Can't think of a side-business to start?

cute-cuddly-toy1Everybody wants to be an entrepreneur, or so it seems; but, where to start?

If you can’t think of a side business to start, Trent at The Simple Dollar gives you a ‘kick-start’ with this list of 50 Side Businesses You Can Start On Your Own

… you can click the link and browse through all of his ideas, but here is a sampling:

What follows is a list of 50 of those ideas that I’ve collected over the last year or so. Each of these ideas is very simple to start, and most can be done as a sole proprietorship at first (meaning you don’t have to file any legal documents to get started, though you will want to do that if it starts to take off). Most of these can be done at home in your spare time in your spare space, too.

Ready? See if there are any ideas below that fit you well. If you find an idea, seek out a guide on how to get started in that area.

Blogging If you enjoy writing, find a topic you’re passionate about and start a blog on the topic. All you need is a computer, some time, and some energy to consistently write.

Candle making Candle making is a great little craft to learn. You can often easily sell the candles at local shops and also through websites like

Event coordinator Events like family reunions and large parties are often full of busywork that many people simply don’t want to tackle. That can be the perfect place for you to step in and take charge of the planning and coordination.

Jewelry making If you have a good eye for detail work and a lot of patience, homemade jewelry can be quite profitable. As with other items on this list, there are many opportunities to sell such items through local gift shops or at sites like etsy.

Pet walking Many busy people leave their pets home all day, but realize that those pets really could use a vigorous walk (and an opportunity to relieve themselves) during the day. Pet walking is a great opportunity for exercise, fresh air, and some pocket money if you have free time during each day.

Scrapbook making Many people dream of having beautiful scrapbooks. They collect all the materials they want in the scrapbooks but never follow through on the actual creation. You can step in here – take their ideas and materials and assemble a scrapbook for them.

Virtual assistant Many ultra-busy professionals appreciate having someone who can check and answer their email, organize task lists for them, update their calendars, and so on, with minimal interaction. The best part is that you can provide this service from home with a good internet connection.

I’m betting the readers have many, many more ideas along these same lines.

I’m also betting that my readers have many, many more ideas along these lines … and, each is a potentially GREAT Making Money 201 idea that can:

– Produce a little extra income

– Boost your savings rate (remember, you WILL save at least 50% of this extra money, right?)

– Help you build up some capital for future businesses investments (putting the 50%+ savings to its highest/best use)

BUT … did you spot the problem?

Almost all of these business ideas (and, I mean Trent’s full list, not just the random few that I have sampled above) seem to have one – I feel – major flaw:

They (almost) all rely on the fruits of your personal labor.

And, it’s easy to understand why: you have a skill – perhaps learned on your job or via a hobby – and you naturally apply that to a business: you start making some cute little cuddly toys for your kids, then friends, then the school fete, and before you know it … you’re in the Cute Cuddly Toy Business!

Even though you are in the business of making PRODUCTS (i.e. Cute Cuddly Toys), you are really in the SERVICE business, because it is all tied to YOUR ability to keep making Cute Cuddly Toys.

The problem is that these businesses are hard to expand past … well … YOU. And, any business based on Y O U is actually just another J O B.

Sure, you can expand by hiring people to do what you do, but then:

– Will you be able to find / train sufficient people to manage growth?

– Will you be happy with their quality?

– Will you be able to manage people (they get sick; ‘forget’ to turn up; have temper-tantrums; etc.; etc.)?

– Will YOU be around (will you get sick; have family conflicts; etc.; etc.)?

There is a simple solution:

Turn these service-based businesses into product-based businesses; here’s how:

1. Start with your service-based business, but keep it small as you will probably shut it down pretty soon

2. Video yourself doing what it is that you do (including how you buy/sell/make) … every step, sequentially … and, explain what you are doing as you go along

=> you are creating a series of short instructional videos 🙂

3. Write down the same steps that you followed in the videos … every step, sequentially … and, explain what you are doing as you go along

=> you are creating a series of short instructional manuals 🙂

4. Write down a list of materials required and places to get them

=> you are creating a Buyer’s Directory 🙂

5. Package the lot up!

=> you are creating a course in [insert part-time business of choice] 🙂

6. Buy a web-site-building package such as Bebiz and/or Site Build It! and sell your course (and/or materials required to make Cute Cuddly Toys) online!

=> you are creating an internet-based business 🙂

Can you see what you have done?

You have turned your ongoing personal labor (i.e. making the Cute Cuddly Toys) into once-off personal labor (i.e. developing a course on how to make/sell Cute Cuddly Toys), and then selling those toys online … once the course is complete and the web-site is set up, you can outsource most of the manual work of the business (fulfilling/shipping orders) to someone else when you get too big (or too sick) to fulfill them yourself.

Not to mention, you can make a lot more money; for example this guy who turned his hobby of wire-sculpture jewellery-making into a $600k per year online business.

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10 thoughts on “Can't think of a side-business to start?

  1. Great post! I think a very useful book for people thinking of starting their own business is “The E-Myth Revisited”, which talks exactly about what you talked about above: creating systems and processes to build a business!

  2. This is a brilliant post. I read the Simple Dollar post too a while back and felt something was missing. You put it very nicely in words.

  3. @ Money Funk. Good Luck and looking forward to hearing about your progress; I’m glad when any reader (a) tries any of these exercises that you kindly linked to , and (b) shares their journey.

  4. Pingback: The Business Side of Craft | Effective Business Plans

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