Part-time business. Side hustle. Weekend job. Second gig.
No matter what you call it, we’ve all heard stories of entrepreneurial people who have found success working outside their standard 9-to-5 job.
If you’re hungry to start your own business or just looking for some extra cash to live more comfortably, there’s an infinite world of possibilities out there.
But we won’t sugar coat it: it’s not easy. To balance an extra part-time business, you’ll need to spend those precious few free hours you have after a long day’s work or over the weekend. The good news is that if you do your research, think strategically, and stay determined, you might find yourself in places you’ve only dreamed about.
In this article, we’re going to look at seven part-time business ideas to help you get to where you want to be.
7 part-time business ideas to run in your spare time
Print on demand
Print on demand is a great way to exercise your creative brain (and make money in the process). It’s when you work with a print company to customize products like mugs and phone cases with your own designs. The company prints and delivers your items to customers on a per-order basis, meaning you don’t have to hold inventory in order to start selling.
Print on demand as a part-time business requires little investment. You just need to choose a print-on-demand company to work with, upload your design, and add products to a Shopify store. Since your customized products will be manufactured after a customer places an order, you don’t have to pay for the items until you’ve sold them. However, you’ll need to put in time, effort, and thought into creating your designs, as they’ll serve as the face of your new brand.
Some print-on-demand niches you can target include:
- Vegan lifestyle
- Nerdy jokes
- Pop culture
Interested in running a print-on-demand business on the side? Check out What Is Print on Demand? Your Guide to Selling Custom Products.
Dropshipping is the most obvious business opportunity for most part-time entrepreneurs. It’s a business model where you run an online store but don’t keep any products. Instead, you buy the items from a supplier after an order is placed and they ship it to your customer.
Most dropshipping businesses don’t take a lot of time or money to set up and run. The main requirement is to have an ecommerce website, which you can easily build and maintain through Shopify. For dropshipping, you’ll use an app like DSers to find and add products from suppliers.
Some dropshipping products you can sell:
- Wardrobe and accessories (mom jeans, tracksuits, leggings)
- Home and bedroom (ceiling fans, doormats, air purifiers)
- Office products (pencil cases, blue-light glasses, podcast microphones)
- Kitchen and grocery (electric kettles, wine fridges, fasting tea)
- Tools and home improvement (smart plugs, automatic soap dispensers)
- Camera and cellphone accessories (ring lights, iPhone tripods, mobile skins)
You don’t need to quit your day job right after launching a dropshipping store. Spend time ramping up your store first, finding the best suppliers, and establishing a solid brand, until you see a healthy cash flow. While it may seem challenging at first, this business idea can earn you passive income and even a full-time salary when done right.
Offer pet care services
Looking for a part-time business idea that’s pandemic-proof and easy to execute? Try your hand at pet care. This involves looking after other people’s pets and buying them products like raw food, sweaters, and beds. Globally, the pet care market was worth $232 billion in 2021, and it’s expected to grow further as more pet parents hire people to maintain the well-being of their fur babies.
If you’re looking to break into the pet industry, consider offering services like dog walking and grooming. You just need your own website to start. Share your website’s link with the pet parents in your family, as well as in pet-related Facebook and Pinterest groups. If your services are good, you may start getting clients through word-of-worth referrals and can grow your side business into something more full time.
Let the Dog Out offers a dog-walking service in Guelph, Ontario. The company hosts free meet-and-greet sessions to let dogs meet their new parent (you) and get familiar with them.
Even if you’re not into taking dogs on a stroll, you can also get into:
- Pet products like personalized mugs or t-shirt
- Pet supplies like food dispensers
- Pet photography and digital rendering
Host tours on the side
If you live in a tourist city, why not spend your days off hosting tours for visitors? These can be niche—like a guided tour of the old town—or activity specific, such as camping, food tasting, or walking tours. Think about the places worth visiting and start to plan an itinerary for your group. You might need to create a script or fact sheet to explain the areas of your city to your guests.
Then, start to think about how you can find customers to kickstart your tour business. You could build your own website and optimize it for keywords visitors are likely searching, such as:
- “[your city] 2-hour private guided tour”
- “[your city] night tours”
- “Weekend trips from [your city]”
Leverage SEO tactics for this part. Then, arrange a date, time, and meeting point with the people who book.
But if you don’t fancy taking that route, you can join platforms like Showaround. On Showaround, there’s an opportunity to attract tourists by offering to host a special tour of your city. You might be up on where the coolest café is. Or maybe you’re aware of a beautiful park that only locals know. Think about what you can offer to a tourist that they might not have done or experienced before.
Start a furniture business
Is woodworking your favorite pastime? Do you enjoy making furniture for friends, neighbors, and relatives? If the answer is yes to both questions, then a part-time furniture business could be a perfect fit for you. Get started by making what you can with the tools at your disposal. Sell furniture and reinvest the initial profits to expand your product line.
There are several jobs you can create for yourself to start a furniture business on the side:
- Designer: A person who designs furniture and has a manufacturer build it.
- Maker: A person who makes furniture by hand.
- Reseller: A person who curates pieces and sells a variety of items from different brands.
- Dropshipper: A person who works with a supplier to arrange and fulfill orders.
Interested in selling or dropshipping furniture in your spare time? Learn what it takes to make it happen by reading How to Sell Furniture Online: 7 Steps to Success.
Become an affiliate marketer
Affiliate marketing is a business model where you promote another company’s product or service and get paid for providing a specific result. Most affiliate companies pay a commission on sales, but other programs give payouts for downloads, leads, clicks, and other desirable outcomes. Because it’s a performance-based business, you can turn affiliate marketing from a part-time venture into a business that generates residual income.
Affiliate programs typically are free to join, so a low initial investment is required. There are programs for several product categories, including:
- Money: bitcoin, credit cards, and retirement funds
- Hobby: travel, photography, and casino
- Lifestyle: jewelry, fashion, online dating
- Health and wellness: fitness, yoga, weight loss, nutrition
- Tech: Gaming, VPN, WordPress, webinar software
Become a livestreamer
Livestreaming has come a long way from the days when only professional gamers used the medium to broadcast content. Today, “just chatting” and IRL streamers—people who broadcast real-life activities to their viewers—actively host livestreams to gain an audience.
Streamers make money online through subscriptions, donations, sponsorships, and advertisements. If you’re using a streaming platform like Twitch, you can also sell merch to earn more income. Some Twitch streamers also generate revenue from Patreon crowdfunding, where they incentivize viewers to donate money to them each month on Patreon in exchange for rewards that they create.
There are many categories of livestreaming, from people broadcasting their workout sessions to musicians streaming concerts, and more:
- Just chatting
- Travel and outdoors
- Makers and crafting
- Sports and fitness
- Performing arts
- Talk shows and podcasts
Livestreaming makes a great part-time business because it requires minimal investment. You can go live with just your phone and a tripod, which you can get for $30. And having so many options for what you can stream and make money from is nothing but encouraging. Pick a niche, then create an account on Livestream or Twitch to start streaming today.
Go forth and hustle on your part-time business idea
There you have it: an arsenal of fresh ideas to get your gears turning and help you figure out your next part-time business idea.
Just remember: it’ll be a lot of work. But if you have the passion, dedication, and savvy, you’ll be glad you took the risk and pushed yourself outside of your comfort zone.
Part-time business ideas FAQ
Which businesses are best for part time?
- Print on demand
- Pet care services
- Tours on the side
- Furniture business
- Affiliate marketing
What are the easiest and cheapest businesses to start?
The most affordable and beginner-friendly businesses involve no steep fees or inventory. You can start businesses like dropshipping stores, pet care services, or affiliate marketing without investing a lot upfront.