55+ skills & talents you can turn into your own micro-business

We know many mothers are excited by the possibilities of flexible micro-businesses (small businesses that allow you to work on the schedule you determine), but many aren’t sure exactly what skills and services they could sell.

So we’ve done the upfront work to create a list of them for inspiration, especially the not-so-obvious ones, or the small, hyper-specific slices of more well-known services. For example, instead of soup-to-nuts interior design, you could scour Wayfair or Target to pick out new pillows for someone (I’ll hire you for that!). Currently more than 55 different types of skills are sold on Pepperlane, so we thought that we’d take that number and run with it for this blog post. But we hope to see this list grow based on your ideas and contributions!

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Many of these skills are sold on our site currently (we’ve included links to specific businesses where relevant), and perhaps even more are services the team here at Pepperlane HQ would pay for in a heartbeat. So if you sign up to sell one of these, I’m betting you’d get your first customer pretty quickly.  

This resulting list is hopefully just a starting point—if you have a skill you’re excited to offer or a service you need in your life, please let us know in the comments! We’ll keep adding to this, and we’re excited to see the discussion it sparks! In some cases the skill may be self explanatory and in some cases we’ve added more color or explanation. Take a look!

Food & Cooking

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We have to eat—every day, in fact. If you’re passionate about food, cooking, or grocery shopping (I envy you for this one), there are lots of micro-business opportunities.

  1. Home chef/meal prep: For busy people that want to eat healthy and are done with takeout. You can even specialize in a particular region of cuisine.

  2. Recipe planning and grocery list planning: If you’re obsessed with food blogs, a pro at organizing but aren’t looking to cook, consider this one. Maybe someone is OK cooking for themselves, but they’re having trouble finding the recipes they like and planning the grocery lists to bring them to life.

  3. Dessert creation: Make a killer Magic Bar or picture-perfect cupcake? Sell that to someone for their next party.

  4. Cake decorating: Pro at fondant and can make a cake that looks like anything? Your neighbor would much rather higher you than their grocery store bakery department.

  5. Healthy eating planning: someone wants to clean up their diet and doesn’t know where to start. You’d be good at this if you’ve done the Whole30 and actually found the delicious recipes that fit into it.

Organizing

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Many people sell full-scale home organization services, but perhaps there’s one room, item, or area of life that you excel at organizing. Be super specific and sell just that. Here are some ideas:

  1. Fridge or pantry: reorganize the contents and set someone up with a system that will keep things in place going forward.

  2. Closets: Do you actually look forward to switching things out for change of season? Color code your closet like a boss? Actually have an proper place for shoes/hats/scarves?

  3. Kids closets: Like the above, but specifically focused on kids because they grow out of things so darn fast!

  4. Basement or garage overhaul: Bins, boxes, labels, all sorted in a logical way that doesn’t make the basement a scary place.  

  5. Art work: Kids bring home lots of it and no one wants to hurt their feelings by throwing it out. Come up with a plan for sorting through and displaying it in a way that works for everyone.

  6. Organize my inbox, tabs, folders, triggers, filters: I really wish I could be one of those people that has the perfect folder, color, and tab for every piece of correspondence that hits their inbox and actually adheres to that system.

  7. Finances: Get someone set up with the online (or offline—hello envelopes!) tools for organizing their personal finances and getting good budgets and systems in place.

  8. Book all my appointments/things I have been putting off: Enough said.

  9. Pack a family for vacation: If you pack your suitcases days before vacation and have traveled with your family enough times to know exactly what’s needed, this one’s for you.

  10. Calendar planning for parents: Help a busy parent schedule appointments, various kids’ extracurriculars and figure out where they’ll need childcare or transportation help to make it all helping

  11. College move-in prep: It’s an emotional roller coaster when a kid goes to college and also a very logistic-heavy time. Help an overwhelmed family with dorm packing, shopping, and other planning to navigate this major life change.

  12. Photo organizing: Organize overflowing boxes, computers and phones full of photo files. Go a step further and put them into beautiful displays or books.

  13. Fitness routine planning: No need to physically train anyone. Work with clients based on their goals, come up with a recommendation of fitness activities, gym classes, and the schedule to fit it into their life.

  14. Picking up prescriptions and other essentials: From the woman who has left her prescriptions at CVS for weeks on end, despite their incessant automatic phone calls

  15. Ebay reselling: So many ways to offload and make money from stuff you are done with, but many people can’t get around to it. Open up your own virtual consignment shop by helping them resell on eBay and more

Business & Communications

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Take the talents you’ve honed over the years and offer them to small businesses or non profits on a more flexible basis.

  1. Negotiating: Coach someone on learning to advocate for themselves, in anything from a tough situation at work to asking for a refund for a service they’re not pleased with.   

  2. Emails: No one loves them, everyone’s got to write them. Write a small business’ marketing emails to customers, in areas like welcomes, announcements, promotions, sales, and more.  

  3. Cold outreach emails: Perhaps even more painful than most emails. In business it’s always good to go in with a warm connection, sometimes you just have to reach out cold. If you’ve mastered this art, coach someone on how to write good pitch emails that get answered.

  4. Communications and tact: Similar to negotiating, but a step further. Perhaps a business owner needs help creating a compelling case for a potential client who doesn’t want to pay them what they’re asking for, or addressing other customer conflicts. This is a business I’d run myself if I didn’t work for Pepperlane, so it’s all yours!

  5. Slide deck creation: I envy people who can make beautiful and thoughtful PowerPoint decks in business settings. Mine always end up having too much text. If you’re a master at making cohesive points and pulling in the right visuals, there’s a great market for you.

  6. Market research: Track down stats and statistics to support someone else’s slide decks, business pitches, product planning, and more.

  7. Office setup/decorating for collaboration and morale boosting: I have a friend who set his office up with lightbulbs that flashed different colors as the company hit their goals, which was super motivating for all. If you have creative hacks to help offices look and feel their best, sell that!  

  8. Customer service assistance: Answer online product questions, returns and exchange requests, and other customer service needs that will help a small business (or non profit) put their best foot forward.

  9. Social media content planning: Busy executives need to know what’s happening in their industry, but don’t have the time to read all the articles or follow all the relevant people. Do this for them, hand off the right tweets to share, and make them look great in the process. https://pepperlane.co/search?type=profile&keywords=Social+Media+Management

Entertainment

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Whether it’s providing flexible, creative activities and outlets for kids to making it easier for parents to throw parties, there are lots of options here to suit a whole range of passions and talents

  1. Music lessons for kids and babies: So many instruments, so many ages to benefit from music.

  2. Art lessons: Same, but with all the different visual art mediums.

  3. Museum outings: Organize outings to art museums and more. Especially helpful for mothers with multiple kids or new babies, but toddlers who still need to have fun!

  4. Wine advice: This one’s for the parents (or the adult who’s running the kids outings ;)). No need to be a sommelier or even have a license. Joanne helps people come up with the perfect pairings for parties and other intimate social outings and leaves the purchasing to them.

  5. Party themes: Cute first birthday parties are all the rage but there is no way I’m going to plan one. Help me!

  6. Party favors: Go a layer deeper and just focus on creative trinkets for guests to take away

  7. Summer vacation planning for family: Camps, playdates, travel, and more. Lots of free time to kill and lots of ways it could go. Help a family scour the options in the area, understand the costs, and make smart decisions that keep things running as smooth as they did during the school year. Do some of the entertaining yourself even!

Home Management & Cleaning

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There are lots of great generalists when it comes to cleaning, but not everyone needs a frequent house cleaner, or they may just want to outsource that deep cleaning tasks that are the toughest to drum up the motivation for. Here are some ideas.

  1. Handywomen: Patch up holes, hammer in nails, tackle the repairs that so many of us ignore for months (or years).

  2. Window washing: Speaking of, I’m pretty sure people go on for years without doing this, and once done it instantly elevates a space.  

  3. Deep floor cleaning (and moving all my stuff to go with it): So necessary, so hard to do!

  4. Cabinet cleaning, kitchen counter conditioning: in the theme of deep cleaning things that are important but hard to do.   

  5. Laundry: It never ends. New York City has lots of laundry services; they are harder to come by in the suburbs where people have washing machines in home, but they still seem incredibly helpful.

  6. Household management: Laundry folding and organization, packing kids’ lunches and daycare bags, creating lists for errands, and more.  

  7. Home Depot planning and shopping: This place takes hours off my family’s life and seems so hard to navigate. Come up with a plan for me to get what I need out of it and get out.

Technology

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Cheryl’s business (tech consulting that connects tech-savvy teens with adults who are, well, less skilled at understanding their smart phones) is a brilliant example of the problems to be solved here.

  1. Think through apps I need in my life: As someone who previously worked at an app company, I know how useful they can be—but there are so many out there it’s hard to know where to begin. If you’re on top of the tech and gadget blogs, turn your passion into something that can improve the quality of someone else’s life.

  2. Computer shortcut help: Help someone make the most of their computer and iPad’s tricks and shortcuts so they’re not wasting time on things they shouldn’t be

  3. Graphic design software lessons: If you’re well-versed in a software like Adobe Photoshop (or any others), help someone get up to speed and empowered to create their own simple graphics and more.

  4. Camera lessons: Teach simple tricks to help someone take better pictures of their dogs or kids.

Design & Style

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Pinterest and HGTV have really brought the creative and design talent out of people. If you want to share your passion with the world, there are lots of simple, resourceful ways to do it.

  1. Individual room design: Sara focuses on kids’ rooms but maybe you can’t get enough of subway tile and bathroom design Pinterest boards.  

  2. Pillow, lighting, rug, etc refresh: So many places to buy decor these days that it can make it hard to pull the trigger. Ease someone’s anxiety by understanding their design tastes, budgets, and scouring big websites and stores for a range of options for them to choose from.  

  3. Shop at Ikea/Target/Salvation Army/you name it: Take it a step further and shop through physical stores for additional inspiration. Bonus points if you like to hit up thrift or antique shops!

  4. Holiday decorating: Bring your love of all things festive to someone else’s home.

  5. Pick paint colors: I nominate my mother for this. She can pick out a specific Benjamin Moore color on sight and knows exactly which beige is too green (apparently beige has green in it?). Someone else out there has to be like her, right?

  6. Hang up pictures post move: Raise your hand if you’ve left your walls blank for an embarrassing amount of time after moving into a new place? If only there were someone to pick out and measure frames and figure out your art and photos to go in them. That someone could be you.

  7. Renovation organization: Lots of old homes in the Boston area in need of upgrades and lots of HGTV to make people want to buy their own fixer uppers. Surely they’ll need help sorting through plans, vendors, and more.

  8. Small repair coordination: Source electricians, plumbers, and other handy-people and book appointments.

Now’s your turn. Tell us what YOU dream of doing, if only someone would pay you! Chances are they would, and that there’s a simple resource for getting started (that’s Pepperlane). Let us know in the comments what dream business or service we didn’t cover, and go ahead and take the plunge.

P.S. We know many people rightfully are concerned about legal liabilities when getting into businesses for themselves. But Mellinda has a great hack to save you time: focus on getting insurance over other more costly legal services like setting up an LLC. A broker will help you get to where you need to go, so your bases are covered without wasting time or money.