Small Business Ideas You Can Start on the Side in 2020

You’ve reached the point where you’re not just thinking about starting a small business on the side. You’re now researching it on the internet, which means you’re probably pretty serious about becoming self-employed. It might seem like a terrible time to start a side business with the world’s state during this pandemic, but what better time than now? With many out of work and even more having to pick up second jobs that barely pay minimum wage, profitable side hustles are more popular and accessible than ever.

Plus, there’s a massive movement to #supportsmallbusinesses. It’s the entrepreneur’s time!

It can be tough to list off realistic small business ideas for 2020 on the spot. Naturally, the most common question people have is regarding what type of business idea they should pursue.

The best place to start is with any known skills or talents you already have. There’s probably a way to monetize it! If inspiration just isn’t striking yet, I’ve put together this list of Small Business Ideas You Can Start on the Side in 2020. See if any of these strike you. Here we go!

Wedding Planner

Maybe one of the few ideas for business that’s actually as glamorous as it sounds? Weddings happen ‘round the clock, even post-COVID. Wedding planning is a very reasonable business to start now, especially if you have a knack for this type of work. It is a great time to explore freelance wedding planning as a side business to start.

Already have a network of bridal shops, floral designers, venues, jewelers, travel agents, and other wedding professionals? If so, then wedding planning is probably the best business to start now.

For those just starting out, take a second to read this blog to get a general idea of what’s needed to start up your small business as a wedding planner.

For more experienced wedding planners or those who want to invest in a business idea from the very beginning, the American Association of Certified Wedding Planners offers an online course and certification in wedding planning.

Even for newbies, freelance wedding planning can make more than minimum wage as soon as your business is up and running.

Wedding Photographer

Capturing some of the most precious moments in a couple’s life can demand considerably high rates--and for good reason. This small business idea, unlike some of the others, does require passion and skill.

The standard going rate for a one-day wedding shoot is in the ballpark of $2,000-$3,000, and that’s usually a cost representative of a basic package. With experience and the right clients, freelance wedding photographers can pull in over $10,000 in one day. Referrals alone can keep your wedding photography side business going.

Here are resources for the curious, any beginners, and intermediate level wedding photographers. Shaw offers a great course, and you can get the first four weeks for free, so you can get a head start on your new business idea.

Floral Designer

Every. Single. Holiday. And more. 

Floral designers are in demand for each and every single holiday in the world! With the right vendors and some organizational planning, a floral designer can easily make triple what it costs to procure the flowers. That might not make floral design an easy business idea, but that does make it a profitable business idea.

A little light reading will break down what’s needed to start a floral design business and how to  execute your side business idea.

Plenty of corporate floral design courses are out there, but TeamFlower has more of a boutique-style course, offering much more of an  in-depth curriculum than the standard courses.

Landing Page Specialist

A landing page is where a user “lands” after clicking on an email, ad, or other form of digital marketing. Therefore, a landing page specialist is a person who writes these pages. It’s a copywriting specialty and a lucrative small business idea in 2020.

Landing pages are stand-alone webpages. They’re a common and considerably effective digital marketing technique.

Being Ernest Hemingway is not required. As long as you’re familiar with SEO strategies and keyword research, you can create a small startup business. From there, reliable data, calculated strategy, hard work, and a sprinkle of creativity will equal success in writing landing pages as a small business idea.

Tip: I use Ubersuggest’s paid plan because it suits my needs the best, but I also utilize many free subscription plans on multiple data analytics platforms.

If you have a background in a specific industry or niche, use that to your advantage. As a freelance writer, I can tell you with certainty that there are companies that would hire a less experienced writer who has more extensive experience in that company’s specific field over the opposite. Use what you’ve got!

Once you feel ready, here’s a quick overview of pitching to your potential new clients. But, if you’re serious about tapping into the copywriting industry, I highly recommend Comprehensive Copywriting Academy, which is Nicki Krawczyk’s extremely thorough copywriting course. It’s genuinely perfectly got a perfect name for what you get.

I took this course and still refer to it every day in my work. Nicki takes the guesswork out of becoming a copywriter and business owner and continues providing up-to-date information, techniques, and support for members via a very active Facebook page, monthly online coaching sessions, and a frequently updated, ever-increasing library of copywriting training.

So basically, you get a whole network of creative professionals and fellow entrepreneurs as well as a course designed by someone who did exactly what you’re trying to do 15 years ago.

Sarah Turner is the other industry leader who is widely respected for the high tier of quality information her course offers, as well as a tangible disposition to help. I love Sarah!

Since courses aren’t required, being a landing page specialist is probably one of the cheapest businesses to start on the list. Although, being trained by a well-respected course like CCA will make you stand out from the crowd--it’s worth it.

Go forth and prosper, my fellow writer.

Drive for Lyft/Uber

Uber and Lyft are (or were?) one of the most common side businesses to start in recent years. If you have a car and a license, the startup costs are nearly non-existent.

The biggest attraction to driving for Uber and Lyft is that drivers get to create their schedule by the minute, choosing when to clock on or off with no limitations set by Uber or Lyft. It’s debatable whether or not being an Uber/Lyft driver is one of the best small businesses to start in 2020, but it’s certainly still one of the most accessible.

The benefits always sound so tempting (plus, there are usually sign-on bonuses), but there are some real considerations to take before jumping on this business idea, including pay. Of course, location will play a factor in what you’ll make, not to mention gas, tires, mileage, and wear and tear. Still, the overhead is very low compared to other side businesses.

Tip: Some insurance companies don’t allow their customers to run rideshare businesses. Check into it before jumping into this small business idea.

Fiverr Gigs

Fiverr is the home-based business you might imagine if Upwork and Etsy had a baby. It’s the perfect small business idea for creative professionals who only want a side job. You could, technically, sell on Fiverr full-time, but if you’re doing that, I’d recommend starting your own business.

Sellers set their rates, and the responsibility of promoting gigs also falls on the sellers’ back. Income is, therefore, dependent on how much time and effort you invest. The platform allows you to set your own rate and offer packages as well as single services.

Fiver is one of the best small startup businesses to consider for freelancers.

Get your gig on, y’all.

Etsy Store

Great at sewing or knitting? Creating beautiful faux flower arrangements? Constructing handmade furniture with love? Why aren’t you selling on Etsy already? It’s one of the cheapest businesses to start.

Once you’ve created a list of business ideas, it’s time to open your store, establish your brand, promote your business, and let Etsy work for you. Etsy is a great place to start before jumping into your own eCommerce site. Their platform takes the “how-to” out of “how to start a business on the side.”

Tip: The trick to being a successful small business on Etsy and in eCommerce, in general, is finding your perfect audience and figuring out how to sell to them.

Here’s a step-by-step guide for setting your business up on Etsy, and check out these branding tips to kickstart your new side business’s digital presence.

Amazon Reseller

To the surprise of many, anybody can sell on Amazon. Having a side business on Amazon is perfect for the garage sale junkie in all of us. Whether you’re a picker, flea market fiend, garage sale groupie, or just a crafty person with a knack for buying low and selling high, why not take advantage of Amazon and Ebay’s platform? It’s a considerably cheap business to start.

Learn how to write magnetic product descriptions with this article from StartupBros, or hire a copywriter. Our entire job is to write content for sales purposes, like yours.

Airbnb Host

Airbnb is such a great part-time business idea to make money on the side that they’ve given hotels quite a headache in recent years. Hosts can offer their couch, spare bedrooms, and even their whole house to rental guests, which has proven to be an enviously profitable side business.

To make the most out of your new small business startup, offer personalized add-on services like homemade breakfast or a local tour from the homeowner (you!). These extra touches will make you a popular host.

Regardless of whether or not you choose to offer add-ons, Airbnb still isn’t a completely passive income, as you’ll essentially be on-call anytime guests are present.

Take a look at how to start hosting with Airbnb, and incorporate some of these tips from Jimmy Xiong into your side business practice.

Write Greeting Cards

Have a way with words and a talent for writing poems? There are greeting card companies that will pay you for poems to publish in cards. Here’s a look at 13 companies that accept submissions. A handful of companies are paying over $300 per poem! For a true poet at heart, this could be the best small business to start in 2020.

Writing Fiction

Don’t you have to be Stephen King to do that? No. Fiction writing is a legit work-from-home small business.

A surprising number of magazines, websites, and publishing companies are desperately looking for fiction writers. The types of gigs vary, but most involve short fiction stories. Almost any genre is up for grabs. You can make a few thousand dollars a month writing fiction short stories.


If you’re one of the gifted few who is multilingual, turn that into a profitable small business by offering freelance translation and interpretation services. Freelance rates in this industry generally start at about $20 an hour and quickly increase with experience and reputation. You could browse through hundreds of freelance translator/interpreter job openings, or you can nurture this small business idea on a local level.

Why not try both?

Promoting yourself locally, especially if you’re located in a culturally diverse area, is a fabulous way to complement your online job search. If you’ve got the language skills, this is a very easy sideline business to begin.

Translating and interpreting are considerably niche business ideas, so the opportunity to be highly profitable is present. Also, don’t underestimate the value of this work. Translators and interpreters are crucial for many bilingual families in areas like real estate, healthcare, taxes, and so on.

Stock Photographer

Do you know those delightful pictures that websites and blogs use to complement their content? Like the ones used in this blog? Those are called stock photos. Most people get their stock photos from online stock photography websites.

These sites pay photographers for their pictures. Usually, there’s an upfront payment for the photo, then a potential 20-50 cents per month per photo for as long as the stock image company chooses to offer it to members. And, hey, that can add up quickly. Stock photography is another easy small business to start if you’ve already got the talent.

If you have an eye for photography, try selling your best photos to places like Pexels, Pixabay, or Unsplash. While you’re at it, start creating an online portfolio of your work to plant the seed for a future freelance photography business! Since you’ll be taking the photos anyway, take advantage of this simple idea for business.

Check out this list of free online portfolio platforms to get started displaying your best shots.

Meditation Instructor

As an experienced and dedicated meditator, you have much to offer the world today, making this a lucrative side business. Many entrepreneurial meditators are merely moving with the flow of the times and using their at-home small business to offer virtual meditation sessions, in-person group sessions, one-on-one instruction, and more.

You don’t need any special training to facilitate a group like this. Still, if you’re looking to operate on a broader scale, there are many trustworthy meditation certification courses to choose from. Either way, becoming a meditation instructor is a low-cost business startup.

Are you feeling wrong about monetizing such a sacred practice? Read this to set your mind at ease. If your intention is pure, there is no harm done. We truly need more genuine healers offering services today!

Yoga Instructor

If you’re a budding yogi and have been tossing around the idea of teaching, there’s no better time to turn your passion into a successful home business. The first step will be to get certified. Choosing which certification to pursue will depend on your experience and goals.

Once you’re certified, you can officially begin offering yoga instruction as a small business, even as a virtual online small business. Yoga instructors’ income varies widely, but $20/hour is about the low-to-average rate. In a self-made business like this, marketing your services is critical, so don’t forget to ask for referrals!

Catering Business

A side catering business is probably one of the most accessible business ideas to choose to take on. Catering is much different than simply providing food for events since you have to estimate the perfect amount of food to provide for your guests without running out or running over, which would both cut into your profits. Catering may sound common, but it’s actually a niche business idea because not everyone is willing to give cooking that much patience!

Network like crazy in your neighborhood, always asking for referrals, and expand outward from there. With a genuine talent for cooking and some professionalism, you’ll succeed with this work-from-home small business.

Tax Preparation

I don’t exactly expect the majority of readers to race in line for this work-at-home side business idea, but that’s exactly why you should take it on. Everyone has to file taxes, but only a limited number of people enjoy doing so. 

If this sounds like you, make tax preparation your lucrative side business. Check out this Udemy Tax Preparation course. Once you feel confident in the process of tax preparation, you could consider further specializing your services to pinpoint specific industries.

Here’s what other freelance tax preparers are doing to charge over $200 per simple tax return. Not too bad of an at-home side business, right?

Home Cleaner

House cleaning is a tried and true traditional side gig that has withstood the test of time and only keeps increasing. It’s a more accessible part-time small business idea than ever before with all of the new platforms that will host your side business and consistently connect you with customers. Three super popular sites for this are:

  1. Task Rabbit

  1. Tidy

  1. Handy

According to Handy, house cleaners can make $22/hour plus, but you can always charge more on your own!

eBay Sales

Most people know they can sell on eBay, but we seem to have generally forgotten. Much like Amazon, eBay is an excellent place to either supplement or start a small business online. Having an eBay and Amazon account can provide a larger audience for your items. Just make sure to keep up with your inventory!

Who knows, you may enjoy reselling and end up wanting to start your own eCommerce business in the future!


Another traditional but always in-demand side business idea is housesitting, though not a reliable form of income as far as consistency goes.

...unless you dive headfirst into this business idea and offer to travel. Before getting started, take a look at a thorough description of the best and worst websites for housesitters.


Only those who love kids need apply! If babysitting is your thing, you’re desperately needed. Babysitting is your new local small business idea. There may not be a shortage of babysitters on the market, but there is a shortage of super awesome babysitters! I’m a mom. I know.

If babysitting for your neighborhood or community isn’t pulling in enough side money for you, try using a small business platform explicitly made for caregivers like, Sittercity, or Urbansitter.

What Else Can You Think Of?

I’m actively working on expanding this list of small business ideas. There are so many opportunities for small businesses in 2020 that the full list will include over 100 small business ideas!

Until then, what did I miss? Comment and tell me what your friends are doing to maintain a profitable side business right now. And don’t forget to find me on social media!

Twitter: @writewhitney

LinkedIn: @whitneyrobichaux

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Curious Creative

             Chicago, Illinois

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©2020 by Whitney Mikulecky.