55 Small Businesses To Start In Milwaukee

Itching to start a business or work for yourself?

Milwaukee is already great place to start a business, but you might be wondering what you can start today.

Here are the best business ideas to start in Milwaukee.

1. Start a drinkware brand ($144M/year)

Dylan Jacob from Indianapolis, Indiana, USA started BrüMate almost 4 years ago, a drinkware brand.

  • Revenue: $12,000,000/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 20
  • Location: Indianapolis, Indiana, USA

BruMate is my 3rd company but the first where I was actually doing any real product development or design. My first company I started in high-school was a part supply company for repair shops / tech centers (batteries, LCD screens, flex cables, etc).

I went on to sell that company to a franchise customer of ours in 2014 after I dropped out of engineering school and decided to pursue entrepreneurship full time.

I thought the idea of creating a product people actually needed and being able to walk around and see people using my creation was the absolute coolest concept.

growing-a-brand-to-1-1m-month-at-23-years-old

-  
Dylan Jacob, on starting BrüMate ($12,000,000/month) full story ➜

2. Start an idea management software ($9M/year)

Rob Hoehn from San Francisco, California, USA started IdeaScale over 11 years ago, a idea management software.

  • Revenue: $750,000/ month
  • Founders: 4
  • Employees: 53
  • Location: San Francisco, California, USA

I started the company ten years ago with my friends Vivek Bhaskaran, Jessica Day, and Josh Folk, because we kept hearing this question from our business contacts: “how are we supposed to get answers to the questions that we don’t know to ask?”

I was working at a bank as a programmer and moonlighting on some start-up projects with Vivek. Josh was a White House intern who had started his own sports and technology company and Jessica was a freelance marketer. So we really were just piecing IdeaScale together in the time that we had between our other projects.

This question of shining a light on our blind spots has always fascinated me. It’s something that we stumble on as individuals constantly, so of course it’s something we stumble on as a business or government agency. What we realized is that if we could help organizations gather ideas… they would start finding answers not just to the questions that they knew to ask - but to questions they’d never even thought of before. But it couldn’t just be a suggestion box - it needed features that would allow anyone to help select the best idea, improve it, and move it forward.

how-we-launched-a-750k-month-idea-management-software

-  
Rob Hoehn, on starting IdeaScale ($750,000/month) full story ➜

3. Start a golf club brand ($6M/year)

Tyler Sullivan from Williston, Vermont, USA started BombTech Golf almost 9 years ago, a golf club brand.

  • Revenue: $500,000/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 3
  • Location: Williston, Vermont, USA

I grew up playing golf and was obsessed with the game. After college, I started "competing" in long drive, which is like the home run derby of golf. I wasn’t that good, but I started assembling my own golf drivers and at one point had 30 golf drivers in my bag. I was always searching for more distance and performance.

I started out by wholesaling and building custom golf drivers, this was my proof of concept. Initially I sold very few, but I still remember the first time I got a sale notification on my cell phone, while being on my boat.

At that point I knew that this was my destiny. I just sold something, while I was on a boat!! My mind was completely blown.

selling-premium-golf-clubs-and-growing-to-500k-month

-  
Tyler Sullivan, on starting BombTech Golf ($500,000/month) full story ➜

4. Start a liquor company ($6M/year)

Justin Fenchel from Austin, Texas, USA started BeatBox Beverages almost 3 years ago, a liquor company.

  • Revenue: $500,000/ month
  • Founders: 5
  • Employees: 18
  • Location: Austin, Texas, USA

I had the idea with a lifelong friend of mine (co-founder Brad Schultz) to make a party version of boxed wine.

We saw how popular boxed wine, typically Franzia was in college, at tailgates, kickball games, beach trips, etc. But no one was buying it because they loved the taste of the wine. They loved the affordability, convenience and taking the bag out of the box to slap the bag! We also saw the explosion of flavored malt beverages like Four Loko, Lime-a-Rita and Mike’s Hard Lemonade. So we asked ourselves why had no one made a fun flavored version of boxed wine for the millennial consumer?

Don’t just assume your idea is great. Even if your family and friends say so. Get a prototype out into the market. Get people outside of your network to tell you it’s a good idea.

how-we-launched-and-grew-a-party-punch-beverage-to-3m-year

-  
Justin Fenchel, on starting BeatBox Beverages ($500,000/month) full story ➜

5. Start a card game ($4.8M/year)

Bart Kloosterhuis from Amsterdam, North Holland, The Netherlands started Vertellis 3 months ago, a card game.

  • Revenue: $400,000/ month
  • Founders: 3
  • Employees: 10
  • Location: Amsterdam, North Holland, The Netherlands

I’ve had a smooth upbringing. Parents are still together (married for over 45 years), gave lots of love to me and my older brother, and paid for my education. But…

I had different ideas than my family about life, education, and the path I wanted to take. I never really felt understood or taken seriously as the youngest member of the family.

This caused a lot of struggle when I was younger which resulted in arguments, disappointments, and more. This, in turn, not only caused a lot of stress for me but also my parents and brother.

how-we-created-a-400k-month-card-game-to-bring-people-closer-together

-  
Bart Kloosterhuis, on starting Vertellis ($400,000/month) full story ➜

6. Start a luxury brand ($3.6M/year)

William Forshaw from York, England, United Kingdom started Maxwell Scott Bags Ltd almost 19 years ago, a luxury brand.

  • Revenue: $300,000/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 14
  • Location: York, England, United Kingdom

After university, I attempted different jobs but nothing seemed to suit me and I saw no career potential. After I had been made redundant from the advertising industry after only 12 months, I knew that I needed to refocus and find a path that I felt truly passionate about.

It was on a holiday to Italy that I realized that those plastic carrier bags and poor-quality briefcases, that I had seen my corporate colleagues carrying, were an opportunity to offer a better option.

The hardest part of designing any product is working out exactly what the customer wants and needs. You can design a product which you think is amazing and yet, your audience is not as receptive as you thought.

3-6m-per-year-selling-luxury-italian-leather-bags

-  
William Forshaw, on starting Maxwell Scott Bags Ltd ($300,000/month) full story ➜

7. Start an ebikes business ($3M/year)

Stephan Aarstol from San Diego, California, USA started Tower Electric Bikes over 10 years ago, a eBikes business.

  • Revenue: $250,000/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 4
  • Location: San Diego, California, USA

I live right on the boardwalk on the beach in San Diego. I get a good sense of up and coming trends in beach lifestyle while just kicking back on my patio with a Margarita and watching the world go by. In the last three or four years, there has been an explosion in electric powered things buzzing down the boardwalk. They've always been there, but it used to be one dude cruising the boardwalk with some kind of homemade electric skateboard or something once a week. Then the trend started growing exponentially in the last few years and you could just see the future.

My main form of transportation down the boardwalk has always been a beach cruiser. While bikes are also recreation around the beach, unlike many places they're a central form of transportation for anyone who lives at the beach. Why sit in aggravating coastal traffic and then search for scarce parking when you can just cruise down the boardwalk with the wind in your hair and an ocean view. A rusty beach cruiser literally offers you a better quality of life than a car which might set you back $50K. Not to mention the rent for a garage to park said car might be $500/mo.

The thing about electric bikes that most people don't get is that they're basically the perfect form of transportation. This is NOT just a "different kind of bike". Aside from kids, beach dwellers like myself, and what my son refers to as "butt darts" (those odd and colorfully dressed Tour de France type road cyclists), normal people just don't use bikes as transportation in the US. Bikes are a recreation with a side of exercise. Electric bikes can be better described as a replacement for a car. It's like a scooter that doesn't require a helmet and you can ride on paths, boardwalks, sidewalks, across the lawn, wherever. The first time you ride one, the light bulb goes off in your head... wait, this is fun, requires no effort even up hills, let's me avoid traffic, doesn't require a parking spot, has a range of 30-60 miles, and if the battery does die I can just pedal the rest of the way home.

how-i-partnered-with-mark-cuban-to-start-a-250k-month-company-selling-ebikes

-  
Stephan Aarstol , on starting Tower Electric Bikes ($250,000/month) full story ➜

8. Start a bicycle company ($3M/year)

Xavier Claveria Masip from Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain started Santafixie almost 11 years ago, a bicycle company.

  • Revenue: $250,000/ month
  • Founders: 3
  • Employees: 15
  • Location: Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain

Born in 1982 in Barcelona, I studied in a liberal and secular school where art and music were an important role in education.

My personal goals were focused on my music band, I love playing the guitar, but although it may sound weird, I ended up studying for a degree in Economics. But as you can imagine, I was not the typical economics student, it took awhile for me to finish my degree. I liked it, but it was just too soon for me to sit and decide what I would be.

A few years later, in 2010, I was working as a financial controller. Everything seemed to be fine, good salary, good position, and a whole career ahead to professionally grow. But I felt empty. I quit my music band and my job and I moved to London, where it all started.

how-we-built-a-250k-month-fixed-gear-bike-business

-  
Xavier Claveria Masip, on starting Santafixie ($250,000/month) full story ➜

Adam Vieira from Montreal, Quebec, Canada started Station 16 over 7 years ago, a art gallery.

  • Revenue: $150,000/ month
  • Founders: 3
  • Employees: 6
  • Location: Montreal, Quebec, Canada

I met Carlo De Luca (my partner and current president of Station 16) in 2010. I was very active in the Montreal street art scene and had many artist connections because of it. Coincidentally, he was also looking to diversify his textile silkscreen shop into paper printing, which I had been doing a lot of.

In 2011, we started working with local Montreal artists to create quality silkscreen prints - a type of printing made famous with Andy Warhol's work. We began showcasing these prints online and in art fairs. That’s when Emily Robertson (3rd founder, and Art Historian) came on board. She had taken an interest in our project and suggested we open an art gallery showcasing the prints and street art talent we were really interested in.

Shortly after that, a few other friends that we were in contact with were building on the idea of a Mural festival for Montreal. They asked if we would be interested in supporting it. So in June of 2013, we debuted at both the Gallery and the Montreal MURAL festival on St. Laurent. It initially opened as a pop-up, and we haven’t closed our doors since.

growing-an-art-gallery-to-150-000-month

-  
Adam Vieira, on starting Station 16 ($150,000/month) full story ➜

10. Start a sleep products business ($1.56M/year)

Sandeep Prasad from Pune, Maharashtra, India started Wink & Nod almost 3 years ago, a sleep products business.

  • Revenue: $129,969/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 25
  • Location: Pune, Maharashtra, India

I used to work for a VC fund in Florida and focused on investments in early-stage consumer brands. I was also the COO of a luxury eCommerce watch company as part of the VC fund. I noticed a consistent rise in US & Europe based startups that focused on disrupting the mattress and the sleep market - these startups were bringing sleep products that were traditionally sold offline to an online-first model. Plus there was a lot of innovation in the product itself. Being someone who had experienced difficulties with sleep and actively looking for the best products that the market has to offer, it piqued my interest.

Treat your company or your startup as a child - nurture it, grow it, and make it ready for the world.

The catalyst to start the business was the pursuit of my parents for a good mattress. They spent more than three weeks in this quest and ended up buying a mattress for an absurd price of Rs 30,000. Upon asking my mother what mattress she had purchased, she was not very sure. The experience of my parents and the potential opportunities in the Indian mattress industry sparked the idea of building a startup focusing on sleep.

how-i-started-a-130k-month-innovative-sleep-products-company

-  
Sandeep Prasad, on starting Wink & Nod ($129,969/month) full story ➜

11. Start a brewery ($1.44M/year)

Diego Benitez from Los Angeles, California, USA started Progress Brewing about 7 years ago, a brewery.

  • Revenue: $120,000/ month
  • Founders: 2
  • Employees: 5
  • Location: Los Angeles, California, USA

I graduated with a PhD in chemistry in 2005 and after working in academia for a few years as a nanotechnology researcher, I joined a small angel venture investment firm as a technology analyst.

One option was to get a regular job, or… we could start a brewery.

I participated in the founding of a few angel-backed companies and as the venture fund dried up, I joined one of the portfolio companies as Chief Technology Officer. The company, Amicrobe, Inc. is focused on developing biomaterials to address antibiotic resistance.

how-this-entrepreneur-started-a-2m-craft-brewery

-  
Diego Benitez, on starting Progress Brewing ($120,000/month) full story ➜

12. Start a moving company ($1.38M/year)

Max Maher from Chandler, Arizona, USA started Skinny Wimp Moving almost 5 years ago, a moving company.

  • Revenue: $115,000/ month
  • Founders: 2
  • Employees: 40
  • Location: Chandler, Arizona, USA

I didn’t exactly come up with the initial idea for this company because this is a franchise which means for me that I license out the name “Skinny Wimp Moving”. However, because it was the first franchise location I was able to be in a prime decision-making seat and guinea pig for all ideas enabling me to test out theories on marketing and customer service which have no become standard across the brand.

Put yourself out there and ask for their business. Sure be conscious that you may get rejected but don’t be afraid to ask more than once. It won’t work every time but it will work 100% more than not trying at all.

We realized people simply don’t want a moving company that sucks. So we asked ourselves what can we do to make the stressful experience of moving suck a little less and the answers we came up with and stuck to were very common sense:

how-i-started-a-1m-year-moving-company-at-19-years-old

-  
Max Maher, on starting Skinny Wimp Moving ($115,000/month) full story ➜

13. Start a deoderant brand ($1.23M/year)

Stacia Guzzo from Tehachapi, California, USA started SmartyPits almost 7 years ago, a deoderant brand.

  • Revenue: $102,500/ month
  • Founders: 2
  • Employees: 9
  • Location: Tehachapi, California, USA

SmartyPits itself was inspired by my mom’s experience as a breast cancer survivor. When she discovered the lump, it was directly underneath her armpit.

It was an incredibly aggressive cancer. We had no family history of breast cancer--no genetic predisposition, no family history at all. In fact, her doctors at the time told her it was likely it was environmentally influenced.

I think one of my biggest lessons learned is that fast is not always better. When I first started, I thought scaling meant simply doing what I was already doing, but doing it more.

how-stacia-guzzo-pivoted-and-started-a-58k-month-deodorant-product

-  
Stacia Guzzo, on starting SmartyPits ($102,500/month) full story ➜

14. Start a parking lot business ($1.2M/year)

Patrick Murray from San Francisco, California, USA started On Air Parking over 4 years ago, a parking lot business.

  • Revenue: $100,000/ month
  • Founders: 2
  • Employees: 1
  • Location: San Francisco, California, USA

So I’ve always been “entrepreneurial” like I’m sure a lot of you.

In high school my buddy and I would create business plans after school, in college I started to take action and just get going on any idea I had. After school I gave myself five months, when student loan payments started, to make at least enough money to live off of and pay my minimum student loan payments. That was in 2010. The adventures I went on to make this minimum amount of money were priceless and I could fill up Pat’s whole site going over the details, but let’s look at years 2010-2013 as me “just making enough”.

If you have an idea, all you need to do is create a Typeform with Stripe integration and you can easily validate it. It’s truly that simple. Any other reason to delay testing an idea out is a fear-based excuse.

how-i-started-a-1-2m-year-business-with-tools-like-typeform-zapier

-  
Patrick Murray, on starting On Air Parking ($100,000/month) full story ➜

15. Start a speciality food business ($1.2M/year)

Stacey Schlaman from Alabama, USA started Liberated Specialty Foods over 5 years ago, a speciality food business.

  • Revenue: $100,000/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 20
  • Location: Alabama, USA

I was working as a fitness instructor at the time and was already very aware of and “into” the paleo and keto diets for physical fitness. I had a background of working at a bakery in my younger years, and as a distribution manager for one of the largest retailers in the USA after college so had a little experience there also.

Find a mission that you really care about, something where the mission can push you through the hard times because there will be many.

Our daughter was diagnosed with a host of autoimmune diseases at a very young age including Epilepsy, Hashimoto’s, Celiac, Psoriasis, and a bunch more. Doctors had prescribed a number of very heavy pharmaceuticals (including shots) to treat these that would need to be taken the rest of her life. Worried about the side effects, I found nutritional options to treat which were supported by several respected doctors. The results were astounding, but forced me into the position of hand-making much of her food, from ketchup to crackers to cupcakes. It was a full-time job, especially for someone who had little food-manufacturing experience outside the home.

how-i-started-a-100k-month-food-for-auto-immune-sufferers-business

-  
Stacey Schlaman, on starting Liberated Specialty Foods ($100,000/month) full story ➜

16. Start a guitar company ($1.2M/year)

Adam Klosowiak from Provo, Utah, USA started KLOS Guitars over 5 years ago, a guitar company.

  • Revenue: $100,000/ month
  • Founders: 2
  • Employees: 13
  • Location: Provo, Utah, USA

KLOS Guitars is the first company that I started. And how I got here is quite the unconventional path.

I’m from the suburbs of Chicago originally. After graduating high school I went to Princeton University to study electrical engineering with an emphasis on semiconductor physics, which was fueled by my passion for science and a curiosity of how things work.

I first dipped my toes into entrepreneurship my junior year when I entered into a Hackathon with two of my peers. The three of us felt that our curriculum was too theoretical and we wanted to test our hands on skills by building something practical. We came up with Dorm Control, which was a bluetooth controlled power strip that you could control via your phone.

how-we-invented-a-carbon-fiber-guitar-and-grew-to-1m-year

-  
Adam Klosowiak, on starting KLOS Guitars ($100,000/month) full story ➜

17. Start a surfboard business ($960K/year)

Angela Watts from San Clemente, California, USA started Slyde Handboards about 10 years ago, a surfboard business.

  • Revenue: $80,000/ month
  • Founders: 2
  • Employees: 3
  • Location: San Clemente, California, USA

The Idea of Slyde Handboards started back on the beaches of Cape Town South Africa where I grew up. My Mother would take me and my brother down to the beach a lot to get us out the house. We spent most of the time bodyboarding or bodysurfing. We used to find all sorts of objects that we would use as a planning device to get us a little more speed and lift on the wave from frisbees to flip flops, some worked well others not so much. It wasn't until my teens that I decided to break open an old surfboard and re-use the foam to shape into a mini handheld board that would later become the very first prototypes for Slyde.

I figured we were the only ones doing this, but It wasn't until I went travel surfing around the world and met other surfers and water men and women and heard their stories of growing up using all sorts of found objects like lunch trays or even making boards themselves. It was then I realized there was a possible opportunity to create a brand around this awesome growing watersport movement, as no other company was doing this.

There is definitely a defined problem that we solve, in that a handboard is easy to learn, hassle free and fun to take to the beach. The idea was really born from simple enjoyment that I was having using one. It felt almost selfish to not share it with the world. It turns out I wasn't wrong, because almost immediately we started to form a community and movement as more and more people started to find out about us either online or through friends.

landing-a-200k-shark-tank-investment-and-growing-to-80k-mo

-  
Angela Watts, on starting Slyde Handboards ($80,000/month) full story ➜

18. Start a shoe brand ($960K/year)

Kartik Gurmule from Nagpur, Maharashtra, India started KASA almost 2 years ago, a shoe brand.

  • Revenue: $80,000/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 0
  • Location: Nagpur, Maharashtra, India

I started KASA as my first company as a 16 years teenager in the summer before high school, although it was not my first business. Since I was 12 years old, I did small projects like making websites and running marketing for clients.

When secondary school ended, I came to know about FlightClub, StockX, and Sneakerdon and got introduced to the sneaker culture around the world. With my connections made in the previous venture, I was able to get inside contacts in big sneaker brands who could supply me with the shoes skipping the waiting line.

But, due to strict Indian customs and taxations, this business failed in the first month itself. I was able to import the shoes at my home but was unable to sell for a good profit because it charged high custom fees and high international courier charges as potential customers were in the USA.

how-i-started-a-80k-month-luxury-shoes-and-accessories-brand

-  
Kartik Gurmule, on starting KASA ($80,000/month) full story ➜

19. Start a women's shoe line ($900K/year)

Tanya Heath from Paris, Ile-de-France, France started Tanya Heath almost 11 years ago, a women's shoe line.

  • Revenue: $75,000/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 6
  • Location: Paris, Ile-de-France, France

I started my professional life as a anglophone working in Paris France. The first day that I came to work I changed from ballerinas to high heels at my desk. My French colleagues found this ridiculous and they called me “the New Yorker” (Paris is the only city in the world where this is an insult).

Product development took a long time. I had to hold 4 entire years without a single sale and no venture capital so I was paying for everything myself.

Because I knew my life would be here (my husband is French) and I was trying to integrate into my new surroundings, I stopped wearing flats while walking, and spent the next 10 years including work, travel, babies and everything else that life throws at you, wearing high heels.

how-tanya-heath-invented-stilettos-with-removable-heels

-  
Tanya Heath, on starting Tanya Heath ($75,000/month) full story ➜

20. Start a meal prep delivery business ($720K/year)

TJ Clark from Little Rock, Arkansas, USA started Healthy Chew over 4 years ago, a meal prep delivery business.

  • Revenue: $60,000/ month
  • Founders: 2
  • Employees: 7
  • Location: Little Rock, Arkansas, USA

My name is TJ. I am currently serving as the Chief Executive Officer and 50% owner. I was originally hired to help my business partner Peter wash dishes and make breakfast. Peter had been meal prepping for about 1 year before he brought me on board. When I was hired, I saw that he was a fantastic chef, handled sales, and was able to grow without efficiency.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. That one Facebook video doubled our client base overnight.

I filled in the gaps and taught him how to properly scale the company, hire more employees, and both structure and organize it into a self-sustaining business. I lacked the sales and cooking experience he had. So we were very yin and yang.

how-we-started-a-meal-prep-delivery-business-and-did-1-8m-in-sales

-  
TJ Clark, on starting Healthy Chew ($60,000/month) full story ➜

21. Become a college counselor ($600K/year)

Pradeep Gaddam from San Jose, California, USA started ConnecPath about 3 years ago, a college counselor.

  • Revenue: $50,000/ month
  • Founders: 2
  • Employees: 1
  • Location: San Jose, California, USA

I started my career as a researcher at NASA where I helped scientists visualize data. It did not take long before I realized that research is not a place for me. I thought to join a big company would make it exciting for me, I then joined Intel Corporation only to realize that's not a place for me. It took me 10 years to realize that being an entrepreneur is where I felt more fit and excited. I always knew, If I had the right mentor I would not have wasted 10 precious years.

All this made sense to me, when I met my co-founder over a beer, he mentioned an interesting data point to me. The ratio between a high school counselor and students is 1:500, which means the amount of time, a student gets over their entire high school is 38 minutes. That clearly is a huge problem and interestingly of all the high school students that get into colleges, 40% of them either end up changing majors, colleges, not graduating on time or not graduating at all.

I think that's a very serious problem. I instantly connected with that problem and we decided that we will certainly fix it. That’s how we started on this journey.

how-we-created-a-50-000-month-platform-to-give-better-college-counseling

-  
Pradeep Gaddam, on starting ConnecPath ($50,000/month) full story ➜

22. Start a lighting store ($420K/year)

Nick Griffiths from Fowey, England, United Kingdom started Any Old Lights over 6 years ago, a lighting store.

  • Revenue: $35,000/ month
  • Founders: 2
  • Employees: 3
  • Location: Fowey, England, United Kingdom

I must have written millions of words in my lifetime - for magazines, newspapers and my books - and I loved every minute of it. But kids come along and maybe the city life isn’t ideal for them growing up.

That’s the beauty of starting a business - you have to cram knowledge into your aching grey matter, day in, day out. And it’s really exciting. So new and different and initially bewildering. But cracking it is a major buzz.

So in Summer 2011, my family moved to Cornwall, a delightful and quirky county that takes up the final chunk bottom-left of the map of England, where my wife, Sinead, had grown up. Now the kids have beaches and boats and crabbing. And I had…

starting-a-lighting-store-and-growing-to-35-000-per-month

-  
Nick Griffiths, on starting Any Old Lights ($35,000/month) full story ➜

23. Start a video game modding business ($324K/year)

Kyle from Cheltenham Township, Pennsylvania, USA started Hand Held Legend almost 7 years ago, a video game modding business.

  • Revenue: $27,000/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 0
  • Location: Cheltenham Township, Pennsylvania, USA

Hand Held Legend was born while I was in graduate school for a degree in the medical profession. In order to effectively study, one needs an escape for the mind; I found my escape restoring old, broken and dilapidated Game Boys for about 3 years. Not only did I have fun repairing, but I also found that I could make a buck or two modifying and upgrading old consoles as not everyone can complete technical mods.

I started off Hand Held Legend in my graduate school apartment with an old kitchen table and a soldering iron. Initially, I was selling 1-2 modified consoles per week as I completed and listed them on eBay. Soon enough this became time intensive and I searched for a way to bring in revenue while still maintaining time to study. Surrounding student loan debt is a great motivator!

To that extent, I began to create our first product, an LED backlight for the original Game Boy. This was something I had seen done before and it was not a novel or propriety idea although I thought I could make one better and keep a portion of my cost of goods sold. Sales started slowly as we had zero brand awareness. I had to engage with the local online internet community of gaming obsessed nerds like me. Soon enough the word got out but we have gone on to sell over 25,000 backlight panels for the original game boy console alone.

how-i-started-a-27k-month-business-modifying-and-upgrading-game-consoles

-  
Kyle , on starting Hand Held Legend ($27,000/month) full story ➜

24. Start a bridal store ($300K/year)

Vivian Chan from San Francisco, California, USA started East Meets Dress over 2 years ago, a bridal store.

  • Revenue: $25,000/ month
  • Founders: 2
  • Employees: 0
  • Location: San Francisco, California, USA

My co-founder, Jenn, and I met and became best friends during our freshman year at Yale. After graduation, Jenn had started her career at Google before working at several smaller startups and then joining a coding bootcamp. I started my career in education and nonprofits before joining an early stage startup that was later acquired by Facebook. Around this time, Jenn and I started working on the concept that would later become East Meets Dress.

When we first started, we had no experience in fashion, e-commerce, or entrepreneurship. We simply had our own experiences as consumers.

The idea for East Meets Dress (EMD) originated from Jenn’s personal struggles when she was looking for a modern version of the cheongsam, a traditional Chinese wedding dress. She wanted to wear a cheongsam for her wedding tea ceremony to honor her parents and heritage but finding a modern design that fit her aesthetics turned out to be near impossible. At the time, her options were limited to suspicious onlines sites or stores in Chinatown with poor service and a narrow selection. Ultimately, Jenn resorted to custom making her cheongsam at a local tailor. I was her Maid of Honor and we both felt that Asian-American brides shouldn’t have to be confined to low-quality options or scouring Yelp to find the one tailor who could make a quality cheongsam from scratch.

how-i-built-a-six-figure-business-bringing-asian-culture-to-the-american-wedding-industry

-  
Vivian Chan, on starting East Meets Dress ($25,000/month) full story ➜

25. Start a watch brand ($300K/year)

Ronnie Teja from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada started Branzio almost 3 years ago, a watch brand.

  • Revenue: $25,000/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 10
  • Location: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

My family moved to Canada in May 2007 which makes me a first generation immigrant. I was 21 around the time, and I came from Mumbai, India where I already had a job in advertising.

I continued to experiment with drop shipping and other small ecommerce niches, till it hit me - I needed to build a brand, which was focused on longevity, I wanted to start a purpose-driven brand, not just any watch store.

In those days, Vancouver was still a small market and the opportunities in advertising and other related industry were very limited, so I got a job selling Indian (Punjabi) radio and for my first year in Vancouver, Canada. I took public transit to do sales at mom and pop Indian stores door to door to sell radio advertising.

how-i-built-a-booming-watch-brand-from-nothing

-  
Ronnie Teja, on starting Branzio ($25,000/month) full story ➜

26. Start a pet store ($240K/year)

Mike Leon from Orlando, Florida, USA started Bike Tow Leash over 17 years ago, a pet store.

  • Revenue: $20,000/ month
  • Founders: 2
  • Employees: 1
  • Location: Orlando, Florida, USA

I am a mechanical engineer graduate from Georgia Tech. My wife Betsy, GA Tech EE graduate, and I met her first day at school. We married after graduation. We have two daughters Jessica and Sam. After GA Tech I developed airline products up until when the 9-11 terrorist attacks occurred.

After the 9-11 terrorist attacks, Betsy and the girls, then 5 and 8, met Cindy at Publix getting groceries. She had a black Lab puppy in a light blue cape with her. From that encounter, my family and I volunteered raising service dog puppies for individuals with disabilities as a way of giving back to our community and country. In honor of those lost, we named our first puppy Tribute.

Raising service dog puppies is a wonderful volunteer opportunity, which ultimately provides companion animals to individuals who suffer from seizures, or who have mobility, vision or hearing impairments.

how-i-started-a-6-figures-business-selling-a-dog-accessory

-  
Mike Leon, on starting Bike Tow Leash ($20,000/month) full story ➜

27. Start a fruit snacks business ($180K/year)

Evan Delahanty from Akron, Ohio, USA started Peaceful Fruits over 6 years ago, a fruit snacks business.

  • Revenue: $15,000/ month
  • Founders: 4
  • Employees: 4
  • Location: Akron, Ohio, USA

My background is in community development and business management, starting with a BA in Government from Cornell University where I also did the first year of my MBA (2007).

I knew it was time to either start my own business or stop saying that was my dream.

From there I worked in private industry, climbing the career ladder to gain increasing responsibility in a variety of business/operations management functions. Rather than returning to finish my MBA, I decided to take a detour and join the U.S. Peace Corps in 2011. I served as a Community Economic Development in Suriname, a small Amazon-region country on the northeast coast of South America.

peaceful-fruits-growing-a-fruit-snack-business-for-a-good-cause

-  
Evan Delahanty, on starting Peaceful Fruits ($15,000/month) full story ➜

28. Start a clothing boutique ($120K/year)

Gia Paddock from Phoenix, Arizona, USA started Boutique Rye over 3 years ago, a clothing boutique.

  • Revenue: $10,000/ month
  • Founders: 2
  • Employees: 0
  • Location: Phoenix, Arizona, USA

My backstory has absolutely nothing to do with what I am doing now, but that is what makes us so unique. I went to college for education and became an elementary school teacher. I taught 4th grade for three years. However, I knew that was not meant to be my “forever” job.

Something I have always enjoyed was shopping. I mean what girl doesn’t have this as a hobby?! I had always thought it would be amazing to have my own boutique and get to wear new clothes almost every day.

I started thinking about this crazy idea when I got pregnant with my son, Riley. I knew I didn’t want to teach forever and this was my way out! During the summer I quit teaching, I got a job at a local boutique just working part-time, and it was here where the wheels starting turning for this idea. I saw how much I loved going into work every day and how much I enjoyed helping others pick out outfits for different occasions.

growing-a-clothing-boutique-to-10-000-month-in-6-months

-  
Gia Paddock, on starting Boutique Rye ($10,000/month) full story ➜

29. Start a swimwear line ($120K/year)

Steph Gabriel from Maroochydore, Queensland, Australia started OceanZen almost 7 years ago, a swimwear line.

  • Revenue: $10,000/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 0
  • Location: Maroochydore, Queensland, Australia

In 2009 I packed up and went travelling on a one way ticket overseas. I had no idea how long I was going to be away for or really where I would end up, all I knew is I had to go. I ended up being away from home for 3 years!

From hanging out with elephants on safari in South Africa, to snowboarding mountain peaks in Canada and cruising South America in an old Volkswagen, I eventually ended up on a tiny little island in the Caribbean, The Cayman Islands.

Start NOW! Follow your passion and not a trend, because when times get tough you will want to give up if your not living and working your truth!

starting-a-sustainable-swimwear-label-as-a-solo-founder

-  
Steph Gabriel, on starting OceanZen ($10,000/month) full story ➜

30. Start a fitness clothing line ($101K/year)

Elgin E. Mones, Esq. from Silver Spring, Maryland, USA started Infinite Elgintensity Gym Apparel over 6 years ago, a fitness clothing line.

  • Revenue: $8,378/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 1
  • Location: Silver Spring, Maryland, USA

I decided to capitalize on my newfound YouTube popularity by selling workout clothes to my fanbase of lifters and other fitness enthusiasts. I was working full-time as an attorney, so I needed someone to print apparel and fulfill the orders for me. Law school barely prepares lawyers for law practice, let alone the clothing business, so I asked a fellow Youtuber how he got started. He got me in touch with the owner of an established fitness apparel brand for production and fulfillment, and they both taught me how to run the business, from setting up my Shopify store to streamlining order fulfillment.

If your competitors beat you to an idea, think of a complementary one that won’t get you into legal trouble.

Most of my apparel designs complement my YouTube content. For example, my “ZERO” design is based on a 2012 video in which I chanted “ZERO" to mock a crossfitter for cheating his reps during a pull-up record attempt. I’m a well-known opponent of the fat acceptance movement, so I made the “Plus-Size Model” to suggest that chubby dogs like pugs are the only ones deserving of that title. By basing shirt logos on my own content, I make money on that content twice: first from ad revenue, and again from apparel sales.

how-i-started-a-8k-month-gym-apparel-ecommerce

-  
Elgin E. Mones, Esq., on starting Infinite Elgintensity Gym Apparel ($8,378/month) full story ➜

31. Start a craft granola business ($99.6K/year)

Ashley Chase from Bend, Oregon, USA started Birdseed Food Co. over 3 years ago, a craft granola business.

  • Revenue: $8,300/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 1
  • Location: Bend, Oregon, USA

Fall 2016 I moved to Bend, Oregon as a way to clear my mind and figure out what I wanted to do with my life. I had done some college, worked in management and also in a hospital but still wasn’t clear on what my “passion” was.

During this time I was reading books such as The 4-Hour Work Week and realized the power in selling a product online; I knew I wanted to sell something online and build a brand but didn’t know what yet.

I took a job as the manager at a coffee shop and would bring my own granola to work in the morning and one of the employees saw it in a mason jar and was like “Why do we have birdseed?” I replied, “That’s my granola!”. He even made a funny Snapchat video saying, “Ashley, you’re eating birdseed!! What are you doing??”

how-i-started-a-8-3k-month-business-selling-craft-granola

-  
Ashley Chase, on starting Birdseed Food Co. ($8,300/month) full story ➜

32. Start a pool installation service ($96K/year)

Dan Stewart from Unorganized Thunder Bay District, Ontario, Canada started Dundas Valley Pools over 4 years ago, a pool installation service.

  • Revenue: $8,000/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 1
  • Location: Unorganized Thunder Bay District, Ontario, Canada

Even in high school I was very interested in the idea of starting my own business and someday being my own boss. My dad was the Vice President and co-owner of a construction company while I was growing up and so having a role model like him most certainly contributed to my desire to follow in his footsteps (albeit in a different industry). My grandfather originally started a construction business back in the 1970s which is how my dad was introduced to the industry. I am the third generation of business owners in my family.

I never thought I would be working in the pool industry. In 2016, I graduated at the University of Waterloo with an Honors B.A in Recreation and Sport Business. I have always enjoyed sports, recreation, and the outdoors. My thought coming out of high school was to start an outdoor recreation/adventure sports magazine. Although that hasn’t happened, it’s interesting to think about how I am still working in Recreation and Sport. I guess you could say I’m the “behind the scenes” guy-- at Dundas Valley Pools, we make sure homeowners pools are up to speed and that families can enjoy as much leisure time in their backyard as possible with little to no hassles.

While I was in university, my desire to start my own business continued to grow. One thing I have realized now is that I was more romanticized by the idea of starting a business than I was interested in the actual act of doing so. I think this is an important point to make because it is so easy to get obsessed with an idea or aspiration more than the actual act or result. In my opinion, it is one of the worst mistakes a person can make prior to taking action. Perhaps I can speak more towards this point later on in the interview.

how-i-started-a-8k-month-pool-service-and-installation-business

-  
Dan Stewart, on starting Dundas Valley Pools ($8,000/month) full story ➜

33. Start a branding agency ($60K/year)

Elva Li from Victoria, Australia started Elva Li over 4 years ago, a branding agency.

  • Revenue: $5,000/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 0
  • Location: Victoria, Australia

There’s a song on repeat in my world and whenever I play it, it reminds me of the time I started my own business and finally left my corporate job.

“I spend too much time thinking about who I'm supposed to be I play by everybody's rules that don't seem right to me

Should I even care? They're all sitting there and everyone's staring at me If I step out in the spotlight maybe I'll be set free

how-i-started-a-5-000-month-luxury-branding-agency

-  
Elva Li, on starting Elva Li ($5,000/month) full story ➜

34. Start a men's grooming product ($42K/year)

Ray Moyers from Queen Creek, Arizona, USA started HUSKYBEARD almost 4 years ago, a men's grooming product.

  • Revenue: $3,500/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 1
  • Location: Queen Creek, Arizona, USA

So here’s how HUSKYBEARD achieved success despite many beginning failures!

Summer of 2016, I wanted to grow a beard with my friend Daniel. Being both Asian, we had a pathetic, pubic-like patch on our chins, after a full month. With ambition, I wanted to explore how much facial hair I could grow as an Asian male (side note, most Eastern Asian males are bare-faced, so I wanted to stand out). Very soon I stumbled upon Minoxidil 5% (or Rogaine) and its application towards facial hair growth. I actually documented my 1 year experience with this ingredient on Youtube, and have had over 2 million people view my patchy beard growth. It’s weird I know. (Youtube link at bottom if you are curious lol)

I understood that dropshipping was not the means for creating a long-lasting brand that customers love. So I quit this method.

growing-and-selling-an-online-beard-care-business

-  
Ray Moyers, on starting HUSKYBEARD ($3,500/month) full story ➜

35. Become a resume consultant ($30K/year)

Mike McRitchie from El Dorado, California, USA started Critical Path Action over 5 years ago, a resume consultant.

  • Revenue: $2,500/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 0
  • Location: El Dorado, California, USA

Over the years I’ve built quite a bit of business knowledge (was a Director of Operations and helped build a company from 5 employees to 100 and $2.5 million to $16 million in revenue; also was a five-year member of Vistage, a business mastermind group) and wanted to leverage that.

Get started with something inexpensive that interests you. Then keep going as you try things and learn.

I started a website through an online marketing/website building course and began blogging on business and career topics. But I found monetizing that to be difficult. I wanted to do business strategy consulting and paid $1,000 for a three-month insert in a coupon mailing that did nothing and found trying to get that type of consulting off the ground part time around my day job wasn’t working.

how-i-make-30k-year-on-the-side-writing-resumes

-  
Mike McRitchie, on starting Critical Path Action ($2,500/month) full story ➜

36. Start a wallet brand ($30K/year)

Kan Yamamoto from Kochi started Kamino Wallet over 2 years ago, a wallet brand.

  • Revenue: $2,500/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 0
  • Location: Kochi

I am a self-employed graphic designer who also works as a woodworker/lumberjack. I was born and grew up in Kochi, Japan but moved to Europe and have spent my twenties in Switzerland and Berlin, where I practiced graphic design and the fine arts. After I graduated from the University of Art Berlin in 2011, I returned to Japan to dig deep into my cultural roots and to contribute to the local community.

I thought the best thing would be to learn how to create small businesses myself. And by doing it, I could be an example for the younger generation to show that it doesn't matter where you live. You could build a global business, however small it is.

Now I am living in a mountainous village in a suburban area of the city of Kochi. I love living near to nature, and the quality of life here is irreplaceable, but one of the biggest problems in rural areas is that there are no jobs. So I thought the best thing would be to learn how to create small businesses myself. And by doing it, I could be an example for the younger generation to show that it doesn't matter where you live. You could build a global business, however small it is.

starting-a-1k-month-side-hustle-selling-washable-paper-wallets

-  
Kan Yamamoto, on starting Kamino Wallet ($2,500/month) full story ➜

37. Start a sex toys business ($28.8K/year)

Liam Valentine from Mariánské Lázně, Northwest, Czech Republic started Sex Toys For Men Co. over 4 years ago, a sex toys business.

  • Revenue: $2,400/ month
  • Founders: 3
  • Employees: 0
  • Location: Mariánské Lázně, Northwest, Czech Republic

So now you’re probably wondering… why in the world are we in this business? And how did we get started?

Well, we’re glad you asked.

We’d already been involved in the internet marketing world for several years and we were interested in trying out a different niche.

how-we-started-a-2-4k-month-sex-toys-for-men-store

-  
Liam Valentine, on starting Sex Toys For Men Co. ($2,400/month) full story ➜

38. Become a nutritionist ($24K/year)

Haley Hughes from Greeley, Colorado, USA started RDRx Nutrition almost 7 years ago, a nutritionist.

  • Revenue: $2,000/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 1
  • Location: Greeley, Colorado, USA

I have always been a strong-willed, hard-working, and sometimes stubborn person.

I’m definitely “The Achiever” on the enneagram test, so working for myself has been a great change for the most part. I stand up for what I believe in, especially when it comes to patient care.

After graduating with a Master’s degree in dietetics, completing a 2-year-long internship process and taking a huge exam I was so excited to start my career. My dream job (so I thought) was to be an intensive care unit dietitian, because I felt it would be challenging and rewarding.

leaving-my-9-to-5-to-start-my-own-nutrition-counseling-private-practice

-  
Haley Hughes, on starting RDRx Nutrition ($2,000/month) full story ➜

39. Start an online retail business ($6K/year)

Corey Rust from Troutdale, Oregon, USA started 37413 Gear 8 months ago, a online retail business.

  • Revenue: $500/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 1
  • Location: Troutdale, Oregon, USA

In 2017, I started to become friends with a guy whose name sounds like a 1970’s TV show police detective or an Indiana Jones-esque character. His name is Jack Blazer, and Jack is one of those kinds of people that can be very intimidating but has a heart made of gold. Ask anyone that really knows him, and I think they’d agree with that.

You worked hard. You sacrificed. And you made it happen. No one can take that away from you, nor should you let anyone take that away from you.

In early summer 2018, Jack was diagnosed with a form of cancer that was not only rare but ridiculous; as is all cancer. Jack was a Portland Police Officer, and I viewed Jack as the epitome of what a fighter is and should be and someone who rarely let anything defeat him. So, at the time and for a long time after, I optimistically looked at this as just another battle he had to fight and that he would win. I suppose many shares that view, when someone that is close and we care about, is diagnosed with something so terrifying. I wasn’t any different.

on-starting-an-online-store-to-raise-funds-for-the-law-enforcement-community

-  
Corey Rust, on starting 37413 Gear ($500/month) full story ➜

40. Start a drone repair business

Here are some examples of a successful drone repair business in Milwaukee:

Want to get started? Here are a few great resources:

article

41. Start a Lawn Sprinkler Systems

Here are some examples of a successful Lawn Sprinkler Systems in Milwaukee:

Want to get started? Here are a few great resources:

article

42. Start a baby photography business

Here are some examples of a successful baby photography business in Milwaukee:

Want to get started? Here are a few great resources:

article

43. Start a daycare

Here are some examples of a successful daycare in Milwaukee:

Want to get started? Here are a few great resources:

article

44. Start a home decor business

Here are some examples of a successful home decor business in Milwaukee:

Want to get started? Here are a few great resources:

article

45. Start a cosmetology school

Here are some examples of a successful cosmetology school in Milwaukee:

Want to get started? Here are a few great resources:

article

46. Start a gardening business

Here are some examples of a successful gardening business in Milwaukee:

Want to get started? Here are a few great resources:

article

47. Start a restaurant

Here are some examples of a successful restaurant in Milwaukee:

Want to get started? Here are a few great resources:

article

48. Start a golf advertising agency

Here are some examples of a successful golf advertising agency in Milwaukee:

Want to get started? Here are a few great resources:

article

49. Start a cross country bus shuttle service

Here are some examples of a successful cross country bus shuttle service in Milwaukee:

Want to get started? Here are a few great resources:

article

50. Start a travel company

Here are some examples of a successful travel company in Milwaukee:

Want to get started? Here are a few great resources:

article

51. Start a coffee shop ($22.8K/year)

Here are some examples of a successful coffee shop in Milwaukee:

Want to get started? Here are a few great resources:

article

52. Start a children's clothing business ($0/year)

Cameron Olthuis from Park City, Utah, USA started Sawyer about 3 years ago, a children's clothing business.

  • Revenue: $0/ month
  • Founders: 2
  • Employees: 3
  • Location: Park City, Utah, USA

My online entrepreneurial journey started when I was 21 and my then girlfriend was pregnant with our first child. That was almost 17 years ago. I was working a minimum wage customer service job, had no post high school education, and knew that I needed to make big changes in order to provide a better life for my family. It’s been a long journey that’s seen its share of ups & downs, with times where I literally wasn’t sure how I would be able to feed my family the next day. Somehow, it worked out, and I always knew the sacrifices would pay off if I stuck with it.

Most recently, my role was VP, Audience Development at CBS Interactive. During my 6 1/2 years at CBS, we grew from the #13 Comscore property to #6. That’s an elite group: Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Amazon, Microsoft and then CBSi. Prior to my role at CBSi, I ran audience growth at a startup called Clicker, which was acquired by CBS for a nine-figure sum. That was quite a learning experience.

The entrepreneurial spirit in me was calling the entire time I was at CBS Interactive. I never expected to be there for as long as I was, but incentives in the form of stock options that hadn’t vested and a big paycheck helped keep me around. That and I also enjoyed the learning experience, challenges of working on the biggest internet properties, and working for the CEO, who’s been a great mentor to me. But, my time had come. CBSi was running like a well-oiled machine and the excitement was no longer there for me. I needed to work on something that was meaningful to me again. I was also a partner in a content arbitrage business at that time with yearly revenues of around $7.5 million at its peak. That helped make the decision to leave easier. This was, of course, non-conflicting to my work at CBS.

starting-a-kids-clothing-brand-and-growing-to-12k-mo

-  
Cameron Olthuis, on starting Sawyer ($0/month) full story ➜

53. Become a massage therapist

Here are some examples of a successful massage therapist in Milwaukee:

Want to get started? Here are a few great resources:

article

54. Start a job board

Here are some examples of a successful job board in Milwaukee:

Want to get started? Here are a few great resources:

article

55. Start a church

Here are some examples of a successful church in Milwaukee:

article

-  
Starter Story,   Founder of Starter Story

Share the story of Starter Story!

Leave a comment
Your email address will not be published.

More posts like this: