12 Part-Time Small Business Ideas
Starting a business does not necessarily have to mean leaving behind your nine-to-five. In fact, according to a May 2017 report published by CNN, the so-called gig economy, in which workers have a side business beyond their regular job or serve as independent freelancers, represents 34 percent of the U.S. workforce. This is expected to grow to 40 percent over the next three years–which means that if you are thinking about making the jump, you are not alone. These are our favorite part-time business ideas that have the potential to create a decent stream of side income.
Antique and Thrift Sales
If you love to hit the flea market on the weekends and have a knack for finding treasures in the most jumbled thrift store racks, turn the thrill of the bargain hunt into a thriving business. Online platforms like eBay and Etsy make it easy to create a virtual storefront for your wares. As you expand, you can even purchase your own domain and brand as an online boutique. Resale is a great part-time business because of its flexibility since you can shop and post your finds whenever you have spare time. Build a dedicated audience by selling within a specific niche. From old toys and video games to vintage clothing and jewelry and kitschy postcards and artwork, you can develop a following if you have extensive knowledge in a specific area and understand what collectors are looking for. In addition to online sales, you can book booth rentals at area flea markets to display your collectible wares.
The ease of online communication means you can start a tutoring business from the comfort of your own home by using an online platform like Skype. If you enjoy teaching and have experience in specific subjects, advertise your services through local schools, libraries and community centers. Tutoring is a versatile part-time business because you not only choose your own hours, but it can work regardless of your specialty. Love working with school-aged kids? Provide extra help in reading and elementary subjects. High school students can benefit from specialized tutoring in higher level subjects as well as SAT preparation. For both high school and college students, you can act as a writing coach or help with organization and study skills.
Not academically inclined? Try teaching guitar or piano lessons, English as a second language or even crafting. You could also develop a lucrative business teaching basic to advanced computer skills, including Microsoft Word and related programs, social media applications, desktop publishing and even programming languages. Advertise these courses through community centers that offer adult education and senior living and recreation facilities. The beauty of a tutoring business is that it allows you to create multiple income streams as you are able to devote more time to the business. In addition to one-on-one tutoring, you can offer group classes, create downloadable online lessons or even write an e-book.
Many tutors specialize in SAT prep because of the high demand and the new crop of clients every year. Word of mouth from satisfied clients will really help get this business off the ground. You can also expand into college admissions consultant and help high school seniors and their parents navigate the admissions process, financial aid forms, applications and essays and other complex areas. This is a good side business for parents who have already been through this process with one or more of their children.
If you live in an area that draws tourists, you have likely already considered renting out an extra room or two on Airbnb. But have you ever thought about making money as a property manager for Airbnb hosts in your city who live elsewhere or just prefer to be hands-off? If you have flexible part-time availability, you can advertise your services for finding and screening tenants, managing check-ins, other administrative tasks and handle issues that arise in exchange for a percentage of the rental income. If you eventually want to turn your part-time business into a full-time income, save the money you earn to make a down payment on an investment property. You can even partner with a handy friend to turn distressed properties into enviable rental units.
Those who are great with computers, possess outstanding customer service skills and have a reliable phone and internet connection have everything they need to start a part-time virtual assisting business from home. Busy professionals use virtual assistants for a range of tasks, from creating and maintaining spreadsheets to planning events, meetings, scheduling travel, drafting reports and data entry. Market your services to professional contacts and local businesses, as well as on Linked In and freelance job boards. In fact, virtual assisting was named as one of the best part-time small businesses to start by SCORE, a non-profit organization to provide small business resources supported by the U.S. Small Business Administration.
Mobile Car Washing and Detailing
You can start a mobile car washing and detailing business on a part-time basis as long as you have a reliable mode of transportation and can afford the minimal cost of cleaning supplies. Plenty of busy people love to have a clean car but might not have time to sit at the car wash or leave their vehicle at a brick-and-mortar detailing location. Market your service to this population on social media, local networking groups and even with windshield flyers at community hot spots. If you do n’t mind working weekends and are good at exerting a little elbow grease, this is a great business opportunity with little overhead that can be as part-time or full-time as you want it to be.
If you are a photography enthusiast, you likely already have the equipment and know-how you need to turn this hobby into a lucrative part-time business. Some photographers specialize in weddings and events, while others provide corporate photography or market themselves for family, newborn, maternity and lifestyle shoots. Take some free or low-cost jobs when you are first starting out in order to build a client base. An online portfolio of images will be an essential marketing tool; on the flip-side, you’ll get automatic exposure when your satisfied customers share images on social media. If you love to take photos but prefer to work solo, that does not mean you are out of luck when it comes to making your passion into a side gig. Landscape and nature photos can be sold as fine art images and advertised on stock photo sites, where those who want to use your photographs online or in a publication will pay you a royalty. This has the benefit of becoming a passive income stream once you build up a decent library of images. The Balance calls photography one of the nine most affordable part-time business ideas. Videography is a related option, especially as more businesses decide to create shareable video content for marketing purposes and need freelancers to help them create engaging multimedia content.
Custom Sewing and Alterations
Advertise your services at local dress shops and boutiques if you are handy with a sewing machine and want to make a little extra cash. You can provide everything from simple hems and repairs to custom garments and major alterations. Your area may also have a market for custom curtains and drapes. Although this business is very part-time, it is also seasonal and tends to pick up around prom and wedding season, particularly if lots of teens and young adults live in your area.
Everyone has tasks we just don’t have time to complete: returning clothes we ordered online, getting the oil changed, waiting for the repair person. Monetize these annoying must-dos by offering to complete them for other people in your spare time. This is a part-time business you can start with zero overhead if you have a reliable vehicle and lots of contacts on social media who will help you spread the word. This is also a versatile venture that can be developed into additional income streams once you build up a clientele. For example, you can work as a personal grocery shopping and meal planner if you are good at choosing recipes and can create a family’s weekly menu from start to finish.
Do you love to write and know a lot about something specific? Blogging offers a host of income opportunities for part-time writers who are able to build a following, with potential income streams that include advertising, affiliate marketing, product sponsorship, paid guest blogging spots on major websites and even podcasting and book writing. The ability to promote yourself effectively on social media and constantly provide valuable content to your readers are the secrets to making your blog a success. Keep in mind, though, that it won’t happen overnight. If you are serious about creating and maintaining a useful online resource and have the patience to let it grow over time, this could be an ideal side business for you.
Not sure about creating your own blog? Market yourself as a content writer for small businesses who want to develop a blog for marketing purposes, but don’t have the talent, skill or time to create one. Charge per post or on a project basis, and take on as much or as little work as you can handle. You can also branch out by offering comprehensive social media management services, including well-priced packages for new local businesses. If you under-promise and over-deliver, you’ll be able to provide references from tons of satisfied clients in no time.
Home Clean-out and Handyman Services
If you have the muscle to spare and don’t mind building up some sweat equity, consider marketing your services to clean out garages, basements, and attics. Pair up with an equally strong friend with a truck who can help you clear out old junk and take it away. This type of business can be started without much overhead, especially if you already have a suitable vehicle and will do the legwork to market your services on social media. You can also propose partnerships with local realtors and real estate investors who will need help clearing out distressed properties and foreclosures.
Got tools? If you know how to make basic home repairs, you can hire yourself out to hang shelves, fix creaky doors, paint, power wash and other tasks. Those will more advanced construction skills can even start a general contracting business. Some contractors double as real estate investors and “flip” houses; experts recommend dipping your toe into the market by focusing on a specific type of property in a town where you are very familiar with the housing market.
Auto Repair and Sales
Those who know how to fix cars and have an understanding of the vehicles with resale value can make a healthy living buying and selling used cars part-time. Start small by choosing one project that you think you can profit from, then branch off from there. In your spare time, study the secondhand car market in your area by exploring ads for used cars online and in newspapers. Craigslist and Facebook are popular places to post used cars for sale. If you do not want to invest in purchasing cars but want a side gig that uses your mechanic skills, consider mobile auto repair.
Since the debut of Etsy, online sales have been big business for handmade goods of all kinds. Whether you crochet personalized baby blankets or build custom furniture, you’ll always be able to find buyers for high-quality artisan items. In addition to online sales, consider renting booth space at a craft fair in your area if you can build up enough inventory.
If you’re ready to expand your part-time business venture, consider the services of an online business lender. Benefits of this type of loan include instant access to a flexible credit line of up to $250,000. You can apply online quickly from any connected device and receive an approval decision in less than 15 minutes.