Best Businesses to Start in 2021

What are the best business ideas to consider starting when the usual ways of doing business seem to be changed? Here are 9 worth a look.

If you’re looking for a new business to start in 2021, there are plenty of options as COVID-19 has simultaneously disrupted the lives of every American and created new business opportunities. To determine the best businesses to start this year, you need to consider what people will be looking to buy and how they will want to learn about and buy those products and services. You also need to consider what products or services they won’t want or that they will be slow to start repurchasing.

In March 2020, the U.S. unemployment rate was a meager 4.4 percent. One month later, it was a whopping 14.7 percent due in large part to many businesses and business sectors (such as the travel and hospitality industries) shutting down in response to social distancing guidelines. By October, unemployment had fallen to 6.9 percent as some businesses reopened. Still, in some states, it was over 10 percent.

There’s no doubt the world has changed.

The good news is, there are business sectors that are growing. If you consider yourself an opportunity seeker or optimist with a glass-half-full mentality, the following list of best businesses to start in 2021 should be right up your alley. 

Freelance Service Provider

The best businesses to start are those that use skills you already have, and that have customers who need those skills. And, if you have a creative skill such as writing, graphic design, audiovisual editing, or website design, being a freelance service provider could be the perfect business for you to start now. You can start freelancing as a part-time business, or grow it into your full-time source of income. Take your skill and offer it among the many freelance marketplaces online or use social media to market your skill to the thousands of businesses that are starting every month. The U.S. Census Bureau reports there was a 77.4 percent increase in the number of Employer Identification Numbers from the second quarter to the third quarter of 2020. Every one of those businesses needs websites, logos, and other marketing collateral, as well as a bevy of business documents. These businesses are prime customers for upstart freelance service providers. So, too, are existing businesses that want to upgrade their websites, get help with social media, or need other business improvements to stay competitive.

Digital Marketing Agency

Business startups are not the only businesses migrating to online operations. Existing businesses have also been forced to seek ways to expand their online presence. MasterCard SpendingPulse reports the 2020 holiday season saw a 49 percent increase in e-commerce sales over the previous year. E-commerce as a whole is expected to grow well into the future. As a result, every online merchant will need someone to help them with a range of services including optimizing their online store, digital marketing, online advertising, and content strategy. Your digital marketing agency will need a team of people to handle the various services. This team could consist of reliable independent contractors, or you could hire traditional employees if you have steady work and don’t want the people who work for you to work for anyone else at the same time.

Podcast Host

Podcasting is another online business category that is growing. According to Grand View Research, the expected compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of the podcasting industry through 2027 is 27.5 percent. With a low barrier to entry, all you need is a high-quality microphone, a laptop computer, and audio editing software that you can download for free online. Podcasters earn their income through sponsors and ancillary product sales. If you have a good idea for a podcast, the ability to reach a targeted audience, and the personality that appeals to that audience, this is a growing business sector with a lot of opportunity.

Healthcare Practitioner

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic disruption, healthcare was a growing field. The Baby Boomer generation is aging and in need of all sorts of health assistance. That includes in-home healthcare services, ambulatory devices such as wheelchairs and crutches, and adult daycare. The medical cannabis business is also growing, providing huge opportunities for savvy entrepreneurs. Younger people are also interested in health and wellness, fitness, and personal training consulting.

Facemask and Face Shield Sales and Manufacturing

Unless you’ve been sleeping under a rock, you know what a hostile election year it was in 2020. President-elect Joe Biden has promised to get aggressive in quelling COVID-19, and with Democratic control of both houses of Congress, it is highly likely that such efforts will include more social distancing guidelines, perhaps more business shutdowns, and maybe even mandatory facemask and face shield wearing for anyone in public places. That will likely spell a greater demand for face masks and face shields. Someone has to make them.

Virtual Assistant

Since there is such a high demand for new businesses and so many new businesses on the rise, virtual assistants are also in high demand. A virtual assistant may provide customer service and support for customers, create web pages or write blog posts, manage email newsletters, perform sales and marketing tasks, generate sales leads, and more. As the number of new businesses rises, so too will the demand for virtual assistants.

Data Scientist

Another business category that was growing even before the pandemic is data science. COVID-19 only increased demand for this skill. As more businesses migrate online for sales and operations and increasingly deploy more digital technologies such as artificial intelligence, robotics, and predictive analytics, the demand for skilled data scientists will continue to go up well into the foreseeable future. Plus, because it is a highly technical skill, the pay is higher than your average career salary.

Online Education Provider

In recent years, online education has skyrocketed. COVID-19 only hastened the adoption of electronic education. Public and private schools all across the U.S. implemented social distancing educational operations by moving classrooms to Zoom and other online video streaming services. Corporations and businesses of all kinds also have a high demand for skilled instructors to teach their employees critical skills. Additionally, colleges and universities are offering more courses online and even have expanded their online degree programs. The number of business niches seeking online course creators is growing all the time.

Remote Work Consultant

Remote working didn’t begin with COVID-19, however, 2020 saw a huge surge in the number of companies offering employees work-at-home opportunities. In fact, 55 percent of businesses globally offer remote work opportunities for their employees. Both Facebook and Twitter have announced they will likely continue remote working even after the pandemic has passed. However, making the transition to remote work does have its challenges. Many companies, especially smaller companies with non-technical workforces, may need some coaching. If you are a veteran remote worker or a freelancer who has worked remotely for any length of time, now could be your opportunity to offer yourself as a remote work consultant to help companies transition during this tough time. Companies will need to learn how to make efficient use of Zoom, Slack, Trello, and other remote working tools in order to remain efficient, productive, and profitable.


While 2020 was a difficult year for many individuals and small businesses, there is reason to remain optimistic about 2021. As COVID-19 cases continue to increase, there could be further disruptions to the economy and some business sectors. However, that disruption will also present many opportunities for new businesses and new ways to conduct business for existing enterprises.

This is no time to shrink from a challenge. Rather, look at your current situation, professional skills, and employment status as an opportunity to rethink what you have to offer the marketplace. It could be your time to start a new and innovative business in one of the above business categories.  If none of the ideas we’ve listed above suit you, check out our list of 343 business ideas for more suggestions.

Once you have found a business idea that appeals to you, get it off to a good start by following this step by step guide on how to start a business.


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