7 Great Recurring Revenue Businesses that are Easy to Operate

by Corey Philip //  December 4, 2022

If you want to start your own business, income uncertainty is one of the most significant stresses you might face. But that doesn't mean you have to stick to a traditional job to have a predictable paycheck!

Recurring revenue businesses create a steady income that is as stable as an average salary while being as scalable as a regular business.

Great recurring revenue businesses either provide a service that is required at a set frequency or ship products that consumers need every month. Software and digital platforms can also be primary offerings of a recurring revenue business.

As you can see, some are offline businesses, some are online businesses, and some are a combination of both.

Keep reading to discover how these recurring revenue businesses work and what you need to set up each. We will briefly go over the industry context for each business as well.

Let's get started!

1. Laundry Subscription

A laundry subscription service is a subscription-model spin on traditional laundry. With this business model, a delivery agent fetches laundry from apartments and takes it to a laundry where the clothes are cleaned and returned. Different bags are provided when one signs up for the service. A bag for colorful clothes and one for black and white laundry is a good start.

Laundry subscription prices its services based on volume or weight. This business is easy to operate because revenue is predictable, and the service isn't going away.

The invention of household washing machines has already disrupted the laundry business. There still are millions of people who do not have the time to wash their own clothes or live in apartments where it is impossible to dry them. This business is relatively future-proof, but robots can fold laundry now..

Here's an example of a laundry subscription from The Care:

What you will need:

  • An app and billing infrastructure
  • A large-scale laundromat
  • Laundry Staff
  • Delivery Staff
  • Branch Manager

2. Book Subscription Box

A monthly book club is a book-shipping business that bundles and boxes genre-specific books before shipping them to consumers with niche interests.

Such businesses gain subscribers based on two value points: Firstly, they have trustworthy curation that their customers trust. Secondly, they get good deals since they buy all the books in bulk. The larger the subscriber base, the better deals you will get on shipping as well as on individual books.

Subscribers often enter your sales funnel after becoming aware of your business via ads or referrals. Once they subscribe, they have to enter their address as well as their credit card details. After that, you can add them to your automated shipping workflow.

There are book shipping businesses in the young adult space, the self-help genre, and kids' literature. Since these clubs are already ahead in subscription figures, they can offer cheaper books to more people. If you want to start a new book subscription business, I suggest serving specific niches like biographies, humor, etc.

What you will need:

  • Deals with publishers/bookstores to buy in bulk
  • A lucrative offer
  • Shipping and handling provider
  • A program to manage subscriptions
  • A way to get in front of your audience (ads/referrals)

3. Software as a Service (SAAS)

If you like the idea of a book subscription box but wish there were a similar business model with fewer physical demands, then you should look into software as a service (SaaS). These businesses provide access to software in exchange for a monthly (or annual) fee. Everything from Google One to Apple Cloud Storage upgrades is software services that operate on recurring billing.

Surprisingly, you don't need to know anything about software and coding to own a SaaS business. There is a whole community of startup CEOs who do not know to code, and it is called "No Code Founders."

You can become a No Code Founder by hiring a coder to build your software or partnering with a tech-savvy co-founder to offer one. You can also get a white-label SaaS platform, slap your branding on it, and offer it to your market. In that case, you'll pay the white-label provider each month while your customers pay you at the same frequency. You will, in this instance, pocket the difference.

Here's Adobe as an example of a software company that has successfully transformed itself from selling software in a box to a SaaS model:

What you will need:

  • Software platform
  • Monthly billing infrastructure
  • A way to reach your customers (Ads/Referrals)

4. Accounting and Bookkeeping

If SaaS and other online subscription businesses seem too abstract and intangible to you, you can resort to more traditional businesses with predictable revenue. Most recurring revenue businesses in the traditional spaces are B2B businesses. And the chief among these is an accounting and bookkeeping business.

As an owner of a bookkeeping company, you are supplying skilled labor to companies that can't hire internal bookkeepers or prefer to have outside verification. The bookkeeping programs you use for this business depend on the kind of companies you work with and the software they use.

At a bare minimum, your business should log the expenses and sales of its client businesses in an excel spreadsheet. In more advanced tiers (AKA higher paying clients), you should offer better file formats, including charts and simple tables showcasing the information most relevant to the client businesses.

What you will need:

  • At least one bookkeeper/accountant
  • At least one client
  • Monthly invoicing infrastructure
  • Business development manager

5. Mystery Box Subscription

A mystery box contains gifts that are not advertised or disclosed on the packaging. It is the commodification of the element of surprise, and a mystery box subscription slaps a recurring billing model on this concept.

Some people like the thrill of unpacking the unknown and opt to receive mystery boxes once a month. These are great for gifters, corporate networking enthusiasts, and people with large networks.

What you will need:

  • Monthly billing provider
  • Delivery infrastructure
  • A packaging department or provider
  • A procurement manager to source good deals and gifts

6. Self-Care Supplies

Self-care subscription is a less mysterious version of the mystery box. People who do not have the time to buy their grooming supplies or top up their depleted self-care product reserves can subscribe to a self-care subscription service.

On the product-shipping (online) end of this spectrum are companies that ship creams, lotions, and scrubs. On the service end (offline), there are hairdressers and beauticians who visit clients monthly to deliver personalized grooming services.

Here's an example of self-care subscription plans from Allure Beauty Box:

What you will need:

  • Payment infrastructure
  • A subscription management platform
  • Marketing or business development manager
  • Procurement Manager or Beauty Service Provider

7. Masterminds and Networking Groups

Networking can be beneficial for career, business, and personal development. Different industries, art scenes, and regions have different networking groups. A mastermind is a networking group with a personal-development spin. Where masterminds are for C-level executives and business owners, networking groups are for people who want to socialize without a success-specific agenda.

Organizers of these groups can charge an annual fee and are expected to host events for the group. The value you provide as a paid group administrator is in connectivity and the event perks.

You can make bulk orders for food and beverage, which brings down the per-head price. In social networking groups, the event management aspect has more value, while the actual member selection and community are valued more in mastermind groups.

If you’re not a socialite (yet), there’s still hope for you! The same goes for those who live in remote areas but still want to belong to a niche. You can create (and charge for) an online mastermind or networking group using technology like Facebook Groups or Zoom calls.

What you will need:

  • A "people-person" personality
  • Organizational skills
  • People (belonging to a specific niche, ideally)

How to Start a Recurring Revenue Business?

I recommend starting with a low-investment business and avoiding inventory and stock risks by choosing a digital or direct service. You can start as a solo provider being your own marketer and primary service provider.

Once you have enough order volume that you need an extra pair of hands, you can hire someone to replace you. Keep the business development and hiring going in tandem until the business is big enough to require multiple managers.

Final Thoughts

Simply put, recurring revenue businesses are built on recurring needs. If you ask yourself, "what problem do people face regularly?" in every context, you will have a thousand ideas for businesses with predictable income.

Merchant and shipping service providers will help you actualize your ideas and turn them into tangible business ventures.

(Related Article: 8 Great Recurring Revenue Businesses That Are Easy to Operate)

About the author

Corey Philip

Corey Philip is a small business owner / investor with a focus on home service businesses.

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