Starting a small business from home has never been easier. Websites with ecommerce capabilities can be built in an afternoon. Tax documents can be filed from your phone. With such a low barrier of entry, more and more Americans are taking the plunge and starting their own home businesses — but how can you ensure your home business idea will succeed?
In this article, we’ll share 10 home-based business ideas including those you can execute locally, as well as online business opportunities that can connect you with customers around the world. We’ll also help you identify the kind of business you should start based on your passions and expertise, and help you understand what you need to succeed.
- Starting a Home Business
- What You Need to Succeed
- Understanding Startup Costs
- 10 Home Business Ideas
- Starting Your Home Business
Starting a Home Business
The best home business ideas will focus on what you’re passionate about and combine that with your know-how. Skill set plus passion often equals success.
If you’re passionate about fitness and spend all day at the gym, perhaps look into getting certified as a personal trainer. Have experience as a personal chef? Maybe your city is in need of an excellent catering business. Making money is great, and finding a business that makes a lot of money is always wonderful. But if you aren’t passionate about something, you might not be able to dedicate the energy needed to build a successful career.
Before you quit your day job to start your own business, find something you care about deeply — something that brings joy. Building a business is hard work, so make sure your pursuit will also be fun.
What You Need to Succeed
When starting a home business, there are certain steps you must take to set yourself up for success. The difference between succeeding and failing can often be determined before you connect with your first customer.
Anyone can start a business. Starting a profitable business? That’s another thing entirely. Let’s dive into what your first steps should be.
A Smart Business Plan
If you’re looking to serve customers near you, it’s imperative to thoroughly understand the business landscape of your local area. If you did research and found that there were 18 massage therapists in your small town, you probably wouldn’t want to start a massage therapy service.
A Marketing Presence
Your business is only as good as the people who know about it. Word-of-mouth connections are always great, but don’t be afraid to hustle. Set up a social media presence and network with people and groups that would be interested in your business. Announce your new endeavor on LinkedIn and see if you can connect with potential customers there.
Understanding Startup Costs
Almost all of the businesses listed below will incur some costs to get started, and understanding those costs — and making sure you can cover them — will ensure your business isn’t dead before it gets off the ground.
To start: Create a list of everything you’ll need to start your new business, and try to think of everything.
For example, if you’re planning on selling items online, what will it take to build and host an ecommerce site? What are the annual hosting fees of that site? Do you need business cards? Flyers? What about tax software to help you pay taxes? If you want to start a catering business, what will the cost of the materials be? Do you need to pay for transportation? Will you need to hire any extra help?
A great business model understands and incorporates all costs, from the smallest expenditures to the biggest expenses. Set yourself up for success by being meticulously thorough before you begin.
Preparing for Taxes
Many of the jobs listed below will require you to file your own taxes. Those who aren’t prepared to do so can get hit with a massive tax bill at the end of the year. To avoid this pitfall, most accountants recommend filing taxes quarterly to keep costs manageable.
Read this excellent guide to filing taxes as a self-employed person to learn a bit more.
10 Home Business Ideas
Looking for some home business ideas to get you inspired? You’ve come to the right place. Keep in mind that these home business ideas are different from side hustles, which are more like part-time gigs. (If you’re looking for a side hustle, we have a great list of ideas to get you started.)
The home business ideas listed below can certainly work as a side hustle, but they each have the potential to become a successful small business, which (hopefully) you can run as a full-time career.
1. Social Media Consulting
Social media isn’t just about sharing cute puppy photos and status updates on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. These platforms allow companies to reach new clientele, provide valuable customer service, and establish a voice online. If you have a knack for social media, you might want to consider launching a business as a social media consultant. You can create the strategy and guidelines to establish a company’s brand voice, build their social media presence, and respond to customer complaints.
2. Open an Etsy Shop
If you have a crafty side, Etsy allows you to quickly and easily open an online store. You can share your art or vintage items, connect with customers around the world, and earn money in the process. Read our guide to selling on Etsy to learn more.
3. Open an eBay Shop
If you want to sell new items or things you just can’t find a place for, consider opening up an eBay shop. Unlike Craigslist or a yard sale, the eBay platform allows you to set up auctions so buyers can drive up the price — and lets you connect with buyers all over the world, not just in your town.
4. Become a Virtual Assistant
Virtual assistants (VAs) provide classic assistant services such as scheduling, organization, and booking travel. But instead of doing these tasks in an office, you do them from the comfort of your home. Like other specialists in this field, you can build a portfolio of multiple clients and establish full-time work providing assistance to executives, small businesses, and those in the creative fields. Learn how to get started with VA work.
5. Web Design
If you have skills with HTML and have an eye for detail and design, there are countless companies looking for a qualified web designer to build their digital presence. If you’re good, you can build up a portfolio and keep a full-time workload.
6. Freelance Writing
You’d be surprised how many companies are in the market for a freelance writer. Website copy, social media language, presentations, SEO copy — all of this writing helps businesses tell their stories, and they will pay for someone good to provide that language. Love writing? See how you can get started as a freelance writer.
7. Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing is the practice of linking to products online, and then getting a commission if the person following your link buys the product. If you have a strong web presence already, affiliate marketing can be a fantastic way to generate passive income. Read our guide to getting started in affiliate marketing.
8. Graphic Design
Graphic designers let companies create a beautiful visual identity and connect with customers. Websites like Fiverr allow artistically gifted people to start picking up design work quickly, and then build a client list they can carry moving forward.
9. Pet Sitting
Pet sitters are always in demand. If you have a passion for animals, starting a dog walking business can allow you to spend time with great pooches, and connect with people in your neighborhood. Start with one dog, then add more as you gain experience and build word-of-mouth about your services. Before you know it, you’ll have created an entire client list and you can hire more people to help you handle demand. Especially if you live in a city, it’s more than possible to launch a full-time business providing dog walking services.
10. Airbnb Property Management
If your city is popular with people who rent on Airbnb, you can advertise your services as a property manager. Compile enough clients, and you can build a business out of providing customer support, cleaning services, and more for people renting with Airbnb. This business can allow you to dip your toe into real estate, bring in extra money, and manage all the moving parts from home.
Starting Your Home Business
Successful business owners not only need to have a good idea. They need to have the right plan, the right tools, and the drive and commitment to make it work. These home business ideas can help you get you started when thinking about a new endeavor to launch from home, but it will be up to you to make it successful.