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52 of the Most Successful Small Businesses

If you want to start a business, choosing the right idea is an essential first step to being successful. Some of the things you should consider include your skills, the size of your target market, the startup costs, and how profitable businesses tend to be in that space.

These Key Small Business Statistics published by the Federal Government can provide valuable insight. They can help guide you in choosing a small business idea that has a high chance of success. But the statistics can also be a little complicated,

To make things easier, here’s a list of the most successful small businesses. with an explanation of what they involve, why they’re attractive to entrepreneurs, and how to get started.

1. Business Consulting

Business consulting is a thriving industry, and becoming a consultant or starting your own firm can be a very profitable business venture. A consultant is an expert in their particular field and works as an advisor to help businesses improve their operations and strategies. And there are plenty of businesses that are willing to pay for that kind of help.

In addition to general business consulting, companies will use specialized consultants for different aspects of their business, including everything from advertising to human resources and their social media presence. Typically, business consultants are expected to have some formal education in business, management, or finance. But all you need to get started in this field is to be knowledgeable in your area of expertise.

2. IT Support

For many years now, IT Support has been a lucrative option for a small business idea. You’d be hard-pressed to find any business that doesn’t rely heavily on computers and other technology as a vital part of their operations. As technology is always changing and becoming ever-more prevalent, there’s always a demand for IT support.

Another benefit to this small business idea is the start-up costs and overhead are pretty low because your main stock and trade will be your expertise and ability to keep your knowledge up to date with the latest technologies.

3. Marketing and PR Services

Marketing and PR are all about the art of persuasion. The key to starting a successful marketing & PR agency is to convince an audience to purchase a product or promote an idea. If you’re the type of person that finds it easy to win people over to your point of view, an agency or becoming a marketing consultant may be the ideal small business idea for you.

4. Website Design

Website design is a service that’s always in demand. That’s because every business needs to have a website. Some simple website-builders make it easy for anyone to get a site up and running, but most companies want a customizable website that’s designed from the ground up.

To succeed in this business requires a mix of technical knowledge and an eye for design.

4. Logo Design

Logos can be deceptively simple, but you can be sure that a lot of time, effort, and money goes into creating the most successful businesses’ logos. And that makes sense, as a good logo can be a key part of a company’s brand identity.

The importance of logo design means there are many opportunities for entrepreneurs who provide this service. To be successful at it, you need to be comfortable with the latest design software and have the ability to design appealing logos that are unique yet simple.

As a first step, there are freelancing websites that make it easy to find logo design gigs.

5. Social Media Consultant

These days, a company’s presence on social media is an important part of their marketing strategy. Many businesses are always looking for ways to improve their social media practices to increase their reach, draw more eyes to their website, and keep their audience engaged.

If you’re looking to get into this field, start by making sure you frequently post to your own social media accounts. Until you can create a portfolio of case studies on the social media consulting you do for clients; your own social media accounts are something potential clients will want to look at.

6. Copywriting

There are many different types of copywriting that are easy for entrepreneurs to pursue. Whether it’s news articles, blog posts, or marketing content, most freelance copywriting jobs don’t require specialized formal training.

What’s more important is to have some good examples of your past writing that you can show off. You can start by creating your own blog.

7. Video Production

With how simple the internet has made it for any individual or company to share videos with an audience, video production is in high demand. Many companies need video content for their websites or social media channels, and this type of digital video production is a great place to start.

Some of the things you’ll need to get started include:

  • A good camera
  • Audio and lighting equipment
  • Some video editing software.

8. Virtual Assistant Services

Working as a virtual assistant can involve a wide variety of work that you do remotely. That includes everything from secretarial tasks to social media management. It is an increasingly in-demand service as the technology that enables remote working has improved and made virtual assistants more effective. Many employers also recognize the benefit of having a remote assistant, such as lowering their overhead costs. As a result, there are a lot of opportunities for entrepreneurs in this field.

9. Personal Chef

The personal chef industry has recently seen a boost due to the COVID pandemic, as many people began opting to eat at home rather than at restaurants.

One thing to keep in mind is that to succeed as a personal chef takes great people skills. Because in addition to mastering a variety of cooking styles, interacting with clients is an important part of the job. Personal chefs work in clients’ homes and interact with family members and friends.

10. Food Trucks

According to Canadian Industry Statistics, food trucks can be pretty profitable small businesses. The financial performance statistics show that for “mobile food services” in Canada (which includes food trucks and carts), the average revenue is $155,200 CAD. If those numbers get your mouth watering, check out this article for tips on how to start a successful food truck.

11. Health Food Kitchen and Delivery

It probably won’t surprise you that the health food industry is growing. There’s been a trend for many years where consumers are paying more attention to what goes into their food, as you can see from the popularity of organic and non-GMO foods.

And the statistics confirm it’s true—the market for health foods is rapidly growing around the world. In 2016, the global health food industry was valued at about $700 billion USD and expected to grow to over $800 billion by 2021.

A great way for entrepreneurs to get into the industry is by starting a health food kitchen and/or delivery service.

12. Cookie Business

If you enjoy baking cookies, then you may want to consider starting a home-based cookie business. It’s an easy way to start earning a profit from something you enjoy, as the startup costs are low and the hours are flexible.

13. Home Baking

If you don’t want to limit yourself to cookies, you could always start a more general baking business from your home. As you discover what products sell the best, you might find there’s a particular niche you want to focus on. Some ideas to get started include bread, cakes, pies, muffins, and pastries.

14. Cupcake Business

Cupcakes have grown in popularity in recent years as there’s been a trend of people opting to go the cupcake route as opposed to traditional cakes for events ranging from birthdays to weddings. They also make for an affordable indulgence that consumers are drawn to and are willing to spend on. In fact, the latest statistics say cupcakes were ranked as one of the top three sweet baked goods eaten by Canadian consumers aged 18-44.

15. Bartending Service

Starting a mobile bartending service can be a great business idea. These bartenders travel to various events and set up wherever the event coordinator needs them. Some bartending services require the client to provide the supplies, while others bring everything from the alcohol to glassware and serving staff.

16. Coffee Bar/Tea Salon

The coffee shop industry is an attractive market for a few reasons. For one thing, many people can’t start their day without their morning cup of coffee. As a coffee bar owner, you know there will always be a demand for what you’re selling. In addition, coffee and tea are inexpensive to make, allowing you to enjoy high profit margins.

And while it can be hard to compete with well-established chains like Starbucks, there’s a growing trend of people seeking out independent shops for their coffee and tea. 

17. Mobile DJ

Becoming a mobile DJ can be a lucrative business, and it’s easier than ever to give it a shot. The required equipment has become more affordable and portable. Gone are the days of needing to tote a collection of music on vinyl or CDs. Instead, you really just need a laptop with plenty of storage.

Professional-grade DJ equipment has also become more affordable as you can get things like LED lighting systems made specifically for mobile DJs.

The key to succeeding as a mobile DJ is being able to appeal to a wide range of audiences so you get hired for all types of events, and being able to generate referrals or repeat bookings.

18. Child-Oriented Businesses

If you love kids, starting a child-oriented business is a great idea. Parents are often willing to spend big bucks on their kids.

These days, kids also have more influence on their parents’ purchases and have more money of their own. There are many options when it comes to successful child-oriented business ideas. Here are just a few:

  • Babysitting
  • Child clothing
  • Toys
  • Baby proofing
  • Learning materials
  • Kids’ party planning

19. Tutoring Center

The private tutoring industry is rapidly growing, partly driven by parents’ feeling that standard schooling fails to cater to the unique needs of their children. Tutoring is also considered by many to be a great way to give their kids a head start or help them overcome a challenge in their education, such as a specific subject they’re struggling with. This means tutoring is a great option for entrepreneurs as there are many parents who will be eager to take advantage of these services.

20. Online courses

More people than ever are taking online courses these days. It enables them to learn from home, at their own pace, and for a more affordable price than in-person classes. This is another business idea that is very simple and affordable to get off the ground. Start by choosing an area of expertise, then start making some videos or offer some live webinars.

21. Music Teaching

If you have musical talent, becoming a music teacher is an excellent small business idea. Most people don’t have the knowledge, skills, and talent it takes to be a music teacher. So if you do, your skills will be in high demand!

22. Photography

If you love photography and have a photographers’ eye, there are many options for turning your skills into a successful business. Just some of the different options include:

23. Art Lessons

Becoming an art teacher is a low-risk option for starting a small business. Similar to the other teaching and tutoring ideas on this list, it doesn’t require a large initial investment and you can keep your overhead costs low. That’s because the product you’re selling is your expertise and talent.  

24. Boat Tours

The sailing, sightseeing cruise, and boating tour markets are booming. According to some market research, this industry saw a 44 per cent year-over-year increase from 2017 to 2018. Whether it’s on a river, lake, or the open sea, boat tours offer travellers an appealing way to see beautiful destinations.

25. Golf Coach

Many golfers are passionate about their sport and willing to pay to improve their game. This makes golf coaching a great opportunity if you have the skills. One tip to help you get started is to get as much tournament experience as possible because if you perform well, you can put on your coaching resume to help establish yourself as an expert.

26. Personal Training

Personal training is a lucrative industry, and self-employed personal trainers account for more than half the total revenue in this space. It is an easy business to get started, as all you really need is your knowledge in fitness training, and preferably a great physique to help sell your services to clients and set up a business offering personal training from home.

27. Language Translator

The translation services industry has been steadily growing for many years. One reason for that is globalization. As it becomes easier for companies around the world to establish a global reach, the need for translation services has increased. There’s currently an especially high demand for translators who can translate to and from Mandarin.

28. Property Management

Property management involves overseeing a property for the owner and can involve everything from preventative maintenance to dealing with tenants. Property management companies get hired to oversee all types of real estate property, whether commercial, residential, or industrial. That means there are many opportunities to be found.

29. Warehouse and Storage

The warehousing and storage market in North America reached about $72 billion in 2018, and that’s expected to grow to over $86 billion by 2024. That growth has been partly driven by manufacturing companies expanding their operations and choosing to outsource their warehousing for raw materials and finished goods.

30. Cleaning Services

Starting a cleaning company is a safe bet because there is always a demand for cleaning services. It is also an ideal new business idea, as there are lots of opportunities to expand your business once you’re ready. For instance, if you were planning on focusing on residential cleaning to start, you can later expand into the commercial cleaning industry, which makes a revenue of $8 billion in Canada annually and sees steady growth.

Or, for another cleaning business idea, check out this article on how to start a window cleaning business.

31. Dental Offices

Starting a dental office requires more of an investment than most of the ideas on this list, but it is worth including because dental services are a lucrative field, and there are many opportunities to succeed. According to stats from the Canadian Dental Association, total expenditure on dental services was $13.6 billion in 2015, and there is only one dentist in Canada for every 1,622 people.

32. Auto Repair and Auto Leasing

Auto repair is always in demand, but there are a few key trends happening now that show why it is a great option for a new business.

  • The number of vehicle sales and vehicle registrations has been increasing in Canada.
  • The average age of vehicles in Canada increased during 2014-2019, and those older vehicles require more repairs.

33. Property Maintenance

Property maintenance is a similar business idea to property management, which is listed above, and it offers a lot of potential for success for the same reasons.

But where it differs is it doesn’t involve things like marketing the property to attract tenants or collecting rent. Instead, the only responsibilities are maintenance related, like cleaning, lawn maintenance, snow removal, electrical, and plumbing.

34. Handyman

The demand for handyman services in Canada has been increasing in recent years, as many homeowners have chosen to hire a general handyman as opposed to a more expensive professional like a roofer, plumber, or electrician.

All you need to get started is some tools and know-how. But to increase your chances of finding more clients, consider getting licensed as an electrician, plumber, or contractor.

35. Pet Handling Service

Pet handling services can provide pet owners with a variety of essential help like pet sitting, dog walking, pet boarding, or transport services. And many pet owners are willing to pay a lot to make sure their pets are getting high-quality care.

36. Spice Store

Market research shows many consumers want ever-greater choices when it comes to their seasonings, and that’s why opening a spice store can be a great idea for a small business. A decade ago, the average home spice cabinet in the U.S had 10 different seasonings and spices. And today that has increased to 40. There has also been an increase in spice consumption in North America as more focus has shifted to making better tasting meals at home and making fewer visits to restaurants.

37. Florist

If you like flowers and being creative, starting a florist business can be an attractive idea for many reasons. There’s plenty of opportunity for growth and high profits if you’re able to start providing flowers for weddings and large events. It’s not hard to start out of your home.

38. Technology Consulting and Repair

If you’re a techie, starting a technology consulting and repair business is a great way to start making a profit off those skills. There are many different niches of different technology you could focus on, as technology consultants are hired by companies to help with many different aspects of their business strategies regarding technology. That can include everything from infrastructure planning to advising on the financial side of technology or software.

39. Gardening and Grass Cutting

Landscaping can be a lucrative business, as the average annual income of landscape businesses in Canada is about $380,000. One of the benefits of starting a landscaping business is if you do a good job, it’s often easy to get repeat customers and referrals—because typically, the work you do for one client is always on display for the rest of the neighbourhood.

40. Snow Clearing

Snow clearing is one service that’s guaranteed to be in high demand every Canadian winter. It’s also not hard to get started, especially if you already own a four-wheel-drive truck that can handle a snowplow. 

41. Real Estate Sales and Leasing

They say real estate is always a good investment, and starting a real estate sales and leasing business is no different. Real estate leasing is a great way to generate an ongoing passive income, and the value of real estate tends to increase over time so it is a good long-term investment.

42. Outpatient Care Centres

Outpatient care centres provide a wide range of health services that can include rehab, diagnostics, treatments and wellness services. The start-up costs are high, but so is the potential for success, as there is a high demand for these types of health services.

43. Funeral Homes

The startup costs for funeral homes can be high, as they require a range of expensive equipment to perform services, including cremation, burial, and memorial services. But if you can get one started, it is also a profitable business. According to the Canadian Industry Statistics on funeral services, these businesses make an average revenue of almost $784,000.

44. Doctor Offices

Opening doctor offices is easier than you might think. Private offices and clinics typically don’t need to register with the health ministry. Instead, only the doctors that work there need to register. So you can get an office set up and find some doctors looking for a place to set up practice and start earning.

45. Newborn and Post-Pregnancy Services

If you love babies, starting a newborn and post-pregnancy services business may be right up your alley. These businesses provide services such as helping take care of newborn babies while also assisting the mother and family. The job can involve providing emotional support and education to parents. And that kind of help can be essential to new parents.

46. Nanny Service

If taking care of newborns sounds intimidating to you, starting a nanny service might be more appropriate for you. This is another business idea with lots of room for growth as you can start working as a nanny yourself or grow your business into a full-fledged nanny agency.

47. Babysitting Service

Parents always need babysitters. And while the traditional cliché is to hire a teenager from extended family or friends, many parents are willing to pay more to get a professional babysitter they know they can trust. One thing that can help you succeed is to make sure you have some fundamental knowledge like CPR and first-aid training. That’s something you can include on your resume to give clients confidence.

48. Enrichment Activities for Children

Enrichment programs are designed to give children some additional learning opportunities outside of school. It can involve subjects that students take for fun or self-improvement. It can also deal with subjects they learn in school but give them time to explore the concepts in more depth. Since this is another business that gives parents the opportunity to improve their children’s life prospects, it is something many parents are willing to pay for.

49. Mobile Apps and Entertainment for Children

This report on the mobile app economy in Canada shows how this market has been growing rapidly for years. Another benefit of this business idea is it involves a low initial investment. You can start making a passive income from your apps, either from purchases, a subscription model, or advertising.

There’s also a good chance for your business to succeed when creating apps for kids, as there’s a growing number of children with their own mobile devices.

50. T-Shirt Printing and Apparel Store

Starting a t-shirt printing business from home can be very easy if you use a print-on-demand service. That means you don’t have to stock inventory or print your designs yourself. You can simply have an online store and then get your shirts printed only after they’re sold. As your business grows, you can look into printing shirts yourself, and there are a number of options on how to do that to suit different budgets. For more details, check out this guide on starting a t-shirt printing business.

51. Vintage Clothing

The vintage clothing market can offer attractive margins, as you can purchase unwanted clothes and market them to customers who see their value. Remember that you don’t need a storefront to get started—all you need to set up is an online store.

52. Secondhand Store

If you don’t want to focus on clothing, a secondhand store is a more general option that offers the same benefits as vintage clothing: you can put a high markup on your products if you do a good job finding the right suppliers and buyers.

Get Started

Now you should have a better understanding of what are the most successful small businesses. Next on the list of things to do to start your business, you should do some research on your target audience, choose a niche, and start writing a business plan.

And check out this list of Small Business Grants in Ontario to increase your chances of success even further. You may qualify for funding that will help you get your small business off the ground.

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