There have always been hundreds of ways to make a living by working for yourself, but most real world jobs take years of training and a large sum of money to start the ball rolling. Here we look at some that require no training and that you can start up for less than the price of a restaurant meal for two. We have ignored some “obvious” jobs that just do not make you enough money to live on.
16 Traditional Real World Jobs
Traditionally the preserve of teenagers over the summer, yard work can be done by anyone fit enough to use a spade and lawn mower.
Homeowners know that their yard needs maintenance all year round and anyone who commits to providing the service come rain or shine twelve months of the year can carve out a great business.
Yes, it helps if you have a horticulture degree, but you don’t need one for 99% of the work. This is one of those real world jobs where you can set yourself up for the price of a few basic garden tools. It works best if you have a small van or a trailer, especially if you are carrying a lawnmower and covering a wide area, but most people have access to suitable transport from relatives until they can afford to buy their own 4ft x 4ft trailer.
Read more about starting your own yard work business.
You might have more time than money but there are people who have the opposite time vs money problem. There are many families where both parents go out to work. These people will often be looking for a trustworthy cleaner.
With the aging population, many older people are also looking for help with their household chores, so the demand for domestic cleaners is increasing.
The set up cost here is minimal, just a few cards in local shop windows will start you off. After that it is largely word of mouth recommendations that will increase your clientele.
You might not even need a van or car for transport if your customers are within walking distance because you will not be carrying cleaning supplies in most cases.
Read more about starting your own domestic house cleaning jobs business.
This is traditionally a job for teenagers, but anyone can do it. The busy lifestyle we live today means that people no longer have the time to exercise their dogs. Dogs still need to go out every day and busy dog owners will pay you to exercise their dog.
If you love dogs and you are prepared to walk them in all weathers then this could be the perfect earner for you. You will get wet and you will need to scoop poop, but those downsides aside this is the perfect job for many people.
It does not pay well though and many dog walkers make it pay by walking three or four dogs at a time.
This is more a job in the city where apartment-living means that dogs have no yard to run in during the day. Your clients will live closer together in the city too, so you will be able to exercise multiple dogs at a time more easily.
Read more about starting your own pet sitting business.
If you have a fair-sized back yard then you can grow plants for profit. Forget bedding plants because the competition is too fierce from commercial growers, but there are plenty of other options.
A poly-tunnel will help, but it is only essential if you plan to sell through farmers’ markets. You can take cuttings from your established shrubs, stick them in the ground for two years and then sell them on for a substantial amount.
Just check out prices for raspberry bushes – raspberries grow like weeds! All you have to do is to stick the canes that you cut down into the ground and they will grow roots. Every time you cut off a piece of raspberry root, plant it instead of burning it.
Bamboo is another popular option, because it grows quickly and is easy to grow from seed. Pampas grass is another great plant to grow for sale.
Read more about how to start a backyard nursery business.
This is a job that many women take up and turn it into a full-time, work from home job. All you need is a car and you are a traveling beautician. If you have a spare bedroom at home, all it takes is a coat of paint, a table and some calming music.
Waxing, spray tans, nails and makeup can all be part of your business. You will find that word of mouth recommendations and a Facebook page are all you need in terms of marketing. A good manner with customers is more important than low prices. You are offering a very personal service that people are happy to pay for as long as they feel comfortable with you.
Read more about starting a beauty business at home.
Anyone can set up as a tutor, though teachers are more likely to succeed. You can specialize in any age group and subjects and charge as much as the market will bear. If you are good people will pay whatever you ask.
You can either travel to your students’ homes or set up a room in your own home and have your students come to you. Marketing is just a case of a few classified ads in your local free newspaper. You can set this up as a part-time business alongside another job, or just live with the seasonal rush of clients and work 14 hour days when you can.
Read more about starting a tuition business.
If you are a skilled oral communicator then this is a job that pays well. Expect at least $250 for a one hour session and $500 for a half-day seminar. As your reputation spreads what you can charge will double and triple.
A website and contacts are important in getting you work, and it will take a year or two to reach a full-time income level. Reputation is absolutely everything here; clients have very high expectations of someone they are paying $1,000. Research, excellent general knowledge and humor are all essential to success.
Many of us need a chimney sweep but cannot find one willing to visit. It appears that chimney sweeps are in high demand and can charge an arm and a leg to call out to you. There is a supply/demand imbalance that you could benefit from.
All you need is a brush and a set of chimney rods, like drain rods but they screw onto your chimney cleaning brush. A van is a necessary here, as well as a willingness to get a bit dirty. Soot is not nice stuff, so you need to be able to sweep chimneys without getting the entire room covered in the black stuff. There are simple ways to achieve this.
Your marketing will be ads in local magazines and newspapers, along with the lettering on your van. A white van, kept perfectly clean will enhance your reputation for cleanliness.
Read more about starting a chimney sweep business.
Drains become blocked – It’s a fact of life. Clearing them is not a pleasant job, but it is a simple one; all you need are drain rods, overalls, rubber gloves and a van.
Most people call in plumbers for blocked drains and pay well for calling them. In 99 cases out of 10 it takes only a modicum of knowledge that any handyman has to clear the drains. People are prepared to pay well because the job is a dirty one.
Read more about how to start a 24 hour drain cleaning business.
Vending Machine Owner
This requires a larger investment than most of the real world jobs on this page and is probably more risky as a result. You have to be able to sell the idea of vending machines to businesses. You own the machine and place it in a business. You stock it and give the business a regular income from your markup.
The machines need to be in secure locations to prevent vandalism and each one is a substantial investment. One machine is not going to give you a full-time income. You will need at least twenty, which probably means paying someone to fill them up every few days, another step that many newly self-employed people are reluctant to take.
Window cleaning is a high profit, in demand service. You can no longer find insurance for window cleaners to climb ladders, which is why most businesses have disappeared. This is one of those real world jobs that has evolved though.
You can buy long-reach window cleaning equipment that will allow you to clean upstairs windows without ladders. It costs a bit more than a sponge and chamois leather, but is not that expensive.
Marketing normally involves knocking on doors, and you will need a mid-sized van.
We all live within six feet of a rat. Rats are just one part of the pest control business’s bread and butter. There are termites, ants, wasps and cockroaches as well.
If you can overcome your natural aversion to these pests and want to help home owners and businesses to deal with their pest infestations then this is a job for you.
You will need to pay for training and you will need a van with no lettering on it, because nobody wants the neighbors to know about their pest problem. Word of mouth advertizing is less useful and you will need to pay for ads and for a website to reach your potential customers.
Man and Van
There are many real world jobs that a man with a van and a ladder can do. From unblocking gutters to roof repairs and from house painting to aerial installations, the world is your oyster.
Once you establish a reputation as a man who will do anything you will find that your phone never stops ringing.
This is not very profitable, mostly because people are rarely willing to pay for top quality bread and cakes. It is time-consuming and it takes a long time to establish a customer base. Most home bakers sell through farmers’ markets because marketing costs are smaller.
It is better to find more profitable and reliable outlets for your baked goods in local restaurants and hotels, who can pass off your home-made bread as their own.
There are health regulations concerning any home cooking that you need to check up on and to comply with. You will usually need a separate sink for washing your hands and to have no laundry appliances in your kitchen.
With the increase in people moving into self-employed real world jobs there is more demand for help with accounts. You do not need to be a fully-blown accountant to help a handyman to keep his books and to pay his taxes.
This is a job that has a very low bar to entry. Once started you can train and take exams to gain further qualifications.
Most people are still in 9 to 5 real world jobs where they are paid a wage. This means they have little time for basic household chores like washing and ironing. If you have space for a couple of washing machines and space outside to dry clothes then doing others’ laundry is a possibility. Tumble dryers are very expensive to run and will increase your costs.
Ironing is a more common service that is offered, and one that requires less investment, just a high degree of organization. You will need a van to pick up and deliver customers’ laundry. Marketing is largely through word of mouth with the occasional ad in local newspapers.