Dog Walking Service
All you need is one dog to walk and you’ve broken into this business. And at the same time, I have seen people build this into a big business, including to the point where they have to hire additional dog walkers. Dogs need to be walked regularly—just ask them! Woof! Woof! Yes! So, you’re guaranteed a steady income and a good business model!
You just have to be good enough at one subject at a basic level to be qualified as a tutor. If you can add 2 plus 2 and get 4 most of the time, then you could tutor first-grade math!
This is one of the most popular small businesses in the world! And no wonder! Everyone needs to have it done and many people don’t like to do it! It is also a business that can be challenging to get your employees to consistently do a fantastic job. That’s why this business is particularly well-suited for both solo entrepreneurs and an entrepreneur who runs one single crew of cleaners.
I suppose I can say I did this business once too! Or more specifically my father paid me to deliver promotional flyers for his candidacy for town meeting member. The flyers worked and he won! The cool thing about leaflets is you can truly pinpoint marketing for your clients not just in a particular town, but to houses in a particular neighborhood, or on cars in a particular parking lot!
Mobile Auto Washing
It’s expensive to build a car wash service. But it’s not so expensive to buy a bucket, some soap, some old rags and then ride your bicycle to your client’s home or office to wash their car!
Put up some flyers at apartment complexes and wait for the phone to ring. Get an advance deposit and then go rent the van, truck or trailer that you will need to get the job done.
Some people have no time. They may have a job that requires lots of travel or an executive position that has them working around the clock. But you can make their life easier offering personal concierge services!
People love to be organized but often they never find the time to make it happen. And a lot of people just aren’t very good at it either. You can help people organize their house. And in the process, you can make them feel more organized about their life! What a great service!
If you want to make a good income producing t-shirts then create custom shirts on demand, using your customer’s designs, or perhaps different designs that you have on hand.
On the other hand, if you want to market your own t-shirts you might have more upside potential but the downside is greater too! The brothers who started “Life is Good” t-shirt business for example, lived out of their van for several years until their business finally gained momentum.
This is a business you could start in a couple hours with literally zero investment. In the public library on the resort island of Nantucket, I watched a man create a flyer for his walking tour business on a free public access computer. Then he went outside and posted the newly created flyer on the public bulletin board. A few hours later he greeted his customers as they gathered on the advertised street corner, collected their money, and then took them on the walking tour. Not sure how to set up your walking tour? Get a history or even a self-walking tour guide at the public library.
Window Washing Service
Washing windows for retail stores is about as simple as it gets. Just get your cleaning supplies and knock on the doors of retail stores, asking if they want their windows cleaned. If you get some takers you could arrange to make it into a regular service.
Good fun! Meet interesting people! And stay in shape! You can set up a room in your house for yoga classes, sublet a studio for a few hours, or lease or buy your own studio.
Other Good Business Ideas
3D Printing Business
You could dream up your own product to make with your 3D printer. But instead I would tend to create products for other people, and not even finished products, but prototypes. I would develop a specialty within prototypes, such as for a particular industry.
All-Day Breakfast Restaurant
I’ve said repeatedly that I don’t like the restaurant business, I think it’s too risky. But the all-day breakfast restaurant is a niche that I do find appealing.
Part of the reason is that I often want a great breakfast later in the day and yet I frequently can’t find a convenient place to go. Also, breakfast foods cost little money, allowing for higher markups. And breakfasts are easier to prepare than gourmet dinners. Also, this kind of restaurant would potentially be busy for many hours during the day.
You could find some space on a busy street, perhaps in a resort area, and equip it with arcade games. But I would try instead renting a cool collection of arcade games for parties. The overhead is less, you could start out with just a few games, and you know how much money you will be making before you go to work!
With all my experience in book publishing I am not going to tell you that this is an easy business, especially with the domination of players like Amazon. But if you pick a defensible niche, keep your overhead low, you could develop a decent business.
Bed & Breakfast
You need to start out with a good location and you need to do some marketing to get going. This business may also end up being more work than you envision. Something will often need repair, every guest will seem to have a special request, and there will frequently be some renovation or upgrade project you will want to work on. But if you like meeting and entertaining new people, and have lots of energy, this can be good solid business.
Bridal Show Promotions
Bridal shows can be an important marketing venue for the purveyors of wedding goods and services. You could start in this business by helping vendors prepare their display spaces at various shows, and then at some point you may want to organize your own bridal shows.
I view a café as positioned somewhere between a sandwich shop and full service gourmet restaurant. You will be cooking a lot of items but not everything, and your dining space will be simpler than a fancy dinner spot. So, you save money on buildout both in the kitchen, the equipment and the dining space. And you won’t need as expensive a chef as you would for a full-service restaurant. Furthermore, if you choose your location well you could have a good lunch business, as well as a dinner time business, and you could do fine in the late afternoon time slot too. Then of course you could offer breakfast as well and really fill in your day!
I’ve rented boats and bicycles and this can be a decent business. For canoes, you don’t need a waterfront location. You can rent canoes from a highly-trafficked location on the side of the road, and then provide roof racks for your customers’ cars.
Cataloging Art Collections
This is very specialized and you need to have a good amount of expertise to get started. But what a fun way to make a living! Visiting clients’ homes, viewing and researching their art: what could be a more fun business than this?
Child Development Center
Early childhood learning seems to be the rage. Even many games have an educational bent. With such high interest this is a competitive space, so you need to specialize. Perhaps specialize in children with learning disabilities, slow learners, creative play, or “gifted” kids.
Cigar shops can bring in decent and steady revenue. Better yet the profit margins are good, so you can be very profitable without hitting sky high sales levels. This is a relatively easy business without too many headaches. But choose your location carefully…then roll out your wooden Indian!
This is one of those businesses that not everyone wants to do, so the profits tend to be above average. Furthermore, you don’t have to collect just by telephone. You can send emails, mail letters and more. Make sure you know all the legal restrictions before you start!
Of course, you can try your hand at building homes and other large endeavors or you can specialize in smaller projects. Maybe driveways? Patios? Outside waterfalls? Closet renovations? There is no limit to what you can do, but to be highly successful or to build a scalable business I suggest you carefully find a highly profitable niche.
Consultant on Foreign Cultures
One of our strongest selling books at my book publishing company was “Kiss, Bow or Shake Hands?” Traveling business people and others want to know how to fit in with foreign cultures. With a little bit a research or overseas exposure you could offer basic courses and consulting, and then you could provide more in-depth expertise as you build your knowledge overtime.
People will pay a lot of money to get their dog trained and you can provide the service. To get going you can read a book or take a dog training class yourself. This business would also be a great source of clients for dog walking services, if you want to expand your dog services empire!
Doggie Bed and Breakfast
A lot of people don’t want to leave their bowser at the busy kennel along with all the other dogs. They are willing to pay a premium and even drive a distance to a place where they believe their dog will be pampered.
OK there is not really “a” drone business—there are many possible drone businesses.
You could sell or repair drones, or you could provide one of an unlimited number of drone services. You could provide drone photography or video-taping such as of sporting events, you could offer drones for parties, you could offer drones to inspect infrastructure. There is almost no limit to what you can do with drones!
Dry Cleaning Business
One of my friends took over her father’s dry cleaning business that over a lifetime he had built into a dozen stores. This is really hard work. Every item has to be handled many times. Customers can be demanding. And it is competitive. But if you are willing to work hard, you can make a very solid income.
You would think that you get your electrical contractor license and the money would rain on you forever more! I have been shocked with the prices some electricians have tried to charge me. Then again, I called back a more reasonably priced electrician who had done some work for me a couple years ago and he told me he went out of business for lack of work. This goes to remind you that in any business there is always some risk.
Fence Installation Service
To get started in fence installation I would first offer fence repair services. I think a lot people like me first try to repair their aging fence a few times before totally replacing it. This is a good niche business.
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Flea Market Organizer
Even in the Internet age a lot of people enjoy going to flea markets. To succeed in this business, you first need to be able to sell space to vendors. Then right from the first event you need to bring in enough visitors, so that your vendors are happy, and will come back again and again.
With the right location and careful buying you can have a nice income from your floral shop. But the big upside will be special events such as weddings, funerals, etc. I’ve also came across a floral shop crossed with a coffee shop which I thought was a clever variant.
Food Delivery Service
This is very competitive. Just a few feet away from me in the co-share space I am working in currently, several young people started an Internet based food service, but gave up after a few months. But there is a huge demand for food delivery both from restaurants and grocery stores, and you just might be able to make a go of it!
Food Truck or Food Cart
Food trucks and food carts are booming! And no wonder! They allow you to get into the food service business with a lot less overhead than a restaurant, and increasingly people are willing to buy more gourmet fare from food trucks.
You might notice these trucks at specials events like fares and parades, but I think you would do better trying to find steadier income and more consistent clientele, at office parks or other city locations where workers are congregated.
Formal Wear Rental Service
You could try to do this business online…but of course the issue is getting people the right size. You could even send several sizes if they are not sure of their size. Or you could have a storefront. You don’t need a fancy location or expensive buildout. There is a formal wear rental facility near me that has been very successful for decades, and the storefront looks like it was last remodeled about 50 years ago.
Framing services are everywhere and often they are franchised operations with prime retail locations. But you don’t have to be. You could try this service online. Or you could try this service on a mobile basis, going to your customers’ homes. Or you could get that storefront.
Gift Show Organizer
The key to these show businesses is all the same. Make sure you get plenty of buying visitors to your first show to make your vendors happy, so that they will buy exhibit space at your next show.
Golf Driving Range
I can’t believe how busy the driving range near me is. They must have 50 driving stations. And they don’t even have a real golf course, although they do have kind of a long pitch and put course. You might think you don’t have enough money to finance a driving range. But you can lease the land and drop a store-built little shed on the property to get started.
Home Staging Business
Home buyers today are getting increasingly used to seeing vacant homes set up with staged furniture. And if you are choosing furniture specifically for the purpose of making a house look great, you can both increase the likelihood that the house will sell quickly, and that it will sell for a higher price. Stage some rooms in your own house, take pictures, and then get customers by networking with real estate brokers.
Horse/Cargo Trailer Service
This is good specialized business with a specific, clearly defined market to target. Until you have started to gain momentum you might want to find someone you can rent a horse trailer from on an as-needed basis. Then buy your own trailer after you start to build your customer base.
A lot of these sign businesses are franchise operations, but you don’t have to be. The key is marketing. Watch what other players in this field do, explore the hundreds of marketing videos on BusinessTown.com. Unless you are really strapped for cash I would recommend starting with a storefront but not a third-rate location, and a simple and small facility should be fine. Alternatively, you could try this business totally online, shipping signs to customers.
Invisible Fencing Sales and Installation
This is a specialized niche of the fencing business, but so differentiated that it is basically a totally separate, non-competitive business—and that’s the best kind of niche to find! Your market is dog owners, and probably the owners of some types or dogs, or maybe multiple dogs, are much more likely to be customers than others, which means that you can really target your marketing!
Jet Ski Rentals
My cousin worked for a jet ski rental firm in Sarasota Florida. Was that a fun job! Problem was that now and then when people panic on a jet ski, they will run it right into another boat! So, try to avoid renting jet skis in a busy boat anchorage and make sure your customers are confident operators before you set them loose!
Key Control Systems
Selling and installing key control systems for hotels and other commercial businesses has a lot going for it. You are selling the latest technology, there is a strong service component, and your target market is businesses that can afford to spend a lot of money for this valuable service. For example, with a key control system a company can limit the hours that some employees may access their facility and if they let go an employee they can just de-activate their card, rather than having to call a locksmith to redo every lock.
Mailbox Rental Service
This is a good solid little business but the income just from mail boxes is probably not going to set the world on fire. However, by the nature of this business you have a captive audience that you can try to sell just about anything else to. Often people combine mailbox rentals with shipping services for example.
Massage is a big business and there are many variations you can offer to be distinctive. To get going you may want to promote your services through local hotels or health clubs.
Companies and non-profits spend a lot of money on meetings, and even when they have in-house staff they will often hire a meeting planner service. They are particularly likely to hire a meeting planner when they are planning a meeting in a distant city. To get going in this business take advantage of any contacts you have, approach local associations and businesses, and build up a strong online-presence.
Motivational speakers can earn a lot of money for even a short presentation. But you need to be awesome! And you need to market yourself. I’ve hired motivational speakers for large group business retreats, and I can tell you that once you start giving stand-out presentations that word of mouth travels quickly!
Murder Mystery Producer
Guest interactive murder mystery productions are very popular and no wonder–they are a lot of fun. You could do this on your own, renting a public venue and all that. But instead I would recommend that you partner up with a local business, such as an inn or restaurant, which could use an event like this to promote their business.
This is not my favorite business on this list but I feel compelled to list it because it is so popular. So why is it not my favorite? It tends be very competitive, hard work and relatively low profits. So, if you do go into this business I would do everything possible to differentiate your business and to be able to charge premium pricing.
I will tell you a secret. You can make a lot of money from a non-profit business. You can pay yourself a good salary and reasonable expenses. And you can even sell the enterprise. Better yet, you can create an organization that will really help others. I strongly suggest you approach running a non-profit with the same discipline that you would a profit-making business, and almost all of the how-to videos on BusinessTown.com apply to non-profits as well.
My friend’s wife earned an advanced degree in nutrition, put out her shingle, and tried some marketing, but her business progressed very slowly. Then she teamed up with a local gym and her business took off.
The idea of this business is that you can personalize just about anything your customers may want. T-shirts, hats, mugs, pens…you name it. Initially you may want to outsource all of the work, but if your business takes off you may want to bring some of the personalization processes in–house to further boost your profit margins.
A lot of my friends fly planes. And in many cases their teenage kids do too! They all started with flying lessons. To get certified to the point where you can teach basic flying lessons in a simple, single engine plane, may be easier than you think.
Pizza Delivery Business
If you are offering pizza delivery you don’t need a storefront at all. You could just get an inexpensive industrial quality space, as long as it is convenient to your customers. Lure your first customers in with juicy offers. Then try to keep them with great quality. But beware that a lot of pizza delivery sales even to repeat customers involve some kind of discount or special offer.
Power Wash Service
You can power wash houses, commercial buildings, driveways, patios, motor vehicles and more. You will need to be registered, probably have to post a bond, and there may be environmental issues because of the water usage. This is a business you will want to learn carefully. But the upside is that there are many potential markets for your services.
Real Estate Appraiser
Before the bank grants a mortgage, they will require a real estate appraisal. So, this is a great, steady income business with the only overhead being your scooter to get you to your homes to be appraised.
The big drawback to most retail ventures is that they are competing head to head with bigger retailers, as well as online sellers, who may sell brand name goods for lower prices than you can buy them for. Well a resale shop takes all that competition away. Choose your specialty carefully. Sporting goods and vintage clothing are good bets to consider.
Specialty Food Store
You can succeed with a specialty food store but it is tricky. You must be ruthless in your research, in both what the market can support, and which competitors currently have overlapping offerings. I would also look at what specialty food stores have succeeded in nearby markets.
To succeed at this business, I would carefully perfect a few interesting smoothies drinks. Then I would search hard for a location with very high foot traffic location. I would much rather have a tiny location with lots of traffic and high rent per square foot, than a much larger location with the same total rent but less traffic.
Snow Plow Service
If you are in a climate that consistently gets a lot of snow each year, then this could be a good business. But if the snowfall is inconsistent, you could get stuck with having a nice new snowplow and truck, but no business.
Sports Equipment Sales/Service
I like sporting goods. It is a good local business. If you can go out and connect with local sports teams, you can further solidify your franchise. And you can further bolster your business still more by also selling used equipment.
Tow Boat Operator
In the US, the coast guard has redefined their mission to be rescuing people not rescuing boats, so this has further increased the market for tow boat operators to respond to disabled recreational boaters and bring their boat back to port. Running around on the ocean with a high-powered tow boat seems like a pretty fun way to make a living to me!
Another great “personalization” business. Historically this business has been conducted out of local store fronts but you could try it online.
Vacuum Cleaner Repair
This is a good steady service business. To get started you don’t have to handle every single brand or every single repair. You can study manufacturer’s repair guides or watch instructional videos to get going.
Video Production Company
Everyone wants videos for their website, and corporations and non-profits are willing to pay good money for high quality service. This is a local business because you need to be onsite with your camera.
This is one of the more difficult business on this list. But if you really want to do it, you can! First, it will take about 3-5 years to grow your grapes. Secondly, you need the right climate. Third, selling what you produce is like a whole separate business. However, people do like to visit and buy wine from local wineries. And I have seen some wineries that are initially producing just a small amount of wine themselves, jumpstart their business and supplement their sales by reselling wine from other vineyards.