Best Businesses to Start in the District of Columbia

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A culturally rich and diverse city, Washington, D.C. is a great place to start a services-related business. Professional services and tourism are the city’s ever-growing industries that provide opportunities for entrepreneurs. Washington, D.C. has an entire governmental department dedicated to growing small and local businesses. 

Washington, D.C. is ideal for any entrepreneur because it has everything from politics to sports to tourists to entertainment. Now you’re probably asking, what is the best business to start in Washington, D.C.? That all depends on you. What do you love to do? What skills do you have? What keeps you wanting to learn more? It’s important to do some brainstorming in addition to market research and then formalize your business.

The Most Profitable Small Business Ideas in the District of Columbia

As a business owner, you hope to have a lucrative business. The best business to start in Washington, D.C. is the one that’s best for you. If you’re not motivated or driven by your business idea, then it won’t work. Here we provide a list of the most profitable business ideas in Washington, D.C. so you can see what fits you and your skillset. 

Idea #1: Transportation Services 

Getting to and around DC is a must for visitors, workers, and residents. With so much to do and see in the city, there’s certainly a need for transportation services. Consider going beyond the app-based route (Uber and Lyft) and start your own transportation service. You can add personal touches, knowledge of the city, and style to your business. Keep in mind, if you’re operating your car for business purposes, you may need additional motor vehicle insurance coverage. 

Idea #2: Accommodations

People flock to Washington, D.C. for all sorts of reasons. Whether it’s a weekend for pleasure or a year-long work obligation, visitors need a place to stay. Consider renting out a room or an entire residential property to short or long-term tenants. Carefully select your business structure when starting a real estate rental company to limit your liability. 

Idea #3: Language Services 

Washington, D.C. is a culturally diverse city. It hosts over 175 embassies and people come from all over the world for work, play, and education. If you know a second language, put those skills to use by offering to be a translator or teach English. This is an idea that can be a home-based business. 

Idea #4: Restaurant

Washington, D.C. boasts a thriving food scene. Politicians need a quiet place to make deals and families need a laid-back setting to refuel for the day. Choose your clientele and run with it. While you might not have “regulars” supporting your restaurant in such a transient city, the flip side is that you always have new customers. And anyone who has ever visited our nation’s capital knows that food trucks are immensely popular. So if feeding hungry tourists on the go is more your style, consider this option.

Idea #5: Tour Guide

Renowned for its historic landmarks, fascinating museums, and rich history, Washington, D.C. is a tourist destination. If you know the city well, consider being a tour guide. Target your market, create a unique selling point, and develop a business plan. Be sure to check any local tourism regulations before going too far. 

Idea #6: Professional Services

The district is known as a business city. In fact, the top industry in DC by employment is professional and business services. This is a broad category and includes legal services, accounting, architecture and engineering, research, and science and technology services. Think about what professional skills or training you have and consider going into business for yourself. 

Idea #7: Fitness 

People in DC take their health and fitness seriously. Ranking 6th in the nation as the fittest city, Washington, D.C. is a perfect place to start a fitness-focused business. This can be anything from opening your own gym to offering in-home training to becoming a health and wellness coach. 

Why these are the best small businesses to start in the District of Columbia?

The ideas we discussed above are good businesses to start in Washington, D.C. because of the high demand and government support for small businesses. 

Why form your business with us?

We want to make it as easy as possible for you to start, run, and grow your business. That’s why we offer a range of products and services as well as educational resources and expert support. We have something for every small business owner from handling business finances to securing an email address. Let us handle the administrative tasks so you can focus on your running your business. 

We can help!

After comparing different business structures, it’s time to start your company. We make it easy to formalize your business with our Washington, D.C. limited liability company (LLC) and corporation formation services. From there we can help you maintain your company with our Worry-Free Compliance Service. We’ll send you reminders about upcoming filing deadlines and provide support to keep your business in good standing. 

If you’re still struggling to narrow down the type of business to start, we’ll give you some ideas. Let’s go through them. 


  • Businesses in Washington, D.C. thrive for all sorts of reasons, but some important ones are the diverse workforce, educated population, and access to investors.

  • Washington, D.C. business owners can develop their company by studying what consumers want and by taking advantage of available business development resources.

  • To know what franchise opportunities exist in Washington, D.C., you have to research the company you want to start a franchise with.

  • The best e-commerce business is the one that suits you. Follow your passion, hone in on your skills, and get creative.

  • You can turn many different companies into a home-based business. From professional consulting services to online retail, there’s plenty to do right from your home.

Disclaimer: The content on this page is for information purposes only and does not constitute legal, tax, or accounting advice. If you have specific questions about any of these topics, seek the counsel of a licensed professional.

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Written by Team ZenBusiness

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