By Kimi Clark
Starting your own service business is an excellent option if you don't want to work a traditional job. Although most service businesses do work regular hours, when it's your business, you get to set those hours. You decide when to work and how to operate your business. You're the boss!
A service-based business is any business that offers services to others without selling tangible products. You are self-employed, which means you have to consider expenses like insurance and taxes.
Maybe you like the idea of being self-employed but don't know where to start. We suggest you start by looking at your skills and interests. What type of things are you good at? What do you enjoy doing?
There are many common service businesses, but if you think hard and do your research, you might come up with something original that no one else is doing.
We're going to help you get started on your quest to be your own boss.
Here are the best business ideas for starting your own service business.
1. Auto Detailer
Having your car cleaned is something that we all need to do. You can find auto detailing shops everywhere, and car dealerships usually have their own too. Although this isn't a unique business, you could put your own spin on it.
Why not go to people's homes or places of business and detail their cars? Mobile auto detailing is up and coming. You can clean the inside of a car anywhere, and the outside at any home or office where a hose is available. If there's no water source, you can take the vehicle to a local car wash and still do the inside. People are busy, and when you fit into their schedule, they appreciate it even more. I found a wide range of pricing, from $50 all the way up to $200. Obviously, it can depend on the size of the car and if it will require extra cleaning time (like lots of pet hair, for example). But you'll want to do a little research of your own before you decide what to charge customers in your area.
2. Dog Walker
This might seem like a more common business, but people appreciate you fitting into their schedule. Many dogs are home alone all day while their owners are at work. Visit homes during the day to walk and care for their pets while they're away. You can set up your appointments so that you have one right after the other that can amount to a full day's work.
Dog walkers around the country earn anywhere from $15-$30 per visit, depending of course on location and time spent. According to Angie's List, the average fee for a dog walker is $15-$20 per 20-minute walk and $20-$30 per 30-minute walk. So say you made $25 for a half hour of work. If you have six dogs you visit every day, that's $150 a day for about 3 hours of work (plus travel time to each house). Not too shabby for a dog walker! Plus you would either have free time to pursue other interests or get even more clients.
3. Laundry Service
I see massive potential in operating a laundry service. Going to people's homes, picking up laundry, washing, drying, folding, and bringing it back is a service I'd be thrilled to have! I think many moms would agree. Plus there is a huge market for college students, many of whom live in a dorm or place with no laundry facilities. If you have transportation and a washer and dryer, this could be the right service business for you.
It's entirely up to you what to charge, but common ways of calculating your fee are by the pound (you will need to get a hanging scale for this one), by the bag, or by the load. Average earnings can range from $1-$1.50 a pound, $2-$4 a bag, or around $10 a load.
4. Grocery Shopper
Some grocery stores have this service, but many do not. Shopping for someone else is a wonderful service to offer. There are people who don't have transportation, who have mobility issues, or who simply don't have the time to shop for themselves.
You can charge for your service either by the hour, by the size of the grocery order, or a flat fee. Consider everything you will be doing, will it be just picking up a list, shopping, and dropping off the groceries? Or will you bring everything in, unpack, and put away? Be sure to adjust your fee accordingly. $25-$27 an hour seems to be the average rate of pay, while if you charge by the order, it's around 20%. So a $150 shopping trip will earn you about $30.
5. House Cleaner
The housecleaning business has been around for a very long time, so obviously, it's working! While it used to be only the wealthy had housekeepers, nowadays you'll find that it's a fairly common occurrence. People work hard and are busy, and many would rather have fun during their time off than spend it cleaning their house.
The salary of a housekeeper is usually paid by the hour, with most earning anywhere from $20-$40, depending on the size of the house, the duties performed and the client. It requires minimal investment to get started, usually around $25-$40 in cleaning supplies.
6. Gutter Cleaner
If you're okay with ladders, have a power washer, and know a thing or two about cleaning gutters, this could be the perfect service business for you. Start-up costs are minimal. In addition to insurance requirements, you need a few tools: A ladder, a power washer (or just use a hose), and a good pair of gloves.
According to Window Genie, pricing can range from $70-$200 for a single-story, 1500-square-foot home to $100-$250 for a two-story, 2,500-square-foot home. You can set your prices based on the scope of the project if there are extras (like gutter screens or severely clogged downspouts).
7. House Painter
If you're okay with heights and have painting experience, you could turn being a house painter into a viable service business. You will likely need to hire employees for this one; if you plan to paint house exteriors, it's easier if there is more than one person.
What to charge will require research on your part as it depends on a variety of factors including the size of the house, the exact details of the job, and the area you live.
8. Repair Person
Similar to painting houses, you will set your costs, and what you charge will depend on the scope of the repair project. But many people who do home repairs do work alone, and a crew isn't necessarily required for smaller jobs. Most of the time, you get paid by the project. You'll want to consider factors like how long the repairs will take and the cost of any materials needed.
Are you handy with a needle and thread? Then being a seamstress could be the business for you. The beautiful thing about this business is that you can work from the comfort of your home. You can either pick up items or have them dropped off right at your door.
Seamstresses can do anything from small, mending projects to enormous tasks such as making wedding dresses. There usually aren't set prices for this type of work as it varies so much depending on the material needed and whether the project is small or large. It's best to do your research for pricing in your area.
This is one job I always thought would be fun, even though decorating doesn't come naturally to me in the sense that I go with the trends. I do love to shop, and I know what I like, and sometimes being a decorator is more about understanding what the client likes than about what is popular.
If you have a flair for colors, patterns, and aesthetics, you could start your own decorating business. Although you can go to school or get training for this, it isn't required. Clients care more about your results, and if you can show them examples of your work, that is usually proof enough for them to hire you, regardless of credentials.
According to the website Schools for Interior Design, a decorator can expect to make anywhere from $20,000- $80,000 per year. You can charge per hour or more commonly per project.
11. Personal Shopper
Similar to a grocery shopper, as a personal shopper you could buy anything a client needs from clothing to housewares. A favorite way to earn money as a personal shopper is to buy gifts for clients. Many people (especially men) have no idea what to get family members and friends for gifts. Plus many guys don't enjoy shopping or don't have the time. Choosing the right gift for that special someone based on the information the client gives you is worth paying for, for many people.
12. Professional Organizer
As more and more people are trying to declutter their homes and live a minimalist lifestyle, the need for professional organizers is on the rise. Professional organizers work in both home and office environments and help clients organize everything from workspaces to paperwork, to entire homes or offices.
Brand new professional organizers can start their fees at $40-$50 per hour depending of course on what type of organizing you'll be doing, your location, and your skill level. The national average is anywhere from $40-$200+ per hour.
13. Yard Maintenance
If you love working outside and don't mind yard work, you could start your own yard maintenance service business. Jobs can range from mowing and weeding to tree trimming and pruning. The amount of money you earn will depend on many factors including the size of the job, the tasks, and the location. There are start-up costs, but many people can get started with little more than a lawn mower and weed eater.
14. Companion for the Elderly
There are an incredible number of seniors who need help with daily living situations from housekeeping and cooking to personal grooming and companionship. And many families are willing to pay decent money for someone to provide those services to their aging loved one.
You'll have to find your own clients, but one benefit is that the startup costs are minimal. This is a great business for those who love to work with people, and although you could work full time if you had enough clients, it's a perfect part-time business. Usually, providers charge by the hour, although you could set a different fee for different duties if you wish. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, in May of 2012 home-health aides earned from $7.98 to $14.06 per hour. But those are caretakers who are working for an agency. When you work for yourself, although you'll want to remain competitive, you set your own fee.
Having a photography business is another option that has become quite popular these days. Even though you don't need professional training per se, you do need to have the skills required to deliver exceptional photos and a great customer experience. You need the right equipment to get started, but the good thing is, you don't necessarily need a studio. Many photographers these days go out on location and take photos everywhere from the beach to an open field to a local landmark.
There are many unconventional photography services you can offer as well. Rates are usually set per package. You should consider things like travel expenses as well as time spent on the actual photographing process when deciding what to charge. Here are ways you can make money selling photos online.
16. Coffee Delivery
Coffee is something many people can't live without these days (myself included!), but when people are busy at work, they don't always have time to run out and grab it. Especially small shops and boutiques where there is usually just one or two people running the show.
Target a location, say your local main street, and see how many of the businesses would be interested in a daily or even bi-weekly coffee run. You can charge each place of business by the week or by the month. The neat thing is you can even use a local coffee shop, so you're putting money back into the community by supporting a local small business.
17. Tax Preparer
This is one service-based business that requires education. You have to get certified and meet state and federal requirements. But if numbers are your thing, it could be worth it. You can earn anywhere from $24,000 to $60,000+ as a tax preparer, depending on your location and number of clients. You don't even need a fancy office for this business; many tax preparers work from home.
18. Customer Service
Many companies need customer service reps to make sure they deliver a great experience for their customers. Not all of those businesses hire in-house; many reach out to independent customer service representatives. You need to enjoy talking to and helping people. Usually, you can work at home if you have the proper equipment like a phone, a computer, and a quiet place to work.
19. Personal Assistant
A personal assistant can do shopping tasks, but they are different than a grocery or personal shopper in that they also do a wide variety of other things. Picking up dry cleaning, going to the post office, and paying bills are just a few of the many tasks you can offer in this business. You're only limited by your time, and you set the standard for which type of tasks you're willing to complete. Personal assistants typically get paid by the hour, and you can charge anywhere from $14-$20 an hour and up.
Something to consider when thinking of many of the above businesses is that as the boss, you can also subcontract out almost all of these services. Say you want to start a painting business but don't want to be the one climbing the ladder and doing the work — you can start the business yourself and use crews to come in and do the work for you. This can also save you on having to purchase equipment. Of course, your cost will depend on many factors, including how much you pay the crew. But after buying supplies and paying the subcontractor, you will still be left with a profit.
If you want to work-at-home, then working online is a great option. Here are service-based businesses that you can run from the comfort of your own home. Or anywhere for that matter.
20. Freelance Writer
Writing for clients from the comfort of your own home is a great business. If you can find repeat clients who need your services month-after-month, you can earn a decent living. You can write for magazines (both traditional and online), websites, blogs, and much more. Writers typically get paid by the article or by the project.
Check out these posts to learn more about becoming a freelance writer:
- Tips to Becoming a Successful Freelance Writer
- Top 10 Tips for Becoming a Freelancer
- If you're interested in learning more, here's a course that might help.
21. Virtual Assistant
A VA (virtual assistant) can do all kinds of work for other business owners. Everything from managing email, internet research, blog management, and more. You can charge by the hour or by the project.
Learn more about becoming a Virtual Assistant here:
- How to Work from Home as a Virtual Assistant
- How to Start Working as a Virtual Assistant
- This post can help you become a Virtual Assistant.
22. Social Media Manager
As a Social Media Manager, you will manage social accounts like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and more for companies and small businesses. Fees are typically set by the month, by the project, or by the hour.
Find more info about becoming a Social Media Manager here:
- How to Turn Your Love of Social Media Into a Thriving Online Business
- How to Find Work at Home Social Media Jobs
I hope these ideas for starting your own service business have been helpful. Let us know which ones interest you the most!
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Kimi Clark is a career stay at home mom turned writer and blogger for hire with a passion for business. She specializes in posts about writing, blogging, and entrepreneurship, as well as all things parenting and motherhood. Owner & Founder of The Mom Shopping Network, she helps moms find great tips, amazing products, money-saving deals, fun entertainment and what's trendy and hip for moms, dads, and kids! A devoted wife and mother of four, she loves the beach and NEEDS her early morning coffee.