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Small Business Ideas

Starting a business is both an exciting and scary point in your life, but you may not be sure what kind of business to start. You might ask yourself many questions including:

  • Are there small business ideas can I afford?
  • What small business ideas do I have time to do?
  • Which small business ideas fit my skills best?
  • What experience do I have, and what small business ideas does it work best with?
  • What small business ideas can I do without violating contacts (non-compete clauses, etc.)?

If you have trouble thinking of a small business idea, then you are in the right place. In this article, we are going to discuss different small business ideas that might be the perfect fit for you. We will try to offer different ideas that can compensate for some of the above limitations.

If this list doesn’t do it for you, then be sure to check out our latest: over 40 Small Scale Business Ideas.

Starting A Website

It seems befitting that I start with this one. Starting a website can be an excellent way to leverage your free time for starting a business, but it definitely comes with its drawbacks. If you anticipate earning revenue from advertising, then it can take upwards of a year or more to generate enough traffic to earn anything meaningful.

In addition to that, you have to be technologically comfortable enough to deal with some of the issues such as: backing up data, restoring backups, fixing coding issues, and marketing. You need a lot of patience when starting a website as a business. If you need additional information, be sure to read our article titled Starting A Website.

Costs: Generally, it shouldn’t cost more than a few hundred to get a website off the ground for a year, but other things such as inventory, marketing, and shipping can cause the price to go up infinitely.

Food Carts

For those that are limited in their funding options, food carts might be the perfect fit. While they do require your time, you should have no problems getting a food cart started for under $10,000.

People typically think of Hot Dog Carts when they think of food carts, but there are also Sushi carts, BBQ, and any other type of food you can think of. You don’t have to be limited by social norms in this business!

Costs: Depending on what type of cart, your location agreements, and other miscellaneous costs, you might even be able to get up and running for under $5,000. You can expect to pay around $500 for licensing, and the cart prices will vary drastically. Whether it is new or used, and  how fancy it is, you can get a cart for as little as $900, all the way on up to multiple thousands.

Food Trucks

Recently, food trucks have exploded in popularity in many areas (spurring websites such as FindLAFoodTruck and MobiMunch). These are no longer the stereotypical trucks that pull up to construction sites. Now, you can find anything from Mobile Cupcakes to Mobile Mexican/Asian fustion!

Costs: Food trucks get you closer to that full-blown restaurant feel, and with that comes the costs. While you can get into a food cart for a few thousand, food trucks will cost in the 10’s of thousands, and can even get into the 6 figures if it is a very elaborate set up. Entrepreneur magazine estimates that you can pay upwards of $75,000 to bust into the food truck business.


If money isn’t really a concern, but expertise or risk is, then franchises are the perfect match. They allow you to start your business without the fear of “going it alone.” Generally, the franchiser will offer training, ongoing coaching, advertising, and a prepackaged format for you to follow.

While many entrepreneurs consider these things limitations, it might be perfect for you as a first time business owner. Following someone else’s lead will help you to understand how to do things right and wrong. Remember, franchises are not a guaranteed thing, so don’t let the confidence of a name you know lull you into laziness.

Costs: Franchise costs are going to vary. Some may have storefronts, while others might be a vehicle. Regardless, you can expect to pay an application fee, franchise fees, and advertising fees. On top of that, you may have to buy your materials from the franchiser, or from their approved vendors. For more information Entrepreneur Magazine has an excellent list of franchises along with estimated costs.

Small Vending Machines

If you are limited in your time, then small vending machines might be a great route for you to go. These will typically consist of those vending machines that you see at grocery store exits and take-out storefronts that dispense candy or small toys. These are great as they won’t sell out as quickly as a food vending machine located in an office building, and the machines are cheaper upfront.

The main drawback is you’ll need more machines out there to make up for the lower revenue (typically 25-50 cents per vend). The other draw back is the decrease in people carrying around cash and change.

Costs: New machines can cost anywhere from $150 up to multiple thousands for really elaborate ones. Licensing should only cost a few hundred, but location prices will vary greatly. Sometimes you can get lucky and do a profit sharing agreement with the location owner.

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