10+ Lucrative Offline Small Businesses to Start in 2014

Have you caught the entrepreneurial bug? Here are ten lucrative (offline) small business ideas.
Have you caught the entrepreneurial bug but don’t have a passion for online businesses?

As much as I absolutely love the online world I can’t help but feel the urge to get involved in some type of offline business. This probably stems from the fact that I am pretty much obsessed with real estate and searching out foreclosures.

One of my near future goals is to try and flip a house again. I know, I know, that can be a bit risky but I did it once before and it was freaking awesome! Plus, the cost of houses in my area is extremely low and if I couldn’t flip the home I could definitely rent it and have a positive cash flow each month. Real estate isn’t the only offline business I have thought about.

Here are 10 lucrative offline small businesses to start in 2014. (The first five are all ideas I’ve heavily considered.)

Car Wash

A few years ago I couldn’t get the idea of owning a car wash out of my mind. It seems like a great semi-passive income stream, right? Buy an existing car wash or put a new one in a high traffic area and just wait for people to feed their quarters through.

The only problem with this idea is the initial start-up cost. I did quite a bit of research on it and starting a car wash isn’t cheap.  From what I read, it takes a minimum of $100,000 to build your own. And, it would take a while to make enough money to pay that loan back but after you did you’d get to enjoy pure profits for a minimal time investment.

Vending Machine Business

My ex-husband’s boss owned a construction company as his main business and dealt with vending machines on the side. If he saw a vending machine for sale on Craigslist he’d pretty much drop everything to go buy it. That tells me that owning a vending machine business could be fairly lucrative.

The great thing about owning a vending machine business is that you could pretty much restock your machines and collect the money in about one day each month. The downside, of course, is finding businesses to place the machines with. You’d have to give those businesses a cut of the profit because they are the ones providing the electricity to keep the vending machine running.

Rental Properties

Rental properties! I love real estate and my grandma owns several rental properties. In fact, she and her husband have positioned themselves to use rental properties to help fund their retirement. They have about seven properties right now and hope to have ten fully paid for before completely retiring. (They also own a few small businesses so not sure if they’d ever actually completely retire.)

Anyways, rent in my area is pretty low, averaging about 500-600 dollars per month. If you owned ten rental properties free and clear and they each brought in $550 you’d have a gross income of about $5,500. Deduct property tax, insurance, and property management and you’d be looking at a semi-passive income stream of around $4,000 per month. Nice!

Have you caught the entrepreneurial bug? Here are ten lucrative (offline) small business ideasFlipping Houses

Like I said, I love real estate. And, I really, really love looking for awesome deals on houses. I had my eye on one foreclosure recently but I got scared and postponed the showing and someone else snatched it up. Depending on the area you live in and the cost of homes, flipping houses could be an awesome business.

My real estate agent tells me the best time to list a lower priced house is right around income tax time. A lot of the residents in my area get a large income tax refund and use it as a down payment on a house.

My idea? Find a decent foreclosure that needs minimal repairs in a good area for about $30k. Put around $5,000 in it to make it more appealing. List it for $50k in February when everyone starts to get their income tax refunds. This is what I did with the house I flipped and I began receiving offers within the first week of it being listed.

Thrift Store

A couple years ago my brothers and I were thinking about what kind of business we could start together and we kept coming back to a thrift store. (This was after I had flipped the house and had some money I wanted to invest in a business.)

Everyone else must have been thinking the same thing because before we knew it thrift stores were popping up left and right. I still think this can be a great idea if executed right. In today’s economy everyone is looking for quality items at a bargain price – cue the thrift stores.

Commercial Cleaning Business

I like to clean and organize – especially when I’m upset, it’s a huge stress reliever.

If I were going to start a cleaning business I would do it for businesses. My old boss owned a commercial building that he paid a cleaning lady $300 a week to come in and clean for his tenants. That’s a whole lot of freaking money for about 5 hours’ worth of cleaning.

My idea for a cleaning business would be to find several commercial clients to work for. Once I had a good amount of clients I would hire a staff and just outsource the whole thing. I’d keep my role at finding clients and scheduling. If I had staff call off work then I’d go fill in, but that’d pretty much be the gist of it. Maybe I should do this?

Firearms Flipper

small business idea - firearms flipper

New target practice pistol I got an awesome deal on! Profit when I get bored with it?

Did you know that firearms rarely ever depreciate?

In fact when Obama first got elected my family’s sporting goods stores sales shot through the roof. Then last year when there was all the talk about anti-gun laws, guns that were going for $800 quadrupled in value. If you had a stash of those highly sought after guns like AR’s then you could bank. People were buying them up like freaking crazy and to some degree, still are.

The fact that I live in a redneck town makes this business idea extremely lucrative. I could find people who need money and want to sell their firearms for rock bottom prices and then go and sell them to my Dad’s store for a profit. He’d be more than willing to do this since he’d be getting an awesome price too.

Auto Detailing

Getting my car detailed is something I’ve been considering doing for a while now but just haven’t got around to.

I try to keep my car clean but with two little ones it’s sometimes the area that goes untouched. If you love cars and, more importantly, love detailing cars this could be an awesome business to start. You have to be very detail oriented for this job but you could charge around $150 a pop. The faster you get the more money you could earn.

Furniture Maker/Refurbisher

I love doing DIY projects around the house. I am not naturally a crafty (or coordinated) person but the practice I’ve put in over the years has dramatically improved my DIY abilities.

My great grandpa makes some of the best furniture ever. I still have the toy box he built me when I was a kid. After he builds furniture my great grandma, who is a painter, then paints or stains it. Voila’ they’ve got themselves a pretty lucrative business. Another great option aside from building your own furniture is finding awesome deals on Craigslist or Facebook Yard Sales and refurbishing it.

A $10 table and lots of elbow grease can help you create a one of a kind piece that can demand much more money. If I made a bunch of creations I’d probably list the furniture online and also take it to the flea market to sell.

Other Offline Small Business Ideas

As I was searching for more small business ideas that I thought would be interesting, I ran into a few that were kind of unique and a couple that even freaked me out. So, I thought I’d share those with you as well.

Then there are also those ideas like babysitting or elder care that could be great small businesses but that I’d be no good at. Are you ready to start your own small business? Be creative. Think outside the box. Commit.

What is an offline business that you want to start the most? I wanna know!

Comments

  1. says

    Wow, what a great list! I love the “firearms flipper” as I would have never thought of that. My friend’s parents own a vending machine business. While it sounds like a good idea, it took them FOREVER to get the machines placed and it does seem like a hassle to have to keep restocking. But, it also does seem like they have been able to get a consistent income from it so good for them.

    For now I will just stick to my online blog business, but I really want to ramp up my spreadsheet consulting. I have so much to learn, though!

    • Alexa says

      I think spreadsheet consulting would be a good business idea. I am sure the need will only get bigger.

      I guess there are always two sides to every store. I am sure finding a place to put the vending machines would definitely be the biggest challenge!

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  2. says

    Vending machine business guess could have its up and down. Seeing how people treat these machines and when I used to work having to call the company to have them repair made me wonder how they made their money. Also, refunding peoples money too and how much that added up each week for the vendor was pretty high too!
    I sure didn’t know about “firearm flipping” learned something new! Thank you for this post.

  3. says

    Cool ideas. I’ve thought of the vending machine idea…it seems ultra passive. I think the laundry room in my apartment could use one! I’d be interested in owning rental property too but real estate is too expensive here and I don’t know if I want to deal with tenants. My wife and I considered opening a daycare as my wife is a certified early elementary teacher and has worked with little ones. However, we’d need to have a location. Commercial leases here can be expensive…if we had a house we could do a family day care.

    • Alexa says

      I think daycare could be a great business unfortunately I don’t have the patience for it :) I can imagine how expensive real estate is in New York, I am lucky in the sense I live (and love) in a small rural town where real estate is dirt cheap.

  4. says

    Great list of ideas. We’ve considered the car wash one before. A similar one is laundromats. My “retired” neighbor has one and rakes in the money. They work well in areas like where we live that are on the lower income end of the bell curve. Lots of people rent and don’t have washers and dryers.

    I’ve said for a while how great the commercial cleaning business is. As a business owner, we’ve struggled with someone reliable to do office cleaning over the years. Once you get a job and do it well, you’ll get tons of referrals. I had a friend who did this in college. It started with the local newspaper office and she got so busy, she had to hire employees. I don’t really have the desire to do it now, but if I was in college or just starting out, I would certainly look into that, especially if everyone knows you and you have a good reputation.

    • Alexa says

      I thought about laundromats too. I was actually going to add it to the list but didn’t manage to get to it before the post published :)

      I think the cleaning business could be great. I wouldn’t want to always do the work myself though. But I do think I know a few people who I could get started doing it with and hopefully earn referrals from there. The only difficult part of that would be hiring a good staff.

  5. says

    I love the firearm flipping idea. That seems like a model that could work with very little cash upfront and, with the proper knowledge, minimal risk of loss presuming the firearm was bought at the right price upfront. Do you think you could work a geographic arbitrage angle on that (i.e. – buy where they are inexpensive due to a struggling economy or glut of supply, and sell in a locale that has higher demand/prices)?

    • Alexa says

      Definitely! I’ve grown up around this type of business model my whole life because it’s pretty much been the family business. (Only they don’t go seek out the low cost guns people come to them.) Anytime somebody is hard up for cash they’ll sell a gun to the store rather than do a private sale that could net them way more money. Then you have the serious collectors/hunters who come in and pay big bucks for those same guns.

    • Alexa says

      There’s really not as much liability issues as you’d think with flipping firearms. My family owns two sporting goods businesses in two different towns. They buy, sell, and trade used guns from people like crazy and hardly ever run into any problems. Every once in awhile the FBI will call wanting buyer/seller info if a crime occurred involving a gun we had registered but that’s rare. And, stores who have their FFL licenses have to report buying guns, call in a serial number etc but people don’t. If you buy a gun off of a person rather than a store you don’t have to register the gun in your name. So, for an individual there’s really not too much of a liability risk,

  6. Carrie O. says

    I recently just heard about the lice/nitpicker business as well. Never even knew it existed! Apparently, to go in and have your head professionally picked by someone costs about $150.

    Although it’s a field that most people wouldn’t want to work in ( I couldn’t do it), the reality is lice happens. So for those who aren’t able to get rid of it on their own, I can see where this is a needed service.

    I guess it just goes to show that you can turn just about anything into a business if there’s a need/demand.

    • Alexa says

      Oh yeah I am sure there is a huge field for the lice/nit picker business. I had no idea they charged that much but I think if I was in the position and couldn’t get rid of it fast I would definitely go get professionally treated. Lice used to pass around my school like wildfire.

  7. says

    These are awesome business ideas. Vending machines always seemed like a true passive income machine. The fact that houses are so cheap where you live makes flipping a house a lot more reAsonable. Even if you couldn’t sell or rent out a $30k house, it’s not going to bankrupt you. Sounds lucrative.

  8. says

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  9. says

    Love this post, Alexa.

    I have family that is involved in some of these industries, and most of them do fairly well. I would love to have a rental property or two here at some point in the next few years. The more passive income I can setup, the better off I will be.

  10. says

    It’s true that there are so much opportunities online business could offer but I, too, have keep coming back to the possibilities of offline business. I don’t know but I find my self too old for the online thing that I thought some are way above my head. I will give thrift shop some serious thought because the idea appeals to me. I enjoyed this post so much. Makes one want to reassess things especially if they are not going your way despite the online boom.

  11. says

    Actually my 11 years old daughter was so annoyed she was too young to get a job that she is going to start her own side-business (with some help from mom). I’m hoping it takes off, she becomes a mogel and she can hire me as her assistant. I will blog about the ups and downs of my mini-CEO as things happen, on top of working full-time and trying to get my own writing side business off the ground. It’s all about organization…at least that’s what Alexa says.

  12. says

    These are some excellent ideas. Sometimes I imagine that offline businesses might be a hassle pulling off but I guess with some creativity and outsourcing some functions its possible.
    My mind is trained on one offline business for now. Storage units :)

  13. says

    Growing up my neighbor’s dad across the street was a vending machine owner, and we all called him a candy man. Her parents seemed to do pretty well so I think he had a lucrative business. He didn’t just do machines that dispensed big products, he also did the small machines that gave you a handful of m&ms or pistachios in shells, which being no-electricity machines probably allowed him to place them at little to no cost in restaurants and other places around town.

  14. says

    Hi Alexa. These are great ideas. I’m glad to know that even with the popularity of online businesses, there are still smart business ideas that we can try offline. Indeed, ideas can be obtained from anywhere. We just have to be resourceful.

  15. Terry says

    This list is a little off. With the craziness with bank lending right now, flipping houses is NOT a good idea. you could end up stuck with the property.

  16. Gina says

    Hi Alexa! What a great blog – so glad I found you!

    I feel very similar in that for the past few years I’ve been building an online business (freelance writing, affiliate marketing, blogging) and at times I feel like I need something else. I also feel like I’m constantly chasing the next thing.

    My husband and I have been brainstorming ideas for a looooong time. Our issue is that we want to find a business that we can be passionate about but that gives us good income potential and where we don’t have to constantly hustle to find new customers.

    We’ve come to the conclusion that our “perfect” business probably doesn’t exist so we need to find something that checks off most of the boxes on our “perfect business list.”

    So we’ve come up with a service business that seems to make complete sense where we live in Phoenix AZ. We are starting a pool cleaning business. In our area the majority of homes have swimming pools and our competition charges on average $100 – $125 a month for service. So with just 100 clients we can gross about $12,000 a month and outsource most of the work eventually. Also, around here pool companies don’t have the best reputations of reliability overall, so we figure that we show up, do a great job and make things easy for our clients and we’ll be leaps and bounds above our competition.

    Yes its not glamorous or something I can be truly passionate about (yay time to clean pools!) but it gets us to our goals of recurring income, time on our own terms and super growth potential.

    Then when we have enough cash saved up, we want to have a serious go at flipping houses!

    Gina

  17. says

    Hi Alexa, great ideas…I agree with what others are saying here, and that is to do your due diligence when it comes to deciding which business to enter into. I have recently joined Infinity 2 Global or i2g for short.

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  20. Charlie Whitford says

    After reading the ideas, and rethinking old ideas, one came across as a possible winner. This is a variation on the Vending machine business. Years ago the rage was the video game machines. These machines could be bought for as little as $100.00 and if put in a bar or club, could make as much as a thousand a week! These machines are still available. Arcade machines will make a comeback because of what they are. A relaxing and sometimes taxing way to get the reflexes going.

  21. says

    This topis really caught my eyes since i am planning to retire early. Stress in the traffic everyday during peak hours. :-(
    Lice picking is one of my fav things to do. Experienced picking lice from my cat long time ago and my daughter gave me satisfaction LOL. Even some of my friends said that is not a good idea though.
    But one of my dream is to open Lice Salon in my area!! :-)

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