Big ideas often come from small places. It doesn’t take a massive amount of manufacturing capacity to make a big difference in today’s business world — all you need is the right idea and a dedicated team capable of getting it done.
In this guide, we’ll discuss a few small-scale manufacturing business ideas, such as crafting consumer products with broad-spectrum CBD distillate, that have the most potential to succeed in 2024 and beyond. Choose one of them to embark on a business venture that has plenty of scalability but that you can accomplish with a small team and limited facilities.
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What Is a Small Manufacturing Business?
A small manufacturing business is a company of less than 500 employees that produces some form of finished product. Some small businesses make components for larger companies while others market their products directly to consumers.
A manufacturing business is distinguished by its limited size and by its usually independent status. Starting up manufacturing businesses may have intentions to grow, or they might be satisfied with their current limited size.
What Do Small Manufacturing Businesses Do?
Small manufacturing businesses are usually located in warehouse environments and consist of multiple teams assigned to tasks such as logistics, production, and management. In the simplest sense, small businesses take basic materials and transform them into complex products, but on a much smaller scale than major corporate operations.
Due to their limited size, small manufacturing businesses are more nimble and capable of gracefully transitioning to new projects. A single manufacturing business may produce a wide array of different product types, assigning different teams to each venture.
What Goods Do Small Manufacturing Businesses Make?
A small manufacturing business might make anything from computing components used in avionics equipment to CBD gummies used for sleep. These types of businesses are defined by their scale, not necessarily the types of products they make. Some products made by manufacturing businesses are sold directly to consumers (B2C) while others are sold to other businesses (B2B). It all depends on the scope of the business and the type of clientele they’ve chosen.
Do Small Manufacturing Businesses Use Materials from Vendors?
Yes, in many cases, small manufacturing businesses only compose one segment of the supply chain, processing a raw material or product into a more-refined or complex product that is then sent on to another company for the next step in the production chain. It is also not unusual for manufacturing businesses to receive partially processed products from other companies, which they then manufacture into finished products ready for consumer sale.
What Are the Best Small Manufacturing Business Ideas in 2024?
As we move closer to the second half of the 2020s, these three small business manufacturing ideas stand out as having the most promise:
Craft or Niche Apparel
It doesn’t even have to be apparel — this generation’s consumers want everything customized, from wall art to drink cups to lingerie. Platforms like Etsy are great places for companies with very few employees to offer their goods. If you have enough budget for a web team, more scalability is offered by operating your own B2C eCommerce website through a platform like Shopify.
3D Printing Components
Just as the CNC machine made it possible for companies to produce custom parts that fulfill needs for countless industries, the 3D printing industry is revolutionizing the production of rare or hard-to-make parts. 3D printing operations are so self-sufficient that they can consist of only a handful of employees, or they can be scaled up to fulfill the needs of entire industry subsegments.
Cannabinoid Product Manufacturing
Cannabinoids are a niche industry that is rapidly blossoming into the norm. People from all walks of life now use various cannabinoids, such as CBD, CBN, and CBG, for all sorts of different personal needs and medical conditions. Taking a raw material like broad-spectrum CBD distillate and crafting it into organic CBD gummies is one example of a small manufacturing business idea that is perfectly poised to succeed in today’s market.
Most Profitable Small Manufacturing Business Idea
Out of all the ventures a small manufacturing business could set out upon in 2024, cannabinoid manufacturing is likely to be the simplest and most profitable option. It does not require much to take processed cannabinoid extracts and formulate them into consumer-ready products, providing you with an instantly marketable asset you can bring to market yourself or offload to a trusted retailer.
Cannabinoids are only becoming more in-demand as time goes on with consumers transitioning from a take-what-I-can-get approach to a more skeptical and discerning mindset. Organic ingredients are becoming the norm, and shoppers also want to know more about the type of extract in their CBD products. Position yourself as a forward-thinking producer offering boutique products, and your finished CBD formulations will be a hit with your intended market.
Summary: Starting a Small Manufacturing Business in 2024
This is a great time to be a manufacturer with reasonable production capacity seeking a new project. The bar to entry for many promising industries remains quite low, and new opportunities are appearing all the time. In the arena of cannabinoids, for instance, shoppers are now becoming attenuated to CBG and CBN, CBD-like compounds that have uniquely beneficial properties. Positioning yourself properly within the current upsurge of reliance on small manufacturing potential will prove rewarding regardless of the market you choose to tackle.