10 Businesses That Run Themselves That You Can Start Today

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Reviewed by Soliu.

Some examples of businesses that run themselves include Vending machines, Amazon FBA (fulfilment by Amazon), Affiliate marketing, YouTube channels, websites with ad revenue, etc.

In our ever-accelerating world, where time is an increasingly precious resource, the allure of businesses that run themselves has never been more appealing. The concept of generating substantial income with minimal daily involvement is a dream shared by many entrepreneurs. 

These businesses, often called “passive income businesses,” are designed to function themselves once established. This comprehensive guide will delve deeply into 10 such businesses you can embark on today.

Whether you seek a side hustle or a primary source of income, rest assured that a self-running business model aligns with your passion and skills. 

As you venture forth, establish your operations, and observe your business thrive with minimal intervention, remember that patience, adaptability, and continuous learning are vital to unlocking the full potential of these ventures in today’s ever-evolving business landscape.

10 Businesses That Run Themselves

We’ll explore not only the fundamental principles but also the intricate strategies, tools, and initial efforts required to create genuinely self-sustaining enterprises.

1. Digital Product Sales

Digital Product Sales

Digital product sales are a pillar of businesses that run themselves. The beauty of this model lies in its capacity to generate income with relatively little effort. 

Whether it’s an eBook, an online course, software, or a design template, the key is to create a valuable digital product that addresses a specific need or desire. 

Once the product is meticulously crafted, most of your work will revolve around marketing and distribution. 

Platforms like Gumroad or Teachable can automate payment processing, delivery, and even customer support, freeing you from daily involvement and allowing your product to thrive independently.

Digital product sales are highly scalable. As more customers discover and purchase your products, the business can grow without significantly increasing operational costs. Expanding the product catalogue and marketing efforts can further boost revenue.

While digital product sales offer numerous advantages, entrepreneurs should consider challenges, including competition and piracy. Protecting intellectual property, maintaining product quality, and staying updated with industry trends are essential for long-term success.

In summary, digital product sales can efficiently run themselves through e-commerce automation, marketing strategies, and streamlined customer support. 

Once high-quality products are created, the focus shifts to marketing, customer acquisition, and occasional product updates, allowing the business owner to enjoy an autonomous online venture. This business model provides opportunities for financial stability and freedom in the digital marketplace.

The allure of this business does not merely reside in its potential to generate wealth but also in its capacity to do so with minimal daily oversight, granting you the freedom to explore new opportunities, savour life, and attain financial independence. 

While this business can be advantageous, it often demands dedication, resilience, and the flexibility to adapt to changing circumstances. 

Nevertheless, the promise of long-term financial stability and the opportunity to mould a lifestyle that aligns with your desires make it an enticing choice in today’s fast-paced world.

2. Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing stands as another robust avenue for constructing a self-sustaining business. Promoting products or services from other companies can earn a commission for every sale made through your referral link. 

Establishing a blog or website with evergreen content is a fundamental strategy to ensure consistent traffic and conversions. 

With the right content and SEO optimisation, this business can be one of the quintessential examples of businesses that run themselves. It provides a continuous income stream as your website attracts and converts visitors with minimal effort.

Affiliate marketing is highly scalable. As an affiliate’s online presence and audience grow, you can promote a broader range of products or services and potentially earn higher commissions. Scaling involves expanding the content portfolio and diversifying promotional channels.

Affiliate marketing comes with challenges, including competition and changes in affiliate program terms. 

Staying updated with industry trends, maintaining content quality, and adhering to ethical marketing practices are essential for long-term success.

Affiliate marketing can effectively run through automated tracking, payment processing, and scheduled content publication. 

Once a robust online presence and promotional strategy are established, affiliates can enjoy passive income by continually attracting and referring customers to partner companies. 

This business model offers the potential for financial independence and flexibility in the digital marketing landscape.

3. Vending Machine Business

Vending Machine Business

While setting up a vending machine business may demand some initial effort in location scouting, machine procurement, and setup, it perfectly exemplifies one of the businesses that run themselves once operational. 

The daily operation of a vending machine business is minimal, typically involving routine restocking and occasional maintenance. The beauty of this business model is that, once strategically placed, vending machines can generate passive income around the clock, providing customers with snacks, drinks, or other products without demanding your constant attention.

The scalability of a vending machine business lies in expanding the number of machines in profitable locations. As the machine count increases, operators can generate more passive income without significantly increasing their daily involvement.

While vending machine businesses offer passive income potential, operators must consider factors like machine maintenance, inventory management, and location agreements. Competition for prime vending locations can also be challenging.

In summary, the vending machine business is a self-sustaining venture that relies on automation for payment processing, inventory tracking, and maintenance alerts. 

Once machines are strategically placed and equipped with modern technology, they can generate passive income with minimal daily involvement from the operator. This business model provides opportunities for financial stability and passive income generation in automated retail.

4. Dropshipping

Drop shipping

Dropshipping is a thriving e-commerce model that epitomises businesses that run themselves. In this model, you only purchase products from suppliers when you receive an order from a customer.

Partnering with third-party suppliers who handle inventory, packaging, and shipping can transform an online store into a highly automated venture. Platforms like Shopify or WooCommerce provide the necessary tools and integrations to streamline the process, allowing you to focus on marketing, customer service, and scaling your business.

The scalability of dropshipping lies in expanding the product catalogue, marketing efforts, and customer base. 

As the business grows, drop shippers can seek additional supplier partnerships and explore new niches to generate passive income. While dropshipping offers the potential for passive income, it’s not without challenges. 

Competition can be fierce, and profit margins may be lower than other e-commerce models. Successful drop shippers must focus on niche selection, marketing, and customer service to stand out.

Dropshipping is a self-sustaining e-commerce model that relies on automated order processing, inventory tracking, and payment handling. 

Once the initial setup is complete and the business runs smoothly, drop shippers can enjoy passive income while leveraging their e-commerce store and supplier relationships. 

This business model provides opportunities for financial stability and autonomy in online retail.

5. Blogging with Ad Revenue


Blogging with ad revenue is a classic example of a self-sustaining business model. Setting up a blog with evergreen content tailored to your target audience and optimising it for search engine traffic allows you to generate consistent ad revenue and make money online – even while sleeping.

Platforms like Google AdSense automatically place relevant ads on your site, earning you money when visitors click on or view these ads.

While it’s crucial to occasionally update your content and ensure its relevance, the core monetisation strategy involves minimal ongoing effort.

The scalability of blogging with ad revenue depends on the growth of the blog’s audience and the content volume produced. As the blog attracts more readers and traffic, ad revenue potential increases.

While blogging with ad revenue offers passive income potential, bloggers face challenges like competition, search engine optimisation (SEO), and keeping content fresh and relevant. Staying committed to producing valuable content and maintaining audience engagement is vital for long-term success.

Blogging with ad revenue is a self-sustaining business model that leverages ad networks and automated ad placement to generate income from a blog. 

Once a blog gains traction and builds a dedicated readership, it can provide a source of passive income for the blogger. This business model offers opportunities for financial stability and creative expression while enjoying the benefits of an autonomous online platform.

6. App Development

App Development

App development offers the potential for substantial profits with a one-time development and marketing push, making it a prime candidate for businesses that run themselves. 

If you have an innovative app idea or can invest in hiring developers to bring your vision to life, your app can become a self-sustaining source of income. 

Once it’s available in app stores, most of your involvement may revolve around occasional updates, user support, and marketing efforts to maintain visibility and attract new users.

The scalability of app development lies in creating multiple apps or expanding existing ones to cater to diverse niches and audiences. Successful developers can build a portfolio of apps, each contributing to their passive income stream.

While app development offers passive income potential, developers should consider competition, platform-specific requirements, and the need to update and improve apps continually. 

Staying attuned to user needs and market trends is essential for long-term success.

App development can generate passive income by leveraging app stores, automated sales, in-app purchases, and advertising networks. 

Once an app is developed, published, and optimised, it can provide a source of revenue with minimal daily involvement from the developer. This business model offers opportunities for financial stability and creative expression while enjoying the benefits of autonomous software products.

7. Print on Demand

Print-on-demand is a unique business model that epitomises businesses that run themselves efficiently. Instead of maintaining an inventory of products, you only print custom merchandise when there’s a sale. 

Platforms like Printful or Teespring allow you to design custom products and produce them as orders come in, eliminating the need for inventory management. Your primary role is creating appealing designs and promoting your products while the fulfilment process remains automated. 

One of the key advantages of a print-on-demand business is its scalability. As your customer base grows, the system can handle increased demand seamlessly. 

Your business can become a thriving, self-sustaining venture with the right marketing strategies and the ability to offer various products and designs.

While print-on-demand offers significant benefits, it’s essential to consider some challenges. Competition can be fierce, so standing out with unique designs and effective marketing is crucial. Maintaining quality control and managing customer expectations is vital to sustaining a positive reputation.

A print-on-demand business can run effectively through careful integration with print providers, e-commerce automation, and strategic marketing efforts. 

By streamlining the production and fulfilment process, you can focus on designing and promoting your products while letting the system take care of the rest, making it a compelling option for those seeking businesses that can operate autonomously.

8. Royalty Earnings from Intellectual Property

Royalty Earnings from Intellectual Property

For creatives, earning royalties from intellectual property, such as music, patents, books, or other forms of content, can be a goldmine. 

Once the initial work is completed and the rights are secured, these creations can become businesses that run themselves, consistently generating income through licensing, sales, or usage fees. 

While monitoring and protecting intellectual property may require periodic attention, the core income stream remains passive.

The scalability of royalty earnings from intellectual property lies in the potential for multiple licensing agreements and the growth of the audience or market for the IP. 

Successful creators can accumulate substantial intellectual property rights over time, each contributing to a diversified income stream.

While royalty earnings from intellectual property can be a lucrative and self-sustaining business, it’s essential to consider some challenges. The competition in some IP fields can be intense, and it may take time to build a portfolio that generates significant income. 

Protecting your intellectual property rights is crucial to prevent unauthorised use or infringement.

All in all, royalty earnings from intellectual property can be a self-sustaining income stream through strategic licensing agreements, rights management organisations, and automated royalty collection and distribution systems. 

Once the initial work is created and the contracts are in place, the business can run itself, allowing creators to enjoy consistent income from their creative endeavours with relatively minimal ongoing effort. 

This business model is particularly appealing to those who value creative expression and seek a source of passive income from their artistic or innovative works.

9. Automated Investment Platforms

Automated Investment Platforms

Automated investment platforms, often facilitated by robo-advisors, offer a way to make your money work for you. 

While maintaining a good understanding of financial markets is essential, these platforms automate investment decisions based on algorithms and your risk tolerance. 

By maintaining a diversified portfolio and periodically adjusting strategies, these financial businesses can run themselves, allowing your investments to grow with minimal ongoing intervention.

The scalability of automated investment platforms lies in their ability to accommodate a growing number of clients and assets under management.

As more investors entrust their capital to these platforms, the algorithms can continue to manage and optimise portfolios effectively.

While automated investment platforms offer numerous advantages, investors should consider potential challenges. 

It is crucial to choose a platform aligned with your investing goals and the level of risk you are willing to take.

Additionally, market volatility and unforeseen economic events can impact automated strategies, requiring periodic reviews and adjustments.

Overall, automated investment platforms are a means to achieve financial self-sufficiency by leveraging technology and algorithms. These platforms can run autonomously through sophisticated investment strategies, automated trading, and portfolio management. 

While investors may choose to review their portfolios and make adjustments periodically, the day-to-day management of investments is primarily handled by the platform. 

This business model particularly appeals to individuals seeking to grow and manage their wealth with reduced time and effort, providing an avenue toward financial independence and security.

10. Subscription Boxes

Curated subscription boxes, especially those catering to niche markets, have gained immense popularity recently. 

By partnering with suppliers and automating the subscription billing and shipping processes, these businesses can quickly become self-sufficient with consistent monthly income. 

Your primary responsibilities revolve around sourcing or creating unique products, marketing your subscription box, and managing customer inquiries. The remainder operates smoothly without constant oversight.

The scalability of subscription box businesses lies in their ability to acquire more subscribers and expand their product offerings. 

As the subscriber base grows, the business can negotiate better deals with suppliers and invest in marketing efforts to reach a wider audience.

While subscription box businesses offer numerous benefits, they also face challenges. 

Competition in the subscription box market can be fierce, requiring businesses to differentiate themselves through unique offerings and exceptional customer service. 

Maintaining high-quality product selections and consistently meeting subscriber expectations is essential for long-term success.

Subscription box businesses can efficiently run themselves by automating billing, order fulfilment, and customer support processes. 

Their ability to curate and deliver unique products to subscribers regularly while generating recurring revenue makes them an attractive option for entrepreneurs seeking a self-sustaining venture. 

With careful planning, supplier relationships, and marketing strategies, subscription box businesses can thrive in today’s competitive market, providing a pathway to financial stability and autonomy.

Final Thoughts

While starting businesses that offer passive income may demand a significant initial investment of time, money, and effort, the allure of businesses that run themselves lies in their potential for long-term rewards with minimal ongoing effort.

In this in-depth guide, we have left no stone unturned in exploring 10 lucrative businesses that can run themselves. 

We have provided comprehensive insights, intricate strategies, and expert tips to empower you on your journey toward passive income. 

Which of these businesses will you start today? 

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