If you’ve been searching the Internet for different businesses to start, chances are you’ve found thousands of ways to make money online.
But there may be an equal or greater opportunity to make money right in your own hometown with a good old-fashioned “blue collar” business idea.
In this post, I’ll break down:
- What are blue collar businesses
- 5 advantages of blue collar businesses
- 27 blue collar business ideas you can start FAST
Ready? Let’s do it!
What is a Blue Collar Business?
A blue collar business is a local, service-based business.
These are businesses where you’re (often) out doing manual labor and getting paid well to do it.
Not many people realize all the jobs and chores around homes and businesses that people would gladly pay someone else to do so they don’t have to do it themselves.
That means if you have the skills available–or have the desire to learn them–you could quickly start a business and see results.
5 Advantages of Starting a Blue Collar Business
1. Low startup cost
Most of the blue collar business ideas below have low startup costs. They can be started quickly with the skills and tools you already have.
Anything else you need to get the job done can be picked up at most local stores.
2. Competition may not be super tech-savvy
If you’re handy with apps on your phone, you can find a whole untapped market with little competition ready to pay for your services.
3. Simple to market and validate
It will be very easy to see if your business idea has a market in your area or not.
You can also market your business quickly through word-of-mouth if you are doing a stellar job for your clients.
4. Work with your hands
Blue collar businesses allow you to work with your hands and have the satisfaction that comes with completing a project.
5. Quick to see your first income
With blue collar businesses, you can perform the work and get paid on the spot, which is great if you need a business idea or side hustle to generate cash flow quickly.
Here are our top blue collar business ideas.
1. Parking Lot Cleanup
Perhaps one of the most surprising and inspiring side hustle stories I’ve heard came from Brian Winch.
Brian began picking up litter in parking lots back in the early 1980s before heading off to work.
Within a few months, he’d turned it into a full-time business.
Today, it’s a $600k+ per year operation!
This is a great business you could build up around other commitments you have and do in your spare time.
2. Knife Sharpening
Did you know there is a market for knife sharpening?
Side Hustle Show guest Matt Rowell reported earning $30-$60 per hour sharpening knives in his spare time.
He taught himself, gathered the tools, and started getting clients.
The best part?
Every house and many businesses have knives.
That’s a whole lot of potential business.
Matt has gotten so busy that he has had to turn people away.
Find out more about Matt and how you can start a knife-sharpening business too!
3. Mobile Detailing
If you love making your car sparkle inside and out, you can turn that skill into an income stream. For brothers Josh and Austin Belk, college students in Missouri, car detailing turned from hobby into a business pretty quickly.
With some innovative online local marketing, they grew the business to $6k a month in revenue.
Their mobile detailing service can be done at the customer’s location, and Josh explained that for most of their customers, it’s their first time having a car detailed. To me, that signals a growing market.
4. Lawn Mowing
Of course, you could get lawn mowing customers the old fashioned way, by wheeling your lawnmower up and down the neighborhood and knocking on doors, but that’s old school.
Enter GreenPal, which is best described as “Uber for lawn care.”
GreenPal has over 5500 vendor partners (lawnmowers and other yard care providers) in seven states throughout the county.
CEO Bryan Clayton explained, “Many of our lawn care vendors are high school kids and college students that use our app in the summer to make extra money. Many younger vendors work afternoons and weekends using our app, and it is the perfect way for them to make extra money.”
On top of that, Bryan said the average GreenPal vendor makes around $55 per hour mowing lawns on its system.
5. Lawn Aeration
Separating yourself from the competition is what will help you stand out when you have other people with who you are competing with for jobs.
Ken Elshoff shared this story in the Side Hustle Nation FB group:
Consider lawn aerating as a side hustle!
My 16 year old went door to door selling lawn mowing for his summer business last year.
That wasn’t good because we realized that you are competing against every homeowner because ‘everyone’ has a lawnmower. So, he got a lot of ‘no’s.
But, what everyone doesn’t have is a lawn aerator! When selling lawn aerating EVERY homeowner can be a prospect because very few own aerators.
So, he switched to aerating and watched a bunch of YouTube videos on how to run an aerator.
He printed out a screenshot of a website from a local company that does aerating for $200. He priced *his* service at $175, showing home owners that his prices were cheaper than the ‘big guys’.
The only other item he had with him as a visual aid was a ziplock baggie with some dirt plugs that we took from the high school football field after it was aerated. He used that to show homeowners what would be laying all over their lawn when he was done.
He continued going door to door selling lawn mowing but then offered them aerating as well, so it was work he was already doing — he just added an additional service.
Six people (within a 4 block radius) agreed to hire him for aeration.
We went to Home Depot and rented an aerator for 24 hours at a cost of $110 (including their insurance).
He did all 6 lawns in about 5 hours and, after paying me back for the home depot rental fee (which I fronted for him), he cleared $820 in one day of work!
[If you’re doing the math at $175×6 you’ll notice a couple of customers with smaller yards negotiated him down a bit.]
Finding a way to add services is always a great way to up your value and get paid more per customer.
6. Grout Cleaning
Did you know that people will pay to have their grout and tile cleaned in their homes and businesses?
If you like to clean already, this can be a great business idea.
You can easily find the best ways to clean and protect the grout from YouTube and other home improvement sites, gather the supplies needed, and start marketing your new business.
According to HomeAdvisior, pros charge between $30-$50 an hour. Even if it does take you a little time to learn how to do it correctly, that is a nice upside.
7. Pressure Washing
Pressure washing is one of those jobs that people love to have done, but they don’t often own a pressure washer themselves.
Sure, they could rent one but then they also have to give up their Saturday to complete the job.
Even if you don’t own a pressure washer, you can rent a pressure washer and line up a number of jobs so that you can profit even after you pay rental fees.
According to Home Advisor, a typical price range for a pressure washing job is between $187 and $387.
On top of that, it’s just plain satisfying!
8. Pet Waste Removal
Picking up dog poop for homeowners may not be the most glamorous business, but it can be a pretty lucrative one. Startup costs are low, and once you sign on clients, they’re likely to stick with you week after week.
One Side Hustle Show guest described charging $14-20 per yard per week and had attracted more than 80 recurring customers. She estimated it was worth $50 an hour, part-time.
9. Flea Market Flipping
Do you love to find a good deal? Do you have an eye for spotting treasures in a pile of junk?
You would probably enjoy starting a flipping business.
The premise is simple, buy something cheap and sell it for more. It is a very low-cost business to start, and there are so many ways to source items to fill.
One Side Hustle Show guest has built up her flipping business to $7,000-10,000 in monthly sales.
Want to learn more? Check out this free training on how to get started and make your first sales in as little as 2 weeks.
10. Trash Bin Cleaning
While most people like trash day, because their smelly garbage gets picked up and taken away, there can be a downside.
You’re left with a smelly can!
A smelly can has the possibility to attract all kinds of unwanted germs, pests, and rodents.
A trash bin cleaning business allows homeowners to come home to a clean and deodorized bin that they no longer need to worry about.
This is another great business if you have a pressure washer.
Cost helper says the typical price can be between $10-$20 per can cleaning.
11. Gutter Cleaning
Jimmy Moncrief from Chattanooga Gutter Cleaning started his gutter-cleaning business when he heard people complaining about how they couldn’t get anyone to come to fix the gutters on their house.
Since Jimmy already owned the necessary tools to get the job done, he said he could do it and has created a business around gutters.
He has been making $1,000 – $2,000 a month and has been able to grow his business with referrals and Google Reviews. He has also started setting up some of his customers on a recurring plan for his services.
This is a great low-cost business opportunity if you already have the tools and know-how to hang and clean gutters.
12. Residential or Commercial Cleaning Service
Starting a cleaning business is a low-cost way to make some money quickly. All businesses need to be cleaned by someone and there are many people who would rather come home to a clean house than have to clean it themselves.
This gives you a large potential pool of possible customers.
Another perk? If your clients are happy, this could be recurring work.
One guest on the Side Hustle Show was able to scale his cleaning business, that he’s now not even part of the day-to-day operations.
And the business is had grown to $60k a month in revenue in just 2 years.
According to Thumbtack, the typical hourly rate for house cleaning services range from $25-$50 per hour.
13. Pallet Flipping
When you think of making money with pallets, your mind may start drifting to all of the different items that people make with pallets from ideas seen on Pinterest.
But what if you could make money off pallets and never have to pick up a hammer?
John Wilker, of Birmingham, Alabama, shared how he’s built a network of pallet buyers and suppliers. On the day we recorded, he’d made $1600 before lunch — and never has to store any inventory.
14. Pool Maintenance
There is a certain allure to the thought of having a pool in your backyard, but if you don’t have one, you may not understand all the work that goes into keeping that pool in pristine, swimmable condition.
Pool maintenance is a necessity for pool owners who want to use their pools on a regular basis–but it can be a hassle.
To start this business you’ll need to make sure you know things like the right chemicals and make sure the water has the right ph (some places may even require you to have certification). The upside is you can earn anywhere from $50-$60 dollars on hour with this business.
15. Pest Control
Pest control is a stable business choice that shows no signs of slowing down. In fact, my parents pay somebody to come by every couple of months and spray for spiders. I feel like they might have a “rat guy” on retainer too.
Starting a pest control business will have more start-up costs than some of the businesses mentioned as you would need the chemicals and tools needed to remove pest problems.
The bright side, however, is that a pest control business has the potential to earn $75,000 a year.
16. Planter Box Building
With the 2020 pandemic creating panic in the spring, many people took up gardening this year.
If you’re handy and like to build, building planters or gardening boxes is a great way to capitalize on the growing gardening trend.
You could make standard sizes or do custom builds depending on customer’s preferences.
Most likely, you’ll charge by the box instead of an hourly rate.
Facebook marketplace and Craigslist could be some great options for finding interested customers.
17. Gardening Service
If you enjoy gardening yourself, why not do it for others. Many people start gardening with good intentions, but they can easily have more important things pop up that demand attention.
By doing the upkeep for them, they can still enjoy the fruits of their garden without having to do the work.
This could be a great add-on to other yard services you may already be providing as well.
If you think yard services are a business you would like to start, you can check out Lawn Love to help you find yard jobs and make between $30-$50 per hour.
18. Moving Service
Starting a moving business is a great way to help others, move your body, and get paid. Whether you want to help with big moves or small moves, if you’ve got a truck, you could be in business.
With Dolly, you can make up to $15 an hour if you have a car and can lift over 75 pounds. If you own a truck, you can earn up to $30 an hour. Bellhops advertises earning potential “up to $21 an hour.”
19. Carpet Cleaning
Carpet cleaning is a great in-demand service you can start. Starting a carpet cleaning business will require you to have access to a carpet cleaning machine, whether you own or rent, and cleaning solutions as well.
There are a number of different ways to clean a carpet so you can pick the option or options that work best for you and are in demand in your area.
A carpet cleaning business has the potential to earn between $75,000 – $100,000 a year.
20. Handyperson Service
If you’re handy and like to fix things, why not start a handyman business?
This may be a stereotypical blue collar business idea, but if you already have the tools needed for projects around the house, your start-up costs will be quite low.
An app such as TaskRabbit, allows you to set your own rates plus take payment through the app, which will make getting paid easy.
21. Window Washing
Window-washing is another great low-cost business opportunity. Window cleaning can be done on your own timeline and like some of the other business ideas mentioned can be done on both residential and commercial properties.
There are a couple of different ways you can charge: by pane, by the window, or by the hour. When I spoke with Johnny Robinson, co-founder of Orange Window Cleaning, he described flat-rate pricing of $15.75 per window.
For most providers, the hourly rate works out to be in the $40-$75 dollar range.
Painting is a great low-cost business to start. Actually, this was how I made money in college.
There are both residential and commercial opportunities for painting which give you a lot of potential work.
To start you need some brushes, rollers, and pans and you’re ready to go. For exterior work, a sprayer will speed up the job.
Starting a painting business can earn you anywhere from $40-$60 per hour.
You can also advertise your service on sites like Thumbtack, making it easy to connect with people who need your service.
23. Junk Hauling
I connected with the largest junk hauler of them all, Brian Scudamore, the founder and CEO of 1-800-GOT-JUNK to learn about how he started his junk hauling business.
(He’s since grown it into a multi-million dollar home services empire.)
If you have a truck or have access to one, this could be a great business to start. The best way to start is to let people know you’re willing to haul their junk away.
One tactic Brian shared was painting your phone number on the side of the truck, and parking it at high-traffic intersections. Free billboard!
24. Camper Van Renovation
Camper vans are a great way for people to travel but still have their own space. Many people have different needs and so want to customize their camper van to fit their lifestyle and how they plan to travel.
If you possess construction skills, you can start a business converting vans into campers.
25. Christmas Light Installation and Removal
Helping others with their Christmas lights could be a great way to make extra money.
By installing Christmas decorations, you’re able to save your clients both time and the potential to get hurt by doing it themselves.
This is a great low-cost business to start as the client typically pays for the lights and decorations. If they don’t own ladders, however, that is something you’ll need access to.
The only downside to this business is that it will be seasonal, so it may be a great add-on service to the lawn and home services you already provide.
Angi (formerly Angie’s list) is a great way to let people know that this is something you offer.
It can be pretty lucrative too! For example, this guy makes $100k+ per year with his Christmas lights business.
26. Snow Removal
If you live in a colder climate, snow removal is a great business idea. Especially if you don’t mind being out in the cold.
Whether you have a shovel, snowblower, or truck, or maybe all three, there are plenty of opportunities to help get rid of the snow.
You can start to make $30+ an hour by providing snow removal services to homes and businesses.
27. Parking Lot Striping
Dan Zurcher reported earning $165,000 a year with his parking lot striping business — all while taking winters off.
In this business, there’s some upfront investment in equipment (like many of the other blue collar business ideas on this page), but you’ll start to notice the parking lot paint everywhere you go!
For your first jobs, Dan suggested looking for free-standing small business buildings where the owner is likely to be inside.
Blue Collar Business Ideas: Your Turn
There are many great blue collar business opportunities out there for people who want to make additional income or transition out of a job you want to leave.
Many of these ideas have low-start up costs and a low-barrier for entry meaning you can get started right away.
These business ideas are a great way to make money when you need it.
Now it’s your turn. Which blue collar business idea hits home for you?
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