24 Small Business Ideas for San Francisco (CA, USA) that Don’t Need Huge Investment

San Francisco is the financial, commercial and cultural hub of Northern California. The fourth most populous city in the state of California is the home to some renowned businesses and brands such as Levi Strauss & Co, Gap Inc., Dropbox, Mozilla, Craiglist and Wikimedia Foundation as well as a startup nursery!

In fact, the city is better known as the epicenter of internet startup companies. Small business startup environment is extremely encouraging, as 85% of the businesses in the city are small with less than 10 employees.

San Francisco is also a popular tourist resort, with world class hotels and convention centers. The city with its business friendly environment and economic exuberance is the best place to start a low cost business. Being the City by the Bay, San Francisco is also famous for its creative energy, and here are some helpful creative ideas for starting up a low cost business in San Francisco.

San Francisco, CA, USA

1- Food Truck

Food on the move is one good idea for starting up a quick business in big cities like San Francisco. If you are a foodie and love cooking food and hold expertise in cooking you can utilize your skills in to a steady income.

All you need in terms of investment is in a food truck and the food items. Have some good menu ideas and San Francisco should love it! The city is a place of multicultural diversity; you can add up ethnic Latin and Chinese food items and attract large number of customers.


2- Specialty Food Shop

A specialty food shop can be set up in your kitchen or in your home front, all you need is to come up with a special food item with the potential of attracting every food lover’s attention.

Everyone can bake cakes but only few know the skills involved in baking the perfect cake. If you know the best skills involved in baking, cooking, preparing freezable snacks or just anything special with food, you can easily setup a shop in your kitchen.


3- Baby Food Business

One home based business idea that can do wonders for you in San Francisco is to make organic baby food. Organic baby food is in great demand in San Francisco, and you can with ease establish a small scale setup right in your kitchen. All you need is fresh organic food items and insight in to baby taste buds.

baby food

4- Online Discount Service

Since majority of the businesses in San Francisco are online, you can go for a Groupon like website. You can limit your scope by just offering discount on books, or kids wear, or anything that is convenient for you to manage. This business idea is a big winner in a city like San Francisco.


5- Beauty Shop

If you already have a beauty parlor you can supplement your sales by adding up cosmetics sales. You can display items for your customers, who will surely be delighted to buy them.

In case if you do not have a parlour, you can always sell this stuff online; setup a Facebook page, upload pictures and descriptions with pricing, run some ads to market your products, receive orders and deliver them!


6- Summer/ Holiday Activity School

If you are a teacher or have the skills, summer, other holidays and weekends are the best time slots to supplement your income by arranging a activities for toddlers and small children. You can arrange different activities for the kids from arts and craft, to yoga classes. It can be one good way of utilizing your skills as a teacher in generation of capital.


7- Online Content Production

For starting an online content development business all you need is a computer and a stable internet connection. As an online content developer you can utilize your writing skills in generating a handsome amount while working from the comfort zone of your home. You may also outsource the production and focus yourself on getting new business.


8- Online Retailer

Since online businesses have boomed in the past years in the San Francisco, you too can take advantage of this shift by setting up your own online retail business. You can start up with selling anything from handmade jewelry, or books to buying something unique from local supermarkets and selling them worldwide!


9- Web Design Service

With every other business having an online presence, you can lend your services for web designing, as every startup and small business needs websites at least! As, a web developer you can easily help the novice businesses in having an online presence.


10- Pet Sitting

Pet sitting and walking is one lucrative business option for wannabe entrepreneurs in San Francisco. Everyone loves to have pets but taking good care of pets is a time consuming and a hectic job. You can lend your services to pet sit and earn good for a job well done.

pet sitting business

11- Driving Service

Since Sans Francisco is a tourist and business travelers hub, you can easily establish a driving service by using your own vehicle. The city is a good place to start a driving service and grow it into something bigger and a stable source of income.


12- Designer Cloth Shop

There is always a demand for up to date and modern dresses, San Francisco being an active hub of tourists and business travelers, attracts people from all over the world, who love buying souvenirs. You can design dresses featuring the rich history of the city. This is one lucrative small business idea that can generate a definite positive market response.


13- Online Gadget Repair Shop

If you are good at repairing broken mobile phones, tablets and other gadgets, why not let the world know and you get paid for your skills. It’s a painful experience to have a broken screens and most of the times, people prefer getting the broken device fixed over buying a new one.


14- Online Food Delivery Shop

Get some food outlets onboard, get order from people where delivery service is not the efficient, and deliver food. The scope of expanding your food delivery business is really promising in the fast paced commercial hub like San Francisco if you get some unique restaurants onboard that in other way do not deliver farther!


15- Healthy food Vending Machine Business

Wending machines are part of American lifestyle, you can bring a twist to the standard vending machines, by introducing a healthy food in vending machines. Healthy snack and meal idea will certainly revolutionize the way people see vending machines as only carrying junk food. San Francisco will certainly love a healthy food vending machine.

healthy food vending machine

16- Personal Trainer

If you’re a trainer already working with some fitness center, you can start your own personal trainer business. There’s a huge market in San Francisco for this type of business as a massive working class and business executives have hard time staying fit.


17- Home Based Gourmet Mushroom Growth Business

Did you know that you can grow your own gourmet mushrooms through recycled coffee grounds? Oyster mushrooms can be grown using a simple ingredient known as coffee. This idea will make you an urban farmer, you can sell the mushrooms besides using them yourself.


18- Juice Bar

You can set a fresh fruit juice bar, where you can serve fresh juice of seasonal fruits. This low cost business idea is a sure winner. As everyone loves to sip fresh juices, you can also put fresh organic fruits on display for the customers to buy them as well.


19- Grocery Delivery Service

You can start a grocery delivery service by delivering groceries in your neighborhood. Once the news of your business travels from the word of mouth to new customers you will start reaping the true benefits of your initiative.

grocery delivery service

20- Online Tour Operator

You can start an online travel site, where you can provide prospective tourists with the cheap and affordable travel packages. Join airline and hotel affiliate programs to get the discounted deals for your clients!


21- Paying Guests Service

If you have some extra rooms, you can rent them out to tourists, or locals at affordable rates, since the rent rates have raised to alarming levels in San Francisco.  It can be one lucrative way to setup a small business in San Francisco.


22- Art & Craft Store

You can setup an art and craft store for art enthusiasts. The items you can sell can range from stationery items, pens and stamps. You can also add up the feature of giving classes in unique art and craft making to the visitors.


23- Ice Cream Truck

You can launch your own ice cream truck, offering creamy icy delights. You can add up a twist to ice cream by providing your customers with the fresh frozen fruit ice cream, without using any sugar, cream or milk. You can add special pure banana and honey dew ice cream on the menu, which will surely bring crowds to you.


24- Surf Shop

Since surfing is part of the San Francisco culture and character, you can set up a small surfing shop, where you can sell boards, surfing apparel and gear. It will definitely be a successful startup in the Bay City.

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