While profit may not be the only impetus for starting a business, it’s certainly among the deciding factors.
Whether or not a new business succeeds or fails depends on its ability to generate a profit. While we’d all love to run our dream business regardless of profit, someone has to pay the bills, and from experience, your partner gets a bit annoyed after a while if you keep handing her “I.O.U” coupons.
Building an audience/customer base, marketing, and developing a solid business plan are all important elements of the most successful business, and they all lead back to one place.
A profitable business.
(Do you see where this is going?)
Most Profitable Businesses to Start in 2024
2024 is looking to be a challenging year, and starting a business will require more flexibility due to economic uncertainties. But turning a profit is a lot easier when you’re starting with a profitable business model.
So, what are the most profitable businesses of 2024? Let’s take a look.
1. Ecommerce Business
Ecommerce, the blanket term referring to all businesses where products are bought and sold over the internet, is consistently ranked among the best and most profitable businesses to start.
Why? Because they’re easy to launch, don’t require the overhead cost of a brick-and-mortar footprint, and it gives you access to a geographically diverse customer base. With more than two billion ecommerce customers online, now is a great time to start your ecommerce store.
Map out your idea, plan how you are going to get the word out to the masses, and finally, turn that business idea into a profitable endeavor.
Want to learn how to start a profitable online store in 12 weeks or less? Check out the free course.
2. Dropshipping Business
Dropshipping has had a bad reputation over recent years, but when done effectively, it is still a very profitable business option.
Dropshipping is a subcategory of ecommerce that refers to businesses that sell products they don’t actually have on hand. Instead, the product is shipped directly from the vendor to the customer.
Dropshipping reduces your inventory costs and, as a result, increases your net income. And by 2028, the global dropshipping market is predicted to grow to by 20% annually through 2028.
Dropshipping is common in industries where customers expect a broad range of products that might be cost-prohibitive for a small business to keep on hand, like bookstores.
A lot of local bookstores, for example, might use dropshipping to ship directly from the publisher or a partner like bookshop.org. This allows them to offer a wider selection of books without having to contend with the challenges of storing one or 2 copies of a niche title on the off chance one customer might want it.
The most fruitful dropshipping ventures tend to be for niche products with a loyal following and minimal competition, so be sure to research before getting started.
Be wary of the risks of dropshipping, though, which include quality control, branding, and customer service.
3. Online Courses
Professionals are consistently looking for ways to sharpen their skills and advance their careers, providing a profitable business opportunity for savvy entrepreneurs who want to turn their expertise into passive income.
Courses that cover business finances and accounting, strategy, management, negotiation, sales/marketing training, and public speaking drive consistent demand. The course industry is only expected to grow, with the market expected to grow to $375B by 2026.
Want to get started? Watch our free training on starting your own profitable online course.
Online Marketing Course
The marketing landscape is changing due to rising social ad costs and generative AI, and many businesses and professionals are looking for guidance on how to adapt. Creating an online marketing course covering email marketing, social media management, SEO, or database marketing can generate a profit with minimal investment.
Are you a multi-lingual entrepreneur? Consider creating a language course. The language-learning industry has continued to expand. To stand out from the competition, you want to identify your target market. Who is your ideal student?
Identifying your niche and narrowing your audience will drive higher conversion and increase profitability. Instead of offering “Beginning Spanish,” consider something more specialized like “7 Days to Business-Trip Spanish.”
The final sector of the online course industry is hobby-related courses. Think: embroidery, woodworking, or singing. There has been a growing demand in recent years for these online courses due to the cost-effective pricing and convenience. The pandemic has increased demand here, too.
People who have transitioned to working from home now have more time to explore the topics that interest them. Others have taken stock of what matters to them and are finally gathering the courage to take a stab at beginner piano. As a result, launching a hobby-related course in 2024 is an exceedingly profitable business idea.
4. Bookkeeping or Accounting Services for Gig Workers
Bookkeeping and accounting service businesses maintain consistent demand because everyone has to file taxes, and many either don’t want to or don’t know how to manage tax preparation. This is especially true due to the rise of gig economy workers and freelancers.
If you are the type of person who enjoys doing their own taxes, then congratulations, you are in the 0.076% (I know how much you love a cheeky percentage).
If you work in personal accounting, you’ll likely see a boom in the spring as individuals look for help filing their taxes, but there are greater profit opportunities in the small business space.
Your average small business owner doesn’t have the bandwidth or the expertise to manage the bookkeeping themselves, and they might not have the resources to hire an on-staff bookkeeper. With a net profit margin of 18.4% (oh, there I go again), accounting and bookkeeping services are some of the most profitable industries you can go into in 2024.
5. Graphic Design Business
There is consistently high demand for graphic design services because stellar graphic design can be a market differentiator. In the age of digital marketing and Instagram-friendly advertising, a company’s graphic design is arguably more important than it ever has been. How profitable your graphic design business is depends on how much labor you’re putting into the projects compared to how much you’re charging. On average, graphic designers can earn from $15 – $35 per hour, depending on their experience.
Thankfully, graphic designers can run highly profitable companies due to low overhead. But they can also fall victim to scope creep and other revenue-eating practices. To ensure maximum profitability, build your business model to target higher revenue/lower labor projects. You can avoid scope creep and other pitfalls with a clearly outlined consulting proposal. For tips on how to put together a winning consulting proposal, consult our guide.
6. Digital Agency
With many large businesses cutting marketing teams due to rising costs, they’ll be looking to supplement their labor with agencies.
After all, they may not have the staff on hand, but the work still needs doing! That’s a huge chunk of opportunity to start and build a profitable agency.
Want to learn how? Take our free digital agency course.
Social Media Consulting
As we mentioned above, social media marketing is more important than ever. Social media advertising is the second-largest market within digital advertising. The global industry revenue of $138.2 billion is expected to grow to $18.4 billion in 2025.
A rapidly expanding market combined with the low investment required to start a social media consulting business makes this one of the most profitable opportunities for savvy digital marketers.
Digital Marketing Consulting
Digital marketing is an ever-evolving industry. For many small businesses, keeping up with the latest trends in email marketing or the next Google algorithm update can eat up too many resources.
If you have the skills to offer it all—email marketing, SEO, copywriting, social media—you can package it all into a high-profit digital marketing service.
7. Copywriting and Editing
Copywriting is more than just pretty words and catchy taglines (though, of course, it can still be that, too). As companies look to build their audiences, copywriters with a knack for writing viral or SEO content can rake in the money. What makes copywriting such a profitable small business idea?
Digital marketing assets—specifically those related to SEO and social media—can be revenue-generating machines for companies, and they come with the metrics to prove it. If you can deliver real value for a client, you can demand a hefty sum for your work, up to $45 per hour. The best part? There’s virtually no startup cost to get this business off the ground.
Just don’t get too good and try and come for my job. I will fight you (in a war of words, of course).
In addition, businesses are also looking for someone with a keen eye to double-check that their copy matches their brand standards and doesn’t sound like AI wrote it. So, beyond advertising your copywriting skills, add-on editing as a service for clients skeptical that ChatGPT can do everything for them (it can’t).
Want to start a profitable copywriting business? Take our 7-Figure Copywriting course for free.
8. Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing is a business model where a company pays a third party to generate leads or traffic to the company. These days, everyone from Instagram influencers to major news publications rely on affiliate marketing to drive profit. If you have a robust audience…or plan to build one, you can make bank with affiliate marketing. The industry generated $6.4 billion in 2019, and it continues to grow, making this one of the best small business ideas in 2024.
Ready to start growing your audience? Check out the Instagram Domination free mini-training.
9. IT Support
There’s an unspoken truth that is relevant in almost any office across the US.
We all know it, but none of us want to be the one to say it, so we’ll say it for you.
Most people don’t know how to use the tech they rely on to do their jobs. If you’ve got the chops, you can run a successful business in IT support. In 2024, the IT services market is anticipated to be $1,363 billion. Not too shabby.
10. Legal Services
Legal services are probably the most profitable of any service business. It’s high profit, consistently in demand, and relies on specialized knowledge. The specialization also allows legal entrepreneurs to focus on the work they like the most whether it’s working in estate planning, catering to a commercial bank, or providing legal services for real estate deals, there will always be a need for legal service.
11. Auto Repair Business
While some major repairs require a trip to a full auto repair shop, a lot of fixes can be done with a simple set of tools. The average age of vehicles has risen to 12.1 years, which means more people are holding onto their cars and would rather repair what they have than buy. If you’re a skilled mechanic, you can launch an auto repair service with minimal startup costs and start generating revenue in a flash. Then, when you’re ready to scale, you can open your own auto repair shop and capitalize on those bigger repairs, too.
12. B2B (Business to Business) Services
Businesses can typically handle higher price points and service fees than end consumers, making B2B services a highly profitable industry with a 22% year-over-year growth rate expected through 2027. Many of the other businesses outlined here can be marketed to other businesses, including real estate, cleaning services, bookkeeping and accounting, legal services, and marketing.
Read more: How B2B Sales is Changing Through Virtual Engagement
13. Software Development
Software development relies on a technical skill set. If you put all your dev skills into proprietary software that can then be marketed to other businesses, you have a highly successful business in the making. Most businesses are in need of technical solutions that they can’t create on their own. While you could also work ad-hoc creating solutions via software consulting, creating proprietary software allows you to market the same product to a wide audience without requiring project-by-project dev resources, increasing your gross profit.
14. Data Science Consulting
Data science is an industry driven by expertise. If you can give business leaders the data analytics they need to make informed decisions, you can demand premium pricing, with an average hourly rate near $60. These days data is king, and if you know how to manage data to tell a compelling story, the sky’s the limit. Specializing in a specific platform like a CRM (Salesforce, SAP) or data tool (Microsoft Power BI) can make you stand out to companies looking for third-party advice or expertise for their data tools.
Read more: The Complete Guide to Getting Clients for Your Consulting Business
15. Clothing Resale and Rental
As concerns over climate change and global warming proliferate, there’s more pressure to do something, especially in fashion (the second most polluting industry). The market for clothing resale and rental is massively expanding, and with Gen Z gravitating more towards vintage and reused clothing, trends look like this industry niche will grow 127% by 2026.
16. Home Improvement Business
Demand for home improvement demand slowed last year in comparison to 2021 but is still up 2% since 2020. There have also been increased material costs due to supply chain issues, squeezing the profit margin a bit, but as supply chain issues level out (as some of them already have) home improvement businesses will continue to be among the most profitable businesses.
17. Cleaning Service
There has been consistent demand for cleaning services, especially since more people are going back to work in-person and don’t have time to sweep the floors between Zoom calls. High demand offers high profit potential, with cleaners getting paid an average of $40-$45 per hour. Cleaning services are also scalable, require minimal overhead costs, and they have high levels of customer retention. Given that customer acquisition is one of the highest costs for many businesses, that gives cleaning services an extra boost in the profit department.
18. Cash-Based Businesses (Laundry Mats, Car Washes, and Vending Machines)
Look for archaic businesses that need to get with the times. Currently, vending machines, car washes, and laundry mats are three business opportunities with old models and systems. If you have enough cash up front, you can quickly spruce up a laundry mat with some fresh paint and an updated logo. The best part about these types of businesses is that they are still primarily cash-based. This means there is less overhead for implementing technology systems to get them up to speed.
Read more: How Codie Sanchez Built a TikTok Following on “Boring Businesses”
19. Health Coach
More than ever, people are willing to spend money on personal health. The health and wellness industry is $4 trillion and growing. Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic, more people are working out from home and getting medical consultancy over Zoom. That means that building and equipment costs, the most expensive part of a health and wellness business, can be cut.
Use your personal experience and brand to start coaching people 1-on-1 online in fitness, diet, mental health, career, or all of the above.
20. Build a Brand You Can Monetize
2024 is the year of content creation. It’s never been easier to start a brand and build profitability around it, especially thanks to recent advancements in AI technology. So here are some brand-building ideas that help you grow an audience that can give you back cash:
- Right now, TikTok is the best channel to grow an audience quickly. Just make sure your content is entertaining and engaging.
- Start a podcast focused on your industry expertise.
- Build an Instagram account about things to do in your city.
- Start a blog (yes, it’s still a thing) built around search terms about your favorite hobby.
- Launch a YouTube channel about a life hack.
Remember, if you start a brand to ONLY make money, then your audience will quickly unsubscribe, unfollow, and ignore you. Building an audience that can support you financially takes patience, consistency, and dedication. Most content-driven brands take years before they have a dedicated audience that will support them via membership, merchandise, and spin-off products.
21. Childcare Services
The average cost of childcare in the US per week ranges from $200 to $600. Whether it’s a nanny business, daycare, or after-school teaching, parents will shed desperate dollars if your childcare business offers safe, educational, and reliable service.
Although a childcare business requires certifications and background checks, it’s a relatively simple way to earn cash consistently throughout the school year and beyond. Plus, if you have a passion for kids and teaching, then starting a childcare business can serve a purpose beyond cash.
Most Profitable Businesses FAQ
Q: What does it mean to be a profitable business?
Being a profitable business means that your revenue minus expenses results in the black. When you’re just starting, this formula is simple, but the more you grow, the more complicated the numbers can get. Take our Finance for Founders course to refresh on financial concepts you need to know before starting a business.
Q: What is the best profitable business to start?
At foundr, we’ve interviewed and collaborated with leaders across industries and business sizes. One of the commonalities for success is passion. You need to be motivated by solving a problem or the mission of your brand. That could be as simple as wanting to help people in your neighborhood drive safe cars or as big as solving the archaic printer and ink system. Whatever your business idea is, it won’t be profitable year over year if you don’t love what it provides for society.
Q: How do I keep my business profitable?
Starting a business is hard. Staying in business is harder. Your business will have an inflection point when you need to invest more to grow. That’s when you’ll need to decide what you’re willing to risk for what you want. Do you want to be the CEO of a 50-person agency or have enough clients to pay your bills? These decisions will dictate your profitability, whether it’s raising prices, hiring an employee, or purchasing a new software. Remember that overhead kills your profitability, and the biggest profit suck is people. Don’t hire unnecessarily. Otherwise, you’ll overstretch your bottom line.
How to Start a Profitable Business in 2024
Ready to start your business? Here are some helpful resources to take your business from idea to reality.
This article was updated with support from Graeme Whiles.