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Ultimate Guide to Profitable Business Ideas — Part 2

Start a Business While Keeping Your Job: 42 Side Business Ideas

Start a Business While Keeping Your Job: 42 Side Business Ideas
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We see the stories about people who quit their job, dropped out of school, or invested their entire life savings on a “sink or swim” venture all the time. Which is why it has become a common myth that starting a business is risky.

That’s not how business really works. Successful entrepreneurs limit their risk. Most of them start businesses without spending a lot of money and without quitting their job.

You can do the same thing.

The best part is when your business grows, you have the option of quitting your job if you want to.

In fact, relying on just your full-time salary is actually riskier than starting a business on the side.

Here’s what I mean:

Risk #1: You lose out on money... A lot of it.

Let’s take a minute to measure out the risks of doing nothing in monetary terms. We’ll assume you keep your job, but you also learn how to earn money on the side and learn how to replicate it each month.

If you were to make $500 on the side each month, that’s the equivalent of a $6,000 raise.

And if you made an extra $1,000 each month, you’re basically getting a $12,000 salary bump.

That kind of money could go a long way to helping you pay down student loans, stuff your savings account, or even take a bucket list trip.

But doing nothing guarantees you won’t make an extra cent.

So your biggest fear should not be starting a new business, but continuing to do what you’ve always been doing.

Risk #2: A job is not guaranteed income.

Most people take comfort in thinking that their jobs are safe and secure, even if they’re not the most stimulating or fulfilling.

In exchange for showing up from 9 to 5 every day, you’re basically guaranteed a steady paycheck every month. This kind of reliability lets you plan your finances and your life around a stable foundation.

But let’s look deeper. It doesn’t seem risky to stick to your 9-to-5 job. You know what’s expected of you, you show up every day, you do what your boss says, and you get paid.

But what happens if you get laid off?

Well-paying jobs make us feel like we’re set for life. But that’s not true.

We know layoffs are common, we see people being passed over for promotions all the time, but a lot of us still sit by and do nothing. Why?

Because we’ve been told our whole lives — by our parents, our teachers, our spouses, and even our friends — that a job with benefits is the less risky path. Think about it, most of those people grew up in a time where it was common to stay at the same job for 30 years, retire, and collect a pension. That’s just not the way the world works anymore.

Having a side business is like having layoff insurance.

Look at what happened to a reader, Phil H., who emailed me after he was laid off:

Phil landed on his feet thanks to the fact that he’d already been freelancing for months before he was laid off.

A lot of us have confused the perceived risks and the real risks of our regular 9-to-5 jobs. The perceived risks seem low, but the real risks can be painfully high — and more dramatic than we ever expected.

Thousands of my students have started businesses while working full time. And then, many of them went on to quit their jobs.

5 Reasons to Start a Side Business and Keep Your Job | THe Ultimate Guide to Profitable Business Ideas |

What’s the best side business idea for you?

No matter what your employment, family status, or location, you can find the right business idea to pursue on the side. Here are 42 examples to get you started.

Side business ideas for beginners

One big barrier to finding a business idea is the myth that you have no skills someone would pay for. That’s not true. People pay for all kinds of services that don’t take any special skills or training.

  • Transcription services
  • Courier services
  • Cooking / personal chef
  • Technical writing
  • Small business marketing
  • Proofreading / editing
  • Business writing (business plans, grants, white papers, proposals)
Side Business Case Studies: Alison | The Ultimate Guide to Profitable Business Ideas |

Case Study


An insurance broker by day, Alison loved sales and screenwriting. She decided to combine her passions by offering copywriting to small business owners. Now, she’s planning on replacing her full-time insurance job with her copywriting income.

Read Alison's story

Side business ideas for college students

Even if you’re going to school full time, you can start a side business doing something you love. You can start many businesses right from your dorm room. In fact, that’s what I did over 12 years ago.

  • Video production / editing
  • Design (brochures, business cards, logos, newsletters)
  • Web design
  • Blogging / blog consulting
  • Sports / personal training
  • Child care
  • Search engine optimization (SEO)
Side Business Case Studies: Ben | The Ultimate Guide to Profitable Business Ideas |

Case Study


Ben was a part-time circus performer making minimum wage, with no idea how to start making money on the side. Ben identified his unique skillset and found a profitable idea teaching men how to approach women on the dance floor and landed national media spots on Good Morning America and Fox News.

Read Ben's story

Side business ideas for millennials

Many skills that millennials take for granted are really valuable to other generations. My first side business was showing venture capital firms how young people were using social media.

  • User interface & user experience (UI/UX)
  • Google Analytics
  • Programming / web development
  • E-commerce consulting
  • Tech tutoring (i.e. how to set up and use your tablet)
  • Internet marketing consulting
  • Fashion / image consulting
Side Business Case Studies: Caitlin | The Ultimate Guide to Profitable Business Ideas |

Case Study


Caitlin is a 29-year-old style coach who helps women who have “nothing to wear” create a style and wardrobe they love. Starting with no business experience, she took her blog from nothing to $30,000/year.

Read Caitlin's story

Side business ideas for stay at home moms and dads

Even if you have a busy schedule, irregular hours, and other responsibilities, there’s a side business idea that you can profit from. One where you’re in control of the hours you work and your location.

  • Personal / virtual assistant
  • Pet services (grooming, walking, etc.)
  • Home maintenance / organizing
  • Crafting / personalization services
  • Human resources / payroll services
  • Project management / productivity consulting
  • Copywriting and editing
Side Business Case Studies: Rachel | The Ultimate Guide to Profitable Business Ideas |

Case Study


Rachel is a mom with 4 young kids and no business experience. She started a parenting blog for fun without thinking it’d ever be profitable. Now, she makes more from her online business than she did at her full-time job so she’s able to spend much more time with her kids.

Read Rachel's story

Side business ideas for working parents

Working parents often have naturally developed skills like productivity, planning, and budgeting. These are all skills that can be easily turned into side businesses.

  • Photography
  • Travel planning
  • Event planning / promotion
  • Automobile / motorcycle repair
  • Tax and financial planning
  • Community management / promotion
  • Career help (finding work, optimizing resumes, cover letters, interviews)
Side Business Case Studies: Bushra | The Ultimate Guide to Profitable Business Ideas |

Case Study


Already earning 6 figures as a consultant, this busy mom of 2 wanted to make money with a business that gave her more freedom and flexibility. Bushra now earns twice as much from her part-time online business than she does from her full-time job. She’s now planning to take summers off to spend time with her family.

Read Bushra's story

Side business ideas for teachers

Teaching is the core of a lot of successful side businesses. Full-time teachers have the advantage of predictable schedules and natural people skills.

  • Research
  • Presentation design (PowerPoint, etc.)
  • Tutoring and coaching
  • SAT prep
  • College application review
  • Productivity coaching
  • Accounting / bookkeeping
Side Business Case Studies: James | The Ultimate Guide to Profitable Business Ideas |

Case Study


He earned a PhD in organic chemistry (a notoriously tough subject). He learned how to sell online programs on the topic and is able to spend more time with his family (including an entire month following his son’s birth).

Read James' story

Want even more ideas to get started?

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Start a Business While Keeping Your Job: 42 Side Business Ideas