Small Business Trends in 2021 for You to Start and Grow a Successful Business

Looking for a trending business idea? These small business trends in 2021 will help you start and grow a successful business in 2021, by capitalizing on trends that are highly in demand by consumers, inshallah.

Covid 19 has shaken the business industry for over a year now. However, entrepreneurs and business owners should not be worried because every change brings new opportunities and possibilities.

To start a new business during the pandemic can be risky as many new businesses can easily crash if entrepreneurs do not plan for innovation, business ideas, and plans. Exploring ideas before investing in the business is very important to follow trends, learn what customers need, and validate if there is a place for your business in the market. The validation process will give answers to questions like “will this business make money?” and“Is it business worth funding?”.

Is 2021 a bad time to start a business?

Islam teaches us to see bad times as the temptations that strengthen us, remind us that everything is momentary and that the world is a great struggle as the struggles are part of our tests for Muslims to do good deeds, think good of Allah s.w.t. and place our trust in Him.

With the current pandemic, the global economy has taken a nosedive. However, while businesses may be bad for some companies, it is good for other companies. It’s never a bad time to start a business, it can only be bad validation of ideas and the market. Understanding the market is the key to success and startups usually fail because the business is not meeting the customer’s needs. In 2021, just as last year, the most successful businesses rely on the internet to connect with consumers to offer their products and services.

What businesses are trending now?

Due to Covid-19 that started last year, a lot has changed.  According to Google, the most important factor that binds trending businesses is the “at-home experience” where we now work, shop, and live by being confined to our homes.  This meant that remote work, online shopping (e-commerce), digital entertainment and eLearning are now normal. 

Digital technology and the internet have been very helpful in enabling the at-home experience, which has given us the ability to make everyday life easier. Hence, trending businesses in 2020-2021 revolve around digital technologies, such as software, app development, as well as traditional businesses such as retail outlets, eateries (such as cafes and restaurants) that use the internet for online shopping, and food delivery. Services that are able to be delivered online such as online tutoring, content writing and video production are also on an increasing trend however we haven’t included them in this article, as they can be done on a freelance basis, instead of a small business owner.

What businesses are worth investing in 2021?

Small Business Trends in 2021

The following list of businesses worth investing in 2021, are based on their overall market size and their growth rate in 2020. We also take into account the likelihood that the business will do well after Covid-19 ends.

  1. E-commerce a growth of 44% in 2020 in the US with a total market value fo USD861 billion.
  2. Teaching via EdTech (eLearning platforms) – 335% growth in the US with a total market value of USD9.35 billion.
  3. Mobile app development – in 2020, the app store worldwide revenue was USD143 billion, an increase of 20 percent year-over-year.  This includes 218 billion app downloads last year.
  4. Mobile game developer  – mobile game players experienced a 12% increase in players of 2.5 billion worldwidewith USD77 billion in revenue in 2020.
  5. Print on demand – the global custom t-shirt printing market size was valued at USD 3.64 billion in 2020, wth a growth rate of 9..7%.

Services that are able to be delivered online such as online tutoring, content writing and video production are also on an increasing trend however we haven’t included them in this article, as they can be done on a freelance basis, instead of a small business owner. Inshaallah, we will cover this in another article.

Best small business ideas in 2021 –

1. ECommerce

Ecommerce is rising due to the pandemic as people are either in lockdown or are worried about going out shopping. According to Google, the growth in ecommerce last year due to the pandemic is equivalent to a ten year growth in a 3-month period.

You don’t need a big investment to start an eCommerce business. You can start a business with a small amount. Social media is a great way to reach out to your potential customers and create attractive marketing. Once your products start selling well you can then reinvest your profits to expand your eCommerce business. 

For business owners with retail shops or eateries, reaching your customers through online shopping, eCommerce marketplace or food delivery apps are a great way to ensure that your business is sustainable during these hard times. 

Ecommerce customers can be offered different kinds of products, food, clothes, tech, beauty products, and that you can also sell your products internationally. That’s the great benefit of eCommerce where your customers are not just based on your location, or city or even country.

The biggest advantage of e-commerce business is fact that entrepreneurs can focus on the halal business, which is an important part of Muslim lives. In some countries where it is hard to find halal work, this business model can be successful because everything is virtual and sales are done online.

There are two main ways to start an ecommerce business: either by joining a markeplace platform such as eBay, Etsy, or Amazon, or use your own online shop with your own website or by using Shopify platform as your online storefront.

2. Teaching via EdTech (eLearning platforms)

EdTech (short for education technology) is simply the process of integrating technology into education to build better teaching and learning experiences for students. With EdTech, teachers are replacing the traditional paper-and-pen teaching method with the use of technology. Teachers don’t have to be tech experts, but they do need to be comfortable with using technology.

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The global pandemic last year had seen schools closing down across the world, and this had led to students, from kindergarten up to university students, using edtech for online learning. According to the World Economic Forum, there were 1.38 billion students were affected by by school closures and had shifted to online learning. 

However, online learning is not only for school or university students. Working adults, at least 30% of employees and freelancers, are interested in upskilling via e-learning platforms. 

Teachers, tutors and specialists are able to reach their students via edtech platforms and can either give live tutoring via video conferencing, or pre-recorded lessons via video and additional notes.  For instance, anyone with enough technical knowledge in a subject matter, whether academic, or enthusiasts, can create a course, such as photography, or business or IT courses on popular platforms such as Udemy.

3. Mobile App Development

Everyone is attached to their mobile phones these days. So it only makes sense to make a mobile app as a small business owner. However, can a single person develop a mobile app or is a team of developers needed for mobile app development?

This all depends on the complexity of the app, and what it intends to achieve. For a simple app, assuming the business owner is an experienced mobile app developer, he or she can start for as little as USD100.  In addition to a computer and a mobile phone, the additional costs needed would be the server cost and software template costs.   Development time would take around 2-3 months. 

For more complex mobile apps, a development team is often needed. This would consist of a project manager, an iOS developer and an android developer. Development costs for complex apps can start from USD15K and the time to develop the app can be from as little as 3-6 months.  

What’s important is to determine what type of app you’d like to create, and is best to model the mobile app of a competitor. This would then reduce the time for you to build and market the app.

4. Mobile Game Developer

Video games in general are on the rise, with more players love playing against other players online. This includes mobile games, and on Roblox, a mobile game platform for young players (under 13 years age), independent game developers can create their own games on the popular platform, and get paid for it. 

Roblox has  paid developers $328.7 million in 2020, an increase of 200% of the prior year. More than 1,250 independent developers on Roblox earned at least USD10,000 in the digital currency Robux, which can be converted to cash. Over 300  independent developers have earned USD100,000 or more.

By developing on an already popular platform, developers don’t have to worry about many things: software costs, server costs and marketing costs. They can just focus on developing mobile games that are fun for users. 

5. Print on demand

People love wearing fashion designs that are unique to them and show off their personalities or personal values. T-shirts with custom designs are made possible through print-on-demand business models, with digital printing.

The print-on-demand business consists of two parts: as a small business owner, your role is to create designs that will appeal to your target customers, and work on marketing your t-shirt designs. With the pandemic, even masks can now have custom designs printed.  

Once your business gets an order for your t-shirt design, the second part is that you order the t-shirt with your design printed, with the print-on-demand company. They will produce your product and send it directly to your customers. 

A print-on-demand business is an easy and fast business to set up. All you need is a design, and setting up your online store. Other than clothing, such as t-shirts, or face masks, you can also sell custom stickers, and customized gifts. Your minimum order can be as little as just one unit. 


These top trending small business are the ones that have been identified to have the best business growth, due to the growing consumer acceptance, as well as the right market conditions. These businesses also have low investment cost that makes it possible for small business owners to enter into.

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