37 Easy Small Business Ideas


If you need money then the solution may not be another job, it might actually be to start a small business. During college I had a bunch of easy small business ideas. I tried some of these ideas when I needed extra cash. They were pretty simple ideas. But these easy small business ideas could still bring in at least a few hundred dollars a month!

Starting a small business is a great idea for a few reasons.

  • Set your own schedule
  • Make extra money without getting another job
  • Extra financial security

Having a small side business is great if you get laid off or need extra money because you can ramp up the business if need be. During college, when wasn’t able to find work one summer, I was able to turn one of these side business into a full time job. It wasn’t a ton of money but it was enough to pay the bills and save a bit for the next year.

Starting a small business doesn’t always require a lot of money. Check out our list of ways to start a business with little to no upfront cash. Crowdfunding has become a popular way to raise money to start a business. There are also new sites like Lending Club that offer peer-to-peer business loans of up to $300,000!

Here are a few easy small business ideas for you to consider. These easy small business ideas require minimal investment. They don’t require a lot of cash upfront. They also don’t require a lot of time to make money (although more time usually means more profit)

Easy Small Business Ideas

37 Easy Small Business Ideas:

1. Small Bakery:


Cottage food laws now make it much easier to setup a small bakery in your home. Sometimes all that’s required is an online food handling certificate. Baked goods are limited to certain ingredients. This list typically doesn’t allow baked goods that contain milk or eggs, but the rest is fair game. Check with your local permit office for details. Sell your baked goods at local farmers markets. Or you could use the honour system and setup a basket of baked goods at a local business office every morning. Then come by and collect your profits each evening. Loss rates are usually less than 10-20% but make sure to work this into your profit estimates.

2. Candy Maker:

Similar to the bakery example you can also make candy at home under these cottage food laws. Unique candy creations are easy to sell at local fairs. Or try making customer birthday treats.

3. Crafts/Arts:

This is one of those easy small business ideas that’s great when you’ve got some artistic talent. If you’re able to make something that is unique, something that people may want in their home, then make and sell your creations at local craft and art shows. These arts & crafts shows cost as little as $40 to setup a booth for a day. It’s an inexpensive way to test the market for your creations.

4. Candy Vending Machines:

Those simple mechanical candy machines are actually a very easy way to make money. You don’t need to just sell candy, you can put dried fruit and nuts in there too. After setting up the machine in a high traffic location you only need to come by to restock and collect your money. Good locations include stores, arenas, bars, basically anywhere that’s supervised by the owners and has a lot of people. Talk to local business owners and see if they’d let you setup your machine in exchange for fee or a cut of the profits.

5. Concession Stand:

Every town has a local gathering spot like a park, community pool or baseball diamond. These are great places to setup a mobile concession stand. You could sell water and candy bars. Check with your local permit office to see what food handling permits or vendors permits are required.

6. Flipping Trash And Selling It On Craigslist:

One mans trash is another mans treasure. On Craigslist its easy to make money from other peoples trash. By scanning Craigslist for good deals you can buy items on the cheap and flip them for a profit. If you know how to fix/improve items then you can make even more money.

7. Landscaping:

Although you could buy all sorts of expensive equipment the truth is that you can start a small landscaping business with just a short list of tools. Lawn mower, rake, hoe, shovel, pruning scissors etc. Advertise your services by going door to door. Or you can put up a flyer at the local library or community centre.

8. Cleaning Service:

There are many types of cleaning services that you could offer. There is in-home cleaning for young professionals, families or seniors. These are often done during the day. There are cleaning services for businesses and office buildings. These are often done at night. Then there are also car detailing services that offer premium wash/wax/vacuum for luxury vehicles. This service schedule could vary depending on your customers. Whatever your schedule looks like there is definitely a cleaning service that you could offer.

9. Child Care:

In most states you’re allowed to care for a few children in your home without becoming a licensed day care. If you enjoy children or are looking after children of your own then childcare or babysitting is a great way to start a small business. Just make sure to check your local licensing requirements.

10. Elder Care:

It’s not just children that require care, with our aging population elder care has become a huge market. There are various types of elder care, one of the easiest to get into is companion care. These care givers visit seniors in their home and help with chores, driving or shopping. Care givers also provide social stimulation for seniors who may not be able to leave their home or apartment. Rates for caregivers are between $15-$20/hr depending on your city.

11. Tutoring:

Tutoring is one of those great easy small business ideas if you have the right “credentials”. The right credentials could be a teaching certificate or it could just be very high marks in high school or on the SATs, MCATs, GMAT etc. Parents of high school students will pay top dollar for their children to get extra tutoring for the SATs. Rates start around $15-$25/hr but can easily climb to $50-$75/hr if you have a high SAT score and/or went to an ivy league school.

12. Teach Music:

Teaching music is a great side business for those who are musically talented. You don’t need to be an expert, just good enough to convey the basics. Piano is a classic but you can really teach just about anything. Advertise around your neighbourhood, on Facebook and via word of mouth. Tell your friends and neighbours and ask them to tell their friends too.

13. Summer Camps:

This is one of those easy small business ideas that works well for teachers. Parents are looking for activities to occupy their children during the summer. If you have the right credentials then you could offer summer camps to neighbourhood parents.

14. Blogger:

Becoming a blogger is dead simple. Just choose a domain name, use WordPress to setup your blog and then start blogging. The whole process can take less than an hour. However, to make a lot of money online takes a bit of time, persistence and luck. As with any small business idea you need to do your research. In particular you need to find a topic that you enjoy writing about and that advertisers are interested in. Use Googles Adwords to find keyword topics that you’re interested in but that advertisers are interested in too. Then just write a lot of high quality content around this topic and share it with the world.

15. Virtual Assistant:

Through sites like oDesk and Elance it’s easy to become a virtual assistant. Skills that are in high demand include web development, graphic design, sales & marketing, writing and translation. There are also virtual assistant jobs in telemarketing and telesales. Rates for specialty VA’s can range from $20-$100/hr.

16. Freelance Content Writer:

Many websites want to provide daily/weekly content to their readers but lack the time to create all the content themselves. These sites will hire freelance content writers to help them write relevant articles to post. Rates for good writers will start around $20-$25 per article. As you build your online presence these rates can go up quickly.

17. Copy Writer for Local Businesses:

Is your writing compelling? Do you have a knack for spotting spelling and grammatical errors? You might want to consider a copywriting business. There are thousands of small businesses who write their own advertising copy but really don’t have the right skill set. These small business owners would be perfect candidate for a freelance copy writer.

18. Website Builder:

Building simple websites is easy to do with WordPress. There are thousands of templates available and millions of layout options which can make each site very customized and unique in just a short amount of time. This makes it easy to create websites for other small businesses. Customers are easy to find through your local business association. Consider doing a free seminar for business owners. Teach them about the value of having an online presence.

19. Web Designer:

When a simple website isn’t good enough an expert web designer is usually called in to help tailor the website design. Designers need to have a good mix of technical and artistic skills. These skills are taught in schools but its also possible to learn how to code online with sites like Code Academy (free) or Treehouse (paid).

20. Graphic Designer:

Graphic designers can easily make extra cash on the side with a virtual small business on Fiverr, oDesk or Elance. These sites allow graphic designers to do small tasks for clients. It’s the perfect easy small business idea if you already have graphic design experience.

21. Painting:

There aren’t many people who enjoy painting which creates a great small business opportunity. Painting the interior or exterior of homes is easy to do. It doesn’t require a lot of equipment and the skills are easy to learn. Advertise locally with flyers or virtually on Craigslist.

22. Refurbish Old Furniture:

Old furniture sometimes just needs a bit of TLC to make it worth 10x as much. Learn how to sand and refinish old tables, chairs and cabinets. Sell these items on consignment at local specialty furniture shops. Or sell them yourself via Craigslist or your own website.

23. Personal Trainer/Yogo Instructor/Boot Camp Leader:

Some people love to work out in groups. Some want a unique experience. Others prefer some one on one training. Either way if you have the skill set then this is a great way to make money on the side. Start a boot camp in your local park or do one on one training for locals. Find a niche like baby boot camp, stroller striders, stadium stompers, wedding weight loss, boomer boot camp, 60+ fitness… etc etc.

24. Online SEO/SEM Consultant:

Are you tech savvy? Do you have experience with websites and SEO/SEM? These skills aren’t taught in school, they’re learned online, and it’s constantly changing. You can leverage this knowledge to become an online consultant.

25. Social Media Consultant:

If you know what it takes to cultivate a large following in social media then there are businesses who will pay for this knowledge. Businesses want to connect with consumers through social media. This presents a cost effective way to get their brands “out there”. Most businesses don’t know what it takes to have a strong social media presence which is why there is an opportunity for social media experts to consult.

26. Dog Walker:

This is one of those easy small business ideas that’s perfect for students, or people with a flexible schedule. People are working longer these days. Their dogs cant be cooped up all day. These people will pay about $50-$100 a week for you to walk their dog once per day. Have you taken a dog training course? Your rates could be even higher.

27. Dog Boarder:

Taking a pet on vacation is difficult, this is especially true for dogs. They cant be cooped up in a car for very long and flying isn’t easy. This creates an opportunity for dog boarders to provide a place to stay while owners are away. Advertise at local dog parks and pet stores to better target dog owners.

28. Pet Sitting:

Not all pets can go to a boarder while their owners are away. Pet sitters care for pets in their own home while the owners are away. Pet sitters visit once or twice during the day to feed and fresh provide drinking water. Sitters play with pets or take them for walks. They clean up any messes and empty litter boxes. There is also overnight sitting where the pet sitter will stay in the home overnight.

29. Cake Decorator:

Creating beautiful cakes doesn’t mean you need to be a professional baker but it does require some artistic skills. Making a beautiful cake is more about creativity and fondant than it is about baking. With new cottage food laws you could qualify to make these in your own home.

30. Growing Annuals/Perennials/Shrubs:

If you have a green thumb then this is one of those perfect easy small business ideas. Grow these plants at home and sell them at local farmers markets. Visit your local garden centres to get an idea of what plants are in demand. Choose plants that are easy to grow but fetch a high price. To fill out your inventory you could always buy plants & flowers wholesale from the local nursery.

31. Photography:

Creating stunning photographs used to done by professionals with expensive equipment but with digital photography this is no longer the case. Even modest digital SLRs can create beautiful photos. There is a huge market for stock photography. Large portfolios can generate some serious side income.

32. Translator:

The world is becoming more interconnected. Companies are selling their products all over the world. These businesses need help to translate their advertising and marketing into new languages. If you are fluent in two or more languages then this is an easy small business ideas that you should consider.

33. Window Display Designer:

Have you ever walked by a beautiful storefront and stopped to look? These awesome displays are no accident. They’re meticulously planned out by people with a good eye for design/marketing. If you have past retailer design experience then try going out on your own as a freelance window display designer. Window designers usually work after hours at night so this is a good business to start along side your current employment. Create a portfolio of your work online and visit local shops to pitch your services.

34. Book Keeping:

Are you familiar with QuickBooks? Or could you learn? This book keeping software is used by millions of small businesses. Small businesses don’t need a full time book keeper so they often need help in the form of freelancers, consultants or contractors. This niche also pays well at $25-$30/hr.

35. Walking Tour Guide:

If you live in an area that has a lot of tourist visitors then you might want to consider creating a walking tour. Guides usually charge a few dollars per person. Setup a specific meeting location or online sign up form. Create pamphlets and drop them off with local hotels, hostels, B&Bs and tourist offices.

36. Bicycle Taxi Tour Guide:

This offers a unique experience for tourists. Its an easy way to see more sights and its more personal than a bus tour. Find an old bike taxi and start offering tours in your city. Target families with small children, they’re an easy sell because the kids get tired easily so a bike tour is perfect. Bonus: If you buy the kids a small treat like an ice cream (after asking the parents for permission of course) you’ll probably get a decent tip from the family too.

37. Carpenter:

Starting a carpentry business doesn’t mean that you have to start installing custom built kitchens or building grand gazebos. Its possible to start a small carpentry business by making small items like cross fit exercise boxes, adirondack chairs, garden benches, log furniture, bird houses etc. Add your own style to these items to make them unique. Sell them at local farmers markets or arts & crafts fairs.

Wow! That’s a lot of easy small business ideas for you to choose from. Do you have any more ideas that you’ve seen? Help us all out and share them below in the comments!



Photo by DixieBelleCupcakeCafe via Flickr

Author: Thomas

Hi! My name is Thomas. I'm a husband and new father who's been late on rent and bills before. I want to help everyone who needs money ASAP! Follow me via Twitter, Facebook, Google+, or by E-mail. Help me by sharing this post.

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