Ready to take a chance this year? Maybe try something a little bit different?
If your answer is yes, then it’s time to start that business you’ve always dreamed about. You don’t have to start big, or risk your life savings. You can start each of these businesses with a minimal investment, and many as a side hustle on the weekend.
So, if you’re ready to have a little more fun (and income) this year, get inspired by one of these cool business ideas.
1. Offline education.
Online teaching is a booming business—$107 billion to be exact! That figure includes online universities, corporate training, webinars, and selling courses on platforms like Udemy and Ruzuku.
There are also a ton of courses on how to create (and profit from) online courses! But the growth of online learning hasn’t stopped the need for offline, local independent teachers.
If you have a talent and developed skill, why not teach it to an offline audience? Adult education, after-school programs, day-cares, community centers, and even churches need interesting and valuable courses for their members.
Here are a few examples: horseback riding, swimming, karate, dance, gymnastics, music, computers skills & technology, golf, tennis, archery, business planning, accounting, home repair, cooking, meal planning, personal finance and so on.
2. Sell your hobby.
Combine your hobby with a business and you’ve got a recipe for success. Businesses like, How to Cook That, are part helpful blog and part online shop. Owner Ann Reardon shares helpful tips and tricks to make amazing desserts, but also sells interesting and fun how-to’s and templates.
Using a simple widget from the e-commerce platform Selz, Ann can sell any recipe, guide or template from anywhere on her website. This can be a great niche business for anyone who wants to start an online business selling plans, guides, patterns or tutorials. You don’t even need your own website, as you can sell your digital download from your own Facebook account or Selz store.
3. Lunch carts, food trucks and kiosks.
Starting a restaurant is one of the riskiest and capital-intensive businesses out there. There is a ton of overhead, even for the smallest diner.
On the other hand, starting a lunch truck, food cart or a kiosk has minimal startup costs. You still have to follow local regulations, but the investment is much smaller than a full-fledged restaurant.
One of the best things about food trucks is the insanely wide variety of possibilities. From a marshmallow cart to cannolis, the portable food business is here to stay. Checkout Portland Maine’s Mami Food Truck, which specializes in Japanese street food.
4. Vending machine business.
Who would have thought the vending machine industry is worth approximately $8 billion? While the location of the vending machine is the key to success, there are many different kinds of vending machines to consider, including drink, food, toys, gumballs, stickers, games, and even personal grooming machines.
There are also variations of traditional vending machines, like those that only offer healthy vending choices and others that offer credit card payment options.
If you’ve got an entrepreneurial bug and want to try something a little different, Healthy Vending offers a smart guide on how to start a vending machine business.
5. Reiki therapist.
Reiki therapists are at the intersection of new age and creative wellness businesses. Reiki is a Japanese technique for stress reduction and relaxation that also promotes healing. It’s not for everyone, but it can be a fun, interesting and rewarding business.
You have to learn the practice and check the regulations in your area, but for those with a drive to help people, Reiki can be smart and rewarding business.
6. Herbal farm stand.
Shop local. It’s a mantra heard in every small community; and many offer farm stands year-round. There are many different niches to choose from including honey, jams, grass-fed meat, organic produce and fresh herbs.
Beyond using herbs for cooking, consumers are now using herbs for medicinal purposes, candles and aromatherapy essences, baths and teas. If you have a green thumb and enough of a backyard for farming, consider starting a herb farm.
It has a low startup cost and can be operated part-time. One enterprising farmer started his business using lavender that grew along his road, and sold lavender sachets. That’s about as low-cost as you can get!
The term freelancer is actually an umbrella term for hundreds of different businesses. It’s anyone who is outsourced to do a job, and the benefit is the employer doesn’t have to pay benefits like insurance or 401k’s.
If you have in-demand skills that can be outsourced, consider starting a freelance business. One of the best things about being a freelancer, is that you can offer your services at competitive prices.
There is always a demand for business services such as: IT, human resources, accounting, PR, customer service, marketing and sales; Writing services: resumes, cover letters, ghostwriting, articles, editing and blog posts; and Miscellaneous services: wedding/event planner, graphic artist, photographer, and interior design.
8. Aquarium maintenance.
This business idea sounds crazy (i know) on the surface. But it’s actually a growing industry, and does great in the right market. You can cater to either homes or businesses, and you are responsible for all aspects of maintaining a healthy aquarium.
Research the licensing regulations in your area. It’s a unique business idea for anyone with a passion for fish and aquatic life.
9. Bicycle maintenance and repair.
It’s easy to assume that bike riding is for the young. But biking is actually skyrocketing, especially in city centers and local towns! Thanks to baby boomers, seniors now account for 22 percent of adult bikers. And where bikes are, bicycle repair isn’t that far behind.
Plus, it’s the type of business that anyone can start in a home garage. For example, the Green Machine Bike Shop in Norway, Maine offers bike repair, but also created group rides in their area to promote their love of biking.
10. Ethical dog breeder.
The term “puppy mill” brings up horrific images of abused dogs. However, with so-called designer dogs fetching thousands per puppy, there is a growing need for ethical dog breeders.
Ethical breeders keep and care for each dog as a pet, not as livestock. They view their dogs as family members, not just a means to an end. Of course this means less profits than traditional puppy mills, so most ethical breeders only keep a few dogs for breeding purposes. The pet business is part money maker and part adorable fun.
This article has been edited and condensed.
Liesha Petrovich is the creator of Micro Business Essentials, a blog dedicated to helping women balance their business and their crazy life. In her free time, she’s working on a Doctorate in Entrepreneurship. Grab a copy of her new book Killing Rapunzel: Learning how to save yourself through determination, grit, and self-employment. Connect with @lieshapetrovich on Twitter.
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