If you’re starting an LLC in Pennsylvania, the business entity formation process is one of the first and most important hurdles. This step can bet ...
20 Best Business Ideas in Pennsylvania
Written by: Esther Strauss
Esther is a business strategist with over 20 years of experience as an entrepreneur, executive, educator, and management advisor.
Edited by: David Lepeska
David has been writing and learning about business, finance and globalization for a quarter-century, starting with a small New York consulting firm in the 1990s.
Updated on September 13, 2023
20 Best Business Ideas in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania is seeing an uptick in economic activities with the lifting of stringent pandemic restrictions and reopening of businesses. A robust technology sector, especially in the field of biotechnology, is continuing to boost the economy while a projected shift in spending toward services is anticipated to boost the services sector, including the leisure and hospitality industry.
Against this backdrop, starting a bartending or junk removal business could be a wise move. Other business ideas in Pennsylvania include opening a boutique or a bar. Going into retail trade also seems viable. Explore more business ideas below!
A great deal of manufacturing has moved overseas in recent decades, but US manufacturing is still an $8 billion industry that has seen steady growth in recent years. Manufacturing businesses can be extremely profitable, but they also require a lot of planning and hard work.
The first step is to decide what you’re going to produce. Do some market research and see which products are selling well and where there may be a market gap. You should keep an eye out for products that are more affordable to manufacture or offer a significant markup and strong profits. Next, you’ll need to rent or purchase a manufacturing facility, preferably in an out-of-the-way location to keep costs low. Once you start making your products, you’ll need to have them tested and certified and acquire all the necessary licenses and permits.
Finally, you’ll be ready to launch a marketing campaign that, with a bit of luck, should start bringing in orders and put you back in the black.
2. Real Estate
The US real estate market has been booming in recent years, and is now worth nearly $400 billion and expected to see further growth in the years ahead. As an entrepreneur, you’re probably always on the look-out for new opportunities. Right now, with sales totals and home prices at record highs, real estate ranks among the largest and most promising markets. And best of all, you’ll be helping families settle down and build homes and communities.
Of course, starting a real estate business isn’t as easy as getting out of bed. You’ll need to educate yourself about the market and obtain a real estate agent’s license. You’ll need to familiarize yourself with all of the relevant online tools and information to keep you updated on market trends, and find a local broker to partner with. Finally, you’ll need to set up a website and successfully market your home buying and selling abilities in order to stand out in a crowded marketplace.
All that done, you’ll be ready to start building your real estate empire.
3. Health Care
Thinking of setting up a health care business? You’re on the right track. Demand for health care services is on the rise mainly due to an aging population in the US. By 2030, the number of American adults age 65 and older is forecast to exceed 60 million. This means increased health care spending. Which segments are booming, you might ask. Profits are growing fastest in medtech and health care information technology (IT).
So what are you waiting for? Now’s the time to start a health care business. Take the first step by finding a niche that you can focus on. Make sure you have the necessary permits and licenses, whether you’re thinking of starting a medical practice, home health care company, or something else entirely. You’ll also need to decide on a value proposition that will set you apart from the competition and make it easier for you to promote your business.
4. Graphic Design
Strong graphic design is a crucial element of nearly every business’s branding and marketing strategy, which is why it’s always in great demand. After years of steady growth, the US graphic design industry is worth nearly $14 billion and offers real opportunity for the bold entrepreneur. You could start your own graphic design business from home and work with clients around the world, generating good money and turning your creative passion into a successful career.
You will, however, need to have a strong creative streak and some skill and experience with graphic design software and tools. If you don’t have a related degree, you could brush up on your graphic design skills by taking courses at an online platform like Udemy. Next, it’s a good idea to research the market, see what sort of graphic design is trending lately, and keep an eye out for a market gap that might fit your skillset.
Understanding and clarifying what you will offer, which businesses you are targeting and how you’ll stand out from the competition will be crucial elements to your success.
5. Internet Service Provider
With the world’s digital transformation, the internet has become an essential service. Globally, internet service providers earned about $450 billion in 2020. The market is still growing and there are plenty of opportunities even for new players like you, so you might want to start setting up an internet service provider business now.
Whether you are looking to start small or compete with the giants, you will need to install servers, cable lines and other equipment. It’s a good idea to do research and find answers to frequently asked questions like, how much investment do you need, how will you raise funds, what are the legal and technical issues, and how to find customers.
Some people do not think that the internet is something they can make money from because it is too easy for people to switch between networks. But if you know how to position your products and services correctly, then it will be much easier for people to stick with you.
Starting an insurance business can be a great way to make a profit while helping others plan for the future and hedge against financial losses. The global insurance industry has been growing, with revenues estimated to reach more than $6 trillion in 2025. Analysts believe the industry is poised for a more rapid growth as the world recovers from the pandemic. This could be the right time for you to start your own insurance business.
You can start small by setting up an office affiliated with a major industry player. Before you launch your business, you need to know your products well and focus on a niche market. Will you be offering property, health or life policies, among others? You’ll also need to consider the emerging technologies in coming up with business models. It would be helpful if you have actuary skills, some customer service experience and great networking skills.
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.
8. Tow Truck
If you’re an entrepreneur looking for a new business opportunity, starting a tow truck business may be the perfect choice. For one thing, vehicles are constantly breaking down, which is why towing is a fast-growing $11 billion US industry. With just one truck you could start your tow truck business from home, help all kinds of people out of terrible jams and grab a share of that huge market.
Of course, tow trucks don’t come cheap, and the down payment on even a used truck might cost $10,000 or more. But that’s nothing compared to the money you’ll make, as the average tow runs about $100. You’ll need to acquire a commercial driver’s license and make sure you have excellent insurance that protects both your business and your customers from potential damages. You may also need a state or local permit to offering towing services, so be sure to check with your local governments.
Finally, you’ll need to hit on a marketing approach that helps your towing service stand out from the competition, whether that’s discounted prices, rapid service or something else. Once all that’s sorted, you’ll be driving your way to serious profits.
Are you looking to open your own bar? It can be a great way to make money. The bars and nightclubs industry in the US is slowly coming out of pandemic slump and the prospects are bright for a strong year ahead. There are more than 60,000 bars and nightclubs in the country, and there’s still room for more. Starting your own bar business now is the right thing to do.
There are a few things you have to do before you launch your bar. Besides making sure that your business is legally compliant, it’s a good idea to be ready to adapt to the latest nightlife trends and shifting consumer tastes. A recent survey showed that more Americans would leave a bar if it gets too crowded or the music is too loud. More Americans are also choosing non-alcoholic drinks, low-alcohol cocktails, kombuchas, and other beverages with low to no-alcohol content. With careful planning and a great marketing strategy, you should be making big profits from your bar business soon.
10. Clothing Boutique
Are you obsessed with fashion? Do you have an eye for trends? If so, starting your own boutique may be a great fit for you. Following years of steady growth, the US clothing boutique industry is worth more than $18 billion. More and more of today’s serious shoppers tend to walk right past the brand outlets and department stores and head straight for the exclusive boutiques offering new, unique and vintage clothing and accessories not found anywhere else.
To draw them in, you will need to establish a strong based on your own sense of style. You might embrace a pre-WWII theme and embrace flapper dresses, hats and brooches. Or maybe you’re a disco lover and all about bell bottoms, short shorts, tube tops and more. Or you could go with a clean and simple, more futuristic look. The key is finding and highlighting your own sharp fashion sense. If it’s right, the shoppers will come.
11. Bartending Service
Fictional spy James Bond wants his martini shaken, not stirred. If you’re aware that shaking a drink is different from stirring it, why not consider starting a bartending business? It’s an exciting way to be your own boss, meet new people, and make money. More than 100,000 job openings for bartenders are projected each year through 2030 in the US. The projected growth in employment of bartenders is faster than the average for all occupations.
You don’t need to obtain a license to become a bartender. But some local laws require permits or certificates. Most states also require that those who serve alcohol in bars and restaurants be at least 18 years old. Local laws differ from state to state, so make sure you check with your local authorities. It is important that you master the basic bartending techniques and prepare some tricks of your own to differentiate your bar from the competition. Starting a bartending business is no easy task. If you are determined to make your mark, be ready to work hard and be nice to your customers.
12. Junk Removal
You’ve probably heard that real estate has been booming of late. But you may not realize that this also means the construction industry has been doing well, which consequently means that demand for junk removal services has been on the rise. The construction of new office buildings and residential properties creates massive amounts of waste and used materials. As a result, the US waste removal industry is now worth $60 billion and seeing steady growth, and if you don’t mind a bit of heavy lifting, now is an excellent time to start your own junk removal business.
It’s probably easier than you think. You’ll need a truck, as well as the right tools and equipment — both of which you could find with a bit of online digging. Most likely, you’ll also need a commercial driver’s license, as some of the loads you haul are likely to exceed the weight limit allowed under a normal license. Finally, you’ll want to reach out to contractors, construction firms, developers and property managers to offer your services.
A smart approach is to offer a discount to attract your initial clients. Then, once you’ve delivered fantastic service, the referrals, and the cash, should start rolling in.
13. App Development
Did you ever think about how often you use mobile apps? Probably many times a day, which is why apps are among the world’s fastest growing industries. The global app market is worth more than $465 billion and expected to expand nearly 40% by 2026. If you have some tech skills, you could start your own app business and ride that growth to great success.
Getting there, however, will not be as easy as unlocking your phone. First, you’ll need a great idea for your first app. If you’ve already got that, you’ll need to do the build out and coding, then have the app vetted and approved by major app outlets, like Apple and Google. And that’s when the real work begins — convincing smartphone owners that your app is more appealing and valuable than the millions of other apps competing for their attention.
You might think that’s the easy part, but many entrepreneurs make that same mistake. Even the most brilliant apps need a well-executed marketing strategy to take off. Any fool can make an app. The hard part is getting people to use it.
14. Beauty Supply Store
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.
15. Dropshipping on Amazon
Have you heard of dropshipping? It might sound complicated, but it’s simple. Dropshipping is an e-commerce business model in which the retailer does not keep goods in stock, but instead relies on wholesalers or manufacturers to provide products to the retailer on demand. This way, the entrepreneur is able to sharply cut costs and increase profits, which explains why dropshipping is one of the US’ fastest-growing industries.
The market is worth about $130 billion and expected to see as much as 30% annual growth through 2026. That’s lightning-fast expansion, and you could ride this wave by starting your own dropshipping business on Amazon. The two key challenges will be finding or creating uniquely appealing products that appeal to customers on Amazon, which already offers nearly everything under the sun, and finding a reliable manufacturer who is able to respond promptly to customer orders and ship goods fast. If you can check those boxes, you’ll be on the road to success.
In the podcast era, you might have thought that blogs had gone out of style. You would be wrong. The internet is home to more than 600 million blogs, more than 2 million blog posts go online every day, and after years of steady growth, the US is home to about 32 million blogs. Substack, the blog and newsletter platform, recently passed one million subscribers. As a result, there is real opportunity for a bold entrepreneur looking to start a blog business and get in this massive market.
It requires minimal investment. All you really need is a reliable computer and decent wifi. The major hurdle is coming up with a concept, an objective or mission for your blog business. You might choose generating funds to feed hungry children or delivering crucial news to the people of your city or state. Once you’ve found your niche, you’ll need to reach out across your network, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and beyond, looking for all those who write on related subjects and asking them to get on board. You could offer discounts, incentives, or rewards to sweeten the deal.
Once a couple of accomplished bloggers sign on, the paid advertisements will start rolling in and you’ll be on the road to success in the blogging business.
17. Supplements Store
If you’ve been thinking about starting a supplement business, now is the time to do it! Sales of multivitamins and supplements spiked more than 50% at the start of the pandemic. In 2022, vitamin and supplement manufacturers in the US were estimated to have earned at least $35 billion. The market is expected to grow marginally in the next five years, with e-commerce sales representing a big opportunity for the industry.
A supplement business can be a very lucrative endeavor. However, it’s not without its challenges. To get started, you need to comply with licensing requirements and other regulations relating to vitamins and supplements. You also need to choose your products well, find reliable suppliers, develop your brand, and get creative in promoting your products. Since the latest trend is selling directly to consumers via the internet, you have to develop your e-commerce website and boost your online presence. Expect to devote a lot of time and effort to your supplement business to ensure its success.
18. Clothing Line
Are you a fashion designer with big ambitions? If so, now’s a great time to start your clothing line business. The global apparel industry has been growing steadily for years and is now worth more than $1.5 trillion. The market is always on the look-out for hot new styles and up-and-coming designers, so if you have the skill and talent the opportunity is serious.
There will be some work involved. You’ll have to design an entire clothing line, not just one or two pieces. To start with, you might want to focus on a specific area of apparel, such as evening wear, jeans or lingerie. Once you’ve got your designs you’ll need to partner with a reliable, affordable manufacturer. Next is the crucial step of naming your company, and your initial collection, and building a brand.
Don’t expect success to arrive overnight. Launching a fashion line is tough. Have you seen “The Devil Wears Prada”? The fashion industry is notoriously cutthroat, and it’s very difficult for new designers to get their clothing into stores and in front of customers. You might have to find other ways to get your designs out there, such as on Etsy or Amazon or your own website. Good luck!
19. Art Gallery
Are you passionate about art? If so, now might be the right time to follow your dreams and open an art gallery. The US art dealers’ market is worth $9 billion and growing, so the opportunity is there for the taking. Getting started isn’t as easy as drawing a stick figure, but nor is it as difficult as painting the Sistine Chapel.
First, you’ll need to decide which type of art you’ll focus on. It should be a genre that’s personally meaningful to you. Maybe you’re into 20th-century Russian art, or contemporary South American artists. Or maybe you’d prefer to highlight up-and-coming artists from your area. Alternatively, you could embrace several of these options, but it tends to be better for a gallery to build a brand focused on a certain concept or genre.
Once you’ve nailed down your concept, you’ll just need to rent out a good space, start reaching out to artists and collectors and, last but not least, launch a major marketing blitz to promote your first show. Good luck!
20. Online Resale
Want to talk about a booming industry? In the coming years, apparel resale is expected to grow 11 times faster than the overall clothing industry, with most of that growth happening online. One reason is that Gen Z’ers and Millennials prefer sustainability, thrifting and throwback trends. Another is that the resale industry sources its goods domestically and as a result is not facing the same supply chain issues as major retailers.
The big question is how you’ll go about reselling your goods. One option is to rely on major online marketplaces like Etsy and eBay. Another is to partner with resale-focused sites like ThredUp. A third is to create your own resale website. The advantage of this option is you’ll be able to express your own sense of style and build your own brand, while the downside is the added expense.
Whichever route you choose, as long as you have reliable access to quality goods for resale and continue to provide strong service, you’re likely to keep that cash register ringing.
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