Lots of business ideas can make money, but what turns an idea into a successful business is its ability to generate money continuously. One of the best ways to make sure that you collect money on an ongoing basis is to use a recurring revenue business model or, in other words, one driven by subscriptions rather than purchases. Not only does this cover the basics (i.e. make you money), but it helps you better manage the value you provide to your customers, control the pace of your business’ growth, and makes it easier to maintain a healthy relationship with your customers. For more on what the subscription business model is all about, read our piece here.
Below is a list of 7 business ideas that can fit perfectly with a recurring revenue model.
1. Start a Subscription Box
Why sell customers your products or curation of items just once? With a subscription box, you can do it over and over. There’s a box for almost everything – from pet products to toothbrushes, to coffee & book pairings, to survival gear. If you think something doesn’t exist, start one. It’s the prime example of a recurring revenue model and fits with most ideas! Need examples? Check out thousands of monthly boxes on the Cratejoy Marketplace.
2. Start a Subscription-Based Lawn Care Service
Remember when you were 12 and all you could do for money was push around a lawnmower that was larger than you were? Maybe you had a few regulars (e.g. your parents, and your neighbors who your parents stealthily coerced into letting you mow their lawn), but other than that you basically had no customers. More often than not, you would have to go door-to-door like a grassroots activist hoping someone would graciously allow you to mow their lawn. After a hard day of work, you would have mowed maybe 4 lawns if you were lucky. All that time wasted on going door-to-door.
But if 12-year-old you knew about recurring business models, you would have spent your door-to-door time trying to get them to subscribe to your lawn services so could mow their lawn regularly. That way, you spend more time mowing lawns and making money and less time rehearsing your pitch riddled with unnecessary “sirs” and “ma’ams.”
3. Sell Pet Products/Services
The reason that subscription companies like Dollar Shave Club became so big was that they satisfied a fundamental need and made the entire process easier. Pets are always going to need something – whether that’s food, walks, toys, affection, or grooming. Starting a business to meet these necessities could easily be structured to fit a subscription model. For example, delivering pet food is an easy way to turn something conventionally done on a one-time basis into a recurring model.
4. Become a Landlord
Quick! Become a real estate mogul. There’s no telling where you’ll end up or how many people you could upset. But realistically, this is the classic recurring revenue business. Renting out property is a great way to maintain a steady source of income if you can bear the startup costs.
5. Software as a Service (SaaS)
Buying software in a shrink-wrapped CD container at your local Circuit City is a thing of the past! Today many software companies, including giants like Adobe and Microsoft, have shifted to a subscription model – charging a small monthly fee for access to the software that updates constantly so you never have to worry about going into a Circuit City again! Additionally, this new model has allowed these tech giants to better monitor their customers’ engagement and satisfaction. If you’re thinking about releasing the next big app or piece of software, you may want to keep a subscription model in mind.
6. Cutting Hair
With haircuts, you can easily transition from one-time walk-ins to subscriptions – especially in an industry when many people are loyal to their barber. This allows you to make money that you otherwise wouldn’t, while the customer gets a discount on a per-haircut basis. For instance, let’s say you have a regular customer that comes in twice a month and pays $10 for each haircut. If you can get them to subscribe for unlimited haircuts at a price of $40 a month, you make extra money in any month they come in fewer than 4 times. Don’t know how to cut hair? That’s okay; my dad doesn’t either and he cut my hair when I was a kid and I turned out pretty okay.
7. Teach a Class
Do you have a skill that most people don’t? Do you cook? Cut wood? Weld? Code? Write listicles online? An easy way to make recurring revenue is to teach others a valuable skill on an ongoing basis and charge a recurring fee! Of course, this can take a lot of different forms. You could even do this entirely online and ship materials to your students/subscribers.