17 Profitable Sole Proprietorship Examples You Can Start TODAY! (Updated for 2022)

Hopefully, you don’t enjoy the 9-5 grind, dependence, and working for a boss.

Sole Proprietorships are great for none of these.

All the examples in our list have one thing in common:

The ability to scale and grow the business over time.

Check out the following list of Sole Proprietorships and think about how you can achieve financial independence using one of them.

1. Freelance Writer

2. Catering Service

3. Direct Sales

4. Graphic Designer

5. Photographer, Videographer, or Digital Editor

6. Computer and Cellphone Repair Service

7. Financial Planner

8. Virtual Assistant (VA)

9. Bookkeeper or Accountant

10. Plumber or Electrician

11. Landscaping and Lawncare

12. Private Home Care

13. Babysitter or Daycare

14. Personal Trainer

15. Private Tutor

16. Housecleaner

17. Creative Pursuits and Hobbies

Starting a business requires time, effort, and money.

You don’t want to waste any of these.

Here’s what you need to know:

All it takes to set one up is being the “sole” owner and operator of a profitable business.

Many side-hustlers, independent contractors, freelancers, and entrepreneurs run Sole Proprietorships because they’re the easiest and simplest business to work with.

There can be a lot of variables to consider when deciding which type of business you want to start. Here, you will find a few popular examples of Sole Proprietorships and get a better grasp of how they work.

It’s great because you (the owner) are the business. This means all the profits and responsibilities of the business come straight to you.

Many sole proprietors want to work remotely, so most of the jobs on our list are either local or done online.

The only requirement to starting a Sole Proprietorship is getting the necessary certification, licenses, or permits which allow you to sell the products or services you wish to provide.

As long as you are operating using your legal name as the business’s name, you’re running a Sole Proprietorship. You have the option of filing for a DBA (Doing Business As…) name if you want a professional name for your business.

You should know that Sole Proprietorships don’t offer any protection. If financial and legal protection is something you want, you should look at Limited Liability Companies.

➤ MORE: Here's how Sole Proprietorships compare to LLCs.

By seeing some of the successful Sole Proprietorships in use today, you’ll get a practical understanding of Sole Proprietorships and learn the near-endless ways you can use one to begin your journey to financial independence.

Who knows where it may lead you?

Continue reading to see the popular Sole Proprietorships that entrepreneurs and side-hustlers are using today:

Sole Proprietorship Examples

1. Freelance Writer

One of the most popular and easiest businesses to get into is freelance writing. Doing it independently makes for a great sole proprietorship.

Freelance marketers and content creators do just what their names suggest: Write and create content for websites, magazines, blogs, social media, and other businesses.

If marketing and advertising sound appealing, you may enjoy being a copywriter writing advertisements or as a content writer for a business’s website.

As long as you are good with your words, have an understanding of marketing and persuasion, plus some good old creative thinking, you may want to look into starting a freelance writing operation.

As time goes on you also have the option to upgrade your Sole Proprietorship to an LLC. This is perfect for if you ever want to expand and create your own publishing company or advertising agency.

2. Catering Service

It’s no secret…

People will find any excuse to party and eat good food. That’s why the foodservice industry is always in business.

Starting a catering business makes everybody a potential customer.

If you are talented in the kitchen, you should look into supplying food for events like graduations, weddings, holidays, or business events.

Opening a catering business is no different than the other Sole Proprietorships in our list: You need the necessary licenses, permits, and certifications to conduct your business in the first place.

You don’t even have to be a good cook…

As long as you can organize a team who can cook, you can provide your services where people want to eat and drink.

If you decide to expand your operations and assemble a team to cater to your guests, you should check out Limited Liability Companies.

In an LLC, employees are tax-deductible expenses. Not to mention all the special tax benefits and liability protection you get with an LLC that doesn’t come with Sole Proprietorships.

3. Direct Sales

You can start a Sole Proprietorship by running an online sales funnel or selling products through magazines, newspapers, and other media.

Copywriters, who make direct sales using the written word, are needed by almost every company. Any time you’ve seen an ad or promo for some product or service, chances are it was written or arranged by some sort of direct sales copywriter.

You are fully responsible for the success of your business if you decide to start your own direct sales operation and work as an independent contractor. The same goes for the rest of the examples.

4. Graphic Designer

Graphic design is needed by entrepreneurs and businesses who want their websites, logos, magazines, advertisements, and other media to look their best.

Graphic design gives you the freedom to work remotely because the work is completed and submitted online.

With an understanding of graphic design and the creative vision to bring your client’s ideas to fruition, you can design artwork, illustrations, and content for public consumption.

5. Photographer, Videographer, or Digital Editor

Whether it’s for a vacation, wedding, or other celebration, people love capturing precious moments and memories with professional photos and videos.

It doesn’t even have to be events. You could run a photography studio taking photos for a family album or professional headshots for resumes. Nowadays you also have the option of working as a Social Media photographer.

If you are better on the technical side of things you might consider being a professional photo/video editor.

The limit to how much money you make doing this is determined by how good you are at what you do and the market you specialize in. The same principle applies to all of the Sole Proprietorship examples mentioned here.

6. Computer and Cellphone Repair Service

In the age of information and technology, almost everybody has a phone or computer. As we all know, these devices are fragie and break fairly easily. Many people prefer fixing their devices instead of paying more cash for the latest model.

Computer and cellphone repair operations can be quite small, requiring only one person. You can do this from your home, a storefront, or be entirely location-independent by meeting people one-on-one and fixing their devices in person (if you’re quick about it).

If you are good with technical, hands-on tasks and enjoy working with technology, starting a cellphone or computer repair service may be the perfect opportunity for you to act as your own boss, work your own hours, and run a Sole Proprietorship. Actually, all the examples on our list are great for taking back your time and give you greater control of your income.

7. Financial Planner

Financial planners help manage the profits and expenses of individuals, families, and companies. Whether it’s writing up an investment plan or budgeting to save up for big-ticket items, you’ll help your clients with their finances.

If you are good at critical thinking, problem-solving, and analyzing numbers, you should check out financial planning.

By focusing on individuals and families you can make saving and investment plans for expensive endeavors like businesses, weddings, real estate, retirement, exotic vacations, kids, a college degree, and so much more. You could also come up with daily, monthly, or yearly budgets to better manage your clients’ expenses.

For companies, you can help them grow and maximize their profits by applying proven financial management strategies. You might even organize employee bonus distributions.

It’s important to have experience and competency in this area of expertise if you want your business to be successful. Just like the other examples covered in this article, you need the necessary qualifictions and licenses to conduct such a business.

8. Virtual Assistant (VA)

By now, you’re probably familiar with those little messages that pop up on a website asking if you want live assistance when you first click on the page.

The people sending you messages form the other side of the screen are called Virtual Assistants, or VAs for short.

VAs help entrepreneurs and business owners complete administrative tasks online.

You should consider being a Virtual Assistant if you can help customers get information, go through emails, imput data into spreadsheets, schedule appointments, and other tasks of this sort.

9. Bookkeeper or Accountant

As you can probably guess, bookkeepers keep the books in order. You record and track your client’s profits, losses, and the movement of materials. This makes filing taxes much easier for them.

Accountants, on the other hand, manage the finances for payouts and salaries. They then report the finances for taxes or internal review.

As they say: “If it’s measurable, it’s manageable.”

The drawback to accounting is you need special certifications and experience to be verified and legit. By being a bookkeeper, however, these certifications aren’t necessary so long as you’ve got the right skills and knowledge.

You can do either of these jobs remotely since you’re working with a company’s online records database. This means you can make your own schedule and take your first step to secure your freedom.

If you are good with data, are detail-oriented, and are familiar with spreadsheets, you should check out bookkeeping or accounting.

10. Plumber or Electrician

Plumbers and electricians usually find work in one of two ways:

  1. Independent Contracting - Working for construction companies and city departments

  2. Local Professional - Providing services for your community

Although plumbing and electrical work may not seem so glorious at first glance, you might be interested to know that people are willing to pay quite a pretty penny to keep their homes and businesses in working order. Homes and buildings need running water and power. Nobody wants their basement to flood with sewage or their building to burn down from a bad wiring job.

If you are more hands-on you might really enjoy this.

These jobs require special trainging and certifications. If you’re not up to learning about these industries you should look into one of the other options we’ve listed.

11. Landscaping and Lawncare

These services are almost always in need. It doesn’t matter the time of year, flowers are blooming, lawns are growing, leaves are falling, and snow is piling up.

That’s good news if you enjoy working outside and can mow lawns, plant flowers and trees, clear yards, and garden. If it seems like too much work for you to handle on your own, you can always delegate that work to a team.

Either way, landscaping may be your ticket on the train to financial independence.

In the spring and summer, you will mainly be focused on planting and arranging flowers as well as maintaining the optimal conditions of the property. In the fall and winter, you will likely specialize in clearing yards of leaves and snow.

Depending on demand and the size of your customer base, you may decide to hire employees. If expanding your operations is a real possibility, you should look into upgrading your Sole Proprietorship to an LLC.

By upgrading to an LLC, you can count your employees as business expenses. Not only that, but you will also be able to receive the personal liability protections that come naturally with Limited Liability Companies.

12. Private Home Care

Healthcare is always in demand which means there is a consistent flow of new customers. The economic climate in the country (and the world for that matter) is relatively insignificant to the people who require your assistance.

Most of your clientele are elderly so your main focus is on cooking, cleaning, helping them clean themselves, and assisting with their daily chores.

By taking care of elderly persons you could receive some serious compensation for your efforts. It may not be glorious but it pays. A lot.

If you want to work in a low volatility environment and enjoy a near-constant flow of demand, you should think about getting into healthcare.

13. Babysitter or Daycare

Babysitting and daycare centers can be highly profitable for those who run them since parents what their kids to be happy and taken care of by someone they know and trust.

If you enjoy being around and taking care of kids for extended periods of time you should check out child-daycare or babysitting.

Like the other businesses on our list, there aren’t any extra setup requirements for you to run a business like this. You do have to consider the permissions, licenses, guidelines, etc. required by your state and community.

In the case of child-care, you have to not only be screened and get a background check but, in some states, your home must also be inspected to ensure safety measures are in place. Failure to comply can obviously lead to some very serious fines or worse.

14. Personal Trainer

Personal trainers draw up meal plans and workout routines to help clients achieve their health and fitness goals.

Personal training is straightforward. You can get certified as a personal trainer for relatively cheap.

In addition to the proper training and licenses, you need to get the necessary liability insurance to conduct practices which impact people’s health, hopefully for the better.

Other than that there aren’t any requirements for starting a Sole Proprietorship as a personal trainer. Who knows, it may be the way you gain financial sovereignty.

Just remember, by running your business as a Sole Proprietorship you are missing out on the personal liability protections of LLCs which distance you from lawsuits and creditors.

15. Private Tutor

Tutors teach additional lessons and assist students in every subject imaginable.

As long as you are well educated, familiar with the subject matter, and patient enough to give that knowledge over by teaching it to others, tutoring may be the perfect thing for you.

You can get paid big bucks to help students in elementary, high school, and college with their studies and courses.

If you see the benefits of education and passing your knowledge on to others, you should definitely check out becoming a private tutor.

Tutoring doesn’t necessarily have to be in person either. Nowadays with zoom and all the virtual learning, you can easily provide tutoring services from the comfort of your own home.

Since you are the one with the smarts, you’re doing the work, you’re the one getting paid, and just like that, you are a Sole Proprietor.

16. Housecleaner

Housekeeping is a great business to start out with. Thanks to entropy, no matter how much people clean, everybody’s house and office are always getting dirty.

Not only that, it’s one of the cheapest companies to start. The only initial expense you have to cover in a cleaning business is your investment in cleaning supplies.

This is cost is really low compared to starting some of the other businesses on our list. Plus, if you do a good job, you’ll make your initial investment back in no time.

House cleaners often get paid in cash so it’s important to develop your own bookkeeping and financial organization practices. This is great practice for separating business and personal finances in an LLC.

Your business can focus on a unique area of cleaning, like floors for example, or you could do a combination of different things.

If you run a housecleaning operation and have enough demand to hire a team you should look into registering an LLC.

You may find that upgrading to an LLC is beneficial to your business’s growth and development. With an LLC you can grow your operations and extend your services to other areas like laundry and dry cleaning, floors, roofs, windows, ventilation, etc.

If you can put in the elbow grease you may find housekeeping to be a worthwhile endeavor.

17. Creative Pursuits and Hobbies

If none of the above examples are appealing to you, you can always try monetizing one of your passions, favorite hobbies, or talents.

It’s been said that if you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life. Be creative. Sell something that you enjoy doing.

Let’s say you are good at calligraphy you could produce cards or posters of your artwork. You could start making and selling music. Work with a sport you enjoy. The possibilities are as endless as people are unique.

Now’s your chance to never have to “work” again. Take whatever you would do if you had to do it forever and see how you can make that thing you’re interested in a profitable endeavor by putting your own spin on it and selling it.


DISCLAIMER:

“Business Initiative” is for general educational purposes only. “Business Initiative” does not offer any legal or financial advice. Anyone considering starting a business should speak with a lawyer, business professional, financial advisor, and tax expert before making any binding decisions when it comes to starting, operating, and growing your business. External resources should be used independently of “Business Initiative”. It is the responsibility of every reader to seek legal and financial advice from legal and financial professionals.

What is a Sole Proprietorship?

Here’s the most technical definition of a Sole proprietorship we could find:

An unincorporated business with one owner who is fully liable and receives all the profits.

The rest of this article is a breakdown of the different aspects that make up a Sole Proprietorships.

A Sole Proprietorship is the simplest business entity you can run because there is no registration process or special tax regulations. In fact, it’s not really a business entity at all.

By being the “sole” provider of all the services, You are the business.

You will most likely be acting as an independent contractor or running a small-scale business. Businesses like these exist in almost every industry. Chances are that whatever you imagine when you think of side hustles can actually be classified as Sole Proprietorship.

Registration

Not only are they simple, Sole Proprietorships are also the easiest business to register because there is no registration. Sole Proprietorships are not officially recognized or registered to the state.

The only real barrier-to-entry for a business like this are the licenses, certifications, permits, and training required by the organizations overseeing the work done in that industry.

For instance, if you want to be an electrician you can’t be messing around with the wiring in someone’s house without the proper training and experience as an electrician.

It doesn’t even have to be a technical job either (as seen in the examples). A lot of sole proprietorships in our list don’t even require licenses at all.

Do you need a DBA?

Once things get moving, you’ll be doing business under your name. Meaning your business’s name will be your legal name.

If you want a unique, professional-sounding, industry-specific name relevant to your business, you have to file for a DBA (Doing Business As…). This is just an alias (fake name) and does not provide any sort of protection for you or your business.

Instead of “Joe Robinson the guy who mows lawns who lives on the other side of town”, you could name your business: “Joe’s Lawn and Landscaping”.

Call it whatever you want.

One benefit of DBAs is being able to open a business bank account. This is great for keeping your business’s finances separate from your personal finances. Getting into a habit of this will come in handy should you ever want to upgrade to an LLC.

If you’re wondering what the differences are between LLCs and DBAs, Here is how DBAs compare to LLCs.

Sole Proprietorship Taxes

Just like everything else in a Sole Proprieotrship, the tax process is also very straightforward.

All of the business’s profits automatically become personal income because you are the business. This makes filing taxes world’s easier than some other business entities.

You simply include your business profits on your regular personal income tax returns. The only extra thing you need to do is complete and attach a self-employment form to your tax filings.

This form is the 1040 SE. The SE here stands for Self-Employment Tax. This is just a fancy name the IRS made when they combined Medicare and Social Security Taxes into one.

In a regular 9-5 job, the “self-employment taxes” were removed by your boss before the money hit your paycheck.

Now that you’re the boss, you are responsible for paying them.

As time goes on and your business expands, you should look into the different tax benefits of LLCs and Corporations.

Owning a Sole Proprietorship

Since there’s no separation between you and the business, you’re personally responsible for more than the taxes.

Being that there’s no real business entity in the first place, you’re personally responsible for everything in the business, for better or worse.

This actually makes operating the business much easier since you don’t have to answer to anybody so long as you’re doing the right thing.

You can hire employees in a Sole Proprietorship by completing special paperwork and acquiring an EIN (Employer Identification Number).

If you are serisously considering hiring employees, you should look into upgrading to an LLC. This may be a better route because LLCs see employees as business expenses (a.k.a. Tax write-offs).

Protection

All that glitters is not gold.

Although Sole Proprietorships are the simplest business, you won’t receive any legal or financial protections from having one. This is the biggest downside of operating as a Sole Proprietorship.

➤ MORE: Find out about the other disadvantages of Sole Proprietorships.

By having the right certifications, training, licenses, and insurance to be conducting your kind of business, this lack of protection shouldn’t be a problem.

The chances of any legal or financial fallout coming from your business are significantly minimized if what you want to do into is known to be inherently low-risk.

If the business you’re thinking of starting naturally carries more risk, you should check out the personal liability protection offered by LLCs.

Sole Proprietorship vs LLC

Since you’re here checking out at Sole Proprietorships, you’ve probably already heard a bit about Limited Liability companies.

The biggest differences between the two come down to the liability and financial protection they offer and the difficulty in setting them up.

Being the simplest business with no registration or set-up fees, it’s no surprise why professional and novices alike choose to begin their businesses as Sole Proprietorships.

In Summary…

As you have just seen in our list of examples, the opportunities are endless.

If you don’t know where you want to go and why, how will you ever know that you’ve arrived?

Since there aren’t any protections in a Sole Proprietorship it’s critical that you analyze the risk of your business. What are the chances that something goes wrong? And how likely is it to work?

You should also compare the different tax options available in the different business entities before deciding one way or another.

Depending on what you have in mind you may require certain tools that Sole Proprietorships just don’t offer. If that’s the case, you should look into LLCs or Corporations to see if one of them is a better fit for your personal and business needs.

The beginning stages of your business are vital to the future success and growth of your business. Starting out with the end in mind makes everything easier in the long run. It’s important to analyze your personal goals as well as your business and professional goals.

All-in-all Sole Proprietorships are very very easy. They’re popular because they’re easy. All you have to do to begin making money as a sole proprietor is:

START.

On behalf of Business Inititiative, we wish you much success.


DISCLAIMER:

“Business Initiative” is for general educational purposes only. “Business Initiative” does not offer any legal or financial advice. Anyone considering starting a business should speak with a lawyer, business professional, financial advisor, and tax expert before making any binding decisions when it comes to starting, operating, and growing your business. External resources should be used independently of “Business Initiative”. It is the responsibility of every reader to seek legal and financial advice from legal and financial professionals.