10 Small Business Opportunities to Start Right Now

The Best Small Business Opportunities Based on Current Trends

male bakery owner holds rustic bread
••• Small business opportunities. Image (c) Reza Estakhrian / Getty Images

What does it take for a business idea to make this list of small business opportunities?

First, it has to tap into current trends, on the theory that starting a business based on a popular trend will give a startup a better chance of success.

Second, it has to be feasible as a small business. Currently, for instance, there are many exciting small business opportunities in biotechnology and resource extraction but these aren’t opportunities that most small business people would be in a position to take advantage of.

Third, there have to be few if any barriers to entry, meaning that just about anyone could start one of these businesses; you don’t need years of education or millions of dollars in startup capital.

And fourth, of course, they have to be legal and ethical.

My picks for the best small business opportunities for right now are:

1) Gluten-free restaurants and bakeries

Right now avoiding wheat and gluten is not only something celiacs do but something almost everyone seems to want to do. Supermarkets and large chains are carrying increasing amounts of gluten-free food on their shelves and more restaurants than ever have a few gluten-free items on their menus.

But as a celiac, let me tell you there is plenty of opportunity for restaurants and bakeries that are actually safe to eat in and serve real, tasty food – especially hard to find fresh items such as soups, sandwiches and bread.

2) Day-care and nanny services

Pre-school teacher playing with little boy in kindergarten
••• Small business opportunity: daycare centre.  Image (c) Westend61/ Getty Images

“The Vanier Institute estimates there are regulated child care spaces for just 22 per cent of Canadian children under the age of six,” writes Tamsin McMahon in Million-dollar babies (Maclean’s). “That lack of affordable options has led to a booming market for nannies and babysitters.”

The profitable small business opportunity is not in becoming a nanny yourself (as the minimum wage for live-in domestic help averages out to $19,000-$21,000 a year according to the same article), but in providing nannies and babysitters to others, or in operating a properly regulated daycare.

3) Patient advocates

If you or a loved one have ever had a serious illness or operation you know how excruciating it can be to navigate the medical system. A patient advocate is a trained professional who serves as a go-between for patients and their family members and representatives of the healthcare industry. They can go by any number of titles, including health advocate, patient navigator, or care coordinator (Study.com). As a patient advocate, your role would be to help people get the best care possible. Patient advocates may help with decisions about treatment plans, health insurance, or help people get health care.

Some focus on the elderly and assist with independent living and finding home care or nursing home care as well as helping their patients navigate the healthcare system.

4) Body decoration services (piercings and tattoos)

Young woman creating a tattoo for client in the studio
••• Small business opportunities: tattoo parlor. Iuliia Isaieva/ Getty Images

Not to point out that I’m old, but I vividly remember the time when no respectable woman would ever even think of getting a tattoo. Now it’s rare for any young person of either sex not to have at least one – and probably at least one piercing, too.

Body decoration has gone mainstream, which makes it a good small business opportunity. Tattoo parlors aren't limited to the grungier areas of towns and cities now; they're appearing on more upscale retail rows too. Focus on the clean, spa-like experience and you might even get some baby boomer types like me visiting your business too.

5) Transportation services for the non-mobile

This keeps popping up on my lists of best small business opportunities because there’s such a need for it that doesn’t appear to be being met – and that need is only growing.

It’s not just seniors (although many people with mobility issues are) but people whose mobility is limited because of health conditions such as obesity; anyone who is wheelchair bound or dependent on a scooter can’t just hop a bus or climb into the standard taxi. In a place with a high percentage of elderly folk, a fleet of lift-equipped vehicles could make your fortune.

6) Home care

The first baby boomers started turning 65 in 2011. In 2030, when the entire Baby Boomer generation will have turned 65, seniors will make up one-fourth of the entire U.S. population. Unfortunately, although they are expected to live longer lives than previous generations, they are also expected to spend more years in sickness, according to a report on senior’s health by the not-for-profit United Health Foundation (USA Today).

Couple this with the bursting-at-the-seams medical system’s lack of beds for senior care, and you have a huge and growing need for home care. Create your own company offering such services, or buy into one of the senior care franchise opportunities available.

7) Mobile apps development

Angry Birds was the start of something big. And now there are apps for everything from monitoring your heart rate through managing your girlfriend so you “never destroy another relationship with your inability to remember important dates and information again!”

Make the big score by developing an app that becomes wildly popular or cash in on the increasing number of businesses that want branded apps of their own.

8) Tea stores

Tea is a great small business opportunity because the potential market is huge. According to the Tea Association of the U.S.A. Inc., "tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world next to water, and can be found in almost 80% of all U.S. households. It is the only beverage commonly served hot or iced, anytime, anywhere, for any occasion. On any given day, over 159 million Americans are drinking tea" (Tea Fact Sheet – 2018-2019).

There are nearly 10 billion cups of tea drunk each year, according to Statistics Canada, and Canadians' tea consumption is expected to rise 40 per cent by 2020, according to a government agency report on food trends published by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, driven by a soaring interest in health and wellness.

And don’t limit yourself to thinking of a little retail store with shelves of canisters full of loose green and black tea. The trends are towards peppier, stranger flavours including maple, popcorn and even birthday cake, and even tea cocktails are making an appearance.

9) Financial advisors and planners

Only 20 percent of Canadians have confidence in their math and money skills as they relate to helping plan for a secure financial future, according to a survey by Ipsos Reid for ABC Life Literacy Canada – which means that there is a huge pool of people in Canada who need and want help with their finances. 

One would presume that Americans share a similar lack of confidence in their numeracy skills as in the U.S., financial advising jobs are expected to be one of the faster-growing occupations over the next decade, with a projected growth rate of 32% between 2010 and 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Retirement planning, financial planning for small business owners – whatever the specialty, this is a real growth industry.

10) Ecommerce

Female small business owner packaging merchandise at laptop in workshop
••• Small business opportunities: ecommerce.  HeroImages/Getty Images

Showrooming, the practice of looking at merchandise in a traditional retail store and then shopping online to purchase the product, usually at a lower price, is becoming the new norm for North American shoppers. U.S. retail ecommerce sales reached $453.46 billion in 2017, an increase of 16% increase compared with $390.99 billion in 2016. That’s the highest growth rate since 2011, when online sales grew 17.5% over 2010 (Internet Retailer).

Worldwide, global retail ecommerce sales reached $2.304 trillion in 2017, a 24.8% increase over the previous year, fueled by growth in North America and the Asia-Pacific region, according to a report from eMarketer. And ecommerce is only expected to grow. Setting up an ecommerce website is easier than ever. (See 8 Easy Ways to Get Your Small Business Into Ecommerce). Pick the right products, get them online and your own profitable business could be off and running.

Why Are These the Best Small Business Opportunities?

None of these ideas will make you rich overnight.

But these are small business opportunities that are going to provide real chances to make money now and beyond – businesses that, done right, in the right place and for the right people may be profitable enterprises for years to come.

Note that there is never any guarantee when you're starting a business. Any business opportunity you're considering requires due diligence. The best starting point is to write a business plan; working through one will help you determine if a particular business idea has a chance of being a successful business or just won't work.