You are here

The Great Resignation has spurred a new class of entrepreneurs. These 22 small business owners share how they turned side hustles into successful companies.

Submitted by Tech Insider on May 27, 2022 - 4:52pm

Examples of how to start your business, including dog walking, a food truck, urban farming, hair care, and dyed yarn.
A record number of people started new businesses last year, including dog walking, urban farming, and food trucks.


  • The pandemic upended many lives, but it didn't overturn the entrepreneurial dream.
  • A record number of people launched new startups last year and that momentum hasn't faded in 2022.
  • Here are 18 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 launched new startups last year and that momentum hasn't faded in 2022.

More than 5 million new business applications were filed last year, according to the U.S. Census Bureau — that's up from the 4.4 million filed in 2020. Many of these businesses are sole proprietorships or single entrepreneurs without employees. 

For those who want to chase their entrepreneurial passions, here are 18 guides on how to start a business, from a dog-walking empire to a modest urban farm, and even a food truck.

1. Copywriting business
sarah turner
Sarah Turner Agency offers freelance copywriting for clients in the medical and health sectors, content marketing strategy, and training programs for future copywriters.

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
Chelsea Clarke is the founder of Blogs for Sale.

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
PK.JPG
Today, Plant Kween has 311,000 followers and collaborates with brands like Spotify on curated content.

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
Here’s how Joanna Bassi built an urban farm from scratch and her advice for fellow farming entrepreneurs, including how to pivot during a pandemic.

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
dog tricks
You can teach your dog to shake your hand with a simple command.

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
Jake 1
Kenyon shared his advice for launching a business around your passion, building community support, and how he stands out in a crowded market.

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
food truck
Alessio Lacco and Sofia Arango opened a pizza-focused food truck, tapping Lacco’s 15-year background making Neapolitan pies and the truck he already owned.

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
607494833e3fe7001882a2b7
Stormi Steele

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
abby love
On January 21, Abby Love opened her first bakery, Abby Jane Bakeshop, in Dripping Springs, Texas.

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
Chris and Avery_HTB_LittlePondDigital
Christophe Gagne and Avery Schwenk are the cofounders of Hermit Thrush, a Brattleboro, Vermont-based brewery that exclusively makes sour beers.

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 making
furniture
Matthew Nafranowicz, a master craftsman, started doing upholstery work more than two decades ago.

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-publishing
sally

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. 

13. Online clothing store
Pink Lily founders Chris Gerbig and Tori Gerbig.
Pink Lily founders Chris Gerbig and Tori Gerbig.

Tori Gerbig started selling clothes on Ebay and Facebook as a side hustle to pay off student loans. In 2014, she and her husband Chris launched an online shopping site called Pink Lily with the goal to hit $50,000 by the year's end. They met that goal within four years and have been growing ever since. 

Today their company, based in Bowling Green, Kentucky, employs 300 people, operates a retail store, and has 200,000 square feet of warehouse space, Last year, the brand made $65 million in revenue, nearly double the previous year's revenue, according to documentation reviewed by Insider.

Read more about how the couple scaled their business and gained a loyal customer base.

14. Short-term rental startup
erica and rebecca
Erica Beers, left, and Rebecca Slivka created their short-term rental startup Pillow and Coffee in 2015, targeting business travelers who needed a place to work in Los Angeles.

Erica Beers and Rebecca Slivka created their short-term rental startup Pillow and Coffee in 2015, targeting business travelers who needed a place to stay in Los Angeles. Five years later, their properties are a haven for travelers who can work remotely.

In 2019, the duo booked $3.8 million in revenue, nearly $800,000 more than the previous year, according to documents viewed by Insider.

Read  their 5 tricks for making millions on sites like Airbnb, Vrbo, and Booking.com.

15. Live shopping business
Vivian Nguyen - Popshop Live seller and influencer
Vivian Nguyen is the owner of Cyndercake.

In 2020, Nguyen's business Cyndercake made more than $60,000 in sales on the live shopping app Popshop Live and now it's helping her pay for college. She started as an influencer on YouTube selling "squishies," or foam toys with a viral following and her growth on the app led her to open an ecommerce site this year. 

As more small businesses and resellers in the US are using livestream shows to grow their businesses and personally connect with customers, the livestream shopping market is estimated to be worth $6 billion this year and $25 billion by 2023, according to Coresight Research. 

Read more about how Nguyen built her live shopping business.

16. Reselling
man smiles in front of a colorful mural of clothes hanging on a rack. he wears a smiley face shirt
Nicholas Waskosky has been selling thrifted clothing on Poshmark since he was 14.

At the age of 14, Nicholas Waskosky began flipping his thrift finds at "buy, sell, trade" stores like Plato's Closet. Then he made his first listing on the resale app Poshmark: a pair of Birkenstocks for $20.

"I undervalued them and they sold almost instantly," he told Insider. "I got hooked and I've been doing it ever since."

Once he turned 18, Waskosky registered NCI Resale as an official business, selling on other platforms like ebay and Instagram. On Poshmark alone, he sold $34,607 of goods in 2020, and he's done $26,835 in sales so far this year, which Insider verified with documentation. 

Read more about how Waskosky runs his resale business while attending college full time.  

17. Painter
Issac Pelayo
Issac Pelayo

After being laid off from Disney in 2020, Issac Pelayo turned his passion for painting into a business. 

"Not having a steady income from Disney — it was extremely rough at first," Pelayo previously told Insider.

He started painting every day and began networking with rappers, basketball players, and other artists through social media. With no art dealer, gallery representation, or formal training, Pelayo built a business on his own. 

He receives most of his commissions through Instagram direct messages, with his art selling for between $3,000 and $10,000. He even does tattoos, for which he charges up to $1,000. Last year, he sold more than $250,000 worth of paintings and prints and he expects to double that number again this year. 

Read how he used Instagram to scale his side hustle business.

18. Career-coaching business
Kathleen Cameron in front of a city skyline
Kathleen Cameron

Kathleen Cameron worked as a nurse for 12 years before launching her career-coaching business. At the time, she felt like something was missing from her job. 

She left her nursing job in 2019, worked in marketing for six months, and started Diamond Academy at the beginning of 2020. She was able to apply her leadership skills to the service-based business while earning more money and gaining greater flexibility, she said. 

In the first six months, she landed 100 clients. Now, she coaches more than 1,000 people and generated more than $11.5 million in revenue last year, which Insider previously verified with documentation. 

"I really want to create a life where I can go and do anything, anywhere," she previously told Insider. "The old way that I used to live was very structured and rigid."

Read more about how Cameron built her coaching business and how she spends her days.

Read the original article on Business Insider