Are you thinking about starting a business? If so, you’re in good company.
According to the U.S. Census’ Business Formation Statisticsreport, more people started a new business in the third quarter of 2020 than at any other time since the agency began keeping records. The country is experiencing a new business boom.
You might be ready to start your own business from scratch and you’re looking for a business idea that you can get up and running quickly. Or perhaps you’d rather start a low-cost side business while working a full-time job.
Either way, becoming an entrepreneur is an excellent way to increase your income, create job security, and experience the unique thrill of being your own boss.
Start Off on the Right Foot
So, what kind of side hustle should you start? There are literally thousands of business opportunities out there.
Whichever you choose, you’ll want to start off on the right foot with Steady, a financial empowerment app that uncovers opportunities to earn one-time and recurring income on your terms — and can help you raise the capital you may need to launch your business.
Getting set up with Steady is easy. Just answer a few questions about yourself and your work, then complete your personal profile. Once that’s done, you’ll start receiving personalized income recommendations and community-driven insights to help you increase your income. And you’ll receive handpicked partner opportunities to earn real cash incentives — which Steady calls Income Boosters — for making smarter financial decisions.
Plus, you can tap the growing Steady community for real-world data on employer pay and other members’ earnings — empowering you to set your sights higher.
According to Steady, users earn over $5,000 more each year, on average, with the Steady app. That’s serious money. And Steady has paid out over $10 million in cash incentives while facilitating another $4 million in emergency cash grants (and counting).
Pro Tip: If you’re planning to start a side business you’ll want to set up a small business banking account from NorthOne. Designed specifically for small business owners, NorthOne allows you to manage your money from anywhere with features like mobile check deposits and cash withdrawals. Money Crashers readers get one money of free business banking when you open and fund a new account.
Side Business Ideas to Start Now
Once you’re set up to find new income opportunities with Steady, you’ll be ready to start your side business (or two).
Which should you choose? That depends on how much you can invest in the effort. Some side businesses are relatively easy to get into. Others require significant time and small-business capital to get off the ground.
Thankfully, there are plenty of small-business opportunities that you can get started on today.
1. Become a Virtual Assistant
Virtual assistants (VAs) are professionals who provide remote administrative assistance to busy professionals, entrepreneurs, and small businesses.
VAs typically schedule appointments, handle phone calls, do research and data entry, answer emails, manage social media accounts, and much more.
The VA industry is experiencing rapid growth right now. According to a 2021 poll conducted by NanoGlobals, VA hiring increased by 41% in 2020 compared to the year before.
And this aggressive growth is expected to continue. A 2021 report by Research and Markets estimates the industry will grow by $4.12 billion by 2025.
To succeed as a VA you’ll need to be very detail-oriented, have a customer service mindset, and be willing to learn complex tasks quickly. You also need good time management skills and have the ability to meet client deadlines.
To boost your credibility, join the International Virtual Assistants Association.
While startup costs are relatively low, you will need a quiet home office space and a fast Internet connection so that you’re able to meet client needs quickly and effectively.
2. Invest in Real Estate
Roofstock is making it extremely simple to invest in real estate — even in areas not in your hometown — helping you crunch all the numbers including potential cash flow. Roofstock also guarantees you’ll have a tenant in the property within 45 days or they will cover 90% of the mortgage payment.
If you’re not interested in being a landlord but still want to have real estate in your portfolio, you can invest through DiversyFund. The company gives you access to commercial real estate for as little as $500. If you want to get started with even less, Groundfloor lets you start investing with just $10.
3. Become a Swing Trader
Swing trading is an active trading strategy that produces profits by leveraging temporary price swings in equities markets. Swing traders like Mindful Trader use technical indicators to spot securities with near-term upside potential (or downside potential, for those who also sell shares short) and place stop-loss orders to limit losses from trades that don’t pan out. They typically unwind successful trades after hitting a predetermined profit target or position closing date.
Swing trading is an advanced trading strategy that presents significant risk of principal loss. It goes without saying that swing traders — whether they’re trading to earn side income or simply having fun — should never invest more than they can afford to lose.
4. Become a Tutor
Tutoring is not only a great way to earn some money on the side, but it’s also a very satisfying job.
Students of all ages need tutors for math, science, reading, foreign languages, and other subjects. If you’re skilled in a certain area, you can use your knowledge to help others succeed.
To get started tutoring, put up flyers at local schools and libraries, as well as on Craigslist. You might also want to sign up with Wyzant to become an online tutor. Once you tutor for a few families, the best way to get additional business is through referrals.
If you’re interested in teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL) online, you can get started with Education First. Earning a TEFL certificate is a prerequisite, but you can earn one through Premier TEFL.
5. Drive for Uber or Lyft
Becoming a part-time rideshare driver with Uber or Lyft has quickly become a popular side business, especially in bigger cities where rides are in high demand. Drivers are required to have a valid driver’s license, proof of insurance, and at least one year of driving experience.
The money you earn varies depending on location and the time of day you choose to drive, but drivers love being able to work around their own schedule. Uber drivers can sign up for Instant Pay, and earnings will be available immediately to a debit card up to five times per day.
Driving for Uber or Lyft is one of the easiest side businesses you can start because, if you already have a car, there are no startup costs.
6. Become a Delivery Driver
Another business opportunity for anyone who loves driving around town is to become a delivery driver. Companies like UberEats and DoorDash are always looking for qualified drivers that can deliver food from restaurants.
Instacart is another option for drivers. Its business model is slightly different. Instead of picking up and delivering restaurant orders, you’ll be delivering groceries.
Each of these ideas would make a great side business. They give you the flexibility to deliver around your existing schedule.
Don’t have a car? Not a problem. As a delivery driver, you also have the ability to use a scooter, bike, and even your feet.
7. Start a Blog
If you love to write and you don’t mind working hard, blogging might be a great business idea for you.
One of the benefits of starting a blog is that there are so many different ways to earn passive income.
You can earn money with advertising or affiliate marketing. You can set up an online store with Shopify and sell products with dropshipping, write an e-book or develop an educational course and sell access to the content through your blog, or start a podcast.
Setting up your own website or blog is easy and inexpensive. Bluehost offers a free domain name and hosting costs as little as $2.95 per month.
To succeed with this online business, think outside the box and come up with content that provides a unique solution for people. You also need to be well versed in web design, and how to use social media and search engine optimization (SEO) to drive traffic to your site.
Although it’s relatively easy to become a blogger, succeeding with this business takes time. If you truly want to earn a full-time income with a blog or e-commerce site, you must treat it like a new business and put a significant amount of time into growing your website and generating traffic.
8. Rent Your RV
If you own an RV there is a good chance it sits unused for months out of the year. With Outdoorsy or RVshare, you can rent your RV to people in your area who are looking for a more comfortable camping experience. You set your own nightly rates but it’s best to scope out other rentals in your area and price accordingly.
You could also earn more by offering tour guide services to people who come to vacation in your RV.
9. Walk Dogs or Pet Sit
Starting a neighborhood dog walking or pet sitting business is an inexpensive way to earn extra money.
According to the American Pet Products Association, over 46 million households in the U.S. own a pet. And in spite of an up-and-down economy, household spending on pets keeps going up. In 2020, U.S. consumers spent $103.6 billion on their pets.
If you’re interested in becoming a dog walker or pet sitter, sign up with Rover.com. You can create an online profile and start receiving business the same day.
10. Become a Child Life Coach
Adults have life coaches, executive coaches, and fitness coaches, to name a few. Children can have their own coaches as well.
A child life coach helps children develop important life skills that their parents might not have time for and that schools don’t teach. Parents might also hire a child life coach if they don’t feel confident that they can help their child develop a certain skill set.
A child life coach can help teach kids and young adults how to stand up to bullies, say no to drugs, manage their emotions, manage their time more effectively, overcome failure, and many more life skills.
Although this can be a profitable and rewarding side business, you definitely need a strong desire to make a difference in the lives of others and patience and empathy to be a good listener for your clients.
You can learn more about becoming a certified kids life coach through Kids Life Studio.
11. Sell Your Creativity
Do you love drawing or designing T-shirts? Do you have excellent graphic design skills? Why not turn your creations into your own business?
You can make and sell a wide variety of products including T-shirts, mugs, bags, shoes, stamps, hoodies, binders, skateboards, and much more.
12. Start an Senior Care Business
Some seniors have a hard time cleaning their home, redecorating, going to the grocery store, driving to appointments, or cooking. You can earn extra income assisting seniors with these basic tasks.
The need for senior care is expected to grow as the Baby Boomer population continues to age. The U.S. Census reports that by 2030, all 73 million people in this generation will be over age 65.
And as they age, they will increasingly need help with daily living activities and errands, especially as many seniors live far from their children who would otherwise do these tasks for them.
How much can you earn with a senior care business? According to Care.com, in 2018 the average rate for in-home senior care was $17.32 per hour. However, this will vary depending on your location and the services you offer.
13. Become a Freelance Writer
With talent and hard work, you can easily earn a full-time income as a freelance writer.
Need some proof to back this up? Holly Johnson from ClubThrifty.com earns over $200,000 each year as a freelance writer. She’s even created an online course called Earn More Writing. This course will teach you everything you need to know to start your own freelance writing business.
Competition in this industry can be fierce because many people have turned to freelancing to earn extra money. The good news, however, is that quality writing never goes out of style. If you focus on quality writing and you’re persistent, you will find work as a freelance writer.
Check out sites like Fiverr.com and Upwork to get started, and learn more about factors to consider when setting freelance writing rates. You can also use social media sites like LinkedIn to connect with potential clients.
14. Start a Pooper Scooper Business
Dog waste cleanup is actually a booming business, and it’s not hard to see why. No one really wants to pick up pet waste in their yards. If they can afford it, they’re going to pay someone else to do this dirty job.
Pooper scoopers generally charge $15 or more per dog per week. And you’ll service each yard once or twice per week. Of course, large yards or yards that haven’t been cleaned in a while will cost more.
15. Cater Events
According to Inc.com, the catering business is a $70 billion industry. Yes, more people are cooking at home to save money, but there are still plenty of busy families and professionals out there who simply don’t have time to cook healthy, delicious meals. If you’re talented in the kitchen, you could earn extra money catering on the side.
There are plenty of ways to start a catering business without offering a full line of meals. One strategy is to specialize. For example, you could learn how to start a candy or chocolate-making business, focus on vegan or gluten-free meals, or stick with a particular cuisine, like Indian or Japanese.
If you want to learn more about starting a profitable catering business, Amazon has many books available.
16. At Home Day Care
If you love kids and also love the idea of working from home, consider starting an at-home day care business.
This can be a profitable business because parents always need help with child care, and day care costs continue to rise. According to a 2020 report by the Centers for American Progress, day care costs increased 47% due to the COVID-19 pandemic, while in-home care has increased 70%.
Before you dive into this business idea, do some research. Your state might have strict regulations for in-home day care services, and you need to ensure that you can abide by those guidelines before you invest money into this business.
Use websites like Sittercity to help you get your first few customers, or use your city’s Facebook page to let local parents know you’re open for business. If you provide excellent care and enrichment activities, parents will send you plenty of referrals.
17. Editing and Proofreading
It can be hard for some writers to proofread their own work. So many professionals hire editors and proofreaders to look over their writing before submitting it to a client or publishing it online.
Do you want to learn how to become a professional proofreader? Check out the Proofread Anywhere online course where you will get all the training you need. You can also find editing and proofreading work at freelancing brokerage sites like Upwork.
18. Sewing or Tailoring
If you already know how to sew and you’re skilled at tailoring or hemming clothes, you could easily turn this skill into a side business.
Many people don’t know how to use a sewing machine or tailor their clothes to fit better. However, having perfectly tailored clothing is a luxury, and it can make people feel great in the clothes they already own.
19. Personal Chef
If you love to cook but don’t like the idea of catering meals for a large crowd, you might love being a personal chef.
Personal chefs provide a healthy, home-cooked meal for clients one or more days per week. Personal chefs are responsible for meal planning, shopping, meal prep, as well as cleanup after the meal. Many personal chefs cook several meals that their clients can heat up later in the week.
This service can be very appealing to busy professionals, seniors, or families who don’t have a lot of time to prepare healthy meals. And it’s not hard to see why. Your clients get a night off from cooking and cleanup, which gives them more time to spend together relaxing instead of dealing with meal planning and prep.
20. Egg Donor
Ladies, did you know that you can earn $5,000 to $7,000 or more by donating your eggs?
If you’re relatively young and in good health, egg donation could be an option to earn some significant income. Keep in mind, however, that this option is fraught with physical and emotional consequences.
Make sure you think about egg donation carefully before moving forward. This is also a process that, once you’re accepted into an egg donation program, can take several weeks.
You’ll have the highest chance of success if you meet the requirements that egg banks are looking for. As an example, some of the minimum requirements of Egg Bank America include:
- Aged 21 to 31
- Physically healthy
- Have a BMI of 19 to 29
- Are psychologically healthy
- Have no family history of genetic disorders
- No history of drug use
21. Landscaping and Lawn Maintenance
Do you love being outside planting flowers and pulling weeds? Many people find this a chore but others love doing yard work and planting.
If working with plants brings you joy, consider starting a landscaping and lawn maintenance business.
Starting a landscaping business will require more startup capital than some of the other ideas on this list. You’ll have to invest in a high-quality, fast mower, which will likely cost several thousand dollars. You’ll also need a weed trimmer, a leaf blower, garden tools, and a truck and trailer to haul your equipment and tools.
You also need to be physically fit. Landscaping and lawn maintenance is a physically demanding job, and you’ll likely walk several miles each day and spend hours lifting and loading heavy tools and equipment.
However, if you know your market and price your services competitively this can be a very lucrative business.
22. Natural House Cleaning
House cleaning services are a dime a dozen. However, consumers are increasingly aware of the health effects of commercial cleaning products and they’re willing to pay more for safer alternatives.
With a natural or “green” house cleaning business, you offer the same cleaning services as your competitors. However, you’d only use safe, environmentally friendly cleaning products.
You can choose environmentally friendly cleaning brands like Seventh Generation, Method, or Ecos. Or, you can search for the safest cleaning products using the Environmental Working Group’s online database.
However, you can improve your profit margin by making your own natural cleaning products using inexpensive ingredients like vinegar, baking soda, lemon, and essential oils.
23. Seasonal Decorator
Putting up holiday lights or seasonal decorations can be a hassle, especially to businesses and retailers who are preparing for the busy holiday shopping season.
This is where you come in. You can connect with local businesses and homeowners to provide holiday decorating services.
Light stringing and decorating is a seasonal side business. However, if you pair this business with another seasonal business idea, like landscaping services, you could create enough work to stay busy throughout the year.
24. Start a YouTube Channel
Another home business idea is to start a YouTube channel.
According to rankings site Alexa, YouTube is the second most visited site in the world next to Google. This means if you can create video content that people want to watch, there is enormous income potential.
You can start a YouTube channel about almost anything, as long as it adheres to YouTube’s community guidelines and publishing policies.
Although it’s relatively inexpensive to start a YouTube channel, you’ll have a better chance of success if you use high-quality equipment. Many YouTubers use a DSLR camera along with other accessories like a tripod, different lenses, and an LED ring light.
To learn more about how to start a successful channel, check out the YouTube Creator Academy’s guide, “Getting Started with YouTube.”
25. Sell Items on eBay
Many people make a full-time income selling items on eBay, while others have made millions selling items on the site.
This is an easy business to start because if you’re like most people, you have plenty of unwanted items around your home right now that you might be able to turn into cash.
While it’s relatively easy to photograph and list items on the website, you’ll need to be strategic in order to maximize profits on eBay and be successful.
You can also earn more by becoming an affiliate marketer with eBay. Through the affiliate program, you can earn commissions up to 4% when you drive traffic to the website and customers make a purchase.
26. Rent with Airbnb
If you live in a region or community where people want to visit, you could rent out a room, or your entire home, using Airbnb.
Airbnb connects travelers looking for a place to stay with homeowners like you who have space to host them. You might rent out a room to a professional traveling for business, a young couple on vacation, or people who are in town for a family reunion.
You can potentially make several thousand dollars per year renting out a room through Airbnb. Some people turn their entire home into a vacation rental and make a healthy full-time income.
However, becoming a successful Airbnb host takes a lot of work, and you’ll need to invest money into making your room or home appealing and comfortable for guests.
Check out Airbnb’s tutorial on how to become a host to learn more about hosting your home with the site.
There are an endless number of business ideas floating around on the Internet.
However, the best business idea is the one that truly excites you. When you’re passionate about what you’re doing you’ll have no trouble summoning the persistence you’ll need to keep going when things get tough.
You might also want to connect with other business owners in your community or industry and start building a support network of mentors and friends.