If you’re like a lot of self-employed people, summer makes for sunny weather and gloomy business prospects. Clients who leave on vacation or cut their own spending because of the seasonal slump can put a dent in your income and leave you looking for extra sources of revenue.
Here are 26 weird (and profitable) business ideas for summer you may not have considered. If you’re looking for businesses to start with $1,000 or less, you’ll find some on this list. Only a few require a larger upfront investment.
Best of all, these summer side hustles are highly seasonal—so you can get back to your main hustle when the dog days are over.
1. Ghost walks
Have a flair for entertaining an audience? Live in a town or city with a storied past? Take advantage of warm summer evenings by leading locals on a tour of local haunts—literally. Interview regional historians and paranormal enthusiasts to help you plan an itinerary and weave tales that will thrill and chill your guests. It’s a seasonal business idea you can keep running all the way up to Halloween.
2. Market gardening
Even a small yard, used to maximum advantage, can produce heaps of fresh summer fruit and vegetables. And the locavore trend shows no sign of slowing down, making it easier than ever to find buyers for small-scale produce—particularly if you specialize in heirloom or hard-to-find varieties. Put your green thumb to work growing food for the farmer’s market, a roadside stand, or local restaurants.
3. Doggie daytripping
Most people lack the resources to set up a full-scale doggie daycare. But if you have access to a vehicle, a good Frisbee arm, and a love for canine companions, this summer side hustle is for you. Offer busy pet owners a day off by taking Fido and friends on an adventure—think hiking, beach days, or even tours of local dog-friendly parks.
4. Beach sales
A rolling cooler, some ice, and bottled beverages purchased in bulk: That’s all you need to set up a mobile drinks stand at your local beach. Add sunscreen, waterwings, and cheap straw hats to your inventory to expand your potential market. Dehydrated beachgoers and forgetful packers will thank you, and pay top dollar for the convenience.
5. Glamping setup and takedown
glamping: outdoor camping with amenities and comforts (such as beds, electricity, and access to indoor plumbing) not usually used when camping (Merriam-Webster)
There are always some out-of-towners visiting camping hotspots who are willing to pay extra for a deluxe experience. With this summer business idea, you provide white glove service to not-so-outdoorsy types by setting up deluxe tents, comfy cots, and fully stocked coolers in advance. Upgrade your offerings by offering a funky retro camper or RV parked and prepped onsite before their arrival.
6. Bike tours
One of the best ways to explore a new town or city is in the saddle of a bike. A small fleet of inexpensive but well-serviced bikes, some helmets, and a knowledge of local geography is all you need. Even if the roads in your community aren’t exactly bike-friendly, you may be able to take visitors on local trails for a rolling nature experience.
7. Wedding arch design and rental
Since covid arrived on the scene, many couples have been planning smaller, more intimate wedding ceremonies. But they still want them to look great, especially in photos—and when it comes to the I-do’s, the backdrop is an important supporting cast member. Put together a selection of arbors and arches, add decorations, and this seasonal business idea is ready to become a reality.
8. Picnic catering
Whether it’s a raucous birthday party in the park or an intimate anniversary date at sunset on the beach, picnic catering helps make the experience magical. Your offerings could be as simple as a basket full of gourmet sandwiches, or as fancy as chilled champagne and oysters on the half-shell. Ants not invited.
9. Yard sale flipping
Summer is yard sale season. If you’re willing to get up early on a weekend and make the rounds, you’re sure to find treasure. Whether you specialize in refinishing furniture, reviving retro fashion statements, or fixing up old appliances, many items that can be had for a few dollars may be resold for a significantly higher price. If you’re looking for businesses to start with $1,000, this could be the one for you.
10. Plant sitting
If you already have a special knack for keeping houseplants not just alive but thriving and happy, local enthusiasts may be willing to hire you to look after their green babies while they’re out of town. Certain tropical plants and orchids need special treatment, and if you can prove you’re an expert with an eye for detail, business will bloom.
11. Worm sales (yes, worm sales)
(WARNING: This summer side hustle idea is not for the squeamish.)
Some anglers swear by nightcrawlers as bait, while among gardeners vermicomposting—composting with the aid of red wigglers—is on the rise. A spot in your basement or garage for some plastic bins is all you need to start breeding worms for sale. Is it gross? Maybe. But if you’re willing to do the research and put in the effort, you could hit paydirt.
If you use mathematics or writing in a professional capacity for your full-time job, or if you speak a second language, you may already have the tools you need to tutor school kids during the summer. It helps if you have some background in tutoring already, but there’s a huge selection of online training resources for amateurs interested in tutoring professionally.
13. Junk hauling
Got a truck? Don’t mind the smell of the dump or the recycling depot? Junk hailing is one of the best home businesses to start in 2023. People are always looking to have their junk hauled away. If you can find a second life for some of the junk you’re paid to take away, all the better. One person’s junk is another’s rare collectible.
14. Balloon animals
Balloon modeling—that’s the technical term—is easy to learn from videos, and the raw materials cost next to nothing. Start with dogs, hats, and swords, then (ahem) expand your skills. Soon, county fairs and charity picnics will be clambering for your services.
15. Local tour guide
No-one knows a town or city better than the people who live there. More and more, tourists seek authentic, on-the-ground experiences of the places they visit. Target a niche by specializing in a particular topic—history, street food, local artisans—or community. It’s a business you can start with $500 or less, and there are a number of websites where you can list yourself for hire.
16. Playground assembly
Gone are the days of a simple rope swing hanging from an apple tree. Parents are investing big bucks in elaborate and safety-certified playgrounds for their kids—but not all of them have the time, tools, or experience needed for assembly. If you’ve got a knack for wood and screws, and patience when it comes to following instructions, this could be the gig for you.
17. Organic weed control
Bad press around common herbicides like Roundup and public concern about harming pollinator populations with pesticides has led to a groundswell in demand for gentler alternatives. If you know enough to tell a dandelion from a rose and you’re willing to invest in a backpack sprayer, this is a great business you can start with $500 or less. Natural alternatives like horticultural vinegar and neem oil are not only less harmful to the environment, you don’t need to be certified to use them.
18. Vacation rental cleanup
Summer is the busiest time of year for Airbnbs and other vacation rentals. Contracting out your skills as a cleaner can earn you a steady income during the vacation months. Consider researching local vacation rentals and mailing them fliers—or even go door-to-door if you don’t mind pounding the pavement to get this summer small business idea off the ground.
19. Firewood sales
If you have a yard or garage to work from, and you live near local camping hotspots, you could earn yourself extra cash selling kindling and larger firewood to campers. Local arborists may be able to offer you a deal on felled trees, leaving you to do the value-added work with an ax or a hydraulic log splitter. Sell your product at local gas stations and camp sites, or even from the side of the road.
20. Mobile photo booth
Weddings, fairs, business conventions, family reunions, music festivals: All great venues for a photobooth. Digital photography equipment, props, and backdrops will cost you cash upfront, but after that investment, operating costs are low. And everyone you capture on film is a potential future customer—the marketing almost handles itself. This is one of the pricier summer small business ideas on our list to get started, but it has staying power.
21. Canopy rental
Rain and sun resistant folding canopies are easy to store and maintain, and if you can keep costs low, you may be able to undercut larger party rental companies. There’s a wide market for canopies—everyone from wedding planners to farmers’ markets—and provided you avoid freak accidents, the canopies themselves depreciate slowly.
22. Cut flowers
A few rows planted with in-demand cutting flowers can yield you a tidy profit. Florists often look for large quantities of specific types—nothing but a single variety of dahlia, or just one color of zinnia. And they value having a reliable cultivator one year to the next. A little yard space and some patience are all you need.
23. Paddle board rental
If you’re not far from the ocean or a lake, you’re sure to find seasonal visitors who want to explore it on paddle boards. Boards and paddles are a bit bulky, so you’ll need storage space, but they’re lightweight and easy to keep in good condition.
24. Pedal pub
If you haven’t seen one yourself, you’ve probably seen videos. These pedal-powered mobile bars are hugely popular with bachelor and bachelorette parties, student groups, and tourists. It’s definitely an investment up front, but running pedal pub tours could mean a steady paycheck in the summer months. Be sure to check with local regulations before taking to the road.
25. Pressure washing
You can get a quality pressure washer for a few hundred dollars. After that, the world is your (dingy) oyster: Driveways, decks, garage doors, gutter downspouts, boats, you name it—you’ll find homeowners willing to pay to have old paint stripped and gunk washed away. If you’re timely, punctual, and thorough, it doesn’t take long to build a recurring seasonal clientele.
26. Seed sales
Urban homesteading, community gardening, backyard veggie plots—they’re all growing trends, with no signs of slowing down. Seeds for vegetables and flowers decrease considerably in cost when you order them in bulk from wholesalers, and they’re easy to store. Your job amounts to repackaging and marketing the product, and you can sell locally or through online marketplaces like Etsy either seasonally or year-round.
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