June 21, 2024


Supportive Business Potential

3 Small Business Ideas That Look Better on Paper

3 Small Business Ideas That Look Better on Paper

A person wearing headphones walks many dogs in a park.

Image source: Getty Images

Dreaming of opening a business? Think twice about these.

Key points

  • A lot of small businesses look easy on paper, but are in reality hard work that may not be paid well enough to make them worthwhile.
  • These businesses include selling handmade crafts or baked goods, or walking dogs.
  • If you want to try one of these business ideas, tread with caution (and have plenty of money saved to live on while you get the business off the ground).

Many people would love to throw off the shackles of traditional employment and become their own boss. This is an achievable goal — with the right plan, enough start-up costs, hard work, and indeed, luck, you can open a small business of your very own.

There are a lot of business ideas that don’t come with a guarantee of success, however, and while they may sound like great money-making opportunities, you may run into a much different reality if you attempt them.

In fact, some small business ideas sound easy enough because they don’t require you to rent space or buy a lot of expensive equipment or software. Take the following business ideas with a grain of salt, start slow, and maybe have a back-up plan (or wait to quit your regular job for a while, to ensure you can get them off the ground and pad your business checking account).

1. Etsy shop

If you too are an artsy sort of person, and like to paint, draw, knit, or any one of a number of crafts, you may have heard this from the people in your orbit: “You should sell those!” But should you?

Etsy is one of the most popular websites for online craft stores, and it’s a great place to shop if you have a weakness for handmade items like clothing, ceramics, and jewelry (guilty). The platform makes it pretty easy for anyone to create their own shop, saving you the trouble of having to get a business website made and hosted. But there’s a lot of work involved otherwise.

You’ll have to make (or find, in the case of selling vintage items or antiques, which Etsy is also good for) your products, source the materials you need, ship items to buyers, and be sure to price items in such a way that values your time and labor. And this last part could be a problem for you, because a lot of people really have no idea what kind of work goes into making art, and definitely don’t want to pay well for it. If you have even a shred of creativity, chances are, someone will tell you to monetize it. But ultimately, it might stop being fun if you’re doing your passion for money that you need to live on.

2. Homemade baked goods

When it comes to food, especially things that are popular, fun, or easily transported (such as, say, cookies or cupcakes), you may also get that encouragement to sell, sell, sell. There are certainly a lot of successful bakery businesses out there, and many of them started in someone’s kitchen, perhaps as an online-only storefront. Why think twice about this business idea?

You will definitely have a lot of competition in the baked goods game (some people truly can’t tell the difference between homemade and factory-made cookies, and I feel sorry for them). You may also run into the same issue of pricing your creations to make it worth your time to make them — they may look beautiful in your Instagram photos, but how many people will buy them at a price point that lets you live on the money you’re making?

With this business idea, if you’re truly determined, it’s likely better to start very small. See if you can build up a following at school bake sales, and when you have a robust enough clientele, see about selling your goodies by the dozen.

3. Dog-walking service

If you love dogs and being outdoors, you might be considering starting a dog-walking service. While this is probably a dream business for a lot of people, not so fast. Why not become a professional dog walker?

Dog walkers put in long days covering the work schedules of dog owners, so if being available for more than your standard 9-5 day doesn’t sound appealing, this gig may not be for you. Plus, a lot of dogs are fearful or aggressive around new people, and it could take a while for them to become comfortable with you as their handler. It might also be difficult to find clients if you don’t already know a lot of people with dogs who might pay for your services. And when you’re starting off with strangers as clients, they might be reluctant to let someone they’ve just met have access to their home — and care for their dog. You’ll have a lot of hoops to jump through with this one.

While it’s certainly possible that any of these ideas will make a fine small business endeavor for you, I encourage you to do your research ahead of time, calculate your costs (especially in the case of businesses that require you to make and sell a physical item), and leave yourself plenty of runway in the form of a well-funded savings account. Unfortunately, there’s no guarantee that every small business will make enough money to make the effort worthwhile.

Alert: highest cash back card we’ve seen now has 0% intro APR until 2024

If you’re using the wrong credit or debit card, it could be costing you serious money. Our expert loves this top pick, which features a 0% intro APR until 2024, an insane cash back rate of up to 5%, and all somehow for no annual fee. 

In fact, this card is so good that our expert even uses it personally. Click here to read our full review for free and apply in just 2 minutes. 

Read our free review