It used to be that if you had a product to sell, you also had to have a storefront and all the costs associated with it. These days, you can sell anything to anyone anywhere in the world. Whether you’re marketing the organic honey from your backyard apiary or selling personalized linens that you embroider yourself, you can find a market for your products online.
We're all guilty of spending too much time on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest sometimes, so why not get paid to put your expertise to work as a side business idea? Lots of companies, especially startups or those in retail and travel—even influencers have heavy social media presences and are constantly in need of people to help build their brands online. You can find these types of opportunities on sites like Flexjobs and CareerBuilder and most employers on these websites are conditioned to working with people who operate these services as their side business idea. Over time as you grow in your ability to leverage various social channels, you can add more service offerings like running high-return Facebook Ad campaigns or hosting lucrative sweepstakes competitions for the brands you want to work with.
If you can write copy that gets people excited about purchasing what your client has to sell, you can make good money in this business. Unless you are highly experienced from working in the copywriting field, take a course. There are online courses or classes at community colleges and universities that can give you a leg up in getting savvy at writing copy for brochures, catalogs, advertising and, of course, marketing copy for the web.
If you have a knack for this type of work, a degree won't be necessary. Most people want their yards tidied up in the spring, their lawns mowed in the summer, their leaves removed in the fall, and their shrubs and driveways ready for winter snow. You will also want to offer garden work such as spring planting of annuals and perennials; vegetable garden preparation, planting and fall cleanup; pest control and watering. You can offer tree care service. There is plenty to do in the yard that has nothing to do with plants: stone wall restoration, fencing, irrigation system installation.
Even the portrait and general-interest options, though, aren’t really for beginners. Photography businesses can be complex operations, with lots of equipment required and years of portfolio and relationship building necessary to really get steady income flowing. Still, if you’re a hobbyist already, starting a photography business as a side operation is a great way to make some extra money and possibly begin a career change.
If keeping your home organized comes naturally and you enjoy helping other people, consider becoming a professional organizer as a side business idea. As the need for baby boomers to start downsizing grows, you can use your organizing and decluttering skills to start making an industry standard $50-125 an hour with very little startup costs and some free expert advice from Jen Kilbourne. Believe it or not, pro organizers don't just work with hoarders. More and more people are hiring professional organizers in order stop wasting time and money due to the stress of everyday disorganization. What's even better, is that you can take this on as a side business idea during the nights and weekends when your clients will be at home.
3. Create a strong team. “Work with experts on parts of your business where you are not an expert,” says Cathi Brese Doebler, a home-based business owner for 10 years and author of Ditch the Joneses, Discover Your Family. “For example, if you are not good with computer hardware, hire someone to help you set up your computer network. Or, if you are not an expert on taxes, find a good tax advisor. Focus your business on your areas of expertise and strength, and hire experts to help you with your areas of weakness.”
Everyone knows that the quickest way to learn a new language is to mingle with native speakers. If you were lucky enough to be born in an English, French, Spanish (insert any of the world’s main languages) speaking country, then missing out on the opportunity to cash in on the skills you take for granted is exactly that – missing out! Use online communication tools, such as Skype or Google Hangouts, to connect with learners and leverage your privileges. Time is money, so package your hours into teaching sessions and you’re good to go.
4. Work where you’re most productive, even if it’s outside of your home. “Sometimes home is not the right place and work is not the right place—even when they are the same place,” says Stephanie Staples, a personal coach and motivational speaker. “I need a third location. For example, a donut shop, library—somewhere that even though other things are going on, I don’t have to pay attention or care about it. It is the power of the third location; I think differently, work differently, act differently there, and it really helps me.”
This is a perfect business idea for trained accountants who would like to work from home, although it is not necessary to be a Certified Public Accountant in order to become a freelance bookkeeper—it’s just necessary to have the background knowledge that bookkeeping courses at any community college can offer. This kind of freelance work is especially helpful for small businesses that do not need or cannot afford a fulltime bookkeeper, making it possible for you to have full time work through several smaller clients. Median salary: $34,000.
A large proportion of homeowners and small businesses have lawns to tend to. Many turn to independent providers of yard work services to take care of their lawn care woes. To start and sustain a yard work services side business idea, you need training, equipment, and a growing network of customers. In the U.S., a full-time landscaping and groundskeeping worker reportedly earns a median wage of around $25,000, while those working on this as a side business idea largely during evenings and weekends can expect to make substantially less.
Obviously it should be a problem for you, but be sure it’s also a problem for others. The thing is, sometimes people don’t realize they have a problem. And often just telling them they have a problem will only elicit an “Oh, that’s good enough for me.” As the old cliché goes, we’re creatures of habit. It’s really hard to persuade someone to try your thing when the status quo is good enough. But put a better solution in front of the same person and suddenly the status quo looks repugnant.
Use Outlook or some sort of contact management software to serve as a visual reminder of what you need to accomplish that day. Live and die by your to-do-list. Try to have everything crossed off by the end of the day. Even my own children know that if they want me to do something for them during working hours, they have to put it on my to-do-list or it will never get done.
If you're ready to be in charge of your own destiny, but don’t have the capital to buy a franchise or open up a storefront, consider starting an online business. When your store is online, you can reach millions of customers instead of whoever happens to wander in - plus, you don't have to pay for retail space. However, like with any business, you'll need an excellent product and a solid marketing plan. See Step 1 to learn what it takes to start your business online.
If cooking is one of your personal passions, there are dozens of opportunities to turn it into a decent business venture. You can start by setting up a catering website, experimenting with pop-up food stalls and local food markets, or joining platforms like MenuNextDoor that encourage cooking enthusiasts to squeeze some money out of their passion. And if you’re not camera-shy, you can teach people how to cook special meals by selling online classes.
If you understand design and have a passion for décor, a career in interior design could be a great path for you. While you may not technically need a formal education to be an interior designer, having a bachelor's degree in interior design will definitely give you a huge leg up in the field. But if working for a design firm doesn't feel right to you, try running your own interior design business from your home.
Like birthdays, marriages happen all the time. Which means you can treat weddings as a recurring fountain of business opportunities: wedding dresses and coats, jewelers, food caterers, venue providers, photographers and videographers, performers, flower shops, travel agencies, souvenir crafts, and a host of other ventures. Now imagine if you can form a network of these service providers so you can offer engaged couples a range of hassle-free wedding packages as a turnkey business idea. The process is certainly fun (and time-consuming), but as a side business idea, the pay can be pretty great.