Entrepreneurship · 12 February 2021

What are the most successful small businesses?

What are the most successful small businesses?

The small business model is appealing for many reasons, but whatever your reasons for starting or joining a small business you will want to make sure the business is successful and profitable. Small businesses often depend on their originality and marketing strategy and 2020 and the impact of Covid-19 has also taught many small business owners the importance of flexibility and adaptability.

Owning or working in a small business can be incredibly rewarding when the business is run well. However, with 60% of small businesses failing within the first three years, it is vital to understand the SME market and enter at the right point.

What kind of Small Business is most profitable?

Turning a good profit is the purpose of business. With most small businesses battling to make a profit for the first two years, it is important to know what kind of business will either start making money quickly or have enough of a profit in the long term to make it feasible. 

Although the success of your business will depend largely on where you live and the market saturation in your area, the following types of business have been noted as being the most generally profitable:

Professional, Scientific, and IT services

If you have put in the hard work of gaining education, experience, and expertise, then you are perfectly positioned to enter the small business market. With this sector averaging almost a 12% profit margin it is the most profitable sector on the list.

Legal services, accounting, financial planning, IT support, and technical setup and assistance are all in high demand. People cannot handle professional services on their own and are often more willing to give their business to an SME knowing that their service will be more tailored and personal.

If you have been in the industry for a long time you can also offer your services to businesses as a consultant. This can work out cheaper for a business because they don’t have to employ someone on their own books, but it also allows you the flexibility of working in a small business capacity while taking advantage of your own hard-won expertise.

Within this bracket, you can also find healthcare professionals. Make sure you have the right insurance and then practice from your own premises, or offer your services to a private practice as a self-employed healthcare provider.

Trades, manual labour, and physical assistance

People who can offer a trade are always in high demand. This includes plumbers, construction workers, electricians, mechanics, technicians, and tilers, among others. 

No matter where technology leads, people will always need repairs and technical assistance, especially in areas of highly specific training and where physical or manual expertise and dexterity are required. 

Even if your trade is less specialised and more physical, people are always willing to hire people to help them with physical work they can’t do themselves. This could include painting, driving, gardening, washing windows, and even dog walking. 


A rapidly growing industry that requires little to no education is rentals, although you will need a knack for understanding trends. Rentals require more start-up capital, but with a lot of people wanting to try things themselves and not invest in expensive equipment, rentals and “equipment libraries” are becoming more and more popular. 

Rentals can be quite a niche market, so make sure you know your target market and demographic well. Recently successful rental businesses have taken advantage of the DIY trend as well as the growing number of people avoiding environmentally demanding products such as single wear apparel. 

Online goods and services

Take advantage of the masses buying online and market your own goods and services. Buy in bulk and resell, offer web services, create a local listing store for local shops with no online presence, or join the growing ranks of virtual assistants. 

You will need to be careful if you choose this route as many small businesses are trying to enter the online market. Your skill will need to be unique and tailored to your target market, your goods or services will need to be good quality, and you will need an understanding of SEO and online marketing to be successful and make the kind of profit you are looking for

What type of Small Businesses are in demand?

2020 drastically changed the business landscape, but that can be hugely beneficial to businesses just starting up or looking to expand or change their business model. Most SMEs are now online and more successful offering online services (with the exception of most trades and healthcare). Take a look at the most in-demand businesses for 2021 and see where you can enter the market.


Most businesses took a hit in 2020 and many are willing to pay for expertise and advice on how to get back on their feet.

Online teaching, tutoring, and courses

A lot of people are retraining or seeing the need for advanced education through additional courses or training. If you are able to teach your skill then you can take advantage of this market demand. You can design your own courses and sell them, start your own online professional development business, or freelance as a teacher or tutor. 

App Development

Technology seems to run our lives, which means there is a huge market for new technological developments. Children’s apps, educational apps, and entertainment are all in particularly high demand.

Cleaning service

This is a fairly obvious one at the moment but be aware that this is an industry that may die out soon despite its current high demand. If you like to clean, are not afraid of germs, and have the capital for travel and the correct cleaning supplies, then you may be able to take advantage of this need in the short term.

Long-term, there are some cleaning services that offer better prospects, including niche services such as after-party clean up, bed-bug eradication, and student or rental house deep cleans.


If you can write, have experience of SEO, or can provide top-class photography or graphic design then marketing is the right place for you to enter the SME market. Businesses are scrambling to recoup losses and marketing is the best way to do that. Some of the most in-demand marketing jobs include copywriters, web developers, product photographers, and social media managers.

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