50 small business ideas you can start on your own

Small business owner

If you want to start a small business but you don’t have large cash flow, there are still many great opportunities available.

These jobs can be side businesses to start, but they may eventually replace your entire income.

A small business on the side was once a novel idea, but it has become more mainstream with the help of the internet and social media.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that freelancers and self-employed individuals may make up 20% of the workforce by 2020. The Small Business Association estimated in February 2015 that there are about 28,443,856 small businesses in America. Nearly 23 million of those businesses are single worker operations.

If you’re looking for ideas for your own side business, take a look at these 50 small business ideas that have the potential to turn a large profit.

#1 – Babysitting


Do you like kids and have evenings free? Then consider babysitting. Even if you aren’t in high school anymore, this job can help you earn some quick cash, and save up even more over time.

#2 – Dog Walking

Dog Walking

If you love dogs and have a few extra hours to kill, you can easily start a side business walking dogs. Once you get a few clients, simply pick up their dogs and take them on walks that will help tire them out and keep them in shape. As a bonus, this small business can help you stay in shape as well.

#3 – Pet sitting

Pet sitting

Millions of Americans who own pets will go on a trip where they can’t take their fuzzy friend along for the ride. While there are options to send a pet to a local kennel while they go out of town, some pets are not okay with this — and neither are their owners. If you love pets, consider either opening your home to these animals or offering to go to their home to take care of their pets. In many cases, people are willing to pay well for this service, since you are watching over not only their pets, but also their property.

#4 – Auto Detailing

Auto Detailing

If you have a meticulous eye and enjoy cleaning, you may want to consider auto detailing. Your job would be to make cars clean inside and out using tools as big as a vacuum cleaner and as small as a q-tip to make sure all the grit and grime is gone. People usually pay well for this kind of service.

#5 – Housecleaning

House cleaning

Housecleaning is an excellent small business to start. Many people don’t enjoy cleaning their homes, or they simply don’t have the time in the day to complete another task. If you have time during the week, you can earn extra money starting a side business as a professional cleaner. Since you work for yourself, you can choose your own hours, clients, terms, and how much you will be paid for the service.

#6 – Cleaning services for businesses

Commercial Cleaning

If you love cleaning, consider moving from residential to business services. Many business and institutions need people to clean their offices and common areas outside of normal business hours. If you’re willing to work nights and weekends, you could build a cleaning business for corporations.

#7 – Pet waste cleanup

Pet yard waste cleanup

It’s a smelly business, but someone has to do it. While people love to own pets, they don’t always like to clean up after them. If you know people in your neighborhood with animals, consider offering to clean up after their pets a couple times per week.

#8 – Pet grooming

Pet grooming

Bathing your pet is a necessary task, but its not always fun. Consider offering services for bathing and grooming pets. Groomers perform these tasks for a decent fee, plus they get to hang out with different animals on a daily basis.

#9 – Rent a room in your home

Room rental

If you have an extra room or two and wouldn’t mind sharing your space, you might be able to rent out the space through Airbnb or CouchSurfing.com. There might also be a paid hosting opportunity in your community where you can host exchange students, visiting professors, or hospital patients receiving long-term treatment.

#10 – Home daycare

Home Daycare

If you love kids and have plenty of time and space to play with them, you may be able to start an in-home daycare. Many states allow people to start this type of small business with minimal licensing and paperwork. All you need to start is a safe room or two for children to play in, some toys and activities, and lots of patience.

#11 – Personal chef

Personal chef

If you’re great in the kitchen and you love cooking for others, consider becoming a part-time or full-time personal chef. As a personal chef, you have the option of either preparing meals every day or going in and preparing meals once a week for an individual or family. You would then do all the dishes and cleanup work after. While this is a great opportunity, you may need to put a lot of effort into searching for clients to get your side business off the ground.

#12 – Meal-to-go preparations

Meals to go preparations

Making meals in advance is a great way to save money and time, not only for yourself but for others. Consider preparing several dozen breakfast burritos, then selling some of them for a profit while keeping the rest for your own consumption. You can often prepare things like this for others and sell them for a markup. Grow this small business by taking orders from others and discovering what they like most.

#13 – Personal assistant

Personal assistant

Plenty of people are in need of someone to pick up dry cleaning for them or do basic errands that they don’t have time for. Thanks to sites like TaskRabbit, you can pick up a variety of side jobs that other people don’t have the time to do. Tasks can also include making dinner or assembling Ikea furniture.

#14 – Senior citizen assistance

Senior Citizen Assistance

In the vein of a personal assistant, consider advertising your services to help the elderly with simple household tasks and errands. Many adult children who don’t live close by are willing to hire someone to help out their parens with these tasks

#15 – Virtual assistant

Virtual assistant

While some people need someone to run errands and complete household chores, others need someone to answer their email, organize task lists for them, update their calendars, and a host of other tasks that can be completed online. This services requires minimal interaction and could even be done while working from home.

#16 – Event coordinator

Event coordinator

Events like large parties, family reunions, birthdays and weddings are full of busywork that people either feel overwhelmed about or don’t have time for. You can step in and take charge of planning and coordination. Thanks to the invention of the internet, it is easy to market your event planning services.

#17 – Event DJ

Event DJ

Do you love music? If you have a great sound system and an ear for music, you have what you need to hire yourself out as a DJ for events and receptions. It’s a great way to fill an afternoon or evening, as long as you have a large amount of music to keep guests entertained. Consider this option if you’re looking for a fun way to earn money and have free time at night to run a small business.

#18 – Wedding planner

Wedding Planner

If you love flipping through bridal magazines and you dream about various wedding arrangements, you might be interested in planning weddings professionally. You can start your new small business by creating a website or blog on wedding planning, get to know people in the business, and promote your services at local wedding venues and shops in the community.

#19 – Cake and cupcake baking and decorating

Cake and cupcake baking and decorating

If you love to bake and have a little bit of an artistic touch, then you could learn how to decorate cakes for special events. Whether it is a birthday, anniversary, or wedding, decorated cakes are always popular. You can sell the creations on Craigslist, a farmer’s market, or your neighborhood Facebook page.

#20 – Gourmet cookie making

Gourmet cookie making

If you don’t care for cakes, but cookies are your thing, consider making gourmet cookies on the side. This opportunity has plenty of long-term potential. If you start by learning how to make unique and tasty gourmet cookies, then look for a way to package them in a new way, you can make lots of money. Consider selling your cookies online and to people in your local community.

#21 – Catering


If you love to cook for lots of people, you can start a home catering business. It’s perfectly designed to reward people who plan well and it can often fit into weekends, since most events that require catering are on Saturday or Sunday. This business could be great if you are looking for something new outside of normal working hours.

#22 – Snowplowing


If you live in an area that gets a lot of snow in winter, consider purchasing a plow attachment for your pickup truck or SUV. Businesses and residents are willing to pay someone to plow their driveways, parking lots, and private roads so they can still have winter access to the town. If you want to start small, build your side business by cleaning driveways and walkways with a shovel or snowblower. For places with lots of snow, you could even offer to clean off someone’s roof.

#23 – Gardening services

Gardening services

If you love to work outside and have a green thumb, consider hiring yourself out as a gardener. There is a large demand for people who know their way around plants and flowers and people are often willing to hire help to start a vegetable or flower garden in their yard.

#24 – Landscaping services

Landscaping Services

Along with gardening, landscaping services are in high demand. If you’re willing to mow lawns and trim bushes and trees, then you can make a decent living offering these services to neighbors and other people nearby. It’s a great side business for a fit adult and also an excellent way for a teenager to start their first small business.

#25 – Handyman services

Handyman services

Are you skilled at basic home repair? Let people around you know you’re free to help them with jobs like basic plumbing, repairs around the house, and other things. There are many simple things people are willing to pay others to help them with, especially around the house.

#26 – Social media expert

Social media expert

Thousands of businesses use Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms to relay information about their products and services. If you know these websites well and want to make some money, consider applying to help these companies manage their social media presence. To find jobs like this, contact businesses with a social media presence and search sites like Elance.com for opportunities.

#27 – Blogging


If you’re a writer, blogging can be a great money-making opportunity. Once you find a topic you are passionate about, start a website dedicated to covering that topic. Blog hosting can cost less than $12 per month, and if you do it right, there is a lot of opportunities to make decent money.

#28 – Buying and reselling on Ebay

Buying and reselling on eBay

eBay is a great opportunity if you want to earn some extra money. You can buy local and in-demand products then sell them on eBay for a decent profit. The trick is learning what products to buy and how much there resale value can be.

#29 – Freelance writing

Freelance writing

If you’re great with words, there’s also a chance you can find some work as a freelance writer. Many online publications are looking for stories, product or service descriptions, and reports written by a freelance writer. If you have the talent and skill, you can easily be the one they pick to create them. All you need is a computer and internet connection to get started.

#30 – Affiliate marketing

Affiliate Marketing

Some businesses will pay you to promote their products and encourage sales. Affiliate marketing works best if you have a blog or another base of people who follow you. Check out sites like Amazon Associates, Commission Junction, LinkShare, and ShareASale. These sites offer affiliate marketing programs that you can join.

#31 – Start a resume writing service

Start a resume writing service

If you know how to create a great resume that gets you the job you want, consider marketing your services as a resume writer. While most people have the knowledge to do a job, they may not know how to create a resume that promotes their skills well. Most of your work will include writing, editing, designing, and proofreading resumes.

#32 – Computer troubleshooting

Computer troubleshooting

If you have a knack for fixing computers, there’s always a great market for troubleshooting. Since so many Americans own a computer and/or tablet, it can be a great place to start a small business if you want to step into the world of technology.

#33 – Website design

Website design

Basic website design is a great tool to offer small businesses in the area who are looking to advertise online. To start out, offer to create sites for local businesses, then maintain them for a small fee. If you get enough businesses to employ your services, you can build a nice side business that doesn’t require a lot of time.

#34 – Creating custom clothing

Creating custom clothing

The internet has created many opportunities for people who enjoy to sew and manufacture custom clothing. Whether you are looking to sell to the cosplay community or simply someone who wants a custom birthday outfit for their baby, this could be the opportunity for you. Many of these clothes are sold through sites like Etsy, eBay, and others. In addition to selling online, consider marketing the service to your community.

#35 – Sewing and alterations

Sewing and alterations

If you’re handy with a sewing machine, you can advertise your sewing and alteration services. You can offer services like basic garment repair and modification for a small fee. If you’re really good, you can even offer to make custom clothing.

#36 – Knitting, crocheting, or quilting

Knitting, crocheting, or quilting

If you’re creative and love to make blankets and sweaters, there’s a huge market for homemade goods. These items can be made in your spare time and sold at local shops, on Etsy, or at local craft fairs.

#37 – Jewelry making

Jewelry making

If you have patience and an eye for detail, consider learning how to make jewelry. Some people collect glass from the beach or cool rocks from the mountains and make jewelry using them. Sales opportunities include Etsy, local gift shops, craft fairs, and farmer’s markets.

#38 – Scrapbook making

Scrapbook making

Scrapbooking is an art in itself and many people would love to have these creations for memories of trips, graduations, and weddings. If you have an eye for it, you can take their ideas and materials and assemble a scrapbook for them.

#39 – Soap making and spa products

 Soap making and spa products

We are living in a world that is going back to a love for homemade and handmade objects. Among them are homemade soaps and other spa products. Creating these things isn’t difficult, it just requires a little time and patience. Your products can be sold locally and online at places like Etsy.

#40 – Antique refurbishment

Antique refurbishment

Refurbishing antiques can be a perfect small business for people who love remaking things. The job entails finding antique furniture and house wares, taking them home, and investing the time needed to make them look new again. If you play it right, you can resell the antiques at a profit.

#41 – Furniture making

Furniture making

If you’d rather create from scratch than repurpose antiques, you can learn to make furniture. This business requires a few tools and some extra work space to store wood and create your masterpieces. Along with creating new items, you can also offer to repair existing wooden furniture or woodwork.

#42 – Growing and selling produce

Growing and selling produce

If you have a bit of space and you love to grow vegetables and fruit, you can earn a decent amount of money selling the excess to grocery stores and at farmer’s markets. If you can grow things inside during the winter you can do really well in a market that has demand but less local supply.

#43 – Exercise instructor

Exercise instructor

Gyms will often trade membership and a bit of cash for people willing and able to teach exercise classes. If you’re skilled in yoga, pilates, basic weight lifting and other exercise, consider offering services to your local gym. If you have some space, you can also find people to train at home as a personal trainer. If you have the knowledge and time, it’s a great way to learn some extra money and build a good client base.

#44 – Interior decorating

Interior decorating

Interior decorators are in demand for businesses, apartment buildings, and private residences. Many people are happy to hire someone to help decorate their home when they are either too busy to do so or they need a little help in the design area. If you love to help people decorate their homes, this could be a great small business for you.

#45 – Proofreading and editing

Proofreading and editing

If you have strong grammar and English skills, you may have opportunities to work from home as a proofreader. Advertising this can be hard, but you can seek out people who might need this service and advertise directly to them.

#46 – Slideshow making

Slideshow making

Many events like memorials, birthdays, anniversaries, and weddings have slideshows of the people they are celebrating. With a computer and some easy software, you can turn these photos into a beautiful custom slideshow.

#47 – Public speaking

Public speaking

If you love to talk in front of people, public speaking could be for you. To begin, take advantage of every public speaking opportunity you can find. You’ll be surprised at the opportunities that follow if you are successful at conveying your ideas to others.

#48 – Giving music lessons

Music lessons

If you know how to play an instrument well and have patience to teach it to someone else, consider offering to show others how to play. You can offer lessons in that instrument to others either receiving money or another good or service in exchange. There is particularly strong demand for guitar and piano lessons.

#49 – Tutoring


If you majored in a subject like English, history or math, or if you did really well in high school, consider offering your services as a tutor. You need a bit of patience and some time to tutor someone in a certain subject. You can advertise services by seeking out parents or teachers and letting them know your qualifications. You can do this locally or expand across the country by offering online tutoring

#50 – Become a business or life coach

Business coach and life coach

If you’re knowledgeable about the business world or you are able to encourage others in your own way, consider marketing your services as a business or life coach. With this small business you can use your passion and knowledge to give advice and suggest ways people can improve their professional and personal lives.

Whether you are looking to start a small business that you run full time or a side business to earn extra cash, the trick is to pick something you are passionate or really good at and then market your services to build up a client roster.

Written by Melissa Stusinski

Melissa Stusinksi is a professional journalist. She has written for some of the biggest news websites in the United States. She loves spending time outdoors and reading books in her spare time. She can be reached at MelissaStusinski@BusinessPundit.com or (929) 265-0240.