Last updated on January 27, 2023 - My Free Marketing newsletter 👀
Starting a business during a recession might seem like the WORST possible idea.
But that's exactly how everyone else feels.
So not only is there less competition for new businesses right now, but some sectors can even thrive since others are trying to just save cash.
I put together a list of 23 recession-proof business ideas you can start today to make at least an extra thousand bucks a month and potentially much more.
P.S. Need help turning one of these business ideas into reality? I reopened my course Monthly1K for just $10 (kinda limited time). Sign up at Monthly1k.com.
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People want to cut costs now more than ever.
Go to your friends or family and look through their credit card bills and find areas where they can cut down on unnecessary spending. Then, take a cut of whatever you save them.
Here’s how you can save them money:
This can work for people’s personal credit cards AND their business credit cards.
With so many social media platforms nowadays, this service is going to get even MORE popular.
Basically, to be a content remixer, you turn long-form content like YouTube videos and podcasts into blog posts, tweet threads, LinkedIn posts, Instagram Reels, and TikTok videos.
For example, I pay $4000/month for two different people to help me create my Tweets, LinkedIn posts, Instagram content, and my TikTok videos!
If I were starting this business today, I’d pick a bunch of creators who are not in the top 10 right now (the top 10 are getting hit up All. The. Time) and I’d offer two different types of services:
Yep, shrimp breeding.
And no, Uncle Noah has not lost his mind. You can actually make around $90 dollars per shrimp per month!!!
Shrimp are actually pretty cheap to buy and there's money to be made if you're selling them in large quantities.
There are some upfront costs though: You have to get a tank — that's like $200-$300 bucks, plus the cost of the shrimp themselves… but once you have all that, you're basically free to create money!
“Cherry shrimp” are apparently the simplest to breed, so if you buy a dozen of these and you read up on how to get the conditions right then you can start breeding them. Shrimp get pregnant for about a month, and they hatch 20-30 babies per cycle — so assuming that you sell them at the price you bought them, a single shrimp could make you around $90 once you sell the babies.
I know, it’s a little strange. But I think a lot of times, the best way to make money is in the areas where no one else is making it.
I know this sounds like it’s illegal, but here's the idea…
You know how there's property managers for property? Be a car rental manager for cars.
Go to ask your friends and neighbors for their cars, rent it out on Turo, split the cash, deal with the headaches, and make the money.
But, why not go even bigger?!
Go to an airport car park, and leave notes on car windshields offering the same service.
“Hello sir/madam, while you were away you could have been making a bunch of bucks doing nothing! I’ll rent out your car and deal with all the headaches of it (and there'll be no damage to your car, it'll be clean as a whistle) and we'll split the cash! Here’s my number…”
This is a perfect recession-proof business.
Airbnb was made during the 2008 recession, and this is very similar.
Sadly, there's lots of layoffs across the board in many different companies, and more and more people are looking for work.
And that's going to always be true.
But, companies are still hiring!!
You go on job sites or LinkedIn and find the companies that are hiring and help the people who get laid off find new jobs.
Basically, be your own headhunter.
Look at their resumes, figure out where they’d be a good fit, introduce them to companies, and coach them on how to get the skills for the job. And like headhunters, you can ask them for a cut of their yearly salary (so if the new job will pay them $50,000 then you get $500!).
You might think that people won’t pay you a percentage of their salary—but if you get them a nice pay raise and do all the hard work for them, then they will likely be happy to.
Let me give you a quick background…
We get sponsors for my YouTube videos and we charge around $25,000 for each sponsorship. The organizer who helps us get that sponsor takes 10% of that amount.
Now, I only feature sponsors that I reeeeally like, so the reality is that we sit around and pray, waiting for my favorite brands to reach out and offer to sponsor a video with us.
But a sponsorship broker can offer two super valuable things:
Believe it or not but someone else's business will actually pay you to put displays on the top of your car, or wrap branding around your car.
You're basically renting out your car as advertising space.
Yeah sure, it might look a little silly — but you're making free money just by driving!!!
FireFlyOn offers around $200 bucks a month if you drive 24 hours a week, and Wrapify offers between $264-$450 bucks a month, and with Carvertise you can earn as much as $1500 dollars per campaign depending on the advertisement.
There are people making over six figures a year as an AppSumo affiliate!!
Basically, you get paid every time you refer someone to our website and they buy something.
You can also make money as an affiliate for a lot of other businesses that you like, and there are a ton of people who are making over a thousand dollars a month doing this even if they don't have large audiences.
So our AppSumo affiliate program (and this might change so take advantage of it!) now pays up to 100% of the customer’s first purchase (up to $50 bucks).
The reason I like this is that you could go to local businesses, freelancers, or coaches, and ask them if they have any software that they’re paying a subscription for. They probably do. And you can help them cut that cost INSTANTLY.
Refer them to an AppSumo tool that replaces whatever subscription they’re currently using, and they’ll save a bunch of money and you’ll get a fat referral fee.
Try this on your email list, Twitter, YouTube, or just do it old-school via phone.
Yes, this is a real business opportunity.
We're not talking just about lawn mowing (which I actually think is a great business opportunity) but we're talking about ANYTHING and EVERYTHING that someone might need doing around their lawn and garden.
This could be cleaning their pool. It could be raking their leaves. It could be trimming their hedges. Watering their grass. Sweeping their patio. Etc.
There's another business I've seen a few guys start doing and it's actually a really interesting idea.
Be the neighborhood trash caddy.
I saw a flier in my neighborhood saying a trash caddy would wheel your trash bins out and bring it back in. It’s super simple, but I like the idea that for $5 bucks or $10 bucks a week, you’ll never have to take your trash out.
That's a no-brainer.
And if you can get a density of people, you could easily pay some kid hourly to do it for you and make some pretty good money.
A lot of local businesses are going to struggle during the recession (it sucks) so what if you went into a bunch of local restaurants and offered to redo their menu pricing and A/B test different menu options.
Basically, you’ll show different versions of the menu with different dishes and price points and help the restaurant find out what makes them the most money.
And, you can offer this service to restaurants for free! (My favorite price)
If the restaurant makes more money as a result of your optimization, you take a small cut. I'd ask for something like 10% of whatever additional revenue they were able to generate over the next 6-12 months, which should possibly make you a few thousand dollars per month (passively!) over the next year and beyond.
Earlier this year on my YouTube channel, we started working with someone (AKA, Josh) who repurposes all of the content we've already shot for YouTube and turns it into short clips for TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube Shorts.
Now, some of these clips are getting MILLIONS of views without me or any of my team having to do extra work.
We're paying him $2000/month which is well worth it for me. A lot of other YouTubers out there are paying for this service as well — so if you're trying to land your first client, send them an edit of a video of theirs that they can post to their channel (free of charge!) and when they're happy with the results, then you can send them your rates.
It probably goes without saying, but this is one of the lowest-friction businesses.
I'm a huge proponent of, if you're trying to get going then just get your foundation set!
If you have a car or a bike (or you know someone that does) start doing UberEats, Instacart, Getir, Doordash. This is literally something available to you RIGHT NOW.
In the US, Uber Eats drivers make an average of almost $15 bucks/hour, so that's going to take you 60 hours of work to make $1000 bucks/month. It's not perfect, but it’s something!
If your neighbors and friends have dogs, start offering your house as a little doggy daycare.
Or find clients on Rover or Wag and charge around $25 per day per dog.
Seriously, how cool would it be to have other really like-minded interesting people working out of your home?!
You can make more money, meet new people, and build a community in your area.
As more and more creators join YouTube, they need good thumbnails.
Believe me, the difference between an okay thumbnail and an exceptional one makes ALL the difference in how videos perform.
But the problem is, there are also more and more thumbnail designers that can make exceptional thumbnails, so how do you stand out?
Great question my friends.
You’ve got to make an offer that's LOW RISK for the creator.
Send them free examples up front or offer to make an alternative thumbnail for the next video they make. If they get more views and/or earn more revenue from the video, ask them for a cut of it.
You can easily add a portfolio of your work to YTJobs or approach creators on Twitter or their YouTube channel. Once you get your foot in the door, you can charge $250 or more per thumbnail for serious creators out there.
People really do judge a YouTube video by its cover.
Why is this so dope?
Because you rent out someone else's home on Airbnb!
Yep. Not even your own.
The idea of arbitrage is that you're essentially buying something low and then profiting by selling it high. In this case, you’ll be leasing a property from the landlord while simultaneously renting it out on Airbnb for more than you're paying.
Years ago, my friend Zach hit up a bunch of houses in Los Angeles that were long-term rentals, and he told them hey, I know you're asking for $2000 dollars/month in rent, but I'm gonna pay you $4000 thousand dollars/month in rent and make the extra cash using Airbnb!
And guess what?!
He actually signed up a lot of people.
The landlord agreed and Zach ended up making $6000 dollars/month from renting it out, and was able to get $2000/month in profit from each of these places.
You could offer to do this for people you know who have extra space in their properties, even if it’s just a spare room or a little guest house. Whatever space they have that they don't use—you can rent it out on their behalf and split the profit.
Email is one of the most valuable platforms, period.
It allows creators and business people to directly sell and communicate with their audience.
It has made AppSumo a significant company!! And it's the way that I communicate with a lot of people with my email newsletter.
But, most creators don't have time to write weekly emails consistently, so you can offer to condense their thoughts into a well-written weekly email blast.
I pay someone almost $3000/month to help me write my weekly emails! And it's worth it.
If I was starting this business here's what I would do:
I get a bunch of emails from people asking if they can send me an email sequence… Just send it!! Show the person what value you have to offer — don’t ask them in advance!!
It's so much easier to convince them to say yes if you just lead with the value.
This is something my mom would have no idea what it means… Sorry mom.
But let me tell you — it’s lucrative! And it's gonna be successful if you're able to do it.
Email lists are just as valuable to businesses as they are to creators, except businesses make A LOT more money with email. This means that they're going to pay you more if it's good. Just at AppSumo alone, I think we have three or four full-time people working JUST on our email list. And they are phenomenal!!
So, let’s get into what email flow is.
Email flow is when someone comes into your email list, what is the experience they have from that point on? When you create an email flow, you basically create a pipeline for your subscriber to turn them into a customer.
And you do this with automated emails.
You can create welcome email flows that “drip” into a subscriber’s inbox with deals and product info so they get to know your brand. You can create abandoned cart email flows that help people finish making a purchase after they didn’t complete the checkout process.
Lots of businesses don’t have this set up, because they don’t know how to do it! And once you get good at it, you can help businesses figure out where they have a “leak” in their flow that’s losing them customers.
You can make literally hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars, for companies this way.
After taking my Monthly1K course, Jennifer started a small cookie business which has easily net her $1000/month. She’s a school teacher, and her story is really impressive.
She realized that she had a reputation amongst her friends and family for making the best cookies in her area. So she thought, why not sell them?!
All it took was one Facebook post and people went crazy for her cookies!! (I’ve tried them and can confirm that they’re delicious)
What’s a skill or hidden talent that people have complimented you on? I think you'd be surprised how much people would be excited to pay you for things you already enjoy doing for free.
Notion is kind of like a mix between Google Docs and Google Sheets, but with some other features and perks.
My creator friends love it, and they've actually paid $500 or more per DAY to have Notion consultants re-do their entire business operating system from scratch.
Many businesses still do not have internal systems streamlined. So I would reach out to creators or businesses and ask them if they have streamlined internal document systems and create mockups that show them what they could be doing instead.
For example, at AppSumo, we pay somewhere around $36,000/month paying Atlassian to have an internal document system. Learn Notion or learn any other tool that's really popular, and see if you can actually help set up something similar for businesses.
A lot of entrepreneurs like myself probably have a good amount of disposable income and want to eat more healthily, but don't have a lot of time on their hands.
You can save them time by helping make food for them!
When I was living in Barcelona there was a site called TheHealthiestBCN and it was like $10 bucks, really healthy, and they bring it to your door! It was awesome.
You could do the same!
Find people in your area — maybe it’s employees at businesses, maybe it’s coworking spaces, maybe it’s parents with busy kids — that would pay you to have you prep and drop off your cooking.
What if someone needs a really nice camera for just one day? Or chainsaws to cut down a tree in their yard?
It’s a pain to buy that stuff just for one time.
So round up whatever gear you have that you think other people might like to borrow and post it somewhere online to start renting it out locally.
I think you might be surprised to find out that you can make $1000 dollars/month pretty easily doing this.
During a recession, people want to save money. People have more time. And guess what?
This is where the next big businesses are going to come from.
Why can’t it be you?!
So be creative. Try a bunch of these things out and try something different from all the things we talked about! I think you're gonna be shocked by how much further you're gonna go and how much better you'll feel about yourself after.
Go create a business and life that you're excited to live.
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Just curious - how did you know your email copywriter was worth $3000/month?
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