How to Make Money as a Small Business Owner
Gone are the days of searching print ads for a job to make a living. In today’s environment, the internet is at your fingertips, making it easier than ever to earn money. In fact, setting up two streams of income can be a simple task. You can start by:
- Completing surveys
- Driving for Uber
- Taking pictures
These are just some of the money-making strategies you’ll learn about in this article. The internet provides ample opportunities to start a small business that makes money quickly. Many of these opportunities use skills you already have. These skills can be anything from grammar or technical skills to social media skills. Just because you already have a full-time job doesn’t mean you can’t make even more cash with a variety of side jobs. As you pursue these jobs, keeping a positive mindset will be a key to your success.
Looking to start your own small business? Download our free eBook:
Opportunity Knocks: Find the Right New Business Idea for You
Do you have any personal skills or expertise that would make you a natural candidate to start a certain type of lucrative business?
For example, a nutritionist could easily make the case for starting a health food company, while an accountant could partner with a software developer to create a better tax preparation service. You may be better positioned than most people to take advantage of an opportunity by leveraging expertise you already have.
Business Ideas that Make Money Fast
Market demands don’t always align perfectly with your passions and dreams, but they may offer you an opportunity to make money faster. If you can live with this trade-off, then consider these tips for identifying successful business ideas:
Solving a Vexing Problem for Small Businesses
Profitable businesses often solve problems for consumers by offering a product, service, or expertise. Sometimes, consumers don’t realize they even have a problem until a business pops up ready to solve it. For example, Stitch Fix, a company estimated to be worth $300 million, acts as a personal stylist and ships boxes of clothes and fashion accessories to consumers. This service is a quick solution for consumers who want the services of a personal stylist, who don’t enjoy buying clothing, or who are too busy to shop.
Play Off on Emerging Trends and Technologies
You don’t necessarily have to reinvent the wheel. Many startups play off of emerging trends and technologies in the consumer and business markets. Consider all the food (and meal prep/delivery) startups that have sprung out of the organic and natural food movement. When it comes to creating a business, identify the industries that hold your interest. Become a true expert in them by reading relevant blogs, magazines and newsletters. Not only will you be building your knowledge, but also you’ll be able to keep your eye on key trends and new technologies.
Making a Current Product Cheaper or Better
Consider how you can make a popular product or service better (or perhaps sell it for less). This was Apple Inc.’s original secret sauce. For example, Steve Jobs didn’t invent the personal computer or the smartphone, but he saw an opportunity to make those consumer technologies easier and more fun to use.
Things to Consider when Starting Your Small Business
If you have come up with an easily replicable or easily stolen startup idea, then you’ll want to protect it.
Once you’ve generated some intriguing business ideas, it’s time to picture where you and your work will best reside: online, offline, or some combination of the two:
- Will your job be performed online via the internet, or offline in the “real” world?
- Is your idea something that will enable you to work remotely—that is, from home?
- Will you be able to move your work online by monetizing a blog, website, YouTube channel, or Instagram?
- Or perhaps your business idea is better suited to part-time status, or what’s now known as a side hustle?
It also can be valuable to take a step back and examine your beliefs about money—some of which you may have inherited from your family, friends, or in the workplace. You’ll find that your attitude can affect your relationship with money.
And if all this talk about work sounds like a lot of outbound effort, then also consider some of the ways that you can earn what’s called passive income—investing your resources rather than your time.
Your ability to spend and save money for the big goals in your life—whether that’s a home, your children’s educations, or a comfortable retirement—is driven by the first requirement: In some way, shape, or form, you have to earn a decent living. Let’s look at your options.
Make Money Online
The internet is built for convenience. People no longer have to commute to the same building for work every day. Employees can log in remotely from virtually anywhere on the globe and work successfully. This means that anyone has the opportunity to make a steady income from wherever they are. All you need is an internet connection, a computer, and an idea of how to pursue a number of internet-based jobs.
Some internet-based jobs to consider include:
If you love to correct grammar and punctuation, being a proofreader may be your calling. Perks can include working from home and setting your own hours. Startup costs are generally low, as all you’ll typically need are a computer, grammar style guides (such as the latest AP Stylebook and Chicago Manual of Style) and perhaps certain software programs used by your clients. You can promote your service on sites like Upwork, LinkedIn, and other places where prospective clients may look.
Social Media Manager
You’ll need to know all the latest trends and tricks for building and engaging an audience through social media—whether through Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, or other social channels—as well as how to use analytics to gauge how well your social campaigns perform. Being active on social media is a good first step.
Podcast Producer or Editor
You may hear the term “content marketing” more than you hear about advertising these days, as companies seek to engage their prospects and clients via all types of content. Podcasts are an integral part of content marketing, and can be a great niche for someone who wants to have a thriving content marketing business. It all comes down to experience, and having a portfolio of existing work to sell your expertise to new clients. A professional website with examples of your best work is a must.
Even if you have a degree in design—or just ample design experience—it’s important to stay current on all the latest design programs and trends. If you need a refresher, graphic design courses at local colleges can help. Designers who also have animation and web development experience typically have the most opportunities. Develop an attractive website that houses samples of your best work to show to prospective clients, and network through business networking groups and in places where businesses look for graphic designers, such as Upwork and LinkedIn.
Dreaming of a job where your “research” involves traveling to exotic destinations? A travel agency could be the business for you. You’ll need to take some travel planning courses, such as those offered by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), or even get a degree in travel and tourism. A handful of states, including California and Florida, also require travel agents to register. It doesn’t hurt to serve a specific niche—perhaps a geographical one, like becoming the go-to person for Orlando, Fla. theme parks or for trips to Central America. Or you could channel your inner Rick Steves and become a European vacation expert.
Career or Life Coach
If you like counseling people and helping them help themselves, being a career or life coach may be your calling. You can get training and certification through organizations accredited by the International Coach Federation (ICF). Rather than being vague about your expertise, refine your area of coaching to attract a certain group of clients—whether that’s leadership coaching or helping people who are making career transitions.
Make Money by Working Offline
No matter who you are or what your skill set is, there are ways for you to make money quickly. Many of these ways involve using skills you already have. Some examples of jobs that can help transform an empty wallet into a bursting one in no time include:
Food Delivery Services
Depending on your location, you may need several licenses and permits, including those that allow you to handle food. Consider partnering with popular local restaurants and food businesses for a win-win: They can bring in more business while you benefit from their established recognition in the community. (If you plan to prepare the food yourself, you may need to work from a commercial kitchen.) You’ll need a website unless you work with an established food delivery company, such as BiteSquad.
Demand for well-crafted home furnishings has been growing. The time could be right for more high-end, uniquely designed, domestically-made furniture. Success in this area will likely depend on finding a niche and utilizing unusual signature designs. Your marketing strategy will also be key: Will you want to sell online, get your furniture into retail stores, or both? Your operations initially can easily be set up right from home, either in a garage, basement, or designated room.
For someone who knows how to manage financial records, this can be a solid business opportunity that requires minimal startup capital. You may even work from home. You can acquaint yourself with bookkeeping through online courses, but it still might make a great deal of sense to pursue a two-year associate degree in bookkeeping or accounting and get on-the-job experience before setting out on your own. Certification from the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers could also enhance your credentials.
Being a “neat freak” could make you a natural fit for this type of startup, for which you will want to stay abreast of trends in home and office organization, and be savvy about how you market your services. Industry groups such as the National Association of Professional Organizers offer training and certification, and also provide pointers on how to launch a profitable small business and network with prospective clients. Many professional organizers use social media to share organizational tips and meet potential clients.
If you are in good physical health and enjoy washing and organizing, then cleaning homes may be a good work opportunity. It’s strenuous, gritty work, but it’s an affordable business to start. All you need are cleaning supplies and transportation to get to your clients’ locations. Do some market research to determine what kind of housecleaning service would be most in demand in your area. Then carve your niche and come up with a competitive pricing structure. For example, many startup cleaning services focus on using environmentally-friendly practices and products.
This is a good option if you want a flexible schedule. Uber drivers can work at any time during the day and can set their own hours. Making money is easy with Uber: For each pickup, you are instantly paid and can transfer the money right away with the app. There are also opportunities to make extra money during peak hours. In addition to this, many Uber drivers make extra cash by delivering food for Uber Eats.
Enthusiastic shutterbugs can turn their pastime into a paycheck. Interning or apprenticing with an established professional photographer can help you learn the business. Avoid a common trap while starting a photography business: buying a ton of expensive equipment and photo editing software. Instead, buy used and slowly build your equipment inventory based on your needs. Building a strong portfolio and finding a niche can help: Are you interested in shooting sports events, weddings, family portraits, or something else?
This may seem like a crowded field, with competing companies ranging from Peapod to Amazon to established grocery stores. There may, however, still be ways to carve out a niche. Perhaps you’ll focus on sourcing groceries from health food stores or co-ops that offer organically grown produce, or you can provide extra perks such as recipes and accompanying ingredients.
Do you have some decent handyman skills? Are you a great wedding DJ? You might try offering your services on sharing economy websites, such as TaskRabbit or Thumbtack. Note that you may have to work odd hours or change plans when work comes your way. If you’re lucky and have skills that are in demand, you may be able to build a reliable base of clients who regularly seek your services.
Making Money From Home
Starting a business that allows you to work from home is more achievable than ever. This is largely due to technology like Skype and Slack that provide the tools necessary to make remote work effective.
Advantages of working from home include saving time during the day, having a more flexible schedule, decreasing travel time, and encountering fewer office distractions. At home, it’s easier to take a quick jog on your lunch break to increase productivity than if you are in the office.
However, there can be disadvantages, as well. These include trouble balancing work and home life, interruptions from family members, missing out on the camaraderie with coworkers, having less communication with your team, and being too comfortable at home to produce. As an individual, you will need to evaluate whether remote work—which may be made up of a combination of freelance gigs—is right for you.
Common ways to work from home and make money include:
Being a Freelance Writer or Editor
These professionals can stay at home and produce content for a variety of venues. All they need are writing skills, editing skills, a computer, and an internet connection—along with access to companies or individuals who have a need for the work they do.
Starting a Jewelry Repair Business
Setting up a jewelry repair shop in your own home is easy, convenient, and inexpensive. Customers can drop off their jewelry in need of fixing directly to your home. On-the-job training is a must, and some vocational classes could help. As you establish your own business, you might consider seeking one of the four certification levels offered by Jewelers of America.
Establishing Yourself as a Professional Blogger/Social Media Influencer
Professional bloggers earn money through selling advertising and affiliate marketing on their own blogs or by getting paid to blog for another company or organization. Popular topics for bloggers include travel, cooking, health, technology, and finance.
Pet Sitting at Your Place
Want to turn your love of dogs and cats into a business? Becoming a pet sitter could be an option. Reputation is going to be everything, and you may have to offer discounts as you build the business.
Starting an At-Home Daycare
Are you great with kids and have a home that’s a safe environment for children? Daycare could be a business option. Note that every state has its own licensing rules regarding home daycare providers, which often involve home inspections, background checks, and following specific regulations. Consider getting experience by working at a licensed daycare center. Gain a good reputation, and you could have a successful, home-based business.
Starting a Blog or Online Business
Although it’s easy to envision working from home on your blog or online business, setting yourself up for success will take some work.
Bloggers and business owners looking to establish themselves online will need to have strong content writing skills, technical skills for running a website, search engine optimization (SEO) skills, social media skills, networking skills, photo editing skills, and marketing skills. E-commerce retailers will also need to manage inventory and invoicing for their website. With these skills acquired, the first steps to creating a successful blog or online business include:
1. Choosing a Platform
Simple websites don’t necessarily require the help of website designers. Bloggers and business owners use platforms to publish their content on the internet. WordPress is a go-to option for many blog and website startups. It has two options: The first is WordPress.com, which is quick, easy, and free but has some limitations. The other option, WordPress.org, offers a self-hosted platform, allowing for more customization but also meaning you will pay a monthly hosting fee. Other platforms to consider include:
2. Registering a Domain Name
Choosing the right domain name, or URL, for your site is a key to success. Try to make the name easy to type and to remember. The domain name should be easily pronounced, short, and avoid numbers or hyphens. Domain names with .com are recommended, compared to .net, .biz, or others. Namecheap, 1&1, and GoDaddy all are good options for registering your domain name.
3. Purchasing Web Hosting
4. Planning out Your Blog or Website
Consider the purpose behind your blog or website and fit the proposed content to your target audience. Find a niche or other way to stand out from others. Easy ways to stand out include creating content about a certain geographical location or category, using a specific writing style, and providing unique content. For a blog especially, be sure to choose a topic that you are passionate about. Common blog and website topics include:
How Does a Website Make Money?
No matter what type of business you are starting, websites can be used for more than showcasing your company and interacting with your customer base: They can actually make you money in the process. The first step is to understand what the options are for generating income on your site. Once you do this, you can focus your efforts in the right places.
Some options for making money on a website include:
Consider selling ad space or having pay-per-click advertising on your website to make money.
Websites can easily be used to promote products you already sell. You also can create and sell your own digital products online.
Accepting Donations from Visitors
Asking visitors for a small donation may be a good option when your customer base is small yet loyal.
Accepting Sponsored Posts and Articles (but use a nofollow tag)
Making money off your website starts with getting more people to the site. Seeking out blogs that will feature sponsored content also can be a good option.
Building an Email List for Marketing
Email lists can be used to send promotions and free reports directly to potential customers. This will potentially drive traffic back to your site and translate into income down the road. Popups or slide-ins can be an effective way to collect email addresses. Sleeknote is one tool to help build them. Other email collection tools include List Builder and Pippity.
A lot of websites start with the goal of selling services. Websites can be used to outline the services that can be provided, communicate with your customer base, and encourage direct sales.
Create a Membership Program
Offering certain content under a membership model can drive sales. Newspapers use this strategy by allowing the visitor to read the opening of an article (or a finite number of articles per month) for free and then requiring a subscription to access the rest of the content.
How to Make Money on YouTube
Once you have a successful blog or website, consider enhancing your content with YouTube. For example, say you’re a food blogger. Creating videos for specific recipes on YouTube could grow your audience base even more. In fact, many fitness bloggers supplement their articles with videos showing the exercise moves. All you need to start is a quality microphone, video camera, tripod, and video editing software. After you’ve gotten these tools, you’ll be ready to make money on YouTube.
Common money-making practices on the site include:
1. Building Your Audience Base
Making money on YouTube comes after establishing yourself, your brand, and your channel on the website. Engage your audience and build it by creating quality content. Plan out each video thoroughly. Content should be both informative and entertaining to keep the viewer engaged throughout the entire video.
Also be sure to:
Post content on a regular schedule
For instance, some channels post a video every Monday.
Give your channel a brand
This helps your channel be recognized clearly, while being taken seriously.
Use high quality thumbnail images
These are often the first impression of your video when viewers are browsing.
Include call to action statements
Images should be used with plenty of call to action statements like “subscribe to our channel.”
Incorporate customized links
For example, try adding your own “subscribe” link to your video, in addition to the original subscribe button.
2. Gaining Acceptance Into the YouTube Partner Program
This program requires you to have had 4,000 watch hours in the last 12 months and 1,000 subscribers. Once you gain acceptance, you will receive the option for “monetization.” This allows YouTube to play ads during your videos, which will translate into money for you.
3. Connecting to AdSense
Once you achieve partner status, you can connect to Google AdSense. It’s through this tool that advertisers request space on videos. Their decision mostly depends on the audience they want to reach. After they select an account for the advertisement, that account will make money based on the number of watches or clicks that occur on their ads. Keep in mind that YouTube also gets a portion of the profits from this.
4. Gaining Sponsorships
After a channel has grown significantly, it can begin to work with sponsors to generate additional income. Brands offer payment based on sales or traffic that the content in the video drives. As viewers click through links and buy products mentioned in a video, the YouTube channel owner gets a payment. Channels generally start to get sponsorships around 200,000 to 300,000 subscribers.
5. Selling Your Own Products
E-commerce coupled with YouTube is a powerful combination. Videos can enhance products, while sending viewers to your website to buy them.
How Many Viewers Do You Need to Make Money on YouTube?
YouTube has over one billion users worldwide, who watch over one billion hours of video per day. This represents a global reach capable of making a lot of money. Some of the most popular YouTube channels make millions of dollars a year. For example, the Fine Brothers Entertainment (FBE) channel has 16.7 million subscribers and produces the popular (and profitable) React video series, which films people reacting to viral videos.
How to Make Money on Instagram
Since 2016, the number of Instagram users has grown by 7%, while platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest have remained stable. Instagram is quickly becoming a platform capable of influencing every age group, making it a marketing dream for brands that activate on the right social media strategies. For some users, it can even be a way to make regular income.
These users typically follow these steps for making money off the app:
1. Posting Sponsored Content
A strong reputation and following on Instagram makes viewers see you as a trusted expert or trendsetter. This, in turn, attracts brands that want to reach those viewers. Deals are made between brands and the Instagram user. These deals usually involve making a post, video, or a story about the brand’s product. Instagram users also allow the brand to use the content in advertisements or on their website.
For example, hotels and airlines will pay travel bloggers to mention their brand in posts while traveling. Sometimes, the trip is even sponsored by the brand. Similarly, food bloggers will be paid to showcase certain brands’ products in their recipes on Instagram. Brands take notice of growing accounts within their target audience. They may reach out to you for sponsorship opportunities. However, you also can reach out to a particular brand when you see fit.
2. Becoming a Marketing Affiliate
Companies will pay commission to Instagram viaccounts when traffic and sales are generated for their products. Instagram users can sell other brands’ products and include a trackable link in their biography. They also can provide a promo code for the product.
3. Creating and Selling Your Own Products
Consider creating and selling items that relate to your brand on your Instagram account. You can easily set up shop on Shopify.
4. Selling Your Photography
Photos can be sold via online marketplaces like 500px or Twenty20. They also can be sold as prints. Companies like Printful and teelaunch can help you turn your photos into various products, from apparel to pillows.
Side Hustles to Help Make Money
Not all ideas are the “big idea.” Sometimes, your best business venture is one that works in combination with what you’re already doing. There are increasing numbers of potential “side hustles”—or part-time jobs—that may fit in and around your other work.
For example, today’s media landscape is all about engaging viewers. Rich media video advertisements are enhanced with video, audio, and other elements that do just that. Viewers can interact directly with the ad and click on it to be transported directly to the product’s main page. Creating these ads for businesses or individuals can turn a large profit and you don’t have to do it alone. Tools like Google Web Designer can help.
Other side hustles to increase your income include:
Do you have a talent for making things? Have you always been crafty? If so, Etsy may be the place for you. The website hosts countless profitable small businesses who offer homemade goods. These goods include jewelry, clothing, toys, craft supplies, and home decor. Etsy sellers also sell vintage items. Etsy allows sellers to channel their inner creative spirit, while taking in extra cash each month.
Websites are necessary for selling products and services in our modern economy. This means that businesses especially need websites to sell products to their customers, as well as to communicate with them. Therefore, if you have website building skills, the market is booming with opportunity. All you have to do is get the word out about your services and begin. Building and optimizing your own website can be a good starting point.
Math, science, and English are common subjects students need help with. If you have teaching experience, a degree, or are knowledgeable on these subjects, online tutoring could be for you. Certain companies also hire current college students for tutoring jobs. To find online tutoring opportunities, check out Aim-for-A or Chegg Tutors.
Being a Virtual Assistant
Working as a virtual assistant can be more profitable than many people would think. Online tasks such as proofreading blog posts, formatting email newsletters, and responding to customer questions are time-consuming for companies. Virtual assistants can step in and finish these tasks easily while working from the comfort of their own home. All you need to do is search for job openings to start.
Selling Your Photographs
In the age of social media, taking photos has become so much more common. The next time you capture that breathtaking landscape for your Instagram account, consider sites like Shutterstock and iStock by Getty Images that allow you to sell photos for money.
Filling Out Surveys
Expressing your opinion may just get you paid. Companies like Survey Junkie will pay users cash to fill out surveys. This is a good way to get a little extra income flowing in, although it has the potential to become time-consuming.
Helping Businesses with Search Engine Pptimization (SEO)
Reaching customers on the internet is only becoming more challenging and complex. Understanding SEO means you can help companies successfully navigate Google and other search engines. These skills can earn you money in today’s market. To start learning the basics of SEO, read through the guides in Moz’s learning center.
As more companies turn to video to communicate their messages to consumers, video editing skills become more valued. This skill can be used to assist businesses, or even to assist individuals, with making videos.
The Psychology of Making Money as a Small Business Owner
After absorbing all of these options, perhaps it’s time to take a step back. Have you been trying to increase your wealth for years with no success? If so, the way you think may be your biggest barrier.
According to Ramit Sethi, founder of iwillteachyoutoberich.com, there are two types of barriers in your life that are preventing you from achieving your goals. The first are active barriers—those that stop you from doing something. They involve any physical barriers that stand in your way; for instance, someone who keeps telling you that your idea is worthless. These barriers can be difficult to identify but easy to fix. The second type, passive barriers, are both difficult to identify and difficult to fix. These barriers make your job harder, due to things that don’t exist; for example, not having a stapler on your desk when you need one.
To move past these barriers, you need to change your behavior and understand why you have not been able to do so until now. Once you understand this, you can make the needed changes immediately. For example, those wishing to accumulate more wealth will need to change their thought processes. In fact, according to CNBC, wealthy people in society have different thought processes than those who are less wealthy.
Common ways of thinking for the wealthier population include:
- Believing in their own abilities, more so than those in the middle class
- Refusing to shy away from future investments they can’t afford; instead, they look to others for funding
- Setting unreasonably high expectations and rising to the challenge; middle-class people tend to set lower expectations in an attempt to not be disappointed
- Thinking money is a game; wealthy people are pushed by the excitement and competition of making money
- Seeing money as a close friend; the wealthy population views money as a problem solver that gives them peace of mind, while the middle class population sees money as a lifelong challenge they need to deal with to survive
- Never giving in to fear; fear is not accepted by the wealthy—in fact, they block it out completely; to do this, you may need to leave your comfort zone
- Understanding getting rich as a natural part of life; in contrast, the middle class tends to think they are not worthy of wealth
The wealthy population’s mindset revolves around a positive outlook toward themselves and their ability to make money. They don’t sell themselves short. One way to change a negative mindset is by using more positive affirmations. Some positive money affirmations to consider are:
- I welcome an unlimited source of income and wealth in my life.
- I am open and receptive to all the wealth life offers me.
- I am worthy of making more money.
- Money is the root of joy and comfort.
- Money expands my life’s opportunities and experiences.
- Money creates a positive impact in my life.
How to Make Passive Income
For those in need of (or who desire) more money, working longer hours at their full-time job may seem like the only option, but it’s not. Adding some passive income can supplement active income when needed.
Passive income involves making money without being actively involved in the money making process. This includes money made from a rental property, limited partnership, or other undertaking that doesn’t require your active participation. In contrast, active income involves the money made after providing a service. This includes wages, tips, and salaries from employment. (This means that your full-time job is considered active income.)
Some ideas for generating passive income include:
Investing in Real Estate
Renting real estate to tenants can bring in revenue without much effort. You also can rent a room or extra space in your own home. (Airbnb is a great option for this.)
Banks give out loans because they can make a profit on them. If you have the money to lend, consider doing so via a peer-to-peer lending platform, to turn a higher profit in the long run.
Investing in Dividend Growth Stock
These stocks pay a dividend and have a strong history of growth, making them a good option for making money.
As you accumulate passive income, keep in mind that it will be taxed. The tax treatment of passive income depends on the income source. For example, interest income and income from a rental property or business in which you’ve invested are typically taxed at ordinary income tax rates, whereas certain dividends and sales of investments may be taxed at a lower long-term capital gains tax rate. In addition, the recent Tax Cuts and Jobs Act expanded bonus depreciation available to real estate investors, making pursuing passive income in the form of real estate even more attractive. Still, tax rules are complex, so it’s a good idea to talk to your tax advisor to gain an understanding of how your new money-making ventures will affect your overall tax situation. Learn how passive income is taxed.
Making money starts with knowing what’s out there. The key to success is finding the right job—or jobs—to fit your needs, skills, and preferences. Today’s digital environment makes it easier than ever to sync multiple streams of income in support of a single well-supported lifestyle.
It doesn’t matter if you’re looking for a full-time job or already have one, adopting the right mindset and putting your skills to work can help lead to a money-making victory.