- Many businesses without employees can be started with $5,000 or less.
- The best business idea is something you are passionate and knowledgeable about.
- Common business ideas without employees include freelancing, consulting, photography, educating and sales.
- This article is for anyone who's looking to start their own business without employees.
Many entrepreneurs today are going into business alone. Such "solopreneurs" save money on startup costs and payroll expenses simply by doing most of the legwork themselves. While this isn't an ideal arrangement for everyone, it has its benefits. Here are 15 business ideas that don't require you to hire and maintain employees.
Business ideas for solopreneurs
If you have a particular skill that can be done as a business – such as writing, graphic design or coding – building up an independent network and offering your services as a freelancer is a great way to translate a side hustle into a full-time business. Easily started on the side of a 9-to-5, these types of arrangements can blossom into full, one-person operations once a solid network and reliable body of work develop.
Freelancers who launch a full-time company often incorporate their business as an LLC, which is a pass-through entity. This means that income is taxed at a personal level rather than the corporate level. In other words, the wage or salary the solopreneur takes is subject to personal income tax.
2. Social media consultant
Social media is a key element of most business strategies today, but that doesn't mean businesses know how to use it effectively. If you are an Instagram or Twitter guru who can easily curate content and create mass followings, you may be able to start a business as a social media consultant. With your understanding of social media marketing, you can help a business build a successful Facebook presence or find the right Instagram influencers for their audience. You can continue to manage and grow their following or teach them how to manage it themselves.
If you are talented at shooting and editing photos, you may have a future career in photography. This career can take many forms. For example, you can specialize in business photography for companies that need corporate or marketing photos, you can become a travel photographer and shoot around the globe or you can specialize in weddings or events. Starting a successful photography business can be tricky, so it's important to use your own network to find your first clients. As your network grows, so will your income.
4. Commission-only sales
Though risky, a commission-based position can translate into big bucks if you're willing to put in the work. Essentially, your salary is determined based on your performance. If you're motivated, passionate and gifted in sales, you'll achieve success following this career path.
Podcasts are all the rage today, providing entertaining and informative content to a variety of audiences. If you can identify a niche subject you're passionate about and you enjoy speaking openly and connecting with others, consider starting your own podcast.
You can start a podcast about nearly anything. There's an audience for any topic you could think up. With engaging episodes and killer marketing tactics, you can gain a loyal following. This will eventually bring in revenue in the form of paid sponsorships, advertisements and more.
6. Business coach
Are you a business-savvy professional with years of experience and willing to pass that knowledge on to others? With the right marketing tactics, a strong personal network and a great website, you can become a business coach. Work with small business owners or startup hopefuls to craft business plans and advise those who need extra motivation. If you know you can be a good motivator, their investment in you will have great returns.
7. Life coach
Becoming a life coach can be a great career path if you are passionate about helping others. This business venture is similar to a business coach, but it specializes in helping individuals instead of companies. A life coach sets up regular meetings with their clients to encourage and counsel them through personal and professional matters. You can choose to coach your clients online, over the phone or in person. Although not legally required, it is often a good idea to get life-coach training to become certified.
8. Virtual assistant
If you're a self-proclaimed Type A worker with a knack for organization, don't let your unique skills and attributes go to waste. Becoming a virtual assistant is a great opportunity for anyone who enjoys managing day-to-day business tasks from the comfort of a home office.
You can assume the many responsibilities of a typical business owner, like customer support and content creation, while allowing your clients to focus on their own skills and passions. Based on your interests and strengths, you'll find overwhelmed entrepreneurs searching for someone like you to take some weight off their shoulders.
9. Franchise owner
Some entrepreneurs are interested in the idea of running a business but aren't willing to assume the risks and responsibilities associated with the endeavor. Whether it's securing funding or finding the right marketing strategies, the process of starting a business can be overwhelming to even the most inspired individuals.
If you find yourself wanting to reap the benefits of entrepreneurship without the added stress, consider investing in a home-based franchise that doesn't require employees or warrant a risky startup process.
10. Chore/errand service for seniors
Anyone with aging loved ones knows how hard it can be to care for them without extra help. Elderly people living in their own homes need help with lots of routine chores, like cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping and yard work. Why not start a business that offers senior citizens and their families the help they need to maintain their households without breaking their budgets? With word-of-mouth endorsements and social media targeted at the demographic, you could get this business off the ground in no time.
11. Music teacher
If you have a love and gift for music – and teaching – you can start your own business as a music teacher. As a private music instructor, you can choose to give one-on-one music lessons in your own home or drive to your students' homes. Because you and your students likely already have the instruments needed for lessons, this business doesn't cost much to start up. You may have to spend some time early on networking and marketing yourself, but once you have a set of clients, you often have a relatively consistent paycheck.
You can go through third-party platforms, such as Tutor.com, to become a tutor, but if you want the flexibility of entrepreneurship, you can create your own tutoring business. Choose a subject or two you are particularly skilled in, and offer your assistance online or in person. Although tutors typically serve school-age children, you can expand your services to college students and adults. (For example, if you are bilingual, you could tutor adults learning another language.)
Want to turn your love of beer into a viable occupation? Why not jump on the microbrewing bandwagon? With the popularity of craft beers on the rise in the U.S., the demand for innovative breweries is growing.
Start by focusing on branding and the distribution of your beverages. With some thirsty investors and a few barrels of persistence, you could have your brewery up and running faster than you can say "Cheers!"
14. Personal trainer
With employers and corporations looking to decrease healthcare costs and a greater awareness of diseases associated with obesity, America is looking to get fit. Freelance personal trainers make their own schedules and work for a diverse range of clients. If you're a fitness guru with a head for business, this might just be the right idea for you. Time to get moving!
15. Special deliveries
Whether it's a bouquet of flowers in celebration of a wedding anniversary or an ice cream cake delivery for a child's birthday, there's a need for businesses to carry out deliveries on behalf of many clients. With the right website and a PayPal account, you could start building your reputation as a "special delivery" courier today.
Key takeaway: Many types of businesses require no employees other than yourself. Assess your background and skills to see what type of business may be a good fit for you. That could mean something creative, like photography or writing, or a service-focused business such as an errand or delivery company.
How to start a business with no employees
It's every entrepreneur's dream to start a profitable small business without breaking the bank. As an aspiring solopreneur, you can achieve this dream. Consider the above ideas for inspiration on which direction to take your career. Many of these businesses can be started with $5,000 or less and managed entirely by one person.
Follow these 10 steps to start a business without employees:
- Find your niche.
- Conduct market analysis.
- Develop a business plan.
- Assess your finances.
- Determine your legal structure.
- Register your business.
- Insure your business.
- Choose your vendors.
- Market and advertise yourself.
- Grow your business.
Keep in mind that some of these steps may differ based on your unique business needs. Don't be afraid to pursue your dream of working remotely and on your terms. Do your research, channel your passions and skills, and take that leap into your fantasy career.
Key takeaway: Before starting your solo business, make sure to do your research, develop a business plan, assess your finances and complete all of the necessary documents. Then, you can focus on marketing and growing your business, and reap the rewards.
Adam C. Uzialko, Shannon Gausepohl, Elizabeth Peterson and Skye Schooley contributed to the research and writing in this article.