15+ Best Businesses That Run Themselves For Semi-Passive Income [2024]

Updated on: January 14, 2023 by Eddy Ballesteros

Are you looking for a way to grow your wealth without spending hours working and owning multiple self-running businesses?

Businesses that run themselves are the perfect solution! You can generate passive income from online businesses, rental properties, or franchises.

You can even make money with AI to automate parts of your business.

With these investments, you don't need to spend long days in an office; you can watch your money work for itself.

In this blog post, we will discuss the best businesses that run themselves, some examples of them, and their benefits.

So, keep reading if you're interested in learning more about passive income opportunities and receiving steady cash flow.

TL;DR: Self-Running Business Ideas.

  • Blogging
  • Video Creation
  • A Self Storage Facility
  • Merchant Processing
  • Credit Repair
  • Advertising space
  • Rental property business
  • Self-service car wash
  • Digital product sales

What is a Business That Runs Itself?

Businesses that run themselves don't require constant effort from the owner.

They generate regular income without active work, providing financial independence. Automation and hiring out tasks are key.

Examples include online businesses, rental properties, and franchises.

Self-running companies offer passive income streams, allowing you to focus on other things. It's an appealing investment approach. 

For instance, I earn through Google by creating content that continuously generates revenue, similar to a rental property. Affiliate marketing provides regular payments with minimal management. 

Online businesses can provide extra income with little effort, enabling investors to diversify their financial portfolios.

Next, we'll explore online business models to help you achieve this goal.

What Are The Top Businesses That Run Themselves?

Let's review a few online business ideas that can run on auto-pilot with a solid foundation.

1. Blogging

Blogging is one of the best profitable business ideas for bringing monthly cash flow without requiring a significant time commitment.

Why? Because you can outsource this business model to people worldwide and start making money within 6-12 months.

I've made money blogging regularly without putting too much work in.

While a blogging business requires research, work, and money upfront, it can start generating passive income, allowing you to invest in other profitable businesses.

Creating blogs in any niche allows for generating income through advertisements, affiliate marketing, and sponsored posts.

2. Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is a great self-sustaining business for anyone who wants to work online and make money with minimal effort.

This business model involves promoting and selling products from other companies in exchange for a commission.

Affiliate running business

You can do this on almost all social media platforms, but it works best through Youtube and blogging.

You can then capture leads via email marketing and sell them affiliate products through your email list. 

You can even start affiliate marketing with no money and still build a business that runs on itself.

You can also sell other people's online courses so you don't need to make it yourself. So, with little or no effort, you can have your own business without creating products yourself.

3. YouTube

While you must still be present for YouTube content, you can automate most post work, including editing and uploading videos.

You can also use tools such as TubeBuddy or VidIQ to optimize your content for SEO. 

Building Two YouTube channels as a beginner

This way, more people can watch and engage with your content, driving your website or blog traffic.

This business idea is semi-passive since you can outsource other services and collect money through affiliates, sponsors, and digital products.

You can find many digital product platforms that allow you to automate the checkout process.

4. Payment Processing

Payment processing can become a profitable business that allows you to accept and process customer payments quickly.

You can access payment gateways like Stripe, PayPal, and Payment Cloud, allowing you to accept payments online easily.

Depending on your business type, you can charge a fee for each transaction or offer discounts for bulk orders.

High-risk verticals can be a niche you jump into and help set them up with a merchant account for processing payments.

Payment processing as a business that runs itself

This type of business can also be profitable by offering customers the convenience of processing their payments quickly and securely.

How is this a business that can run on auto-pilot?

This will be B2B and B2C for the most part. You can set up a website, create an automated checkout process, and provide customer support through email or phone.

Automated payment processing also allows you to accept customer payments quickly and store them securely in your system.

This makes it easier to track orders and manage customer relationships as well.

5. Membership Programs

Starting a membership program is a great way to generate residual income. It requires only day-to-day operations and little capital investment.

This type of business model has been popular for creators, SaaS providers, and even local companies.

You can start your monthly membership program using a platform like Skool where you can even host online events.

join a platform like skool for more course learning

Allowing customers to become members can result in more money for a business, as customers tend to be more committed than those who pay cash.

Overall, membership programs are an effective way to leverage funds while taking advantage of today's trends.

6. Credit Repair Business

Starting a credit repair business can be one of the best businesses that run themselves for many reasons.

You can help your local area and partner with small businesses to help repair credit.

The best part? This business idea can be fully automated using credit repair software and other online tools.

Credit Repair Cloud Payments I Received

You can also scale your business to target more giant corporations, helping them fix their credit

Of course, a service like this requires lots of training and expertise, but it's worth the effort.

7. Self-Publishing Author

Write a book, sell it as a digital copy or hardcover, and reap the rewards of becoming a self-publishing author.

You can create content about almost anything and turn it into a success.

Many new authors are already taking advantage of this growing industry by creating original works and selling them online.

Having an ebook-selling business with the right business plan can become one of the most intelligent decisions for you.

Self Publishing author business Eddy

While other businesses struggle to sell, you can have your book on Kindle and be proud of selling it.

There's no need for expensive branding or marketing efforts, as your book will speak for itself.

8. Social Media Management

Out of all these businesses that run themselves, social media marketing may not be the most hands-off.

However, it can be lucrative. Social media management involves creating, curating, and managing content to bring in followers and leads for your clients.

As a social media manager, you can work with brands and influencers on campaigns to get the most out of their social media presence.

Now, the good thing is that you can white-label other social media marketing companies and get clients.

You don't need to do all the heavy lifting yourself; you can outsource it to a third-party service provider or agency. Of course, knowledge of social media and tools like google analytics is necessary.

9. AI Writing Agency

Starting an AI article-writing service is also an option for content creators.

This agency uses algorithms and artificial intelligence to create unique, engaging content at scale with minimal effort.

Surfer SEO Tool

Surfer SEO

  • Free Chrome Extension
  • Keyword Research
  • Topical Mapping

Many website owners and small businesses will be willing to pay for automatic blogging. AI-based writing services optimize the accuracy and quality of content while minimizing the cost of producing it.

So using AI writing software will help you scale your agency and get more clients.

To outsource this yourself, you can hire a freelance writer to leverage ai blog writing software or do it yourself.

10. Create Chrome Extensions

If you're a software development lover, then you build Chrome extensions.

Chrome extensions are becoming increasingly popular as they provide an easy way to extend the functionality of Google's browser.

Build Chrome Extensions

With this in mind, you can create a Chrome extension that provides helpful features for users who visit your website or use web services, such as embeddable widgets, search engine optimization (SEO) tools, or social.

You can pick any niche and create a Chrome extension that solves their issues, and all you need to do is manage the development process.

You can also outsource all the development to a qualified software team, and they will take care of developing your Chrome extension.

You can focus on other tasks, such as marketing and user support.

11. eCommerce Business

With an eCommerce business, online stores are easily accessible and ever-evolving with technical developments.

This business model can give you financial freedom and complete control over online sales operations.

Products, pricing, and marketing strategies can all be managed online without involving third parties. The online platform also makes it incredibly simple to check online traffic data, which can make adjustments easier depending on user analytics.

For a true asset to your business, an online store is certainly worth exploring!


Now let's review business models that are local or offline.

12. ATM Business

With ATM business owners, there is no need to hire staff or be around for daily operations. All that must be done is set up high-traffic locations and maintain their machines.

It's a low-maintenance effort that can prove to be quite lucrative.

As long as there are high numbers of customers in high-traffic areas such as malls, airports, and universities, ATM owners will have a high chance of success.

Not only can you ensure high-quality services by using state-of-the-art technology, but you can also run a profitable business with minimal effort.

13. Vending Machine Business

Starting a vending machine business can be a lovely business idea for any beginner entrepreneur.

It requires little specialized knowledge and allows someone to make money with just a few vending machines.

The vending machine route takes some effort to get started. It involves locating vending machines, filling them with products, and tracking inventory and sales.

While it may sound complicated, much help is available regarding profit calculations, operational procedures, and marketing tactics that can make setting up one’s vending machine route much more accessible.

With little capital outlay, a consistent maintenance schedule, and a reliable source of income, vending machines can offer an excellent opportunity for individuals to own their businesses without too much stress.

14. Real Estate Business

Real estate offers many opportunities, from investing and selling to leasing and managing.

Investing can be an excellent option for those looking to get their feet wet in the real estate industry. It requires minimal capital outlay and doesn’t require you to own physical property or manage tenants.

Investing in properties can earn residual income while also building equity over time.

You can find torn-down properties using a real estate wholesaling app that can identify good deals and allow you to buy properties with the potential for huge returns on investment.

Leasing and managing properties is another option for real estate entrepreneurs, as it requires a more significant capital outlay and comes with higher rewards if done correctly.

You can find tenants by marketing your property on popular rental sites or through focused social media campaigns.

You can hire a property manager or a service to oversee the leasing and management of your real estate investments.

This can be an excellent option for those who want to own rental property without having to take on the day-to-day responsibilities associated with it. 

15. Rental businesses

One of the best low-maintenance business ideas is providing rentals for different situations. Rental opportunities could include renting heavy equipment or tools or offering vacationers a house.

With the right resources, rental businesses can easily make residual income without doing much manual labor.

Also, landlords and homeowners can benefit from investing in rentals, as they can earn a steady income with minimal effort.

Because many rental businesses are available, it’s important to research before investing in one. Also, consider local laws and regulations affecting your ability to run a successful rental business.

You can build:

  • Self-storage facilities
  • Billboard Space
  • A Private Parking Lot
  • Property Lending

My favorite is owning a storage facility. You get to rent out the spaces to collect income while selling storage units and packing supplies as added revenue.

With a private parking lot, you can regulate who is allowed in and when they can access it. You also get to set the price of your space rentals, which allows for more flexibility in making a profit.

16. Laundromat Business

Owning a small business such as a laundromat allows you to get a steady income from your customers. You can add services such as dry cleaning, alterations, and laundry delivery to make money.

You must also be aware of certain regulations when running this business, particularly those related to safety and health standards. 

This means it’s important to research and understand the local regulations for running a laundromat business.

17. Car Wash Business

A Bay automatic car wash business is a great way to save money while getting top-quality results.

Unlike standalone car washes, bay systems are typically attached to a single structure, making them much more cost-effective and less labor-intensive.

Plus, owning bay automated car washes provides convenience that cannot be found with manual units, as customers can drive into bays and have enough space for larger vehicles.

Some bay automatic car wash systems even include advanced technologies like soft-touch brushes and air dryers for enhanced plushness and quick drying times.

All these benefits make bay automation an excellent choice for anyone looking to start their own car wash business with almost no effort.

18. Bakery Business

A bakery business that runs itself is a great way to own your own business and maintain a steady income stream.

Many people dream of this type of venture, as it allows them to own their hours and completely control the financial side of things.

With the right resources and planning, a small bakery can be a successful business with minimal effort.

Working with local farmers for ingredients, setting up online ordering systems for customers, and distributing products through grocery stores or local markets are all ways to increase profits.

Once set up properly on solid foundations, a bakery business can easily become cost-effective and efficient, allowing you to focus on what truly matters - baking delicious treats that your customers will love.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Bounce house business
  • Automatic Car Wash
  • Billboard rental business
  • Pet Grooming service
  • FedEx route business

Final Thoughts

Businesses that run themselves are a great way to generate passive income and grow wealth. 

Whether you choose an online business, rental property, or franchise, each option can provide financial freedom if appropriately managed.

With the right amount of research and planning, owning a business that runs itself can be a rewarding experience with many benefits.

FAQs About Businesses That Run Themselves


What are some common challenges with automating a business?

Common issues include automating too much too fast, not having clear processes, and failing to get team buy-in. Take an incremental approach, document everything, and make sure your team is on board with the changes.

What are some key traits of a self-running business?

Self-running businesses have streamlined processes, use automation tech, delegate tasks, and build reliable teams. This frees up your time and allows the business to operate smoothly with minimal oversight.

What business can you run by yourself?

One business that can be run by oneself is a financial consulting service. This is a fantastic way to make money online and grow your consulting service.

This could involve advising on investments, retirement planning, budgeting, and other personal finance topics.

It could also include helping clients develop strategies to grow their wealth and manage their finances more effectively.

Also, this business could provide education on alternative investments such as real estate or cryptocurrency.

With the proper knowledge and resources, anyone can become an independent financial consultant with the potential to generate significant income over time.

What are the easiest businesses to run?

Some businesses that can be easier to automate and streamline include:

  • Online courses & digital products
  • Dropshipping & eCommerce
  • Software as a Service (SaaS)
  • Affiliate marketing
  • Vending machines & kiosks

The key is choosing a model that can be systematized and doesn't require your constant presence.

Can a business run itself?

No business can run 100% on its own.

However, you can set up systems, processes, and automation that allow a business to run with minimal owner involvement. The key is building a self-sufficient company that can handle day-to-day operations smoothly.

Eddy is an AI, SEO, and personal finance blogger who uses and tests products to help others improve their lives through AI and financial literacy. With years of experience in online business, he deeply understands the latest AI and SEO trends. Eddy is also well-knowledged in personal finance and committed to sharing his knowledge and expertise with his readers.

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