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10 Best Small Business Opportunities in California

Profitable business opportunities in California

If you are thinking of starting a business in California or plan on moving there, you can take advantage of many small business opportunities. These are opportunities that only entrepreneurs with good foresight can see.

Why California Has the Best Business Opportunities in the United States

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California being the most populated state in the US provides a very conducive environment for most small businesses to thrive. The business opportunities in one of the most culturally diverse states in the United States of America are mind-blowing.

It is not by coincidence that California is the state with the biggest economy in the United States of America. As a matter of fact, when compared to the world economy, California sits comfortably at number five among the biggest economies of the World.

The Gross State Product (GSP) of California as of 2021 is $3.4 trillion. It trails Germany (the fourth-largest economy in the World with a GDP of $3.86 trillion) with just a few trillion dollars but keeps the United Kingdom and India which have GDPs of $2.76 and $2.66 trillion respectively at arm’s length.

California is a huge industrial state, with trade, agriculture and tourism being the top three of its industries.

In this article, we will look at the 10 small business opportunities you can easily set up in California and make a huge return on your investment in the shortest possible time. We will also look at the minimum cost requirements for setting up those enterprises.

1. Ice Cream Production

With its average warm temperature all year round, California presents a beautiful opportunity for the ice cream business to thrive. But before you rush into production, it is important you do in-depth to know what’s working. 

Visit other ice cream shops in your city. Observe how they make sales. Which flavors sell out real quick? What flavors barely get orders at the end of the day? When you know this, you’re already armed with the information about what people want. Try also to observe the servings. What kind of toppings do people demand the most? How are they served? I mean, what is the cost of the minimum servings?

When you’ve observed these things, it’s time to set off to work. Get your business registered, attend the compulsory three months food processor training course, then you’re set for operation. If you can, invent a unique kind of flavor. One that is different from what they are used to in your area. Well, you must not really be the originator of the idea.

Go online and check what flavors people say they like. Pick one that is not available in your city and introduce it to them. While you’re at it, endeavor to make available those flavors they are used to.

California is a very big state, with some of the busiest cities in the country. Offering home delivery services would be a huge plus for your business.

How much does it cost to start an ice cream production business in Los Angeles or San Diego, California? As a small business, you don’t need to get a storage space until your business has generated enough revenue to fund that. You can start from your home. Then get a delivery company to handle your logistics, or start by setting up a stand in the front of your home.  It would cost you from $2,000 to $10,000 to start up an ice cream production business.  

2. Food Service Business

Food business opportunities in California

Food service businesses can be really challenging. Much is expected from you than someone who is running a regular non-food business. Apart from having your business registered, you have to also obtain all relevant licenses. These licenses won’t be issued until you’ve attended the compulsory food production training. Inspections would also be done to ensure you’re complying with the health and sanitation requirements for running a food business.

One thing is certain though. The food service industry is a very lucrative one. People rarely have time to prepare good homemade foods for themselves. That is why most people resort to eating junk food all the time. So if you step in to provide that need and hunger for homemade foods, you’re sure to make a good kill while doing it.

And since California is a state-ranked among the top 5 most culturally diverse places in the World, you can make a huge fortune serving just a select group of that population. Imagine preparing a homemade food popular among Asians alone? Or Indians or Africans? I’m sure you can imagine how profitable it is.

As someone in the food service industry, the worst mistake you can make in a culturally diverse place like California is to make food for everyone.

How much does it cost to start a food business in Los Angeles, California? It would cost an average of $10,000 to $100,000 to start a food business in California. But do not be discouraged by the startup cost, you can always start with what you can afford.     

3. E-commerce Business

Start an e-commerce business in California

There has been a massive surge in E-commerce businesses since the COVID era eased off. Businesses have realized that they can’t be limited by their geographic locations. And individuals now know that they don’t need to step out to get what they want.

E-commerce business opportunities are rife everywhere in the World now, not just in California. But of course, California with its huge population in the United States is a perfect environment to run an e-commerce business.

You can start from anything. Provide valuable products and services online and people would surely patronize you. Do you have a local business you want to start, but it is already saturated in your city? Why not try taking it online? Californians are tech-savvy, busy people. E-commerce businesses would surely thrive there.

E-commerce business like dropshipping is one of the most profitable business opportunities in California.


4. Vacation Rentals

Launch a vacation rental business in Los Angeles

As a state filled with many tourist attractions, vacation rental businesses would surely thrive in California. Some notable tourist attractions in California are the Yosemite National Park, Disneyland, Death Valley National Park, Lake Tahoe, the Big Sur, and even the popular Hollywood Universal Studios. There are many more small business and wedding event centers in Los Angeles available for booking.

People frequent California with their families for vacations. This is a huge business opportunity for someone who has an interest in real estate. It must not be a huge and expensive brick-and-mortar vacation rental apartment. It can be something as small and creative as the potato-shaped Airbnb located in Boise, Idaho, United States.

Just think of something creative, simple but fun, and tourists will queue up to have a feel of it. Vacation rental businesses are very profitable. And in a state like California? Simply position your business well, and you’d well be counting in thousands of dollars at the end of every month.  Take a look at this guide on how to create a rental business plan before you register your company in California.

5. Fitness Center / Gym

Fitness businesses, just like e-commerce, are another business category that the COVID era made more popular. It was stated that only those with a strong immune system could go through covid infections without facing a severe mortality scare. Though eating healthy is seen as a major human immune booster, exercising regularly to stay physically fit is seen as a vital part of being healthy. The impact physical exercises have on the body, and the immune system specifically, cannot be overemphasized.

The Covid scare made people start taking their fitness journey more seriously. So, to tap into this growing desire to stay fit and healthy, setting up a fitness, gym center will be a great step in the right direction.

And, to be frank, you don’t really need to break the bank to set up a fitness center. You really don’t have to go all-in by providing comprehensive fitness services. You can start with the basic ones and add more as your income increases. Furthermore, you can start by providing one or two of these basic fitness services:

  • Abdominal classes
  • Cardio
  • Yoga, dancing, group skipping
  • Swimming, etc.

These are awesome services you can start your fitness center with and people would gladly pay for sessions. You can hire a fitness coach to organize personalized training sessions for individuals. With the bubbling nature of California, people would want to stand out in their looks. People want to be seen with firmer biceps, more developed abs and stronger, well-toned legs. Sell the idea to them, and they would happily give you their money.

What does it cost to start a gym business in California? For a basic fitness center, you should have a budget in the range of $20,000 and $50,000. You can save costs and maximize profit by using gym management software.

6. Laundry Services

What does it cost to start a laundry business

Let’s be honest, people are busy. No one has the time to do laundry these days. Most tech entrepreneurs in California are willing to pay whoever is ready to do their laundry for them and ease that stress. If you’re a well-organized person. Someone who wouldn’t misplace people’s clothes. Then this business might be the right one for you.

It is very easy to do and requires a low capital investment. All you have to do is simply get a space, buy the basic equipment and start your cleaning business.

When you add efficiency to your business, you will never run out of customers. You can start by getting a mini-website where customers would log in and book for their clothes to be picked up. You can hire our team of digital marketing experts to help you build your laundry business website. Then you send a pickup agent who picks them up for you. The customers would see on the mini website the time their clothes would be ready for delivery or pickup, depending on the options they choose.

How much does it cost to set up a laundry business? An average Laundromat with little equipment can cost in the region of $20,000 to $100,000 to set up. You can also start with something less than that. Then buy more equipment as your business grows.


7. Plant Nursery

Plant nursery to make money in California

People are in constant demand for ornamental plants, flowers, indoor houseplants and even trees like maples. California, being a state with good support for agricultural activities, is a good place to set up a nursery. However, before you go into this form of business, it is advisable you undergo basic plant nursery training from the California Farm Academy. 

This is to ensure you know how these plants are grown. Whether you are running a mini nursery or a major one, one thing you should know is that it requires careful techniques and good knowledge of plants (including the kind of diseases that affect them and how to prevent them) to succeed in this business. You also need to understand their climate requirements. Some plants do really well for short growing reasons, while some others would require you to provide them with extra artificial lighting and heat before they can mature.

What is the average cost of setting up a plant nursery shop in California? Depending on the kind of plants you want to grow, you would need a minimum of $5,000 to get enough plant seedlings and nursery pots to start with.

8. Start a Beauty Shop Business in California

How to start a beauty shop in California

The beauty industry is an ever-growing one. On a daily basis, people are looking for ways to look more appealing to others. People spend thousands of dollars on their hair, nails, face and skin generally. It’s okay to say that setting up a beauty business in California gives you lifetime opportunities.

All beauty niches are profitable. Just look for the one that suits your future plans and go for it. Implement some outstanding beauty business ideas that will distinguish you from your competitors in California.  You can run an all-female salon or a barbing salon for men. You can also combine it to run a unisex salon. Beauty spas are not left out.

All you have to do is, sit down and plan how you will run the beauty business. You can write it down, or even prepare a detailed business plan if possible. A business plan will give you a clear road plan of how the business will be run. Starting from the business description to the financials. We took the time to explain exactly how to start a beauty business and also suggested marketing strategies that can help you grow. 

Provided you manage your business well, you’ll recover your investment in less than a year. Because, just like in the food service business, people do not joke about their looks.

What is the average cost of starting a small beauty salon business in California? To run a proper beauty salon in any part of California, you need to set aside a minimum of $40,000.   

9. Used Goods Retail Business

Selling used items is one of the most profitable business opportunities in California


This is one business on the list that you can start with literally zero capital. And that doesn’t mean it is not profitable. The profit in it is very shocking.

In this business, you can start by visiting people’s homes to pick up items they don’t use again. Some of these items might still be in very good working condition, but the issue is, that the owners don’t need them again. So what they do is bin them. If you’re lucky to get there before the waste disposal workers, you get to pick up those things.

You can also volunteer to buy some of these things at ridiculously low prices. To do this, you simply have to share flyers to every home in your city and visit them one after the other. Some will give you theirs for free because they no longer need them. Others might just sell to you at giveaway prices.

When you gather these items, sort them out according to their scrap value. Some items might be as good as new ones. While there are some that have been used for a longer period.  You need to categorize them well according to their usage.  At this stage, you’d need to polish those that need polishing and wash those that need to be washed.

When all is set, and they are glittering again, you can put them up for sale. There are online platforms where you can advertise these goods. Platforms like eBay, Etsy, Poshmark and even Amazon accept used products.

You can sell these products as high as you want. From $30 to as high as thousands of dollars. You can find many more business opportunities when you discover other best places in California to sell unwanted clothes, art, furniture and more.


10. Transportation Business

Transportation business is a profitable venture in California

The transportation business flourishes everywhere. In fact, it is one of the most profitable small business opportunities in California. If you have a truck or personal car you use for normal activities, you can turn them to good use by using them to run transportation businesses.

You may choose to run a luxury transportation service like Uber, or a goods transportation service with your truck. With your truck, you can move people who are relocating or moving a property from one location to another.

As long as people are always on the move, the transportation business would always flourish.


This article is only a pointer to the profitable small business opportunities you can do in California. It is advisable that you do your due diligence before starting up any business.

Proper business research requires you to take an in-depth look at the industry you will be operating in, the business you want to do and its competitors. This is why it is important you prepare a detailed business plan for every business you want to do. The business plan will help you take an objective view of the business and know if it is worth going into. Also, it is always advisable you start small, monitor the business and upscale when you see how profitable it is. 

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Godwin Uchenna is a content writer, copywriter and contributor at EntrepreneurBusinessBlog.com. You can connect with him on Facebook for your content writing services - https://www.facebook.com/azuama


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