New York is ALL about business. It was founded as a trading post by Dutch colonists in 1624 and today it houses one of the world’s premier stock exchanges making it arguably the business capital of the world.
The key to finding the most profitable and best-suited to New York City business ideas are to use the special characteristics of the city as an integral part of your strategic business plan.
Every metropolitan area has its own culture, demographics, dominant industries, and geography. Work with these elements to start the business to suit NYC perfectly. This list is tailored to New York’s singular opportunities.
I lived and prospered in NYC for 20 years so I have the insider knowledge of its quirks and gems. Let’s get busy making you money in Gotham.
New York City Facts for Entrepreneurs
- 5 boroughs – Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, Bronx, and Staten Island
- 12 million people live in New York City and 6 million people visit daily for work and pleasure.
- Top industries are financial, medical, media, food, and fashion.
- Generates gross metropolitan product (GMP) of over US$1.33 trillion annually
Business Opportunities Unique to New York
The Big Apple (or Gotham, if you prefer) has these particular characteristics creating special opportunities to make money in the City.
- Large Population – 20 million people live, visit, and work in the New York City area representing a huge group of potential customers for your products and services.
- Access to Merchandise – New York is a major shipping port and gateway to Europe and Asia thus you have access to a wide selection of wholesale products (check out my list of best sources of products to sell online here) for you to retail at brick and mortar stores, direct sales, or online.
In fact, 94% of all exporting firms in New York were small businesses. These firms were responsible for nearly 57% of the value of exports leaving the state. Canada is NYS’s best export customer, receiving $12,567,000 of the state’s exports in 2017.
- Hub Location – Large cities like NY are good places to open highly specialized type business because the large population can support small niche business such as rare books, international gourmet foods, and foreign-language book stores
- Resident Needs – New Yorkers typically don’t own cars so they need items delivered, so consider selling transportation and hauling services. Also, they often busy executives who demand services to make their hectic lifestyle easier such as meal delivery, laundry services, and child care. Don’t forget about the millions of people who travel to the city for work or entertainment who buy tours, convenience food, and services.
- Business Needs – The thousands New York businesses, large and small, purchase a wide variety of business services, food catering, and products. Check out my guide on how to sell to small business owners here.
Business Ideas for New York City
1- Delivery services
Everything is delivered to homes and businesses in New York City because most people do not have a car or the time to go out and buy goods and services themselves. Profit from selling delivery services of items large and small from meals to clothing.
2- Merchandise Reseller
The various wholesale markets (jewelry, clothing, toys, gifts, electronics, and floral) in NYC offer a wide selection of goods to resell as a broker, distributor, online boutique, or even in brick and mortar stores. Read my article of the best wholesale sources for products to sell online Amazon & eBay here.
3- Mobile business
Bring your business directly to your customers by putting your company on wheels with a mobile business. Many types of mobile trucks prosper in city environments such as food trucks (check out my list of great food truck name ideas here) beauty salons, barbers, boutiques, pet grooming, and education classes. Here is a list of the best mobile business ideas – to get your rolling!
People and products need to go from one end of the city to the other. This is always in demand service. Here is my checklist for starting a trucking business.
Most parents who live in New York City have full-time jobs and hire childcare workers for their children. You could open a daycare center (read my how-to guide here), offer in-home services (au pair or nanny), or coordinate staff as an agency owner.
From children to seniors, millions of New Yorkers (and visitors) want to learn new skills such as foreign languages, software programs, and reading/writing. Become a tutor (in-person or online), teacher, school owner, or course creator.
7 – Entertainment
New York City is one of the most culturally exciting cities in the world. Launch your entertainment firm with music, acting, dance, film, art, or poetry. Want more art business ideas? Check out my list here
8 – Food Services
Restaurants are one of the largest industries in the city. From coffee carts to the finest dining establishments, New York City is prime real estate for food entrepreneurs. Additionally, you can offer catering for special events, businesses, or individuals’ special dietary needs.
Cooks – check out my comprehensive guide on how to open a restaurant in New York
9 – Fitness
Workouts of all types from pilates to running marathons are popular in NY. Consider opening your own exercise studio or offering personal training classes and fitness coaching.
10 – Bike Service
Bicycles are an important transportation source in New York and are a growing trend. Make money by opening up a bike shop for sales, repair, training, accessories, and storage.
New York’s Seventh Ave has been renamed Fashion Ave because of its history as the center of America’s fashion industry. The fashion industry (one of my favorites!) offers tons of entrepreneurial opportunities such as small startups of fashion styling, designer, fashion reporter, publicity, and import-export. Check out my list of the best fashion business ideas here
If you have specific expertise, you are sure to find businesses and individuals in a city the size of New York who wants to hire you. Consultants can be an excellent way to make money. Some of the highest-paid consultants are in the finance, programming, marketing, and medical fields. Get inspired by my list of catchy consulting business names here.
13- Travel Planner
New Yorkers live in a crowded city and love to travel to get away and explore the world. Their economic wealth is high and as such, they can afford to hire travel planners for their exotic adventures. Plus businesses want travel experts to coordinate itineraries and negotiate advantageous prices for their business travelers.
14 – Real Estate Sales & Rentals
There are over 3 million apartments in New York City. This adds up to an active real estate market ripe for the smart entrepreneur to profit from sales or rentals.
Building in New York? Check out my startup guide on How to Start a Construction Business in New York here
15 – Property Manager
Thousands of NY properties require management and maintenance. So why not start a property management company. You could specialize in second homes, retail stores, corporate apartments, or office buildings.
16- Photography & Graphic Design
Media is one of the largest industries in New York and the demand for visual artists is strong. Also, many major events take place in New York requiring celebrity photographers and numerous ad agencies to purchase graphic design services.
17 – Event Planner
If you can throw a great party then use your skills to make money planning events in the City that never sleeps. Major festivals, museum openings, award ceremonies, corporate events, and civic holidays are all possibilities to profit as an event planner. Check out my list of event planner name ideas here
18- Pet Services
There 1 million pets living in New York whose owners will pay handsomely to have them walked, watched, fed, groomed, and trained. Get inspired with my list of dog grooming business name ideas here
19 – Translation Services
New York is often referred to as a melting pot due to its wide ethnic diversity of multiple cultures. There are needs for language translations services in government, United Nations, media, and business.
20 – Florist
New York City has a floral district which is a florally minded entrepreneur’s garden of gold. The city has thousands of homes, hotels, and offices that buy decorative flowers weekly plus tons of special events demanding elaborate floral arrangements. One of my clients has a lucrative service business tending to hotel and office building plant life. Further, expand your floral business with seasonal decorations.
21- Health Care
Medical services are among the top industries in New York. You could open your own office as a service provider or build your fortunes supporting existing doctors and hospitals with related products and services.
22- International Services
Launch a firm serving a distinct nationality with foods, native language literature, and cultural events. Top ethnic groups in the city include Latino 29% and Asian 13% according to Wikipedia demographic data for NYC.
23 – Cake Business
New York City boasts some of the finest (and most expensive) specialty bakeries in the world. Get started selling custom cakes for special events, muffins for coffee services (for all those millions of endless business meetings!!), or wholesale baked goods to New York’s delis. Remember to check out my list of bakery name ideas here
Now that you are armed with this list of the best business ideas for New York City, it is up to you to get launched! Use these NYC business startup resources below (most that are free) to help you achieve your entrepreneurial dreams.
Good luck in the Big Apple fellow entrepreneurs.
Want to start a home-based business in New York? Read my startup guide to learn how to start a home business
Attentio Digital entrepreneurs – read my in-depth startup guide for online businesses in New York
New York City – Business Startup Resources
Now that you are armed with this list of business ideas that are perfect for New York City, here are local resources to help you launch your company:
Start a Business in New York City – NYC Business
SBA Small Business Administration New York Office