15 Small Business Ideas and How to Find Yours

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Starting a small business can be rewarding for people who value being in charge of their workplace and enjoy turning their business visions into a reality.

[Featured image] A small business owner stands in front of the checkout counter of their record shop.

As a small business owner, you can develop your product and service offerings while controlling business tasks, such as scheduling, marketing, bookkeeping, and hiring. With your small business, you ultimately get the final say.

A small business owner can benefit from a strong desire to learn, an interest in innovation, or motivation to work toward their ideas of success. According to the Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (M/o MSME), there are 6.3 crore MSMEs in India as of 2023 [1]—and every one of them started with one thing: an idea.

Small business vs. side hustle

The M/o MSME defines a micro-enterprise as a business with an annual turnover of no more than 5 crore that requires an investment of no more than 1 crore. A small enterprise has an annual turnover of no more than 50 crore and requires an investment of at most ₹10 crore. A medium enterprise has an annual turnover of no more than 250 crore and requires an investment of no more than 50 crore [2]. 

Running an MSME can be a full-time job or something a person does in addition to their primary employment. A small business pursued on the side of another job is commonly called a side hustle.


This article will focus on small businesses that people often treat as full-time jobs. 

Small business ideas

The first step toward launching your small business is knowing the type of business you’d like to launch. Use this list as a starting point for your creativity. Here are a few questions to consider as you read through the options below:

  • What skills do you already have, and what are you interested in learning more about?

  • What kinds of tasks do you enjoy doing?

  • Do you have any limiting factors to consider, such as scheduling blocks or start-up costs?

*All salary data is sourced from Glassdoor as of April 2024.

1. IT/computer consultant

An IT or computer consultant helps other small businesses set up and fix their computer systems. Often, these other businesses won’t have internal IT departments, so they'll call their consultant when they encounter an issue. An IT consultant may also deal with computer vendors when clients require new systems or parts for repair.

Good for people who like: building and fixing computers

Requires: a tool set, local travel, some physical strength

Average annual salary (INR): ₹7,00,000

2. Repair person

Everything requires some maintenance from time to time, whether it’s clogged gutters, a leaky faucet, or a gate that won’t latch closed. A repair person fixes issues around the home or workplace. These can range from odd jobs to more specialised problems, like repairing air conditioning systems or installing new water heaters.

Good for people who like: working with their hands, learning how things work, and fixing things

Requires: a tool kit, local travel, physical strength, and flexibility

Average annual salary (INR): ₹2,19,000

3. Landscaper/gardener

People living in suburban or rural areas often have yards to maintain, and a landscaper or gardener can help with that. They may mow the lawn, tend to shrubs, plant flowers, or help manage minor pest problems, such as installing fencing to keep squirrels away from blooming fruits.

Good for people who like: physical work, being outside, and yard design

Requires: landscaping equipment, local travel, and physical strength

Average annual salary (INR): ₹1,92,000

4. Cleaning service

Many people hire professional cleaners to help them keep up with dust and grime build-up, having them come clean their home or business weekly or monthly. This type of predictable scheduling can be helpful for people who like to plan. 

Cleaners may vacuum, dust, and scrub regularly and offer deep cleaning services for harder-to-reach areas as needed.

Good for people who like: cleaning and organising

Requires: cleaning supplies, local travel, and maneuverability

Average annual salary (INR): ₹12,43,404

5. Personal chef

Personal chefs ensure their clients are well-fed, incorporating their nutritional needs and taste preferences into the menu selections. They may work for singular clients or prepare meals for many clients daily or weekly. It may help to take nutrition courses or cooking classes before becoming a personal chef, though it is not a requirement.

Good for people who like: working in the kitchen and nutrition

Requires: cooking tools, local travel, and access to ingredients

Average annual salary (INR): ₹3,300,000

6. Interior designer

Interior designers furnish and decorate their clients’ homes, from selecting paint colours and light fixtures to filling rooms with furniture and art. Some interior designers also oversee contract work, such as cabinet installation or wall tear-downs. Interior designers may frequently collaborate with other local artists, woodworkers, or furniture crafters to get better deals for their clients, and they’ll often build a roster of reliable contractors.

Good for people who like: design and styling

Requires: people skills and organisation

Average annual salary (INR): ₹1,504,692

7. Photographer

People often want to hire photographers to capture significant events, like birthday parties or weddings, and personal moments, such as an engagement or their family’s growth. Some photographers may specialise in one type of event, while others offer various services. Photographers play a big creative role in many people’s most memorable days.

Good for people who like: art direction, artistic expression, and capturing moments

Requires: camera equipment, local travel, and maneuverability

Average annual salary (INR): ₹1,023,528

8. Event planner

Event planners help organise and coordinate birthday parties, weddings, conferences, and other events. They work with vendors like caterers and photographers, secure necessary permits, keep to a schedule from set-up through clean-up, and manage any needs on the event day. Some event planners may also work on virtual events, including coordinating digital access and sending guests any physical items needed to participate from home.

Good for people who like: hosting and creating memorable moments

Requires: organisation, people skills, and travel

Average annual salary (INR): ₹2,76,000

9. Bookkeeper

Bookkeepers work with businesses to organise their finances. They may process payroll, invoices, and expense reports. They’ll also track spending and balance bank accounts to ensure the business’s money is where it expects it to be. Bookkeepers can work from home if their clients use online banking systems. However, some companies may still process paper invoices, requiring local travel. In some locations, bookkeeping requires a certification.

Good for people who like: balancing cheque books, maths, and budgeting

Requires: the ability to work independently

Average annual salary (INR): ₹5,00,000

10. Personal trainer

Personal trainers are exercise partners for people who want to improve their physical health. They may offer private sessions to individual clients or organise group classes as fitness instructors. Personal trainers typically need a certification to get started, and they may rent space in a gym, set up their gym, travel to people’s homes, or organise virtual classes online.

Good for people who like: physical activity and working with clients

Requires: certification, physical strength, and exercise equipment

Average annual salary (INR): ₹2,238,300

11. Life/career coach

A life coach helps clients change areas of their lives, and a career coach specialises in navigating career changes. Coaches may work with individual clients in private sessions or organise group sessions with clients hoping to achieve similar outcomes. Coaches can obtain certifications through organisations like the Coach Transformation Academy, which offers life and career coaching programmes. 

Good for people who like: helping people navigate change

Requires: emotional intelligence

Average annual salary (INR): ₹6,000,000

Small business ideas from home

If your ability to travel is limited, you may prefer to work from home. Operating a small business from home may require a computer, internet connection, and sometimes speciality software.

12. Graphic designer

Graphic designers create digital imagery like logos, flyers, or infographics for brands. This work requires some collaboration between the designer and their client. As the designer, you will listen to your client's needs, offer your opinions on how to best deliver those needs, and create assets based on your agreement. You’ll often work independently while creating graphics, but some back-and-forth may be required, depending on the project.

Good for people who like: design, visual storytelling, and collaboration

Requires: a computer and a design program, such as Photoshop or Canva

Average annual salary (INR): ₹3,48,000

13. Website developer

Website developers build websites for other businesses or individuals. This service blends IT and design skills, as you need knowledge to create functional and user-friendly websites. As a website developer, you will build websites according to your client’s needs and offer suggestions on making the best website experience for their users. You may also work with companies hosting websites or selling domain names if your client doesn’t own a website.

Good for people who like: IT, coding, and design

Requires: a computer with an internet connection

Average annual salary (INR): ₹9,60,000

14. Writer

You can pursue various ways to build a career as a writer. For example, you might focus on editorial writing for publications, content, copywriting, social media management for brands or businesses, or resume writing for individuals. Many writers incorporate various services into their business offerings. Writers who manage their small businesses may offer their services on a freelance or contract basis, allowing them to maintain control over the projects they take on and how they spend their time.

Good for people who like: writing and storytelling

Requires: a computer

Average annual salary (INR): ₹1,020,000

15. Virtual assistant/administrator

Virtual assistants or administrators are discreet professionals who keep their clients organised. They may manage schedules, sort emails, create itineraries, or help with other digital tasks. Once they onboard a client, they’ll likely work with them consistently, opening the potential for long-term, collaborative relationships.

Good for people who like: digital organisation and personal collaboration

Requires: a computer with an internet connection

Average annual salary (INR): ₹9,42,108

Starting a successful business

You can measure a small business’s success in many ways, but one dominant perception of success is whether your business earns a profit. A profitable business generates more money than it spends. Most small businesses are not profitable for the first two or three years in business, but some areas can help you forecast whether your business will become profitable.

Know your business costs

Every business costs some amount of money to run. These costs are often split into start-up costs and operating expenses.

  • Start-up costs are upfront expenses you’ll incur before offering your services. These may include equipment purchases, office space, furniture, insurance, and incorporation fees.

  • Operating expenses are recurring costs you’ll routinely owe as you run your business. These may include utility bills, transportation, and employee salaries.

Developing a business plan can help you estimate how much money you’ll need to launch and run your business. Once you’ve determined your anticipated business costs, you can calculate the amount of money you’ll need to launch your business and how much you’ll need to earn monthly to make a profit. 

Depending on the amount needed to launch, business owners may rely on business loans, personal savings, investments, or a combination of all three to fund their business.

Determine the value of your services

Your business's profit-making ability will largely depend on your services and where you offer them. For example, if you provide highly specialised and necessary services in an area where similar services are limited, you can charge more for your work.

Additionally, consider variables that may contribute to your overall value. Completing work quickly may help you earn more money in the same amount of time, and offering higher quality work than your competitors may help you attract more customers.

Conducting market research in the areas where you hope to operate your business and assessing the value of your services can help you forecast your small business's potential profitability.

Next steps

As you consider the skills you want to incorporate into your small business, keep learning about the logistics of your upcoming launch. Wharton’s Entrepreneurship Specialisation can guide learners from the ideation process through their business launch with coursework that covers development, growth, profitability, and more.

Article sources


Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises. “YEAR END REVIEW – 2023’-MINISTRY OF MICRO, SMALL AND MEDIUM ENTERPRISES (MSME), https://pib.gov.in/PressReleasePage.aspx?PRID=1992842." Accessed April 25, 2024.

Keep reading

Updated on
Written by:

Editorial Team

Coursera’s editorial team is comprised of highly experienced professional editors, writers, and fact...

This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.