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Best Business to Start at 40? 7 Ideas That Work!

If you are looking to start a business in your 40s, but don’t know where to begin, you are in the right place.

In this article, I am going to discuss 7 of the best businesses to start in your 40s. I will cover all of these businesses in detail and include helpful tips and resources that you can use to launch each of them.

Why People in Their 40s Need a Tailored Approach To Selecting a Business

People in their 40s often face unique challenges.

In my mind, entering your 40s marks the true beginning of adulthood. By now, many of you have married, settled into a career, and may have kids living at home. You may also be starting to care for your elderly parents, which puts you squarely in the sandwich generation.

The responsibilities can be daunting, for sure, and you are undoubtedly super-busy.

But on the flip side, you have learned a thing or two over the years and you now have some experience around how the world works. You can untangle problems that come your way much faster and better than you did in your 20s.

You are also probably still relatively healthy (knock on wood), but don’t have the same physical strength and stamina that you had in your 20s (or even 30s).

All of these things matter when evaluating the right business for you. It will need to tick all of the right boxes. That’s what I’ve tried to do.

Each of the businesses I discuss will have the following characteristics:

  • You can start it on the side. Unlike someone in their 20s, you have responsibilities to your family. I get it. You can keep your job as long as you want.
  • It doesn’t cost much to start. You have enough expenses in your life. We don’t want to add to them.
  • It doesn’t matter what your background is. I don’t know your specific skillsets (but I know you have them). These businesses are flexible enough to be run by anyone.
  • It doesn’t require any significant physical activity. As mentioned, you are probably still healthy, but who wants to beat up their body at 40?
  • It can provide passive income. Between your job, your spouse, your kids, and everything else, you lead a busy life. Setting up a business that can make you money passively is a huge bonus.
  • It is scalable. You want your business to be able to grow and make more money for you. These businesses can do that.

Let’s get into it!

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click on a link and complete a transaction, I may make a small commission at no extra cost to you. 

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.

1. Blogging

This might be my favorite business to start in your 40s. As you’ll see, it ticks all the boxes

Why blogging?

First, you can do this in your spare time. I started this blog about a year ago, which makes thousands per month, by writing articles on the weekends and evenings.

Second, you can use all of the skills, experience, and insights you have accumulated over the years to write killer content.

It costs almost no money to start and has very low ongoing costs. It doesn’t strain your body (although you do have to use your brain…a lot). And the income potential, which I already mentioned, is awesome. Furthermore, once you have written the articles, you can make money in your sleep (more on that later).

Finally, it is easy to scale.

You can keep adding articles, which will increase your revenue. Or, once you have started one successful blog, you can start another one. This is a popular growth strategy and plenty of pro bloggers have multiple sites.

So, how does all of this work?

First, you need to select a niche. This is just the general topic that you are going to write about. You should pick a niche that interests you (and one that you have some expertise in).

Then you need to set up your website (get a domain name, such as www.example.com) from a domain registrar like namecheap.com and get hosting services (this is the company that will host your website and serve it up to viewers). I use namecheap because, as their name suggests, they are cheap and I have never run into any issues. As for hosting, my hosting provider for this website (and for some others, is Cloudways and I’ve been really happy with them.

Cloudways is a bit more of a premier service and it allows you to run bigger blogs at a great price, but if you want a slightly more affordable option (at least in the beginning), check out Siteground. I used them when I first started blogging and they are a great hosting provider for new bloggers.

You will then need to research topics for specific articles and figure out whether they have a realistic chance of ranking on Google Search. You will also need to figure out how much traffic each article is likely to generate. If it looks like the topic has low competition and high search volume, you’ve probably got a winner.

You might be asking how does a blog make money?

If you have a lot of articles that people are reading, your blog is a valuable piece of online real estate. Companies want to advertise their products to your visitors and they are willing to pay you for the privilege. That form of monetization is called display advertising.

It’s super passive. You get paid each time someone sees an ad on your website (they don’t even need to click on it).

You can also make money on your blog through affiliate links (which are customized links to products you are promoting). Each time a visitor clicks on that affiliate link, you will get paid a commission if the visitor winds up buying the product, etc.

If you want to expand your monetization options even further, you can create informational courses or ebooks and market them on your blog too (more on this later).  

To learn more about how to start a blog, check out my article on How to Start a Blog From Scratch.

I cover all of they key areas you need to know, including how to set up your website, how to select your niche (which is just the topical focus of our blog), and most importantlymy best tips for writing great articles, getting traffic to your blog, and monetizing that traffic.

If you don’t have the time or inclination to do this on your own, you can hire a service to create a website for you. Niche Website Builders 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.

2. YouTube

If you want to make videos instead, you can start a YouTube channel.

As with blogging, you will start to earn passive income (mainly through ad revenue) once you get enough traffic coming to your channel. You will need at least 4,000 hours of watch time and 1,000 subscribers to qualify for YouTube’s ad monetization program.

Like with blogging, YouTube also checks all of the boxes. You can do this on the side and it doesn’t cost very much to start. For example, I run my YouTube channel on a tight budget – I don’t even need a camera to produce my videos.

But I’m not going to lie. Creating a quality video is not easy. 

And like blogging, getting traffic to your channel can be a challenge.  You have to create informative (or at least entertaining) content and have compelling titles, and great thumbnails. You also need to understand how YouTube’s search algorithm works.

But you can make serious money doing this, and I think this medium (video) is going to become more and more popular.

3. eBooks

If you like writing, but blogging is not for you, you can write eBooks instead.

Unlike the old days, you don’t need a major publishing house to accept your manuscript. You can become a successful author by self-publishing through platforms like Amazon KDP (which stands for Kindle Direct Publishing) and Apple Books.

These platforms are free to use (although they will take a cut of your sales). Plus, it’s easy to put together a professional looking book these days. You can go on canva.com (another free website) and create stunning book covers (just type in “book covers” in their search bar and you can create one from scratch or use one of their many templates.

After you’ve created the cover, you just add the content of your book. Voila, your ebook is complete!

I love the idea of getting paid royalties on your books. What an amazing way to make passive income for years to come!

If you don’t like writing but do like the idea of receiving royalties on eBooks, you may want to consider creating “low” or “no” content books and selling them on Amazon KDP.  Believe it or not, this is a thing.

These low content books can be journals (diaries), coloring books, guest books, music composition notebooks, planners, quote books, etc.

If you want a complete guide to making money with eBooks, check out my article: Making Money [Passively] Writing eBooks: A Simple 5-Step Guide.

4. Online Course

Another idea that you can pursue is developing an online course and getting income from the sale of that course. 

I know of one corporate middle manager who worked for a large corporation. He used his knowledge of project management and created a course that made hundred of thousands of dollars for him.

His secret? He realized that no one was covering his specific niche of project management and filled the need. It was as simple as that.

Video is the prevailing medium for these types of courses, although audio courses and courses with slides and other written materials also exist. There are a lot of tutorials on how to create online courses.  A simple Google search on the topic will give you some great places to start.

Once you have created the course, you can market it through various channels, such as your own website (if you have one), social media, and online course platforms such as Kajabi, Udemy, and Teachable.

5. Vending Machine Route

Shifting gears now, let’s move from digital businesses to “analog” ones.

Vending machine routes are a great business that you can start on the side. They have relatively low starting costs (a new state of the art machine runs between $3,000 to $5,000) and don’t need constant attention.

Unlike a traditional brick and mortar business, you don’t need someone to “man” the store. All you need to do is run the occasional route to restock inventory and collect your money. You can do this on the weekend or in your spare time.

Or, if you want to make this business really passive, you can hire route runners to do this for you.

The key to success is finding high traffic locations for your vending machines and convincing the owners or managers or those locations to allow you to place your machines there. Usually, they will want a cut of your profits, but it is completely worth it to get prime locations in your portfolio.

I know of one couple who was able to get a local school board contract for their vending machines. This meant that they could place their machines at all of the schools in that district. They did really well…

If you want to learn how to get started in the vending machine business, check out my article on the topic here.

6. ATM 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. 

For a step by step guide on how to get started in the ATM business, check out my detailed article for beginner’s here.

7. Rental Property

The final business on the list is rental properties.

I know that some would view this as an investment rather than a business, but I disagree. I own nine rental properties and operate this enterprise with the same care and discipline that I use to operate my other businesses. 

What’s great about rental properties is that they can be run mostly passively, but can still generate handsome returns. As a landlord, you will get monthly cash flow from your renters, long-term appreciation when the values of your properties rise, and steady debt paydowns (you are paying down your mortgage each month out of the rental proceeds).

Now, I self-manage all of my rentals, so it does require a little bit of 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).  When something breaks, I make a phone call and they take care of it.

That’s pretty much a self-running operation in my view. But if you want to totally outsource the work, you can hire a good property manager to take care of your properties for you.

If you are interested in learning more about how to get started in rental property investing, check out my article on the topic here.

If you don’t have the money to buy real estate the traditional way (i.e., with 20% down), there are ways to buy properties for very low cost or even no money down. Check out my articles below to find out how to do this.

Conclusion

So there you have it – 7 great businesses that you can start at 40.

If you want to get more great business ideas, check out my ultimate guide to starting a business. It will provide a table full of business ideas that you can explore and will walk you through each of the steps involved in starting a business, from ideation to launch.