Let’s be honest here, we all admire the successful entrepreneurs that have built these massive businesses and live amazing lives. From popular shows like Shark Tank to movies like The Social Network, we have enjoyed watching average, everyday people, turn their lives from ordinary to extraordinary. It inspires us, and we all wish that we could build our own company, work for ourselves, and live better lives than we do now. So for all of you out there that want to become business owners, but aren’t sure where to start, I’ve made a list of 52 of the best business ventures to help you brainstorm which one would work best for you.
(Disclaimer- I am financially compensated for affiliate links on this page)
Food/Drink Related Businesses
Food related businesses are evergreen. There will always be restaurants because we will always need to eat. There are many different businesses that revolve around the things that we eat and drink, so here are some of the best ones to open.
Everybody has their favorite restaurant, whether it’s a national food chain or a local mom and pop shop. Have you ever wondered how much money a restaurant can bring in? Small, local restaurants can bring in six figures a year, while larger fast food chains can push millions of dollars in a single year. For anyone with a love of food, a restaurant can be an amazing source of income, and a chance to pursue your passion of cooking. The best part is there are endless possibilities when it comes to the type of food to serve, so you can literally go in any direction with it!
If there is one thing that I have noticed is becoming super popular (at least in Wisconsin), it is the nutritional shake/smoothie shops. They offer meal replacement shakes and low calorie teas that help you on your weight loss journey. You do not need a lot of space to open one, making it a fairly cost-effective business to start. Another great aspect about these types of businesses are that you get regular/repeat customers, who come almost every day of the week. They help you maintain a regular income each week, and are usually a great source of word of mouth advertising.
It is no secret that Americans love coffee. The average American spends hundreds of dollars a year on coffee, and there is no sign of that declining any time soon. Many of us need our coffee to wake us up and give us the energy that we need for the day. Although companies like Starbucks hold a large share of the coffee market, many people want a more local, homegrown business to get their coffee from, and just like the shake/smoothie shops, you will get a lot of repeat customers. Not to mention, if you live in a small town like me (3,500 people), there are no Starbucks, so you have a better chance of grabbing up your towns market share!
This is one of my personal favorites, because I have always dreamed of opening my own food truck. Opening a food truck is a lot like opening a restaurant, but with some key differences. Unlike a restaurant, you tend to have lower overhead costs, you need fewer employees, and you can take the restaurant to the customers. The food truck industry has been growing for years, and they are popular in large cities, at festivals, and at concerts. Food trucks tend to have a lower start-up cost than restaurants, and you can charge more since you are charging for convenience. If you don’t have the money for a full blown food truck, you can also look into a towable enclosed trailer, or a food cart. These are cheaper alternatives that can help you get started until you can grow to a full blow food truck.
Donuts, cakes, cookies, homemade bread, you name it. Nothing tastes better than fresh baked goodies, and we all have a sweet tooth. My personal favorite is stopping at the local bakery and grabbing some fresh donuts in the morning before work. If you have a passion for baking, you can make a ton of money off of making personal cakes for birthdays, boxes of donuts for school fundraisers, and all kinds of other different events.
Ice Cream Shop
My wife once said, “Every town needs an ice cream shop”, and she is not wrong. Who doesn’t like ice cream? Although this can end up being more of a seasonal business in certain areas, an ice cream shop can be a very profitable business. It doesn’t take a whole lot of workers to run it, and people are going to come on a fairly often basis. My baseball team growing up used to go after every single game, and we weren’t the only teams that went. There were days where seven or eight full teams would show up at the same time. So I’ll say it one more time, every town needs an ice cream shop, if yours doesn’t have one, maybe they are just waiting on you to start one!
If there is one thing that I’ve learned since moving to Wisconsin, it is that people here LOVE to drink. Our town has just as many bars as it does restaurants, and many of them do thousands of dollars in sales a day. This is a great business to start if you enjoy talking to people, because trust me, you are going to do a lot of talking. If you decide to bartend at your own bar instead of strictly hiring workers, you can even make great money in tips, on top of the crazy profit margin on alcoholic beverages.
Maybe you have a love for cooking, but you don’t want the hassle of having to open your store every day and managing a full blown restaurant. You can make a ton of money catering parties and events. Weddings, parties, funerals, fundraisers, I could go on and on. People are willing to pay hundreds to thousands of dollars for catering at their events, so if you think you have what it takes to cook for hundreds of people, maybe you should look into the catering business.
Restaurant Equipment Maintenance/Cleaning
There is a lot of equipment that is required to make sure that restaurants can produce food, and to make sure that they are complying with health-code. I have worked in the restaurant industry since I was 16, and if there is one thing that I can guarantee you, it is that equipment breaks, and equipment gets dirty. If you don’t keep food cold, it begins to grow bacteria, and if you don’t heat it to the right temperature, you can fail to kill off bacteria, so if equipment goes down you have to get it fixed. I asked one of the maintenance men how much he made one morning, and he said that he made $90 an hour. An hour! That is insane! The people that cleaned our hoods to ensure they didn’t catch on fire? They were charging close to $500 for a couple hours of work. So if you are good at repairing things and have a knack for mechanics and motors, this could be a great business for you to get in to.
Online Based Businesses
You could start a blog! There are millions of blogs out there, I mean, you’re reading one right now. Blogs are awesome because they are extremely cheap to start, some even free, and you can run it entirely from home. With a blog, you can write about any niche that you are passionate about. Any topic that you can think of, chances are that you can find a blog about it, and a group of people who share your passion. If you want to give blogging a shot, check out Bluehost, and you can have your blog started in minutes!
Ever heard of the saying, “buy low, sell high”? It isn’t just a stock market term. There a people who make a living buying things for cheap and then selling or auctioning them off on Ebay. I had a friend in high school, whose parents would find phones and other electronics on Ebay auctions, that had misspelled product titles. These didn’t get as many views, and therefore, they sold at an unreasonably low price. They would receive it, post or for the price it should be at, and keep the profits. Collectors of coins, Hot Wheels, and other collectibles can make a full-time income finding underpriced items and flipping them for a profit.
There are people out there who are amazing at crafting and creating, and then there is me. If you are one of the lucky ones with the ability to turn random supplies into awesome decorations or gifts, maybe you should try your hand at selling your wares on Etsy. A lot of people want a nice, handmade gift for someone, but they either don’t want to make it, or they aren’t able to make it themselves. This is where you come in. Turn your crafts into cash by building a business on Etsy!
This was a big business when I went to Ohio University. There were a few different people on campus who made a lot of money promoting parties or concerts to the thousands of followers they had amassed on social media. Simply put, people would pay them to get the word out and to promote their events, and then the host of the event would make money off of alcohol sales or cover charges at the entrance. So if you have a solid social media following or are popular in your town or on campus, you could be making good money promoting for people.
A couple years ago, me and my roommates decided to start a t-short company. It was short lived on account of no one else actually wanting to do any work. However I put a decent amount of time into making designs, and found out that the people who are really good at using the design apps, can make an absurd amount of money producing custom designs and logos for companies and events. I never really got good enough, but if you have experience with Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, etc, than it might be worth your time to see if people would be willing to pay your for your designs. You can charge either by the project or by the hour.
If you have never heard of drop shipping, don’t feel bad. The idea behind drop shipping is running an e-commerce store, without actually handling products. Doesn’t make sense? I didn’t understand it at first either. Basically, you sell a product, and when a customer placed their order, you transfer the sales information over to the manufacturer who handles the shipping of the product. You make money by selling the product at a higher price than you can get it for. It sounds complicated but there are many websites and e-commerce stores that are based around this method.
I put this under the online category because a large percentage of advertising takes place online these days, however there are still plenty of ways to make money doing offline ads as well. To make money as an advertiser, you have to be good at getting people to visit a business or purchase a product. This could involve mastering the art of targeting Facebook ads to the right users, or placing signs in the right places so that they get noticed on a regular basis. Surprisingly, the ads at my workplace that are on the wall above to toilets are surprisingly effective because you see them multiple times a day. Companies spend big money on advertising, so if you think you have what it takes to get a chunk of that change, then I say go for it!
Similar to an advertiser, marketing managers help companies get their business or products in front of a consumer. The difference is that marketing managers work more on the production side of the ads. They are responsible for coming up with ideas for advertisements that people will enjoy, or advertisements that will get people’s attention. Think of your favorite commercial, chances are there was a marketing manager that made a lot of money to come up with that idea and get it out to the public.
Social Media Manager
Business do a lot more to get their name out than just advertise. They spend a lot of their time building out their following on social media. This helps them to consistently get onto your feed and put their ideas in front of you. Did your parents ever tell you that you weren’t going to get paid to sit on Instagram all day? Turns out you actually can get paid, and it can be a huge payment too. If you are social media savvy, companies will pay you to run their social media accounts. You post for them, comment, and engage with their customers/followers, and help them to build a better connection with their base.
Freelance writers make money by writing articles and other contents for clients. For the most part, they get to make their own schedule, pick their jobs, and work from home or wherever they decide to be. Clients who need written content will give freelance writers a description of what they want, and once it is approved the writers receive their pay. Some freelance writers even get jobs ghost writing, which means they write the book or piece of content, and sell the rights over to someone else who markets and profits off of the sales. The best part is that you can set your own pay, and you can accept jobs only if you want to. No boss, more freedom.
Affiliate marketing is a great business for beginners because you don’t have to manage inventories, and you don’t have to spend any money to get started. You promote a product for a company, and when someone makes a purchase through your affiliate link, you get a commission off of the sale. Many of your favorite social media stars and YouTube channels make money through affiliate marketing. All you have to do is sign up/apply to an affiliate program, and then drive traffic through your link back to the business. I know of bloggers who make tens of thousands of dollars a month off of affiliate marketing.
Millions of people watch Youtube videos every day. Which means that companies put ads on YouTube because they know that people will view them. If you think you have what it takes to produce quality content, build a following, and get people to view your videos, then you can make a full-time business out of a YouTube channel. You make money off of allowing companies to put ads before your videos, and many YouTubers use affiliate links to companies or products that they use or support.
If you have a love for photography, why not turn it into a business? People pay good money for a quality photographer to take family photos, wedding pictures, or senior photos. If you don’t want to have to deal with customers, you can upload your photos to sites like Adobe Stock, or Shutterstock, and make a commission anytime someone pays to use one of your pictures. Turn your hobby into a business and make a living doing what you enjoy!
Were you really good at a certain subject in school? Or are you a talented musician? If you have a talent or skill that someone else would want to learn, you can start a business as a tutor. Parents will pay good money for you to help their kids get their grades up, and adults will pay you to help them play that guitar that they have had in their closet for years. Nowadays, there are even sites on line where you can tutor over the computer without ever leaving your house. Get enough clients and you can make a solid living off of teaching others the things that come naturally to you.
Every good party needs good music. If you have a love for music but aren’t necessarily good at playing any instruments, you can DJ for parties and events. Not only do you get to attend some awesome events, but you get paid to be there! High School dances, weddings, fundraisers, and all kinds of events are looking for DJ’s to perform. You handle all of the equipment and the set up, but they pay really well. Some DJ’s are pulling in a couple thousand dollars per event, and in a small town where there are no DJ’s, you could become the go to for every single event. Think about how much money that business could bring in.
Dogs are awesome. You might be more of a car person, but who doesn’t like a cute puppy? A lot of dog owners don’t have the time or the knowledge to properly train their dogs, and many dogs end up without homes because their owners don’t want an untrained dog. If you have a way with animals, and are able to train them, there is definitely a clientele base out there for you. You get paid per session to work and play with dogs. I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a dream job to me!
I know some people don’t believe in the idea of life coaches, and I don’t blame them. There are some bad apples out there that do nothing but spew inspirational crap at you and hope that you pay them ridiculous amounts of money to get their advice. However, there are a ton of good apples out there who really want to help people. We as humans want to constantly evolve for the better. If you lead a successful life, are positive, and think that you can help others on their path to greatness, maybe you should try life coaching. You can make money via one on one coaching, or you can hold seminars with groups of people that all pay you to listen to you speak. Either way you do it, there are life coaches out there making millions by inspiring people to better their lives.
If there were no mechanics in the world, I would have to walk everywhere, and I doubt I’m the only one. I have literally no knowledge about how to fix cars. I put gas in it, air up the tires, and hope to god it runs. So if you are one of those car guys that I always wished I could be, you can turn your skills into a nice payday. Mechanics get to charge their own price for labor, and it tends to be the most expensive part of getting your car repaired. If you like getting your hands greasy then a car repair business is the way to go.
Home inspectors are responsible for letting you know what is wrong with a house, and what is right with a house. This helps prospective home owners know if they are getting a good deal, if they should negotiate the price based on issues, or if they need to buy a different house. If you have experience in the construction industry or as a remodeled, you could start a business doing home inspections. Not only will you make good money, but you can help make sure people don’t buy a house with serious issues.
I love remodeling. I did it for a little over a year, and although it is a hard job sometimes, it is rewarding. There is no better feeling than finishing a job and think back to how it looked before you started. We all want nice houses, and we are willing to pay big bucks for someone to get it the way we want. If you are interested in remodeling houses, or maybe you already do it for another company, maybe you should research what it would take to start your own company. We worked on jobs that cost close to $100,000 by the time we were done, and I promise you the materials didn’t cost anywhere close to that amount. The hard work is rewarded with a large profit once the job is done.
One of the nicest houses that we ever worked on, and or biggest job, was for a man that owned a landscaping company. He did basically the same thing that we did as remodelers, except his work was on the yard, and not the house itself. I can tell you from working on his house, the amazingly beautiful yard that he had designed, made the house look that much better. Landscaping tends to be more of a seasonal job in certain areas, and just like remodeling it is a lot of hard work and physical labor, but the margins between the cost to do it and what people will pay makes it more than worthwhile.
Personal trainers help people get the healthy and strong body that they want. I know a lot of people from high school that are now body builders and are in amazing shape. They have forgotten more about fitness and working out than I will ever know. If you are one of these people, why not get paid to help others achieve their health goals. You can set your own price, and feel accomplished knowing that you helped someone better themselves. Personal trainers make money based on how many clients they have, so the more clients you get the more money you will earn.
As with cars, I have no idea how a computer really works. I have a pretty good understanding of how to do things on a computer, but I couldn’t tell you what to do if it stops working. Tech repair companies make a ton of money each year for one reason, most people can’t fix their own electronics. Use your technology based expertise to start your own business. When I broke my iPhone screen, it cost over $100 to get it replaced, and it took them a little less than an hour, so there is definitely money to be made.
Clothing boutiques are especially popular in smaller town, without large outlet malls or very many places to shop for clothes. The one in my town is ran out of the woman’s house, but she is often set up for sales at other various businesses on Main Street. She provides an opportunity for women in town to get clothes that they like without having to travel 25 minutes, so she stays fairly successful. If you have ever been interested in selling your own clothes then a boutique can be a great way to get started.
Have you ever thought about the mark-up that you are paying for a t-shirt? When me and my roommates sold t-shirts, you could pick up quality tees for a couple bucks, and the vinyl for the design was less than a dollar in most cases. Yet we were still selling shirts for $20-$30. That’s a huge profit margin! The awesome thing about making your own t-shirts is that you don’t need a huge area (we did it out of a spare bedroom), it is fairly cheap to get started (under $1000), and the design possibilities are endless. We made a decent amount of money selling our own designs, but most of our business was from custom orders. $10 a shirt for 100 people essentially pays for your startup costs, and there are always groups or teams needing t-shirts.
Whether you have them on your car or not, there is no denying that car decals are popular. If you start a t-shirt business, and you use vinyl to do your shirt designs, you might as well make car decals as well. Our company did both. Basically, you buy a vinyl cutter, draw up the designs on your computer, and the vinyl cutter precisely cuts it out so that you can either apply it to a t-shirt with a heat press, or you apply it to a car window. We came up with our own decals designs, but I also put a couple hundred dollars into pre-made sports decal templates. These could be personalized for any sport, name, number, or school, and you know parents love to put those on their cars to rep their kids. The very best part about decals is that they cost us sometimes less than 50 cents, and people are willing to pay up to $15 for a custom decal.
This is a great business to start for a few reasons. First, there are plenty of cost effective ways to get into this business, depending on how much you plan on spending. Second, you get to set up your own schedule, which for a lot of vendors is only one or two days a month, while still making a steady income. Finally, it is a relatively passive business, meaning it makes money even when you aren’t working. You buy the machines, fill them, place them, and then check on them every so often to refill them and empty out the money. This could be a great side business for you, or you could grown to make a couple thousand dollars a day. There is no limit to how large you can grow a vending business.
A laundromat is similar to a vending company, as they are both usually coin-operated and they are both passive types of businesses. Not everybody can afford to buy a washer and dryer. They are expensive. Laundromats serve the purpose of allowing people who can’t afford to do laundry at their house, a place to wash and dry their clothes. You are probably not going to make a million dollars with a laundromat, however six figures is not unheard of. Not to mention you can work one or two days a week, for a couple hours, and still pull in full-time income.
There are a couple of different routes you can go with this. You could either buy a full blown car wash ($100,000+), or you could do a mobile detailing business ($500-$5,000). Both can be very successful. People want their cars to look nice, inside and out. And they are willing to pay for someone else to do it. Some people care more than others though. My wife used to get her car washed once a week, while my former boss went every single day. Either way, the car wash up the street was making insane money. The people who wash their car often are very likely to be interested in your detailing service as well.
This is one of the more expensive businesses to start, however, memberships ensure that you are getting a steady income each month. There is a whole population of people out there that are healthy, fit, and active, and they need a place to go to exercise. They can pay anywhere from $10 to upwards of $100, for a gym that they like. Finding a building and getting all of the equipment can get expensive, but a good gym with a decent amount of patrons will make it’s money back in no time.
Pawn Shop/Second Hand Store
Pawn shops are a great way for people to trade in their old stuff for cash, or a short term loan. However, shoppers love them because of the deals that they can get on items. Me and my wife have bought our TVs, gaming systems, and all kinds of other things from the local pawn shop, simply because they are half the price and the same quality as a normal store. Pawn shops don’t need a huge store, can be ran by a few people, and have the possibility of making a ton of money off of reselling items and making interest off of loans.
I hate cleaning my house. It takes up a couple hours of my day, and with a 2-year old, it always ends up dirty again. So I would more than willing to hire someone to do it for me. Carpet cleaners can make upwards of $100 a room depending on how big the room is, and they usually get repeat customers if they do a good job. It is fairly easy to learn how to do, and you don’t even have to buy the equipment. It would be better in the long run if you bought your own equipment, but you could also rent out the equipment for the day and then pay it off with the money you make from your jobs. Then you keep the profit! This could be a good way to get started until you can afford the pricier start up equipment.
Flea Market Seller
I tried my hand at this for a little while, and I ended up doing more learning than actually making money. I didn’t have the right set up, and therefore the sales didn’t come. However the booths that did have it figured out, were clearing a couple thousand dollars, every single weekend. The key to a successful flea market booth is to specialize in something, knives, comic books, die cast cars, etc. This keeps a steady flow of customers coming to your booth every week, and you get to meet people who share your passions.
This is another one of those flexible businesses, where you can either have a full blown daycare, or you can start small, babysitting at your house or the clients house. This business is not for everyone. You have to have a love of kids and be prepared for anything. My wife works at a daycare, but I could never do it. So if you have experience babysitting or working at a daycare then this might be a good fit for you.
Planning a wedding is a lot of work. Some people prefer to be hands-on and do everything themselves, and others just want to designate tasks and then have somebody else do it. If you have a good eye for wedding design, or are great at organizing large events, you could start a whole business around wedding planning. Not to mention there is never a shortage of weddings going on that need planned.
Not only do weddings need planned, they need to have a place to happen at. If you have some extra land or a beautiful property, you can rent it out for weddings. People pay MASSIVE amounts of money for a beautiful wedding venue, and many times they handle the catering and particulars themselves, taking all of the work off of your hands. However, if you would like an extra way to make money, you can add perks such as set up and cleanup, food, and drinks to your venue options. When there are no weddings going on, you can even rent the venue out to corporate gatherings, graduations, and birthday parties.
We love our pets, and sometimes we don’t have enough time to do the things that we want to do with them. Dogs are healthier and happy when they get frequent walks, and we feel bad when we can’t take them out, so there are whole businesses that are based around doing just that, dog walking. Imagine, getting paid to walk cute dogs and getting your steps and exercise in along the way.
Not afraid of manual labor? Maybe a moving company is for you. This is a little more expensive business to start up, but you can bring in thousands of dollars a week. Nobody likes moving. When we moved from Ohio to Wisconsin this year, I told my wife that if we ever moved again we’re buying all new stuff because I wasn’t moving all of our belongs ever again. Local moving companies can operate with one or two trucks, some dollies, and a couple workers, making it fairly easy to maintain, and with houses always on the market there will be a pretty steady flow of people needing movers.
Nothing is worse than trying to see the sights but having absolutely no idea where you are going. If you live in a tourist destination or a big city, there are bound to be people that are interested in booking a tour. You can go so many directions with this. Walking tours, boat tours, bus tours, and bike tours are all great in their own way, and with the right advertising and a real feel for the city, you can bring in some big bucks.
Used Car Lot
I think it is safe to say that cars are essential parts of our day to day lives, yet a lot of us either can’t afford a new car, or don’t have the credit to get approved for one. This is where a used car lot comes in. You make it possible for people to afford a better car, and if you are good at fixing cars, you can make a decent income fixing and flipping them to your customers.
People collect everything from baseball cards and Beanie Babies, to magnets and Coke cans. You don’t even necessarily have to be a collector of theses things (although it can help), as long as you can learn about what makes each of these things valuable. You can search online, at flea markets, or even at garage and yard sales, and if you know what you’re looking for you will be to flip them for profit to collectors.
Real Estate Investor
Buying up real estate and renting it out can be a difficult, yet rewarding, business. If you have money, but aren’t sure what to do with it, renting out real estate can be a huge money maker. Simply put, you buy up houses, duplexes, or apartments, and rent them out, keeping the profit to pay off any mortgage payments or expenses. This is not for the light-hearted and you should do your research before getting into it.
Maybe you don’t have the money to purchase real estate. You can start a property management company, where you handle the contact between the landlord and the renters, and coordinate repairs on the property. This is a great business because you get paid monthly to make sure that everything is going smoothly, not to mention you get a real feel of how investing in real estate really works.
Thanks for Reading!
I hope that I have helped you get your brainstorming going, and that you have found some businesses on this list that interest you. I believe that everybody has an entrepreneurial bone in their body, you just have to dig deep and find the right business for you. However, you should make sure to do your research and talk to a professional in that field before deciding to risk your money by starting a business.
If you like this post you can help me out by leaving a like, comment, or by following the blog so that you can stay updated any time I make a new post. Thanks for reading, and good luck in all of your future endeavors!