By Susan Ward
Want to start a business but don’t have a lot of startup money or time to invest in developing specialized skills? Then you’ll want to have a look at this list of ideas for easy businesses to start.
Each is a business that you can start inexpensively; some can be started for nothing if you already have the equipment. Every one of these suggestions will let you start a business quickly—in some cases, almost instantly. And all can be operated as home-based businesses.
Be warned though; these types of businesses are not suitable for a “get rich quick” plan. What these inexpensive, easy businesses offer to the person prepared to work at them is a good living and, of course, the satisfaction of being your own boss.
More and more people are looking for someone to care for their pets when they can’t. Professional pet caregivers come into the home to feed, walk, and play with the animal(s) while the owner is away. If you love animals and are knowledgeable about them, this could be a great business for you. According to the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters, in-home pet-care is one of the fastest-growing industries in North America today.
Requirements: Knowledge of and affinity with animals, good time-management skills. Currently, accreditation and special training are typically not required (although some states require a license). You should be bonded and insured.
Residential Cleaning Services
Having your house cleaned by someone else is no longer only for the rich With everyone getting busier all the time, more people than ever are willing to pay to get the benefits of a cleaner home and more free time to do things they consider to be more important. Residential cleaning services are normally provided on a once-a-month or once-a-week basis. All you need to start this business is some basic cleaning supplies. If you’re an organized person who can build a clientele, you could do extremely well if you start a cleaning business.
Requirements: Knowledge of cleaning products and procedures, the ability to attract and keep reliable staff, and strong scheduling and organizational abilities.
Variations on the theme: Specialized cleaning services, such as blind cleaning.
Talk about an easy business to start—a vehicle and a good driving record and you’re good to go. We’re all familiar with the big names in the delivery industry, but that doesn’t mean that there’s no room for the little guy (or gal). If you can deliver things quickly and efficiently in your local area at a reasonable price, this may be a good business idea for you.
Requirements: Clean driving record and good driving skills, strong organizational skills, and a suitable vehicle—it may be necessary to transport large items.
Grass Cutting and Snow Removal Services
Some people still mow their own lawns or shovel their own snow. But many would rather pay someone else to keep their yard looking good. The great thing is that in many places, you can combine lawn care and snow removal and have a viable business all year long.
Requirements: Equipment, such as power mowers, edgers, etc. You need to be prepared to trim as well as to mow. You’ll also need trucks equipped with blades for snow clearing, and basic mechanical knowledge to run and repair equipment.
Scrapbooking has changed a lot in the digital age, but it’s still a popular craft and a business idea that could be very profitable. Many people want a tangible collection of their favorite photos more than ever. You can start a business as a creator of original scrapbooks or by becoming a consultant for a scrapbook business that’s already established.
Requirements: Artistic talent, knowledge of scrapbooking (which you can get through research and experience or by taking scrapbooking courses), materials to make scrapbooks, digital know-how if you decide to offer digital scrapbooking.
Ever try to fit a sheet of plywood into the back of one of those new compact SUVs? Then you know why the demand for hauling services is on the rise. Besides the size issue, there’s are materials and goods that people don’t want to haul in their own shiny vehicles, such as yard waste or loads of compost for the garden. All the things they don’t want to or can’t haul could turn into money in your pocket.
Requirements: A suitable vehicle or vehicles and a clean driving record. A strong back is handy if you’re loading the material yourself.
Variations on the theme: Specializing in hauling a particular product, such as delivering loads of compost or soil for gardeners.
Very few people haven’t bought or sold something on eBay. But did you know that eBay is also a solid business idea? If you have an in-demand product that’s suitable for online sales and shipping, eBay selling may be the way to go. It can be a much less expensive, simpler option than setting up your own online store. EBay offers all kinds of information to help you sell successfully—including eBay seminars.
Requirements: A worthy product or products, a computer, and knowledge of online selling and shipping.
Gutter and Siding Cleaning
If you’re willing and able to do things that other people don’t want to do, you can get a viable business going. For many homeowners, chores such as gutter and siding cleaning are right up there on the “I don’t want to do that” list. Besides being messy, there’s always an element of danger involved when people are working with ladders.
But the great thing about this inexpensive business idea is that these are chores that need to be done repeatedly, so once you’ve built up a clientele, you’ve created a regular flow of income—and there’s nothing unpleasant about that!
Requirements: Ladders, hoses, buckets, etc. Have appropriate safety equipment and no fear of height.
Are you an extremely organized person who can work on a deadline? Do you handle crises well and have strong interpersonal and communication skills? Then event planning may be a great small business idea for you.
Obviously, event planners plan events. But you may not be aware of the scope of possibilities. Corporations, hotels, nonprofit organizations, municipalities, and government organizations all have a need for event planners to put together everything from conferences to pedestrian-only days.
Or you might specialize in a particular kind of event, such as becoming a festival or wedding planner. Best of all, you don’t need a degree to become an event planner.
Requirements: Strong organizational, planning, and communication skills with an eye for detail and an ability to work to deadlines.
Gardening and Landscaping Services
Gardening has been one of the most popular hobbies throughout the U.S. and Canada for the last few decades. Its popularity is only increasing, perhaps thanks to a growing interest in the freshness and quality of food that we put in our bodies.
But gardening is no armchair hobby. It takes time and work to make a garden flourish—two things that many would-be gardeners aren’t able to provide. Working people with families are often short on time, and many aging gardeners have physical ailments that prevent them from doing all the outdoor work they would like to do.
Those are two problems you can solve by providing gardening or landscaping services. From basic weeding and spreading mulch to hardscaping, there are all kinds of business opportunities here for skilled, willing hands.
Requirements: Physical fitness and the knowledge of plants, gardening techniques, and possibly landscaping and design principles.
Love music? Then maybe DJing is the small business idea you’ve been looking for.
While many of us think of DJs as providing the nightly music in glitzy clubs packed with dancing hordes, that’s only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to DJ opportunities. There are many more DJs performing at weddings, parties, and in venues such as small pubs than spinning tunes in big clubs.
Notice the use of the word “performing.” To be a successful DJ, you need to have an entertaining personality as well as music-mixing skills.
Requirements: DJ and mixing skills, and the appropriate equipment—while some DJs spin vinyl records, others go digital with DJ apps. You’ll also need the desire and ability to work nights and weekends, when most of the gigs are.
Variations on the theme: Specializing in a particular type of music or event. If you choose to do this, be sure you thoroughly research your market first.
Painting, whether exterior or interior, is another of those chores that many people don’t want or have time to do, which makes it another of those chores that you can make money doing for them.
One of the great things about this inexpensive, easy business idea is that it’s not seasonal—interiors can be painted any time of year.
Another is that, unlike a business idea such as DJing, painting is easily scalable. Once you have the clients, you can hire others and become a manager of your painting crew(s). Either way, it’s relatively easy work that there’s always a demand for.
Requirements: Physical ability, painting skills, and equipment such as brushes, drop sheets, and buckets.
Variations on the theme: Creative? Interior design or home staging might interest you.
Perhaps because of its accessibility (practically anyone can do it) or because of its diversity (there are many different types of yoga), yoga is one of the fitness practices that’s here to stay.
And if you are a practitioner and enjoy teaching, why not share your expertise with others and become a yoga instructor? Business opportunities range from setting up your own commercial yoga studio (either in a retail building or as a home-based business) to freelancing and teaching classes in different venues.
Requirements: Yoga expertise and teaching ability.
Variations on the theme: Yoga-related products are good business prospects, too.
Local Tour Guide
Do you live in a place that others like to visit? Do you enjoy meeting and chatting with new people? Would you be comfortable leading and addressing a group?
Then here’s one more question for you; have you thought about being a local tour guide?
Now, obviously, this is only an easy business to start if you live in a place that attracts a lot of tourists. But the scope is wide—you don’t need to live in a place chock-a-block with historical landmarks. While historical walking tours are obvious candidates, don’t forget about the natural wonders that locals tend to take for granted. Guided nature tours, such as exploring tide pools or bird spotting, can also be big winners with tourists.
Requirements: Specialized local knowledge, a cheerful, outgoing personality, strong communication skills, and good physical mobility.
Variations on the theme: Gallery or museum host.
Knowledge is power. But the right kind of knowledge can also be money in your pocket. There is a steady demand for tutoring students of all levels in particular subjects such as math, physics, and English.
Many English speaking people want to learn a second or third language, making French, Spanish, and German (to name three of the most popular) tutoring a good business opportunity.
There is also a steady demand for teaching people who aren’t native speakers of English how to speak and write English (English as a Second Language, aka ESL). Influxes of immigrants from West Asian companies means people who can speak and read Arabic will find there’s no shortage of work available.
Requirements: In-depth knowledge of your particular subject and an ability to teach it.
Variations on the theme: The demand for translators is also on the rise, especially for people who can translate Arabic and Chinese (Mandarin) languages.
You Don’t Need Much Money But You Do Need…
So there they are—15 ideas for inexpensive, easy businesses that almost anyone can start. What else do you need to turn one of these ideas into a successful business? The kind of people skills that will allow you to attract and build a regular clientele. But I’m guessing that you have these, or you wouldn’t be thinking of starting a business in the first place.
If one of these business ideas appeals to you, the next step is to see if it will work for you by developing a business plan. Take the next steps to turn your business into a reality.