If you dream of clocking out of your nine-to-five job for the last time and becoming your own boss, you’ve probably considered a variety of small business ideas. But, while you have plenty of passion, direction can be hard to find.
And if all else fails, live the words of Airbnb Co-founder Brian Chesky: "If we tried to think of a good idea, we wouldn’t have been able to think of a good idea. You just have to find the solution for a problem in your own life."
Ready to take things to the next level? This ultimate guide to entrepreneurship can help you do more than dream up a good idea. It can help you turn it into reality today.
Sure, you could go to cosmetology school and pay for an expensive chair at a salon, or you could offer specialized styling and makeup services right to your client’s door.
This is another business venture that will require you to research the correct licensure from your state, but it will be well worth it to see your dreams come true. Consider what guests will be traveling to your area to experience and create special packages and themed stays to coincide with their interests in your locale.
Similar to landscape design — there are many people who have the ability to buy the furniture and home decor they need to fill their rooms, but few who know where to start. It might take some time to build a portfolio but documenting your projects and sharing them online can build a fan base beyond your wildest dreams.
If you dream of devoting your life to a cause you believe in, it might be time to start a nonprofit. You’ll need to incorporate your business and file for 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status — and then you’ll be required to meet ongoing standards of compliance, but the payoff is making a meaningful impact on a cause you believe in. Want to do good while still making a profit? Consider social entrepreneurship.
Love the local history of your city or state? Consider becoming a tour guide. Sure, you’ll need to conduct tons of research to be able to do the job well, but that’s half the fun. Set yourself apart by offering tours that speak to a specific niche of your community’s history. Some tour guides offer historical walking tours of their town’s most haunted spots while others curate guided foodie tours for guests to get a true taste of the city.
Whether math whiz, piano master, or Shakespeare aficionado — there’s someone out there who needs a little help and is willing to pay for it. Advertise your services through local schools, community colleges, and community centers to get the word out and build a customer base.
If you have significant experience in or knowledge of a specific subject, consider becoming a consultant. Perhaps you’re an expert at hiring practices, have a knack for SEO, or have led multiple sales teams to six-figure success. If you’re good at it, market yourself as a consultant and charge the going rate.
If you dream of building your own fashion empire, why not start with a local boutique? Build buzz with impressive window displays, inspiring social media accounts, and heavy community involvement.
You might choose to specialize in a specific type of event — like weddings or company meetings — or set yourself up as an event planner of all trades. If you’re highly organized, pay keen attention to minute details, and have experience planning large events, it might be time others benefit from your skills.
Gourmet foods, cheeses, sake, wine — you name a food, there’s a specialty food store out there for it. Put your passion for exotic olive oils to good use and open a store where you offer the kind of expertise and selection your audience couldn’t dream of getting from their local grocer.
Again, if you’re an organized, highly detailed person, the life of a personal assistant might be for you. Don’t want to be tied to one office or person all day, every day? Consider becoming a virtual assistant, which allows you a more flexible work environment.
Always dreamt of owning a restaurant but not quite ready to take the plunge? Test out your concepts with a food truck. It’s a great way to become familiar with food and restaurant licensing in your state, see what people like and don’t like, and build a ravenous following before ever opening or investing in a brick-and-mortar location.
If you have an eye for style but don’t want to invest in the inventory of a brand-new boutique, consider going consignment. It will allow you to curate a collection of clothing that matches your goals and aesthetic, without the overhead of a boutique selling entirely new garments.
If that personal chef gig is too restrictive for your schedule, consider catering instead. Pick your projects, work fewer but larger events, and get really good at time management.
Kickboxing gyms, yoga studios, CrossFit, oh my! Turn your passion for fitness into a community for others by opening your own gym.
Childcare continues to be in high demand. While nannies and nanny shares are popular right now, a good daycare is hard to find. Fill a need in your neighborhood by opening your own. And, as always, make sure you’re complying with your city and state’s zoning, licensure, insurance, and inspection requirements.
What’s your specialty? Whether it’s marketing, social media, or PR, it might be time to start your own agency. Many other small businesses need this type of help, but don’t have the resources or volume to necessitate a full-time position. Consider a building a small team and learn from other entrepreneurs who’ve successfully started their own agencies, like Duane Brown of Take Some Risk.
Turn your caffeine addiction into something a little more lucrative. Opening a franchise or buying an existing shop are lower-risk entry points to the coffee game but they usually require a little more cash up front. Starting a shop from scratch requires a little more planning and a lot more work — but it also maximizes your earning potential in the future.
A truck, moving equipment, manpower, and the correct permits and insurance are the building blocks of starting your own moving company. Before you buy your first fleet of trucks, however, start small with a moving van and keep your costs low. Still sound like too much of an initial investment? Consider offering packing services only, which have a much lower financial barrier to entry.
If you have a flare for interior design, a staging service might serve as your creative outlet and professional calling. You can build a portfolio with little initial investment by staging homes using the owner’s existing furnishings and decor. Most stagers eventually build up inventory of furniture as they become more established and network with area realtors.
Today, tens of thousands of people are considering starting their own business, and for good reasons. On average, people can expect to have two and three careers during their work life. Those leaving one career often think about their second or third career move being one they can run out of their own home.
The good news: Starting a home-based business is within the reach of almost anyone who wants to take a risk and work hard, as are a plethora of other low-cost ideas.
Getting paid to drive during your free time is a great way to make extra money. It won't likely replace a full-time paycheck but can be a lucrative extra revenue stream. According to Nerd Wallet, here is a break down of the income you can expect:
“To make an annual income of $50,000, the average Uber driver needs to provide 60.21 rides each week, while those working for Lyft need to give 83.76 rides a week, and Sidecar drivers would have had to provide 72.03 rides in a week.
Sole proprietorships are businesses owned and operated by one person, and are not identified as a separate entity from the owner by the government. While a sole proprietorship is the simplest business structure, sole proprietors are personally liable for their business.
Business savings accounts typically earn interest over time, but have a limited number of transactions that can occur each month. When you’re just starting out, look for a business bank account that does not have a minimum balance requirement so you are not penalized for having low funds as you work to build your business.
he Small Business Administration says that almost 80% of new businesses make it through their first 12 months. Although that might surprise you, it's definitely a much better statistic to focus on.
The specific number changes depending on the industry. Some, like healthcare and social assistance, have a much higher-than-average survival rate. Others, like construction and transportation, have rates that are lower.