant
  • Check out our article on how to start a successful restaurant
  • Our sample business plan gallery has several restaurant, cafe, and bakery sample business plans to point you in the right direction when you’re ready to plan your business

If you love caring for others (including four-legged friends):

29. Start a daycare center

If you’re good with children, you’re in luck—childcare is always a needed service.

You also have plenty of options; you could go the full-time nanny route, establish a childcare service out of your home, or rent commercial space, depending on your goals.

For more information:

30. Start a doggy daycare, boarding, or pet grooming business

Do you love animals? Was dog walking your preferred job when you were in high school? Parlay this into a career by starting a pet boarding service, a daytime doggy daycare, or a pet grooming service.

For more information:

  • Read about dog walking and boarding business Trots Dogs, whose founder grew a successful dog walking and doggy daycare business from her home
  • Next, head over to Rover Time for An Honest Look at Being a Dog Walker
  • Check out our dog and cat kennel business plan

31. Start a senior citizen assistance business

Do you have a passion for helping the elderly have a better quality of life? If so, you could start a small business focused on assisting senior citizens.

Whether that be running errands, taking members to social functions, or helping them around the house, there are plenty of options, and starting a business helping others can be deeply rewarding.

For more information:

  • Start with our article on starting a home healthcare business
  • Make sure you’re aware of the critical risks you might encounter when starting an assisted living home
  • Download and read our home health care services business plan, and check out our daycare services and children’s products business plans

If you’re interested in taking advantage of new business trends

32. Consider starting a business in an emerging industry

If you like to be on the cutting edge, consider starting a business in a new, trending industry. It’s a potentially difficult route to take; there’s less precedent, after all, and the roads to success are somewhat unpaved, but in many ways that can be considered a pro.

Consider starting a business in one of these emerging industries:

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Next steps

If you now have an idea for a business you’d like to start, it’s time to consider where to go next.

We recommend checking out Bplans gallery of sample business plans, which can be a great source of inspiration. Speaking of business planning, you may need to write a formal business plan—here’s our guide on how to write one.

If you’re just looking to validate your idea to start, consider creating a Lean Plan with our Lean Planning Template—it’s faster and easier than a formal business plan, and is a great place to start.

Check out our Idea Validation Checklist as well—it will help you test your business idea to make sure it’s well thought out and likely to be successful. Finally, these tactics will help you validate your idea (and figure out if people will pay for it!), as well as determine if you really want to start a business.

Resources:

  • Free Sample Business Plan Gallery
  • Idea Validation Checklist
  • Lean Planning Template
  • Formal Business Plan Template
  • The Business Plan Guide
  • LivePlan: Easy to use online business planning software
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Briana Morgaine

Briana is a content and digital marketing specialist, editor, and writer. She enjoys discussing business, marketing, and social media, and is a big fan of the Oxford comma. Bri is a resident of Portland, Oregon, and she can be found, infrequently, on Twitter.