Back to Business Ideas Categories

24 Best Business Ideas In California

Written by:

Edited by:

Reviewed by: Daniel Javor

Published on September 8, 2022

Updated on November 4, 2022

24 Best Business Ideas In California

Disclaimer: Step by Step Business’ content is for informational and educational purposes only. It’s not intended to be a substitute for professional legal or tax advice. All of our articles are thoroughly reviewed and fact-checked by our editorial team. Read our editorial guidelines for more details.

Some of our articles include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

24 Best Business Ideas In California

California is the largest economy in the US, producing around $3.4 trillion in economic output in 2021. In fact, California would rank among the world’s top economies if it were a country. Its biggest sector is agriculture, although Hollywood and Silicon Valley are also big revenue contributors. 

Besides businesses related to film, television and technology, entrepreneurs like you can go into retail and sell beauty products and other merchandise. You can start an ecommerce business or set up a brick and mortar shop like a shoe store. Check out our list of business ideas in California.

1. Gas Station

How to start a gas station

Gas stations are leading retail sales gains in the US as sales continue to increase year on year despite the surge in pump prices. In February 2022, sales at gas stations increased at least 36% compared to the previous year. Gas stations can be very profitable when they’re strategically located and well-managed. If you have a property at the heart of a commercial district or you are presented with the opportunity to acquire a gas station with a good location, then you should consider starting a gas station business. 

A gas station requires a significant investment if you’re building from scratch, so it’s important to identify funding sources before you get started. An option is to buy an existing gas station, but not before you check for any legal, environmental and other issues affecting the property. You will need to get a license and comply with applicable underground storage regulations. With careful planning, you can make your gas station business successful.

2. Ecommerce Store

How to start an ecommerce business

Do you have a great business idea, but don’t know where to start? These days, the best way to get started is often by turning to the internet, where a wide variety of ecommerce businesses have found great success in recent years. Of course you know about Amazon, but there are also millions of smaller businesses that make up what is now a $4 trillion global industry. 

With countless people stuck at home, ecommerce revenues increased by more than a quarter in 2020, and they’s still growing, so opportunity in this market remains strong. You will need an appealing, in-demand product, a simple, easy-to-use website, and a sharp marketing plan, but if you’re willing to invest a good chunk of your time and money your new ecommerce business will have a great shot at success. Somebody’s got to be the next Jeff Bezos, right?

3. Gym

How to open a gym business

As the US economy recovers from the pandemic, gyms and fitness centers are also expected to reopen and bounce back. The gym, health and fitness clubs industry is poised for a modest growth and expected to earn more than $36 billion in 2022. Starting your own gym business can be very profitable and rewarding, too. 

Setting up a gym can be a breeze if you’re motivated and have a clear idea of what it will offer and what you want to achieve. You will need to invest in exercise equipment, choose a location that is accessible to potential customers, and secure the necessary permits and certifications. An option is to get a franchise or buy an existing fitness center. You will also need to identify a target market. There’s an increasing number of younger people who want to get fit and healthy, so you might want to direct your advertising and marketing efforts to this demographic. Don’t forget the older fitness buffs, though. Their number is also increasing.

4. Car Wash

How to start a car wash business

Some people REALLY love their cars, and need to keep them looking beautiful in and out. That’s why the US is home to nearly 17,000 car washes and a growing $28 billion industry. With a decent-sized investment, you could start your own car wash business and make countless car owners beam with pride while making a good living. 

One crucial element will be location, as few people drive out of their way for a good car wash. So it’s important to find a location with ample space, steady vehicular traffic and easy access. Near malls and shopping centers, or alongside highway rest stops, are among the stronger options. Once you’ve nailed that down, you’ll need to invest in top-of-the-line car washing machines and fine-tune your knowledge of car detailing. Soon enough, you’ll be washing your way straight to the bank!

5. Digital Marketing Agency

How to start a digital marketing agency

With many people staying at home and working remotely because of the pandemic, companies have also gone online and undertaken digital marketing initiatives to keep their target markets engaged. Global digital marketing is booming right now, and expected to more than double to $786 billion by 2026.

If you’re looking to start your own digital marketing business, you’re in luck. There has never been a better time to do it. Just catch up on the latest industry trends and know the steps in setting up a business. Keep in mind that since this is a relatively new industry, there are no concrete guidelines for success, but some insights into how other companies grew their own businesses can be helpful. Read and learn everything you can about the business before uploading your first social media post or your first digital ad. Once you’ve done that, you should be able to get the hang of digital marketing!

6. Barber Shop

How to start a barbershop business

Are you looking for a profitable business? If so, then consider starting a barber shop. A barber earns at least $35,000 per year, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. You’re not likely to run out of clients because millions of Americans regularly get a haircut. According to a study by Modern Salon Media, about half of American men are likely to get their hair cut every four weeks. 

Before you get started, you’ll need to get a barber license to be able to cut hair for money. The rules vary from state to state, but generally, a barber must complete a barber program or undergo apprenticeship or both, pass the licensure examination, and be at least 16 years old. Most states also require candidates to either complete high school or pass the GED. 

Once you hurdle these and other requirements, it’s a good idea to set up your shop in an area with high foot traffic. With careful planning and effective marketing, your business can be profitable.

7. Record Label

How to start a record label business

Have you seen Americans sing BTS songs in Korean? Music has been called the universal language because it’s something that all cultures can understand. That’s why it’s also big business. The Recording Industry Association of America says recorded music revenue in the US increased 23% to $15 billion in 2021. The big players are not the artists, but the record companies. If you’re thinking about tapping into this lucrative market, then consider starting your own record label. 

A record label signs the artist, controls the type of music that is recorded, and markets the music as well as the artist. For small record labels, the wise thing to do in order to minimize startup and operating costs is to go digital instead of producing physical albums. Many consumers tend to stream selected songs, instead of buying entire albums. Streaming is fast dominating the music industry, with revenue accounting for two-thirds of the total. So if you’re ready to earn big profits, start making music now!

8. Freelance Writing

How to start a freelance writing business

In this age of social media and digital marketing, opportunities abound for skilled and creative writers who can connect to any audience. In the US, employment of writers and authors is projected to grow nearly 10% per year through 2030. If you’re looking to capitalize on your writing skills and creativity, you might want to consider setting up a freelance writing business. You could write or ghostwrite for magazines, books, blogs, organizations and corporate clients. 

There’s nothing easy about freelance writing, though. You would be competing with millions of writers on known freelancing platforms so you’d have to work first at establishing your brand as a writer. Create a blog or a website, set up an account on social media and networking platforms, and connect with other writers to find your first client. It would take a lot of hard work, patience and dedication for you to succeed. But once you start to find some clients, you can expect to land more contracts.

9. Radio Station

How to start a radio station business

More than eight in 10 adults in the US listen to the radio weekly, making the radio one of the most powerful mediums of communication. Radio has been able to stay relevant by adapting to new technologies. It’s now accessible through smartphones, laptops, and other mobile devices. 

Starting your own radio station would be a great way to launch your broadcasting career. It’s fun and highly profitable too. Radio stations in the US earned over $22 billion in 2021, according to market analyst IBISWorld.

Depending on your budget, you can apply for a license to operate a web radio station or a traditional AM/FM radio station. Broadcasting on the web requires lesser startup investment and allows you to reach more listeners. It’s important to decide on your programming early on, whether you want to just play music, broadcast podcasts, or both. Keep in mind that the number of podcast listeners in the US has more than doubled in the last five years. If you play your cards right, you’ll be making money from your radio station soon.

10. Computer Repair

How to start a computer repair business

Businesses stand to lose customers and important data whenever their computer systems are down. Properly maintaining computers through regular cleaning, hard drive updates, and virus prevention can prevent breakdowns and extend a computer’s shelf life to up to eight years, computer security firm Norton says. 

That’s why demand is high for computer maintenance and repair services. The US computer and electronics repair industry is valued at $19 billion. If you’re knowledgeable about computers and have troubleshooting skills, consider starting a computer repair business. 

This type of business can be run from home, with minimal startup and overhead costs. But you’ll still need to register your business and comply with applicable regulations. Obtaining certifications on top of a bachelor or associate degree will increase your value and attract more clients so it’s wise to apply for these. Computer repair technicians mostly study computer science, IT, or computer information systems. It’s also important to be abreast of the latest trends. With your impressive skills, you’ll be making big profits in no time.

11. Video Game Company

How to start a video game company

Nearly 230 million Americans of all ages play video games and most of them say they’re likely to continue playing even after social distancing rules are eased. The rapidly growing video game market, valued at more than $95 billion, awaits you if you’re thinking about launching a new video game. Who knows? Your new game might dislodge Minecraft, Fortnite, or League of Legends as the most popular game, so start a video game company now. 

If you’re designing the game, you’ll need to collaborate with a script writer and graphic artist. It’s important to build your team first and brainstorm on your game’s features, characters, story arcs, and more. Although you can run this business from home, you’ll still need to register it and make sure it’s legally compliant. Once you’ve completed and tested your game, it’s important to apply for a patent. Just make sure it doesn’t bear any similarities to existing games. Starting a video game company is not easy, but you’ll be reaping the rewards if your game catches on.

12. Wholesale

Wholesale

Wholesale is all about the advantages of scale: prices are lower than retail because the purchases are in bulk, vast amounts of tomatoes, cement mix, shoes, or whatever it may be. If you’re good at scaling up and making sales, you might want to consider starting a wholesale business, because the industry is expected to continue its steady growth in the years ahead. 

Getting started will require a significant investment, because all of that inventory is not going to suddenly appear out of nowhere, and you’ll need a place to keep it. Fortunately, unlike retail, a wholesale business doesn’t have to worry about finding an area with heavy traffic. Instead, the main concern is space. Once you’ve got your goods and a warehouse, you’ll need to obtain all the necessary licenses, then start reaching out to local businesses that might be interested in your goods.

Keep in mind that this is a big and growing industry, which means you’re going to face stiff competition from established firms and other new entrants. You’ll likely need to work hard, and smart, to succeed.

13. Recycling Business

How to start a recycling business

Are you all about going green and saving the environment? Then why not start a recycling business and turn your passion into your livelihood. You could be fighting climate change and making good money at the same time — now that’s a win-win! 

Getting started won’t be cheap, as you’ll need a vehicle to collect and transport the recyclables and a sizable processing facility, as well the appropriate licenses. But you should see a relatively quick return on that initial investment as the US recycling industry is worth billions and growing fast. You’ll just need to decide which types of recyclables you’ll focus on, such as collecting glass to melt down into jars. 

Before you dive in, you might want to check the recycling rates for your state, as some states are much more profitable when it comes to recycling.

14. Shoe Store

How to start a shoe store business

Are you always checking out the shoes that people wear? Or maybe you have thousands of pairs in your closet. If you love shoes, as many people do, why not start a shoe store business? Shoe stores in the US are poised for a rebound due to pent up demand and rising consumer spending. The industry is estimated to be worth $42 billion and expected to post strong growth in the next five years. 

The first thing to do is to scout for a good location for your shoe store. It has to be accessible and located in an area with high foot traffic. Next, you will need to come up with a business plan to identify your target market, find reliable suppliers, choose the brands that you will carry, and more. Your business plan should include a strategy to promote your business through traditional and digital channels. There will be bumps along the way, but your shoe store business can succeed with your hard work and determination.

15. Restaurant

How to start a restaurant business

So you’ve decided to start a restaurant business. Congratulations! Opening a restaurant is no easy task, but it can be very lucrative. The food service industry in the US is expected to bounce back from pandemic slump due to pent-up demand and generate $900 billion in sales in 2022. 

The pandemic, however, has reshaped the industry and many restaurant operators believe it would take a year or more before business conditions return to normal. But if you’re keeping track of the trends, you would establish a digital presence and work on offering delivery services before opening your doors.  

There are many other things to consider. First, it’s important to decide what type of restaurant you want to open. Do you want to serve classic American fare, or specialize in a certain cuisine? Do you want to do casual or fine dining? What about a family-style restaurant? Next, it’s a good idea to research the competition in your area and come up with a plan to set yourself apart. Starting a restaurant can be tough, but if you’re prepared for the challenges ahead, it can be an incredibly rewarding experience.

16. Rental Property

How to start a rental property business

Are you interested in real estate? If so, you’re probably well aware that the pandemic, even as it cratered other industries, has spurred record-setting growth in the US real estate market, with prices and sales totals as high as they’ve been this century. The market has cooled down slightly lately, but it’s still a great time to get in on the action — and one good way to do so is by starting your own rental property business. 

The concept is easy. You simply buy a multi-unit property, or a larger residential complex, and start making a steady income from renters, in addition to property appreciation and tax benefits. Of course you’ll need a significant investment to get started, but you also need to break some eggs to make an omelet. 

But you will of course need to decide what type of rental property you want to invest in. Are you interested in buying and managing properties yourself, or would you prefer to invest in a property management company? Next, research the market and find out the price range for the area where you’re looking to buy. Be sure not to overspend early on. Get started, get a feel for the industry in your area, and then start thinking about making bigger bets.

17. Beauty Supply Store

How to start a skincare business

If you’re thinking about starting your own beauty supply business, you’re not alone. The US beauty industry has remained attractive even at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, growing marginally after a drop in sales in 2020. The market is expected to increase to more than $19 billion in 2022 as consumer confidence improves and the economy continues to recover. 

Starting a beauty supply business can be challenging since there are so many different types of beauty products in the market. To make your mark in this highly competitive industry, choose a niche and develop a strong brand identity. You should make sure your brand is unique and engaging enough for your customers to notice it when they go on social media or visit their website. It is important to understand your target audience so that you can develop marketing strategies to reach them. Finally, make sure your products are approved by the FDA and that your business complies with cosmetics laws and regulations.

18. Film Production Company

How to Start a Film Production Company

Are you a movie buff? You can have some control over what kind of movies the public should watch by starting your own film production company. The US film industry is still a huge market with plenty of growth opportunities despite the closure of theaters at the start of the pandemic. The industry earned a total revenue of nearly $92 billion in 2020. It’s expected to grow at least 4% per year through 2025.

You’ll need a hefty amount to acquire the necessary equipment, build a creative team, create content, and finance the production process. Before you can start production, your team needs to do research, scout for locations, and identify the cast. It’s a good idea to link up with theaters and streaming services for the distribution of your movie. Starting a film production company is not easy. Keep in mind that you’ll be competing with many big names in the industry like Paramount, Universal, Warner, and more. You’ll have to offer something fresh and unique to attract an audience and make your film production company successful.

19. Project Management Service

How to start a project management business

Demand for project management skills is growing across several industries such as IT, manufacturing, construction, defense, publishing, and even healthcare. Online recruitment platform Zippia says nearly 47,000 job openings for project management professionals are expected to be created through 2028. If you’re thinking about starting a project management business, you’re on the right track. It’s a great way to start your entrepreneurial journey and make big profits. 

Generally, a project management business oversees the implementation of a project and makes sure the goals are achieved within a certain time frame and based on the allotted budget. Your business will be in charge of complying with the regulatory requirements such as the conduct of an environmental impact study and detailed engineering design study as well as the filing of applications for permits and licenses. As project manager, you’ll need strong organizational, business, analytical, communication, and problem-solving skills. It’s to your advantage to obtain certifications to prove you underwent training and learned these vital skills will add value to your project management business.

20. Consignment Shop

How to Start a Consignment Shop

Are you thinking about starting a retail business? Why not start a consignment shop? The resale and consignment market in the US is booming and expected to reach $53 billion in revenue by 2023, resale company ThredUp predicts. A consignment shop is a store that sells used goods from a consignor, who retains ownership of the goods until these are sold. Your store merely takes a share of the profits. 

Before you open your consignment shop, you’ll need to abide by regulations issued by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission. Operators of consignment stores and other resale retailers are required to closely examine the products prior to resale to make sure these are safe and won’t cause injuries or even death. 

It’s to your advantage to open your store in an area with high foot traffic. Keep in mind that you’ll be competing with more than 25,000 other resale and consignment shops across the country. A good location and an effective marketing strategy can make your consignment shop a success.

21. Social Media Management

Social Media

Social media is among the world’s fastest-growing industries, with its 20% annual expansion in the last five years expected to increase to stunning 25% annual growth through 2026. By then it will be nearly a trillion dollar industry, which means that now is a great time to get in on the action and ride this wave.

Starting a social media business can be as simple as starting a blog about the media industry on LinkedIn or as complex as creating a fully-fledged Instagram business with lots of people using your content and products. With any social media business, the marketing will be absolutely crucial. The primary goal will be to connect with your target audience on the relevant platform. This means that before you even get started, you should do some research and experimentation to decide which platform and its user profile best fits you and your interests. From there, you’ll just need to find your niche to start building a respected brand.

22. Retail Store

Retail Business

Are you thinking of starting your own retail business? If so, you’re in good company. The retail industry is a huge part of the economy, and it’s only getting bigger. But starting a retail business isn’t easy. There are a lot of things to think about, from choosing the right location to setting up your payment system. And let’s not forget the most important step: deciding what you’ll be selling! 

A good way to choose your product offerings is to first do some research — see what’s out there, and more importantly what’s not. You’re looking for what sells well, as well as a market gap to fill.  Once you know your products, finding a great location for your store will be the next big step. However, you might want to initially run your retail business out of your home. This would significantly reduce your costs and give you time to build a brand and a reputation. 

After a year or two, assuming your products are well received by the market, you’ll be in a much better position to find a great location and run a successful retail outlet.

23. Business Consulting

How to start a consulting business

Business is revving back up as the pandemic recedes, and one of the industries best positioned to take advantage is consulting, which is worth more than $250 billion in the US and recorded strong growth in 2021. If you have an area of expertise — finance and budgeting, technology, operations, or management — you could start up your own consulting firm and help businesses improve their efficiency and profitability while also making a good living. 

Starting a consulting business is difficult, and will require hard work and determination, as well as a decent amount of red tape. Beyond building up a strong network and reliably providing value to your clients, a key element of your success will be understanding what sets you and your firm apart from your competitors and finding ways to promote that message to your target market and deliver on your promise. Accomplish this and you’ll soon build a reputation and, with a bit of luck, seven-figure revenues.

24. Tutoring Service

How to start a tutoring business

Do you have an area of academic expertise? Maybe you’re great at math, deeply familiar with science, or obsessed with language and literature. Even if you’re not a subject expert, but simply good with children, now’s a great time to consider starting a tutoring business. 

The industry took a hit during the pandemic, but today many tutors are embracing virtual instruction and tutoring is expected to see steady growth in the years ahead. As a result, you’re now able to run a tutoring business almost entirely from home, all while helping children to learn and excel and making a good living.  

Starting a tutoring business is not terribly complicated. If you have teaching experience or some proof of your expertise, you mainly need a good computer and you can start offering your services on a variety of online platforms, like ClubZ or eTutorWorld. With a bit of marketing on social media, you should be able to attract a few clients and start building your tutoring empire.