★ Small Business Start-Up Ideas | Creative Money Making Tips ★
Work From Home Inspiration Plus One-Man Business Suggestions
I have sold online since I was 15 and I now make a living with my own websites. I have always loved making my own money and coming up with creative entrepreneurial ideas, and if you have the will and ambition to succeed in business, then start planning now! Especially at the moment, since jobs are extremely hard to come by for anyone - but especially young people - entrepreneurship is extremely important in providing more jobs and getting the economy going again.
So if you are thinking about setting up a business, whether you only want a small one-man business or something you plan on building up into a company that employs hundreds of people in the future, I hope this page gives you some ideas. Most of them are easy businesses to startup - either with no premises needed, or with a low capital investment required - and so you can always test the market first before committing all your time to the business.
I have also included links to advice on starting your own business plus some really inspiring business success stories from the UK and around the world. Enjoy!
It's all about finding a niche in the market, or improving on what other people are doing - then making sure people know you are there!
Business Idea List 1
- Ice-cream van seller (although this is mainly a summer job). Try to get a spot at shows around the country, and try and stand out from the rest - perhaps with a unique van design or interesting and original ice-cream recipes. You could also have other food vans including smoothies, candy (good at fun fairs) or hot dogs. Good if you like to travel around.
- Run courses in your field of expertise whether it's jewelry making, baking, crafts, cake decorating, painting, web design, beginner's internet lessons etc
- Window cleaner or car washer/valeter
- Handmade crafts - sell online or at craft stalls. E.g. ceramics, glass blowing, bag making, book binding or sculpture building
- Buy low, sell high! Find a product (perhaps to import) and sell it on. A particularly inspiring story is of this teenage entrepreneur who made millions before he was even 16!
- Invent your own products and try and bring them to market. The best way to do this is think of a problem and then try and solve it, think of a gap in the market (a niche) and try and fill it, or try and improve a current product (but no copying!) Have a look at your products at home and think whether they are the best they could be. Try and make your product stand out....if every current product is rectangular, make a triangular one! If you have a hobby, sport or other interest, it might be easier to focus on these areas.
- Baker/cake decorator - have your own shop, or sell at farmer's markets or online.
If you don't like cakes, you could make any other edibles such as fudge, chocolates, pastries or jam/marmalade.
- If you're good at web design, then this is something you can do whilst working from home
- Good with creating graphics on computers? Sell your services for creating images, logos, banners etc for people
- Become a self-employed teacher of a sport or hobby, whether it's zumba, aerobics, swimming, scuba diving, sky diving, football or DJ-ing
- Academic tutor
- Write a novel/children's book...or three. Then try and get it published.
- Have a business run only from a website. This could be all kinds of things from a review site for restaurants, plumbers or other services in your country, it could be a travel guide with guest contributors from around the world, it could be a forum aimed at a particular target audience, it could be a list of every pizza takeaway/taxi service/restaurant/club/bar or other place in your country, with address, phone numbers and reviews. It could be a store that sells gadgets or photo prints for example, it could be a price comparison site, a place to discover little-known singers and bands, it could be an information resource, it could be a games site or... anything!
- Antiques, vintage and other buying and selling. You can seek out vintage products, antiques and other uncommon products in all kinds of places including car boot sales, charity shops and thrift stores, auctions, house clearances, markets etc. Try to stick to a theme (e.g. a certain style, a certain decade ...to keep your collection more targeted and concise). If the products need fixing up, teach yourself how to do that yourself to save money and then sell on for a profit. Vintage clothing is trendy at the moment.
- If you can play a musical instrument, offer half hour or hour-long lessons. This is the kind of thing you could do at home and fit around your current work commitments.
If you decide you are going to have an internet presence (which is highly recommended for any business), then make sure you have bought a good .com address. For instance, if you have a cafe and it's called 'Amy's' cafe, try and get www.amys-cafe.com. If you invent a product, try and get the .com for your exact product name e.g. www.ipod.com rather than www.new-ipod-gadget.com for example.
Business Idea List 2
- Try and get a product into a high street store - this could be a brand new creative idea, a gift product for gadget stores, a food product/recipe for supermarkets, a beauty product for health store chains, a decorative product for home & garden shops etc. When creating your own products, branding is so important. Make sure you have a great name, do some market research, test the public's reaction to your product, do any necessary allergy/safety tests, employ a pro to create a logo/graphics and then be persistent with your intended stores!
Some shops have 'open days' where you can pitch your product to them - so what out for them.
- Find a solution to a problem, patent it and sell the idea
- Fix things - bicycles, computers, car bodywork etc
- Take a job you have had or do have currently and go solo - plumber, hairdresser, mechanic, tool maker, dressmaker, graphic designer etc.
- Your own restaurant/cafe/tea room
- Your own bricks and mortar shop - for anything from DIY equipment to clothes, garden ornaments and furniture
- Artist. Try and get your work in exhibitions and shows, and just generally get your work 'out there' any way you can, so people know you exist. Sell original art or prints - at craft shows, stalls, online and more.
- Furniture restorer - either learn to professionally restore people's antique furniture, or buy damaged second hand furniture and other decorative items and restore them or revamp them into something modern.
- Animal breeder - for instance a dog breeder. You could breed common, pedigree or unusual breeds and show them off at dog shows. Any prizes won will increase the appeal (and price) of your animals.
- Run a pet service such as dog walking, looking after pets when the owners are on holiday, or pet hairdressers and manicurists etc.
- Chocolatier - create your own line and brand of chocolates. One woman who has done this very successfully is Mary O'Brien.
- Gardener - from mowing people's lawns to weeding and perhaps some landscaping. You can do just simple jobs or more complex jobs depending on your experience and knowledge
- Odd-job-man (or woman) - advertise your services for doing jobs around the home such as DIY jobs, repair jobs, painting and decorating etc, depending on what you can do. Could aim your services at busy people and the elderly.
- Busking. Unlikely to earn a living but if you're good enough and you manage to get a good spot in a busy area, you never know! You could be a 'live' statue, you could dance, you could sing or you could play an instrument. Most of these require a good amount of talent though.
- Full-time blogger. If you have a passion for writing and stories or knowledge to share, then start your own blog and get revenue from adverts placed on your blog. The more traffic/people visiting your blog, the more you make, but you have to be very popular to make a living from it. If you love to bake for instance, post new and interesting recipes you have tried, with nice big photos. You never know, you could be approached to write a recipe book if you get well known enough!
- Hop on the latest craze/fad/trend bandwagon to get a slice of the action. Although this business idea only generally lasts for the length of the craze, you can try and take advantage of the wave of profit. Examples include cupcakes, which majorly took off and were everywhere for years and people even had cupcake towers instead of tiered cakes at weddings and events, and I'm sure you will have also seen the 'Keep Calm and Carry On' posters around (and a million variations besides!)
PREPARE & SAVE
If you have a job currently, don't leave it until you are as sure as you can be that the business will be a success. Perhaps run the business as a sideline to start with and only leave your job when your business is earning enough. Oh, and save lots of money before you leave your job too, so you have a safety net...just in case things don't work out!
Business Idea List 3
- Online writer/travel writer. There are lots of websites including this one (Squidoo) where it is possible to earn quite a bit of money from writing quality web pages. It probably won't be enough to live off though so you'll need more streams of income. Being a travel writer/blogger, it is possible to earn money whilst traveling the world.
Click here for an article on becoming a travel writer.
- Ebay seller - sell other people's unwanted products for a commission
- Think about your own experiences and problems with finding different services or products in your area or country. For instance, maybe there isn't a pizza delivery service anywhere nearby, perhaps you have a business which posts a few products but you hate waiting in queues at the post office - so maybe you could set up a local collection service. Perhaps you've seen a product you really want but it is only available on a website which doesn't ship to your country. Maybe you are plus size and can't find any clothes you like. Whenever you have a frustration like this, think 'could I solve it myself?'
- Grow plants/cacti/fruit/veg and sell them. Perhaps specialise in unusual types to do something no-one else is.
- Farmer or own a mini farm, perhaps with just chickens and sell the eggs?
- Photographer - portrait, journalistic, product or food photographer, or taking your own photos of places and sell the prints, or sell the rights to the photo to a large photo printing company.
- Be in a band (or a solo singer) or form a dance troupe and perform gigs. Obviously talent is essential for this :-)
- Become a YouTube phenomenon - whether your video goes viral or your video series becomes super popular, you can earn money this way - but it takes quite a lot of luck. There are all kinds of video series, including instructional lessons, funny videos, pranks, craft how-tos etc. My favourite story of a YouTube success is this one.
- Take a course to learn about a skill and then use it to set up a business e.g. shoe repair, plastering, house painting, candle making,
- Property - whether it's buying houses and renting them out, buying houses at auction then renovating them and selling them on for a profit, or buying in an up-and-coming area and taking a risk that the house price will rise significantly in the near future. Obviously this type of venture needs a large initial investment.
- Take an existing general business idea and either aim it at a different target market (an example of this is a cupcake company who aimed their cupcakes at men only) OR put a new slant on the idea to make it different (an example of this is taking a fast food concept and making it healthy or perhaps focus on a different style of food like German or Mexican.)
- Draw quick sketches, paintings or charicatures of people. Charge a price depending on the quality. If you're a beginner, you can still get away with doing this if you ask people to pay what they think it's worth.
PLAY TO YOUR STRENGTHS
The first thing you should do when coming up with business ideas is to really think about what you know most about and what you are good at. Don't pick something that doesn't interest you - you will soon get bored. It can be a little thing you do well - perhaps you have an amazing recipe for jam? - or an area you have knowledge in, which means you can provide a service - such as fixing computers or bicycles.
Inspiring Business Success Stories & Advice
- Quit Your Day Job
Lots of inspiring stories from people who work full-time in the world of crafts.
- Top 100 Startups
100 success stories of startup businesses in 2010.
A great story of the youngest person to ever become a supermarket stockist.
- 7 Successes
Facts and figures on 7 successful businesses.
- Entrepreneur Blog
Lots of success stories from people who started their own business.
- BBC Start-Up Stories
A collection of stories from huge companies and small businesses.
- Taking a Product to Market
The steps involved in turning an invention into a business.
- Bringing a Food Product to Market
Tips and advice for making money from your original recipe.
- Business Guide UK
Amazing amount of information - the no-nonsense Abi fact sheet is fab!
- Wikipedia Guide
Lots of basic info for the business beginner.
- Starting a Business in the U.S.
State-by-state guides for business startups.
BEFORE TAKING THE PLUNGE
Make sure you research as much as you can about what you need to do to start your business, who your target market is, whether there is enough of a market for your product/service and whether there is a need/desire for your business. Also research the competition and how they run their business - what makes you different? This research will also come in handy if looking for investment from a bank/investor.
More Useful & Inspiring Websites
A fantastic website where anyone can ask for funds for their business.
Submit your invention for product development and the chance to sell it online.
- Business Opportunities
Thousands of business ideas to inspire you.
- Business Idea Center
Hundreds of ideas to get your imagination going.
Your essential fix of business inspiration.
- Plan Cruncher
Enter your information to produce a one page business plan quickly.
- Cupcake Niche
The Butch Bakery took a classic product and marketed it to a different market.
- 105 Fun Ideas
Out-of-the-box ideas thought of by high school students.
The pros and cons of this type of business.
- Business Plan Templates
Guidance and free templates for planning your business.
TEST TEST TEST!
If you decide to market your product on your own, you must refine a prototype. James Dyson said it took him 5,127 protypes before he was happy with his vacuum.
As much as you may want to sell to the largest companies straight away, sometimes you have to start with smaller retailer, perhaps a speciality one or even online, to establish some traction first.
Steve Jobs; Entrepreneur Extraordinaire!
An inspiring speech by the late Steve Jobs, who started both Apple and Pixar - two extremely popular companies and super recognisable brands.
Ronald Reagan Quote
“Obstacles are things a person sees when he takes his eyes off his goal.”