Whether you're thinking about starting a business as a side hustle or something you can do full time, it's a good idea to stay away from options that will drain your budget from the get-go.
If you're looking for an easy business to start, the best approach is to capitalize on your interests, skills, and know-how.
1. Product Review Site
Leverage your passion for a hobby or topic by creating a website that reviews relevant products in a way that helps other enthusiasts decide what to buy. That's what Antti Alatalo does with Smart Watches 4 U.
By using affiliate marketing, he earns a commission on products he sells. "I'm a smart-device nerd and love getting my hands on the latest electronics. I figured, why not make a living earning commissions from something I'd happily discuss for free?" he says.
2. Online Course Creator
Are friends, family, or colleagues constantly asking you to show them how to do something that you do well? Consider sharing your expertise with others who need that information, too, by creating an online course.
James Boatwright helps children ages 7 to 14 across the country with his Code Galaxy computer programming classes. He's passionate about coding, he says, and advises others to not only know their topic well but to also "do your research to make sure there's a need for your content or offering."
Private tutoring, a $46.9 billion market in the U.S., is expected to grow 7% by 2027 according to one report.
Former tutor Katherine Metres Akbar, president of YES Career Coaching & Resume Writing Services, says it's an easy one-person business to start that requires no overhead. "You can engage other tutors to contract for you if you want to grow, aren't the greatest in certain subjects, or don't like tutoring on some topics," she adds.
Anyone who knows their way around a toolbox and has good people skills has the potential to stay busy full time by offering repair and other home task-related services to homeowners.
Those serving high-net-worth ZIP codes can earn handsomely for tasks that customers want to outsource.
5. Virtual Assistant
A virtual assistant (VA) provides remote administrative assistance to clients. Tasks vary according to client needs and the VA's skills, with many specializing in client type or the services they provide.
For example, Pinterest VA Yi Ming specializes in helping bloggers and e-commerce sellers get more traffic and generate more sales from Pinterest. "I work with a wide range of clients, from a mommy blogger to a client who offers virtual kitchen rendering to another who provides baby showers online," she says.
6. Real Estate Investor
Jon Kessler, owner of We Buy Houses Cash Baltimore, buys distressed properties, remodels them, and keeps them as rental properties. He notes that you don't need money to make money in this field.
"As long as you can demonstrate value and prove that you have the knowledge, there are plenty of partnership and private loan options," he says. In addition, you can control how much time you spend on the business. "If you develop systems and stay organized, you can be successful with as little as an hour or two per day," he adds.
7. Private Label Seller on Amazon
Many entrepreneurs contract with product manufacturers to add their own brands to merchandise (known as private labeling) and sell them online through the Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) program. Amazon provides the sales platform, warehouses the products, and handles order fulfillment.
Seller Charlie Camisasca, who started with eco-friendly tableware, recommends beginning with your hobbies or interests. "From there, I would suggest thinking about the biggest problems or pain points in each of those categories. Then, ask yourself what product might solve this problem," he says.
8. Selling Used Goods
Steady growth in consignment shops and online resale marketplaces has made it easier than ever to sell used goods. One such resale marketplace, ThredUp, predicts a compound annual resale market growth rate of 39% between 2019 and 2024.
Lee Meier, founder of Listing to Freedom, buys used items—mostly clothing, but also books and collectibles—at local thrift stores and garage sales, then sells them online for more than he paid.
According to Meier, start-up costs are minimal. "In fact, it cost me just $7 to buy my first few items to flip," she says, adding that he now earns $2,000 per month net profit.
9. Bartending Service
"I got hired quickly and as the company grew, I stepped back from actual bartending to work on the business," he says.
A freelance business is ideal for anyone with a professional service skill—writing, editing, graphic design, and bookkeeping, among many others. Find work by networking and creating accounts on project work sites such as Upwork, Guru, and Toptal.
Before starting any business, be sure to talk to a professional about accounting and legal issues that include taxes and protecting your assets.