15 Best Businesses That Run Themselves


When most people think about creating passive income, they probably think of things like investing in stocks, or putting their money in a savings account. But what if you could own a business that creates passive income for you?

Well, with the right model and strategy, it’s possible. In fact, there are numerous businesses that run themselves, letting you earn income while your operations run completely on autopilot.


Best 15 Businesses That Run Themselves

Below, you’ll find 15 different business ideas that can generate passive income either completely on their own or with just a bit of maintenance work and outsourcing.

1. Print On Demand Business

Print on demand, or POD, involves uploading your designs to products that you sell with a manufacturing partner. Here’s how it works in a nutshell:

  1. You work with a POD company like Printify or Printful and add your designs to their products
  2. You list your products for sale on marketplaces like Etsy or a Shopify store
  3. When you make a sale, the POD partner creates and ships the product to your customer


Companies like Printify have over 100 products you can add your designs to, including shirts, stickers, hats, mugs, pillows, and dozens of other popular items. And the best part is you never have to deal with manufacturing or shipping with a POD business.

Many people sell print on demand products on Etsy since its marketplace is so popular and you don’t need to run your own store. Once your products rank on the marketplace, you can get steady orders without having to manage the business.

2. Vending Machines

According to Allied Vending, the average vending machine makes between $300 to $600 per month. And this is another prime example of a business that runs itself since all you need are a few machines and an employee to keep the machines stocked.


The most difficult part of this low-maintenance business is finding the right locations for your machines and renting the space from whoever owns it. But in busy areas like malls, office spaces, or strip malls, a vending machine can produce steady cash flow.

3. Blog

If you have a knack for writing and content creation, starting a blog is another highly passive business you can consider.

Typically, blogs generate income by funneling traffic to affiliate offers or with display ads from companies like Google AdSense or Mediavine. Blogs can also earn through sponsorships with brands and by selling physical and digital products.

This Online World currently makes $20,000 a month or more in largely passive income. This is possible by outsourcing much of the writing and content creation work. Plus, content that was written years ago still generates income today as it receives traffic.

20k a month blogging
Some Mediavine income for the last 30 days.

The main downside of this business idea is that it takes time to grow a blog and audience. But many people run networks of niche sites, outsourcing much of the day-to-day work as they grow monthly revenue.

4. Laundromat

According to SharpSheets, the average U.S. laundromat has an annual turnover of $142,000. And once a laundromat is up and running, it’s a prime example of a business that runs itself.

Hiring staff and keeping up with repairs and maintenance are the two main ongoing costs for this business. But you don’t need to be present for either task if you’re willing to hire a decent manager.

The main downside of this side hustle is the upfront costs. Between machines, energy usage, and rent, you’re probably looking at $15,000 to $22,000 a month to run the business according to data from SharpSheets.

5. YouTube Channel

Like starting a blog, a YouTube channel is another excellent example of a self-running business.

Once you monetize your YouTube channel, you begin earning money on autopilot from Adsense ads on videos. This means videos you create years ago can still generate revenue if they rank and receive views.

This Online World’s YouTube channel currently makes $50 per day in Adsense revenue. All of the video editing and thumbnails are outsourced, and ChatGPT helps with a lot of scripts. This is how you can create a cash cow YouTube channel and gradually turn the business into a passive business.

YouTube 50 dollars a day

The rise of AI video editing tools is only making this easier. And while you need 1,000 subscribers to begin making money on YouTube, this is achievable in a few months if you consistently create content.

6. Self-Storage Company

Did you know that the average self-storage unit costs about $92 per month?

This might not sound too expensive. But when you consider that self-storage facilities can serve hundreds or thousands of clients, it’s clear why this business can be quite lucrative. And when it comes to businesses that run themselves, self-storage facilities are a prime example.

Land and infrastructure costs are the main expenses to consider. Afterwards, there’s insurance and employee costs, as well as occasional maintenance. But all of this is outsourceable if you want to keep things passive.

You can also start out small and without buying land. For example, gig apps like Neighbor let you rent out your unused storage space, like a basement or garage, to people in your city to earn monthly income.

7. Rental Properties

We all know that rental properties are a popular way to diversify your income. But this doesn’t mean you have to necessarily become a landlord.

For example, many people own rental properties but work with property management companies that handle tenants, collecting rent, and maintenance. This turns a rental unit into a passive business, albeit in exchange for the share of the profits.

Some people do this with Airbnb as well and outsource rental property management and guest check-ins. With the right system in place, rental units can be completely outsourced so you don’t have to have active involvement.

Pro Tip: If you don’t have enough capital for a rental unit, you can always consider investing via real estate crowdfunding with companies like Arrived.

Arrived real estate investing

Arrived lets you buy shares of rentals and vacations homes that are already generating income. You get paid quarterly dividends from this income and can also earn from shares appreciating.

You only need $100 to get started as well, so Arrived is an incredibly beginner-friendly way to start investing for income.

8. Parking Spaces

Do you have an empty parking spot or driveway? If the answer is yes, this is an incredibly easy side business that can run itself.

In major cities, a monthly parking spot can easily fetch $100 to $200 or even more depending on the area. You can use apps like SpotHero to list your spot for sale and then find renters. Posting an ad on Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist can also work.

9. Party Rentals

Have you ever seen a bouncy castle, face-painting station, or some other kind of equipment at an event? Well, these are all examples of businesses that run themselves.

The event space is a prime candidate for starting these types of autopilot businesses. Take bouncy castles for example: it costs a few thousand dollars to purchase one, but you can easily rent it out for birthdays and events for several hundred dollars or more depending on the crowd.

Add a few employees to these businesses and all of a sudden, you have a fully-automated business on your hands.

Extra Reading – The Most Profitable Things To Rent Out.

10. Vehicle Rentals

The sharing economy has seen a rise in peer-to-peer lending and more informal marketplaces. This includes vehicles, and you can now earn money by renting out your car, or even a fleet of vehicles, to people in your city.

Companies like Turo and HyreCar are some of the main players in this space. Each company lets vehicle owners list their vehicles for rent and also provide insurance and liability coverage to help protect drivers and vehicle owners.

11. Dropshipping

When it comes to online businesses that run themselves, dropshipping is one of the most popular business models out there.

With dropshipping, you sell products directly to consumers from the manufacturer. This means you never have to handle inventory or worry about shipping yourself, much like with print on demand.

People often launch dropshipping businesses on Shopify since it’s designed for ecommerce. As for where you source products from, tools like Spocket help you find high-quality products from the United States and Europe that have much faster shipping times than selling goods from AliExpress.


As for getting traffic to your store, dropshippers commonly use Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok ads. If you find a winning product that converts well, scaling can occur quite rapidly, which is one of the main advantages of this ecommerce side hustle.

12. Sell Digital Products

Selling digital products isn’t anything new. But if you want a high-margin and easy business to automate, it’s worth considering.

People sell all kinds of digital products these days, with some of the most common types including:

  • Artwork
  • Craft supplies and templates
  • Budgeting sheets
  • Digital stickers
  • eBooks
  • Meal plans
  • Planners

Marketplaces like Etsy are an excellent place to test out your first digital products. You can also funnel people from a blog or YouTube channel if you create content where plugging digital products makes sense.

There’s a lot of upfront work involved for this business. But you can get 100% margins if you begin getting organic sales. And once you set up your business on a marketplace like Etsy, it’s easy to outsource shop management to keep things passive.

Extra Reading – How To Make Passive Income On Etsy.

13. Billboards

According to Outdoor Billboard University, billboards can have a return on investment of about 20% if you’re in the right market. And some billboard leases and permits only require $5,000 to $15,000 to begin, so you don’t need hundreds of thousands of dollars in capital to get started.

This is a more niche industry where location and selling ability matters more than anything. But it’s an interesting business model that can potentially pay you for doing nothing once you lease a billboard and rent it out to brands that want to advertise.

14. Amazon FBA

Amazon FBA, like dropshipping, involves selling products to Amazon customers but having Amazon handle all your orders and fulfillment. Here’s how the business model works:

  1. You purchase inventory as an Amazon FBA seller and then ship that inventory to Amazon warehouses
  2. When you make a sale, Amazon fulfills the order for you and charges a fee
  3. You get paid from the Amazon customer and don’t have to deal with shipping


Amazon FBA is how many people make money with retail arbitrage. And the beauty of the business model is that it frees up your time to focus on inventory sourcing rather than customer service.

The main downside of Amazon FBA is the upfront inventory expenses you incur. Amazon is also immensely competitive, so finding the right products to sell can be challenging. And if you get stuck with slow-selling inventory, you risk tying up your cash.

15. Stock Photography Seller

One final example of a business that runs itself is selling stock photography and videos.

This is a niche passive income idea that’s fairly simple. On paper, you just take high-quality photos and videos and then upload them to sites like Shutterstock, Alamy, and iStock where people can license them from you for a fee.

In reality, selling photos online requires some serious photography skills since the market is competitive. But this is a more niche business opportunity aspiring photographers and videographers might consider.

Final Thoughts

If you’re willing to put in some sweat equity and then outsource management, many businesses can run themselves. And some businesses don’t even require a lot of startup capital or industry expertise to pull off.

Ultimately, how much involvement you want in a business depends on your goals, available time, and how comfortable you are with outsourcing responsibilities. But there’s no reason you can’t create a new income stream that doesn’t demand all of your attention.

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