Hey – want to start a business? 30 part-time businesses you can start today


1. Trade on eBay

Use eBay pulse to see what’s hot in the marketplace. Then invest in setting up a professional-looking eBay shop, from £14.99 a month. Read our blog on tips on the design of your shop.

2. Sell stock photography

Sell good quality digital photos to sites like istock.com, shutterpoint.com and fotolia.com. But be warned: this is quite the slow-burner. Lots of advice here.

3. Personal chef

Invest in a good cookery course (like the ones listed here), then start offering your services to friends of friends in need of dinner party assistance.

4. Become a cookery writer

As above – then publish your own cookery book through blurb.com. Sales will come in from the site, and you can sell yourself to new prospective clients by saying you’re also a cookery author.

5. Antiques trader

Do some serious homework on cheaper pieces – invest in an encyclopaedia and read mags like this one. Buy a few items to hedge your bets, then sell to antiques dealers and shops.

6. Virtual assistant

Sign up to a site like virtualassistants.co.uk (£2.95 to post a listing for 12 months). Invest in a secretarial or touch typing course to give you an edge over other candidates. More advice here.

7. Personal trainer

Proper training courses are several hundred pounds at least (recommended ones here), but if you’re a marathon old-hand or a gym-bod you could entice some clients without. Pick up part-time work in a gym to find clients.

8. Snack stall

You can buy a stall for around £100 – £150 (from somewhere like this). Make sure you comply with all health and safety regulations and get a license from your local council if you’re selling alcohol, hot food between 11pm and 5am or food from a stall or van on the street.

9. Late-night alcohol delivery

Supply the midnight masses and charge a premium on booze and snacks delivered after pub closing time. You’ll need a personal license to sell alcohol, which costs £37 – get it online from your local council.

10. Cleaning company

Start this business with no overheads by using clients’ cleaning products. Pay for criminal record checks (CRB checks, £26 each) for yourself and any other members of staff to reassure new customers once you get some money coming in.

11. Focus group organiser

Target small businesses at networking events and with flyers to user-test their new products or websites. Then place free ads on Gumtree to find participants and skim a fee off their hourly pay. More info here on conducting focus groups.

12. Flyering agency

Call around all local business and clubs and say you’ll find them someone to hand out flyers for a £3 charge (on top of their hourly rate). Then find students in need of work on Gumtree.

13. Pop-up restaurant

Decorate your living room, stick some posters in your front window and start a restaurant in your house. Technically you’re meant to get a load of health and safety checks done for this, but there’s a whole crop of people doing it on the sly. Check out our guest blog from Horton Jupiter to find out how it’s done.

14. Treasure hunt business

You can start this business for next to nothing. Do some research on your local area and plant clues for family fun days and cheap office outings. Take a look at how Hunt Fun and Treasure Days are doing it.

15. Sell pot plants, herbs and home-grown veg

The whole of the middle class is into organic and home-grown veg these days, and with packets of hundreds of seeds coming in at around 60p, you can sell your own produce for a whopping profit. Or just take clippings of plants and herbs you already have, grow out into separate pots and sell to neighbours and friends.

16. Gardening and landscaping assistant

Got green fingers? Put them to use by offering your services to people in your area. Show them sketches of how you think the garden could be improved and you become a landscape gardener to boot (though you’ll need to do careful research on what grows well in which places and at what times of year).

17. Meal delivery service

Capitalise on people too busy or too lazy to cook by offering to deliver delicious dishes of their liking, home-cooked by you. Check out our interview with the founder of The Pure Package for inspiration.

18. Walking and bike tours

Armed with nothing more than a map and a book on local history, you can guide tours around your local commons, hills or towns and share insight into the history of your area for a small charge.

19. Clothes repairs

Basic needlework is astonishingly straightforward. Offer to darn friends of friends’ clothes for a nominal fee and take in too-big shirts and skirts.

20. Gift baskets

Knocking up ribbon-adorned wicker baskets brimming with Bon Maman jams, freshly-baked muffins and fruit is relatively cheap, but you can charge a premium.

21. Dog training

Easy if you know how. Getting a formal qualification will improve your chances of doing business with people you don’t know. Check out the Association of Pet Dog Trainers for more info.

22. Pet sitting and walking

Most pet owners prefer one-on-one TLC for their animals than putting them into kennels. Keep your rates competitive and incentivise clients to refer a friend.

23. Event and party planning

Perfect if you’ve got a natural knack for organisation. Establishing cut-price deals with catering companies, florists, wine suppliers and the like will ensure you offer a competitive service.

24. Car boot sales

Have a proper clear-out of your junk to get started, then reinvest profits into buying stuff from any charity shop you have time to scour. Offer to take friends’ junk off their hands to cut overheads.

25. Social media assistant

More and more small businesses are latching onto the fact social media can help them, so offer to maintain accounts for them for a small fee – you can keep business ticking over while still doing your day job. Tools like Tweetdeck will help hugely. More advice here.

26. Handyman

There are gutters to clean, tiles to be scrubbed, lawns to be raked and paths to be laid all around the country. Post friendly notes through letterboxes advertising a cheap hourly rate.

27. Home tutor

If you’ve got a degree, or good A-level results, you can offer to help out schoolkids with their homework and exams. Get a certification to make it more official if you struggle to find work. The BBC has some good info on that.

28. Computer skills mentor

There are still millions of people out there who feel utterly confounded by computers and the internet. If you’re a spreadsheet whiz or an Outlook old-hand, you can charge them for lessons.

29. CV consultant

If you’ve made it through the rat race and come out the other side older and wiser, you can help newbies tidy up their CV’s. Advertise on Gumtree and ask friends, and keep fees low.

30. Second-hand clothes stall

Get yourself down to a retro clothes market in a university town, armed with piles of 70s, 80s and 90s clothes from charity shops, and you’ll find you can charge anything from £5 to £50 an item. Ask the local council about renting a stall.


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