23 ways to make your small business increase revenue in 2021

20 April, 2021by Bounce

Small businesses are at the heart of our economy. Did you know that businesses with 20 or fewer employees make up 89% of US businesses


They’re also often hit the hardest in economic downturns, and the pandemic has proved this more true than ever.


But small business owners - especially those who own brick-and-mortar local businesses - are also some of the most creative and innovative people out there when it comes to making ends meet and growing their businesses. Bounce, a tech company serving SMBs, has dug deep into what small brick-and-mortar businesses are doing today to earn extra revenue and attract new customers in a fast-changing business environment.


At Bounce, we’ve come up with 23 surprising and clever “side businesses” that local shops are employing today to diversify their revenue and make more money with their space


Below is the list of side hustles and some estimates for how much businesses can earn from each one, a guide to how much they’re likely to cost to set up, and how easy they are to maintain. If you’re wondering how to attract more customers to your brick-and-mortar store, then you’ve come to the right place. 


If you’re short on time then don’t worry - we’ve summarised each opportunity in an infographic below.



1. Luggage Storage

Got some spare space? Luggage storage is an ideal way to make extra money as a small business. Whether you’ve got a whole storeroom or a cupboard behind the counter, you can sign up to offer luggage storage services with as much or as little space as you have. All you’ll need to do to start earning extra income is set your own hours and you’ll be good to go.


The easiest way to get the word out there about your luggage storage service is to partner with a luggage storage company. It’s really easy to do - we know first hand! As a Bounce luggage storage partner, you will be added to our platform and luggage storage app - which gives your business extra visibility - and earn a commission on every bag you store. On top of that, you’ll also earn attract extra customers to your store. We surveyed our customers and found that 60% of them make a purchase at the location where they store their luggage, so you’ll be able to increase sales for your regular products or services, too!


How can you sign up to become a luggage storage partner? It’s pretty easy - even easier now that you’re here! All you need to do is visit our partner page and sign up. It’ll only take a minute. Once you’ve submitted, one of our team will be in touch to take you through the next steps and you’ll be up and running in no time.

  • Difficulty: Easy

  • Set up cost: None

  • Potential Earnings: Up to $350/month


2. Offer a Key Exchange Service

The (astronomical) rise of Airbnb has brought another alternative revenue stream to local businesses: key exchange services. Some Airbnb-style vacation rentals and boutique hotels make use of a key lockbox to keep their property or room keys safe between customers. But for many, key exchange services solve a now-common problem - when vacationers can arrive at their destination at any hour of the night or day, how can vacation home hosts get accommodation keys to their guests without always needing to be there physically?


That’s where you and your business come in.


It’s pretty easy to add a key exchange service to your business. There are a number of key exchange service companies that you can partner with. 


To qualify, companies like Key Cafe say that they’re looking for businesses that open 7 days a week for relatively long hours. Key Cafe won’t charge you a thing to sign up, and will even provide you with an exclusivity zone to block out your competitors, so it’s well worth taking a look at the partner page on their website.


Not only can you earn extra revenue by partnering with Key Cafe to offer their key exchange service (you could earn up to $250 per year for every key you look after), but you’ll also benefit from more travelers visiting your business, which means you can use the partnership to attract new customers as well. According to the Key Cafe website, roughly 50% of people who come in to pick up a key make an additional in-store purchase, so you’re likely to increase sales at the same time.


Plus, it only takes about 30 seconds to complete any one key exchange, so you’ll be making that extra revenue without additional hassle for yourself, your employees, or your existing customers.

  • Difficulty: Easy

  • Set up cost: None

  • Potential Earnings: Up to $250/year per key, plus extra foot traffic and increased sales


3. Get an ATM for your business


If you want a way to increase your revenue and already have some shop floor to spare, you could install an ATM in your business.


People - potential customers - are always in need of an ATM, and this option is also particularly useful if your business is cash-only, and could even help bring in extra sales. If you’re wondering how to get an ATM machine in your store, there are a couple of ways you can do it.


The most expensive way to put an ATM in your store is to buy one yourself but, if you own your ATM, you’ll be able to keep all the fees that the machine generates. 


This option means a large upfront cost (we’ve seen estimates range from around the $1000 mark to around $10,000), but, as most adults own a debit card, you could get a great return on investment - especially if you’re in an area with heavy foot traffic, provide services that require customers to have cash, or are nearby tourist attractions where having cash is handy.


If buying an ATM isn’t something you want to commit to right away, don’t worry - there are other ways to get an ATM for your business. You could partner with an ATM business, for example. 


Upfront costs and ongoing earnings will vary - it all depends on who you choose to partner with - but a partnership is a great way to see if adding an ATM to your store is the right option for you. For example, if you partnered with ATM Experts, they would split the surcharge with you 50/50. They’ll provide the machine and you’ll provide the extras, such as the cash to stock in it and the phone and the electricity.


Shop around and compare the packages available in your country or state to find the best option for you.

  • Difficulty: Medium-Hard

  • Set up cost: Variable

  • Potential Earnings: Up to $30,000, if you buy your own machine


4. Install Game Machines

Who doesn’t love a good old-fashioned arcade game? 


Whether it’s Pac-Man or a Claw Machine, arcade games are popular with customers of all ages.


While these game machines might not bring in a huge amount of extra revenue to your store themselves, you’ll have added an extra way to engage customers with your business and might even find that you increase foot traffic and in-store purchases as more people come to play and stay for longer.


Plus, the money that your customers spend to play the game machine itself will quickly start to add up.


There are plenty of online sellers you can choose from, or have a look on sites like eBay and Gumtree to pick up second-hand options.


In terms of how much money you can make from installing game machines in your store, that will vary depending on the location of your business, the type of business you run, and how many machines you have. One San Diego owner of an arcade business reported that he earned $200/week from one machine - as the lender, he splits the profit with his partner locations. At that rate, a 50/50 split on one arcade game could see your business bringing in an extra $400/month.

  • Difficulty: Medium

  • Set up cost: Variable

  • Potential Earnings: Between increased foot traffic and up to $400/month per machine


5. Host a kiosk


A kiosk can be a great way to earn extra revenue and increase foot traffic to your business. Even better - the variety of kiosks available mean there’s sure to be something that suits your store.


KeyMe kiosks, for example, allow their customers to duplicate keys. You can apply to get a KeyMe kiosk here. Passport Photo kiosks are also a great option if you’re looking to attract new footfall to your store, and you have the option to either invest in your own machine or can with a photo booth company.


The DMV varies from state to state, but in California, you can apply to host a DMV Now kiosk. You can contact the DMV directly to find out whether your business qualifies for a 


Last but not least, a coffee kiosk could also be a great opportunity to both attract customers and impress your current ones. Whether you own a hairdressing salon or a convenience store or a gas station, there’s always someone who wants to grab a cup of coffee. 


In the UK, Costa Express kiosks allow your customers to make themselves a drink and you won’t be charged a thing for the machine. All you’ll need to do is make sure the kiosk contains enough milk. You can either partner with Costa for a share of the revenue, or you can rent the machine and keep the revenue for yourself.


Given the range of different kiosks you can choose from, it isn’t surprising that the amount of extra revenue you can earn and foot traffic you can gain will vary. For example, DMV Now Kiosks in California benefit from marketing efforts and increased foot traffic, while other kiosk companies in different sectors might agree to share the revenue with you. Weigh up your options and find a kiosk that suits your business best.

  • Difficulty: Medium-Hard

  • Set up cost: Variable depending on the type of kiosk

  • Potential Earnings: Increased foot traffic, extra in-store spending, and commission


6. Own a vending machine

Owning a vending machine is a great way to earn extra revenue for a lot of businesses because there are so many different products you can offer your customers. 


How much money you can make from a vending machine really depends on where your business is based and what kind of vending machine you choose. Naturals2Go estimates that a regular vending machine in the US earns $300 per month. If you decide that you want to install a vending machine, there are a number of questions that you'll need to ask yourself. For example, you want to install one with a credit card reader or tap pay, rather than the traditional coin-operated machine? Learn what your customers would value most and play to your strengths.


Of course, much like installing an ATM machine, there are always vending machine businesses that you could partner with instead if you don’t like the idea of investing in one yourself.


Either way, just make sure to keep the vending machine stocked.

  • Difficulty: Medium

  • Set up cost: Variable

  • Potential Earnings: Up to $300/month


7. Offer a phone charging station

Whether you run a food truck business or a supermarket, a restaurant or a hairdressing salon, phone charging kiosks and battery packs are a great way to add value to your existing customers and even attract new ones. 


If this is an additional revenue stream that suits you, then you can either add a phone charging kiosk by partnering with a brand or offer a phone charging station of your own. 


If you choose to invest in your own charging packs, you can charge what you think is fair and optimize as you learn what works and what doesn’t. The only upfront cost is purchasing the chargers and the electricity you’ll use to make sure they’re ready to go when customers need them.


Alternatively, companies like Hey Chimpy can provide you with power packs and lockboxes that you can then rent out to your customers. Even better, Hey Chimpy is committed to reusable energy sources.


Not only can you earn extra money from renting out battery packs, but you can also gain extra foot traffic and enhance your relationship with your current customers. After all, none of us like to go about our days with less than 20% battery.

  • Difficulty: Easy

  • Set up cost: None (if you partner with a company) - the price of the phone chargers (if you do it yourself)

  • Potential Earnings: Increased foot traffic and more


8. Become a seller on Wish


For local businesses who want a more global reach, you can sign up to become a Wish local partner.


If you’re not already familiar with the company, Wish is an online marketplace that allows customers to access products from all over the world.


As a Wish local partner, you get access to four different Wish services. You’ll be able to sell your products on their platform and keep all of the earnings (Wish takes a percentage or set amount of a sale if you’re a regular merchant). You can also buy products in bulk from the Wish wholesale store to help your own business. 


But the benefits don’t end there - as a Wish local partner, you’ll also be able to act as a pickup point for Wish customers and earn a commission for every package delivered to you, plus you’ll attract new customers to your store as a result. If you want to go one step further, you can also agree to make local Wish deliveries within your area, which could earn you even more commission. According to the Wish website, you can earn $0.50 for every package you receive for a Wish customer and $4 for every package delivered.


If that’s not for you, you can still sign up to become a seller on Wish. It’s a quick and easy process to register and list your products - just know that Wish will charge either a percentage of the list price or a fixed amount for each sale.

  • Difficulty: Easy

  • Set up cost: None

  • Potential Earnings: $4/delivery, $0.50/parcel accepted, plus a wider customer base


9. Add neighborhood delivery

Local businesses are at the heart of every community, and there are plenty of services your customers would love brought to their doorstep. If you’ve got a way to transport their purchases to them, why not offer a local delivery service?


2020 saw a huge increase in local delivery options as local businesses were faced with the enormous challenges that the pandemic presented them with - revenue for the food delivery sector in the US increased by a whopping 83% - and it’s only set to rise further. 2020 also saw more people choose to buy local to support the businesses in their communities, which makes local delivery a fantastic opportunity for brick and mortar stores of every kind.


Offering local delivery services is a great way to both attract customers and offer new services for your regulars. If your business offers services like dry cleaning, for example, you can make several deliveries in one journey so that this extra service doesn’t add too much work to your day. Perhaps you can even do it on your way to lunch or home from work - you might find that you get more clients from further afield, too.


All you’ll need to do to start a local delivery service is create a way for customers to choose the delivery option and make payments, plus a way to keep track of when you’re making the deliveries and any training that your staff might need.


If you’re offering neighborhood delivery independent of any outside partnership (read: delivery apps - we’ll get to those in a moment), then you’re free to set your own rates, too.

  • Difficulty: Hard

  • Set up cost: Variable

  • Potential Earnings: Set your own rates

10. Get listed on delivery apps


If deliveries seem like a great way to reach a wider audience, but you don’t want to set up a delivery service yourself, you can always list yourself on various delivery apps that will do the leg work for you.


If you run a restaurant, cafe, or a convenience store, then companies like Deliveroo, UberEats, and MealPal will provide you with a wider audience and a means to reach those new customers easily. That 83% growth in revenue for food delivery in the US that we mentioned? It’s only set to grow over the next few years. Over in Europe, Deliveroo estimates that you could make up to 30% extra through takeaway delivery, and your business will be live on the site within 7 days of submitting your menu.


It’s pretty simple to get yourself set up on a delivery app, just follow the guidance on the platform’s website. Remember: when you’re choosing which delivery app (or apps) is best for you, it’s important to keep in mind how much commission they’ll expect you to share with them.

  • Difficulty: Easy

  • Set up cost: Variable

  • Potential Earnings: Up to 30% increase on your normal sales


11. Offer click and collect


If offering delivery isn’t for you, but you sell products that people take away with them, then a click-and-collect style shelf could be a great alternative.


Click and collect allows customers to order from your business online and then collect their purchase in-person from the store. While you may not earn additional revenue from each individual customer, you might find that your online presence for click and collect helps you to reach a wider audience.


With click and collect, you can help customers who want to save time by hosting a shelf for pickups, plus the online store would allow your business to reach a wider audience. 


All you’ll need to do is keep your customers’ orders safe until they come to collect.

  • Difficulty: Medium

  • Set up cost: Variable

  • Potential Earnings: Set your own rates


12. Offer FBI fingerprinting services

As partnership opportunities go, this one is a little bit more unusual. If your business is in the USA, then FBI Fingerprinting could be a fantastic opportunity to earn additional revenue and increase your foot traffic. It’s a useful service, especially for anyone who needs to complete licensing, employment, or visa checks.


You can offer FBI Fingerprinting as well as background check services by partnering with a company like Identogo.


For example, with Identogo, partner stores don’t have to worry about the scheduling process or customer service handling. Identogo partners are provided with all the technology and training that they need to get started, as well as with support from Identego throughout their partnership.


Plus, Identogo partners are also added to their directory providing them with added visibility to a whole new group of potential customers.


There are membership levels for businesses who partner with Identogo, so the more successful your partnership is, the more revenue and opportunities you’ll have with Identogo.


You can take a look at the criteria they list on their website to see if this is the best option for you. Estimates for how much you can earn per fingerprint hover around the $4 mark, so if you qualify to partner with them, then it could be a great way to both earn some extra revenue and attract new customers to your store or business.


Check out their website to find out more and apply.

  • Difficulty: Hard

  • Set up cost: None

  • Potential Earnings: Potentially up to $4/fingerprint


13. Become a money agent

Or, perhaps, why not become a Moneygram agent? Companies like Moneygram and Western Union provide people with ways to send and receive money across the world. As a partner, you’ll interact with the money transfer company’s customers in-person and handle financial transactions on their behalf.


Local businesses can become Moneygram pickup locations and earn a commission on every transfer made through them. All you need to do is submit your application online, and they’ll be in touch to start the process.


There are a few things your business will need in order to become a Moneygram or Western Union pickup location. You’ll need a computer with access to the Internet in your store, for one, plus you’ll need to make sure you always have enough cash to hand for the transactions.


Once you’re onboard, Moneygram will give you the training that you need and support you through the record-keeping that you’ll need to take care of.


Granted, there’s more work involved with this additional revenue stream, but you’ll be able to earn commission on the transfer fee for every customer money transfer you’re involved with, plus with the popularity of the services, you’ll see an increase in foot traffic as well. 

  • Difficulty: Medium

  • Set up cost: None

  • Potential Earnings: Increased foot traffic, commission


14. Offer notary services

Another option to increase your business’s revenue is to offer notary services. Just like becoming a money agent, offering notary services takes a fair amount of time and effort, but it can really pay off in the long run if you’re looking to generate extra revenue and increase your foot traffic.


There is an upfront cost of anywhere between $100 and $500, depending on where you’re located, which covers the application process, exams, equipment and you might need to take some classes, but on average you can earn $2-$5 per signature in the US. 


If you own a brick-and-mortar local business, once you’re set up with your license you’ll be able to operate on your own premise, driving more potential customers through your door.

  • Difficulty: Hard

  • Set up cost: Variable depending on your country and state

  • Potential Earnings: Up to $5/signature

15. Add a return bar service


If you’d rather add an extra business element without worrying about all that additional training, then don’t worry - we’ve got you covered. Have you ever considered adding a return bar service?


A return bar accepts packages from customers to ship back to the seller. They act as the point of contact for the customer - similar to the post office, but specifically in local businesses for online delivery returns. Whether your business is a retail store or a coffee shop, it's a great way to use your existing counter without adding too much extra hassle.


If you’re interested in offering returns services but don’t know where to start, you can check out companies, like Happy Returns, that partner with local businesses to offer exactly this kind of product. Even better - if you want to become a Return Bar, but don’t have the space to host it behind the counter, Happy Returns offers Self-Service Return Kiosks, too. 


According to their website, 23% of Happy Returns customers also make in-store purchases, so you’ll increase your original revenue stream as well as the foot traffic to your business.


To become a Happy Returns Return Bar, all you need to do is send off an inquiry form via their website. They’ll get in touch with more information.

  • Difficulty: Easy

  • Set up cost: None

  • Potential Earnings: Increased foot traffic and in-store purchases

16. Offer Package Acceptance


If the idea of offering a returns bar is interesting to you, then have you considered offering package acceptance services, too? 


For people living in busy towns and cities, getting that ‘We’re sorry we missed you’ slip is both super frustrating and incredibly boring. Who wants the hassle of rearranging yet another delivery? 


And that’s if the delivery driver just missed you. Do you know how many packages go missing every year? Millions. In fact, 1.7 million are stolen or go missing every year in the United States alone. 


If your business has some spare space, then this could be a great option for you - especially if you’re open for long hours every day. All you’ll need to do is accept packages on your customer’s behalf and keep them safe until the customer collects them.


While you’re here, check out Bounce’s Package Acceptance pages. With the Bounce package acceptance platform, it’s so easy to start making use of your spare space. All you have to do is sign up through our Partner Dashboard and we’ll reach out to walk you through the next steps. With Bounce, customers can choose to ship their online deliveries to your address instead of theirs and your business earns a commission on every package sent to you by a Bounce customer - on average about $150 per month, with no upfront or ongoing costs on your part.

  • Difficulty: Easy

  • Set up cost: None

  • Potential Earnings: $150/month


17. Become a virtual mailbox

With the growing popularity of nomadic lifestyles, there are a lot of people who need a business to act as a virtual mailbox for them. You probably won’t see an increase in physical foot traffic to your business, but becoming a Virtual Mailbox is an excellent way to reach a wider customer base across the world from the comfort of your own neighborhood, and a great way to earn extra revenue.


If your business is already a mail center, then Anytime Mailbox can help you to construct a digital system that means your customers no longer have to come into your store to collect their mail. If you’re not a mail center but would like to add a virtual mailbox to your list of services, then Post Scan Mail is another great option. Plus, they can white-label their services to fit into your current branding if this isn’t something you’ve offered your customers before.


Whatever you choose, you’re going to need to make sure you have all the start-up materials ready, so check with your preferred partner business before you sign up with them.

  • Difficulty: Medium

  • Set up cost: Variable

  • Potential Earnings: Increased revenue

18. Become a UPS Access Point


If you don’t want to offer an all-in-one package acceptance location, you can also register to be an access point for a number of individual courier services. For example, as a small business, you can become a UPS Access Point by applying online - they’ll even come and set up your Access Point for you, so there’s less for you to worry about. 


While becoming an access point for only one type of courier service limits you to their services, you can often sign up with more than one and you’ll benefit from the marketing that comes from being listed as one of their partner locations. Businesses in the UPS Access Point program also gain additional in-store sales from the additional foot traffic.

  • Difficulty: Easy

  • Set up cost: None

  • Potential Earnings: Increased foot traffic

19. Host an Amazon Locker

Amazon is without doubt one of the largest online retailers and shipping companies out there, so if you’re considering becoming an access point for a delivery service, it’s worth considering Amazon, too.


Amazon Lockers began way back in 2011, so there’s a good chance you’ve heard of them already. Amazon Lockers offer a similar service as package acceptance services or courier access points, except they use lockers rather than a staffed desk.


If you’re wondering how to get an Amazon Locker for your business, simply apply to the Amazon locker program via their website. Forms take minimal time to fill out, and an Amazon representative will contact you to provide information on the rest of the process. 


If you don’t have space for a locker, you could always apply to become an Amazon counter instead. Much like with any package delivery service, you’ll serve customers and take in deliveries from the comfort of your till or front desk. If you own several stores, you can sign them all up at once. 


The benefits of hosting an Amazon Locker or becoming an Amazon counter are similar to becoming a pickup location for any other individual courier service, although be warned - it’s unclear whether you’ll earn commission on any parcels delivered to your store. If you own a coffee shop or a convenience store, they could be a great way to increase foot traffic and earn extra revenue from in-store purchases. However, if you’re selling products that can also be purchased via Amazon, this option might be one you want to consider more carefully before you commit in case it negatively impacts your own sales.

  • Difficulty: Medium

  • Set up cost: None

  • Potential Earnings: Increased foot traffic

20. Install luggage lockers

If you have some spare space that customers can access easily, then installing your own luggage lockers could be an excellent way to earn extra revenue and increase foot traffic to your business, especially if you're located nearby popular tourist attractions. Luggage lockers also come in a variety of different sizes, so it’ll be easy to choose an option that suits your business size.


Besides the upfront cost of purchasing the lockers, these handy devices can be very lucrative if you rent them out by the hour. You can find lockers online with Amazon or bespoke sellers and choose whether you want lockers that are key or coin-operated. Just remember that keys can be easily lost, but it’s probably easier to set your own prices on machines that aren’t operated by coins.

  • Difficulty: Medium

  • Set up cost: Variable

  • Potential Earnings: Up to $150/month

21. Offer printing services

If you’re looking for a quick and simple additional service to get started with, then printing services could be the option for you. 


Particularly useful if you run a convenience store or cafe, offering printing services could be as easy as charging customers a small fee to use your printer and scanner.  On top of that, it’s also a service that you can scale as you choose, whether that's to just offer printing services for current customers or to advertise printing services more widely as a way to increase foot traffic. If you wanted to build a printing service into your business yourself, then why not buy a machine and supply people with a code or a pay-as-you-go subscription service?


If you’ve already got a printer onsite, then you’re already partway there with this one! 

  • Difficulty: Medium

  • Set up cost: Variable

  • Potential Earnings: Set your own rates

22. Provide bike storage


Did you know that roughly 2 million bikes are stolen every year in North America?


So, if you’ve got more than just a counter to store luggage behind, why not offer bike storage as a way to earn extra revenue? It could be a great (and highly lucrative) way to earn extra revenue, especially if your business operates in a busy area.


All you’ll need is room for a bike rack or an enclosed space you can keep an eye on and you’re good to go. You’ll also be able to set your own rates and even bring in extra foot traffic to your business, making it a winning situation for everyone involved.

  • Difficulty: Medium

  • Set up cost: Variable, depending on your indoor space or existing bike storage

  • Potential Earnings: Set your own rates


23. Rent Out E-bike Chargers (And E-Scooter Chargers)

The world is going greener, and with it, plenty of people are starting to use E-bikes more. In the EU in 2019 alone, more than 3 million e-bikes were sold. Between 2020 and 2023, e-bike global sales are predicted to be around the 130 million mark.


Investing in a few batteries could be a good way of earning some additional income if your business is in a neighborhood where lots of people cycle to work or as their primary mode of transport. In a similar way to the phone charger option above, all you’ll need is the upfront cost of purchasing the batteries and the electricity that you keep them topped up with. Set your own prices, advertise to your local area, and you’re good to go.


If you don’t want to buy your own chargers, or if you want to make it easier to find yourself potential customers, you could always partner with a rental service. E-bike charger rental services estimate that you could earn up to $10,000 by offering chargers as an additional service.

  • Difficulty: Easy

  • Set up cost: None - Variable, depending on whether you choose to partner with a charger company or invest in your own chargers.

  • Potential Earnings: Up to $10,000/ year


Final Thoughts


These are just some of the creative ways local businesses can increase foot traffic and earn extra revenue. Whether you’re looking for ways to help your retail store or your barbershop, it’s great to see the ideas that business owners come up with!


We’d love to know how you increase foot traffic and revenue as a local business. Have you got an idea that you think should be included on this list? If you do, drop us a tweet @bounceyourstuff.

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