By John Rampton
Have you ever wanted to start your own business? If so, you realize that there are a lot of risks involved, not to mention that it may require you to take out a loan or quit your current job. While that sounds great on paper, not all of us can completely give up our 9-to-5 jobs. You can, however, start a side business and keep working on it until it has enough traction to become a full-time job.
When I started my own company years back, I was working at a job. I realized that I wanted more but was really scared of moving forward and quitting. I decided to take it at a level I was comfortable with. I built a side business while working my job. By the time I quit, I was earning almost double outside of work than I was inside my regular job. It was still one of the hardest things I'd ever done, giving up my stability for the unknown.
When deciding on a business idea, let factors like your passion and expertise guide you. You also want to consider how difficult and expensive it will be to launch this side business. In most cases, your business idea should be relatively inexpensive to start. You should reinvest what you make into the business to help it grow faster. Finally, you want to make sure that your business idea is legal. You don't want to get in trouble with the law or IRS. I recommend setting up a company to help protect you personally, as well.
If you're still stuck on business ideas that you can launch while working full-time, here are 25 possibilities to help get you started.
1. Local Business Consultant
If you have experience or knowledge in a specified field, then put those skills sets or certifications to use by becoming a consultant for local business owners. There are plenty of businesses that might be willing to pair with you to help them solve a problem, such as implementing a business strategy or managing social media. You can use this handy 18-Step Checklist to get started.
2. Repairs or Handyman
If you're good at home repairs, like replacing a window, fixing a leaking pipe, or putting together a piece of furniture, you can definitely use those skills to help people who either don't have the time or skills to do so on their own.
3. Graphic Design
Having experience or training in graphic design is definitely a plus. But if this is an area that excites you, you can learn graphic design on your own and become one of the 10 million designers now working in the U.S. Also, there are now sites like Canva and Adobe Post that make graphic design work possible for anyone.
4. Web or App Design and Development
Web or app design and development is another field that is becoming increasingly important for businesses, as they look to enhance the experience of their customers. Just as with graphic design, experience is beneficial, but there numerous online courses on sites like General Assembly, Skillcrush, or CareerFoundry that can teach these skills.
If you're passionate and knowledgeable in a certain area and you enjoy writing, then you can start blogging as a way to bring in a little extra cash. Keep in mind that this won't happen overnight, and you probably won't become rich, but working with affiliate programs, selling ad space, and publishing an e-book are ways that you can earn money through writing. I personally have been able to earn extra cash over the years by blogging.
6. Social-Media Expert
Companies are more than willing to pay people to manage and handle their Facebook, Twitter, or whatever other social-media channels they possess. You can find opportunities on freelance websites like Freelancer and Upwork, or on Paid Social Media Jobs.
7. Tax Preparation
If you're good with numbers, then you can prepare taxes for busy individuals and business owners for a decent return--tax preparers charged an average of $229 per return in 2010. To get started, here are a few sites for accountants.
Do you have a degree or experience in a field that is being taught to students? You can use that knowledge to become a tutor to local students in your area who need help in areas like science, math, English, or history. It may not be necessary, but consider getting your certification to make you seem legit, or look for tutoring services that are hiring.
You can also share your knowledge by tutoring or teaching a course online on sites such as Tutor.com or Udemy.
9. Event Planner
Do you love throwing parties or are you extremely organized? Then you can become an event planning service. Entrepreneur has an excellent article on how to launch one.
10. Personal Chef or Catering
You don't have to be a trained chef to launch this business. But it wouldn't hurt to take a course or two to pad your résumé and put clients at ease. You can do so by visiting the American Personal & Private Chef Association.
11. Tour Guide or Travel Agent
If you love travel or showing off your hometown's attractions when someone visits, then you can become a local tour guide or travel agent. The Travel Academy has information on travel agent training, while The Penny Hoarder has advice for becoming a local tour guide.
12. Bed and Breakfast
If you have the extra space and enjoy entertaining others, then get into the bed and breakfast business, if you're zoned correctly. Thanks to Airbnb, you can now rent out a room, apartment, or house with relative ease. I personally do this, and it helps to dramatically lower my expenses each month.
13. Interior Designer
For creative and imaginative individuals, consider launching your own interior design firm. As the American Society of Interior Designers states, you can then work with clients to identify designs that are "aesthetically appealing, technically sophisticated, and pragmatically satisfying."
14. Landscaping or Gardening
Love being outside? There's no better business then landscaping or gardening. While a degree isn't required, you may want to earn a certification in horticulture at your local public college. If you're concerned about finding work during the winter, add a snowplow to your truck to provide snow removal service.
15. Cleaning Service
You'll definitely get your hands dirty, but you should have no shortage of clients. There are plenty of businesses and busy individuals looking for a weekly cleaning service.
16. Delivery Service or Uber or Lyft Driver
I've lumped these together because they both involve using your vehicle to start a new business. The first idea is to start a delivery service to transport anything from office supplies to after-hours food to college students. Check to find out if you need any special licenses or permits for a delivery service in your area.
The other idea is simply becoming an Uber or Lyft driver during your downtime. Depending on the hours that you work and your location, you can make a solid living going in this direction.
17. Brewery or Vineyard
Who doesn't enjoy a beer or a glass of wine every now and then? Take that love and start your own microbrewery with kits like Mr. Beer. If you prefer wine, you can also start your own vineyard, if you have the land. Both ideas will take hard work and several years to take off, which makes them appealing as you hold down your current full-time position.
18. Photographer or Videographer
If you excel at capturing a story through the lens, then this profession deserves mention, since it's something that you can do based on your schedule. Just remember, find your niche and stick with it. If you're a wedding photographer, focus on that. If you're more skilled at taking professional headshots or filming promotional videos, market that expertise.
19. Handmade Items
20. Senior Home Companion or Caregiver
Did you know that, according to U.S. News & World Report, there "are now more Americans age 65 and older than at any other time in U.S. history"? If you're kindhearted, patient, and looking for a rewarding career that's in demand, then consider becoming a senior home companion or caregiver.
21. Exercise or Health Specialist
Don't be surprised to find out that your local gym will exchange membership dues for teaching a course. In fact, they may even offer training. After a while, you may even start earning more than just a free membership. However, you can also become a personal trainer through the NASM Certified Personal Trainer program.
22. Pet Care or Training
Whether it's walking your neighbors' dogs, training their four-legged friends, or watching their pets while they're on vacation, working with pets can be a lucrative side business (Americans were on track to spend more than $60 billion on their pets in 2015, according to NBC News) that you can do in your spare time.
23. Child Care
If you don't have any plans this weekend or have availability on afternoons and you're great with kids, then offer to babysit or become a nanny. Start out by letting your friends, family, and neighbors know. If you watch children in your home, you may have to get a license.
If you're fluent in another language, or would love to learn, you can also start making a living as translator. To get started, you should get accredited or earn a certification. After that, you can find gigs on most freelance websites.
You can also use your language skills to teach English to students either remotely or in an actual classroom.
25. Exclusive Product Distributor
You've heard of Avon and Tupperware representatives, right? You too can become a direct marketer for exclusive products to make some extra cash on the side. If you find a legit company and are dedicated, this may actually become a full-time job.
Here's to making 2016 the best year of your life!