11 Creative Small Business Ideas
If you love nurturing your creative side, consider turning your artistic talent into a home-based business. With the advent of the gig economy and the proliferation of online sales and marketing tools, creative business ideas can quickly grow from a small stream of side income to a full-time venture. These are our 11 favorite creative ventures for fledgling entrepreneurs.
Artisan goods enjoy a high level of market demand that can create a healthy profit if you have a talent for making things with your hands. Whether you specialize in knit or crocheted items, beaded jewelry or custom leather goods, platforms such as Etsy have made it easier than ever to set up an online storefront for your wares. You can even draw customers by offering customizable options, such as the ability to choose colors and personalize a baby blanket. If you build up an inventory rather than producing items to order, you can also reserve space at local and regional craft fairs. Another option? Partner with a boutique in your area that sells similar items to see if you can consign your crafts on their shelves. Not a crafter, but always wanted to start? Check your local library for free courses or invest in the time to teach yourself with online tutorials.
Website Design and Development
If you know how to code, delve into the large market for custom website design and development. Specialize in a specific platform, such as WordPress or Drupal, or provide flexible services the client can customize to fit their needs. Even if you haven’t profited from your web-design skills before, you can seek your very first clients on freelance sites like Upwork to build up a portfolio before setting out on your own. Build your skills with free and low-cost online coding classes. Because web design and development is such a broad market, successful and skillful entrepreneurs will enjoy plentiful expansion opportunities by learning new platforms and offering add-on services like ongoing maintenance. For example, you might start out in app development before working your way into responsive internet sites.
Build a Blog
If you love to write and enjoy sharing your knowledge with others, creating a niche blog is an excellent way to build side income. The first step is to choose a topic that others want to learn about, whether it’s vacationing with small children or vegan cooking. Write creative, compelling posts and advertise them on social media. Once you build a following, you’ll be able to sell ad space and qualify for affiliate marketing programs. Many blog authors develop e-books about their topic of choice to create an additional stream of income. You can also increase your following and create an additional income stream by sharing your expertise through an online platform like Skillshare. Best of all, you can start a blog for just the cost of an internet domain.
If you have writing talent but aren’t interested in creating your own blog, consider offering your copywriting and content-development services to other small businesses. Content marketing is an important element of online marketing for small businesses, so learn about the tips and tricks for search engine optimization and charge a premium to help other businesses bolster their online presence. Offer your services at a dramatically reduced rate to local partners in order to build a portfolio if you’re new to the industry.
Create Your Own Board Game
Board games are a hot commodity. If you have an idea for a game but aren’t sure how to develop and manufacturer it, check out the extensive templates and resources offered by The Game Crafter, an online-to-print board game publishing company. Their tools allow you to make the game you’ve always imagined and purchase as many copies as you like, which can then be resold. This is a great option if you have the imagination and strategy skills to write a board game but aren’t as experienced in manufacturing and publishing.
Gift Basket Business
If you have an eye for attractive details and love to shop, a custom gift basket business could be right up your alley. Simply create a few samples with fun containers and baskets and themed accents like ribbons and bows. Add themed gifts that can range from choices for baby showers to movie lovers to football fans to girls’ night and everything in between. You can even develop custom baskets for weddings and other events. Social media sites like Instagram and Pinterest provide a natural way to market your gift baskets. You can also create your own website or sell your baskets through a site like Etsy. Get a jumpstart in your area by creating giveaway baskets for local events that include a business card and brochure, or partner with local retailers to advertise your service in exchange for purchasing certain basket items. As with other creative businesses, it’s easy to start small in one niche area and branch out once you build a following.
Start a Subscription Box
New subscription box services are a dime a dozen, but a creative entrepreneur can come up with an idea that hasn’t been done to death. With this business idea, you’ll source cool products within a specific niche and send a monthly or quarterly sample box to your subscribers. Common examples include boxes related to fashion, cosmetics, snacks, pop culture and other fun areas of interest. If you love to shop and you think you can use your artistic skills to create a subscription that others will pay a premium for, this is a good creative business idea to consider.
If you have photography or videography skills and the right equipment (or the funds to buy it), you can advertise yourself as a custom event photographer. Wedding photography is the most common niche, but many professional shutterbugs specialize in corporate events, family and newborn portraits, modeling and acting headshots and even real estate photography. Love taking pictures but not the biggest fan of events? Consider selling your shots online through stock photography websites. As you build your talent, you can even create your own stock photo website or hire yourself out for editorial photo shoots. As video content becomes more important than ever for small businesses who want to make a big impact online, you can work with others to develop their YouTube channels, online courses and tutorials and other video assets.
Have a knack for designing beautiful outdoor spaces and a green thumb? Others will pay a premium for you to design and install flower gardens and other decorative landscape elements. Whether you already have a degree in horticulture or are working from experience, share photos of the gardens you’ve created on social media to gauge interest from your local market. To create an additional income stream along with marketing your services, write a blog or e-book that focuses on the native plants of your local region, gardening advice and other pertinent topics. This helps you position yourself as an expert in the field.
Home Decorating and Staging
If you love to decorate, you can market your services to homeowners, builders and real estate agents. The first step is to build an online portfolio with beautiful images of spaces you’ve designed, as well as a website that details your services and fees. Whether you focus on those who want to design their new home or refresh an existing space or sellers who want to create a clean slate so buyers can envision themselves in the property, you can make a hefty profit if you’re great at what you do. Many interior decorators charge an hourly fee or work with local furniture and decor stores on commission. A degree or certification in interior design or decorating is helpful, but not required.
Calligraphy and Handmade Stationery
Not only is hand lettering a fun skill to develop, but you can also create a side business if you excel at traditional calligraphy or other unique writing styles. Set up an Etsy account to market customized wedding invitations, flyers, invitations, greeting cards and even wall art. If you have drawing or painting talent, combine it with your calligraphy skills to create an even more ambitious venture. You can also consider pairing up with a friend who has similar skills to bolster your offerings. For example, you could offer hand-drawn greeting cards along with logo design and illustration.
Custom Baking or Decorating
Cakes, cookies and cupcakes for celebrations can be big business if you’re good at baking and even better at decorating. It’s easy to turn this hobby into a business by taking pictures of your best creations and posting them online. These treats are ideal for baby showers, birthdays and other celebratory events. If you’re the artistic type but aren’t the best in the kitchen, partner with a baking-savvy friend.
How to Get Started
After you decide what type of creative business is best for you, the next step is to build your brand. You’ll need a logo, a website or online platform and social media accounts for your venture. Network with friends and professional connections to expand the reach of your marketing and develop an initial client base. While logo, colors, name and web design are all important aspects of your brand, connecting with your audience through social media posts, blogs and even online newsletters will help to further define your unique voice and differentiate your offerings from those of other creators in your niche. Hire a professional photographer who can help you portray your business offerings in the best possible light.
Keep yourself on track by writing a business plan that outlines your goals. This document should include information about the products and services you’ll be selling, the channels you’ll be using to generate sales, the target audience for your wares and your overall creative process. If you’re not sure where to start, look for online templates and tutorials. Your local library or chamber of commerce likely also offer free resources for new small business owners.
When you start to make money and/or invest money in your venture, it’s important to set up a second bank account strictly for your business. Even if you’re only planning on making a bit of extra cash on the side, having personal and business funds separated will make your life much easier at tax time and streamline the process of scaling if you ever decide it’s time to grow. You should also explore local business registration and tax laws to make sure that you are following regulations closely.
As with all businesses, quality is at the forefront of creating a viable brand as an artistic entrepreneur. Make sure every aspect of your business, from your samples to your finished products to your logo and website, support your brand and represents the detail and craftsmanship you want to convey to your audience. After all, mass-produced products are everywhere; people buy handmade items because they want something they can’t get anywhere else.
As a creator, it’s possible that organization isn’t your strong suit. Putting systems in place in the early days of your business will pay dividends later on. Questions to consider include how you will be paid, what contracts you will require clients to sign, how you will track expenses, systems for managing projects and viable marketing channels.
Connect with other creative business owners for support and mentorship. Creating viable partnerships can expand the reach of your business and offer networking and companionship that you will need to build a successful artistic venture.
While most of these businesses can be started on a shoestring, the truth is that you’ll need funding to expand to a profitable level. Make it easy on yourself by considering an online business lender when it’s time for you to seek capital. Many of these businesses offer flexible terms for credit lines of up to $250,000, a streamlined application process and a loan decision in less than 15 minutes. With your smartphone, you can apply for small business funding on the fly from anywhere you happen to be.