Most articles you read about business have been written by freelance writers who have no business experience and have no idea of what they are talking about.
My name is Bob Adams. I have started dozens of businesses and made millions of dollars. I also have an MBA from Harvard Business School. I have run not just lots of businesses, but also many types of businesses, including a number of very small businesses that I ran before going to business school.
I learned what works in business. And I learned what doesn’t work. I learned what are good businesses and what are not. I have also learned that you don’t need lots of money or experience to start most businesses.
While this is a long list of business ideas—I have carefully pruned it for you. I started out with an initial list that was more than twice as long…and ruthlessly chopped off the weaker business ideas that I didn’t want you to consider starting.
Note that many of these ideas could have been listed in more than the single category I placed them in. But I thought it would easier and more interesting for you, if I only listed each business once.
Related: Businesses You Can Start with $2,000 or Less
If you are really want to be your own boss and build a highly successful business, I am sure that you will find an idea that you really like on my extensive list! And once you have chosen your idea, check out our guide explaining the 5 critical steps you need to follow to start your own business.
These are the categories:
#1 Really fun business ideas
#2 Best home business ideas
#3 Best part time business ideas
#4 Best low cost business ideas
#5 Best online business ideas
#6 Highest profit business ideas
#7 Steady income business ideas
#8 Easy-to-start business ideas
#9 Other good business ideas
And these are the business ideas:
Really Fun Business Ideas
You can start this business in your garage with just one item!
Start part time and build this business carefully! Only buy items you are confident that you can sell relatively quickly for a good mark-up, and avoid getting stuck with slow moving inventory. To really succeed, develop deep expertise in a specialty and build a loyal customer base.
I see two routes to success in this business: 1) Focus on artists with well- established followings that you are comfortable that you can sell or 2) Take on less well-known artists on a consignment basis, meaning you don’t actually buy the painting from the artist until the day you sell it. This can be a finicky business–people’s tastes can change and a gallery that is successful one year can find itself struggling enough. So, keep your overhead manageable and watch for changing trends.
Sign up for a bar-tending course at the local community college or adult education center, get a safety certificate if your state requires it, and then you’re ready to start serving. Usually the client will provide the booze and the glasses, you might bring a few mixing tools or even a service cart if you want to get fancy. Demand for this service will run strongest on the weekends, making it a great part time gig!
You don’t need to own a big boat to take people on evening boat tours! You can lease the boat, market the tours and build a business without the overhead.
To make it more fun, you can buy a few small drive-it-yourself speed boats and lead your customers around the local harbor. What could be more fun than that!
I can barely “cook” a frozen dinner, but you may have the cooking skills that I lack! People will pay good money for a really awesome cake for special occasions. Get some great cake pictures up on your website, promote your skills to event planners and build your clientele!
Related Link: 8 Smart Kitchen Gadgets for Food Startup Founders
My kids did an upscale sneaker and related goods boutique. This can be a lot of fun but it may be harder than you think to make money. First make absolutely sure your location has great foot traffic—stand there and count heads before you sign a lease! Then develop a distinctive plan for merchandising, and don’t be afraid to mark down what isn’t moving.
Yes, you can start your own clothing line with just a few items, be successful and have a lot of fun along the way! Look at Ralph Lauren who started by selling a couple neck ties and then built that into a multi-billion-dollar empire. Contract out the manufacturing which is the really hard part of the work. Then focus on developing eye-stopping designs and talking it up with potential re-sellers, or sell the items yourself online!
Related Link: How to Be Successful in The Clothing Industry
Wouldn’t you enjoy making kids smile and laugh? What a great way to earn some good money, especially at kids’ birthdays and Bar and Bat mitzvahs! Business will be heavily focused on weekends, so you can hold onto your day job as you build your clientele. I met a professional clown who told me that he charged $200 an hour…for that price I’ll put the clown suit on right now!
Coin or Stamp Dealer
I loved to collect stamps and coins when I was a kid. In Boston, the dealers’ stores were all side by side on Bromfield street. Today some coin and stamp dealers still have retail locations but many others work primarily online. This is a great business to start part-time and then consider going full-time later on. Or is it just a hobby with the potential for making a lot of money? American President Franklin D Roosevelt would spend many enjoyable hours alone with his stamp collection.
“Some business ideas are just plain more fun than others!”
Coffee Bar/Tea Salon
Yes, you can compete with the Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts of the world! However, these chains have raised the bar, so your coffee or tea must be not just good, but awesome! Your ambiance better be good too. Your location needs to be good as well. Plus, you need to be distinctive. One way to stand out is to compliment your world class beverages with some fabulous foods. So yes, you can compete, but you’ve gotta be firing on all cylinders in this competitive space!
I met Wally Amos who made a blockbuster success out of famous Amos cookies, which he launched after a career as a Hollywood talent agent. Wally eventually lost control of his company to outside investors. However, he came back again with still another cookie line. Everyone loves a fancy cookie and it’s an easy food to both differentiate and to charge a premium for.
Craft Beer Pub
A few years ago, I overheard a conversation in a gym about a fellow who was planning on starting an Irish pub, of which there are close to million (well almost a million) in Boston, but then changed his mind and opened a pub focusing on craft beers. It was wildly successful! In addition to being a unique idea at the time, he also chose an excellent location and developed a solid food menu. Unless your overhead is extremely low, you are probably going to need to serve food to make a go of this business, so yes you can be extremely successful–but it is no small undertaking.
Creative Arts Day Camp
You could run this as a seasonal camp during the summer. But I find it’s tougher to make lots of money at seasonal businesses, so instead I would first consider offering a creative arts day camp after school or on weekends. I suggest doing surveys to find out what age groups of kids and what specific art activities have the most appeal.
There’s something magical about a cupcake that says fun and silliness and makes you feel good! You can cash in on that feeling and make others happy. But if you are specializing in cupcakes, people expect them to be excellent! And if you want to be remembered, they should be world class awesome!
Gardening is big and growing. And it is a business that is less likely to move totally online than many other businesses. You could start out with a supply center, expanding over time to add some plants to sell, and then, eventually vertically integrate with your own plant nursery. You could also expand into providing onsite services.
Wouldn’t it be fun to make a gift-basket overflowing with a bunch of carefully selected and really attractive items? Of course, it would! You could have a lot of satisfaction putting together distinctive gift baskets that will delight your customers and bring in sales!
Yes, I had a couple golf lessons–but you’d never know it to watch me play! I don’t think I had the right personality for this sport–relaxing and being patient isn’t my thing! But if you have some talent at this challenging game, you can charge some good money and bring your gift to others. Golf is an excellent lifetime sport and people are willing to pay to try to master it!
Related: Business Profile: Miniature Golf Course
Gourmet Candy Cart
One of my friends developed a great retail business with several small gift locations inside of shopping malls. She taught herself to make mouth-watering candy by practicing up in her kitchen. Most of her candy she made herself, but she did compliment her offerings with a few products she bought wholesale.
Hot Air Balloon Rides
I’m not going up in one of these balloons–but I know plenty of people who have, and have had a fabulous experience! This is a good vacation area business, but it could also be a good gift for special occasions. Nail down all of the licensing and safety requirements, and this could be fun business that quickly builds by word-of-mouth.
Ice Cream Shop
Yes, you can make a lot of money with a simple ice cream shop! Perfect your ice cream before you start, find a good busy location without a crazy rent and consider starting with a smaller footprint to minimize your overhead. I’ll have an ice cream sundae please—with everything on it!
What a great excuse to travel and get paid for it! Yes, there are some really cool craft items you can find around the world for really low prices. It could take a little bit of patience to get going, and specialization helps. But this is a very doable business. One of my friends built up a successful import/export business while still in college.
So, you start out with some stunning jewelry designs but how do you turn it into a business? One of my friends’ sisters turned her jewelry hobby into a full-time job by selling her products to a few local jewelry stores. Another woman I know built her business into a much larger enterprise…all built around a strong unifying theme. That’s the key here, success will come a lot easier if you build a distinctive overall brand, and ideally have closely matched collections within the brand.