I get it. Thinking of a business model that generates passive income without constant supervision sounds like a distant dream.
It's tough out there, and finding a profitable venture that doesn't consume every waking hour?
Even tougher. A survey reveals that over 70% of small business owners work more than 40 hours a week . That's a lot of time!
But here's some good news: it's absolutely possible to set up a business that runs itself, providing a steady income stream with less daily grind.
In this article, I'll introduce you to 23 businesses that do just that. These aren’t just theories; they're practical, profitable models that have worked for others and can work for you, too.
Let’s dive into these self-sustaining businesses waiting to change your life.
What are the best businesses that run themselves?
1. AI Blogging
When I first stumbled upon the concept of AI blogging, I'll be honest: I was a bit skeptical.
Could a machine really capture the essence of what I wanted to say?
Yet, as I gave it a shot, I saw it's not about letting AI take over; it's about the synergy between AI efficiency and the human element.
AI takes care of the heavy lifting and faster drafting of the posts, which honestly takes a load off. Then, a human edit adds the finesse, making sure the post hits the right notes.
This low-maintenance business approach means you're not constantly tied down to your desk, brainstorming and typing away.
And once you've got everything set up, your blog practically runs itself for passive income with affiliate sales or ads.
2. Affiliate Marketing
Earning affiliate income without starting a blog?
It's all possible!
You can actually dive into affiliate marketing with nothing more than your social media presence or a YouTube channel.
It's pretty straightforward: you share products you genuinely like with your followers, and if they buy through your affiliate links, you earn a commission.
This setup can evolve into a self-running business that doesn't demand your attention 24/7.
You create content, share your links, and as people click and buy, you start building a passive income stream.
It's not about constantly pushing sales; it's about creating helpful content and sharing products that you believe are beneficial for your audience too.
And your YouTube channel or social media can keep generating income even when you're off doing other things.
That's the beauty of affiliate marketing—it fits into your life, not the other way around.
3. AI Automation Agency
Starting an AI automation agency might sound like something out of a sci-fi novel, but it's actually a very real and lucrative business idea for 2024.
You might be thinking, "Do I need to be a tech whiz?"
The answer is no.
You don't have to be a coding expert to harness the power of AI tools to help businesses streamline their operations.
An AI automation agency is all about creating a framework where AI technology takes over routine and predictable tasks, allowing your clients to focus on growth and innovation.
With the right tools and some know-how, you can build an agency that provides immense value by automating the mundane aspects of business, from customer service inquiries to data entry.
4. Run a Credit Repair Business with the Help of AI
Starting a credit repair business can seem daunting with all the paperwork and complex dispute processes.
But here's where AI technology steps in to make life easier.
It turns those tough tasks into something you can handle without breaking a sweat. With AI, you're not just working harder; you're working smarter and getting ahead in the game.
One of the coolest things AI does for credit repair is it takes over the whole credit report analysis part.
AI credit repair software can zip through credit reports and spot errors faster than you can blink.
It's like having a superpower that finds those tiny mistakes that can mess up a credit score. This kind of speed and accuracy? You can't get that with a manual check.
This automation can transform your credit repair business into a self-sustaining operation.
The AI works tirelessly, analyzing reports and flagging issues, which means your business keeps running smoothly, even when you step away.
It's not just about working more efficiently; it's about creating a system that maintains itself, giving you the freedom to focus on scaling your business or even just enjoying some well-earned downtime.
With AI, your business is always on, always alert, and always ready to serve your clients.
5. YouTube Automation Channel
Have you ever heard about YouTube automation channels? It's a term that's been buzzing around since the rise of AI.
It's a pretty neat concept. You create a channel, but instead of being the star of the show, you're the director behind the scenes.
You hire a team to handle everything from scripting to editing and even voiceovers. It's all about delegating the work so you can focus on the big picture.
With just a couple of videos, you can views and make money. It's not just talk; this strategy has real potential.
The key is to build a solid team you can rely on and to keep the viewer's experience at the forefront.
It's about understanding what people want to watch and delivering quality content that keeps them coming back.
The beauty of this model is that it can become a self-running business.
Once you've got your team and process in place, the channel can continue to grow and generate income, even if you're not hands-on every day.
It's a modern twist on passive income, leveraging YouTube's power and talented freelancers' creativity. This could be the way to go if you're looking to get into the YouTube game without being the face on camera.
6. Payment Processing
When it comes to setting up a profitable business that doesn't require you to be hands-on all the time, payment processing is a solid choice.
It's the backbone of every online transaction, and as more people shop online, the demand for reliable payment processing skyrockets.
By offering this service, you're stepping into a crucial role for any successful business that sells products or services online.
The idea is simple: you provide the means for businesses to accept customer payments and earn a fee for each transaction processed.
It's a straightforward way to earn income that keeps rolling in with every swipe, tap, or click.
And the best part? Once you've set up the system, it pretty much runs itself, leaving you free to focus on growing your business or enjoying the fruits of your labor.
7. Membership Programs
Starting a membership program is a smart way to generate passive income.
With a membership program, you offer something valuable—like exclusive content, special services, or products—that people pay a regular fee to access.
The beauty of this model is that it provides a steady stream of income.
Once members sign up and you deliver great value, they'll likely stick around, which means you'll have a reliable source of earnings.
It's not about constant selling; it's about building a community around what you offer and then maintaining it.
This approach lets you focus on quality and engagement, rather than always hunting for the next sale.
8. Self-Publishing Author
Becoming a self-publishing author might sound like a dream, but it's a very real way to continue to generate income.
The journey begins with your story, your expertise, or your unique ideas. Once you've poured your heart and soul into writing your book, the next step is to get it out into the world.
Platforms like Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) make this part a breeze. You can upload your book, set your price, and voilà – you're in the vast ocean of online book sales.
But it's not just Amazon where you can sell your work. Other platforms like Apple's iBooks, Barnes & Noble Press, and Kobo offer similar opportunities to reach eager readers.
And let's not forget about selling directly from your own website, which can be a gold mine if you've built up a following.
Once your book is live, marketing becomes your best friend. Use social media, email newsletters, and other online marketing strategies to spread the word.
The more you promote your book, the more you can potentially sell. And with each sale, you collect money – it's like setting up a shop that's open 24/7, all around the world.
Remember, self-publishing is more than just writing; it's about being proactive with your marketing and sales strategies.
But once you've got the momentum, your book can continue to generate income, sometimes even while you sleep.
That's the beauty of self-publishing – you write once, and with the right strategy, you can collect royalties for years to come.
9. Selling Online Course
Selling online courses has become one of the best businesses for sharing knowledge and earning money.
Now, with the help of AI tools like Height Platforms, creating your course has never been more straightforward.
Height Platforms is not just an AI course creator that helps you design and structure your content; it's also an online course platform where you can publish and sell your course directly.
Once your course is created with high-quality content and a smooth learning experience for your students, you can easily host it on Height Platforms.
This dual functionality saves you the hassle of juggling multiple tools and services.
And as enrollments come in, you start to build a passive income stream.
While you're catching up on sleep or working on new ideas, your course is out there working for you, thanks to the initial effort you put in.
10. Stock Photography
Stock photography is one of those online businesses that run themselves once you set them up.
If you've got an eye for capturing great images, you can make it work for you.
Here's how it goes: you take photos, upload them to stock photography websites like Shutterstock or iStock, and then businesses and creators buy them for their own projects.
Every time someone downloads one of your photos, you get paid.
It's a hands-off business model that can keep your earnings ticking up without you needing to do much after the initial effort.
Just snap, upload, and let your photos do the rest. It's a creative way to earn money while letting your art reach a global audience.
11. App Development
App development can be a fantastic way to create a source of passive income with minimal ongoing effort.
Think about it: you come up with a clever app idea, something that really helps people or entertains them.
You put in the time to develop it, launch it on app stores like Google Play or Apple's App Store, and then you let the downloads roll in.
Each download means potential earnings from in-app purchases, ads, or premium features.
Once your app is out there and people are using it, it can generate income while you're doing other things.
It's not about constant updates or always being on call; it's about creating something valuable that works for you long-term.
12. Selling Printables and Digital Downloads
Selling printables and digital downloads is a business that can run with minimal effort on your part.
Imagine creating a set of beautiful planners, art prints, or educational worksheets just once, and then selling them over and over again.
This business might just be one of the easiest ways to share your creativity or knowledge.
You make your designs, set them up in an online shop like Etsy or on your own website, and customers can buy and download them instantly.
There's no need to manage inventory or ship anything – it's all digital.
After the initial setup, your products are available to customers around the clock, meaning you could be earning money even when you're not actively working.
It's a simple, low-maintenance approach to running a business that leaves you free to dream up your next big idea.
13. Twitch Streaming
Jumping into Twitch streaming can be an exciting way to engage with people who share your interests.
You simply set up your channel, press the 'live' button, and you're instantly connected with viewers from around the globe.
Whether you're a gamer battling it out in the latest release or an artist bringing a canvas to life, Twitch is the place to be.
It's a platform that lets you build a community around your skills and passions. As your audience grows, so do the opportunities to monetize your streams through subscribers, tips, and partnerships.
Streaming on Twitch is more than just sharing what you love; it's about creating a space where others can join in on the fun and support your journey.
14. ATM and Vending Machine Business
An ATM and vending machine business can be a practical and hands-off way to earn income.
Here's how it works: you own and operate ATMs or vending machines, placing them in strategic locations where people often need quick cash or a snack—like malls, office buildings, or airports.
These machines are like automated stores, quietly working around the clock, providing convenience to customers and revenue for you.
With an ATM business, you're providing a valuable service, allowing people to access their money when and where they need it.
Each transaction means a fee that goes straight into your pocket. As for vending machines, they're your ever-ready sales force, offering refreshments or quick bites and collecting payments without the need for a cashier.
While these businesses largely run on their own, they do require some upkeep. You'll need to keep the machines stocked, collect the cash, and handle any repairs that come up.
But compared to many other physical businesses, the day-to-day demands are minimal. You set them up, ensure they're functioning well, and then let them do their thing.
It's a straightforward way to build a business that doesn't demand your constant attention, yet has the potential to generate a steady stream of income.
15. Real Estate and Rental Businesses
Real estate and rental businesses are classic ways to earn passive income while you sleep.
You invest in rental properties, find tenants who need a place to live or run their business, and then collect rent each month.
It's pretty much as simple as that. Now, if you're thinking, "But wait, doesn't being a landlord mean a lot of work?"
That's where hiring a property manager comes in. They handle the day-to-day stuff like maintenance calls and rent collection, so you don't have to.
With a good property manager on your team, you can enjoy the benefits of being a property owner without the hassle of being on call 24/7.
It's a smart setup that lets you focus on the bigger picture, like finding more investment opportunities or just enjoying your free time.
16. Laundromat Business
A laundromat business is a local venture that practically runs itself.
It's a simple concept: you provide a space where people come to wash and dry their clothes. Once you've got the washers, dryers, and maybe a change machine set up, you're good to go.
Customers do their own laundry, which means you don't need to be there folding clothes or running wash cycles.
Sure, you'll need to pop in for maintenance, cleaning, and to collect coins or empty the cashless payment system, but day-to-day, it's a business that requires less hands-on time than many others.
It's a service everyone needs, making it a steady source of income in just about any neighborhood.
17. Bakery and Coffee Shop
Owning a bakery and coffee shop is a local business that can cultivate a sense of community while also having the potential to run itself with the right setup.
One of the best parts is creating a space where regulars and newcomers alike can enjoy a freshly baked treat and a cup of coffee.
To streamline operations, you can implement ordering and inventory management systems and even have self-service kiosks for a quick grab-and-go option.
With a dedicated team to handle the day-to-day tasks, you can oversee the business without being tied down to the location.
This allows you to focus on the bigger picture, like planning new menu items or marketing strategies, while the shop continues to serve the community and generate income.
It's about crafting an experience that keeps customers coming back and a business model that sustains itself through consistent quality and service.
18. Print-on-Demand Service
A print-on-demand service is a profitable business that allows you to sell custom products without the hassle of inventory or upfront costs.
You design the graphics for t-shirts, mugs, or posters, and when a customer places an order, the item is printed and shipped directly to them by the service provider.
This means you don't have to worry about storing boxes of products or making trips to the post office.
It's all about creating designs that people love and then marketing them. The provider handles the rest, and you get a cut of the sales.
With each order, you're building a steady flow of income, and since the products are made to order, you're not left with unsold stock.
It's a smart way to turn your creative ideas into a tangible product that people can enjoy, all while keeping the business side of things lean and efficient.
19. Sell Parking Spots
Selling parking spots can be a surprisingly effective way to earn a steady stream of passive income.
If you own a little bit of land or a vacant lot, especially in a busy area, you're sitting on a potential goldmine.
Here's how it works: you let drivers rent the space to park their cars, either through a traditional parking meter, a digital app, or a flat fee for a set amount of time.
There's no need for you to be there waving cars in; the spot does the selling itself.
People are always looking for convenient places to park, and if you provide that space, they'll pay for the privilege.
It's a simple concept, but it can lead to a reliable flow of income with very little effort on your part once everything is set up.
20. Truck Rentals
Truck rentals are a type of business that meets a common need: moving stuff from point A to point B.
Whether it's someone moving to a new home or a company needing to transport goods, trucks are often in demand.
As the owner of a truck rental business, you provide the wheels, and customers bring the elbow grease.
They rent your trucks, do the hauling themselves, and return the vehicles once they're done.
It's a service that's straightforward for you and invaluable for them.
You keep the trucks in good shape, make sure they're available when needed, and the business pretty much rolls along on its own.
It's a practical way to earn income by helping others get where they need to go with all their stuff in tow.
21. Self-service Car Wash Business
A self-service car wash business is a great way to make money with minimal fuss.
To start, you set up a space with all the washing tools—high-pressure hoses, soap dispensers, and vacuums.
Customers come in, pay to use the equipment, and clean their cars themselves. It's a simple operation.
You're not scrubbing down cars or drying them off; you're providing the tools for your customers to do it themselves.
This business model is all about convenience and low overhead. As long as you keep the place tidy and the machines running smoothly, customers keep rolling in.
It's a hands-on service with a hands-off approach to business management, and that's what makes it such a smart choice for entrepreneurs looking for a steady income stream.
22. Amazon by Fulfillment (FBA)
Amazon by Fulfillment, or Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA), is a business model that practically runs itself.
It's a service provided by Amazon that allows you, the seller, to store your products in Amazon's fulfillment centers.
When a customer places an order, Amazon takes care of the storage, packing, shipping, and even customer service for you.
This means you can sell your products without ever touching a box or a shipping label.
You send your goods to Amazon, they store them, and then they send them out when orders come in.
It's a streamlined process that frees you up from the day-to-day operations of shipping and handling, allowing you to focus on other aspects of your business, like product selection and marketing.
With FBA, you're leveraging Amazon's massive infrastructure to create a business that practically runs on autopilot.
23. Dropshipping Business
Starting a dropshipping business means setting up an online store where you sell products, but here's the twist: you don't actually keep any stock yourself.
When a customer orders something from your store, the order is sent directly to the supplier, who then ships the product straight to the customer's doorstep.
It's a neat system because you don't have to worry about storage space or managing inventory.
Your main job is to make sure your website looks good, your customers are happy, and your orders are being placed. The suppliers handle the rest.
This business model is all about being smart with your online presence and customer service, while the logistics are taken care of by others. It's a modern approach to retail that keeps things simple for you as the store owner.
24. Selling AI Art
Selling AI art can become a self-running business because once you've created your pieces and uploaded them to an online platform, they can sell repeatedly without further action from you.
The AI generates the art, and digital marketplaces handle the sales and distribution.
This means your involvement can be minimal after the initial setup, allowing the business to operate on its own while you focus on other projects or create more art.
Can a business be fully automated?
Can a business be fully automated? It's a question many entrepreneurs ask as they dream of a company that runs smoothly without needing them to be there all the time.
The answer is yes, to a certain extent.
With today's technology, many aspects of a business can be automated, from customer service with chatbots to sales processes through online systems.
You can set up software to handle orders, manage inventory, and even take care of marketing campaigns.
However, there's usually a need for a human touch somewhere, whether it's in decision-making, creative tasks, or customer interactions that require a personal approach.
So, while you can automate a lot of your business operations, having a balance where automation and human oversight work together can lead to the best results.
And there you have it—a look at businesses that run themselves, giving you the freedom to focus on what matters most to you.
Whether it's spending more time with family, traveling, or working on new projects, these business models offer a way to maintain an income without being tied down to a location or a nine-to-five schedule.
If you're ready to take the next step, choose one of these self-sustaining business ideas that resonates with you.
Do some research, make a plan, and take action. Remember, the journey to a business that runs itself starts with the first step. So, what are you waiting for?
Dive in, set up your business, and watch as it begins to flourish with the systems you put in place.
Good luck, and here's to your success in creating a business that gives you the freedom you deserve!