50 Side Businesses You Can Start on Your Own

People often ask, what are some sides businesses I can start? Here is a list of 50 of those side businesses. Each of these ideas is very simple to start, and most can be done as a sole proprietorship at first (meaning you don’t have to file any legal documents to get started, though you will want to do that if it starts to take off). Most of these can be done at home in your spare time in your spare space, too.

Antique refurbishment This is a perfect side business for people who love antiquing. Take worn-out antiques home with you, invest the time and care needed to transform those old items into something amazing, then resell them at a profit.

Auto detailing Have a meticulous eye for detail and love to get things gleaming clean? Auto detailing is probably a perfect side business for you. In essence, your job is to make cars sparkle inside and out – and many people are quite happy to pay well for this service.

Babysitting Got lots of evenings free? Like kids? Babysitting may be a great side business for you. Keep an eye on multiple children on Friday and Saturday nights and you can earn some solid income.

Bed and breakfast Have some extra space in your home? Turn that extra bedroom into a “bed and breakfast” room. This works particularly well if you have a somewhat older home or live near an area that attracts regular travelers and tourists.

Blogging If you enjoy writing, find a topic you’re passionate about and start a blog on the topic. All you need is a computer, some time, and some energy to consistently write.

Cake decorating Enjoy baking and have a bit of an artistic touch? Learn how to decorate cakes and make them for special events. One of my mother’s old friends does this and makes quite a bit of money on the side.

Candle making Candle making is a great little craft to learn. You can often easily sell the candles at local shops and also through websites like Etsy.com.

Candy making Homemade candies are easier to make than you think and quite popular. Package them in nice little boxes and sell them through a local gift shop.

Card making This is another artistic “crafty” angle you can follow. Make greeting/birthday cards from scratch using your own photographs, some blank cards, and a healthy dose of artistic flair. Again, you san sell items like these through a local gift shop or at sites like etsy.com.

Catering If you love to cook, take the “Blondie” route and start a home catering business. Catering is a business that’s perfectly designed to reward those who plan well and can often fit perfectly into weekends, lining up wonderfully opposite a normal workweek.

Childcare service Many states allow people to start up in-home daycares with minimal licensing and paperwork. If you love children and have plenty of time and space at home, this is a perfect business to get into.

Cleaning services for businesses Many businesses and civic institutions have a need for individuals who will provide cleaning services at a low cost outside of business hours. This is a great side business for those who can put in a few hours late at night or on weekends.

Collectible trading If there’s a particular type of collectible that you know a great deal about, you can often make good money as a collectible trader, utilizing tools like eBay and opportunities to find those collectibles in the community. I had some success with this myself with both trading cards and video games in the past.

Computer troubleshooting  If you have a knack for fixing computers, this is a good place to start.

Consignment buyer Consignment shops and consignment auctions are often loaded with good deals if you know how to identify them – quite often, you can turn these good deals around and make a nice profit elsewhere. Get started by visiting some consignment shops and critically evaluating the prices on the items there.

Cookie making Much like candy making, homemade cookies can be a great seller. Bake the cookies, package them well, and resell them through a local gift shop. Often, you can find people in your social network who will buy batches from you for special occasions.

Dinner preparer I recently met a woman who earned quite a bit of money as a very part-time chef. Once a week, she would go to someone’s house and prepare a homemade meal for their family, then do all the dishes and cleanup work. This gives the family plenty of together time, while earning the lady some cash in the pocket. If you love to cook, this can be a great opportunity, but you may have to put a lot of work into searching for clients.

Event coordinator Events like family reunions and large parties are often full of busywork that many people simply don’t want to tackle. That can be the perfect place for you to step in and take charge of the planning and coordination.

Event DJing Are you an audiophile? If you have a great sound system and a large selection of music, you’ve already got what you need to hire yourself out as a DJ for various events and receptions. This is a great way to fill an afternoon and evening while also earning some cash in the process.

Exercise teacher Many gymnasiums will trade membership and often a bit more for a person willing and able to teach an exercise class. If you’re in good shape, this is a great opportunity to earn some extra money, plus it can often lead to additional income with one-on-one teaching opportunities.

Furniture making If you’re adept at woodworking and have just a bit of basic equipment, it’s easy to get into business making deck furniture. It only requires a few items – a saw, a drill, a sander – and some creativity and passion for working with wood.

Garage sale management One person I know holds a garage sale at their house almost every weekend during the summer. As a result, that person has a lot of regular customers who stop by almost every weekend to see what’s on sale. That person then goes to neighbors and friends and offers to sell their stuff at that yard sale for them, splitting the proceeds. People are usually happy to do this, since they don’t have to go to all of the work of running a yard sale, but still get rid of unwanted items and earn a bit of money, too.

Gardening services I’ve actually had requests from others for people willing to do this, so the demand is out there. To put it simply, some people are willing to pay others to get a vegetable or flower garden started for them in their yard so they can have access to ultra-fresh produce without all the legwork.

Handy man services Skilled at basic home repair? Let people know that they can call you for little repair jobs, like basic plumbing and other things. You’d be amazed at the simple things people are willing to pay others to help them with.

Housecleaning Many people simply don’t enjoy cleaning their homes and are willing to pay a reasonable price to have someone do the work for them. This is a great way to earn extra money in a flexible way, particularly if you have time off during the workweek.

Interior decorating Fascinated by interior design? Have a huge collection of interior design materials around? Many people are quite happy to hire individuals to help them decorate their home – I know, for one, that I have no eye for this type of thing.

Jewelry making If you have a good eye for detail work and a lot of patience, homemade jewelry can be quite profitable. As with other items on this list, there are many opportunities to sell such items through local gift shops or at sites like etsy.

Knitting / crocheting / quilting Skilled at creating blankets and sweaters? There’s a huge market for these types of items – even better, you can usually make them in your spare time whenever you have it. As always, local shops and places like etsy are great places to go to sell such items.

Landscaping services Willing to mow lawns and trim bushes and trees? Many people are quite happy to pay for such services. Not only is this a great side business for a fit adult, it’s also a great way for a teenager to get a small business started.

Meal-to-go preparations Making meals in advance is a great way to save money for yourself – but you can often prepare these for others as well and sell them for a markup. Prepare eight casseroles, for example, then sell six of them to cover your costs, and you’ve got two free dinners for your family (and maybe a bit more). You can grow this by taking orders from others and finding out what they like.

Online media consultant Like participating on messageboards, Facebook, Twitter, and so on? Become an online media consultant and help people promote things. Start small – help local businesses get a presence on Facebook and set them up with Twitter. From there, you can grow to whatever works for you.

Personal shopping Many very busy people and elderly people are willing to pay a fee for people to do their shopping for them. Simply retrieve a shopping list from them, return with the receipt, and accept payment for the purchased items (plus a little fee). You can often do this in conjunction with your own shopping trip if you’re well-organized (take two carts!).

Pet grooming Many people loathe bathing their pets and trimming their hair – I know I do. Pet groomers perform these tasks for a small fee – a perfect job for a person who loves dogs and cats.

Pet sitting When people go on trips, they’re often concerned as to what will happen with their pets. That’s where you step in – offer yourself as a safe place to leave their pets, or be willing to go to their home to take care of their pets.

Pet walking Many busy people leave their pets home all day, but realize that those pets really could use a vigorous walk (and an opportunity to relieve themselves) during the day. Pet walking is a great opportunity for exercise, fresh air, and some pocket money if you have free time during each day.

Pet yard waste cleanup For many people in suburban areas, cleaning up pet yard waste is a real hassle – it’s disgusting, for one. Instead of cleaning it up themselves, they might hire someone to do it regularly, two to three times a week. There are several such services in our area, actually.

Produce selling Like to grow vegetables? Focus in on one vegetable and sell the excess to grocery stores and at farmers’ markets. My father does this with tomatoes and earns some solid extra money during the summer months. You can do really well, though, if you can grow things inside during the winter – February fresh tomatoes can sell quite well.

Proofreading Have strong English skills and exceptional grammar? You may have opportunities to work as a proofreader from home. Advertising for this can be difficult – seek out those who might actually be able to use your services and advertise directly to them.

Public speaking If you’re the type of person who can get the attention of a room easily, public speaking might be for you. Take advantage of every public speaking opportunity you can and you’ll be surprised at the opportunities that make themselves available for you.

Scrapbook making Many people dream of having beautiful scrapbooks. They collect all the materials they want in the scrapbooks but never follow through on the actual creation. You can step in here – take their ideas and materials and assemble a scrapbook for them.

Senior citizen assistance Many elderly people need assistance with a wide variety of simple household tasks – cleaning, laundry, and so forth. Many children of elderly people are quite willing to hire someone to help out their parents.

Sewing and alterations My wife is quite handy with a sewing machine and often hems and modifies our children’s clothes. She could easily take this a step further and offer her services to others, doing basic garment repair and modification for a small price on lazy evenings.

Soap making Making amazing homemade soaps isn’t as hard as you might think – it just takes time and patience. Again, items like these can easily be sold via local gift shops and through websites like etsy.

Teaching music If you know how to play an instrument (particularly the piano or the guitar) and have patience, you’ve got what you need to teach others how to play. Offer lessons in that instrument to others – this can also be an excellent thing to barter with, too.

Toy making From simple things like sock monkeys to more elaborate things like handcrafted chess sets, many people are willing to pay good money for handcrafted toys that you can easily make at home in your spare time. Again, gift shops are the place to go with items like these.

Tutoring Did you major in a particular topic in college? Do you have patience with children? You likely have what you need to tutor kids in particular subjects. Seek out parents and let them know that you tutor in a particular subject and provide materials for them to share and phone calls will often trickle in.

Video preparation services Many people like to have videos made for special events, such as weddings, or for gifts. This may mean actually taking the video yourself at a special event, or it may mean simply assembling materials and creating a video from those items. Either way, with a well-equipped PC, some taste, and some patience, you can make quite sophisticated video productions at home.

Virtual assistant Many ultra-busy professionals appreciate having someone who can check and answer their email, organize task lists for them, update their calendars, and so on, with minimal interaction. The best part is that you can provide this service from home with a good internet connection.

Web site design Many small businesses in your community could use a very basic web presence to tell others about their business. Quite often, these businesses don’t have a large budget for such things. That’s where you come in – get a bunch of clients from the local community by beating the pavement, create sites for them, and maintain them for a small fee. Get enough businesses and you have a nice side business of your own that doesn’t require a ton of maintenance time.

Wedding planner If you’re one of those people who can’t help but flip through bridal magazines and think about various wedding arrangements in your daydreams, wedding planning might be the perfect thing for you. A great way to get started is to develop a website on the topic, get to know people online, and offer your services throughout the community.


10 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Quitting Your Day Job to Start a Business

The dream of being one’s own boss is what leads many people to start businesses, but leaving your bread-and-butter job to fulfill that vision is a move that shouldn’t be made hastily.

In his book, Quitter: Closing the Gap Between Your Day Job & Your Dream Job (Lampo Press, 2011), Nashville-based author Jon Acuff says that between 70 and 80 percent of people think about quitting their job to do something more fulfilling. “A lot of people wake up Monday morning and say, ‘How did I get here?’” he says. “You take a six-month stop-gap job sometimes and find yourself still there years later, but it doesn’t have to be that way.”

That said, Acuff and other experts say there are some important things to consider before quitting your day job to start a business.

Here are the ten questions you should ask yourself.

1. Is this going to make me happier?

Before leaving your job for uncharted territory, make sure this is really what you want – not just what you think you want or a way to escape your current job. “I personally believe you should get enjoyment out of your career,” says Chris Hurn, Orlando, Fla.-based, author of The Entrepreneur’s Secret to Creating Wealth: How The Smartest Business Owners Build Their Fortunes (Advantage, 2012). “Too many people suffer silently in their job, but before you go out to be your own boss, you have to believe you’re going to be happier. If you can’t say that you believe it will make you happier, don’t do it.”

2. Is the timing right?

If your wife is pregnant or you’ve just taken over the care of an elderly parent, it may not be the right time to leave the security of an established job to pursue the dream. “We throw out these Pinterest-sized platitudes like, ‘Just go for it’ or, ‘Step out in faith.’ And then we pretend that we don’t have a mortgage or bills or responsibilities,” Acuff says. Instead, be honest about your current situation; be realistic about your bills and your commitments; and then make an informed decision.

3. How will I cover my expenses?

The biggest detriment to starting a business? Being undercapitalized, says Deborah Shane of Fort Myers, Fla., author of Career Transition – Make the Shift: Your Five Steps to Successful Career Reinvention (Deborah Shane, 2010). You should have a rainy day fund or savings built up to cover you and the business for a certain period of time, the length of which will be determined by the nature of the business and how quickly you’ll be able to pay yourself a salary (although Shane suggests 12 months as a good place to start). “Make sure you have the money to pay both your personal and business expenses for that period before venturing out on your own,” she says.

4. Do I have the support of family and close friends?

The talents and shortcomings we have the hardest time recognizing are often our own. So before venturing away from a secure situation, Acuff suggests asking the people you trust the most how well-suited they think you are to the opportunity. “Talking to family and close friends will help you realize if you’re going after something that you really want to do, or just escaping your current situation,” he says. “Don’t just talk to the dreamers in the group that will tell you to go for it. Talk to the people that will be honest with you and encourage you if you’re on the right path.”

5. How much am I willing to change my lifestyle?

Some people are very good at structure. Getting up, going to work for a set number of hours, performing set tasks, and interacting with co-workers works really well for them. Yet starting your own business can be anything but structured and can mean long, hard hours – very often spent alone. “There’s also a lot of self-motivation involved. You have to be structured, innovative, creative and proactive,” Shane says. “The solo nature of it is not for everyone.”

6. Do I truly have the discipline to be my own boss?

Many people think if they can be their own boss, it’s going to make life easier. Sometimes that’s true, but not always, according to Hurn. Not everyone is meant to be a business owner. Although entrepreneurs come in all shapes and sizes, they do often share traits like good leadership skills and a desire to be in control. “Many people think entrepreneurship is for risk-takers, and that’s not necessarily the case,” he says. “I think successful entrepreneurs do the due diligence before starting their business and minimize the risk involved in a new project.”

7. Can I test the waters without giving up my current job?

Acuff urges people to ‘beta test’ their dream job before leaving a stable situation to pursue it full-time. You might find you don’t like the new career as much as you thought you would. “Before you quit your accounting job to open a coffee shop, it might be good to work at a Starbucks part-time for six months to see if you hate coffee and humans,” he says. “Practice the dream.”

8. Are there skills I still need to brush up on?

Before stepping out, make sure you have the relevant skills, qualities and intangibles to make a new business work. It’s important to be up to date on the latest technology in your field and be able to use social media to your advantage. “Make sure your skill gaps are closed and that you’re up on trends and best practices in the area you are getting into, following the top blogs and web sites,” Shane says. “So much is changing so fast — staying relevant is crucial to success.”

9. Am I sure my business idea is sound?

It’s important to make sure what you’re planning to do is marketable, that it fills a niche. Is there a need for this thing you want to do? “I work with a lot of creative people who have started businesses based on peoples’ lifestyles, the world we live in today,” Shane says. “They’ve found niches to help working moms, families, individuals who are time-starved.” Make sure your idea is relevant before making that leap.

10. Do I have a business plan?

It doesn’t have to be the length of a novel, but anyone starting a new business should put together a plan that includes a sound sales and marketing plan. Winging it is not an option in today’s competitive marketplace. “It doesn’t have to be complicated, but can be as simple as a one-page summary,” Shane says. “Look at it as a road map.”


10 Reasons Why Businesses Fail

1. Inexperience

The first reason why businesses fail is due to lack of experience. Entering an industry without having any prior experience is damaging.  It is silly to think that one can walk into an industry without having adequate experience and be successful. There’s a certain amount of time that should be invested before venturing out on your own ambitions. Gaining experience will foster confidence in your ability and in your business concept. It will help you develop your product, having first-hand experience in that industry, and an understanding as to how that industry can benefit from what your business has to offer.

2. Poor Business Plan

The development of the business plan is the first step to business ownership and business success. It’s the map that clearly identifies the concept of your business as well as the allocation of funds, market analysis, and competitor analysis. When drafting your business plan it is important to perform adequate research and forecast realistic goals.  Failed businesses release poor business plans that feature careless research without enough facts. They improperly allocate funds, and smudge facts to forecast growth. Seeing as business plans are sent to investors it is important to make your business concept appealing to them. However it is equally important to remain true to facts and research in order to maintain a realistic view on the outcome of your business.

3. Inefficient Start-up Capital

Start-up capital is an often overlooked reason for why businesses fail. When calculating how much start-up capital your business will need, it is important to consider how long it will take for your business to begin receiving revenue. In the business plan, the cost analysis should consider the cost of sales, administrative fees, professional fees, technology fees, sales and marketing costs, wages and salaries. Receiving too much or too little initial capital poses a major problem to businesses. The goal should be earning money. Not receiving enough start-up capital coupled with an unexpected lack of revenue will result in a quick deterioration of your business. On the contrary, having received too much will only add to your costs with more investors taking cuts of your business and market share.

4. Faulty Marketing Plan

Marketing is the key to business success. How else will the word spread about what your business is offering? One way businesses fail in advertising and marketing is that they may have an unclear view of who they are providing for. It is easy to believe that you’re servicing a particular market, yet only be providing for a sub-category within that market. Pinpointing the target market helps businesses focus on how they can develop new products and services to foster growth of their company. On the other hand, a business may be positioning their product towards the right market, yet not reaching them in the right way. For example, you could be delivering the right product for baby boomers but using social networking instead of magazine advertising, lowering your brand awareness effectiveness. Right product, wrong channel.  When allocating funds towards marketing, it is important to spend enough money to attract as much attention as possible towards your business.

5. Lack of SWOT Analysis

The SWOT Analysis is a grid that is formed in the developmental stages of a business. The grid allocates the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats a business faces. If the SWOT Analysis is done correctly, it brings an awareness of the current trends of the market. It also calls attention to products that are already available and opportunities where there may be needs for new products. This analysis reveals how a business can take charge of the scenarios within their market to develop a unique product. Without a SWOT Analysis it is easy to fall victim to other businesses’ planning and expansion, thus eliminating your business’s own potential for growth.

6. Wrong Location

What good is having the best product and service for your intended market while being unreachable to your customers? Location is extremely important when developing a business. Businesses should consider how far their customers may have to travel to reach them. Also, it is important to identify similar products available to your customers that may be closer to them.  Customers have to know where your business is in order for them to reach it. If you are located in an unheard of or sketchy part of town, it his highly unlikely that customers will take the time to travel the distance when there are similar products that are easily accessible.

7. Improper Management

Those selected to manage a business having an extremely important role. They are the go between for the employees and the owner. It is important to select a management team that knows how to balance relationships and also knows how to take hold of authority, while not abusing it. Improper management can result unproductivity by a manager developing chummy relationships with the employees and not developing a collaborative work environment. On the other hand, having a manager who is too much of an authority figure will discourage employees, creating a bitterness about their job and the company itself, resulting in high employee turnover.

8. Failure to Adapt to a Changing Market

Failing to adapt to and service changing markets is a reason why businesses fail, especially older and established companies.  Take for example the postal service, instead of seizing the opportunity of embracing technology throughout the past years, it has avoided it as much as possible. When consumers found that paying their bills online and sending emails were much easier than mailing letters and payments, the postal service suffered tremendously and has found itself struggling ever since. Staying abreast of changes in the market and capitalizing on them will only help your business in the long run. Another great example is the shift from traditional marketing to inbound marketing services. Older firms who aren’t adapting are giving way to new agencies, such as StartSmall Marketing!

9. Unrealistic Expectations

In any situation, having unrealistic expectations is only a set up for disappointment. The same is true for business ownership. Having unattainable goals and expectations will only lower morale and cause investors, employees, and often the owner to lose confidence in the product they’re offering. Instead, it is best to establish a system of short-term attainable goals that everyone can work towards collaboratively to reach a major long term goal. In other words, pace yourself. This will sustain confidence in the company and encourage employees to work harder.

10. Inability to Control Costs

The last reason why businesses fail is out of control costs. It is important to allocate funds from the planning stages towards unexpected costs to guard your company from losing money too quickly. In situations where projects are over budget, project managers should have the foresight to make budget cuts that will not only sacrifice the outcome of the project, but also maintain cost levels. The inability to control costs will result in a business heading closer towards debt, often causing major sacrifices from other divisions of the business, creating inefficiencies and ultimately failure.

Can you see the common thread in all of the above reasons why businesses fail? It’s the lack of a sustainable competitive advantage. Don’t ever forget that term. The reason why businesses fail is due to a lack of sustainable competitive advantage.

Arzo Enterprises