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10 Min. Read

10 Business Ideas with No Employees: How to Run a Business on Your Own

business ideas with no employees

Keeping costs low when running a business is important. As much as possible, you want to be able to handle everything on your own so that you don’t have to pay additional staff. Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to run a small operation without feeling overwhelmed. Here are some of the most common businesses without employees.

1. Freelancer

A freelancer is a self-employed person who offers services to multiple clients at one time. They can charge on an hourly or per-project basis, depending on their contracts.

Most freelancers specialize in creative fields—like graphic design, copywriting or web development—but there are also freelancers who work in other industries. For instance, if you’re a skilled marketer or consultant, you can definitely make those business ideas work.

If you’re considering freelancing, you’re not the only one: 57 million Americans worked freelance in 2019. During that year, income from freelance work nearly reached $1 trillion.

Earning at a median rate of $20 an hour, freelancers rake in a bit more money than other workers in the U.S. overall. Plus, this business idea doesn’t require you to hire staff or rent a commercial space, so you can keep most of what you earn.

2. Commission-Only Sales

If convincing people to buy products or services sounds like your idea of fun, then you should start a small business that earns commission-only sales. You can start small: sell beauty products, shoes, clothes or anything you’re interested in.

How do you know if you’re a good fit for a career in sales? If you’re a good talker who’s motivated by money, you have a good chance of becoming a successful salesperson. You’ll also need to be as tough as nails: you’ll likely face rejection every day.

Note that being a commission-only salesperson is different from working in the sales department of a company. You won’t get a base salary, but you’ll get a larger commission for every sale you make. Depending on your arrangement with your client, you can even earn higher commissions if you exceed your quota.

3. Podcasting

Hosting a podcast is a great way to earn money from home. Whether you’re offering online courses or just providing quality entertainment, you have the potential to make a living out of this endeavor.

The big question is: How much do podcasters earn? According to AdvertiseCast:

  • You can get $18 for every 30-second CPM (cost per impression)
  • You can earn $25 for every 60-second CPM

Promoting products and services, and then earning money as an affiliate marketer is also a good way to earn money while hosting a podcast. You can sign up for the Amazon affiliate program or ShareASale.

Another way to earn money being a podcaster is by promoting your own products and services. You can make merchandise that features your brand and then sell them to your listeners.

Finally, you can turn to crowdfunding. A platform like Patreon will allow you to get your audience’s pledge so you can continue making quality content.

4. Business Coach

Helping business owners learn how to cope with everyday challenges may seem intimidating, but it’s not impossible. If you have experience running a successful business or have the skills to mentor another entrepreneur, you’ll be a great fit.

The question is: How do you become a business coach? Naturally, you have to begin by building credibility and earning qualifications. Some coaches sign up for certification programs that require a minimum of 100 hours of professional coaching experience. Others use social media platforms to build an audience and earn a good reputation.

The next thing you have to do is to develop a niche. Here are some of your options:

  • Focus on coaching startup business owners. Help them clarify their goals and build a roadmap in order to succeed.
  • Assist small business owners who are ready to expand their market and take on bigger challenges. You’ll help them get through growing pains and make realistic action plans.
  • Help businesses that have begun to stagnate. Guide them through doing a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis to identify the direction their company should take.

According to Entrepreneur, people look for experience, attitude, expertise and a love of teaching when looking for a business coach. If these are qualities you possess, you’ll be a great fit.

5. Virtual Assistant

If you want to work from home, becoming a virtual assistant is a solid option. Virtual assistants help small business owners, busy professionals and bloggers with various tasks, like the following:

  • Administration assistant: A lot of professionals are willing to pay money to hire admin assistants. You’ll be taking calls, scheduling appointments or responding to client concerns. Most tasks require little training but commitment and strong organization skills are musts.
  • Social media management: Maintaining a strong presence on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or LinkedIn requires a lot of effort. That’s why a lot of people would rather seek the help of a virtual assistant to schedule posts and generate buzz.
  • Content producer: Assisting bloggers to write and edit blog content is another common task for virtual assistants. You’ll also be optimizing content by adding keywords, adding affiliate links and more.
  • E-commerce assistant: You can also help businesses manage an online store. For this job, you’ll be writing product descriptions, responding to inquiries, tracking packages and handling returns.

If you’re willing to handle any of these tasks, you can begin applying for a role as a virtual assistant. Find clients on popular platforms, like FlexJobs, Fancy Hands or Upwork.

The best part of being a virtual assistant is that you can work from anywhere you like. Expect to earn between $3 to $7 per task.

6. Franchise Owner

Becoming a franchise owner means buying an existing business. You’ll pay an initial fee and ongoing royalties to the franchisor in return for being able to use their trademark, receiving their support and earning the right to use their system of doing business.

Generally, becoming a franchise owner puts you at an advantage because you won’t be starting a business from scratch. You just have to follow the established system that the franchisor used on their other outlets.

You’re probably wondering: Are there franchise businesses without employees? There are, but you’ll have to look for them. Most of them are businesses offering cleaning or concierge services.

Note that franchises are usually popular with customers, so running the business without other people can get tiring over time. Leave room for your business to grow and be open to the possibility that you might need to hire an extra pair of hands sometime in the future.

7. Chore/Errand Service for Seniors

Running errands for seniors is a great way to extend help to the elderly while earning some cash. Anyone can do it as long as they’re willing to put in the effort.

Generally, people make about $30 an hour running errands. To make sure you get the most profit out of this business, you can try to do everything on your own—from booking appointments, answering inquiries and running the errands.

To get started, you’ll need a cellphone, a computer, and a calendar or planner. Then, you’ll have to decide on the range of services you’d like to offer. These can include the following:

  • Bank errands
  • Buying medication
  • Car errands
  • Dog walking
  • Dry cleaning
  • Grocery shopping

Note that startup costs may also include advertising expenses for your errand service business. Print some brochures and business cards, and pass them out at places you find a lot of senior citizens.

A fuel-efficient car will also be necessary since you’ll be driving a lot in order to do errands. Be sure to include the cost of gas as part of your business expenses.

In total, startup costs for errand businesses can range from $2,000 to $10,000, depending on how aggressively you market your services. Despite this, costs should be minimal and you can keep overhead low by running the business out of your home.

8. Microbrewery

If you’re a huge fan of craft beer, starting a microbrewery should be right up your alley. It’s a unique business idea that can really take off depending on how dedicated you are to your craft.

How do you build your own brewery? First, you’ll need some capital. You’ll also need a building that can house your equipment, which includes the following:

  • Kegs
  • Kettles
  • Bottles
  • Tanks for storage and fermentation
  • Refrigerators

Most people who start breweries take out a loan in order to purchase or rent equipment. That said, expect to spend anywhere between $100,000 to $1 million, depending on the size and condition of the products you buy.

Note that brewers in the U.S. also need to apply for a federal brewing permit with the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. You may also need to secure additional permits depending on where you live.

Once you secure all the equipment and permits necessary to operate, you can begin making your own brew. Business ideas like tend not to be very labor-intensive, so you can run a steady operation without anyone else’s help.

9. Personal Trainer

If you spend more time at the gym than anywhere else, why not make it your business? You can be a personal trainer who helps others set and achieve their fitness goals.

To get started, you’ll want to try to earn a few certifications. You can get one from the National Council on Strength and Fitness (NCSF) or the American Council on Exercise (ACE).

Personal trainers can work at gyms, hospitals, or even at schools and offices. You can also build a steady clientele of individuals whom you train.

Expect to get paid about $6 to $25 per session, which can last from 30 minutes to an hour. If you earn a reliable reputation and become more popular with locals, you can definitely make money quite easily.

10. Special Deliveries

Starting a business that specializes in special deliveries is simple. All you need is a pickup truck and a phone. It’s also the type of business you can scale up later on if you grow your customer base.

You can promote your own special delivery business by setting up a website or Facebook page. You also have the option to sign up for courier or delivery apps to make it even easier for customers to reach you.

How to Manage a Business with No Employees

You can’t beat the fun and freedom that comes with being a sole proprietor. Plus, by choosing a business model that won’t require additional staff members, you can maximize your profit and keep most of what you earn.

Still, running a business on your own comes with a lot of administrative tasks. One of these is bookkeeping. You’ll have to make sure that your revenue, expenses and profit are all tracked and recorded. You’ll also need to generate reports on these numbers, so you can easily tell how well your business is doing.

Other tasks you’ll have to deal with are preparing invoices and documents for tax purposes. If you’ve been using spreadsheets to accomplish this, then you’re doing it the hard way. Using bookkeeping and accounting software like FreshBooks will automate all of these tasks and save you a lot of time.

There’s no doubt about it: Running a business without employees takes a lot of work. But with the right tools, you can make your everyday tasks simpler and more manageable.


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