Start a new business

Start a new business
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So you want to start a small business? Having that entrepreneurial drive is only half the battle: To begin your journey, you'll need a great business idea that's practical and in-demand, but also unique enough to stand out among the millions of others. Here are 15 great business ideas to get the wheels moving, along with real-life successful businesses to inspire you.

Career coaching

Career coaching
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Want to help and inspire people for a living? Starting a career coaching practice could be the key to doing what you love and making a difference. Through career coaching you can work with clients of all ages, from young people who don't know what career path to pursue or how to land their dream job, to older people looking for a career change. Help prep clients for interviews, improve their resumes and find their passions.

Real-Life Success Story: Janice Worthington, MA, CPRW, JCTC, CEIP of Worthington Career Services

Online retailer

Online retailer
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You don't have to be a big-box retailer to start an online store. Whether you sell directly to consumers or use a drop-shipping service, all you need is a website and the right e-commerce software to get started. You can sell your own products or items from niche suppliers. Alternatively, if you're crafty, you can also sell your own handcrafted creations on Etsy or similar online marketplaces.

Real-Life Success Story: Nicole de Bruin Charms

Event planner

Event planner
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Do you love throwing parties and organizing meetings? Start an event-planning business and turn your passion into a profitable venture. As an event planner, you can help individuals and corporations plan their need to be resourceful and have a keen eye for detail. You will also need the patience to deal with clients' demands and the ability to stay calm during stressful situations and unforeseen disasters.

Real-Life Success Story: Bryan Rafanelli

Home-based food services

Home-based food services
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If you love baking or cooking, consider launching a home-based bakery, personal chef or catering business. You can whip up your concoctions for individuals, events, and local businesses and organizations. Not only is it a rewarding opportunity to make money doing what you love, but it's also a great way to test your culinary chops before investing in a full-fledged brick-and-mortar establishment. Keep in mind that home-based food businesses are heavily regulated, so start by figuring out the rules and regulations in your area.

Real-Life Success Story: Moorish

Yard work

Yard work
Got rake, will travel? Most landscapers will cut grass, but they don't necessarily do the stuff that most homeowners don't have time to do themselves, such as weeding, planting, leaf raking, snow shoveling, hanging or removing holiday decorations. With little more than some work gloves and a ladder, you could be in business in no time.

Real-Life Success Story: Agape Lawn Services

Errand service

Errand service
With most people working long hours and juggling personal responsibilities, there's a lot that gets left undone in the modern household. There's a growing demand for errand services (picking up dry cleaning, going grocery shopping, etc.), and it only requires having a car and cell phone. Start small, do a good job and word of mouth will spread quickly.

Real-Life Success Story: Maids on the Run

Computer maintenance

Computer maintenance
Got a tech background? With the proliferation of tablets, smartphones and laptops for every member of the family, there are lots of opportunities to provide private computer services such as anti-virus software installation, desktop cleanups, software downloads and printer hookups.

Real-Life Success Story: DeBog

Cleaning service

Cleaning service
Are you one of those people who loves to clean? If so, you may be sitting on a gold mine. Cleaning people who work for themselves can make $30 to $40 per hour. Business News Daily's guide to starting a cleaning business can help you get started.

Real-Life Success Story: Page's Personal Cleaning

Find your business

Find your business
Ready to figure out what business idea is best for you? Try our Business Idea Generator. Answer 21 "yes" or  "no" questions  and we'll tell you the top five business ideas that might work for you. Click here to get started. Don't worry, it will open in a new window and you won't lose your place in this countdown.

Virtual assistant

Virtual assistant
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If you've got a background in administrative work but want to work for yourself, this might be a perfect opportunity for you. Virtual assistants work remotely and do all the things a business owner or manager doesn't have time to do, such as open and answer emails, follow up with customers, invoice customers or pay bills. All of these tasks and more can all be done from your own home computer via the cloud. Learn more about becoming a virtual assistant here.

Real-Life Success Story: Nina Feldman Connections

Bookkeeper

Bookkeeper
Very few businesses can live without a bookkeeper. But that doesn't mean they have to have one on staff. If you've got a background in finance, you can offer affordable bookkeeping services as an independent contractor. You may have to log a few in-office hours during tax season, but in most cases, the work can be done remotely.

Real-Life Success Story: Gabrielle Fontaine, PB, ASBC

Translator

Translator
As America becomes increasingly multilingual, everyone from doctors to insurance companies find themselves in need of foreign language speakers to help interact with their customers and translate their website copy and promotional materials. If you can speak a foreign language, are organized, and can come up with a good marketing plan, you may find you have more work than you can handle.

Real-Life Success Story: Alan Hollinghurst

Social media consultant

Social media consultant
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If using social media comes as naturally to you as breathing, you may have a career as a social media consultant. There's no doubt that social media offers unprecedented marketing opportunities for businesses, but only if they know how to use it. Offer your services to help existing businesses integrate social media into their marketing plans.

Real-Life Success Story: MarketingXLerator

Copywriter

Copywriter
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Anyone with a website will tell you they have one constant need: new content. Search engines favor websites with new, relevant content, but most businesses don't have time to devote to generating copy all day. If you've got a background in writing, English or journalism, you might find there's a lot of demand for your services. Between web content, blog entries and press releases, there's lots of writing to be done.

Real-Life Success Story: Debra Jason, MA

Senior care provider

Senior care provider
Many older folks would like to keep living on their own, but need a little assistance with daily chores and errands. With just a little outside help and a daily visit from a friendly caregiver, many can maintain their independence. Families are also happy to find a responsible, reliable person in whom they can trust.

Real-Life Success Story: Adult Placement Network

Editor's note: These ideas are meant to serve as inspiration, and are not intended to be a substitute for due diligence and professional business coaching advice. We urge you to conduct thorough research before starting one of these businesses.

Additional reporting by Brittney Morgan (Helmrich).