107 Great Part-Time Businesses
If you need more income and another job is not the answer, this listing was designed for you!
We've prepared a selection of up-to-date businesses that can be operated in or from your home on a part-time basis. Most of these businesses require no special training and relatively little investment. The most critical requirements are your:
Willingness to work and
Dedication to your business
Look through these suggestions for subjects that sound interesting. Consider each as representative rather than specific. For example, if you know nothing about African Violets (number 1) but are good with roses, by all means substitute roses for African Violets. And, don't overlook the possibility of blending these (or other) suggestions to form the ideal business combination.
When you have decided on your business, check state and local requirements for licenses, permits and make arrangements for start-up supplies. You will probably need business cards, a ledger and a rubber stamp with your company name and address. Although your beginning supplies should be adequate, they need not be fancy or expensive. Don't stock up too much as you will probably need to make adjustments as you learn the needs of your market. It is always a good idea to:
Write out your business plan - an outline of what you intend to do and how you plan to go about it.
List what you will buy from whom, how much it costs, where it will be stored, how you will advertise, what price you will charge, your gross and estimated net profits and when you will re-order.
Include everything you can think of that your business will involve. The action will "force" you to organize your business (in your mind as well as on paper) and greatly increase your chances for profit and success.
In this (or any other) business, give careful thought to your capabilities and your potential market. Select something that you already know (or like and are willing to learn) and will stick to - that people in your area will pay for. Your product or service should be priced competitively, but at the level to yield a fair profit. This motivates customers to buy and you to work even harder!
GOOD LUCK IN YOUR NEW BUSINESS!
107 Great Part-Time Businesses
AFRICAN VIOLETS. Specialize in the propagation and care of this popular indoor plant. Nurture, hybridize and sell when in full bloom. Carry accessories, such as pots, shelves and lighting. Keep a small but permanent ad in your local newspaper.
ALTERATIONS. Replace buttons, let out cuffs, shorten sleeves, turn collars, repair tears for clothing stores, laundries and cleaner who don't already offer this service. You can work for them or leave a price poster in their store.
ARROWHEADS. Collect, buy, sell and MAKE (with deer horn and clove) Indian arrowheads for hobbyists, displays and demonstrations. Sell instruction and/or information booklets and do-it-yourself kits. Offer various types of flint.
AUTO PARTS REBUILDING. Work with garages and mechanics. Specialize in rebuilding one part (carburetors, master cylinders, electronic ignitions) for one or several makes. Install kits, ream and/or re-fit and guarantee all of your work.
AUTO TOUCH-UP. Repair minor dents, cover rock chips, remove rust, polish, clean tires. Renew rubber and plastic, deodorize to help bring the best price or trade-in. Advertise under Auto/Trucks For Sale, with a price (e.g. "From $25.00")
AUTO PAWN SHOP. Hold cars as collateral for short-term loans. Hold the title (if clear) or, "buy" the car with a 30 day or so buy-back price agreement or limited power of attorney. Check laws and obtain legal advice before proceeding!
AWNINGS, WINDOW. Design and install permanent and fold-up fabric and or metal awnings for storefronts, patios, house windows, trailers and mobile homes. Offer a selection of materials, colors and prices. Advertise prices and benefits.
BABY DOLLS. Create dolls with fine wigs from client baby's own baby hair as keepsake dolls. Try to get cloth from baby's actual clothes to make similar looking outfits for the doll (work from a picture if possible). Put in glass case.
BARBEQUE. Use a portable (trailer?) meat smoker to take to fairs, parades and festivals. Have a supply of prepared sandwiches ready, but always have a fire AND AROMA (throw in a little suet or sauce) going to attract more business.
BELT BUCKLES. Stock a selection of belt buckles for truckers, workers, etc. Have special designs and insignias made for local groups. Arrange to offer good prices on leather belts as well (import some to sell at attractive prices).
BENCH RENTALS. Build bus-stop style benches and with city permission, place them free of cost to the city at various bus-stops. Pay a sign painter to apply advertisements for clients who pay you by the month for the ads and space.
BIRD TRAINING TAPES. Make endless or auto-reverse tapes to teach bird to talk, whistle or sing. Sell or rent the necessary equipment to mount in or near cages. Charge extra to record the bird owner's own voice giving the instructions on tape.
BIRDHOUSE BUILDING. Build and decorate fine, scientifically designed birdhouses and feeders for birds native to your area as well as those that migrate to or through your area. Make up little info folders for each model.
BIRTHDAY LISTS. Compile birthday (anniversary, etc.) of people in your area to rent as mailing lists to local merchants. Or, contract to mail out cards each year on behalf of the merchants. Have a set minimum, as $25 for 50 mailings.
BREAD SPECIALTIES. Bake unusual or otherwise unavailable varieties of home made breads: oat bran, low calorie, ethnic, salt free. Keep a small ad in paper, take orders for loaves fresh from your kitchen and/or deliver fresh to stores.
BRONZING. Bronze (or pearlize) baby shoes etc. Make mementoes, awards and trophies. Design plaques and unique bases with emphasis on local needs such as Chamber of Commerce of company awards. Arrange for engraved plates on plaques.
BRUSH CLEARING. With you truck, tractor and shredder, contract to clear brush and small trees from lots and acreage. Haul off excess debris or use a composter to recycle and sell organic refuse. Offer to drag or level the cleared area.
BUSINESS EQUIPMENT. Buy surplus equipment from bankruptcy sales and auctions. Store and clean-up, but do not repair (let buyer do that). Advertise bargain prices for qualified buyers and sell at double or triple your investment.
CEMENT BLOCKS. Mold small orders of standard or custom blocks (building, stepping stones, curbs) in all shapes and colors. Make molds when necessary of plywood and tin. Take orders, sell form your "yard" and through nurseries.
TRUCK LETTERING. Use pre-cut, self-stick vinyl letters to produce long lasting, professional truck signs (no art talent required). Use chalk snap lines to mark lines and center, peel and press in place. Stock and offer a variety of letters.
CEMENT MARKERS. Make "engraved" cement or liquid marble markers and signs. Mold "backwards" letters into various colors and textures of plastic-like cement for carved in effect. Polish molded marker into a professional looking stone.
CHAIR CANING. Use cane, plastic or other interesting materials to weave seats and backs onto casual and picturesque chairs for clients. Buy old chairs with promise at bargain prices to re-glue, refinish, re-cane and sell at a profit.
CHINA AND GLASS DEALER. Collect and deal in antique and interesting china and glass items. Buy at auctions, antique stores, private and public sales and through your advertisements. Deduct travel expenses for buying trips and visits.
CITY LOT CLEAN-UP. Work with the city to learn of lots that must be cleaned up. Contract to do the required work on lots they designate (city adds bill to owner's taxes). Contact absentee (or local) owners to avoid future city actions.
CLIENT LISTINGS. On your computer, input and maintain customer (or business) information: customer info, purchases, credit records, employee information, etc. Provide periodic and custom sorts (including mailing lists) to clients.
COLLECTION AGENT. Represent one or more commercial agencies (don't tell one about another, though). Solicit delinquent accounts for collection from local businesses for a percentage of monies the agencies collect.
COIN SEARCHING. Buy rolls of coins from banks (whatever denomination you can afford). Search through them for coins worth over face value. Keep all of these and replace with "regular' coins and trade back in. Best in small towns!
COLLECTIONS. Accumulate collectables (glass, matchbook, baseball cards, comic books). Make up (from common specimens) starter collections to sell to beginners. Sell valuable pieces individually to collectors (some you got started).
CONCESSION BOOTH. Operate a booth or stand at a recreation area, flea market, shopping mall or parking lot. Sell your own products and/or consignment items. Carry some attractively priced items just to attract more customers.
CURB PAINTING. With a stencil and fast-dry black spray paint house numbers on all curbs in a city block then go back and request a $2-$5 "donation" from occupants. Pass out circulars the day before announcing your service.
CUSTOM CLOTHING DESIGNS. Paint, block print or transfer unique or custom designs onto items of clothing: smocks, T-Shirts, jackets and fabrics to be made into clothing. Use designs, illustrations, cartoons, things of interest locally!
DESERT GLASS. Collect and sell sun-baked, weather-beaten glass in interesting colors. Make your own synthetic version by baking and/or sandblasting suitable objects with inexpensive equipment. Advertise your materials in hobby magazines.
DISTRESS SALES. Buy household items cheap at auctions and closeout sales. Clean them up and sell as your own right out of your living room because you need the money (e.g. to pay a fine), and never because you have new or better things!
DOLL HOUSE FURNITURE. Make exquisite, scale furniture for doll houses. Or, buy inexpensive imported items and upgrade them. Normally, a little re-enforcing, sanding and a coat of stain or polyurethane makes all the difference in the world!
DRIFTWOOD ART. With sandblaster, power or hand held wire brush form and finish interesting pieces of driftwood (and other woods) into decorations, lamps, candle holders and plant mounts. Use deductible vacations to collect more driftwood.
ELECTROPLATING. Offer a chrome (and other) metal plating service in your shop. Advertise in the newspaper and list with auto, RV parts stores, auto restorers and body shops. Between jobs plate items to sell (ornaments, trophies etc.).
FENCE INSTALLATION. Install fences for private homeowners. List with hardware stores and keep a small ad in the paper. Expand to furnishing the materials for a single bid. Offer a variety of both functional and ornamental fences.
FISHING LURES. Use a fly-tying rig to tie flies and sell by the dozen to individuals, bait shops, sports and department stores. Design, manufacture and decorate fishing lures especially for waters in your area. Then advertise and expand!
FLYER DISTRIBUTION. Hire kids or adults to distribute ads, samples, coupons, announcements door-to-door or on parked car windows. Charge extra to record occupant reactions. Contract with individual businesses and advertising agencies.
FURNITURE RESALE. Select and buy promising articles of furniture cheap at garage sales, stores (trade-ins) and furniture auctions. Clean up, do minor repairs and sell from your home. Concentrate on items that seem to do well in your area.
COPY-READY MASTERS. With your desktop publishing system and "laser jet" printer, convert customer's material into copy ready masters that can be reproduced locally. Especially good for small orders (set-up costs are very expensive for these).
DOG HOUSES. Build standard (bargain priced) and custom (higher priced) dog houses in different sizes, shapes and colors. Include insulation, treated wood on bottom, insect repellant pillows or storage areas under the roof as options.
KITCHEN CABINET REFINISHING. Refinish in-home kitchen cabinets. Remove old finish; sand, fill dents with colored putty, stain (or paint), replace worn hardware, apply new finish and install new external door knobs and drawer pulls.
WORD PROCESSING. Produce interim drafts and finished professional letters, manuscripts and documents for students, lawyers, writers and businesses. Make provisions for client editing and subsequent re-writing as a part of your service.
TREE SURGERY. With a little training and experience, anyone can trim, treat, fill and seal tree "wounds". Start with small jobs and gradually increase as you build confidence and buy more equipment. Take large contracts only when confident.
ROOF COATING. METAL. Renew rusty and/or leaky metal roofs with paint, rust killer, galvanizing, aluminized tar or insulating (foam) toppings. Charge by the square. Tip: use mobile home coating (aluminum or white) for a durable finish.
RENTAL PREPARATION. Prepare apartments for occupancy: paint, do minor repairs, cover scratches, remove stains, replace bulbs, mow lawn, fix faucets and drains. Work with individual owners, rental agencies and real estate companies.
SURPLUS SALES. Buy bargain priced items at auctions and sales. Store neatly in a secure area; advertise to find buyers who need (and will pay for) them. Open your warehouse one or two days a week or sell large items by appointment.
ROCKING CHAIRS. Make beautiful, durable rocking chairs. Offer a variety of woods, finishes, sizes and styles to fit every customer. Charge extra for carving, special styles or made-to-measure models. Offer specials on Mr. & Mrs. sets.
GAZEBOS. Build gazebos. Display a standard model at a good price that you can deliver or customer can assemble. Then offer larger sizes and various extras, such as shape, screens, shingle roofs, benches. Use only quality materials.
GLASS ETCHING. Custom etch (with acid, engraving bit and/or sandblaster) glassware for individuals to-order and for wholesaling to retail stores. Offer monograms, town or company logo, family crests, art designs and local themes.
GOURD CULTURE. Grow and process a variety of interesting gourds. Make them into decorations, utensils, painted figures, birdhouses. Retail gourds and do-it-yourself finishing kits. Retail seed packets with instructions for prize gourds.
GOVERNMENT AUCTIONS. Go to major state and federal auctions and bid on items for subsequent resale. List with auction authorities to receive notices of pending auctions. Learn and follow the rules to find the best bargains.
GRAPHOANALYSlS. After learning the art and getting a diploma, offer your services as a handwriting analyst to individuals, law enforcement agencies and attorneys. Start with local readings; work fairs for experience.
HANGING PLANTS. Specialize in hanging plants (flowers, ferns, vines) of all sizes and descriptions. Display for sale when in peak condition in attractive pots, with interesting holders and hangers. Advertise that you take in trades!
HOME HANDYMAN. Perform handyman services for those who can't or don't have the time. Advertise clearly what you do, keep your appointments and guarantee your work (to the extent of your hourly wages). Save customers expensive service calls.
HOTHOUSE FABRICATING. Build and sell small hothouses, some with temperature controlled venting. Offer electric heating systems for use in the cooler climates and be prepared to give advice on their use. Consider selling seedlings.
HOUSE CLEANING. Offer one-time or periodic house cleaning services. Perform the heavy tasks (shampoo rugs, clean stoves, wash windows, wax the floors, defrost). Have a check-list of jobs to be done and agree on price beforehand.
HOUSE PAINTING. Contract to paint houses and apartments or rooms by the job. Have assistance (high school kids?) on hand when needed. Increase your profit by supplying quality (only) paint and supplies and bidding on the entire job.
INSTRUCTIONAL VIDEOS. CASSETTES. Make recordings of yourself or others teaching and demonstrating their specialties. Start with simple operations (making a will; cleaning a VCR); graduate to more complex instructions as you learn.
INVENTION PROMOTION. Purchase three to six month option rights on interesting inventions for relatively low fee. Run test promotions and buy only the successful ones - those you can sell for a nice profit or successfully market yourself.
INVENTORIES. Specialize in taking inventories for area merchants (at their convenience - usually after hours). Work alone or have a qualified team on call. Check with an insurance company to obtain bonding for yourself and assistants.
JACK REPAIR. Repair hydraulic jacks (take a course if necessary) in your garage shop for individuals, garages, mechanics, retail stores. Buy, sell, take in trades and rebuild all kinds. Offer special prices to mechanics.
JEWELRY BOXES. Make fine jewelry boxes to sell to and through gift stores, catalog sales and individuals. Line with velvet, offer lacquered, inlaid, shell or seed covered versions. Have varied finished and storage arrangements.
KITCHENWARE RENEWAL. Specialize in the renewal of fine cutlery, pans and wood kitchen utensils. Refinish and reshape, install new handles, reline, make pieces to match missing parts of sets. Offer personalization service.
KITES. Build, sell and demonstrate all kinds of kites and accessories. Start a program to sell advertising space to sponsoring merchants during "meets" that you help stage (e.g. open, between schools, towns). Give away kites as prizes
LAPIDARY (GEM MAKING). Operate a rock shop in your garage. Cut, polish facet, shape and mount gems in commercial and amateur findings. Sell mounted, unmounted gems and jewelry. Tumble imperfections and left-overs to sell separately.
LAWN MAINTENANCE. Contract to mow lawns by the job or season. Charge extra to edge, rake, collect and remove clippings. Refer related jobs to cooperating businesses for a finder's fee or commission. Expand your service as you grow.
LIBRARY RESEARCH. Use your talent and the public library to provide research data, technical details and background information for clients who need their "homework" done. Charge by the hour, page or a flat fee for your time and effort.
LIGHTING SPECIALIST. Design, sell, service and install lighting systems for external residence and business buildings. Use inexpensive 12 volt systems among shrubs for security and beauty; colored spotlights for unusual effects.
LITTLE LEAGUE CARDS. Take pictures of small fry baseball (etc.) players and print on baseball-like cards, complete with their names, position and other "official" information. Offer in sets with extra copies for proud parents and relatives.
MAGAZINE. SUBSCRIPTIONS. Sell a variety of magazine subscriptions from your "office". Use "gimmicky" ads, give credit for leads and prizes for multiple sales. Do lots of telephone canvassing. Have a special every time you call.
MAILING LISTS. Compile mailing lists from various local and wider area sources (buy voting registration lists, check on buying tax and license lists). Sell names to brokers or keep current and rent them yourself (on self stick labels).
MARBLE CASTING. With "synthetic marble", cast, finish and market figurines, ashtrays, office (pen bases) and commercial (trophies) items for wholesale accounts (stationery stores, etc.). Make one or two special items for local retail.
METAL FOUNDRY. Operate a small metal foundry in your garage workshop. Cast parts as a sub-contractor, custom items or your own products. Buy or pick-up scrap metal to melt down. Examples: dresser knobs, door plates and trophy bases.
METAL RECYCLING. Pick up, sort, process (dismantle, clean wires) waste metals from any source. Accumulate into lots, wait for periods of high prices and haul to salvage yards. Advertise to buy surplus metals (at lower rates of course).
MINIATURE GARDENS. Create various sizes of garden-like display containers of live plants for hospital sick rooms, boxes for balconies, rooftop planters, offices and residences. Include instructions for care to make your products last.
MOSAIC TILE. Buy patterns or create custom designed pieces and install in an exclusive design for each customer. Offer exquisite kitchen and bathroom designs, as well as spa and even swimming pool arrangements. Charge for tile too.
MOSQUITO PATROL. With a sprayer mounted on your vehicle, contract to drive through neighborhoods on an established route and spray for mosquitoes (normally with a light malathion mixture in diesel). Work with city or county authorities.
MOVIE MAKING (SHORTS). With your 16MM or VCR camera and related equipment, make custom instructional, informative (company introductions), promotional and advertising clips. Use for board meetings, briefings and for cable advertising.
MOVING ASSISTANCE. With your truck HELP clients move (versus "move" them - to stay legal). You can help them pack load, move, unload unpack. Have stand-by crew ready to assist. Charge for your time and expenses, not the move.
NATURE'S PRODUCTS. When in an area with wild products (hickory nuts, maple syrup) that you can harvest, do so! Process, package and sell then as genuine products of nature. Clear your operation with the local health department first.
WINDOWS AND SCREENS. Repair windows: replace glass, repair frames, renew or rebuild screens. List with hardware stores and keep an ad in the paper. Fix one broken pane or bid to renew windows and/or replace all screens on the house.
NECKTlES. Make exclusive, hand made ties from exotic materials from all over the world. Offer a selection of designs, attach your exclusive label and advertise in men's magazines. Try local stores first then try larger markets.
NEEDLECRAFT. Make your own style of homemade items (pot holders, bonnets, towel rings) to sell on consignment, to catalog companies, or at a booth at fairs or flea markets. Present them in tasteful fashion with your label attached.
NElGHBORHOOD NEWS. Compile, publish and distribute a neighborhood newspaper (or newsletter) with local news, opinions and interesting features. Include lots of names; sell space for opinions, announcements and advertisements.
ON-CALL CLERK. Register with several stores to be called for temporary or emergency fill-in (for the store or an individual), for clerical or sales situations. Should pay more than normal wages and could lead to a permanent job.
PLAYGROUND EQUIPMENT. Build and install (and maintain) playground equipment: forts, slides, climbing/monkey bars, sandboxes, swings, teeters, circle rides. Use commercial patterns or design your own. Check on liability insurance.
PET PHOTOGRAPHY. Specialize in pet portraits: in their home, your studio or in their own "natural" setting. Offer a package price for so many of each size. Go to dog shows and take pictures of willing subjects (the losers too!).
PICNIC TABLES. Build standard, custom and deluxe model picnic tables Offer a variety of sizes, styles, finishes and colors. Expand to folding model and sets with umbrellas. Offer matching chairs, end tables and child sized pieces.
PICTURE FRAMING. Make unique picture frames for stores, artists and clients from moldings, scraps, unusual fabrics. Set up jigs for the standard sizes. Between orders make standard sized frames that can be finished in a variety of ways.
PIES AND COOKIES. Take orders for or contract for your specialty baked goods. Deliver to wholesale customers in containers that appear to be full and have your name and logo imprinted on the cartons. Give retail customers pick-up time.
PILLOWS. Make and decorate designer, fancy, or "down home" pillows. Sell to boutiques, fairs, through party plans, sales catalogs and advertisements. Offer a variety of sizes, shapes and covers. Do custom work for client's décor.
PLANT SCULPTURE. A profitable specialty: braid trunks, shape into interesting forms. Trim, bend, graft, to create valuable sculptures that bring premium prices. Use pictures in your ads; sell each plant as an individual creation.
PRODUCT REPACKAGING. Buy bulk products (nails, beans, vinegar) by the ton or barrel. Re-package into neatly labeled packets, pints or boxes a sell for much more. Check with a local attorney on any restrictive laws in your community.
PRODUCT PHOTOGRAPHY. Take flattering, descriptive pictures of merchandise, clothing and satisfied customers for advertisements, catalogs and brochures. Send sample brochures to prospective manufacturers, distributors and retailers.
PRODUCT REPACKAGING. Buy bulk products (nails, paint thinner, beans, vinegar) by the ton or barrel. Purchase and re-package into neat (and full) packets, pints, boxes. Consider using your own label (with legal advice) on containers.
PROOFREADING. Review manuscripts and printed copy and advertisements for accuracy and grammar. Get considerably more to review for content quality and technical accuracy. Work with editors, writers, publishers and educators.
PROPERTY PORTFOLIOS. Prepare photograph and property description folders. Make up folios for private parties (to make sure their property is shown in the best possible light), and for real estate companies to use in sales presentations.
RE-UPHOLSTERY SERVICE. Recover overstuffed chairs and sofas for clients in your shop (sell fabrics). Buy good furniture that needs recovering cheap at auctions to re-upholster and resell at a nice profit. Take trade-ins to re-do.
YARD CLEAN-UP. Contract with homeowners, realtors and rental agents to clean up yards after winter, evictions, storms. Mow, remove debris, water, replant, fertilize. Use periodic ads in the paper, especially after winter or stormy weather.
TOY MANUFACTURING. Create, manufacture and market unique toys that you can make in your shop possibly made in part by a "partner" seamstress. Market to local stores, catalog sales houses or by mail. Go to and have your own booth at fairs.
WRITE FOR CHILDREN. Write poems, Sunday school stories, puzzle explanations, riddles, etc. for children. Sell to local papers, children's book publishers or in your own booklets. Check Writer's Guide in Library for more information!
GAG WRITING. Specialize in one liners and short funny situations. Sketch your ideas, list each on a separate card and file by subject matter. Offer your collection to cartoonists or comics. Get their addresses from Writer's Guide in the library.
SCHOOL DESK SALES. Buy old school desks at sales and closed rural schools. Refurbish and decorate into nostalgic furniture, plant stands and children's furniture. Sell restored items individually, wholesale to stores or finish to order.
PROMOTIONS. Organize community and commercial promotions: order bumper stickers, posters; arrange for news releases, interviews, photo sessions. Plan agenda, schedule workers, coordinate events for a fee or percentage of profits.
PEN PAL SERVICE. Advertise in both home and overseas publications for correspondees. Charge for addresses or for a subscription to your club news with paid advertisements placed by those seeking penpals. Sell names to mailing list brokers.
Ordinary pine cones, of any size, can be made to look almost exactly like tiny owls simply by adding "eyes" which can be purchased at any hobby or craft shop.
Look in your mailbox. What do you see almost every day? Coupons. Look in your newspaper. What do you see EVERY day? Coupons. It seems like coupons multiply like rabbits. Why? Prices are rising, unlike a majority of people's incomes.
There are hundreds of opportunities in the service arena offering low-cost start-ups and high profit returns. Almost all can be run from home.
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A few years ago it would have been foolish to even consider a sign business unless you were well qualified to hand paint letters and illustrations.
Garage sales are like any other form of business. To get the most money out of your garage sale, you have to know what you are doing. You have to be acquainted with the market, advertise for business, offer competitive prices and quality merchandise.
People are always interested in saving money. If you can develop a product or service that will help them save, you are almost guaranteed success.
Order 5,000 3 x 6 commission circulars from your printer selling $1.00 items that you earn 50% commission on every order you receive. Have your name printed on them - it will save you hours of stamping time.
I would say the most frequently asked question from beginners about opening their own business is "What should I sell?" I then proceed to ask them, "What interests and hobbies do you have?" Most don't know how to answer that question because they ...