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10 Small Business Ideas That Require No Employees

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    If you hire employees to work for your small business, you won't just be paying for their base salary. 

    You'll also be footing the bill for a range of added costs, such as those associated with retirement, insurance and paid leave:

    breakdown of employee benefits costs


    But if you don't currently have the means to cover those costs, you're not out of luck. With the help of the right creative ideas, you can get your business up and running without hiring a single employee other than yourself.

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    Why Have a Business with No Employees?

    If you hear the word "employee" and immediately start thinking of sky-high bills, you're not alone. It turns out that an employee's base salary and benefits aren't their only extra expenses – employers may also need to pay for a laundry list of other costs, including:

    • Taxes such as Social Security and Medicare
    • Supplies and equipment
    • Physical space in which to work
    • Workers' compensation insurance, which in some states is required even if you have only one employee
    • Training and onboarding

    Knowing this, it stands to reason that the number one benefit of running a small business with no employees is the sheer amount of money you can save.

    An employee-free business model will also save you a great deal of time. In 2020, small businesses with 100-199 employees spent over 41 hours training each new employee:

    hours of training per employee


    So by choosing not to hire employees, you could save yourself hundreds of hours of work in the long run.

    What Are the Challenges of Having No Employees?

    Despite all the benefits of starting a small business with no employees, there are some drawbacks you should consider as well.

    One of those is the simple fact that without any employees, all your business' work will fall squarely on your shoulders. That means no delegation and no supervision — from everyday tasks to big-picture decisions, everything will be your responsibility.

    Another disadvantage of running an employee-free business is a lack of work culture. If you're the kind of person that thrives in social situations and works best when there's a sense of camaraderie with coworkers, then working by yourself may prove to be less than ideal.

    Can I Have a Business with No Employees?

    For many entrepreneurs, the time- and cost-saving benefits of having no employees outweigh the challenges. If you fall into that camp, then you may be asking yourself questions like "Can I have a business with no employees?" and "How can I make money without an employee?"

    Fortunately, it's more than possible to not only start a small business with no employees but also make a profit in the process. With an entrepreneurial spirit and a set of smart ideas in your arsenal, you can start an employee-free business without help from anyone but yourself.

    10 Ideas for a Small Business with No Employees

    Need ideas for a business to start with no employees? Use these 10 to get the inspiration you need. None of them require outsourcing or contractors, and you can get started on most with nothing more than a computer and your own skill set.

    1. Writing and Editing

    Do you have experience writing or editing? Then you may have what it takes to run a successful business as a freelance writer, editor or proofreader. You can do so for a variety of clients, whether you choose to write blog posts for companies or edit books for independent authors.

    2. Graphic Design

    If you've got a knack for graphic design and know how to use (or are willing to invest time in training or learning to use) popular graphic design software like Adobe's Photoshop, Illustrator, After Effects and InDesign, then you can start an employee-free business as a solo graphic designer.

    3. Tutoring

    Students will always need help honing their knowledge and earning better grades, so there will always be a market for tutors. This is true for a variety of subjects, from middle school-level social studies to college-level math. So if you have proficiency in any academic topic, then you can start your own tutoring business with no employees to speak of.

    4. Social Media Consulting

    For many brands big and small, a social media presence is practically required to succeed. And for business owners who don't want to take the time to build one, a social media consultant is the perfect solution. If you work as a freelance social media consultant, you'll help brands establish an online identity, strategize ways to improve engagement and develop high-quality content.

    5. Coding

    If you know how to code or are willing to learn how (you can even do so for free), you can put your skills to good use by becoming an independent coder. From building complex websites to writing simple scripts, there are plenty of coding-related tasks for which people will readily pay.

    6. Photography

    Whether you want to photograph weddings and other in-person events or sell stock photos entirely online, a photography business can be a viable way to run your own business without ever hiring a single employee. If you have a modern digital camera and a computer, then you already have what you need to get started.

    7. Opening Shop on Etsy

    Do you like to knit hats, carve wood, resell vintage items or do any other type of handicraft? If so, you can start your own one-person business by opening an Etsy shop. You'll be able to choose what you sell, how much to offer and what your prices will be, whether you want a part-time side hustle or are looking to grow your business into a full-time gig.

    8. Selling Clothes

    From eBay to Depop to Etsy, there's no shortage of platforms on which to sell used clothes. These can be purchased secondhand and resold or sourced from your own closet, depending on your preferences. Best of all, no employees are necessary to make a profit.

    9. Blogging

    If you're interested in a niche topic such as travel, wellness, fashion, beauty or nature, you can start your own blogging business. You can even be a lifestyle blogger and write about your own experiences, thoughts and activities. You don't need any employees to create a profitable blog, and you can start for free with services like WordPress.

    10. Teaching Music

    Get the most of your musical skills without hiring any employees by starting a music teaching studio. You can choose which level to teach, whether that means instructing schoolchildren on the basics or adults on advanced techniques. As with any other employee-free business, it's all up to you.

    Suffice it to say that if you're looking to start a business but don't currently have the resources required to hire employees, you can still start your entrepreneurship journey without hiring a whole crew. From writing to coding to teaching, your own small business is right at your fingertips.


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    Carrie Buchholz Powers

    Carrie Buchholz-Powers

    Carrie Buchholz-Powers is a Colorado-based writer who’s been creating content since 2013. From digital marketing to ecommerce to land conservation, she has experience in a wide range of fields and loves learning about them all. Carrie is fond of history, animals and beauty in equal measure. In her free time, she enjoys knitting, playing video games and exploring Colorado's prairies and mountains with her husband.


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