How to start 12 small businesses from scratch — whether you're into copywriting, urban farming, or food trucks
- The pandemic upended many lives, but it didn’t overturn the entrepreneurial dream.
- Applications for an employer ID reached 1.1 million through September in 2020, a 12% increase from the prior year.
- Here are 12 guides on how to start any business, from a modest urban farm to a food truck.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
The pandemic upended many lives, but it didn’t overturn the entrepreneurial dream.
A record number of people started new businesses last year. New applications for an employer ID in the US reached 1.1 million through September 2020, a 12% increase from the same time period in 2019, according to an analysis of US Census data by The Wall Street Journal.
For those who want to chase their entrepreneurial passions, here are 12 guides on how to start a business, from a dog-walking empire, to a modest urban farm, and even a food truck.
Sarah Turner launched her eponymous copywriting agency in 2013, after leaving her job as a research assistant.
Sarah Turner Agency offers freelance copywriting for clients in the medical and health sectors, content marketing strategy, and training programs for future copywriters. Last year, Turner booked $2.6 million in revenue, according to documents verified by Insider.
Read more about how Turner launched her copywriting business.
2. Website flipping
Chelsea Clarke is the founder of Blogs For Sale, a company that flips little-known websites into desirable online businesses that can generate $16,800 in a year.
Clarke said her startup took off last year as more people sought online revenue streams during the pandemic. In 2020, she earned $127,000 from flipping 13 websites and brokering sales for 50 more sites, documents reviewed by Insider verified.
Read more about how Clarke built her website-flipping business.
3. Instagram side hustle
Christopher Griffin’s Instagram account, which is under the moniker Plant Kween, is devoted to pictures of the 200 plants living in their Brooklyn apartment, tips on caring for the greenery, and useful botanical knowledge.
They started the account in winter 2016 — as a means of learning about something new after graduate school — grew it steadily to 311,000 followers and collaborates with brands like Spotify on curated content.
Griffin couldn’t disclose what they earn with the music-streaming service but a partnership with the fashion line Tonle, that sold $42,000 of non-binary clothing last year, netted them around $8,400, according to Tonle.
Read more about how Griffin built their Instagram side-hustle.
4. Urban farm
Joanna Bassi turned her unused backyard — measuring 150 feet by 75 feet — into an urban farm that could grow fresh produce for local establishments.
Bassi started from the ground up in January 2018, and by the following year, she netted nearly $6,000 in revenue from selling at farmers markets and local restaurants, according to documents viewed by Insider.
In 2020, the pandemic temporarily closed Bassi’s restaurant clients and hurt business. She still managed to book nearly $7,000 by creating new revenue streams.
Read more about how Bassi built her urban farming business.
5. Pet care and dog-walking business
Jill Nelson took over her friend’s 15-year-old dog walking and pet sitting startup Hot Diggity in 2015. Since then, she’s scaled the Seattle office, opened a Vancouver location, and purchased Hot Diggity’s Portland, Oregon, outpost.
Revenue for Hot Diggity’s three locations sank between 2019 to 2020 — Portland had the most drastic decline, falling from $2.1 million to $986,000, according to documents verified by Insider — but Nelson said the company weathered the storm and is already seeing an increase in bookings.
Read more about how Nelson built her dog-walking and pet care business.
6. Hand-dyed yarn business
In January, Jake Kenyon left his full-time job as a speech pathologist to pursue his side hustle: A hand-dyed yarn business called Kenyarn. The pandemic drove many consumers to crafts, like knitting and crocheting, which helped boost Kenyon’s business.
Kenyarn’s gross sales jumped from $33,000 in 2019 to $125,000 last year, and he’s on track to surpass that figure this year, according to documents viewed by Insider.
Read more about how Kenyon built his hand-dyed yarn business.
7. Food truck
Alessio Lacco and Sofia Arango launched Atlanta Pizza Truck last August as way to make money during the pandemic.
In its first five months of business, the couple booked $82,000 in sales, according to documents reviewed by Insider. In the first three months of 2021, they netted $53,000 in sales and believe they are on track to at least double sales from 2020.
Read more about how Lacco and Arango built their food truck business.
8. Hair care business
Stormi Steele used to make hair care products in her kitchen while working in salon in 2012. She’d mix over-the-counter ingredients, such as flaxseed oil and vitamin E, in an effort to create a solution that would help her hair grow.
Today, Steele is the founder of Canvas Beauty Brand, which booked nearly $20 million in revenue last year.
Read more about how Steele built her hair-care business.
9. Pop-up bakery
When the opening of Abby Love’s bakery was delayed due to the pandemic, she launched 10 pop-up bakeries around Dripping Springs, Texas to keep her brand alive, attract new customers, and boost revenue.
Love partnered with local businesses for her pop-ups, choosing establishments that didn’t sell baked goods and attracted the kind of customers who would appreciate her locally-sourced ingredients.
Read more about how Love built her pop-up bakery business.
10. Craft brewery business
Christophe Gagne and Avery Schwenk are the cofounders of Hermit Thrush, a 7-year-old Brattleboro, Vermont-based brewery that exclusively makes sour beers.
Today the brewery has 21 taps and its canned varieties are sold in 9 states, plus DC. The brewery’s most popular concoction, Party Jam, is a collection of fruit-forward sours that typically sells for $19.99 on the company’s website. What’s more, Hermit Thrush booked $1.5 million in revenue last year, according to documents viewed by Insider.
Read more about how Gagne and Schwenk built their craft brew business.
11. Furniture maker
In 2002, Matthew Nafranowicz opened his furniture upholstery storefront, The Straight Thread, in Madison, Wisconsin.
Furniture upholstery represents an estimated $1 billion market in the US, and government data shows it employs roughly 30,000 people.
Read more about how Nafranowicz built his furniture upholstery business.
12. Self-published author
Sally Miller is a self-published author who’s written and co-authored 15 books on Amazon. She made $9,000 in royalties in January, her highest amount to date, according to documents viewed by Insider.
“It meets my two criteria, which is that I’m making money and doing something I really enjoy,” said Miller, who built a following through her subject matter, which focuses on how people can make money through various entrepreneurial ventures, like Airbnb and ghostwriting.
Read more about how Miller built her self-publishing business.
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