And why not? These days, a personal business can be run from just about anywhere. You just need a dream and a smartphone with a decent data connection, and you can turn your nugget of an idea into pure gold.
10 Most Profitable Companies in the World
Matthew Johnston has more than 5 years writing content for Investopedia. He is an expert on company news, market news, political news, trading news, investing, and the economy. He received his bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies from St. Stephen’s University and his master’s degree in economics at The New School for Social Research. He teaches macroeconomics at St. Stephen’s University.
The list of the world’s most profitable companies offers a glimpse of which countries wield the most economic power and the sectors with the most economic influence. The world’s largest two economies by far, the U.S. and China, are headquarters for every one of the 10 most profitable companies: half are U.S. and half are Chinese. Equally important, half of the corporations on the list are technology companies and the other half are financial companies.
Only companies listed on U.S. or Canadian exchanges, either directly or through ADRs, are included in this list. Saudi Aramco, Saudi Arabia’s state oil company, for example, went public on the Saudi Stock Exchange in December 2019. It would have been among the world’s 10 most profitable companies, and would have even topped the list in previous years.
Notably, four of the five tech firms on the list are U.S. and two of them hold the top two slots. The technology sector is comprised of companies that manufacture computers and electronics, develop software, and provide services relating to information technology, such as cloud computing and e-commerce.
Four out of the five financial companies on the list are based in China, most of them receiving major financial support from China’s central government. The financial sector is comprised of banks, investment companies, insurance companies, and real estate firms. These companies offer a range of financial services, including deposits, loans, investment and wealth management, insurance, and brokerage services.
These are the 10 most profitable companies by 12-month trailing (TTM) net income. Some companies outside the U.S. report profits semi-annually instead of quarterly, so the 12-month trailing data may be older than it is for companies that report quarterly. Data is courtesy of YCharts.com. All figures are as of September 8.
Some of the stocks below are only traded over-the-counter (OTC) in the U.S., not on exchanges. Trading OTC stocks often carries higher trading costs than trading stocks on exchanges. This can lower or even outweigh potential returns.
Hit the Pavement
In addition to hiring marketing pros (see above), you need to engage in your own marketing. As the principal figure in your business, marketing yourself will help you to properly evaluate the folks you hire to market on your behalf. And as the core from which your message to the world emanates, engaging in your own marketing will help you refine what you stand for and the value of what you’re offering.
Make brochures and go from business to business talking about what you do. Give free talks at the local library. Design your own business card as an exercise. If you don’t know how to sell yourself, your team will be much less effective. Anytime business gets slow, go back to the pavement and engage in some down-home, grassroots marketing yourself. Put up flyers in coffee shops and bookstores advertising your services. Create a free study group on an area of expertise. Write articles. Do some social media messaging. You should understand the value of your business so well that you can convince anyone in less than a minute that they need what you offer. Rinse and repeat until business picks up.
Perhaps one of the most positive uses of our constant connectivity is education, and Udemy founders Eren Bali, Oktay Caglar, and Gagan Biyani were definitely onto something when they launched the platform in 2010. It was small at first for several reasons: first, they were unable to raise any venture capital to fund their new online course website, and second, they were starting with hardly any courses. However, even if investors weren’t initially interested, students and instructors alike could see the potential of online education.
Udemy quickly grew by leaps and bounds, with 2,000 courses and over 10,000 users in the first few months. Investors finally followed, and the small side hustle was well on its way to becoming an educational powerhouse. Currently, Udemy boasts over 55,000 classes in topics ranging from computer skills and foreign languages to advanced makeup techniques and test preparation for a phlebotomy certification exam. The site has over 10 million users, and it’s one of the world leaders in affordable online education.
Back in 2004, before Khan Academy was even a side hustle, it was simply a way for Sal Khan to provide some long distance tutoring to a family member. It worked well, and when other family members became interested in Khan’s lessons, he made them publicly available. Soon, even more, people, including complete strangers, watched Khan’s short video explanations, found them helpful, and asked for more. Finally, with the growing popularity of his online lessons, Kahn turned his attention to online education, full time!
He created a website that featured free online courses, made it a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, successfully solicited donations, and brought in users — lots of users! Currently, Khan Academy has over 10 million unique visitors each month. What’s more, while Khan and his senior-level employees are well compensated, their salaries are consistent with those of other professional nonprofit jobs, demonstrating that his heart truly is in his work.