Starting a small business allows you to enjoy financial independence. You can take control of your life, freeing yourself from the restraints of your office job and becoming your own boss.
As a small business owner, you have the potential to scale your business every month or year, constantly increasing your income. You may be able to spend more time with your family or loved ones.
You don’t need to quit your job to become a small business owner just yet. You can start a small business as a side hustle, only switching to focus on it full time once it gets big enough to support you.
If you don’t know where to start, you’ve come to the right place. Here are 36 small business ideas you can get to work on, either by yourself or with a friend or business partner.
I will be including both online and offline business ideas, including those you can start locally with little capital. Let’s get into it.
Starting a blog doesn’t require a lot of effort and it allows you to make a side income while writing about topics you enjoy. You can write your posts after work, or whenever you have free time, and you can even outsource your writing needs to a freelancer.
You can monetize your blog with ads, sponsored posts, promoted links, or affiliate marketing.
Maintaining a site can be time-consuming. Instead of starting a blog to earn passive income, you can build a site to sell it later on a marketplace like Flippa.
Many people are interested in profitable blogs or eCommerce sites that have a lot of earning potential. While selling a site won’t earn you passive income, it allows you to get a large amount of money upfront.
Alternatively, you can purchase a website upfront instead of starting one from scratch. It will cost some money, but you will be able to earn a passive income, every month, for many years.
Just make sure you are getting a good deal. Research a site thoroughly before you purchase it, and request in-depth income reports.
Ebooks don’t take long to write, and they don’t require you to write new content every week, either. You simply create it once, and you can then keep selling it.
You can publish a mini ebook on Amazon Kindle and sell it for just a few dollars. If your book is longer, you can price it higher.
There are many types of profitable ebooks:
- Short novels
- Self-help books
- How-to guides
Solo ads are promoted emails you send to your email list. Usually, you will be adding a link to someone else’s product page or, more commonly, their email signup page.
Depending on the size of your list, you can charge hundreds of dollars for a single promoted email!
Of course, you will need a sizable email list first. Here are some ways to go about getting that:
- Collect email subscribers from your blog
- Run ads on Google or social media to get subscribers
- Buy solo ads yourself to build up your list
As an alternative to starting a website, you can create an app. Apps are no longer difficult to make, and you don’t need to know any coding – there are many awesome app builders like BuildFire.
To monetize your app, you can run ads or add in-app purchases or premium subscriptions.
For example, an easy business idea is to create an app that helps people generate at-home workout plans. To monetize your app, you can hide certain workouts or features (such as the ability to create custom workouts) behind a paywall.
If you’re good at digital marketing, you can become a consultant and help businesses grow their online presence. If you’ve created a successful website yourself, achieving high rankings, you will probably be successful as an SEO consultant.
However, you don’t have to limit yourself to SEO. You can advise businesses on their social media marketing strategies, email campaigns, and paid advertising campaigns.
If you know any skill – any skill whatsoever – you can create a video course and sell it. You don’t need a website for this.
Alternatively, you can become a course instructor on Skillshare, where you will get paid based on the amount of viewing time your course gets.
What can you teach? Here are some ideas:
- How to run successful marketing campaigns
- How to rank a website
- How to dance salsa
- How to cook a specific ethnic cuisine
- Self-defense tips
- Photography tips
If you have some knowledge to share, why not turn it into a course?
If you have a knack for taking good pictures, buy a quality camera and start practicing. If you never studied professional photography, don’t worry!
There are many free and paid courses online that will teach you the fundamentals of good photography. Practice and natural talent will take care of the rest.
You can hire yourself out to take shots of weddings, birthday parties, graduations, and more! You can even do photoshoots for amateur models, Instagram influencers, newly-wed couples, or tourists looking for awesome travel pictures in hidden spots in your city.
You can advertise yourself on Facebook or even Airbnb Experiences. Start an Instagram page and a website where you can showcase your best shots.
Another great way to earn some extra income on the side is to start a one-man band. Whether you can play the guitar or the keyboard, you can hire yourself out to small celebrations, engagement parties, and the like.
If you speak a foreign language, you can offer lessons online or in person. Alternatively, you can teach English to people learning it as a second language.
You don’t need to be bilingual to teach English. You don’t need a teaching degree, either.
However, you should get your TOEFL certificate, which qualifies you to teach ESL.
Another excellent way to make extra cash is to walk your neighbors’ dogs around the neighborhood. Many working-class families own dogs, yet the owners often have no time to walk their dogs in the morning, as they have to get to work.
As the dogs require their daily walks for their emotional and physical health, dog owners frequently seek dog-walkers to pick up their pets, take them around for an hour, and then bring them back home.
You can walk several dogs at once, multiplying your income. Furthermore, you can do multiple shifts every morning.
It’s not a lot of work, and you’ll be surprised by how good the income is. However, you do need to be a dog lover and know how to interact with them!
Do you own a car? If so, a great way to make some pocket money is to drive for Uber or Lyft.
In some cities, there are other ridesharing apps you can sign up for.
When you drive for Uber, you get to decide which hours you work. Not a lot of people know this, but Uber drivers can cash out their earnings instantly, up to five times a day.
If you don’t own a car, you can rent one from Hertz.
If driving strangers around town isn’t your cup of tea, you can deliver for Uber Eats or its main competitors (such as DoorDash or Grubhub) instead. You get many of the same perks – you decide when to start and stop working, and many apps let you cash out instantly.
All you have to do is pick up orders from restaurants and drop them off at customers’ homes or apartments.
In some cities, you can even do this on a bicycle or electric scooter, making it a good alternative to Uber if you don’t have a driver’s license.
Instead of delivering takeout orders on Uber Eats, you can deliver grocery orders on Instacart. You can be an in-store shopper who puts together orders, a driver who picks up the orders and delivers them, or both.
With some basic equipment, you can start a car washing business. You’ll be visiting people’s homes and washing their cars for them.
What sets car washing apart from plumbers or electricians is that you don’t need any particular skills, expertise, or training. You just need to know how to clean a car until it sparkles.
A dropshipping business is one of the easiest eCommerce businesses to start. You don’t have to deal with the hassles of importing products, storing them, or shipping them.
Instead, the dropshipper will ship the product directly to your customer. You just have to take care of the selling part.
However, it’s critical to find a good dropshipping provider. I recommend avoiding AliExpress, as the products there aren’t usually unique.
Instead, it’s worth doing some research to find private dropshippers in your niche. Make sure the quality of the products is excellent and the dropshipper can be relied upon to ship products on time.
If you live in a city with a lot of foot traffic, a food stand or truck might be more profitable than you think. Use cheap, healthy ingredients to create hearty, filling meals.
As an alternative, you can start a coffee or juice stand. Everyone loves a quick cappuccino or a healthy smoothie.
Depending on where you live, you may need to apply for a permit before operating a food stand.
Another great way to make some extra cash if you love cooking is to start a meal delivery service. Many people want to eat healthy meals – but they don’t know how or have the time to cook.
Unfortunately, in many cities, getting food delivered can be expensive. Cheap delivery choices often consist of KFC, McDonald’s, and other fast food options.
You can create healthy, hearty, and filling meals every day, with fresh ingredients, and deliver them straight to customers’ doors at set times.
You can set different membership plans. For example, customers can sign up for the weekday plan and get food delivered to their offices, or they can add dinner as an optional upgrade.
You can even offer different diet options, such as a keto meal plan or a vegetarian plan.
All you have to do is know how to cook, love cooking, and buy fresh ingredients. You can cook at home, reducing your startup expenses.
Furthermore, unlike a food stand, you can generate steady, recurring income, as long as you can keep customers satisfied.
If you love fitness, why not share that love with others, while helping people improve the quality of their lives?
You can help clients get into shape by creating workout plans, motivating them to train, and holding them accountable.
You can also create diet plans for clients, but knowledge and expertise are necessary for that, as each client will have unique needs.
This small business idea is more appropriate if you are somewhat older and have the life experience to back it up. However, many people are looking for guidance in life, and you can provide them with the insights they are looking for.
The dating advice industry is booming. In the age of dating apps, finding a life partner should be easy – yet it remains an elusive task for many people.
Both men and women are searching for dating advice on finding the partner of their dreams. If you have any experience in the matter, you can sell books or charge for coaching sessions, advising people on how to act when certain situations arise in their dating lives.
You don’t need to purchase a lot of equipment to start a landscaping company. You can start with some basic tools, like a handheld lawnmower, a rake, a shovel, and some trimmers.
Then, as you get more clients and save up more money, you can purchase more lawnmowers and hire people to help you out. You can get clients to sign up for landscaping plans, taking care of their landscaping needs once a week.
Similarly, starting a snow plowing business is fairly easy, though it’s only an option in some regions, and it’s a seasonal business. If you already have a pickup truck, all you need is a plow to mount on the front and a shovel.
Starting a moving company also doesn’t require a lot of expertise, and you can get paid well for one day’s worth of work. You will need a good truck, and you should probably hire some people to help you with the moving process.
You will also need good equipment to hold items in, so they don’t get damaged during the moving process.
If you have an apartment you are not using, or if you have an extra room in your home or basement, you can rent it out to guests on Airbnb. Airbnb is a peer-to-peer rental site that facilitates short-term rentals.
People can rent out your room for days, weeks, or months at a time. You may offer discounts for longer rentals.
Each guest can leave reviews on hosts’ profiles, and hosts can leave reviews for guests. That way, you can vet each guest before allowing them into your home.
In some places, you may need a special permit to rent your apartment on Airbnb,
If you have an extra car or motorcycle, why not rent it out for some extra cash? While it might not qualify as a “business,” it’s still a great way to get additional pocket money.
Apps and websites exist for peer-to-peer vehicle rentals. HyreCar is a great way to rent your car out to Uber, Lyft, Uber Eats, or DoorDash drivers.
Turo is another superb app. Think of it as Airbnb for cars.
While fewer sites exist for motorcycles, you still have options. Twisted Road allows you to rent your bike to licensed riders and tourists in your area.
If you have a knack for fixing stuff, you can become a handyman. You can fix small problems, like broken cabinets and clogged pipes.
If you have the skills, you can focus on a specific niche, becoming a plumber, electrician, or HVAC repairman.
Similarly, you can start a painting company, focusing on either houses or cars. Starting is possible with just some simple tools and a few paint colors.
While YouTube is more competitive than it used to be, it’s still a great way to earn an extra income. You can blog about anything – fashion, makeup, travel, cooking, life hacks, etc.
You can also create animations, make music, or do anything else you love. You can monetize your videos with ads, sponsored promotions, or affiliate links in the video descriptions.
Did you know that you can sell t-shirts without buying any inventory? Sites like Teespring and Printful allow you to sell your designs or funny slogans on t-shirts, mugs, backpacks, hats, caps, and other merchandise.
Ghost restaurants are becoming more popular, as they don’t require you to rent out a space, hire waiters, serve customers directly, and so on.
Ghost restaurants are simply restaurants that sell only on apps like Uber Eats, DoorDash, and Grubhub. Operational costs are low, as you don’t even have to hire your own delivery drivers – you simply rely on the independent contractors working for Uber Eats.
They’re called ghost restaurants because they don’t have a physical location open to the public. It’s just a private kitchen, which you can even operate from your home if you have the necessary equipment.
Despite the rise of online booking sites, travel agents are still popular. You can plan itineraries, help people find and book flights, and arrange tours.
Unlike a travel agent, a tour guide doesn’t plan lengthy and complicated itineraries. Typically, they target foreign visitors as opposed to local residents.
You can show people around your city and organize trips to nearby locations in the country.
Look for a foreign product that is hard to find in your country or city. Of course, there must be some level of demand for it.
Import it and sell it for a profit.
There are many types of products you can import. It could even be a food product, like authentic Vietnamese fish oil or authentic Ethiopian coffee.
Here’s another business idea you may not have thought of: Help people start small businesses of their own!
If you’re good at coming up with business ideas, you can become a business coach. Help people think of what to do with the money they have saved up, based on the time they have, their passions, and their goals.
Ultimately, the best business idea for you depends on factors such as the capital you have on hand, your goals, how much time you have, and how much income you want to make.
It also depends on things such as whether you like interacting with customers directly or would prefer to do something entirely online.
Regardless of which business idea you decide on, it’s important to create a business plan and stick to it. Don’t give up – it’s normal to experience some difficulties and hiccups at times, but it’s all part of the journey!
Tom loves to write on technology, e-commerce & internet marketing. I started my first e-commerce company in college, designing and selling t-shirts for my campus bar crawl using print-on-demand. Having successfully established multiple 6 & 7-figure e-commerce businesses (in women’s fashion and hiking gear), I think I can share a tip or 2 to help you succeed.