Top 10 small business ideas for 2018

By Abhilash Menon
Small business ideas cover photo

Maybe racking your brain with a thousand small business ideas has exhausted you.


The very fact you are here means you are motivated — no amount of exhaustion can stop you. The enthusiasm might stem from the rush, the kind of excitement you can’t get from a cubicle.  Bottom line is you are pumped up to ring the new year with your very own business.

To ensure your motivation doesn’t get beat down by your exhaustion, we have created a comprehensive list of the top ten small business ideas for 2018.

You can stop wandering off the internet looking for the next big business plan. Make the right choice by picking a business that suits your capabilities and current situation.

Let’s dive in:

Top 10 small business ideas for 2018

Here’s a list of small business ideas from the most expensive initial investments to the cheapest ones:

1. Elder home care services

Small business ideas elder careSource


Old is definitely gold. With the world population going older at breakneck speed, home care services is one of the most promising small business ideas. Typically, these services include live-in nurse, housekeepers, and companions.

You can begin offering home care services either by buying a franchise or starting independently. Some of the popular franchises are Nurse Next Door, Visiting Angels, and Homewatch.

Cost to set up:  Approx. $114,400 ( Franchise) $171,600 (Independently owned) Average Gross profit: Approx. $286,000 ( Franchise) $343,200 (Independently owned)


  • Tax benefits. People who pay for homecare services receive tax deductibles — higher income tax returns. Customers would be less reluctant to pay for your services since they know they will eventually get it back.
  • Demographic advantage. By 2050, the population of old age people will double from 10% to 20%. It’s a clear indicator that demand for elder home care services will rise in the coming decades.


  • Cultural barriers. In certain cultures, children are supposed to take care of their elderly. The idea of a stranger taking care of elders makes the children seem ‘Uncaring or bad kins’. This is especially true for many Asian cultures like China, India, Korea, to name a few.
  • Tracking accountability. People employ your services because they don’t have the time to take care of their elders. Your staff needs to be on time, a slight delay can cost you a client. In that regard, pushing staff to be accountable by being punctual can be a tough task.

With Hiver, you can assign and TRACK tasks with absolute ease, from right inside your inbox. Know more. Learn More.

2. Car charging station

Small business ideas car chargerSource


Out of the many small business ideas, a car charging station has the potential to become a promising business for the future. Part of it has to do with people becoming environmentally conscious and the other being the falling price tag of Electric vehicles (EVs). It’s projected that by 2050, 65% of all sales will be EVs, taking away the market share from gasoline based vehicles.

Similar to how the rise of automobiles led to the growth of gas stations, EV charging stations will enjoy the same benefit. With top car brands like Audi, BMW, Nissan, and Tesla, launching EVs in 2018, there is no better time to set up a car charging station.

Cost to set up: Approx. $50000 Average pricing: $8.50 for a two-hour session


  • Brand reputation. Being in a position where you can tell customers that using your service will benefit someone else (in this case, the environment) strengthens brand image.
  • Government subsidies. Some of you might think the cost to set up is high. Relax, governments provide significant subsidies and grants to encourage entrepreneurs to invest in ‘Green’ ventures.
  • Additional revenue streams. Similar to gas stations, make additional revenue from advertising, confectionery stands, so forth and so on. Considering people have to wait till their car is charged, it gives you more time to indulge them.


  • Long waiting time. It takes roughly 20 to 25 minutes of charging time to add 50 miles of range to an EV. Although efforts have been made to reduce the charging time, it’s still difficult to compete with the speed at a gas station.
  • Limited locations. Stations have to be in close proximity to electricity supply rooms. This makes it difficult to set up at places which might be convenient for EV users. The fear of not having a charging station readily available might shake the confidence of customers.

3. Pet boarding

Small business ideas petSource


Although pets have become mainstream, it’s not feasible for pet owners to take them on every vacation. People are looking at pet boarding centers to ensure their pets are taken care of in their absence. Since pets are considered family, owners are ready to spend premium amounts for their well being.

Here are few stats to show you how pet boarding is one of the most lucrative small business ideas:

  1. Pet owners currently spend close to $5.4 billion.
  2. By 2020, the pet industry will amass $96 billion in sales


The numbers clearly indicate that services like pet boarding will enjoy great levels of demand in 2018 and beyond.

Cost to set up:  Approx. $10000 to $50000 (Depending on location, size, and state regulations)                                        

Average income/revenue:  $20 to $25/ pet/ day


  • Channel your love for animals. ‘To do what you love and make money from it’ provides maximum job satisfaction. This gives you the much needed morale boost to expand your business.
  • Good scope for repetitive business. Trust is an important factor in running this business. If you deliver a great service on the first go, chances are owners will keep coming back.


  • Starting up is expensive. Initially, expensive overheads might overwhelm you. This might include the cost to build modern facilities, insurance, buying pet grooming products, and managing food supply.
  • High level of pet knowledge. Having love for pet animals isn’t enough to break into this business. A detailed knowledge of the biology and psychology of pets is needed. This requires you to enroll in a professional course, adding to startup costs.
  • A pricey client support system. Clients would expect quick updates on their dogs at all times. You would have to employ a lot more reps and install expensive helpdesk software which might not be financially feasible for a new business.

The first step towards building an awesome client support system - a robust helpdesk. Try Hiver. Learn More.

4. Online photo selling

Small business ideas online photo sellingSource


Stock photography companies like Shutterstock are always on the lookout to buy great quality images. Interestingly, the list of contributors to stock photography has increased rapidly and so has the money. Shutterstock alone paid a total sum of $83 million to its contributors.

It's one of those small business ideas which has big money riding over it. Why?

Companies who require visual content, but are not in the position to create one, see stock photos as an affordable alternative. With 84% of the communication being visual in 2018, stock photography companies are paying handsome amounts to match demand with supply.

Cost to set up: Approx. $8500 to $12500   Average revenue/ income: $500 to $10000 (depending on the number of downloads)


  • Find a huge audience. Selling stock photos gets you volume both in terms of money and viewership. It allows viability in case you decide to sell stock photos directly.
  • Play an integral part in other’s branding. Your photos will play a big role in shaping company’s branding strategy who use it as part of their visual communication. This presents an opportunity to expand into consultation where you can provide expertise on visual content strategy.


  • Inconsistent cash flow. Many of the stock companies like Shutterstock pay when the image gets downloaded. Viewership doesn’t guarantee downloads, leading to financial unpredictability.
  • Photos can be stolen. With a few photoshop tricks, your intellectual property can be plagiarized. Someone else can undermine your hard work, affecting you financially and emotionally.

Watch the video to know the top ten websites which will pay you well for your photos.

5. Translation services

Small business ideas translation services


Proficient in a language? You can stop your search for small business ideas because translation services might be the right fit for you.

According to a study, translation services is the fastest growing industry, projected to add 12,401 jobs by 2019. The trend can be attributed to two factors:

  • Businesses expanding into different countries
  • An influx of immigrants

But before you start, you need to get certified. There are many institutions offering translations courses. Consider the course fees as part of your business expense — without it, you don’t have a business.

Cost to set up:  Approx. $2000 to $10000 (Including certification)     Average revenue/ income:  $72000/ yr (Certified) to $53000/ yr ( non-certified)


  • A multicultural experience. By understanding and interpreting languages, you get an intricate insight into the culture. This enables you to translate complex nuances like body language and slangs with ease.
  • Flexibility. It’s neither age restricted nor do you need an office space to run translation services. Work from home, on your time while ensuring a high return.


  • Challenges from translation software. Basic translation has been outsourced to AI software. Although the technology isn’t that advanced, it still presents a challenge to amateur translators.
  • Highly competitive. The market is filled with experienced professionals, putting them at a head start. It’s difficult to make your services stand out since there is no major differentiating factor except price.

6. Mobile DJ

Small business ideas mobile dj



People are more inclined than ever to cut expensive wedding overheads. One such is the cost incurred to set up DJ equipment. That’s why people are looking at mobile DJs as an affordable alternative to traditional DJs.

Mobile disc jockeys tour with portable sound, lighting, and video systems. They play a set of pre-recorded music with the help of USB flash drives and laptops. As a result, people don’t have to worry about the equipment as it’s already taken care by the DJ. Essentially, it's one of those small business ideas that work on offering customer convenience.

Cost to set up:  $2000 to $4000 (total average cost of equipment)   Average income/revenue: Approx. $6000 to $100K annually (solo business)


  • A wide range of operation. The portability factor allows you to host events pretty much anywhere. There are no geographical restrictions, allowing to scale your operations effortlessly.
  • Expand into related event services. You can offer additional services without having to make grand expenses. These include photography, video projections, karaoke, video dance parties, so forth and so on.


  • Damage to equipment. Your dependency on equipment makes your business vulnerable. A damage might force you to stop performing, at least till you don’t fix or replace the equipment.
  • It takes time to get noticed. There are two types of small business ideas: one which gives instant success, the other which requires you to slog for the initial years. Unfortunately, mobile DJs fall on the latter. A survey shows the majority of mobile DJs are in the age bracket of 35-44 years. Basically, to come on top you have to invest considerable time and money.

7. Medical travel agent

Small business ideas medical travelSource


A rise in healthcare cost and poor insurance schemes has led people to seek out medical assistance in other countries a.k.a medical tourism. But, with so many countries, hospitals, and clinics, making the right choice can be difficult. This is where medical travel agents come in, providing consultation and logistics for people to make the right pick.

Cost to set up:  $400 to $2000 (Membership fee to join a host agency)   Average revenue/income: 10% to 15% commission on each patient.


    • No license required. There is no need for a license to start operations. However, having a certification that authenticates your credibility is a good to have.
    • It’s not seasonal. Unlike many small business ideas, medical tourism does not run on the ‘seasonal concept’. A consistent demand, ensures steady cash flow.
    • Travel the world. As someone who is supposed to advise people on which hospitals and countries to choose, you have to first do a thorough self-analysis. This means you are always traveling to interesting destinations, all of which is paid for by the host agency.


  • The legal risk is high. When things go downhill, lawyers might find you an easier target to sue rather than hospitals which are out of the country’s jurisdiction. You should have a full understanding of the legalities relating to medical tourism.
  • Kickbacks. Hospitals and clinics might offer bribes so that you can sway your clients in their favor. With an absence of a solid governing body, identifying and prosecuting such unethical behavior is difficult.

8. Resume services

Small business ideas resume


With recruiters spending just over 5 seconds looking at one resume, candidates are in no mood to take chances. This has fueled the demand for professional resume services. To put it bluntly, FOMO enables such small business ideas to flourish.

Generally, resume services include writing CVs and cover letters, professional guidance, and enhancing interview skills.

Cost to set up: Low (for non-certified professionals) $500 (for certified professionals)  Average income/revenue: $400 (entry level resume) to $1100+ (executive level resume)


  • Immune to the economic situation. People will always be looking for a job. In an economic boom, folks might look for new opportunities for career advancement. Subsequently, during a recession, people might seek out general employment.
  • Leave a trail of recommendations. If your services convert into a job, clients would be more than delighted to recommend you to their peers.
  • Formal education not required. You might be a high school dropout and it still wouldn’t matter. This is one of those small business ideas where you have to train yourself on the job. Here the skill required is to be in sync with what recruiters are looking for.


  • Detailed knowledge of specialized industries. Say, a client is looking for an opportunity to become a water broker, it’s your job to know everything about the water trading industry. This requires additional resources which might add to expensive overheads.
  • Competition from resume writing tools. In recent years, resume writing tools have seen a spike in the market. These self-help tools enable people to create resumes on their own, ensuring your services are not required.
  • The cost to get certified. Although not necessary, certification brings greater credibility. Associations like The National Resume Writers’ Association (NRWA) offer certification for which there is an additional fee.

9. Content writer

Small business ideas content creationSource


There are a few factors which make content writing one of the hottest small business ideas of 2018:

  • 73% of organizations are looking to hire professionals with expertise in content marketing
  • In 2017, there was a Google quality update almost every month. Pages with top quality content were ranked higher, the ones with thin content were pushed back, and in some cases blacklisted.
  • Content marketing generates 6X conversions than any other methods.

Cost to set up: Low (Computer + internet connection)  Average revenue/income:  54¢ to $2.06 per word.


  • Global clientele. There is an opportunity to work with diverse clients from various industries, allowing you to share your expertise with the world.
  • Expand your knowledge. An outcome of creating content for diverse clientele is you get a detailed overview of how things operate in each industry. By sharing your knowledge, you are seen as a credible industry thought leader.
  • Work from home. You can collaborate with the world straight from your home. Save money on traveling, office rent, and other such utilities.


  • Good assignments don’t come easy. Initially, scoring a good content contract is highly unlikely. You have to first focus on building a strong portfolio, based on which clients will approach you.
  • Work more for less. You might get clients which are not very easy when it comes to payments. It might bog you down seeing the volume of work and the kind of money you are getting for it.

Watch the video to create content that performs well for Google search results.

10. Online personal stylist


Small business ideas fashion stylist



Are you one of those who turns into a fashion police every time you see celebrities walking down the red carpet? In that case, become an online personal stylist to turn your passion into expertise.

Offer online assistance to help people choose the right outfit and accessories. All you need to kickstart is an understanding of what kind of clothes and colors work on different body types with a dash of an entrepreneurial spirit.

As far as the demand for a personal stylist is concerned, you need not worry. With apparel and accessories sales projected to increase up to 116 billion USD, your expertise will always be required.

Cost to set up:  Low  Average fee: $15/hr to $200/hr (Based on experience)


  • Very little investment. You get paid for your expertise, the only significant investment will be in professional styling courses. Essentially, it’s very little investment with a potential of earning high revenue.
  • Work from your home. You don’t need an actual office space to conduct your business. A laptop, a microphone, and probably some tea is all you need to get going.


  • Difficult to style without meeting in person. Styling people is an intricate human art, one which requires physical presence. The lack of which makes it difficult to grasp client needs.
  • Meeting client expectation. Personal styling is subjective, what works for you might not work for your client or for the people they are styling for. You might fall short of client expectation without even realizing it.

Finally, think about growth

Whichever small business ideas you go for, the intention should always be to start small and not end small. Basically, pick a business where scalability is feasible in the future.

This means at some stage, you will need to hire people who have to work as a team. It's a tricky transition, one which can make or break your business. For a smooth transformation, come up with a rough blueprint for scalability. Consider your many business funding options if your blueprint includes large expenses like hiring new technical staff or making a big business purchase. A proactive approach will help your business have an uninterrupted growth trajectory.

Thinking of starting a small business? Hiver can help you scale and manage teams without breaking a sweat. Built within the Gmail, Hiver offers a zero learning curve. With an effortless platform adoption; confusion, frustration, and conflicts can be avoided. Ultimately, teams are able to work productively, leading to better business performance.

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About the author

Abhilash is the content marketer at Hiver. On free days, he's a glorified coffee snob and a passionate blogger. On not-so-free days, he's trying to understand the right perspective when it comes to content marketing.


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