Office life isn’t for everyone. That’s especially true for entrepreneurs who want to give up their cubicle in favor of building a career on their own terms. If your favorite place to be is anywhere but an office, then you’re probably intrigued by the idea of starting a business that lets you be outside most of the time.
Thankfully, there are a ton of business ideas out there for people who love the outdoors. Whether your idea of the outdoors is your neighborhood streets, or getting out into the wilderness, there are a lot of options to consider. Starting an outdoor business can be as straightforward as gardening, or as thrilling as hosting guided camping experiences.
Here are six of the top business ideas for people who love the outdoors, as well as some tips on how to help finance your new enterprise.
1. Gardening and Landscaping
Gardening, landscaping, or yard waste cleanup is a great opportunity for people who love to work outdoors. These kinds of services are always in demand, particularly if you’re in a suburban area with large lawns or a climate that requires landscaping year-round. The landscaping industry generates $67 billion to $69 billion annually, which means that you could have a great opportunity on your hands if you build your business the right way.
Plus, if you add snow and leaf removal and shoveling service to your offerings you can easily turn this spring-summer business into a year-round business that can remain profitable, even when the seasons change.
Equipment is the biggest expense involved in starting your own gardening or landscaping company. You’ll need an industrial-grade mower, weed whackers, and leaf-blowers at minimum. To get set up, consider an equipment loan: these loans help you use funds specifically to buy the machinery you need to power your business. Plus, they’re self-collateralizing, which means that you don’t have to put up your own money to secure the loan. The value of the purchased equipment serves that role instead of your own cash.
2. Dog Walking and Training
If you love dogs (but you aren’t ready to go back to veterinarian school), a dog walking business can be a great way to combine your love of the great outdoors and furry creatures. Plus, since dogs need walking all year long, you’ll still get business at the height of the winter. You’ll get plenty of fresh air and good company, and you’ll know you’re giving these pups a much-needed break while their owners are away. Dog walking is a booming business, and has grown by 5% over the last five years. If you want to get in on the fun, be sure to budget for everyday expenses like gas, occasional car tuneups, waste bags, leashes, and a pile of tennis balls (if you’re so inclined!).
One way to finance your dog walking business is through a business line of credit. Business lines of credit let you pull from a set amount of cash and you can pull as much (or as little) as you need at a time within your limit. You’ll only pay interest on what you borrow, and you can pull from these funds as often as you need during the life of the line of credit.
Alternatively, if you’re a first-time entrepreneur without a lengthy credit history, a 0% introductory APR credit card may be able to help you set up shop as an interest-free loan. Just be certain to pay off your credit card balance before the introductory rate expires.
3. Junk Hauling and Salvage Service
People always need help clearing out their closets, attics, and garages. We’re a nation that likes to hold onto our belongings: nearly a third of the population admits they have “quite a bit of clutter”, according to one recent survey. Junk removal is a $10 billion industry, and you can get your foot in the door by offering services to a locality that may not already be saturated by independent and franchise-owned companies.
To get hauling, you’ll need to cover a few basics. The biggest expense will be equipment; you’ll need a heavy-duty truck or two to make sure you can accommodate your clients’ needs. Thankfully, commercial truck financing can help you afford the large up-front costs associated with buying your fleet. Most lenders offer this kind of financing, and can provide you with a competitive interest rate and terms depending on your personal and business credit history. Make sure you also consult your local municipality for any licenses or permits you’ll need to keep your business on the right side of the law, too.
4. House Painting
Starting your own house painting business is a great option for handy people who love spending time outside. Startup costs are minimal, and so is overhead. Plus, you’ll get to flex your creative muscles and can even pick a subspecialty (such as historical authentic painting) that gives you a competitive edge. Many homeowners find themselves in need of painting services, and the home renovation industry is a lucrative one.
The biggest upfront costs in the house painting business are supplies. You’ll need paint, paintbrushes, paint sprayers, drop cloths, ladders, and scaffolding to get the job done. This is another business where a line of credit can be your friend. You can use your line of credit to finance these recurring expenses without having to dip into your liquid capital, which means you can keep your balance sheet on an even keel even when you need to stock up on equipment.
5. Camping and Hiking Guide
Most of these picks are of a domestic variety, but not every outdoor-driven business has to be relegated to the suburbs. Being an outdoor guide is another great option for those of us who love to connect with nature. You can turn your hobby into a business if you opt to help less experienced campers enjoy the wilderness with an experienced navigator. Whether that means day hikes, backpacking adventures, or any other kind of trek into the woods, you’ll want to make sure you have a few business matters covered before you gear up. Be sure to have the right permits and licenses to operate your business. Sign up for CPR and first aid certification, as you’ll want to make sure you can handle an emergency should one arise.
Your startup costs will be minimal in this field, but you may need to purchase supplies and additional gear for your clients. A line of credit, or 0% introductory APR credit card, can be your best bet here. You’ll get the cash you need to buy your goods, all while enjoying low (or no!) interest rates.
6. Ski Instructor
If you’re an outdoorsy type who thrives when the temperature hits below freezing, consider becoming a certified ski instructor. As an independent ski and/or snowboarding instructor, you can make your own hours and spend your time hitting the slopes while teaching others. You’ll want to be sure you have the right training and permits to protect yourself and your clients, but once you’ve handled the business matters you can expect to spend December through April at work. This is a great option if you’re open to a seasonal business and you don’t mind picking up odd jobs until the winter rolls in again.
If the outdoors calls your name, you’ve got plenty of answers at your disposal. The most important thing you can do to start your business is follow your calling. If you have a specific skill or passion, find a way to turn that into a sustainable business model. Once you do that, register your company and make sure you can access the money you need to get it off the ground. From there you can enjoy the fresh air and the thrill of being your own boss.
Meredith Wood is the Editor-in-Chief at Fundera, an online marketplace for small business loans that matches business owners with the best funding providers for their business. Prior to Fundera, Meredith was the CCO at Funding Gates. Meredith is a resident Finance Advisor on American Express OPEN Forum and an avid business writer. Her advice consistently appears on such sites as Yahoo!, Fox Business, Amex OPEN, AllBusiness, and many more.