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8 Businesses That Run Themselves

Low-maintenance businesses
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As a prospective business owner, you likely dream of a business that runs itself, providing you more time and freedom to enjoy life. But how can you achieve this goal? 

In this article, we’ll explore the benefits of running a business that requires minimal oversight and examples of businesses that run themselves. We’ll also delve into the factors that contribute to a business running itself and the advantages and challenges of running a low-maintenance business.

Building a low-maintenance business

Building a business that runs itself is a lofty goal, but it’s not impossible. Imagine having a business that generates revenue and profits without requiring your constant attention and involvement. This can free up your time to pursue other interests, spend time with your loved ones, and enjoy the fruits of your labour.

Advantages of a business that runs itself

Running a business that runs itself has several advantages, including:

  • More time and freedom: When the business is able to operate without your constant attention, you can focus on other pursuits, whether it’s starting a new venture, spending time with family, or pursuing personal interests.
  • Reduced stress and burnout: Business owners who are able to delegate tasks and automate processes are less likely to suffer from stress and burnout. This can lead to a better quality of life and greater longevity in their entrepreneurial endeavours.
  • Scalability and potential for growth: A business that runs itself is much easier to scale, allowing for greater growth and increased profits. With the right systems in place, the business can continue to operate smoothly even as it expands.
  • Increased profitability: By reducing the need for manual labour and oversight, a business that runs itself can operate more efficiently and with lower overhead costs, leading to increased profitability.

Challenges of a business that runs itself

While running a business that runs itself may seem like an ideal scenario, it’s not without its challenges. Some of the common challenges include:

  • Initial setup and investment: Setting up the systems and processes needed to run a business with minimal oversight can require a significant investment of time and money. It may require the purchase of specialised equipment or software, such as rostering software. You might also need to hire consultants or experts to help design and implement the necessary systems.
  • Maintenance and repair of equipment: Businesses that rely on automation and specialised equipment will require ongoing maintenance and repair. This can be costly and time-consuming.
  • Finding the right team or contractors: While a business that runs itself may require fewer employees, it’s still important to find the right team or contractors to handle the necessary tasks. This can be a challenge, as it requires finding individuals with the right skill set and work ethic to work independently and efficiently.
  • Keeping up with technology advancements: As technology continues to evolve, it’s important for businesses that run themselves to stay up to date with the latest advancements in order to maintain their efficiency and competitiveness. This is essential for online businesses in particular.

Despite these challenges, the benefits of running a business that runs itself make it a worthwhile pursuit for entrepreneurs looking to maximise their time, reduce stress, and increase profitability. By implementing the right systems and processes, and staying up to date with the latest technology, business owners can achieve the dream of a business that practically runs itself.

Businesses that run themselves

8 examples of businesses that run themselves

There are several examples of businesses that require minimal involvement from the owner once they are set up. Let’s take a closer look at some of the most popular examples, along with their pros and cons.

1. Vending machines and ATMs

Vending machines and ATMs are popular examples of businesses that require minimal oversight. Once they are set up, they can operate 24/7 with no need for employees. The pros of this business model include low startup costs, low overhead, and the potential for passive income. However, there are also some cons to consider. Some potential drawbacks are finding good locations for the machines, occasional maintenance and repairs, and the risk of vandalism or theft.

2. Party rentals

Party rentals can be a lucrative businesses that runs themselves. Once the rentals are set up, they can be rented out repeatedly with little additional work required. The pros of this business model include the potential for high profits, a low overhead, and the ability to work seasonally. However, there are also some cons to consider, such as the need to invest in high-quality equipment, the need to transport and set up the rentals at various locations, and the risk of damage or liability.

You’ll want to make sure you choose a rental business that will be profitable. That means looking for rentals that are in demand. A few good options include:

  • Audio and visual equipment
  • Staging and décor
  • Linens and cutlery
  • Tables, chairs, and other furniture
  • Tents and marquees
  • Entertainment equipment, like bouncy castles, photo booths or dance floors
Party rental business

3. Print-on-demand shops

Print-on-demand shops are another type of business that can run itself with minimal oversight. These shops allow customers to design and order custom products such as t-shirts, mugs, and phone cases online. The shop only needs to fulfil the orders by printing the designs on the products and shipping them to the customers. The process can be automated with the help of software, reducing the need for manual labor.

One advantage of print-on-demand shops is the low startup cost, as there is no need to hold inventory. Additionally, they no risk of overstocking or understocking, as the products are only made when an order is placed. Print-on-demand has some disadvantages, such as high competition, and lower profit margins compared to traditional manufacturing methods. Additionally, if you use external marketplaces, such as Etsy, they can take a significant commission on each sale, reducing your earnings.

Related: 3 Realistic TikTok-Inspired Side Hustles to Make Money Online

4. Self-service laundry business

Laundromats or launderettes are other examples of a business that can run themselves. Although launderettes are not as popular as they once were, they are still a necessity for many people.

Customers simply bring their clothes to the launderette and use the machines, with no need for employees. This business model can operate 24/7 and can bring recurring revenue from customers who need to wash their clothes regularly. However, the initial investment in equipment and real estate can be significant. And because most households have their own washing machines, finding an area where this business model works, might be difficult.

5. Storage facilities

Storage facilities can be a lucrative business that runs itself with minimal oversight. Customers rent storage units to store their belongings, and the business owner only needs to maintain the facility and ensure security. With the help of software, customers can easily rent units and pay online, reducing the need for staff to handle paperwork and payments.

One advantage of storage facilities is the recurring revenue from long-term leases. They also have low maintenance costs, as the units only need occasional cleaning and repair. However, the initial investment in real estate and security measures can be significant, and there may be competition from other storage facilities in the area.

If you have a garage, an attic or a spare room, a storage business can also be a smaller-scale side hustle. With platforms such as Stashbee, you can easily earn cash from renting out your spare space for storage.

6. Digital product sales

With the rise of the likes of e-books, online courses and digital templates, digital products are becoming increasingly popular. These products can be created once and sold multiple times, making them a great example of a business that can run itself. The sales process can be automated with the help of software, such as e-commerce platforms, allowing for minimal oversight.

One advantage of a digital product business is the low overhead costs, as there is no need for physical inventory or a storefront. They also have the potential for high-profit margins, as the cost of producing digital products is relatively low. However, the market for digital products can be competitive, and it may take time to build a reputation and attract customers. Creating a good digital product often also requires an initial time investment.

Many digital sellers use platforms like Etsy to list their products, but you can also create your own website to sell your goods.

Online product business

7. Blogging businesses that run themselves

With the help of automation tools and outsourcing, blog and website owners can create content and manage their websites with minimal oversight. The revenue can come from advertising, sponsored content, and affiliate marketing.

One advantage of blogging businesses is the potential for passive income, as blog posts can continue to generate revenue long after they are published. Additionally, they have the potential for high-profit margins, as the start-up and maintenance costs are often low. However, building a successful website can take a lot of time and effort, and there may be competition in the niche. You will also need a large following and lots of traffic to make significant money.

8. Billboards and outdoor advertising

Billboards and outdoor advertising are other examples of businesses that can run themselves. To start a billboard business, you’ll need to either buy an existing billboard or put up your own. If putting up your own billboard, you have to own the land yourself or find a landowner willing to rent you the space for the billboard. Billboards usually work by renting their advertising space to businesses.

With the help of technology, such as digital billboards, the advertising process can be automated. The business owner only needs to maintain the equipment and ensure that the advertising space is rented out.

One advantage of outdoor advertising is the potential for high-profit margins, as the cost of maintaining the equipment is relatively low. But the initial investment in equipment can be significant, and there is often competition from other outdoor advertising companies in the area.

Factors that contribute to a business running itself

It’s important to note that while these businesses can run themselves, they still require some effort and investment to set up and maintain. However, with the right strategies and systems in place, they can provide a source of passive income and give you more time and freedom. Let’s discuss some of the factors that will help you make your business run on its own.

Automation and Technology

Automation refers to the use of technology to streamline and automate repetitive tasks, reducing the need for human intervention. By incorporating automation into a business, you can save time, reduce errors, and increase efficiency. For example, a self-service business could use automatic payment systems to reduce the need for a staff member to handle cash transactions. When it comes to a digital business, various AI tools can help you create content for your online product or website faster.


Outsourcing involves hiring individuals or companies to perform specific tasks that are outside of your expertise or capacity. By outsourcing, you can focus on your strengths while delegating tasks to others who can complete them more efficiently. For example, a blogging business owner could outsource editing or social media management.

Creating standard operating procedures (SOPs)

Standard operating procedures are step-by-step guides for performing specific tasks. By creating SOPs, you can ensure consistency and efficiency in your operations, reducing the need for oversight. For example, a party rental business could create an SOP for setting up a tent, ensuring that every staff member follows the same process.

Building a team of reliable employees or contractors

Having a team of reliable employees or contractors is crucial for any business. But it’s especially important for businesses that aim to run themselves. By hiring individuals who are competent and trustworthy, you can delegate tasks with confidence, knowing that they will be completed to a high standard. For example, a storage facility owner could hire a contractor for maintenance tasks, allowing them to focus on other areas of the business.

Conclusion: Setting up a low-maintenance business

Running a business that runs itself can provide many benefits, including more time and freedom for the owner, reduced stress, and increased profitability. However, it requires effort and investment to set up and maintain. By incorporating automation, outsourcing tasks, creating SOPs, and building a reliable team, business owners can create a sustainable and profitable business that runs itself.

8 Businesses that run themselves

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