Best Manufacturing Business Ideas: Profitable Small Startups

Get inspired to start your manufacturing business with this big list of ideas

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best manufacturing business ideas

Entrepreneurs, check out this big list of small scale manufacturing business ideas. Get inspired to start your manufacturing business. This list has ideas for all industries including; food, agricultural, woodworking, metal crafts, sewing, and technology. Plus each manufacturing business idea contains multiple industry resources, which are helpful to get you started and for further research.

Becoming a manufacturer can be quite profitable. Your products can be sold locally, internationally or online greatly expanding your market share.

Reduce your startup investment costs by starting at home by renting or leasing equipment. Some business models require no equipment, such as subcontracting your product designs to other manufacturers or create private label items.

Let’s get busy launching your manufacturing company with these profitable ideas.

Manufacturing Business Ideas List

Promotional Wood Products

Woodworking shops can produce a variety of small items for companies to imprint their logos and use promote their goods and services. This is a lucrative business model because of the reoccurring revenue opportunities created by producing the same design for different companies.

The profit margin is high because of the perceived value of custom wooden products. You can sell your wood products to promotional companies as a subcontractor vendor or directly to businesses for their trade shows giveaways, customer holiday gifts, deluxe product packaging, and corporate executive gifts.

The most popular wood promotion items include wooden ball massage rollers, bottle openers, board games, award frames, and cutting boards. If you have access to a laser cutter here are some creative wood promotional product ideas. 

Check out my list of the best woodworking business projects to make and sell here

Resource Links
Example of Wooden promotional products

How to Get Started Selling Promo Products

Manufacture Ceramic Tiles

The demand for ceramic tiles is increasing as more homeowners and businesses appreciate the eco-friendly and affordable options in ceramic tile flooring.

Another growing market is decorative tiles for walls, fireplace surrounds, furniture, countertops and decorative art such as wall murals (indoor and outdoor).

You could also manufacture and sell your handmade tiles for outdoor uses such as decks, patios, pool surrounds, and walkways.

Resource Links

How to Design, Make, and Install Ceramic Tiles and Murals

Picture Frames Manufacturing

There is a sizable market for picture frames across the globe in both large cities and small towns. The production of frames is a money-making proposition with fairly low start-up costs.

Create interesting designs of different shapes and sizes to offer for retail in local stores, directly to artists and interior designers and also for sale in online marketplaces such as eBay or Etsy.

Resource Links

Custom manufacturing of picture frames

Jewelry Manufacturing

If you are artistic and like to work with precious metals and semi-precious stones then consider manufacturing jewelry such as necklaces, earrings, bracelets, and pendants. This is an evergreen business with especially strong demand in the fourth quarter for holiday gift-giving.

Resource Links

How to start a jewelry business from the experts at Jewelry Making Journal 

Marketing tips for selling jewelry online

Candle Making Business

Manufacturing candles is a relatively simple process with low-cost ingredients that does not require a lot of specialized equipment. As such, it is an ideal business idea for beginning entrepreneurs.

The profit margin can be significant if your price points are high because your candles are uniquely beautiful.

The average candle costs under $3.00 or make and can sell upwards of $15 or more.  Sell your candles to gift stores, beauty salons, at flea markets, craft fairs and online.

Resource Links

Guide: How to start your own candle making business

Pickle Manufacture

Making pickles is a relatively easy and low-cost business that you can even start at home. Your profit margin can be high for unique pickle recipe creations.  Fermented gourmet foods such as pickles are growing in popularity.  Savvy pickle entrepreneur Travis Grillo started selling his family homemade pickle recipe from a food cart. Today it is a million-dollar gourmet food company.

Resource Links

How to start a pickle-making business

Business Startup Guide Pickle Making

Rubber Stamp Manufacturing

Designing and producing rubber stamps has a good revenue prospect. Utility stamps for correspondence, office forms, schools, and organizations are an evergreen business demand.

Plus decorative stamps are rising in popularity for scrapbooking, art projects, invitations, and home decor.

How to start rubber stamp business information

Bread Bakery Production

Baking is a form of food manufacturing and is a lucrative endeavor. Freshly baked bread is in demand from individuals, restaurants and wholesale distributors.  Get bakery name ideas from my list of naming suggestions. 

How to Start a Micro Bakery for Bread

Herbal Remedy Production

If you are an herbalist and know about the healing properties of various herbs you could make and sell your herbal remedies. Medicinal herbs are rapidly growing in popularity thus the business opportunities are very good.

You can choose to grow your own herbs for use in your treatments or you can buy herbs to blend into your custom herbal creations.  Sell your herbal products to pharmacies, gift shops, salons, health food stores, and farmers markets.

Resource Links

Things to consider before starting your herbal business

Legalities of selling herbal products

Hand Tools Manufacturing

My husband, an accomplished carpenter, always says, “the right tool makes the job easy”. As such, the design and creation of useful tools is an excellent business model.  Hand tools are used in homes (scissors, kitchen gadgets, knives), businesses (staplers, mixers, drills), for gardening, and in the construction trades.

Ergonomic tools are in high demand. Also as America’s population ages tools that make everyday jobs easier are becoming best sellers.

The company OXO began as a small tool manufacturer and has grown into a major supplier of kitchenware internationally.  The company founder first created a peeler for his wife who had trouble working with a traditional metal peeler.

Resource Links 

How to invent tools and get to market

Guide to license a tool product invention idea

Toy Manufacturing

Toys are evergreen and profitable product ideas. Children and their parents are constantly searching for interesting, safe and educational toys.

This ideal manufacturing business could feature wooden toys, metal die-cast, plastic molded and plush stuffed animals.  You could produce the items or hire a subcontract manufacturer to create the items that you market.

Resource Links

Key steps for starting a toy business

How to manufacture designer toys – step by step

Vermicompost Production

Vermicompost a rich form of organic fertilizer that is made by worms!  You could start a worm farm and sell their waste product to gardeners, farmers and plant enthusiasts for use to promote healthy plant growth.  The start-up costs are very low, it is eco-friendly, can be started at home and is fun.

Resource Links

Learn how to start worm farming for profit in my guide. 

Canvas Sewing

Here you will manufacture canvas products and sell them to the outdoor industry. Sails for boats, awnings for RV’s and tents for campers are examples of canvas products you can make and sell.

Homeowners are other prospective customers to market window awnings, deck covers, and pool gazebos. Also, consider marketing your items to businesses for trade show displays and outdoor banner signs. A business near me makes substantial income in repairing sales and camping equipment. They also designed a line of heavy-duty tote bags that are selling well.

Artists can print their designs onto canvas for decorative wall hangings.

Resource Links

How to start canvas printing business at home

Ecommerce tips for canvas sewn items

Welding and Custom assembly manufacturing

You can open your own shop to become a contractor manufacturor, a custom fabricator or mobile welding business.

The best way to start is an independent to local businesses that need welding services. Get the right insurance (I was surprised at the low rates offered at CoverWallet) your welder and safety equipment and you could start your profitable business in a few days. Expand into a mobile welding service van.

Fabrication shops build boat tops, aluminum accessories, window frames, and custom industrial machinery.

Resource Links

How to start a welding manufacturing business

Custom Computer Manufacturing

Custom PC’s are in high demand from heavy tech users such as gamers, graphic artists, filmmakers, and musicians. Standard computer units are not sufficient for their technology needs. You can customize computers to fit their exact requirements.

Niche down and grow rich is the advice of Mr. Bhakta, CEO of Vision Computers. He recommends selling to customer bases such as accountants, lawyers, schools and government offices.

Resource Links

Start a business creating custom PCs

Embroidery Manufacturing Business

Looking for a creative manufacturing business idea? Then seriously consider investing in embroidery machines and making custom embroidered products. This company could be operated as a home-based business (check out my huge list of more home business ideas)

Sell company logo wear and promotional goods. Get inspired by this success story

Resource Links:

How to start a small embroidery business 

Spice Manufacture

As gourmet food trends continue the spice market is a money-maker.  Predictions are that the spice market will reach $22 billion in 2020. Answer this demand with your spice creations. The advantages of this business startup offer are low investment and high profits.

Resource Links

How to Start a food business – US Drug and Food Administration USFDA

Cosmetic Manufacturing

This is my area of expertise. I started and ran a cosmetic manufacturing company for a decade, eventually selling it in a profitable deal.

There are many options for creating your own cosmetic line. You can private label by subcontracting the production process. Or you can mix small batches at home or in a small-scale factory warehouse.

Organic cosmetics are growing in popularity so you can use plant-based ingredients such as herbs and natural oils.  Get more beauty business ideas on my list here

Resource Links

How to start a cosmetic manufacturing company

Natural beauty startup tips from Formula Botanica

Ice Manufacturing

Ice cubes and blocks are needed for commercial and residential uses.  Diversify your ice factory by making different size and shapes for various customer groups such as; round ice cubes for bars, hotels and the hospitality industry; ice flakes for medical and product packaging purposes; crushed ice for ice cream parlours and juice bars.

Resource Links

How to start an ice making business

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