Five Creative Small Business Ideas with Low Competition

Good Business IdeasWhat are some creative small business ideas that most people would not think of starting and where you won’t face rigid competition? Better yet, which of those small business ideas can you start with a relatively small investment? We have a few interesting ideas that might get you thinking about something you might want to start up in 2018.

Most of these small business ideas can be implemented in small towns – they’re not just for large metropolitan areas. You can implement variations of these business models in your town and see the results you get. Since they take very little capital to get started, they do not carry the same level of risk as many other types of small businesses.


  1. Rent A Bicycle Business

Bicycle BusinessThe “rent a bicycle” business model is one of the easiest businesses to start because all you need is a small brick and mortar store where you can display the bicycles and service your customers. If your city is in a fairly warm climate and attracts a lot of tourists, this can generate year-round revenue. If the biking infrastructure is well-developed in your city (most cities in the country are putting in more bike lanes and paths), this model could be especially lucrative. It is also a big plus if you live near hiking trails or similar scenic routes that attract a lot of tourists.

If you invest in mountain bikes, you can charge higher rates and bill customers on an hourly basis. Consider setting up a website and marketing to people in your area to raise awareness (unless your location is already heavily trafficked and you don’t need to do marketing). This is one of the most creative small business ideas and relatively low-risk because your investment can be as low as five figures, and you may be able to recover your initial investment within a matter of months. As soon as you are cash-flow positive, you can start thinking about expanding your services to sell bikes for large manufacturers and/or opening more locations across your state.  


  1. Coffee Making Business

Coffee BusinessCoffee is always in demand, and if you’re passionate about brewing coffee, you can start a coffee shop in your town and even offer delivery services similar to a pizza shop. Coffee is always profitable because it’s the most consumed drink in the country. In addition, major chains like Starbucks and Caribou have conditioned consumers to pay very high prices for a cup of coffee. You could start this type of business just doing delivery out of your home, undersell the big players, and still have very profitable margins. Later, when you have the capital to invest, you can rent a small shop with some tables for people to come in and enjoy their coffee. Once you reach this point, you will be well on your way to building a lucrative business.  


  1. Cookie Selling Business

Cookie BusinessSimilar to coffee, cookies are loved by almost everyone, and this is one of those businesses that can be started by teenagers/young adults or older adults. If you are interested in baking cookies, you can open your own shop or even start selling cookies out of your home. It is not too hard to bake cookies, and if you have a “secret” family recipe that everybody loves, it might turn out more profitable than you imagine. If you have more capital to invest, there are also some cookie franchises you could become affiliated with.


  1. Gift Hamper Business

Gift Hamper BusinessIf you can create a business that specializes in the sale of hampers, you can benefit from a lot of seasonal market uptick because people exchange these all the time during Christmas/New Years and they purchase a lot for their extended families/business partners/customers, etc. There are many periods throughout the year where people purchase gifts (usually in large quantities), and if you can become the premier service in your area during those periods, you’ll make enough money to support yourself for the rest of the year. This is also one of those creative small business ideas that can be started by young adults – as long as they are creative about their packages and know how to source out individual products.


  1. Photography Business

Photography BusinessIf you have exceptional photography skills (or you have a friend or family member who does), you can start a profitable photography business. Some shy away from this business model because everyone has a camera in their pocket these days. That is true, but people still want professional photos for events such as weddings, birthday parties, and school pictures. One of the best aspects of this business is that all you need to get started is a camera, laptop, photo editing software and a website to promote your service. Photography businesses can be started by young adults too, and as you grow your business, you can also affiliate with large camera makers such as Canon and Nikon to sell cameras in your area.


These are just a handful of small business ideas to get your creative juices flowing. There are numerous additional creative business ideas you could come up with to get into the entrepreneurial game. And if you are in the U.S., experts forecast strong economic growth for 2018, so this may be the ideal time to get into business for yourself.

If you want to be in business for yourself and you’re not necessarily the creative type, a franchise business might be more suitable for you. Franchisors cost more to become affiliated with, but they also allow you to represent an established brand name and give you a proven business model. They also provide strong support, because when you become a franchise owner, their reputation depends on your success, so they have a vested interest in helping you succeed.


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Writing Your First Franchise Business Plan

Creating a franchise business plan is a crucial step in determining whether or not you’re going to ‘make it’ as a franchisee. Many potential franchisees think of this step as an ‘entrance exam;’ a test to see if your planning skills are up to snuff. This is more-or-less exactly the wrong way to think about it: it’s not a test — it’s an opportunity for you to actually sit down and think hard about what assets you have on your side, what challenges you can expect to face, and how you’ll overcome them and achieve a steady profit flow.

Each section of the business plan introduces a new area of opportunity for you to plan out:

  • Introduction: Asks you to identify your primary products and/or services, the level of competition in your local market, the operational techniques used to achieve success, and a broad-strokes description of your key risks and challenges. This is your chance to fully assess the competition and ask yourself fundamental questions about the nature of the challenges ahead of you —       a key part of addressing those challenges (later in the plan.)
  • Management: Asks you to identify the key management roles in your enterprise and introduce the people who will be filling those roles. With each person, in addition to stressing generic qualifications, ask yourself if the individual has a skillset or other attributes that can help you tackle your main challenges or mitigate your main risks. Describe those attributes and explain why they’re valuable to you!
  • Marketing: Asks you to describe how you’re going to attract new customers to your franchise, including explaining the competitive advantages you have over local business in the same industry. Also asks you to describe how your product or service provides value to your customers, and how your initial marketing push will drive you toward profitability. This is where you should be sitting down and honestly asking yourself about who you expect to be marketing to — essentially, who you consider your ‘core audience.’ This decision should guide a significant portion of your business decisions and also point you toward certain answers for your key challenges.
  • Financial Projections: The most important part of the franchise business plan from the number-crunchers’ perspective: the cash flow statements, balance sheets, cost projections, and other numbers that will ultimately lead to a projected “time-to-net-profit” (which should be somewhere between 1-3 years.) Prepare these as conservatively as possible, because a new business — franchise or not — will always encounter unforeseen problems and issues. The more ‘wiggle room’ you give yourself by preparing conservative projections, the more likely you are to survive until profitability and thus achieve the goal of having a steady income stream.
  • Financing Needs: No matter how you’re financing your venture — even if the answer is “it’s all coming from my savings account” — always provide a complete analysis of all of your startup costs, from your initial marketing surge to all of the projected operating losses you’ll accrue until you achieve profitability. This process will give you even more insight into what stumbling blocks you might encounter as well as inspire you to awareness of alternative financing sources should you turn out to need them.

One of the great rules you will do very well to remember as a franchisee is that every problem is an opportunity in disguise; including this first, fundamental challenge of writing your franchise business plan. Take it on, make it the opportunity it can be, and learn everything you can by doing the best job you’re able, and you’ll be far more ready and able to deal with the challenges of creating a profitable business.

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