If you have the gift of gab, public speaking is a worthwhile side business idea for you to pursue. Many authors, medical practitioners, scientists, artisans, politicians, and other subject matter experts earn extra income by delivering speeches, seminars, and presentations. Professional motivational speakers earn an average annual salary of around $90,000 with just that portion of their income, making this a very realistic side business idea while you continue practicing your craft.


Competition to get into top universities is as tough as it has ever been, so nervous parents are willing to pay handsomely for tutoring for their kids. You need an area of expertise—math, and specifically SAT math preparation, is always a favorite—but almost any subject will work. If you know how to market yourself locally, you can take advantage of parental paranoia and make money by tutoring right in your own home, or at a local library or coffee shop. Just make sure to do your homework on your local market in order to set prices and know which areas of expertise are most desired by parents in your area.
If you don't find what you're looking for there, here's a list of the 45 best places you can learn to code for free. Once you command a knowledge of HTML, Ruby, Python, Javascript, or CSS, you can start a freelance business as a side business idea to build your portfolio while you still hold onto your full-time job. Listen to my podcast interview with Laurence Bradford about her journey to become a freelance web developer, too. And over time, you'll build more relationships, have more experience and eventually take this side business idea over to becoming a full-time source of income.
But don't make the mistake of thinking this will be a passive source of income—you're on call whenever you have a guest and you'll always need to keep the place clean for incoming visitors. On top of just renting on Airbnb, consider offering your guests paid add-ons, like Lauren Gheysens', Royal Day Out in London, England—where she gives visitors a local's only tour of the city, complete with bespoke 18th century costumes.
Become a mystery shopper. This means doing business with various establishments and rating their products and services without their knowledge. It may sound like cake, but remember that it requires discreteness, a good memory for detail (ex. the name of every individual who helped or served you), and enough cash for you to be able to pay for your shopping experience up-front and then wait to be reimbursed pending the approval of your review.

You love dogs? You’re good at taking care of them? You want to open a dog-boarding business? Just make sure you’re prepared. Sure, it’s a great opportunity, and it’s totally doable—with some planning. Make sure you know your local zoning laws and, perhaps more importantly, make sure your neighbors would be OK with some extra noise and activity around your place.

One way to get started might be to focus on children’s parities, which can be a bit simpler and less stressful to plan than adult get-togethers. Go further into specialization by following kid trends and offering superhero or Frozen parties. Remember that you’ll be competing not just with other party planners but with local restaurants and facilities, so excellent networking skills and a personal touch to your services will be important.
Consulting is good work, if you can get it. Consultants give guidance to companies looking for help with everything from marketing to environmental remediation--and for that they clock an average 10% operating margin. Many consultants can easily work from home when they're not with clients on site, and most charge on a per-project basis rather than by the hour. Two big challenges: marketing and pricing the service. For more on the first, check out "Twelve Innovative Marketing Techniques"; for more on pricing, try "How To Figure Out Your Daily Rate."
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