If you find you’re suddenly unemployed or at home with your children all day or even just looking for some side income, starting your own home-based business can seem like the perfect choice. But it can also be overwhelming. Since grabbing a part-time job more than likely doesn’t fit with your schedule or your needs, is it really possible to start a home business and make money?
The good news is, there are dozens of small business ideas that allow you to find the best one for your schedule, your passions and your income needs. Below are 25 ideas for small business from home to give you a little inspiration as you plan.
Personal service businesses are often great for a home-based business because you probably already have many of the tools and supplies you’ll need. Most of the below businesses require a working vehicle, a valid Driver’s license, a personal computer, and an email address. Some will require specialized training or licenses.
1. Fitness Trainer
This category covers jobs like Personal Trainer, Yoga Instructor or Zumba Instructor. If you have enough room in your home or your yard, it’s easy to accommodate clients for training sessions or classes. For information regarding personal trainer certification, check out the American College of Sports Medicine. For information regarding yoga instructor certification, check out the Yoga Alliance. And for information regarding Zumba® instructor certification, check out the Zumba® website.
If you have specialized knowledge of any STEM subject, you’ll more than likely be in high demand as a tutor. Depending on how you performed on standardized tests (i.e., SAT, ACT, GRE) you could offer your services to future test takers as well. And if writing is your expertise, tutoring students on essay writing or research papers is an in-demand service.
3. Dog Sitter/Dog Walker
If you love dogs, offering to help out pet owners who are stuck in an office all day or looking to take a vacation is a great option. Rover is the perfect site to advertise your services. Piggyback off of their search engine optimization ranking and advertising budgets, by listing your pet sitting services there. You can also sign up with Wag! which is a little bit like Uber for your dog.
There’s also a professional organization, the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters that offers great resources like infographics for promoting your services and resource links for their members to get your home-based business up and running.
4. Virtual Assistant
You can help people reply to email, set appointments or keep track of expenses. With access to the cloud it’s easier than ever to give someone a digital assist. There are a variety of sites that allow you to sign up for virtual assistant jobs, including the appropriately need VirtualAssistants.com. Also, be sure to take advantage of any of your social networks and professional networks when looking for clients. While there are many sites out there that can match you as a VA to a client, if you’re looking to build your own home business, you’re going to need your own client network.
5. Party Planning
In general, the elements of planning a party can all be done from home with a good Internet connection and some imagination. You’ll need a few early clients and some good word-of-mouth to get started. Also, be sure that you clearly define the type of parties you’re willing to plan. Kids birthdays, milestone celebrations (i.e. anniversaries or retirement) and once-in-a-lifetime events (i.e. bridal showers or bachelorette parties) are a few categories to consider. Also be sure to clearly define exactly what your services entail; will you plan the party and then hand over the plan to your client? Or will you do everything from top to bottom, plan, purchase decorations, organize the catering, set-up and tear down?
This article from WikiHow gives a great breakdown of the steps to take to start your own party planning business.
6. Résumé Writing
While everyone needs one to find a job, résumés are still a mystery to many job seekers. Try marketing your services to a particular niche (i.e., engineers, manufacturing salespeople). Also, make sure you’re up-to-date on how applicant tracking systems are currently parsing résumés.
No matter how well-written it is, if it can’t get past the résumés bots it’ll never get anyone a job.
Business services can range from accounting to bookkeeping to transcription services, and are often one of the best home-based business options.
Maybe you’ve noticed the trend – every time you go to a website that offers a product or service, inevitably a little chat box pops up in the corner and offers to engage with you. If you know anything about how to make chatbots or are willing to learn, this could be a quick source of income done from the comfort of your couch. Check out this article for more information.
8. Application or Website Design and Development
Seems strange to say, but this oldie but a goodie is still in vogue. Even with DIY platforms like Squarespace, some companies still want something with a more personal touch or are looking for a higher level of functionality. And applications continue to be a go-to business tool that many organizations are still trying to develop.
9. Graphic Design
Hand in hand with website development graphic design is still an in-demand field, and a perfect home-based business. Stay up-to-date on the latest in graphic design such as newer presentation tools like Keynote and Prezi to stay relevant.
10. Business Consultant
This category could also include things like business plan writer and business coach. With the number of small businesses launching daily, many entrepreneurs are looking for expertise. This is a great choice if you’ve recently left the business field and are looking for ways to apply your experience.
11. Marketing Consultant
This umbrella term covers a bunch of different areas, including:
- Metadata Specialist
- Social Media Consultant
- Content Writer/Editor
You can also simply serve as a consultant, someone to help for big campaigns or at critical times of the year for organizations.
12. Tax Advisor
While this job might keep you very busy from January to April, the fact is most businesses have questions and need tax advice year round. In fact, many small business advisers recommend that small businesses have a year-round tax advisor. Meeting once a quarter with small business entrepreneurs is recommended, to make sure all tax laws are being followed and any steps for minimizing taxes are also in place. After taxes are followed, tax advisors can help with organizing records in the case of an audit and prepping files for the next fiscal year.
13. Transcription Services
Many different industries use transcription, medical and legal being the most popular. It will typically require you to have a headset or to download some free software, but the costs should be nominal. There is also testing that you’ll need to pass before you can be approved for work. If you have background in medical or legal industries, you’ll probably be able to secure a better rate or at the very least have a more steady stream of work. Check out this article for some details on available transcription service companies.
People love where they live, but often don’t have the time, energy or expertise to make common repairs or even to clean. Some of these businesses will require you to visit other people’s homes, but you can run the operations right from your dining room table.
14. Cleaning Services
Everyone loves the beauty of a clean home, but few of us actually like getting it that way. If you don’t mind dusting or cleaning toilets, this is a great opportunity to make some extra money. It’s especially great for stay-at-home parents with school age children as most people will want their homes cleaned during the day when they’re at work.
You can use Craiglist or Facebook to advertise your cleaning services; search engine marketingis also a good place to start. Also take a look at your social networks – the carpool lane or your kid’s soccer sideline might be a great place to float the idea of a cleaning service to busy moms and dads who are already harried with multiple responsibilities.
15. Laundry Services
Fluff and fold is popular for a reason, but the local laundromat can get expensive. Offering them an alternative, and maybe one that’s right next door will bring value to your services.
16. Grocery Shopping and Delivery
You could sign up through an app like Instacart, or just offer your services ad hoc. Regardless, grocery shopping is one of the chores people like the least and are often very grateful to mark it off their to-do list. You might be able to promote your business in local grocery stores or markets, you’ll just need to ask for the store’s permission. Also, if you have a school-age child you can look to advertise in the school’s newsletter or talk to other moms and dads. Facebook is a good option, especially if you’re part of any groups that are focused on working professionals. Just be sure to abide by the rules of the group or clear your post with the group administrator first.
17. Personal Chef
If you love to cook, this might be a no-brainer. Bonus points if you are well-versed in gluten-free, vegetarian/vegan or allergy-free cooking techniques as these are in high demand at the moment. There are licenses and permits you’ll need to make this a full-fledged business. You may also need to get certification from your local health department. An idea for promotion is to set-up a YouTube channel or video subscription service that allows you to demonstrate certain recipes. This will give you a place to refer people who may be interested in what you’re cooking and allow you to gain more exposure to potential clients.
18. Interior or Holiday Decorator
Are you known for your amazing holiday tablescapes? What about outstanding light displays that delight the kids, but annoy your neighbors? More people are outsourcing the work of holiday decorating due to its time-consuming nature, sometimes less than favorable conditions, and the sheer amount of work. However, if this is something you excel at, it could be a great way to earn extra income, especially at tough times during the year – the holidays. Even if Christmas lights aren’t your jam, interior decorators offer a valuable service to the designer-challenged.
19. Lawn Care and Gardening Services
While it may seem that this home-based business opportunity would cost a lot to start, that’s not necessarily true. You don’t have to have your own lawn mower – or a truck to haul it – but can instead use your client’s. Also, gardening services are especially valuable for homeowners who love the look of fresh flowers, but can’t maintain them.
20. Repair Services
Are you a licensed electrician or plumber? What about a woodworker or tile layer? Whatever your home repair expertise is, there’s a good chance folks around you could use it. Bicycle and car repair fall into this category as well.
Moving away from offering folks a service, let’s focus on offering a product. Here are some online business ideas that fall into the realm of e-commerce.
21. Ebay Seller
Ebay is a little over 20 years old, but it hasn’t lost any of it’s momentum. The best resource to learn more about selling on eBay is eBay itself. Check out their extensive seller’s guide for more information.
Some seller’s swear by flipping items on eBay. This means you purchase an item for cheap and then sell it for more money on the site. This typically takes a little time and a lot of research, but it can be a viable money-making option, especially if you love garage sales and thrift stores.
If you’re constantly taking pictures or have a passion for photography, you could turn your snapshots into cash. Getty Images and Flickr offer services for amateur photogs to sell their pictures. You will need a high-end digital camera though – unfortunately, smartphone cameras won’t work. You could also look at setting up a small studio for portraits or offer your services for parties and special events.
23. Direct Sales Representative
There are big names in this field: Avon, Tupperware, Pampered Chef, Mary Kay. If you have an interest in any of these products or just like to host parties, consider becoming a rep for one of these companies. Also, with Facebook and Youtube Live you can host virtual parties every day of the week from your own living room.
24. Homemade Soaps and Lotions
If you make any type of personal care product, it could turn into a good side business. You’ll want to be sure you take special care to track all the ingredients you use and how they are sourced. This is especially important if you want to sell at any craft fairs or festivals. Many times the application will include a section regarding how the products are made/sourced. You can also take these items and place them on Etsy or eBay, and create a sideline business by crafting specialty gift baskets or collections.
25. Homemade Baked Goods or Decorated Cakes
Whenever you work with food, things can get a little tricky. There are safety regulations to follow; many states have different laws for what has been termed the “Cottage Food Industry.” However, if you make delicious apple pies or decorate gorgeous cakes, don’t let that stop you. Check out this article regarding Cottage Food Laws.
Making extra income or launching a home-based business will require planning and forethought, but it can also lead to wonderful opportunities for you and your family. Explore a passion or pick-up a new skill and reap the benefits of your own home business.
Information may be abridged and therefore incomplete. This document/information does not constitute, and should not be considered a substitute for, legal or financial advice. Each financial situation is different, the advice provided is intended to be general. Please contact your financial or legal advisors for information specific to your situation.
By Megan Sullivan courtesy of Intuit Quickbooks