The Best Small Business Ideas for 2018

Looking for some inspiration for your next entrepreneurial breakthrough? We looked at several industries to evaluate trends over the past year to help pinpoint ideas for an aspiring business owner. Whether you’re interested in the food industry or the tech scene, here’s a list of small business ideas that can catapult your career in 2018.

Small business ideas for the foodie

Hyperlocal restaurants

The National Restaurant Association (NRA) surveyed 700 American Culinary Federation members, asking them to rate different food items and concepts that will trend in 2018. Seventy-four percent of participants said hyperlocal concepts will be a hot trend of 2018. So if you’re thinking about starting a restaurant this year, consider hyperlocal additions like a restaurant garden, housemade condiments, or onsite beer brewing.

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Food trucks

Starting a food truck business in 2018 can be appealing for several reasons. If you don’t want to commit to a full-fledged restaurant because of the considerable financial obligations, starting a food truck is a low-cost alternative that can help you penetrate the food industry and build up a reputation.

Moreover, industry statistics show that food truck businesses continue to prosper. The State of the Industry report found mobile catering services had 2.8-percent revenue growth over the past year, and in the NRA Hot Trends of 2018, 49 percent of industry professionals surveyed believe food trucks will be a hot restaurant concept.

Waitrose, a British grocer, predicts the following U.S. food trends that can help ignite inspiration for your food truck business:

  • Tapas-style Indian street food: Instead of saucy meats and decadent flavors, smoked, grilled, or seared delicacies will be a hot trend of 2018 that you could capitalize on.
  • Japanese shared dishes: Izakaya bars and gastropubs have continued to grow in popularity and could be a great food truck concept.
  • The fourth meal: Rather than being a substantial meal, the fourth meal is treated like a snack. Whether it’s a late-night craving or a quick bite at the gym, this could be a solid idea for a food truck business.

Middle Eastern cuisine

The 2018 Culinary Forecast says authentic ethnic cuisine will be a top trend of 2018, and Whole Foods predicts Middle Eastern food will be a leading fare. Spices like harissa and cardamom have already entered menu dishes over the past year as Middle Eastern concepts begin to grow, and you should expect to see more of them in 2018. To jump ahead of the trend (and reap the profit potential), think about starting your own Middle Eastern restaurant or add additional menu items that feature these flavors.

Small business ideas for the environmental entrepreneur

Organic juice bar

Organic agriculture has seen a huge spike in interest over the past few years as consumers continue to be exposed to some of the realities of the agricultural industry. A report from IBIS World says that the juice bar industry saw an annual growth of 2.3 percent, and the growing economy is expected to support demand for the industry in the upcoming year. So if you’re interested in all-natural foods and want to capture this opportunity, this may be the way to go in 2018.

Vegan skin care

Consumers continue to take interest in all-natural, organic beauty products. A recent report from Google, which compiles 2017 search data, found that users are extremely interested in vegan skin care, particularly vegan soap, face wash, and lotion.

Whether you start a small business making soap, or you open a salon and sell vegan products in your store, this trend indicates a huge revenue opportunity for your new business in 2018. (Given the search volume, you might also consider opening an online store.)

Organic pet food

The 2017 edition of the Pet Food in the U.S. report estimates that pet food sales increased six percent over the past year, which is attributed to the growth of online sales. Because of this — and the continued growth the report predicts through 2022 — starting an eCommerce store that sells organic pet food in 2018 could be extremely profitable.

How can you differentiate yourself from other competitors that might enter this market in 2018? Here are a few small business suggestions for an online store based on predictive trends:

  • Home-delivery pet food services offer numerous benefits for your customers — think convenience and customization — and can be operated online.
  • Homemade pet food is a popular trend in the industry, so you could sell protein mix-ins or toppers for pet food on your eCommerce platform.
  • Specialized pet food based on breed, size, and activity level has become more popular with pet owners. By offering a wide selection on your online store, you can target a variety of customers.

Small business ideas for the tech lover

Virtual reality

Are you an entrepreneur who has a passion for tech? Studies say that the virtual reality (VR) industry is expected to hit $75 billion by the end of 2021.
While creating VR products seems like a big investment that would require substantial funding, there are many virtual reality startup ideas you can capitalize on. Whether it be renting virtual reality headsets to other businesses, creating VR content for conferences, or consulting on VR implementation, you can utilize this trend and your passion for technology to develop a profitable business.

Digital consulting

Are you an expert in the tech industry? Starting a consulting business might be something to consider in 2018. U.S. companies increased spending on consulting by 7.1 percent in 2016, which is a great indicator for growth and could be seen as an opportunity for entrepreneurs.

The digital space in particular is a promising sector. As technology keeps advancing and we continue to hear about blockchain and digital reality, businesses are looking for ways to help stay ahead. You can use your expertise in 2018 to assist in the digital transformation for clients and create a lucrative digital consulting business.

The business checklist that will make your idea into a reality

While it sounds simple, starting a business on your own can be a tough grind that requires patience. Before you get going, here are a few things that you need to have in order.

  1. Adequate industry training: In order to enter any industry successfully, it’s important to have extensive knowledge about the business and master the skills needed to be efficient.

  2. A well-thought-out business plan: Your business plan will be the framework of your idea and the more time you put into creating a business plan, the better off you’ll be. Make sure to detail out all components including an executive summary, business description, market analysis, competitive analysis, product plan, business operations, employee and training summary, and financial strategy. These will help you create well-defined goals and actionable steps for your business.

  3. Funding: Starting a business is expensive and most of the time requires outside business funding. A business line of credit or a small business loan are common business financing options to consider. But you should analyze your financial situation before getting locked into a payback plan.

  4. Entrepreneurial drive: Not every industry expert is suited to be a business owner. The drive and motivation you need to go your own way aren’t often taught. Time management skills, organization, and problem resolution are notable entrepreneurial traits that you should master before starting your own business, and successful entrepreneurs often form habits that help them become successful in their endeavors.