Service Business Ideas To Turn Your Expertise into Profit (2024)

Service-based businesses are significant contributors to the US economy: A 2023 study found that nearly 80% of the United States workforce was employed in the service sector. If you decide to start a service business, the first step is to find the right service business idea—one that fills a need in the marketplace while playing to your strengths as an entrepreneur.

If the ability to easily personalize services, scale with customer demand, and quickly start up with minimal overhead costs are appealing, starting a service-based business may be for you. When you’re considering starting your own business, learn more about what the services industry has to offer.

What is a service business?

A service business is a type of company that completes tasks for customers, rather than producing products. For example, a company selling watches is product-based, while a company offering watch repair is service-based.

In today’s digital world, the service sector includes online businesses that sell services like marketing and content creation, as well as businesses offering physical services like cleaning and hairdressing. A service-based business sells time, labor, and expertise to fill the needs of their customers.

Service business ideas

Every service business is different, but here are some of the main types of service business ideas to consider based on your own strengths and interests:

Marketing services

Businesses can outsource and refine their marketing efforts by hiring specialists in areas like content marketing and social media marketing. Individuals and companies with experience in digital marketing have the opportunity to make money in this growing ecommerce market. In fact, according to a 2023 study, global ecommerce sales are estimated to reach over $8 trillion by 2026. Examples of marketing service businesses include:

  • Social media management. Companies pay social media managers for their understanding of how to create high-performing social media posts on a variety of popular platforms. Becoming a social media consultant takes time and training, but no formal education or certification is required.
  • Copywriting. Copywriters create written content for paying companies who need material for their advertisements, website, blog posts, email marketing campaigns, and technical manuals.
  • Search engine optimization. Search engine optimization (SEO) is a marketing strategy focused on improving the rankings of websites on search engine results pages (SERPs). SEO experts offer their experience to paying clients who need help with SEO techniques like keyword optimization, link building strategies, meta tags, image optimization, and website speed.
  • Market research. Marketing consultants can offer market research services to companies who want to learn more about the demand and viability of a particular product or service within a certain geographic area, demographic, or marketplace.

Personal services

In an increasingly busy world, the demand for personal services remains steady as busy professionals need help to live productive and healthy lives. Some personal services require training, while others require no previously learned skills. Here are some personal service business ideas to consider:

  • Personal fitness training. If you love working out and learning about fitness, consider becoming a personal fitness trainer who offers clients valuable information, encouragement, and accountability to move toward their health goals. The certification process for becoming a personal trainer depends on where you work, so be sure to research the requirements in your area. The process of becoming certified as a personal trainer typically requires at least three months of training.
  • Pet sitting. A pet sitting service involves getting paid to watch pets like dogs and cats while the pet owners are away from their home or otherwise busy. There are no previous skills necessary to become a pet sitter, though previous experience with pets can make it easier to build up a client base.
  • Personal shopping. A personal shopper helps their clients by picking up items for them like groceries or clothes. Some personal shoppers offer styling services to help their clients find a new look. There is no formal training process or previous experience requirements when becoming a personal shopper, although a background in fashion can serve as a jumping-off point for finding clients.
  • Life coaching. A life coach is someone who offers personal advice and encouragement to their clients about how to improve their lives and careers. Although there are no formal training requirements for becoming a life coach, several private companies offer life coaching certification that can help enhance your reputation with clients.
  • Personal chef. A personal chef offers their culinary expertise to prepare meals for their clients. Personal chef service businesses can be lucrative, but they require years of experience. While no official certifications or requirements are necessary to become a personal chef, it is a competitive market, and experience is required. A diploma from culinary school and several years of experience in kitchen environments can help you land a job as a personal chef.

Cleaning and repair services

Individuals and companies can offer their time, tools, and knowledge to clean or repair anything from home appliances and office buildings to clocks and automobiles. These types of services can have high demand. Here are a few examples of cleaning and repair service business ideas:

  • Auto repair services. If you have an interest in how vehicles work, consider starting an auto repair service. You can also specialize your practice and start a windshield repair business or a tire repair service.
  • Car washing services. Consider starting a car washing business in your local area and offering your services to car owners and dealerships. Specialized services can accompany basic car washing services as well; for example, you could offer car detailing or waxing services.
  • Cleaning services. You could start a cleaning service focused on cleaning homes or local businesses, and you can specialize your company even more by running a window washing business or vacuum cleaning service.

Family services

Another valuable type of service that companies and individuals can offer is family services. These services focus on marketing to potential customers who need help with their family needs, from basic child care to child counseling. A couple examples of family service business ideas include:

  • Doula and birth coaching. A doula is a trained professional who offers educational, emotional, and physical support before and during childbirth.
  • Academic tutoring. If you have a comprehensive knowledge base around a particular topic and the ability to communicate effectively about it, then a tutoring service can give you the flexibility to make money while discussing topics you enjoy. For example, you could tutor in popular subjects like math or science, specialized subjects like standardized test preparation or English as a second language (ESL), or even skills like software programming, video editing, and music production.

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Administrative services

Individuals with organizational skills can offer their professional services to companies who need help with administrative tasks like communications, scheduling, preparing documents, and maintaining electronic databases. Companies and busy professionals hire freelancers who have the time and skills to help manage these types of administrative systems. Below are two ideas to consider if you have administrative skills:

  • Virtual assistant services. Consider starting a virtual assistant business to work remotely and help companies and executives perform tasks such as scheduling meetings, managing emails, organizing files, and making travel arrangements.
  • Bookkeeping. If you have a knack for numbers, consider offering bookkeeping services to local businesses or online companies providing services in areas in which you have expertise or interest. Larger clients might require bookkeeping services from certified public accountants (CPAs) with a license earned through an exam process.

Fashion and beauty services

Fashion and beauty-based services are another service area to consider. The market size of hair, skin, and nail salons reached a value of $69 billion in 2023. If you enjoy working with clothing or beauty products, learn how to develop your skills and offer your services to paying clients in the following areas:

  • Hair stylist. Hair stylists make money from their skills cutting, coloring, and styling hair.
  • Makeup artist. Makeup artists specialize in using cosmetic products to enhance or change their client’s appearance. Some makeup artists focus on special effects makeup while others hone their techniques for events like weddings or photo shoots.
  • Wardrobe stylist. Wardrobe stylists consult with their clients to offer guidance about fashion trends and which clothing items work best for a particular person’s style.

Event services

Events is a segment of the service industry in which private parties and companies hire professionals with experience in planning, setting up, and managing special events. These types of affairs can include corporate team-building events, product launches, award ceremonies, and family reunions. Here’s more information about event services:

  • Event planning. Start your own event-planning business to make money organizing and producing events. Event planners handle big-picture creative tasks like developing themes and party layouts, as well as more administrative tasks like negotiating rates and hiring staff. Event planners can focus their companies on specific kinds of events like weddings or musical performances.
  • Catering services. If you have a passion for making food, consider starting a catering service that prepares and serves food during events.

Creative services

There are several types of creative service businesses, including writing consulting services, video production services, and video game design services. If you enjoy being creative, consider using your skills to start a service business that gives you the freedom to leverage your talents. Examples of creative services include:

  • Graphic design services. Graphic designers create visual elements that companies can use for printed materials, brand logos, and company websites. If you have skills with visual art and know how to work well with certain computer software, consider starting a graphic design business.
  • Photography services. Start your own photography business to offer your services to clients with personal or business needs like family portraits, professional headshots, or product shoots.
  • Music composing. If you have an ear for music and talent in the musical arts, consider offering your services as a music composer. Start by exploring different types of free music software like GarageBand, Audacity, or SoundBridge.

Service business ideas FAQ

Why should you consider starting a service business?

There are several advantages to starting your own service business, including low overhead costs, the ability to scale with customer demand, quick start-up time, flexible hours, control over how many clients you take on, and the opportunity to improve your skills over time through personalized services fitted to your strengths and interests.

What is the difference between a service-based business and a product-based business?

Product-based businesses create physical products for sale, while service-based businesses offer intangible value through time, knowledge, and skillful labor. For example, small business owners selling hair products are running product-based businesses, while companies offering hair styling are service-based businesses.

How do you attract clients to your service business?

What services are most needed?

The most needed services come from unique service business ideas that fill a specific need in the marketplace. Some popular types of service businesses include social media management companies, cleaning companies, child care services, and personal fitness training services.