Define your product or service. Starting an online business gives you the benefit of having access to millions of customers, but you also have a lot more competition. No matter what you're trying to sell, you can bet that hundreds more online retailers have a similar idea. What differentiates your product from other similar products? To help your product stand apart from the rest, you'll need to find a niche.[1]
Fiverr is a great place for first-time freelancers who might not have tons of experience and want to build up a portfolio of their work. You'll be able to complete simple tasks ranging from logo design, to creating animations, or even drawing a company logo on your forehead. While this side business idea likely won't be growing into a million dollar startup for you, it can still be a platform for funding your next big business idea. Want to learn more about Fiverr's history and how to get the most out of selling on the platform? Listen to my interview with Fiverr CEO Micha Kaufman.
If you’ve mostly been buying print ads, consider web-based ads. If you have tried Google Adwords, you might want to try to advertise on Bing or Facebook. Try sending out a newsletter by email, and don’t forget about social media. If you have a B2B target market, you could start your own business networking group. The key is to always try at least one new marketing technique. If it works, great, keep doing it. If it doesn’t work, try something else. Entrepreneurship is about experimenting with new ideas.
Not to be confused with hoarding, this business idea takes a lot of time, patience, and passion. If you have an eye for good art, it’s easy to get in on the ground level by visiting the studio department at your local university—though don't expect to get rich overnight with this side business idea. Many art students are more than happy to sell their work for a bargain, and in as little as a few years, there's a chance that piece you bought for a couple hundred bucks may be worth well into the thousands. Beware though, this business idea will take a whole lot of patience (and storage space for all that art).

Cash, or the lack of it, is one of the key indicators of a company’s success over the long run. If you have cash, you can buy and stock new products for your customers, develop innovative new services for your clients, pay for your day-to-day operations, and expand your operations. If you don’t have cash, your business will certainly suffer, and so will your customers and clients.
Google AdSense. These pay-per-click ads appear on your blog. Every time somebody clicks on an ad (which is supposed to be about a subject related to your niche), you make a few cents. Small amounts each time, but it adds up. This is extremely hands-off. You just need to get a code from Google, place it on your website - and the ads will automatically appear on your blog. Google will only show ads that are relevant to your blog so it's a good experience for your visitors and maximizes the amount of clicks you get, meaning more income.
If you have carpentry, plumbing, electrical, or other home improvement expertise and the requisite tools and equipment, home renovation can be an ideal business to operate from home. The best home renovation to focus on for the long-term? Bathroom renovations. My recent bathroom renovation included cabinets that were installed by a local contractor who operates his cabinetry business from his home.
Many of the same concepts that apply to making gift baskets or arranging flowers also apply here, but this time you’ll be putting people’s names on the things you send them. Personalization is especially hot for any sort of kids’ item, so don’t be afraid to be creative with the products you offer to personalize. Good photography, a good Website and some crafty skills will come in handy here.
We all wear clothes (at least some of the time). Which, of course, makes the business idea of cleaning soiled laundry an obvious hit. In fact, the self-service laundromat industry in the US is worth more than $3 billion, with many related businesses such as a mobile app laundry service, a real rolling mobile laundry service, and home laundry pickup & delivery services springing up each year. Here’s one way you can cash in on the trend as a side business idea.
Once you’ve established yourself in any number of freelance verticals online, spending your time focusing just on doing inside sales (booking freelance contracts with high-value clients) and then subcontracting your work out to other freelancers can help significantly grow your client list, and revenue generating possibilities with this business idea.
While having a formal background in graphic design is absolutely going to be helpful, it’s also relatively easy to learn the foundations of graphic design on your own. An increasingly easy-to-use Adobe Illustrator and even more easily accessible tools like Stencil and Visme are making it so that just about anyone with two opposable thumbs, a bit of creativity, and motivation can earn a side income doing things like designing (and selling) images like these motivational quotes that can be printed onto posters and sold on platforms like Etsy. Or you can find a local startup, small business owner, or photographer who could benefit from some extra help designing or altering images.

Packaging your skills and knowledge into a downloadable eBook that delivers value to those seeking to learn a skill, advance in their careers, or start their own businesses, makes for a strong value proposition if you target the right audience. Check out Leslie Samuel's great guide to selling eBooks online and start building your strategy around this side  business idea. This class with Tara Gentile on CreativeLive will also show you how to use your existing body of work to write an eBook within the next week. Put in some serious work with your eBook, build an audience and you'll have a platform to pitch traditional publishers on landing a book deal—then you can write one of the best business books and really build your personal brand.
Take time out for good behavior. It's not uncommon to find yourself working 60- to 70-hour weeks. But the good thing is, if you want to sneak out and see a movie at two in the afternoon, nobody's going to tell you not to do it. You have that freedom and flexibility as a home business owner. It can be tempting to work all the time when you start seeing how successful your business has become, but know when to relax. You've already established a smooth-running business. Take a break every now and then so you don't get burned out.
It’s not very engaging, or mentally stimulating, but taking online surveys through companies like Survey Junkie do pay  out (a little), believe it or not. Even if the payouts come in the form of Amazon gift cards, sites like Swagbucks can pay well. Just don't expect to make bank with this side business idea—I recommend combining it with another source of side income from this list of my best business ideas, and turning to surveys in your downtime when you need a little extra income.
Great post. My husband has been selling used books on-line for 10 years…It’s not enough to fully support our family of 6, but it does afford us a lot of flexibility. We both work other odds and ends spot jobs and it ends up working out. We have also had the flexibility to be volunteer managers at a church camp in the summer. (Right now the camp can not afford a manager) I’m pioneering a women’s conference and event ministry. I’ve always been very greatful for the freedom we have. My husband helps at the kids schools, apointments are easy to make, and the stress is less. It’s been a sacrifice in some ways but worth the gains in time and flexibility for sure.
The key to success in this business is being very disciplined in buying. Limit your car buying to popular models that you can turn over quickly, models that you have a strong understanding of current local pricing on, cars that you can buy at a significant discount to the price you believe you can fairly sell them for, and cars that are highly unlikely to need major work.
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