We've put together a list of our favorite summer business ideas and evaluated each based on startup costs, required skill level, and earning potential to help you find the perfect business idea for you.
SUMMER BUSINESS IDEAS
BIKE RENTAL BUSINESS
A bike rental business is perfect for people who live in an area that is easily explored by bike and has plenty of bike-accessible attractions. Bike rental business owners should also be mechanically inclined as you will need to perform maintenance on your bikes to keep them in tip-top shape.
Startup costs are relatively low depending on the quality of bikes you purchase, if you hire any staff, and what the rental rates are for your shop. If you want to save money and perform bike maintenance yourself, you will need to have (or learn) that skillset. Earning potential will depend on location and it’s market rate for bike rentals. You may choose to locate your business near hotels, bike shops, or businesses depending on your target audience. With a combination of good location, initial investment, and employing simple marketing techniques, this business has solid growth potential.
Learn how to start a bike rental business.
CANOE & KAYAK RENTAL BUSINESS
Canoe and kayak rental business owners need to enjoy being on the water, have some knowledge about canoes and kayaks, and be strong enough to move their boats around. These businesses can be started near cities and provide half or full-day rentals or they can be started in more remote locations and offer multi-day or weekly rentals. If you already know how to use canoes and kayaks, you should be able to transfer this knowledge to your customers.
Startup costs for canoe and kayak rental businesses are steep. Each vessel tends to cost a minimum of $1,000, business owners need to provide life jackets and paddles, and rent storage and storefront space. Your earning potential will be directly tied to the location of your business and the number of vessels you have (and can rent out each day). There isn’t a huge potential for expansion unless you plan to offer a chain of rentals along multiple bodies of water.
Learn how to start a canoe & kayak rental business.
Adventure and challenge courses are a great idea for outdoor lovers that are seeking new business opportunities. Depending on the exact type of services offered, business owners may need to have military, psychology, or corporate training, or a summer camp background. Businesses and social organizations will be your biggest customers and they will expect top-notch service.
Startup costs are high and these businesses require owners to have the skills required to create a great experience for their customers. Because these courses are becoming more popular and you can charge a large premium for access, there is very strong earning potential and great opportunities for growth.
Learn how to start a challenge course.
With the increasing popularity of organic and locally sourced foods, starting a summer farmer’s market can be a worthy investment. These businesses are ideal for entrepreneurs who have the temperament to work with local governments, knowledge of the industry, and a passion for farm-to-table foods.
Startup costs will vary depending on where your business is located and if it is operated as a non-profit. You will need to possess solid negotiation skills and accept the fact that this business will most likely be more of a passion project than a large source of revenue.
Learn how to start a farmers market.
If you have a knack for connecting with customers and a love for all things outdoors, then starting a glamping business may be a great idea for you. Glamping is just now starting to become popular in the US and this opportunity can be a solid investment. Business owners with a background in hospitality and/or holiday accommodations are typically well-suited for starting a glamping business. You should also be prepared to work weekends and holidays.
Startup costs for glamping businesses are high, but so is the earning potential. Ongoing costs for these businesses are typically low, so profits can increase dramatically once startup costs are reconciled.
Learn how to start a glamping business.
ICE CREAM TRUCK BUSINESS
An ice cream truck business is an excellent choice for entrepreneurs who enjoy working with children, don’t mind a lot of alone time, and have an affinity for frozen treats. This is also a very flexible business that can be run part-time, around your schedule. Having experience driving a truck and familiarity with the area you service are both vital to your success.
Startup costs can be quite high depending on the model of truck you buy, though your earning potential can also be around $5,000 per month. Generally speaking, these businesses are sustainable and have slow, but steady growth potential depending on the area they service. You also have the opportunity to branch out from your typical route and market your services to local businesses and clubs.
Learn how to start an ice cream truck business.
MINIATURE GOLF COURSE
A mini-golf course can be a great opportunity for an entrepreneur looking for a solid seasonal business. Owners should be outgoing, enjoy working with children, and have general business savvy.
Startup costs for mini-golf courses are steep, but the ongoing expenses are minimal. This can mean a high earning potential depending on the location of your business. Many mini-golf course owners are able to earn back their initial investment in just a few years. This business can also offer multiple revenue streams since many mini golf courses also feature arcade games and snack bars. There are growth opportunities for this kind of business as long as you are willing to diversify the activities you offer.
Learn how to start a mini golf business.
Starting a pedicab business is a great option for people who are active, enjoy working with the public, and who want to support emissions-free methods of transportation. Pedicab business owners should have basic bicycle maintenance skills and be physically fit.
Startup costs are moderate and there is good earning potential depending on location and market saturation. These businesses are great in areas where there is a large public transportation market and there is an opportunity to expand your business by renting or leasing additional vehicles to contractors. While earning potential will depend heavily on the market you’re in, low overhead means you’ll start earning profits fairly early on.
Learn how to start a pedicab business.
POOL CLEANING BUSINESS
Starting a seasonal pool cleaning business can be a great idea for people who enjoy being outdoors and working with their hands. While no formal education is required, there are several courses and certifications available to expand your knowledge on the particulars of pool maintenance. The National Swimming Pool Foundation offers a Certified Pool/Spa Operator Certification Program that’s widely respected in the industry.
Startup costs for a pool cleaning business are low and earning potential is solid. If you can cement a solid client base, there is excellent room for growth in this industry. While this can start out as a summer business, there are also great opportunities to expand by acquiring commercial clients, like health clubs and hotels, who will need your services year round.
Learn how to start a pool cleaning business.
SCOOTER RENTAL BUSINESS
Much like bicycle rental businesses, scooter rental businesses can be great options for entrepreneurs who are located in areas with lots of tourists and scooter-friendly motor vehicle laws. Successful business owners will need to have solid sales and customer service skills and know how to perform maintenance on their scooters.
Startup costs can be steep depending on the number of scooters you have in your fleet, though seasonal earnings can also be high. Your overall growth and earning potential will be determined by the area where you operate and the number of customers you’re able to bring in on a regular basis.
Learn how to start a scooter rental business.
The most successful summer camp business owners are passionate about both the outdoors and education. They are also generally creative and hardworking people with strong business and customer service sense. You may choose to open a camp that caters to general interests or focus on a theme you are particularly passionate about. The could be anything from outdoors to sports to art or any number of niche topics in between.
Startup costs for a summer camp are extremely high. Beyond needing the property necessary to run the camp, you will also need a large enough staff to accommodate your campers and all appropriate licenses both to operate the camp and work with children. If you’re able to set up a popular and successful summer camp, your earning potential is excellent, with well-maintained camps seeing a profit margin of anywhere from 25%-40%.
Learn how to start a summer camp.
If you are an avid surfer looking for a business venture that won’t interfere with your hobby, you may consider opening a surfing school. Beyond being a skilled surfer, you should be adept at teaching your craft to others and familiar with all necessary safety considerations when working with people in the water. While not required, you may also consider getting certified through the International Surf Association.
Startup costs can be kept low, especially if you conduct your courses at a public beach. With low startup and overhead costs, the bulk of the money you bring in will be profit. Your overall earning potential will depend entirely on how many clients you’re able to teach each week and what you charge per class. While most surfing schools will remain fairly small, there is always the potential to expand by bringing on additional instructors.
Learn how to start a surfing school.
WALKING TOUR BUSINESS
Sociable, gregarious people who live in or near an attractive tourist destination may consider opening a walking tour business. The ideal business owners will be passionate and knowledgeable about the area and love working with people.
Startup costs are minimal since you can often operate without a physical storefront location. You may start small, giving tours yourself, and then expand over time by hiring on additional guides. Overall growth will depend on the level of demand in your area and how many tours you can offer each week. Since there is little to no overhead, profit margins can be high.
Learn how to start a walking tour business.
ITALIAN ICE BUSINESS
Starting a summertime Italian ice business is perfect for people who enjoy working outdoors, have the ability to pull their trailer to each destination, and who aren’t looking for a full-time, year-round business. Depending on how you set your business up, there are different licenses that will be required to operate. Some knowledge of the food vendor industry is also advantageous.
Startup costs for Italian ice businesses can be low-to-moderate depending on the type of cart you purchase and the permits required to get started. Your earning potential can be quite high if you choose the right locations to sell your sweet treats. Businesses typically grow by finding creative ways to extend their season or hiring additional vendors to their team.
Learn how to start an Italian ice business.
HORSEBACK RIDING LESSONS BUSINESS
If you have a love for horses and the outdoors, you may consider starting a horseback riding lessons business. Successful entrepreneurs in this field must be good at training and riding horses and have the knack for teaching others.
This business venture has high startup, insurance, and maintenance costs and requires a lot of skill, but it can also yield good profits depending on your business model. If you already own a horse farm or a large piece of property to conduct lessons, you can limit your costs substantially while maximizing profits.
Learn how to start a horseback riding lesson business.
INFLATABLE BOUNCE HOUSE BUSINESS
Inflatable bounce house businesses are ideal for people who don’t mind working on the weekends, who can physically transport these heavy inflatables, and who love working with children. There is not a lot of skill required to start this kind of business, other than solid business sense and an understanding of the insurance policy you will need to purchase.
Startup costs can be minimal, depending on how many houses you wish to purchase, and your earning potential is moderate. This potential can be increased if you purchase additional units and hire staff to maximize the number of parties you can book in one weekend. The demand for inflatable bounce houses has increased quite a bit over the past 10 years and the business is expected to maintain good growth potential moving forward.
Learn how to start a bounce house business.