The path to entrepreneurship has many routes, one of which is starting a part-time business. But not everyone with a successful online business quit their 9-to-5 job one day and became profitable the next.
Some of us like to test the waters first. Maybe you know you want to start a new business but you’re not exactly sure what it should be. That’s where starting a part-time business, or a weekend business, is useful. It’s a low-risk way to experiment with different ideas while still earning a full-time salary.
But turning an online business idea into a reality on the side isn’t easy. You come home after work, you spend a little time with family and friends, and try to jam in a productive session working on your side hustle before going to bed.
It takes a little mental sweat, but it’s 100% doable. This article will walk you through nine profitable part-time business ideas you can start today, with a guide for planning your weekends so you can move your business forward.
11 best part-time businesses to start
- Print on demand
- Selling crafts
- Selling new or refurbished furniture
- Starting a pet business
- Becoming a livestreamer
- Affiliate marketing
- Personal training or fitness coaching
- Virtual assistant (VA)
With a little know-how and some hard work, you can start a part-time business of your own that makes more money than driving for Uber or babysitting. Check out the following 11 ideas you can take advantage of to become your own boss today:
Whether you want some extra income or want to grow an online store, a dropshipping startup might be the right business idea for you. Dropshipping is a fulfillment method where you don’t stock any of the products you sell. Instead, you purchase the items from a supplier after the order is placed and the supplier ships it to your customer.
Most dropshipping stores don’t take a lot of money or time to set up and run. When done correctly, it can be a profitable part-time business venture for you.
Most people don’t quit their day jobs right after launching a dropshipping store. They spend time ramping up their store, working out the customer service kinks and finding the best suppliers until they see a healthy cash flow. All businesses and entrepreneurs are different, but it’s possible to generate an income of $1,000 to $2,000 per month after a year of working on your store approximately 10 to 15 hours per week.
While it may seem challenging at first, this passive income idea can earn you residual income and eventually a full-time salary when done right.
2. Print on demand
Print on demand is an easy way to monetize your creativity. It involves working with a supplier to customize products like tote bags or t-shirts with your own designs. The supplier sells them to you on a per-order basis with your brand. In other words, you don’t pay for any products until you’ve sold them. The company also fulfills and ships your customers’ orders.
Print on demand makes a great part-time business idea because it takes little to no investment. You don’t hold any inventory. You don’t have to spend money on materials or equipment. You just need to choose a print-on-demand company to work with, create your designs, then upload them to a Shopify store.
The biggest investment you’ll make is time for creating your designs and building your online brand.
Popular print-on-demand products businesses sell include:
- Wall art
- Phone cases
Interested in starting a print-on-demand side business? Check out the Bestselling Print on Demand Products.
3. Selling crafts
This is the most obvious part-time business idea for most full-time workers. Anyone can make and sell crafts from home today, with the rise of ecommerce. Plus, working with your hands is good for your brain.
Experts found that using your hands on a task that doesn’t take much thinking gives your brain a chance to relax and rest. It can also give you a sense of accomplishment and reduce stress and anxiety. Think of it as a meditative practice, but one that turns a profit later down the line.
Some craft business ideas are:
- Starting a jewelry line
- Upcycling vintage clothing
- Starting a candle business
- Creating ceramic pots for plants
Your first thought may be to sell your crafts on sites like Etsy or eBay, and that’s not a bad idea. But you could also build a website and start your own business online. It’ll save you a ton of money on the commission fees that marketplaces take from your sales, and help you build a successful business online.
Your options are endless. Need help finding your creative calling? Read Easy and Profitable Crafts to Make and Sell in 2024.
4. Selling new or refurbished furniture
Got a knack for working with your hands but crafts don’t spark your creativity? Try selling new or refurbished furniture online.
Woodworker Chris Hughes, founder of Timberware, worked as a welder’s apprentice and general contractor before starting his furniture business. Being a handyman and building homes drove him to love working with wood and creating custom furniture for clients. “My best advice would be to start with what you can afford and slowly grow your tool arsenal,” Chris says. “Be patient, and don’t overextend yourself.”
There are different ways to start a furniture business on the side, including as one of the following:
- Maker: someone who builds furniture by hand
- Refurbisher or restorer: someone who repairs, cleans and restores furniture
- Designer: someone who designs furniture and has a manufacturer build it
- Reseller: someone curates pieces and sells a number of items from different brands
- Dropshipper: someone who works with a supplier to fulfill and ship orders
Convinced that selling furniture is your future side business? Learn the ins and outs of starting by reading How to Sell Furniture Online in 2024.
Many full-time business owners selling services online start by part-time freelancing. Freelance means you work with different companies at different times rather than being employed by just one. It’s a popular part-time business idea because it doesn’t take any money to start. You only need a skill to sell. The best part? You can start a home-based business freelancing from anywhere.
Many full-time employees turn their passions into a part-time business. For example, Kaitlin Cremmins is the marketing director of Long Island Screen Printing, and sells her photography services to local businesses.
“I’ve always loved photography, but I could never define an exact niche,” Kaitlin says. “I love to shoot many different things, like maternity shoots, real estate tours, concerts, product shoots for local businesses. Because I work a full-time job, I can shoot photos on the weekends and on holiday breaks. It’s where my creativity shines and is something I am really passionate about. Plus, I can make a little bit of extra money.”
Freelancing comes in many forms:
- Virtual assistant
- Freelance writing
- Graphic designer
- Real estate agent
- SEO consultant
Freelancing is one of the higher growth industries for both part-timers and full-timers. It’s projected that by 2027, 86.5 million people will be freelancing in the United States, making up 50% of the total workforce. Many freelancers also diversify their income streams by creating online courses or selling digital products online.
You could sign up for a freelance website like Fiverr or Upwork, but they take commission fees for using their websites. Instead, get your own domain name and start an online portfolio. You can scan job boards and pitch to different companies, or market yourself on social media sites like LinkedIn.
6. Starting a pet business
The pet industry is one of the most lucrative business opportunities for part-time entrepreneurs. It’s pandemic-proof and has shown significant growth in recent years. People are also jumping on the pet parenting trend, where owners treat their pets like family and buy them products like beds, sweaters, and raw food.
Even if you’re not into cooking up dog treats, you can also get into:
- Pet care services like dog walking and grooming
- Pet supplies like food dispensers
- Pet products like personalized mugs or shirt
Let the Dog Out (LTDO) is a dog-walking service based in Guelph, Canada. LTDO offers free meet-and-greet sessions to let dogs meet their new sitter (you) and get comfortable with them.
A service-based pet business is built on personal relationships. So if you like dogs and (kind of) like people, it can be a good part-time small business idea for you. You just need your own website to start. If your services are good, you may get new clients through word-of-mouth referrals and can grow your side business into full-time work.
7. Becoming a livestreamer
Streaming is becoming a popular way to entertain people. A professional streamer is someone who makes money from live broadcasting games, music, art, live content, and more. Livestreaming used to be just for gamers, but there’s been a rise in IRL streamers and “just chatting” streamers, which are people who broadcast themselves simply talking to their viewers.
Streamers make money online through donations, advertisements, subscriptions, and sponsorships. If you’re using a streaming service like Twitch, viewers can donate money in the form of “bits,” which are worth 1¢ on average.
There are many categories of livestreaming, from people livestreaming their painting to personal trainers streaming classes and more:
- Music and performing arts
- Talk shows and podcasts
- Travel and outdoors
- Food and drink
- Makers and crafting
- Sports and fitness
Livestreaming as a part-time business takes little investment. You can start with just your phone and a tripod, which you can get for $20. As you can see, there are plenty of options for what you can stream and make money from. Choose your niche, then sign up for a platform like Twitch or Livestream to start streaming.
8. Affiliate marketing
Affiliate marketing refers to earning a commission by promoting a product or service made by another company. It’s a business model where you, the affiliate partner, earns money for providing a specific result to the company or advertiser. Most of the time it’s a sale, but other programs give payouts for leads, click, downloads, and other business outcomes.
Affiliate programs are typically free to join, so startup costs are low. Because it’s a performance-based opportunity, you can turn this from a part-time business idea into a venture that provides residual income.
The list of affiliate marketing niches is long. You can find products to sell in any category including:
- Hobby: photography, travel, casino
- Money: investing, banking, credit cards
- Health and wellness: fitness, yoga, nutrition
- Lifestyle: fashion, jewelry, online dating
- Home: coffee, baby products, dogs, plants
- Tech: web hosting, WordPress, gaming, VPN
The way affiliate programs work is pretty straightforward. You mention a product by sharing it through your social media, blogging website, YouTube channel, podcast, etc. Then you earn a commission each time someone makes a purchase through your unique link.
Affiliate marketing is easy to execute, meaning you just need to market a product versus creating one. It’s low risk because it’s free to join a program. And it’s easy to scale, because once you build an audience and create your content, you make money without having to do much manual work.
9. Personal training or fitness coaching
There’s a growing awareness of health and fitness worldwide. More people are seeking guidance to achieve their health and fitness goals—be it weight loss, muscle building, improved fitness, or rehabilitation after injuries.
Personal trainers and fitness coaches can set their own hours, so they can work around other commitments. You can schedule sessions early in the morning, during lunch, in the evenings, or on weekends, based on your availability and your clients’ preferences. You can market your business on platforms like TikTok and Instagram to attract the right people, like coach Ashley Barnsley does.
You can even get into different types of personal training, like:
- Online fitness coaching: where you create personalized workout and nutrition plans through platforms like TikTok, Instagram, or a specialized software
- Specialized training: depending on your experience, you can create training plans for seniors, youth athletes, or injured folks
- Group classes: yoga, Zumba, or bootcamps are all excellent ways to earn income during your free hours
The goal is to tap into your skills and interests, then aligning them with a target audience. As with any business, building a client base takes time, but with dedication and good marketing tactics, you can grow a good part-time business.
There is always a need for tutors in various subjects. This includes school subjects like math, science, and languages, as well as specialized areas like test prep (SAT, ACT, GRE, etc.), instruments, and coding.
With the rise of online learning platforms, you can tutor students from anywhere in the world. The only thing you need for online tutoring is a good internet connection, a computer, and a webcam. If you’re doing in-person tutoring, however, you’ll have to travel to a student’s home or another public area like the library.
11. Virtual assistant (VA)
A virtual assistant (VA) provides administrative, technical, or creative assistance to clients remotely, usually from their home. As more businesses operate online, the VA market continues to grow every year. It’s currently estimated to be worth about $2.5 billion.
As a VA, you can work from anywhere, choose your clients, and set your own hours, making it perfect for part-timers. You can offer a wide range of services based on your skills and interests, such as email management, social media management, content creation, data entry, customer service, and more. The choice is yours.
Making the most of the weekends to grow your side business
- Make weekdays support your weekend
- Create list of actions
- Structure your weekend
- Prime yourself for the week ahead
Your weekends allow you to get much more done in much larger chunks. They’re usually where you’re most capable of growing your business or having the most impact on your business when you’re working a day job.
However, are you making the most of your weekends? How often do you find yourself distracted or making excuses when you’re not getting enough done? How should you structure your weekends? What does a weekend, optimized for productivity and growing a business, look like?
Make weekdays support your weekend
The first thing you need to consider is how you think of your weekends.
What you do during the week should set you up to get more done on the weekend. Don’t use your weekends to support the stuff you do during the week. Instead, whenever you come home from your day job and begin working on your business, make sure it supports your weekend plans.
For example, if you’re planning to tackle your website’s design over the weekend, then choose templates, design logos, draw layout ideas, and write copy throughout the week. That way, when the weekend rolls around, you can focus on the most important task: getting the website up.
Create a list of actions
Whenever you think up a task or project but can’t make time for it during the week, David Allen, author of Getting Things Done, suggests you add it to a “next actions” list instead of a “to do” list. Throwing items into a to-do list is non-actionable. If you set an ordered list of the next things you need to do for your business, it will require and encourage you to make quick decisions.
Think up a great, actionable idea for your business? Put it in your next actions list. Come up with a new marketing idea that will take several hours to implement? Put it in your next actions list.
At the end of the week, organize these ideas, tasks, and projects into time slots throughout your weekends, then pull each task from your next actions list and move it into your calendar for the weekend.
Now let’s get into what a typical weekend can look like and how you should consider structuring yours to get more done.
Structure your weekend
While you won’t have as much time on Friday to get as much done as you can on Saturday or Sunday, it’s a good time to reflect on what you’ve accomplished throughout the week and what you plan to do over your weekend.
It’s good to sit down for five minutes, before planning out your weekend to reinforce what has (or hasn’t) been working for you.
Not taking the time to see where you went right and wrong can stunt your growth as an entrepreneur. Your business only grows when you do. Here are some questions you can ask yourself:
- What were my top wins this past week?
- What didn’t I get done?
- Where did I waste time this past week?
- What was the best part of my week?
You can answer these questions out loud or write them down in a journal or private document (like Google Docs or Evernote).
Schedule your tasks
Now it’s time to schedule your weekend. Set blocks of time for each task and get your priorities in check.
Your weekend should be flexible. Things happen and you can’t always stick to your own schedule. However, don’t use that as an excuse to procrastinate. Stay flexible for when life happens, but don’t stay flexible just because your favorite TV show might be on.
Before planning your weekend, ask yourself a few questions to get a better perspective on what needs to get done:
- What must I get done no matter what this weekend?
- Are there any potential distractions or commitments this weekend that I will need to account for?
Plan your weekend for success
First, if you don’t know what you should be doing, use the Pareto principle. Look at the 20% of things you’ve been doing for your business that have yielded 80% of your results.
Next, use a tool like Trello or even Google Calendar to set your schedule for the next two days. Pull the tasks you put off from your next actions list and start to schedule them into your weekend. If the task can be done in five minutes or less, do it immediately instead of putting it off for the weekend.
Here’s an example of what a “Weekly to do” Trello board looks like:
Generally, you’ll want to tackle the most difficult or time-consuming tasks first. If you don’t think you’ll be able to complete all your tasks for the day, do the most important things first. What the most important task is is up to your discretion, but generally, if it has a looming deadline or will make the most immediate impact on your business, it’s the most important task.
Let’s carry that excitement and momentum over from Friday’s reflection and planning and begin tackling the most important tasks on Saturday.
Because you scheduled the most important or difficult task first, that’s where you’ll be spending most of Saturday. It’s also likely to be your most time-consuming task, which is why it’s also important to get it out of the way as quickly as possible.
The key to getting more done on the weekends is focus. Sounds simple, right? On paper, sure, but in reality, there are a lot of things to keep you distracted.
Put yourself into airplane mode. Much like how your phone’s airplane mode disables all of your phone’s connectivity to the internet, do the same by cutting yourself off from distractions.
Though it’s unlikely you’ll be able to get much done without the internet, there are tools you can use to help keep you from wandering off, while staying connected to the web.
These are the Chrome extensions you can use:
- StayFocused: block out the sites that steal your time, so you can work on what matters
- RescueTime: track all your time on the web to later review where you waste the most time
- Pomodoro Timer: the Pomodoro Technique helps you work in small intervals of 25 minutes of getting stuff done and a short five- or 10-minute break. Simple Pomodoro is a timer that will alert you when it’s time to take a break—and when it’s time to get back to work
If you have time (and motivation) on Sunday, finish any other tasks. If you can’t, add them back to your next actions list or simply schedule them for next weekend.
Schedule content for the week
Spend some time automating whatever you can for the following week. For example, every Sunday evening, you can use a social media scheduling tool to schedule all posts until the following Sunday. Use this time to plan out blog content, or schedule emails to be sent to your email list this week.
Plan your week ahead
Use Trello (or any scheduling tool) to plan the week ahead. This way, you know exactly what you should (and need to) be working on when you get home from work. Don’t waste time deciding what to do or trying to figure out what to do next. Just come home and take action.
Write down and track weekly goals for yourself and your business to help you stay on task. Some example goals you can set are:
- Launch my new ecommerce website by Saturday
- Go to the gym at least three times this week
- Get 10 sales to my store by Saturday
- Double my store’s weekly traffic, from 100 to 200 visitors
Writing your goals down helps keep you accountable and brings you clarity. How do you really know what you want to accomplish in life and in your business if you’re not tracking it?
Prime yourself for the week ahead
Stop dreading Mondays and set the tone for an amazing week. Look forward to getting up early, tackling your morning routine, and getting home after your 9-to-5 to work on your side business. Make your Sunday nights amazing.
Watch a few motivational videos on YouTube or an inspiring TED Talk, read a Shopify success story, or learn something new before going to bed. You don’t have to over-stimulate yourself, just put yourself in the right mindset.
What’s your next profitable business idea going to be?
Now it’s just a matter of repeating this process and becoming really good at adapting it. You won’t be perfect and won’t always have the most productive weekends.
However, making an effort to work at it every weekend and putting in that work, even when it’s only for a few hours, can make all the difference. All of those efforts begin to add up over time and, before you know it, you can have a full-time ecommerce empire on your hands.
What do you think? How will you, as a sidepreneur, manage to build your ecommerce empire on the side while working a 9-to-5? How will you make this upcoming weekend much more productive?
Part-time business ideas FAQ
Which businesses are best for part time?
- Print on demand
- Selling crafts
- Selling new or refurbished furniture
- Starting a pet business
- Becoming a livestreamer
- Affiliate marketing
- Personal training or fitness coaching
- Virtual assistant (VA)
How do I start a part-time business?
- Choose a business idea.
- Make weekdays support your weekend.
- Plan your weekend with business tasks.
- Prime yourself for the week ahead.