16 Businesses that Run Themselves: Passive Income Ideas

Estimated reading time: 17 minutes

I observe and analyze various business models that not only ensure profitability but also sustain themselves over time. My journey into understanding the intricacies of wealth generation began with reading “Rich Dad Poor Dad”. The Cash Flow Quadrant shed light on the strategy employed by the affluent – cultivating multiple income streams. Such insights immensely shaped my professional trajectory, steering me towards sales roles. Why sales? Because these roles resonate with the idea of reaping rewards in proportion to one’s effort. Every sale translated into an incremental monthly check, symbolizing the fruits of my labor.

But I wasn’t content with just that. I realized the importance of letting your money work for you. So, I ventured into investment. Channeling the income from my sales roles, I bought real estate, aiming to generate another steady income stream through rentals. This transition from earning solely from a W2 to letting investments supplement my earnings was enlightening and empowering.

Creating a Business

Today, the allure of creating a business that runs on auto-pilot remains ever-potent. The dream is to establish a business model that can continue generating income without constant supervision after an initial setup and some strategic maintenance. This not only promises financial prosperity but also grants the freedom that most entrepreneurs seek: time. Time to explore new ventures, to travel, or simply to enjoy the life they’ve built.

In my extensive research, coupled with real-life observations and experiences, I’ve come across several business models that resonate with this philosophy. Models that, once set into motion, can become self-sustaining engines of passive income. Here’s a list of these businesses, each unique in its approach but united in its promise for potential returns.

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Passive Income Business Ideas
Vending Machines is a great passive income business.

Vending Machine Business

The vending machine business, often underrated, can be a gold mine when executed strategically. It embodies the essence of a passive income model. The beauty of a vending machine lies in its simplicity; you invest once in the machine and the products it dispenses. Once set up in high-traffic areas, such as corporate buildings, colleges, or transportation hubs, these machines serve as mini-retail outlets that require no staff.

The key to maximizing profits in this business is to understand the preferences of your target market. Stocking machines with in-demand products, be it snacks, beverages, or even tech accessories, ensures consistent sales. Additionally, keeping abreast of technology can be beneficial. For instance, machines with credit card or mobile payment options can attract more customers in our increasingly cashless society. Periodic maintenance checks and timely restocking are the minimal efforts needed to keep the business running smoothly and profitably.

Furthermore, partnering with popular brands or offering discounts on bulk purchases can boost your business’s attractiveness. The vending machine business offers an ideal blend of steady income with minimal hands-on management.

Vending Machines are a passive income business
Vending Machines have improved with technology

Online Courses

The digital age has revolutionized the way we learn. With the accessibility of the internet and a global shift towards remote work and education, online courses have emerged as a dominant force in the educational sector. This presents a lucrative opportunity for experts and professionals across various fields to monetize their expertise.

The initial phase of creating an online course involves a significant investment of time. From curating content, integrating engaging multimedia elements, to setting up quizzes and feedback systems, the course needs to be comprehensive and user-friendly. Platforms like Udemy, Coursera, and Teachable have simplified the process, allowing content creators to focus on course quality without worrying about technical logistics.

Once the course is live, it becomes a digital asset that can generate revenue round the clock. It’s crucial to remain updated with industry trends and update the course content accordingly to ensure it remains relevant. Marketing strategies, such as offering the first module for free or leveraging social media marketing, can amplify reach and drive enrollments. Collaborating with influencers or industry leaders can also add credibility to the course and attract more students.

In essence, online courses provide a platform for professionals to share their knowledge on a global scale and generate passive income while doing so.

Passive Income Business Ideas
Syndications are used to purchase large apartments

Real Estate Syndications

Real estate syndications represent a transformative approach to property investment, democratizing the playing field for individuals who wish to engage in large-scale real estate ventures. In essence, real estate syndication is a collective effort where multiple investors join forces, pooling together capital to finance property acquisitions that would be too hefty for a single investor.

But what makes syndications truly appealing is the inherent passive nature of the investment. Once you invest, a dedicated property manager or management team steps in, taking charge of everything – from property maintenance, renovations, tenant interactions, to even strategizing for maximum yield. This ensures that investors reap the benefits of real estate appreciation and rental income, without being bogged down by operational intricacies.

One standout entity in this realm is Bridgestone Capital. They have carved a niche for themselves by focusing on both the acquisition of pre-existing commercial real estate and the development of new, cutting-edge properties in Texas. For those considering dipping their toes into real estate syndications, Bridgestone Capital serves as a beacon, illuminating the path to informed and strategic investment. Dive deeper into the world of syndication opportunities with Bridgestone Capital.

Affiliate Marketing

At its core, affiliate marketing is about leveraging one’s online presence to foster sales for another business, and in return, earning a commission. But, in reality, it’s so much more. It’s a strategic dance between marketers and businesses, a win-win where businesses gain increased sales and marketers earn for their promotional efforts.

Starting in affiliate marketing requires minimal upfront costs. There’s no need to worry about product creation, inventory management, or after-sales customer service. Affiliates are essentially the bridge between a potential customer and a product or service. Through insightful blog posts, dynamic YouTube channel videos, or even engaging social media posts, they provide value to their audience while subtly promoting affiliate products.

Success in this domain hinges on authenticity and the quality of content. By aligning with products that resonate with their audience and crafting content that addresses the audience’s needs and curiosities, affiliates can build trust. Furthermore, harnessing the power of SEO best practices and social media marketing ensures that their content reaches the masses, amplifying their reach and, consequently, their commission potential. The world of affiliate marketing is vast and varied, offering avenues for both niche specialists and generalists to thrive.

Self-Publishing Author

The literary landscape has witnessed a paradigm shift with the advent of digital platforms, paving the way for aspiring writers to carve their niche without the shadow of traditional publishing gatekeepers. Embarking on a journey as a self-publishing author not only grants creative control but also the lion’s share of the royalties. Platforms like Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing, Apple’s iBooks, and others have revolutionized the way content is consumed, making e-books a prominent fixture in many readers’ lives. My good friend Peter Dill, a guest on the Chain Reaction Podcast has realized this with the launch of his book: <a href="http://"https://www.amazon.com/b?_encoding=UTF8&tag=bridgestoneca-20&linkCode=ur2&linkId=ab961bc902596ec99ac5fee3553b8b66&camp=1789&creative=9325&node=3">Control What you CanControl What you can

Crafting a compelling narrative requires a potent mix of passion, dedication, and skill. However, the actual magic unfolds in the post-publication phase. By harnessing the potential of social media platforms, engaging with readers, and optimizing content for SEO, authors can ensure their masterpieces reach their intended audience. Workshops, webinars, and book club interactions can further enhance visibility and reader engagement. While the initial journey from ideation to publication can be arduous, the subsequent passive income, recognition, and reader admiration make it a pursuit worth its weight in gold as a passive income business.

Storage Facility Businesses

In an ever-evolving world marked by urbanization and space constraints, storage facilities emerge as a beacon for those grappling with clutter. These facilities have become indispensable, catering to a diverse clientele – from individuals during home transitions to businesses seeking additional inventory space. Their resilience during economic downturns further underscores their viability as a business model.

What sets the storage facility business apart is its operational simplicity. Unlike the dynamic and often unpredictable realm of traditional real estate, storage facilities offer stability. The demand remains relatively constant, driven by life events like relocations, downsizing, or even temporary storage needs during home renovations. While the initial investment might seem steep, given the land acquisition and construction costs, the operational expenses are comparatively low. No fancy interiors, no daily housekeeping, just robust security and accessibility measures.

Key to the success of a storage facility is its strategic location and a competent management team. An optimal location ensures high occupancy rates, while a proficient team ensures seamless day-to-day operations, from handling inquiries to ensuring security.

For the visionary entrepreneur, storage facilities represent more than mere brick-and-mortar structures; they’re enablers of space in an increasingly congested world. A combination of market research, strategic planning, and customer-centric services can elevate a storage facility business from a passive income source to a veritable goldmine. As with any venture, success in this domain hinges on due diligence, understanding market dynamics, and an unwavering commitment to customer satisfaction.

Automatic Car Wash Business

In the fast-paced, contemporary world, the automatic car wash stands as a testament to convenience and efficiency. A well-placed automatic car wash becomes a haven for vehicle owners, particularly in bustling urban landscapes where time is of the essence. Unlike its manual counterparts, an automatic car wash leverages state-of-the-art technology, ensuring a seamless experience for customers, with machines taking over the cleaning, scrubbing, and drying.

The financial viability and success of an automatic car wash are inextricably linked to its geographical placement. High-traffic areas or localities with a concentration of vehicles offer an immediate clientele. Yet, while the daily hands-on involvement might be minimal, the onus is on the proprietor to uphold impeccable service standards. Regular machinery checks, ensuring the usage of quality cleaning agents, and staying attuned to customer feedback can make a significant difference. In a digitally-driven era, integrating advertising analytics and exploring innovative promotional avenues, including loyalty programs or seasonal discounts, can catapult an automatic car wash to the forefront of the industry, ensuring a consistent and lucrative cash flow.

Passive Income Business Ideas
Automatic Carwash

Mobile App Development

The digital age is underpinned by a myriad of mobile applications, each designed to cater to specific user needs and preferences. From simplifying daily tasks to providing entertainment, mobile apps have entrenched themselves in the daily fabric of modern life. For visionary entrepreneurs and developers, mobile app development offers a golden ticket to financial freedom.

The initial phase involves ideation—identifying a gap in the market, a need yet unmet, and then translating this idea into a user-friendly app. While the conception and development phase might necessitate specialized skills, be it in coding, UI/UX design, or even market research, the end product can be a consistent revenue generator. Be it through strategic ad placements, enticing in-app purchases, premium features, or subscription models, a well-designed app can become a self-sustaining financial powerhouse.

Yet, in the competitive world of app stores, mere development is not enough. Continuous engagement, be it through feature updates, addressing user feedback, or offering unparalleled customer support, becomes paramount. Moreover, to pierce through the noise, a holistic marketing strategy, encompassing social media platforms, influencers, and even partnerships, can elevate an app from being just another icon on a screen to a household name.

Creating Chrome Extensions

Diving into the realm of Chrome extensions offers an avenue teeming with potential for those adept in coding. Chrome extensions serve as invaluable tools that augment and elevate the capabilities of the Chrome browser. Whether streamlining productivity, bolstering security, or enhancing entertainment, these compact software modules cater to a gamut of user needs. Once ideated, developed, and showcased in the Chrome Web Store, these extensions can morph into revenue powerhouses. Whether through direct user purchases, unobtrusive advertisements, or unlocking premium functionalities, there’s a myriad of monetization strategies at the developer’s disposal.

However, the journey doesn’t end with the development. The digital realm is in constant flux, and to keep an extension relevant and functional, regular updates aligned with browser changes are imperative. Furthermore, in an ecosystem driven by user experience, prompt attention to feedback, iterative improvements, and consistent community engagement can set an extension apart, ensuring it doesn’t just blend into the vast sea of offerings but stands out as a beacon of utility and innovation.

Party Rental Business

The event industry, with its myriad celebrations and gatherings, offers fertile ground for the party rental business. From intimate gatherings to grandiose events, there’s always a demand for high-quality rental equipment. This venture thrives on providing an array of party staples – from the foundational tents and seating arrangements to the mood-setting audio-visual setups. And as events evolve, so does the inventory, encompassing everything from themed decors to interactive booths.

However, the success of a party rental business isn’t merely about having a vast inventory. It’s about meticulous management and streamlined operations. Implementing efficient inventory tracking software ensures smooth logistics, helping avoid double bookings or inventory shortages. A reliable team ensures timely deliveries, set-ups, and take-downs, all while maintaining the equipment in pristine condition.

Building solid rapport is essential—whether with individual clients, local event planners, or catering businesses. Positive word-of-mouth, bolstered by impeccable service, can exponentially expand the client base. Offering competitive pricing, introducing loyalty programs, or crafting partnerships with local event-centric businesses can not only maintain but elevate the demand, solidifying the party rental business as a mainstay in the events landscape.

Credit Repair Business

Navigating the labyrinthine world of credit can be daunting for many, making the credit repair business an indispensable asset in today’s financially driven society. At its core, this enterprise is dedicated to dissecting credit reports, pinpointing inaccuracies, and orchestrating corrective measures to enhance an individual’s creditworthiness. In an era where credit scores are gatekeepers to myriad financial opportunities, the significance of such a business is profound.

Initiating a credit repair venture requires a meticulous understanding of credit laws, protocols, and a keen eye for detail. However, beyond the technicalities, it’s the ethos of the business that counts. Upholding transparency, embracing ethical practices, and consistently delivering on promises will elevate a credit repair enterprise from a mere service to a beacon of hope for those trapped in credit conundrums. Furthermore, integrating a proficient customer support team and continuously updating one’s knowledge base can streamline operations and foster trust among clients. A business rooted in integrity, results, and customer satisfaction can cultivate an unshakeable reputation in the credit repair landscape.

Selling Digital Products

In the digital age, the realm of virtual products offers a goldmine of opportunities. The allure of digital products—ranging from e-books and intricate graphic designs to immersive online courses—lies in their creation dynamics: conceive once, capitalize indefinitely. With no logistical encumbrances like inventory storage or shipping, this business model stands as a paragon of scalability and efficiency.

But crafting a digital product is just one facet of the venture. The digital marketplace is vast, making visibility a challenge. An aesthetically curated online store, resonating with the brand’s ethos and equipped with user-friendly navigation, can captivate potential customers. Employing SEO strategies and leveraging the omnipresence of social media can amplify the product’s reach, driving organic traffic and elevating sales potential. And as the digital sphere thrives on feedback, fostering an environment that encourages customer reviews, and being receptive to critiques can fine-tune offerings and bolster credibility.

Harnessing the digital product business model is more than a mere transactional endeavor—it’s about creating value, establishing connections, and constantly evolving in response to market demands. For those willing to navigate its nuances, it can serve as a perennial fountain of passive income and business growth.

Self-Publishing Author

The literary world has undergone a paradigm shift, with self-publishing emerging as a beacon for budding authors worldwide. No longer shackled by the traditional gatekeepers of publishing houses, authors now have the power to independently birth their literary brainchild and present it to the world. While the process is daunting—encompassing everything from conceptualizing a story and fine-tuning every word to deciding on cover designs—it promises unparalleled creative control.

Modern platforms, such as Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing and Smashwords, have democratized the publishing arena, offering user-friendly interfaces and access to vast reader bases. But, in this saturated market, differentiation becomes crucial. Leveraging social media platforms like Instagram for visual teasers, Twitter for engaging snippets, or even personal blogs for chapter previews can stoke reader interest. Engaging in virtual book launches, webinars, or participating in online writer communities can also bolster an author’s reach.

Furthermore, the journey doesn’t end with publishing. Consistent engagement with readers, being receptive to feedback, and building a cohesive brand as an author can foster a loyal fan base. These dedicated readers become organic promoters, boosting sales and setting the stage for subsequent releases. For those willing to navigate the intricacies of self-publishing, it’s not just a business venture but a voyage of artistic expression, culminating in financial and personal fulfillment.

ATM Business

The ATM business model capitalizes on the universal need for cash accessibility, merging convenience with profitability. By strategically situating ATMs in bustling locations, entrepreneurs can tap into a continuous stream of users. Whether it’s busy grocery stores, buzzing nightlife spots, or popular malls, the positioning of these machines is paramount. As every transaction incurs a fee, high foot traffic translates to heightened earnings. Beyond the primary tasks of replenishing cash and ensuring the machines run smoothly, the crux of this venture lies in relationship building. Forming synergistic partnerships with local business owners, offering them a stake or a rental fee, can simplify the process of securing prime locations. Additionally, by offering competitive transaction fees and ensuring uptime, the ATM business owner can create a loyal user base. While the initial outlay—purchasing top-notch ATMs and establishing their presence—is substantial, the consistent, passive income and low overheads cement its position as a favored business model for forward-thinking entrepreneurs.

Print on Demand

Print on demand has revolutionized the retail landscape, enabling entrepreneurs to offer a plethora of personalized products without the conventional hassles of stock management or logistics. From trendy t-shirts and quirky mugs to bespoke posters, the spectrum of products is vast and versatile. After the foundational steps—establishing an online store and curating a catalog of designs—the business seamlessly transitions into auto-pilot mode. Every order triggers an automatic print job, followed by direct shipping to the customer, ensuring the business owner remains hands-off throughout the transaction. To drive traffic and boost sales, entrepreneurs should deploy multifaceted marketing strategies, harnessing the power of search engine optimization and social media advertising. Staying attuned to contemporary design inclinations, pop culture references, and evolving customer tastes ensures the offerings remain fresh and appealing. A dynamic print-on-demand venture doesn’t just satiate the modern consumer’s craving for individuality but also offers entrepreneurs a scalable, sustainable, and streamlined business model.

Specialized Skill Tutoring

Offering tutoring services in a specialized skill or subject can be fulfilling and profitable. By creating online courses and tutorials, experts in various fields can share their knowledge and earn passive income. Platforms like Udemy and Teachable allow tutors to reach a broad audience and offer their courses to learners worldwide. Maintaining high-quality content, receiving positive reviews, and updating the courses to stay relevant are essential for the success and longevity of this business model.

Custom Merchandise for Local Bands

Creating and selling custom merchandise for local bands can be a unique and profitable niche. With a focus on original designs and quality products, this business can appeal to the fans and followers of the bands. Offering various products, from t-shirts to posters, and utilizing social media platforms for promotion can help build a loyal customer base and increase sales. Establishing solid relationships with the bands and understanding the preferences of the fanbase are crucial for creating appealing merchandise and ensuring the success of this venture.


These varied business models provide ample opportunities for aspiring entrepreneurs to establish successful self-running businesses. The common denominator is the initial effort required to set up the business, followed by periodic monitoring and improvements. These models offer different levels of passive income streams, allowing business owners to choose according to their interests, skills, and investment capabilities. Regardless of the chosen model, dedication and strategic planning are paramount to creating a self-sustaining business that stands the test of time.

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If you would like more information about passive income ideas please contact me at jeff.davis@bridgestoneinvest.com. We have syndications going on throughout the year.

People should focus on real assets to improve their balance sheet.

Always consult with a financial advisor, CPA, or CFP to make sure your financial plans align with your goals, risk tolerance and financial situation.