In my view, owning an absentee business is the hidden secret to wealth and financial freedom.
That’s because you can rapidly build wealth (the ROI on a business tends to be way higher than other investments like high yield savings accounts, dividend paying stocks, corporate or government bonds, and the like).
But an absentee business has the added advantage of running itself. That’s powerful and will allow you to enjoy that money that your business is generating. What’s the point of slaving away each day in your business – you’ve just got another job!
In this article, I am going to cover 15 example of absentee run businesses that can offer great cash flow and still leave you out of the day to day management of the business.
Let’s get into it!
Note: If you prefer to see a condensed version of this article in video format, check out my YouTube video below.
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The information contained in this post is for informational purposes only. It is not a recommendation to buy or invest, and it is not financial, investment, legal, or tax advice. You should seek the advice of a qualified professional before making any investment or other decisions relating to the topics covered by this article.
15 Great Absentee-Run Businesses
Laundromats can be a terrific absentee-owned business.
After all, the machines are doing the hard work of washing and drying the clothes (with your customers doing the work of loading and unloading the clothes).
The process is mostly automated, but not completely. There are things you will need to do to successfully run this business as an absentee-owner.
Want to learn more? Check out my article starting a laundromat in six easy steps.
2. In-Bay Automatic Car Wash
Here’s another solid choice. In-bay automatic car washes are about as automated as you can get when it comes to a car wash.
These types of car washes are usually unattended and you often see them at 24-hour gas stations, convenience stores, etc. People just pay for their ticket, pull their car into the bay and the machines do the rest.
If you are interested in this type of absentee business, check out my beginner’s guide on how to get started with a passive automatic car wash.
3. Vending Machine Route
Owning a vending machine route can be a great absentee-run business. The idea is that you place a bunch of vending machines in high-traffic locations and make money every time someone buys something from your machines.
The only part of this that requires some work is restocking and collecting money from the machines, but you can easily outsource this function.
You will also want to install your machines with helpful technology that can make you operate your business remotely, such as modern payment readers and inventory tracking software that tells you when you are running low on product.
The software also keeps track of every penny that goes into the machine, so you can hire route runners without worrying so much about them skimming off the top.
For more details on this business, check out my beginner’s guide on how to start a vending machine route for passive income.
4. ATM Machine Route
Like vending machines, this type of business involves you placing ATMs in high traffic areas and receiving a fee every time someone makes a withdrawal.
But it’s even simpler to operate than a vending machine route. You don’t have to worry about buying 17 different types of snacks and drinks and lugging them around in your van.
There is only one type of inventory you need and that’s cash. Fortunately, there are services that can restock your ATMs with cash for a fee.
Interested in finding out more? Check out my beginner’s guide to ATMs for Passive Income.
5. FedEx Route Business
Did you know that you could buy a FedEx delivery route that covers a designated territory? That means that you will make money for each delivery made within that territory. It can be a highly profitable business and, if you structure it right, it can generate passive income for you.
The business is very simple. You just need to focus on making the deliveries within your territory on time.
And that can easily be outsourced. In fact, most owners have multiple routes – they are not driving a truck and making deliveries.
Once you have good managers and reliable drivers in place, the day-to-day operations of this business can be run without your involvement.
If you want to learn more about this business, check out my beginner’s guide to owning FedEx routes for passive income.
6. Bread Route Business
Like a FedEx route, you can buy a bread route that covers a territory. Once you own that territory, you can sell bread to various retailers and pocket a commission for each sale.
Best of all, you can have drivers run these routes for you and operate this as an absentee-run business.
To discover more about this business, read my article on buying bread routes for passive income.
7. Billboard Business
Renting out billboard space can be a solid absentee-run business. Like any other asset that you can rent out, billboards generate money without you having to do much of anything.
Of course, like with all of these businesses, the billboard business is not completely automated.
You will need to oversee the business, including finding new customers who want to lease out billboard space from you when the current customer’s lease expires, etc., but day-to-day operations are pretty much non-existent.
Want to learn more about this business? Check out my article on how to get started in the billboard business.
8. Bounce House Business
I am sure you have seen bounce houses before and understand the appeal that they can have for parents who want to do something special for their kid’s birthday or other special occasion.
The great thing about this business is that it is really easy to structure this as an absentee owned business.
You can simply outsource the work-intensive part of this business. After all, these bounce houses are just plastic structures that you deliver, set up, and inflate. When the rental period is over, you deflate the structure and pack it up.
It is not complicated and you can find and train people to do this for you pretty easily.
For more information on how to start a bounce house business, read my article on the topic here.
Blogs may be my favorite absentee-run business. Now I am not talking about starting a new blog. That is not absentee at all, especially if you are writing your own articles like I am.
What I am talking about is buying an existing money-making blog where the prior owner did all of the hard work of writing the articles and making sure they generate money.
These existing blogs can generate high revenues relating to their price and can be run almost entirely without your active involvement. You can buy an existing blog for 25 to 40 times its monthly revenue on sites like Flippa, Empire Flippers, and FE International.
Among the three, I really like Empire Flippers because they strike the perfect blend of high quality vetting (so you don’t see a bunch of scammy websites being sold) while still having a ton of profitable options to choose from.
They get a new batch of websites for sale each week (on Monday morning), so you can predictably see what’s new and jump on any great deals that are unveiled. I am an active user and love their service.
Ok, so getting back on topic, let’s say you buy a blog for $10,000 – you can be earning between $3,000 to $4,800 per year. That gives you an ROI of 30% to 48%!
And unlike other businesses, there is no physical location to oversee, no inventory to manage, no marketing needed (if you write good articles, google sends traffic your way), no customer complaints to address, no employees to supervise, and no orders to fulfill.
Blogs are generally monetized through ads or affiliate links placed on the website. That’s just a fancy way of saying you can get paid every time someone visits the blog and views or clicks on an ad or buys a product you are promoting through one of your affiliate links.
It’s really that simple.
To read more about buying blogs for passive income, check out my detailed article on the topic here.
If you don’t have the funds to buy a blog right now and don’t mind putting in the work to start one, check out my article on How to Start a Blog From Scratch.
I cover all of the key areas you need to know, including how to set up your website and most importantly, my best tips for writing great articles, getting traffic to your blog, and monetizing that traffic.
Now buying a money making blog can be expensive (especially if you want one that makes real money), so if you want a nice middle option, you can hire a service to create a website for you. Make Lemonade is a UK based firm that specializes in this.
I have used their content writing service to help me expand my blogs when I was running short on time, but they do offer a full service model, where they will create your website for you from start to finish and include content that has gone through their rigorous keyword research process.
Check them out here if you want to learn more.
10. Print of Demand Business
Another fantastic, low-maintenance online business option is a print-on-demand company.
Here’s how it works.
You open up an online store that offers products (such as t-shirts, sweatshirts, tote bags, caps, mugs, tumblers, and so on) with a logo, design, or other feature that your supplier may “print” on the product.
When an order comes in, your supplier creates the finished product based on the design you provide and ships it. Because you don’t pay the provider until the order is received, there is less risk involved.
There is no need to worry about up-front inventory expenditures, and the supplier takes care of all the major operational responsibilities including production and client delivery.
It can therefore be a super passive business.
If you want to learn more, check out my beginner’s guide on how to start a print on demand business.
11. Amazon KDP Business (Ebook Business)
Sticking to the online theme, you can start a passive business by self-publishing books on places like Amazon KDP.
If you’ve ever dreamt of becoming a published author, you can make that dream a reality now by using this strategy.
So how does it work?
You earn royalties from each sale by simply publishing your book on the Amazon KDP platform (it’s free to do so). Some important things to consider are designing a great cover (despite the famous saying, people do judge a book by its cover – at least that’s what the sales numbers show).
You will also have to find the right niche to write about. You will want to write in an area you know so you can beat our your competition. Writing about a specialized topic in an underserved area can be a great strategy (as long as there is sufficient demand for that book).
If you are filling a need, Amazon’s algorithm will make your book appear high on the appropriate searches and you will make sales.
Of course, writing the book is not passive (although you can outsource this via a good ghostwriter if you have the money), but once written the sales should happen without your day to day involvement (although many use Amazon ads to promote their book and that does require some oversight).
Overall, though, I think this is such a fantastic self-running business, especially when you consider the fact that you don’t require any capital to get started.
You can’t talk about passive online business without mentioning YouTube. Now I know TikTok has been gaining a lot of popularity lately, but as a general matter, the money that you can make for the same number of views is still far behind what YouTube can provide.
Many famous YouTube stars began their careers with nothing and are now earning millions of dollars annually. Similar to blogging, advertisements will probably generate the majority of your income.
The secret is to produce high-quality videos that viewers will find interesting or useful. YouTube will promote your content more frequently the higher your engagement rates are. More views result in more advertisements, which increases revenue.
Like with many online businesses, you will need to put in some effort at first. But as soon as you have a solid collection of videos that are drawing viewers, the money starts to roll in on a regular basis.
You will need to “feed the beast” to keep YouTube happy by making videos on a fairly consistent basis. I try to make it as passive as possible, so only upload one video a month. I don’t think that’s too horrible.
13. Rental Property Business
Ok, going back to brick and mortar stuff, rental properties are another business that you can easily operate as an absentee-owner.
The obvious solution is to simply hire a property manager for your rentals.
They will find tenants, screen them, and sign them up for leases. They will collect rents, make repairs, and basically take care of every issue that pops up when it comes to your rentals.
I own nine rental properties and self-manage them, so it’s a little more work. But even then, it’s hardly a daily grind. I may spend on average about 5 hours a month managing these 9 properties (I do outsource all of the repairs, etc. to my team of contractors).
That’s pretty much being an absentee owner in my view.
If you want to learn more about rental property investing, check out my step-by-step guide to start investing in rental properties.
This one is interesting. I was a hair’s breadth away from buying an absentee-run bakery last year, but then the pandemic hit as we were in negotiations. I pulled out because it was a scary time to be buying a retail bakery. But I loved the business!
It was in a great location and had been in business for over 20 years. The owner had a chief baker and several assistants that had been working at the bakery for almost the entire time. He also had a team of workers manning the front of the store. Everyone knew what to do every day and it operated like clockwork.
It was on the market for approx. $700,000 and made on average around $250,000 per year.
It seemed like a prime candidate for an absentee owner. And it was: In fact, the existing owner did not know how to bake a single item!
15. Self-Storage Facility
Want to own a profitable and passive real estate business where you don’t have to deal with tenant complaints, broken toilets, and the usual hassles that come with managing rental properties?
The unmanned self-storage facility may be perfect for you. As the name implies, the facility is unmanned, which means you can absolutely run it as an absentee-owner.
With this type of business, you can enjoy a combination of high returns and low maintenance, all wrapped in the security of a business that has a success rate of 92%!
If you want to learn more, check out my guide to starting a passive self-storage business in 7 easy steps.
So there you have it: 15 great businesses that can be absentee-owned and some guiding principles to help you find even more.
If you want more great passive income ideas, check out my ultimate beginner’s guide to passive income [25+ strategies that work], where I cover tons of effective strategies that generate passive income.