If you want to start or invest in a small business in the US today, there are literally millions of business ideas to choose from, so it’s a good idea to narrow your choices to a few profitable small business fields. Here is a list of the ten most profitable small business industries in the US, as of late 2016. Investing in or starting a small business in one of these sectors will hopefully give you a fairly high return on investment.
Specialized design: interior, industrial, graphic
The ability to create an attractive design, whether industrial or interior, can lead to a profitable career. Some specialized education may be required. Graphic and interior designers are in demand by other small businesses to help enhance and strengthen their image. Industrial designers are sought out to improve the design, if not the function, of products. In today’s visually driven world, specialized design is among the most profitable small businesses.
Net profit margin: 11%
Consulting: technical, business, career
If you are an expert in your field and know how to help others succeed, consider a career as a consultant. Consulting services are always in demand, as every other kind of business needs advice and mentorship from time to time. Find or develop a niche and you have a nice profitable business that requires little overhead.
Net profit margin: 12%
Office administration and virtual assistant
Providing office and administrative assistance to other small companies is a niche small business that requires specialized knowledge, but not much overhead. These services are essential for most business owners. Offering the day to day paperwork management and record keeping, whether on site or at your own location, can be a profitable arrangement for both parties.
Net profit margin: 13%
Doctors and other health care providers
While many years of training are required for this small business industry, there is always a need for doctors, dentists, and other health care providers. Health care fields such as chiropractic, aromatherapy, and massage are included in this industry. Doctors and other providers can benefit from regular and repeat clients. Dentists, too, can make a nice margin of profit in this industry.
Net profit margin: 13.5%
Automobile leasing and renting
Companies like Zipcar have grown car rental and leasing into a profitable business opportunity. The on-demand philosophy of today’s economy has increased the need for near instant car rentals, and even the more traditional rental companies, such as Hertz, are growing. Another niche in this industry is the driver rental. The increased desire for self-employment, and the opportunity to do so through groups such as Uber, has made owning and operating your own franchise possible for almost anyone.
Net profit margin: 14.5%
Real Estate Agents and brokers
Requiring relatively low startup costs, and very low operating costs, real estate sales is another profitable small business venture for many. The startup costs include obtaining an agent or brokerage license and a location from which to operate. Smaller agencies have been run from the owner’s home. This industry is, however, dependent on the economy.
Net profit margin: 15.1%
Real Estate leasing agents
While real estate sales are economy-dependent, leasing is less so. This industry includes managing commercial and residential leases and properties for other owners and owning and renting your own properties. As long as there are people looking for homes and small businesses looking for locations, there will be a need for leasing agents. Once the initial costs of purchasing the property is recouped, the profit margin is near limitless.
Net profit margin 15.2%
Management and holding companies
Investment managers and privately owned small bank holding companies make up this industry. This sector of small business requires a forward looking mindset. Initial costs can be relatively high—in order to make the investments in startups and other small businesses; but making good predictions on the future of business can lead to incredible profits. The average of 15% includes those investments that produced losses, so you can imagine how much profit is involved in the win column.
Net profit margin: 15.5%
The legal industry includes many services provided by non-lawyers as well as lawyers. Notary services, paralegal services, title search agents, and settlement officers are also included in this sector. Initial costs for education and training may be expensive. Operating costs, though, can be minimal. Many legal services do not require even an office space. Like doctors, lawyers and legal service providers can rely on repeat clients.
Net profit margin: 18-19%
The most profitable small businesses in the US, regardless of economic trends, are in the finance industry. Accounting, tax preparation, payroll, and bookkeeping services are needed by nearly every other business sector. Specializing in one of these finance services provides a very high return with low operating costs.
Net profit margin: 19-21%