This article is excerpted from U.S. News money senior editor Kimberly Palmer’s book, “The Economy of You: Discover Your Inner Entrepreneur and Recession-Proof Your Life,” which was released this month. Copyright © 2014 Kimberly Palmer. Published by AMACOM Books, a division of American Management Association, New York, NY. Used with permission. All rights reserved

While this suggestion could not be further from the standard small business loan, it cannot be denied that the strategy paid off. The company has now earned around $1.65 million in seed funding from Andreessen Horowitz, CrunchFund, Spark Capital and Chicago Ventures, and has been named one of the Top 5 Silicon Beach Startups to Watch by Entrepreneur.

If you don’t mind doing other people’s chores, then TaskRabbit may be the right side business idea for you. Earn a little side money doing odd jobs like walking your neighbor’s dog or mowing Mr. Smith’s lawn. Running errands not your style? Tell that to the top taskers on the portal who reportedly earn as much as $7000 a month, making this a full-time business idea for some.
Don’t freak out about not being able to code just yet – you can build and sell websites on Flippa without any coding experience. Flippa is a marketplace for buying and selling web businesses, apps and domain names. It’s a godsend for savvy entrepreneurs that are always brimming with ideas for new hustles. In essence, this is how it works: you brainstorm a startup idea, secure a catchy domain name, use a WordPress theme to build it out and make it look appealing, and then sell it in an auction on Flippa. Alec Larson has been doing this for some time, and claims to be making $1,000 to $1,500 on Flippa every month. There’s no clever secret behind this – you come up with compelling ideas, flesh them out and sell them to eager entrepreneurs. The essential upfront investment is minimal: starting a website will cost you $2.45 a month, including a free domain name registration, plus your time and effort to put the pieces together. Certainly worth a try.
There isn’t one way to bootstrap your business—and this can be both a positive and a negative. Bootstrapping can offer entrepreneurs an opportunity to be flexible, creative, and fund their business on their own terms. It often results in cobbling together a variety of revenue streams in order to establish a solid financial platform to get a business going. However, this can also be a risky, unstable endeavor, which is a potential downside to consider.
Think about websites like Udemy, which gives teachers a platform to teach online courses. A business like this allows people to share their expertise with students while making a living—all without the need for a physical location, or even a set schedule. Or maybe you prefer to approach things a little more creatively. If you’re crafty, you might consider a custom phone case business, which helps you lets customers add personal flair to their phones.
If you've got the attitude (and look), there should be a product or service out there on the hunt for the right model to promote their brand as a side business idea. You can sign up with a large agency, find a freelance agent, or look for your own modeling gigs as an independent talent. Since modeling is a complex field, get all the advice you need before jumping right in and find a mentor who can guide you through some of the early challenges it'll take to establish your brand. Depending on your preference, you can specialize in a single media format such as video or still images, to build a compelling portfolio and grow this into a business idea that has the potential to scale.
Having testimonials on your website is key to your credibility. You will want to have an upbeat web page that reflects you and the passion you bring to everything you do. Include a small video introducing yourself, as people will need to be able to relate to you to purchase your services. Make sure to break down the different pricing options that you have available in detail, so potential customers know exactly what they will receive for their money.
So where does the money come in? As your audience starts to grow and you begin attracting more and more traffic, a whole array of different blog monetization options will open up to you. It’s best to choose the most organic ways that won’t detract from your blog’s reputation. For example, if you’re blogging about walking as a hobby, start selling custom walking trail plans or promoting walking boots. As mentioned earlier, it’s best to have multiple sources of income, as any one of them can shrink unexpectedly. The five main categories of income streams that bloggers tend to adopt are:
Most people, even those many won’t admit it, love moving their bodies. It's also a great workout. If at some point in your life, you had to hang your dancing shoes for a more sensible office job, there's nothing stopping you from earning money with this side business idea as a passion project around your day job. Part-time dance instructors get a fraction of the pie that their full-time peers enjoy, but it can add up to hundreds each week if you're consistent—making for a great side business idea to those with the skills and drive.
Be sure to consider your concept thoroughly, to test it out among friends and family members, and to secure their business as well. Be organized, commit to your plan, and hold yourself accountable. Remember, you’re your own boss in this endeavor, and need to discipline and commend yourself accordingly. And last of all, if you don’t succeed the first time around, try, try again!
Those who have experience in HR and a thorough understanding of Applicant Tracking Systems  (ATS) will do well. You will need a certain amount of people skills to attract clients, but the results will matter far more than how friendly and personable you are. If 90% of your clients find a job in their field after paying you a visit, these numbers will speak for themselves.
If you start babysitting when you’re younger and gain experience, you can charge more. Parents love to be able to go out to dinner and know that they’re leaving their kids with someone trustworthy. Start small by offering to babysit your friends or neighbors’ children and then make sure you advertise your services on Facebook as well. Do a great job, and your business can grow simply by word of mouth.
This business consists of an individual, or a team, who are hired to take quality pictures of properties for sale. The purpose is to attract potential buyers who view the property online. Due to the competitive nature of the real estate industry, the demand for quality property photos is elevated and perpetual. Proper lighting and point of view helps a property stand out above the competition, driving potential buyers to view the property.
If you know a thing or two about paid internet marketing and are comfortable with Google, a great way to make some extra income as a side business idea is to sign a freelance contract to manage a company’s Google Ad Campaigns, and gradually start bringing on more clients as your consulting business grows. Just be sure to brush up on all the right business slang and industry jargon that's pervasive in the online marketing world before you launch unprepared into this side business idea.
Coffee beans are actually the pit of coffee cherries. They’re green, hard and un-brewable in their raw state. A coffee roasting business roasts green coffee beans to light (city), medium (full city) and dark (full city+) roast levels so that they can be brewed. Roasters may sell their roasted coffee directly to individuals, or through coffee shops, grocers and other retailers.
If you’re adept at woodworking and have some basic equipment, it’s easy to get into business making deck furniture. It only requires a few items – a saw, a drill, a sander – and some creativity and passion for working with wood. If you have the tools or just want to turn your hobby into a business, this may be a great small business idea for you. In addition to creating new items, you could also focus on repairing existing wooden furniture or woodwork.

If you love to travel and find yourself randomly searching for airfare sales or browsing Lonely Planet, why not carve out a niche for yourself as a private travel agent? Take my friend, Mark Jackson's lead with what he's doing to build a travel consulting side business idea. Start with word of mouth recommendations from friends who know they can count on you for the cheapest flights, create a Facebook or LinkedIn group to invite people who want to stay on top of the latest deals and eventually you could spin this business idea into a full-time consultancy teaching people how to make your dream trip a reality.


To market yourself as a consultant, you will, of course, have to be an expert in something. But, as Brett rightly says, “most people starting a business are.” What are you good at? What skills from your career can translate over into a viable consulting business? Think about your previous duties and areas in which you have excelled, and go from there.
Packaging your skills and knowledge into a downloadable eBook that delivers value to those seeking to learn a skill, advance in their careers, or start their own businesses, makes for a strong value proposition if you target the right audience. Check out Leslie Samuel's great guide to selling eBooks online and start building your strategy around this side  business idea. This class with Tara Gentile on CreativeLive will also show you how to use your existing body of work to write an eBook within the next week. Put in some serious work with your eBook, build an audience and you'll have a platform to pitch traditional publishers on landing a book deal—then you can write one of the best business books and really build your personal brand.
Fiverr is a great place for first-time freelancers who might not have tons of experience and want to build up a portfolio of their work. You'll be able to complete simple tasks ranging from logo design, to creating animations, or even drawing a company logo on your forehead. While this side business idea likely won't be growing into a million dollar startup for you, it can still be a platform for funding your next big business idea. Want to learn more about Fiverr's history and how to get the most out of selling on the platform? Listen to my interview with Fiverr CEO Micha Kaufman.

A life coach is there to speak with clients about any issues the clients have, help clients set motivating goals for themselves, navigate through important personal and professional decisions, and much more. Though most life coaches help coach clients in various aspects in their lives, it is possible to specialize your coaching to an area about which you are really passionate. A few examples of specialized life coaches include health coaches, special needs life coaches, relationship coaches, career coaches, and executive coaches.
While having a formal background in graphic design is absolutely going to be helpful, it’s also relatively easy to learn the foundations of graphic design on your own. An increasingly easy-to-use Adobe Illustrator and even more easily accessible tools like Stencil and Visme are making it so that just about anyone with two opposable thumbs, a bit of creativity, and motivation can earn a side income doing things like designing (and selling) images like these motivational quotes that can be printed onto posters and sold on platforms like Etsy. Or you can find a local startup, small business owner, or photographer who could benefit from some extra help designing or altering images.

Obviously, this business is ideal for veteran, practicing artists. It is also educational in nature, so it is good for those who have formal or informal experience with being a teacher or teacher's assistant. Finally, it's a job that is best for a “people person,” as your entire business model revolves around prolonged contact with strangers, so being able to engage and connect with them immediately is crucial.


Gig Economy Tip: Platforms like Fiverr are dependent on reviews. If you’re just starting out, pay a friend to buy your gig and review it after you complete the project. This will allow you to have a high star rating which will allow you to get your next few customers. Without a rating, it can be hard for a client to trust you enough to give you your first opportunity.
Says Abbey Finch, who used freelance writing to help fund her startup Scribe Space, “I also surprisingly got a lot of luck using Craigslist and Odesk to find new work. I did everything from writing for a local, free newspaper covering town council meetings to writing how-to guides for eBay. I’ve written for lawyers, doctors, home improvement specialists, a wedding band, and so much more.”
If you have experience with marketing, SEO or a knack for getting people excited about the products and services you use on a regular basis, think about refining your skills and putting them to work as a small business marketing consultant in your region—especially if you can become a local SEO expert and can help local clients rank higher in their search results as your side business idea. Businesses of all sizes are in constant need of bringing in more customers, which is where you come in with your business idea. Start by pitching some of these small business marketing ideas by Brian Downard and you'll be sure to impress the first set of clients you begin working with in your area.

If you’re forced to disclose the fact, it might make your employer suspicious of your on-site activities and cause them to watch you more closely. On the other hand, it may make them see you in a new light and open opportunities for you with the company. Either way, you’ll have to carefully consider whether or not your employer has the right to know what you’re doing, and what, if anything, is at risk if you don’t tell.
I can tell you how I earned extra Money for my family, working just 3 nights a week for a few hours, I could make between 100 – 300 a night!! I was a Bathroom Lady @ a Local, busy Nightclub. You want to make sure the Club has a Ladies Night..and several concerts every couple Months. Just go and talk to the Manager/ Owner of the Club and tell them you will take care of the Ladies for them, provide extra Security, keep bathroom clean..Leave it clean..Free of charge..Have a tip jar Handy and give out soap, paper towels, mints, breathwash, combs..splash of body spray and be SUPER Friendly! Have Fun! I supported 3 kids ..worked late hours but the money is amazing! Quick Money too but you only get tips so be friendly..
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