Another big suggestion is finding small and easy ways to test business ideas and assumptions. I think this is implicit in your post. For example, if you have an idea for a digital course, you may do a free webinar on the same topic first. If you can’t get enough people to show up for a free webinar, then there probably isn’t enough interest for a paid product on the topic.

If you've got the attitude (and look), there should be a product or service out there on the hunt for the right model to promote their brand as a side business idea. You can sign up with a large agency, find a freelance agent, or look for your own modeling gigs as an independent talent. Since modeling is a complex field, get all the advice you need before jumping right in and find a mentor who can guide you through some of the early challenges it'll take to establish your brand. Depending on your preference, you can specialize in a single media format such as video or still images, to build a compelling portfolio and grow this into a business idea that has the potential to scale.
Employed techies planning to earn some extra side income can leverage their software and hardware skills by offering home-based computer repair services as a business idea that engages their passion. If this rings a bell, you can start with a modest one-man tech team before envisioning a scaled-up operation as massive as Geek Squad. Remember, you can provide home service locally as a starting point to this business idea, as well as offer remote support through online messaging and video calling services before making your way into a retail setting.

The key to avoiding any cash problems is to have cash in the bank reserved for the proverbial rainy days. To solve this problem, Strauss advises for businesses to “Plan appropriately, budget accordingly, pay your creditors and suppliers on time, build a good business credit rating, and you will avoid the cash crunch dilemma and build a solid home-based business.”


Remember: It can take up to seven points of contact to make a single sale, so you’ll want to begin collecting visitors’ contact information from day one using an opt-in form on your home page. Then send them e-mail messages to follow up and keep them thinking about your site. Need some ideas for e-mails you could send to follow up with your opt-in subscribers? Try these ideas:
It sounds too good to be true—getting paid to represent your favorite brands at events across the nation. But, if you have a friendly and outgoing personality (a growing social media following helps too), you can forge a potentially paid relationship as a brand ambassador with companies who want to reach other people within your community with this  side business idea. As a Brand Ambassador, you do anything from demoing the latest technology, to passing out free swag at music festivals, to going on nationwide tours, to pumping people up as a mascot, and more. Depending upon the gig, you can expect to earn anywhere from $18-$100/hr. You can get started as early as this weekend by joining the Brand Ambassador Facebook group for your nearest major city (e.g. join the "Brand Ambassadors of Seattle" group if you live in/near Seattle). Once you've been approved to the group, you'll get access to daily job postings from big brands and agencies with opportunities in your area. All you need to do is submit your resume and headshot to apply. For a step-by-step guide on how to get hired for the best gigs and the highest pay rates, I recommend checking out The Brand Ambassador Blueprint.
If you are new to entrepreneurship, you can enroll in business start-up classes offered at area schools, colleges, or government SBDCs, Women’s Business Centers, and local SCORE offices. Consult with a professional organizer, a time management specialist, and/or a computer consultant to set up an efficient workspace, schedule, and an operational system with the best technology and communications for your type of business.
Every website owner (including myself) hires copywriters to write content for things like about pages, FAQ's, or blog posts. Hourly wages for novice copywriters are not very high, but with some experience and a growing portfolio, you can become a freelance writer today and soon be charging more than you make at your full-time job if you find the right clients and brand yourself as an expert with this side business idea. Check out one of my most talented friends, Jory Mackay, for an example of someone who's doing a great job of positioning himself as a premium service-provider with his freelance writing side business idea. Then when you're ready to start cold emailing potential clients, pick up my free downloadable freelance proposal template and get started today.
Live in a destination where travelers frequently visit? If you love meeting new people from around the world and also love the city you live in, starting your own local tour company is arguably the best business idea that will give you both of those perks. Take a unique spin on your local tour business like Erik from Vantigo. He was starting his VW van tour business in San Francisco as just a side business idea while he was still working a full-time job, and grew it to being a sustainable source of full-time income before quitting—now he's running a multiple van tour company on the back of what originally began as a crazy side business idea.
One way to get started might be to focus on children’s parities, which can be a bit simpler and less stressful to plan than adult get-togethers. Go further into specialization by following kid trends and offering superhero or Frozen parties. Remember that you’ll be competing not just with other party planners but with local restaurants and facilities, so excellent networking skills and a personal touch to your services will be important.
Most community colleges offer some level of engine-repair courses. Another way to learn would be to take a part-time position at a repair shop or a rental facility where you could learn on the job, although you will want to be open about your plans. You should be prepared to work on push-behind lawn mowers, riding lawn mowers, generators, garden tools such as rototillers and edgers, chainsaws, wood chippers and snowblowers. You need to decide whether you'll want to take on bigger jobs, such as tractors, snowmobiles and ATVs; space may be your decision-maker.
If you've got business expertise already, you can help other entrepreneurs launch and maintain their own businesses by offering your services as a business plan consultant and writer. Help your clients figure out their ideas, goals and finances for their businesses and put them all in one organized business roadmap. You can also help conduct market research for your clients, so they can determine how successful their businesses can really be, or if they need to make changes or go in another direction before wrapping up their business plans.

One way to get started might be to focus on children’s parities, which can be a bit simpler and less stressful to plan than adult get-togethers. Go further into specialization by following kid trends and offering superhero or Frozen parties. Remember that you’ll be competing not just with other party planners but with local restaurants and facilities, so excellent networking skills and a personal touch to your services will be important.
If you don't already have work experience with importing and/or exporting, you will have a longer learning curve. You can start by learning the basics and hosting educational sessions to teach others what they need to know to get started in import/export. That alone would probably gain you your first couple of clients. If you keep going with educational seminars and expand your reach to outside your immediate region, you could probably develop a sufficient and ongoing customer base very quickly, but be careful not to outpace your learning curve!
And in terms of #4 (Being Different), I can still remember driving home from a pretty boring ed policy conference in Lansing, MI, and thinking, “Geez, why did I go to this?” when it hit me: I can be different by bringing a somewhat irreverant, non-freaked out approach to education (and, in particular, the standards that I’m niched into). There are 3.5 million teachers in the USA, and if even 10% of them are like-minded folks who simply refuse to freak out with Chicken Little dances, that’s a great market.
Alex Ikonn and his wife Mimi launched Luxyhair.com after they realized how hard it was to find great hair extensions in the marketplace. This hair extensions ecommerce retailer has built their business on the fan audience they’ve attracted through YouTube tutorial videos. They have a serious following, which is exactly what has enabled them to grow their business to seven figures since 2010!
The key to avoiding any cash problems is to have cash in the bank reserved for the proverbial rainy days. To solve this problem, Strauss advises for businesses to “Plan appropriately, budget accordingly, pay your creditors and suppliers on time, build a good business credit rating, and you will avoid the cash crunch dilemma and build a solid home-based business.”

But many people put themselves in a very similar position by starting home-based businesses without considering the profit angle. Business is about profit, and without sufficient profit, you'll never have enough income to even pay the bills, let alone generate wealth. (For more on creating a business that actually produces income, see Change Your Business Model and Watch Your Profits Soar!)


Then you can move into more actionable online courses like Modern Web Design on CreativeLive and Learn Web Design and Profitable Freelancing on Udemy will teach you everything from foundational web design knowledge to earning your first freelance income as a web designer. On top of that, you can take even more immersive courses and learning experiences with access to direct instructor feedback and personal mentorship with platforms like Treehouse, LinkedIn Learning and General Assembly to get up-to-speed even quicker with this career path and listen to my podcast interview with Ian Paget about how to become a freelance designer as a side business idea.
Thanks for sharing these top 10 mistakes. Sometimes I think these “top failures/mistakes” posts are even more helpful than the usual “top 10 best advices” type of posts, since they give people concrete ideas about what they should avoid. For me, the biggest setback was and still is number 7, wasting too much time thinking and not enough doing. One of my favorite quotes regarding this is by Napoleon: “Take time to deliberate, but when the time for action comes, stop thinking and go in.”
×