Most articles you read about business have been written by freelance writers who have no business experience and have no idea of what they are talking about.
My name isBob Adams. I have started dozens of businesses and made millions of dollars. I also have an MBA fromHarvard Business School. I have run not just lots of businesses, but also many types of businesses, including a number of very small businesses that I ran before going to business school.
I learned what works in business. And I learned what doesnt work. I learned what are good businesses and what are not. I have also learned that you dont need lots of money or experience to start most businesses.
Many business ideas only require a small investment.
While this is a long list of business ideasI have carefully pruned it for you. I started out with an initial list that was more than twice as longand ruthlessly chopped off the weaker business ideas that I didnt want you to consider starting.
Note that many of these ideas could have been listed in more than the single category I placed them in. But I thought it would easier and more interesting for you, if I only listed each business once.
Related:Businesses You Can Start with $2,000 or Less
If you are really want to be your own boss and build a highly successful business, I am sure that you will find an idea that you really like on my extensive list! And once you have chosen your idea, check out our guide explaining the5 critical steps you need to follow to start your own business.
You can start this business in your garage with just one item!
Developing your expertise is crucial for this business idea.
Start part time and build this business carefully! Only buy items you are confident that you can sell relatively quickly for a good mark-up, and avoid getting stuck with slow moving inventory. To really succeed, develop deep expertise in a specialty and build a loyal customer base.
I see two routes to success in this business: 1) Focus on artists with well- established followings that you are comfortable that you can sell or 2) Take on less well-known artists on a consignment basis, meaning you dont actually buy the painting from the artist until the day you sell it. This can be a finicky businesspeoples tastes can change and a gallery that is successful one year can find itself struggling enough. So, keep your overhead manageable and watch for changing trends.
Sign up for a bar-tending course at the local community college or adult education center, get a safety certificate if your state requires it, and then youre ready to start serving. Usually the client will provide the booze and the glasses, you might bring a few mixing tools or even a service cart if you want to get fancy. Demand for this service will run strongest on the weekends, making it a great part time gig!
You dont need to own a big boat to take people on evening boat tours! You can lease the boat, market the tours and build a business without the overhead.
Would you like to drive a boat for a living? This is your chance!
To make it more fun, you can buy a few small drive-it-yourself speed boats and lead your customers around the local harbor. What could be more fun than that!
I can barely cook a frozen dinner, but you may have the cooking skills that I lack! People will pay good money for a really awesome cake for special occasions. Get some great cake pictures up on your website, promote your skills to event planners and build your clientele!
Related Link:8 Smart Kitchen Gadgets for Food Startup Founders
My kids did an upscale sneaker and related goods boutique. This can be a lot of fun but it may be harder than you think to make money. First make absolutely sure your location has great foot trafficstand there and count heads before you sign a lease! Then develop a distinctive plan for merchandising, and dont be afraid to mark down what isnt moving.
Yes, you can start your own clothing line with just a few items, be successful and have a lot of fun along the way! Look atRalph Laurenwho started by selling a couple neck ties and then built that into a multi-billion-dollar empire. Contract out the manufacturing which is the really hard part of the work. Then focus on developing eye-stopping designs and talking it up with potential re-sellers, or sell the items yourself online!
Related Link:How to Be Successful in The Clothing Industry
Wouldnt you enjoy making kids smile and laugh? What a great way to earn some good money, especially at kids birthdays and Bar and Bat mitzvahs! Business will be heavily focused on weekends, so you can hold onto your day job as you build your clientele. I met a professional clown who told me that he charged $200 an hourfor that price Ill put the clown suit on right now!
I loved to collect stamps and coins when I was a kid. In Boston, the dealers stores were all side by side on Bromfield street. Today some coin and stamp dealers still have retail locations but many others work primarily online. This is a great business to start part-time and then consider going full-time later on. Or is it just a hobby with the potential for making a lot of money? American President Franklin D Roosevelt would spend many enjoyable hours alone with his stamp collection.
Yes, you can compete with the Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts of the world! However, these chains have raised the bar, so your coffee or tea must be not just good, but awesome! Your ambiance better be good too. Your location needs to be good as well. Plus, you need to be distinctive. One way to stand out is to compliment your world class beverages with some fabulous foods. So yes, you can compete, but youve gotta be firing on all cylinders in this competitive space!
To succeed, make sure to differentiate your products and dont hesitate to set premium prices.
I metWally Amoswho made a blockbuster success out of famous Amos cookies, which he launched after a career as a Hollywood talent agent. Wally eventually lost control of his company to outside investors. However, he came back again with still another cookie line. Everyone loves a fancy cookie and its an easy food to both differentiate and to charge a premium for.
A few years ago, I overheard a conversation in a gym about a fellow who was planning on starting an Irish pub, of which there are close to million (well almost a million) in Boston, but then changed his mind and opened a pub focusing on craft beers. It was wildly successful! In addition to being a unique idea at the time, he also chose an excellent location and developed a solid food menu. Unless your overhead is extremely low, you are probably going to need to serve food to make a go of this business, so yes you can be extremely successfulbut it is no small undertaking.
You could run this as a seasonal camp during the summer. But I find its tougher to make lots of money at seasonal businesses, so instead I would first consider offering a creative arts day camp after school or on weekends. I suggest doing surveys to find out what age groups of kids and what specific art activities have the most appeal.
Theres something magical about a cupcake that says fun and silliness and makes you feel good! You can cash in on that feeling and make others happy. But if you are specializing in cupcakes, people expect them to be excellent! And if you want to be remembered, they should be world class awesome!
Gardening is big and growing. And it is a business that is less likely to move totally online than many other businesses. You could start out with a supply center, expanding over time to add some plants to sell, and then, eventually vertically integrate with your own plant nursery. You could also expand into providing onsite services.
Wouldnt it be fun to make a gift-basket overflowing with a bunch of carefully selected and really attractive items? Of course, it would! You could have a lot of satisfaction putting together distinctive gift baskets that will delight your customers and bring in sales!
Finding clients shouldnt be too difficult as golf is a very popular sport.
Yes, I had a couple golf lessonsbut youd never know it to watch me play! I dont think I had the right personality for this sportrelaxing and being patient isnt my thing! But if you have some talent at this challenging game, you can charge some good money and bring your gift to others. Golf is an excellent lifetime sport and people are willing to pay to try to master it!
Related:Business Profile: Miniature Golf Course
One of my friends developed a great retail business with several small gift locations inside of shopping malls. She taught herself to make mouth-watering candy by practicing up in her kitchen. Most of her candy she made herself, but she did compliment her offerings with a few products she bought wholesale.
Im not going up in one of these balloonsbut I know plenty of people who have, and have had a fabulous experience! This is a good vacation area business, but it could also be a good gift for special occasions. Nail down all of the licensing and safety requirements, and this could be fun business that quickly builds by word-of-mouth.
Yes, you can make a lot of money with a simple ice cream shop! Perfect your ice cream before you start, find a good busy location without a crazy rent and consider starting with a smaller footprint to minimize your overhead. Ill have an ice cream sundae pleasewith everything on it!
What a great excuse to travel and get paid for it! Yes, there are some really cool craft items you can find around the world for really low prices. It could take a little bit of patience to get going, and specialization helps. But this is a very doable business. One of my friends built up a successful import/export business while still in college.
So, you start out with some stunning jewelry designs but how do you turn it into a business? One of my friends sisters turned her jewelry hobby into a full-time job by selling her products to a few local jewelry stores. Another woman I know built her business into a much larger enterpriseall built around a strong unifying theme. Thats the key here, success will come a lot easier if you build a distinctive overall brand, and ideally have closely matched collections within the brand.
Related:How I Started A Successful Jewelry Business
The closest I came to knitting was repairing rips in the sails on my boat, but there a are a lot of people who want to knit and crochetand you can show them how! You could start with a class at your house or perhaps at a local knitting store. Maybe offer an entry level course at the local adult ed program to get going.
There are lots of graphic designers out there but not so many people specializing in logos. Yet in the age of the Internet, a good-looking logo is more important than ever! Most businesses dont give enough thought to their logo and end up with a weak result. You can help them create a great logoone that can help define their business and bring them customers!
Related:The Public and the Power of Logos: Is Crowdsourcing the New Trend?
Everyone wants to feel special now and then. If you can create the right setting, you could make your customers feel great and be happy to pay top dollar for a sophisticated beverage! Get everything just sothe name, the furniture, the wall coverings, servers attire, the lighting, and the background music. If you get all the details right, this could be a really fun and highly profitable endeavor.
Wouldnt it be cool to have your own miniature golf course! Now thats the type of golf I think I could handle! Having a well-designed course is nice but what really matters here is the location. You need to be on a highly visible road, a vacation area is a plus, and ideally your competition is a good distance away.
You should have some decent equipment that makes your audience happy but that could mean different levels of investment for different audiences. Are you going to be playing for large event venues or for junior high school birthday parties? I know a fellow who started a successful mobile DJ business even before he was old enough to have a drivers license. He would either have a friend give him and his equipment a ride to his gigs, or he would get a taxi.
Put together parties for your friends and get paid for it! Sign me up! For starters, you should have a strong following on social media. Then if you have a knack for promoting, see if a nightclub will pay you to help boost their attendance.
Being social and having a following really helps for this business idea.
Ive seen promoters begin in this business by first promoting regular nights at established night clubs, then by working a deal with a club to have their own exclusive night, then eventually launching their own club venue.
Choose an adventure really carefully. One that people will easily pay good money for. Focus group it. At least informally ask lots of people for their feedback on a suggested adventure before you put any money into marketing it. Then when you do offer your first trip, make it incredible! Research it carefully and surpass peoples expectations. On your first few trips it is more important to build a great experience and a great reputation, then to make a lot of money right out of the gate.
You can start as a personal trainer at a local gym. Then try going out on your own. Being known for a particular expertise can help. Then someday you can open your own gym. Maybe even franchise it and go global!
There is something special about the first edition of a rare book and people will spend big money to find the exact book they want. And then there is the shop itself, a rare book shop is such as wonderful antidote to our way-too-busy Internet world. Yes, you can make money with rare books but this is a profession that I suggest you ease your way into gradually, getting very comfortable with market demand and pricing, before investing in inventory.
Getting started in the sport fishing charter business may not be as expensive and difficult as you think. Unless you are going into particularly rough waters you dont need to start with a large cabin boat. Furthermore, you can finance much of your purchase. And if your fishing skills are a little weak, hire a boat hand with some strong local fishing knowledge. In the right location, you can charge some serious money in this business.
Parents and grandparents are only willing to buy their kids so many computer games! What they would really prefer to be buying are beautifully hand crafted vintage toys that the kids can use their own imaginations to play with! Hand crafting takes time, so carefully figure out what interesting toys you can bring to market at a reasonable price.
I love wine bars! There is even a successful wine bar in the small village on Cape Cod where my summer house is. How did it become successful? The owners found a location near the center of the village but at a low rent. They started with a very limited food menu but eventually expanded it to become a full-service restaurant. They also offer live music on most nights. Beware that many customers expect truly exceptional wines at a wine bar.
If you start a wine bar, you better have quality products.
You dont need to offer a full food menu, but you should have an excellent cheese plate and a few other excellent-quality, wine-matching foods.
My father spent year after year remodeling our basementand Im glad he did because thats where I located my model railroad! However, a lot of homeowners arent willing to invest the huge amount of time it takes a novice to remodel their basementthats where you come in! Remodel your own basement, put together a website with the before and after photos, and hang out your shingle!
I published a book by Don Dwyer who was the king of the carpet cleanershaving made many millions building a gigantic carpet cleaning business franchise system. This business isnt glamorous, I remember Don talking about the best ways to get dog urine stains out of carpet, but the demand and the money-making opportunity is huge!
Promote the fact that people will get to go home with a finished project!
A neat bonus of attending a craft class is that not only do you learn how to do something new, but also that you get to go home with something tangibleyour finished craft project! People are often willing to take a craft class if you can market it in an appealing way. And focusing on what the finished project will look like is one way to get people excited about signing up!
One of my friends mothers who had performed as a Radio City Rockette, founded a highly successful dance studio for young girls. She was successful enough to rent large commercial space, but this is a business you may want to start in your home.
The market for daycare is gigantic! Of course, you can start in your home or in the workplace. Corporations may consider providing you with free space if you provide day care for their employees kids. Safety and licensing are essential for this business. You can quickly build a steady income and a valuable business.
While you may first think of wedding planners or reunion organizers, there are many, many types of event planners out there. Some may specialize in parties for young kids, others in large corporate events. Think carefully of a specialty that you could do well in and meet participants in that field, before you open shop.
Years ago, my grandmother freelanced articles for national magazines typically about life on Olde Cape Cod. Today there are still some freelance writing opportunities at traditional publications, but the big opportunity is online in content marketing. Business and consumer-oriented websites alike are rushing to post more and more content related to their business space, to try to attract traffic from search engines and to position themselves in the minds of potential customers. Some businesses will require that you have expertise in their industry to write for them, but others will consider buying articles from you, as long as they are well researched and well written.
Related:How to Ensure Your Freelance Writing Company Has Enough Cashflow
For most people, successful investing will involve selecting mutual funds or ETFs, not individual stocks or bonds. That means to become a financial planner you dont need to be a Wall Street wizard. You will need to understand the basics of investing (such as the importance of being diversified and understanding and respecting your clients risk profile!) but this is very learnable. Study hard for this profession and you can do a tremendous service for people by helping them protect and growth their hard-earned money.
Related:How to Create a Pro Forma Income Statement
Gardening is really big. Many people like to do their own gardening but they can use a little bit of help! Thats where you come in! Maybe you specialize in flower gardens or vegetable gardens, or even something more exotic. You will need solid expertise, but you will find a clientele willing to pay for it.
One of the challenges of running a home bakery will be finding customers. That basically means going out and selling your products to stores, restaurants, cafeterias, caterers or anyone else. You want to find customers that you can service on an on-going basis and that you wont have to travel too far to reach. You may want to canvas potential resellers even before you decide what products you plan to be baking.
This is a good solid business. Everyone needs their house inspected before they buy it. Network with real estate agents. Become known for being a meticulous home inspector. Leave you clients with a thorough, detailed report.
There is a big difference between mowing a lawn and performing a full landscaping service. At the highest end are landscape designers, who design elaborate and unique landscape changes for your property.
Focus on high-end projects to make this business even more profitable.
Sometimes these are full-service firms that not only do the design but also perform the work. The closer your expertise and confidence allow you to get towards high-end landscape design, the higher an income you will be able to command.
This is one of the most popular small businesses because everyone wants a house cleaner. The work is repetitive. But if you can show up on time and do a good job consistently (I find many the work of many cleaners deteriorates after the first few weeks), you will build a healthy clientele. And if you can charge enough so that you can delegate, you can grow this into a large business.
Related:Home Business Idea: Apartment Preparation Service
This seems like a fun and easy business and it can be very rewarding. However, it is very competitive and can be hard to break into. Interior design is also increasingly sophisticated, with software design simulation and specialized educational backgrounds becoming more common.
With the wide array of digital marketing options to consider, not to mention traditional options, local businesses increasingly need outside help to develop and execute the best marketing strategy. To get going in this field you will need to be familiar with the most popular online and offline marketing venues, and be comfortable selling your services to local business people.
Even in this digital age, there remains a huge market for independent sales reps who sell the products for a number of different companies to other businesses. You will typically work on a commission basis which means income will start slowly, but established manufacturers reps can make a lot of money over the years.
Refusing to accept that I had no musical talent, my parents took me to many music teachers over the years, from a home based piano teacher to school based trumpet teachers. If you are patient with young students or talented enough to work with more experienced musicians, this could be a very satisfying way to make some good money.
If you love animals, pet sitting is the perfect business idea for you.
What could be easier? You sit in the chair and watch the dog chase its tail! OK so theres a little more work to it than that, but still this is not the toughest job in the worldespecially if you like animals! I am surprised to hear how much money people will pay for pet sitters if they believe their pets are being really well cared for.
Related:How to Start a Successful Pet-Boarding Business
You can make a room in your house into a photography studio, but youve got to get out to promote your services or do some clever marketing. Doing photography for groups (typically at their location) is one way to get going. Another is to develop a specialty (such as childrens portraits).
There is a huge market and a big opportunity selling promotional material. Your best market will be mid to larger sized businesses, who are willing to spend some money to both promote their business to their customers or to use promotional items as incentives and rewards for their employees. Basically, you are reselling the product lines for other companies. I would suggest you have a good diversity of lines to increase your chances of getting your foot in the door, to increase your chances of holding your prospects attention and to increase your income. T-shirts, pens, hats, jackets: there are all kinds of promotional items you can sell.
Do you have an extra room in your house or condo? You could rent it out by the day like the Airbnb model, or you could rent it by the week, or you could rent it by the month. Then maybe you could use the income to help subsidize your expenses as you start another business!
While there are all kinds of training that corporations will pay for, I am focusing on sales training because the demand is so widespread. It is an absolutely critical function, even for small businesses. If you dont have great contacts at larger companies I would suggest you target smaller firms, such as those with sales forces of 6 to 20 people. Small enough so that everyone isnt trying to sell them training, but large enough that they are likely to be willing to pay for it.
Whats your favorite color and scent of soap? Wouldnt it be fun to play around with variations to be make it even better? And then you could take your finished product and go show it off to potential customers!
One-on-one sports coaching is the obvious play here. But you could set up sports clinics or sports camps. You could build up a business based on your expertise in a particular sport or you could offer more general fitness training for athletes of many sports. Often sports coaches get started with a part time job coaching a school sports team, which then leads to private coaching work.
Being a virtual assistant not only gives you the flexibility of working from home, but often you get to set your own hours. Virtual assistant work is frequently part time, so it could be a way to get some income coming in while you develop a plan for another business.
One of my friends mothers offered art lessons in her home after school. She had a steady clientele and they made some really cool art! You may already have an art specialty that you want to teach to others. Or you may find that you are better off learning the basics of a new art skill and teaching that, or offering a survey course covering a number of art skillsmost of the market will likely be beginners anyway.
Most bicycle repair isnt that hardI taught myself some when at the age of 19 I opened my first business, Bobs Rent-A-Bike.
Learn the basics of how to repair the gearsthe most difficult part of repairing bikesthen youre ready to start. You can begin this business slowly, part time, out of your house.
Related:Sample Business Plan: Bobs Rent-A-Bike
To succeed at car resale, you need to find a great source of used cars at a good price. Sources to buy cars include: car dealer auctions, bankruptcy auctions, new car dealers selling older cars they dont want on their lot, government car auctions, and rental car agencies. You can also watch for bargain priced cars being advertised by individuals, but you need to snap up the best deals before someone else does. Focus on just a couple cars at a time, so that you can try to keep your overhead low by operating out of your house, and keep your profits up by choosing your cars carefully.
Today people dont just change jobs, they change careers. And many people changing careers want to get help from someone who can help them find their dream jobthat could be you. You could get up to speed in this field by reading a number of books, and by finding some standardized tests to help analyze your clients skills and desires. I once published a book that just listed and described career counseling services in the Boston area.
Related:Home Business Idea: College Internship Placement
Cooking classes have become much more than just a way to instruct people in cooking. They have become more of a social event where for example, couples enjoy a cooking class together, get to meet some other people, enjoy sampling the food they cook, perhaps try some fine wine, and have a great experience. So carefully define whether you are selling the expertise, the experience, or both, and build your business model accordingly.
I would only recommend trading a collectible that you really love! If you are dealing with your favorite collectible, the work will be more enjoyable, it will be easier to increase your expertise, and you will be much more likely to be successful. The online options today allow you to specialize much more deeply than in the past because you can reach a global market. So, within your favorite collectible space, find a particular niche or two and focus sharply on it.
A lot of people make some really neat crafts. But to be able to make money at it, you also need to be able to price your products reasonablyand allow yourself enough money to bring your product to market. That being said, there are more markets than ever for your products! In addition to local retailers and craft fairs, you can sell them online, on your own website, or through third party sites like Etsy or EBay.
I like anything that is custom because it allows you to distinguish yourself with great customer service, and provides some upside for pricing. Offering this kind of service online means you can set your own hours and start the business part time.
It seems that just about every business Ive been involved in hires home-based editors, who work on a freelance basis and set their own hours. Generally, this work falls into three categories: 1) Developmental editing or making highly substantive changes; 2) Copy editing or wording and grammar improvements; 3) Proof reading. Many editors specialize in one aspect of editing, others cover them all. You may further specialize such as in technical document editing.
I cringe at the thought of wasting any time running errands. It is no wonder that many people love to hire others to run their errands, in addition to those people who may be home-bound for health reasons. Errands often take longer than you think, so you may be better off charging on an hourly basis.
While you can find terrific resources online about family history, it takes someone to patiently piece it all togetherthats where you come in as the family history writer. Do your research carefully, put it together in a snappy