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:
Contact your local state representatives or senators and U. S. Congress members for information about entrepreneurial-assistance programs and regulations pertaining to your business. Experts at local offices of the SBA’s Small Business Development Centers or volunteers at SCORE offer entrepreneurs free or low-cost business counseling and management programs.
Over the last decade, high-speed internet, a proliferation of devices and applications, and changing attitudes about the nature of work have made working at home a reality for millions of people around the world. One study, in fact, concluded that nearly half of all American employees work at home. And the trend isn’t limited to the United States; 79 percent of knowledge workers globally now do at least some work outside the office.
But if you do go the fashion route, be prepared to do quite a bit of networking before you get your business off the ground. Don’t be afraid to do free consultations for contests and giveaways. The more word gets around about your fabulous fashion sense, the larger a clientele you’ll build. If you’re really good, you can start this business with little to no training.
5) Personal fulfillment – Running your own business online can be a very rewarding and gratifying experience. No matter how big or how small your idea is, by doing something you’re passionate about, your journey to success can be much easier and fulfilling. Ben Silbermann, co-founder and CEO of Pinterest says, “If Google teaches you anything, it’s that small ideas can be big.”
Without realizing it, I skipped over doing the good work of pinpointing my target market and ideal clients, defining my brand and my offer, figuring out my Why, etc. I studied audience-building and content marketing tactics and put a lot of work into growing a community from the start, but because I wasn’t clear myself on the purpose of my brand, I didn’t have a consistent message to share with that community to build trust and gain their interest in any kind of offers.
College counsellors come in all shapes and sizes. Their primary duty is to help guide students through an important period in their lives. Some counselors focus on admissions, career advice, financial aid, athletics, extracurricular activities, and other concerns. There are institutions looking out for part-time college counselors, making this a fantastic side business idea, or you can even start your own practice and charge anywhere from $25-$100+ per hour for your consultative services if you're well-versed on the subject.
Becoming an Uber driver has quickly become a great way for people to get their own business off the ground. You will need to pass a background check and have valid instate driver’s license and auto insurance. The process is pretty painless and will get you rolling on your own business. Many people start as an Uber driver to pay the bills while they work on another business that they are more passionate about. Check out our post to learn more about Uber driver requirements.

No one likes doing taxes, and they need to be paid whether the economy is booming or tanking. This is why at-home tax preparation can be a great business for anyone with a tax background, or anyone willing to take training courses. Since there are annual changes to the tax code, you will need to refresh your training each year, and you will also need to register with the IRS as a tax preparer. This is more of a seasonal business than a year-round endeavor, but it can be a great way to earn some extra income each winter/spring. Median salary: $30,900.


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.

Most people, even those many won’t admit it, love moving their bodies. It's also a great workout. If at some point in your life, you had to hang your dancing shoes for a more sensible office job, there's nothing stopping you from earning money with this side business idea as a passion project around your day job. Part-time dance instructors get a fraction of the pie that their full-time peers enjoy, but it can add up to hundreds each week if you're consistent—making for a great side business idea to those with the skills and drive.
Instead of spending hours playing with accounting software, dreaming up potential expense and income categories, and creating fancy reports with no data, spend that time generating revenue. As long as you record everything you do now, creating a more formal system later will be fairly easy. It will also be more fun, because then you'll have real data to enter.

One way to make money in this field is by being an expert witness yourself. If you have an expertise that could be useful in legal cases, you can market yourself to attorneys to act as an expert witness. Another way to be active in the expert witness field is to play a sort of matchmaker, matching attorneys up with expert witnesses for their cases--either for the defense or for the prosecution. Expert witnesses for big money cases can be expected to fly anywhere to testify. There's no reason your database of witnesses can't be from all parts of the country.
If you don’t mind doing other people’s chores, then TaskRabbit may be the right side business idea for you. Earn a little side money doing odd jobs like walking your neighbor’s dog or mowing Mr. Smith’s lawn. Running errands not your style? Tell that to the top taskers on the portal who reportedly earn as much as $7000 a month, making this a full-time business idea for some.

Advertise! Whether you pay for advertising or you trade advertising with related websites and blogs, or you use free search sites, the important thing to remember is to put in the time and keep track of what works. Search out other websites and blogs with similar content and leave comments with your contact info. There are services that will do all the marketing for you for a fee, but to start out, you can do the marketing yourself. Fiverr.com will advertise your website starting at $5.
Similar to selling on Amazon, eBay is a place to make money selling just about anything you can think of as a side business idea, with the added excitement of using the auction selling model to sometimes get way more than you expected for that antique baseball card you picked up at a local street fair. To turn your eBay selling into a legitimate business idea, look for opportunities where you can buy in-demand products at a discount—and later sell them for a profit. Eventually, you can even take the lessons learned from your eBay store and build a full on blog or eCommerce business like what the team over at Gear Hungry has done.
Giving speeches is a terrifying experience. Giving bad speeches… Well, no one wants to be in that situation. Wordsmiths have a hugely sellable skill to win people over using nothing else but the power of well-strung sentences. If you can write, cash in on this skill by crafting speeches that make birthdays, weddings, award ceremonies, or political debates a more memorable experience.

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]


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:
I recently started working in network marketing with a natural hair care line. It has transformed my life, by giving me my confidence back. I was losing my hair and I didn’t know what to do. I’d been to the Dr and told it wasn’t a thyroid issue, but they couldn’t tell me what WAS causing it. My good friend introduced me to these amazing products, that in a matter of months changed my life. My husband is now using the products for his “gaining face” (not receding hairline) issue. Lol.
You may not think you were born with the Completion Gene but, believe me, it's there deep inside you. The Completion Gene is built into each one of us--it's standard equipment from the factory. If you haven't seen your Completion Gene lately, you might need to dust it off before you'll have an opportunity to give it a workout. The more you exercise it, the stronger it will get. And the stronger it gets, the closer you will be to living your dreams instead of just dreaming them.
You love dogs? You’re good at taking care of them? You want to open a dog-boarding business? Just make sure you’re prepared. Sure, it’s a great opportunity, and it’s totally doable—with some planning. Make sure you know your local zoning laws and, perhaps more importantly, make sure your neighbors would be OK with some extra noise and activity around your place.

Finally, if you really have it in your “gut” to become a fish farmer (even in your backyard) go sign up on our Aquaculture Central Site at http://eatcommunity.com  (No Cost! Nada! Nothing!) for hundreds of hours of training and information.  If you are really serious fill out the download survey sheet there on the Aquaculture Central site and tell us about how we can help you reach your dreams!!  You can do it! You can!
Motivate yourself. Sit down and set some goals for yourself. You no longer have quarterly reviews or progress reports, so it's important to keep track of whether or not you're making progress in your business. It's one thing to set small goals like completing your to-do-list--you also have to set goals to motivate yourself to succeed. Hopefully by now you're making as much, if not more, money at your homebased business than you were at your former job. If you aren't, begin by setting a goal to bring in the same amount of income you were, and slowly raise the bar to increase your income by a couple of thousand a month. Once you've met a goal, make time to reward yourself by doing something fun, which brings us to the next tip.
While the barriers to entry for a retail shop can be very high, one way to keep costs down and limit your time investment while you keep your full-time job, is to set up a weekend popup shop as a side business idea. More of whatever it is you’re selling—donuts, clothing, antique baseball cards, or anything else—will stay in your pockets instead of going to pay for operating expenses such as rent or utilities by choosing to pursue retail as a side business idea with a short-term rental. This guide from Shopify will give you a step-by-step process for getting your popup shop off the ground.
Study the main types of software that system users will want--word processing, photo manipulation software, mail merge, spreadsheet, design and especially security software. Investigate all the components--monitor types in all their varieties; keyboards, from wired to ergonomic to wireless; mouse types; as well as peripheral components like printers and scanners. Become completely familiar with all the ISPs (internet service providers) available in the market area you plan to cover. Establish yourself as the guru who can meet the needs of the personal computer user, the small business or a larger corporation.
Recently, I have been thinking about my other passion… motivation and inspiration. I have though that maybe my unique advantage is to merge my photos with words of motivation. I could add more products such as posters, calendars, cd’s, etc. much like one of those motivation sites. It would be personal to my photography and my knack for inspiring others.
You can use your own name in your business, like “Myers’ Painting and Wallpapering,” and like this example, it should indicate what product or service you are offering. If you decide to take a fictitious name, you will have to register it with your county and state as a d.b.a. (doing business as) and publicize it to ensure it is not already in use.

The solution is simple: Buy traffic through PPC search engines. Pay-per-click advertising is the easiest way to get traffic to a brand-new site. It has two advantages over waiting for the traffic to come to you organically. First, PPC ads show up on the search pages immediately, and second, PPC ads allow you to test different keywords, as well as headlines, prices and selling approaches. Not only do you get immediate traffic, but you can also use PPC ads to discover your best, highest-converting keywords. Then you can distribute the keywords throughout your site in your copy and code, which will help your rankings in the organic search results.


But it’s also easier for consumers to compare similar products, which makes your ability to differentiate yourself more important. For instance, if you decide to use Etsy to sell handcrafted cutting boards, when a potential customer searches for cutting boards on the site, they’ll wade through potentially hundreds or thousands of relatively similar listings.
Starting a business in this field will require some experience, but as long as there is anxiety, there will be a market for coaching people to create and deliver presentations. Invest in video equipment or use a smartphone to record students as part of the coaching process. If you have a background in radio or TV or specific experience in high-profile public speaking, all the better.
I spent the next week writing content and adding the products on my site, nicontrols.com, following a crib sheet I downloaded from the Google webmaster tools forum. It took hours as writing has never been my strong point, but at the end of the week, we had a very basic online store. Being a complete novice, I hadn't realised that I had been changing a live website until I tried launching the site the following bank holiday weekend. Returning to work on Tuesday, I found an email from a company in Australia who had found my website and were interested in purchasing two of the circuit boards. The following week we received two inquires and then eight the week after that. The inquiries have grown exponentially from there.

Online sites like Etsy and ArtFire are platforms that make it extremely easy for crafters who can produce a steady supply of quality handmade items, like crocheted blankets or unique painted glassware. Startup costs are extremely low if you purchase your materials in bulk from a craft supplier, and if you can turn around orders quickly, you'll be making a profit in no time at all. It's even possible to turn your store into a full-time gig.


If you know how to make jewelry, there’s really no reason not to sell it. Handmade jewelry has long held appeal for collectors and admirers alike. The biggest challenge to setting up a jewelry business might be running the business itself—just making beautiful things won’t be enough to sustain the operation. Study up on what it takes to run a jewelry business and then make it happen. A great place to start is online with sites like Etsy and eBay
Teaching and tutoring English as a second language is a great way to make a solid side business idea work, not to mention opening doors for you to travel the world if you'd like. While full ESL (English as a Second Language) accreditation is recommended, as long as you’re a native speaker, there are people in countries such as Hong Kong or the UAE who are willing to pay upwards of $25/hr for you to teach them English via Skype. Indeed, Learn4Good and Remote.co often have remote english tutoring jobs posted, check back frequently. Then once you land that remote job, you'll need somewhere more professional than your dining room table to meet with students—check out this post about how to find places to work remotely and you'll officially graduate this side business idea into a full-time endeavor for yourself.
Expertise is another matter, but remember that writing can take many forms—from resumes to news articles to marketing materials and even thank-you notes. (You can even write for businesstown.com, although that gig doesn’t pay … yet.) There’s probably some form of writing you’re qualified to do. Plus, if you’re good enough with grammar and punctuation, companies will pay you to be a freelance editor. One friend made good money editing posts on a popular travel site.

Ghostwriting pays pretty well, and if you're talented at researching and creating great content within a certain subject domain, you can quickly build a roster of high-paying clientele with this business idea. Ghostwriters like Jeff Haden have created very lucrative careers for themselves by writing for business executives and CEO's—and Jeff also started his ghostwriting career as a side business idea outside of his full-time job as a factory manager. Listen to his interview with me on The Side Hustle Project (podcast) right here.

Price of 93digital.co.uk says companies should make sure they define their target audience and who they’re marketing to. ‘If you set up a Facebook ad campaign for anyone between 20 and 30 in the centre of London, you’re not going to get value for money, so it’s about defining those personas,’ he says. ‘What are the pages they might like on Facebook? What kind of interests do they have? Make sure you target that advertising in as much detail as possible.’

77. Structure your schedule. “Just because you may not have to attend meetings or structure your schedule the same way that you would if you worked in an office with others, you still need to provide structure for your schedule,” says Doebler of Ditch the Joneses, Discover Your Family. “When I have larger projects, I set time aside in my calendar to focus on them. This helps me to stay on schedule and finish projects on time and with high quality.”

#3 listening: I created a community targeted towards what I wanted to write about. I learned by providing value to my audience that what I was writing wasn’t what they wanted. So I rewrote an entirely new ebook the month of January. And every product I’ve launched after that has been in direct response to what my community is struggling with and needs help with.
15. Know what you’re signing up for. “Too many people want to work from home and expect the assignments to just flow in—so not the case,” says Kristen Fischer, author of Creatively Self-Employed: How Writers and Artists Deal with Career Ups and Downs. “Solid skills in business development, lead generation, sales, and marketing are vital to ensure success.”
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.”
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]

You may have already heard of search engine optimisation (SEO), the practice of trying to get a website to climb higher in search engine results in to earn more clicks from people searching. SEO can seem an advanced topic, requiring the expertise of a professional, but there are some simple (and free) things you can do to improve the visibility of your website, with the most crucial being to include lots of quality content on your website. Anticipate the questions your customers are likely to ask and ensure your content answers them. Click here for some top SEO tips from the UK Domain.

From personal experience as a freelance content marketer, I can vouch for the profitability in this industry. I grew my side hustle into a $160,000/yr business before quitting my day job to pursue this business idea full-time; all you need is the right skills and experience to back it up. With startups, established brands, and even notable influencers needing to build credibility and grow their brands, professionals who can serve up compelling content enjoy a huge demand for their services. And, since brands will always need high quality content to bring in new customers, your skills will always remain an asset to invest in—especially since the nature of creating a content marketing strategy is an ever-evolving one. Start by tapping into your existing network with this business idea and begin tracking down local small business owners who could benefit from your marketing tactics, do a bang up job, ask for referrals and grow from there to the point where you're doing blogger outreach and spreading out to a wider market.
You don’t need to have a degree in journalism to be a reporter these days (and pursue this business idea). Plus, there are many news websites that can always use a bit of help on getting local coverage. Some of them, such as The Examiner or HuffPost, will compensate contributors based on ad revenue generated per article written—a great incentive to provide compelling content to news organizations as your side business idea.
Modern technology has enabled entrepreneurs to do their work from almost anywhere. In fact, many companies operate in a wholly digital environment, lowering overhead costs and offering freedom to entrepreneurs who want to conduct business on the move. Creating an online business is simply a matter of focusing on your strengths and expanding your network. Here are 12 great online business ideas to get you started.
Schmechel charges $50 an hour to spruce up brochures, business cards, catalogs, case studies and occasionally Web sites. Her tools of the trade include a computer and basic printer. (For high-end printing, she heads to Kinko's.) Additional overhead: a mere $10 per month for a Web site hosting service. Initial marketing amounted to posting an ad on Craigslist. Darling Design's first-year profits: about $50,000, she says.
Do you have a way with words? Freelance copywriting is a good way to make money working from home. Companies large and small will pay someone handsomely to take basic information and add a bit of flair. If a smooth turn of phrase has been known to come forth from your pen, freelance copywriting might just be for you. It takes networking, but once you have a portfolio to show your worth, you'll be able to prove to clients that you're exactly the writer they need. And, as a bonus, if you're naturally inquisitive and love storytelling, you might be able to spin your copywriting gig into a career as a freelance journalist.

The basic idea behind an online drop shipping business is that, as a small business owner, you don’t have to maintain a large inventory of products or handle any delivery to your customers. That eliminates the financial cost and risk of having a warehouse full of stuff you might not sell, and the hassle of arranging to send orders all over the country or the world. In fact, you don't have to manufacture or store any products at all.
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.
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Research continues to prove that mobile apps or mobile Web browsers .are a must for businesses of all kinds. But most don't have the in-house teams to create them. Smaller companies also don't have the budget to hire an expensive firm to create their apps. A freelance app designer who works from home could specialize in creating apps for one or two industries and build a strong following.
Have you ever been turned off by a business’s generic-looking website layout or logo? If you have a good eye for design, you can launch a service to create attractive, easy-to-use websites for small businesses. You can put your skills to good use for business owners who want to take their online presence to the next level. Build up a portfolio of work with smaller freelance jobs, then create your own website to show it off and bring in a steady stream of clients. [10 Things Every Freelancer Should Know]
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.
This site is EXACTLY what I was looking for. I am a fit and frisky 56 y.o. single dad working 2 jobs, with an unquenchable thirst for learning new things. I’ve been surreptitiously studying the New Thought writers (from Atkinson to Proctor right up to some of the really sharp, young people creating YouTube videos). I think I’m getting a grip on the self-motivation and metaphysics of the whole thing, but am too scattered to decide exactly what kind of business to start! many of your 27 ideas I have some familiarity with (one of my old army buddies got me in to Bombardier Transport in early 2011 for 3 months to help meet a deadline on some tech pubs…it was a lot of fun! I was told I’m a natural, but could not find any more jobs in that sector….Oy Gevalt). Anyway, thank you so much for this site! I can give you a progress report every few months or so (including showing you how any websites I may be creating are doing). Happy New Year!
20. Invest in a separate landline even if you’re trying to cut costs. “One of the first things I realized that I needed to do was get a separate landline and number for my office so that my son, who was then 5 years old, did not pick up the phone when reporters called,” says Julie Phillippi-Whitney, founder of Phillippi-Whitney Communications, a home-based PR consulting firm. Paul Robert Edwards also recommends getting a landline in addition to a cell phone. “When the electricity goes out, you want to be able to get calls,” he says.
This is a man who on our first envelope job bought us our furnace gas heater by paying us upfront half the money he would have topay when the job was done. He was so concerned we had no heat he paid us before we even started writing out the envelopes…I felt so bad to see when I called him 2 months ago someone answered it but was not him or his family. I fear he lost his home:( If he hasn’t we would still be in the back of his mind for envelope work knowing we are his people to get the job done.
Do you need to build from scratch? Also keep in mind that depending on your particular business, it may or may not be necessary to build (or pay someone to build) a site from scratch. Especially when you’re in the early stages, options like Squarespace and Shopify simplify the process of setting up an ecommerce site by providing templates that don’t require much if any knowledge of HTML or coding.

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.
I am a total newbie to marketing. I haven’t truly started my business, but I slow myself down with the logos, website, impatience, perfectionism. I look at the professionals in my field who already made it and think I can not match them. What did happen that I started a supportive community for my prospective clients and that is growing like a wildfire. It’s been just 3 months since I opened my mouth about what I do and things are really moving. Even though there is no dollar value, I am forming valuable connections. But because this community and my future full time awesome is my huge passion, it was easy to do. I somehow did not really care if it was perfect. Now I am realizing that I have no business or game plan so I am slowing down and will address this before it’s too late.
Stay connected. Carry an organizer wherever you go. If you're still using a day planner or similar dinosaur, consider upgrading to a Blackberry or other high-tech gadget. You don't need to go crazy and spend a lot of money, but invest wisely in something that will hold everything you need and allow you to instantly access it on the go. Another good idea is to not keep all of your information in one location, such as the hard drive of your home computer. Keep your data hosted on a virtual exchange server so you can access it anywhere that has an Internet connection. A big misconception about homebased business owners is that they stay at home all day, everyday. And as you know, that's just not always true.
Leaving corporate America to run a homebased business is the ideal situation for many people: There's no boss breathing down your neck, no boring meetings to attend and no 45-minute drives in rush hour traffic. Working from home can be a rewarding experience, but it's easy to forget the basic rules of running a successful business when it's 10 hours of just you, your computer and the distractions of home.
On the other hand, Burt’s Bees - one of the most recognized brands in natural care products - sold to Clorox for an estimated $925 million in 2007 and has continued to expand its product line and distribution. But it all started with an artist, Burt Shavitz, making candles from a local beekeeper’s extra beeswax and selling $200 worth of products at a local craft fair.
Be social. Whatever your business, whatever your venue, keeping your name in the air is key to internet success. Have a business account on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. If your business is graphically oriented, have accounts on Flickr and Tumblr as well. Whenever there is news of any kind—a new contract, a new page, a new entry, a new photo—cross-post it to all your social media sites. Also make sure those sites link back to your main website, and that your website has links to all of them.
If you don’t mind parading yourself around in public places as a side business idea, and enjoy a little attention, then working as a human billboard can pay a surprising amount of dividends. Renting out your beard, for example can earn you as much as $5 a day while having a brand logo tattooed on your shaven head for five years could pay as much as $7,000—though this type of earning opportunity is admittedly rare. This business idea is definitely not for the faint of heart, and is a little extreme for me, but nonetheless it's been done as a side hustle for many people. You can start by holding a placard or wearing a sandwich board. If you think this is a good side business idea, you can go all the way and turn it into a full on small business idea with enough hard work—plus you won't have to deal with all the issues other more complex businesses have to constantly think about (like reducing churn).
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).
If spending hours pinning images of gorgeous table arrangements and bouquet ideas on Pinterest is your definition of a perfect job, then you will make an exceptional wedding planner. Sharp project management skills and an eye for detail are pretty much the most important requirements for this job – no fancy diplomas to stop you from breaking into this industry! You can sell your consulting services, wedding decorations, game packages, personalised gifts – the list of possibilities is endless (well, almost). 
If you had a knack for standardized tests and had no trouble acing the SAT, ACT or other college exams, why not start tutoring high schoolers as a side business idea? Parents of all economic backgrounds are more than willing to shell out upwards of $100/hr to the right tutor, if it means their son or daughter will get admitted to the college or university of their choice. See this quick checklist for starting an SAT tutoring business from the Work At Home Mom. Whitney over at Rookiemoms also has a cool story to share about a stay-at-home mom making $40/hr helping kids out with homework and turning it into a profitable side business idea.
Like recycling, this side business idea requires the willingness to get your hands a little dirty. If you enjoy working outdoors, then you can make a pretty good side income cleaning up litter outside retail, office and industrial properties—especially for businesses that have large parking lots that need regular cleaning. Property management companies need their properties maintained litter free and you can do so with an on-foot service using inexpensive equipment like this cheap pick-up tool and a broom. Charge for your time at $35 - $50 per hour and bill your clients the same contract price each month. For even more on how to get started with a litter removal side business idea, check out Cleanlots.
If you don't find what you're looking for there, here's a list of the 45 best places you can learn to code for free. Once you command a knowledge of HTML, Ruby, Python, Javascript, or CSS, you can start a freelance business as a side business idea to build your portfolio while you still hold onto your full-time job. Listen to my podcast interview with Laurence Bradford about her journey to become a freelance web developer, too. And over time, you'll build more relationships, have more experience and eventually take this side business idea over to becoming a full-time source of income.
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.
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