Small business ideas you can do from home
Starting a home-based business can give you a lot of flexibility. You just need to find a profitable home business idea that suits you, your skills, and your home environment.
Profitable home business ideas
OK, so how profitable are home businesses? Let’s go through the alphabet and see. Amazon started in a garage. Apple, too. Shall we go on…?
Home-based businesses are often cheaper to start and run because they don’t have to spend anything on a workspace. Because they have fewer costs, they can break even faster. And if they charge the same as non home-based competitors, they’ll bank a fatter margin, too. So yes, starting a home-based business can be a profitable idea. But of course just like any other business, profitability ultimately comes down to what you do and how well you do it. You can always measure and manage your profitability with accounting software like Xero.
List of home-based business ideas
Here are some popular businesses you can start from home.
Just about any professional service can be done on a freelance basis. Businesses seeking freelancers may not have the inhouse expertise to do the job themselves, or are experiencing overflow and need extra support. Read more in How to freelance on the side
Freelancing means taking the brief and delivering the goods, without necessarily driving strategy. Some examples are:
- Writing: Freelance writers can pick up a range of projects producing copy for business websites, articles, blog and social media posts, press releases, ads and campaigns
- Designing: All digital and print properties need design support, and many businesses seek external help with one-off or once-in-a-while projects such as business cards, brochures, websites and graphic assets
- Web development: This could include helping with a revamp or rebrand of an existing website, or building websites from scratch for new businesses and domains
- App development: If you know how to code and make apps user-friendly, offer your services to businesses designing a new app, or improving one they already have
- Webmaster: Offer a wide range of website maintenance and optimization services; this includes posting new content, managing software updates, supporting the site’s marketing and sales functions, or helping to build a site from scratch
Like freelancing, consulting can be done with just about any professional service. However, as a consultant you provide advice and contribute to strategy. Some common examples are:
- Marketing: Support businesses with strategic advice or management of their marketing strategy
- Digital marketing: You may want to specialize in supporting a business’ digital channels such as search marketing, SEO, social advertising, content marketing, email and so on
- Design: Use your eye for detail to work as a designer for homes, interiors, gardens, or offer support in product and packaging design
- Research and report writing: Work with businesses and government departments evaluating new ideas by researching and producing papers on their behalf
Virtual assistants are in demand by business leaders who don’t need in-person support with the administrative functions of their work. A virtual assistant helps with scheduling, organizing meetings, information gathering, managing inboxes, and notetaking. Building trust and strong working relationships with your clients as a virtual assistant can lead to a secure remote career.
Many companies hire remote tech support workers to lower their spend on office space. Growing businesses may also seek remote tech support in areas they are expanding into, recognizing the need for IT experts to be available in different timezones. You can provide virtual assistance and problem-solving through a range of channels such as phone, email, and chat.
Experienced chefs and bakers can set up their kitchens to offer a catering service from home, and work from advance orders. As a home-based caterer, you can manage inventory and prepare for jobs coming up in the short term without running out of space. You may specialize in a particular niche to lean on your experience and skill. Just check you have any licenses or permits needed for food-handling.
Set up a home-based party planning service for people who’ll hire experienced professionals to offload the stress of organizing events. You can communicate with clients, manage invitations, coordinate vendors, and book venues online.
If you have expertise to share and/or experience teaching, online tutoring and teaching could be a great way to start your home-based business. People seeking tutoring support don’t necessarily need to meet in-person anymore, and online education offers both remote workers and their customers greater flexibility.
Online courses could be a great home business idea to share your experience. Websites such as Udemy offer an opportunity for you to teach online, or you might consider monetizing your courses on YouTube or by offering ebooks and other paid resources.
If you’re fluent in more than one language, offering translation services could be an easy business you can start from home. Many businesses – even small ones – rely on international customers. Translators can offer a more nuanced, personalized service than a machine translator.
Blogging and media
Blogging and media is a good option for skilled writers, once you take time to develop a following. Monetize your own blog by charging businesses to insert links in your content. You can also share your knowledge on platforms like Medium and Substack that pay authors for developing a readership or sell subscriptions to access your content.
A longer-term goal for bloggers and online "influencers" is affiliate marketing. This is where you make referrals to online stores within your content. When a reader makes a purchase after following your link, you earn a portion of the sale.
Print on demand
Print on demand involves printing your creative images or writing on things like mugs, calendars, clothing and homeware, and selling them. This is a low-risk and inexpensive option for sellers - you only need to order the products when they’re purchased, and a third party manufacturer can do the printing on your behalf.
If you have a honed craft, you can turn your hobby into a viable side hustle by marketing your wares online and at local markets. Clothing, jewelry, homeware and furniture, beauty products, artwork, and metalwork are all popular crafts for selling original, handmade pieces.
- Retail through an online marketplace: Use platforms like Etsy or Shopify to sell products you’ve made or bought from a wholesaler/manufacturer
- Retail on your own store: Sell your handmade or imported products through your own online store
- Dropshipping: This involves selling products that you don’t keep in stock; when a customer purchases from you, you forward that order to a supplier who ships the goods directly to your customer
Some forms of coaching can be done online or through video courses – but others may require personal meetings at least some of the time. Some coaching ideas include:
- Fitness: Supporting people to improve their health and fitness; you could provide this service within a specific niche that suits your experience
- Career: Leading discussion and providing advice with customers that help them maintain and develop their chosen career path
- Personal: Facilitating conversation and exercises with customers to help them navigate important events or achievements, or find personal fulfillment
Picking the best home business ideas
While the best home business idea looks different for everyone, note that a good option for remote work:
- doesn’t take up much room in your home, and can be easily managed within the available space
- doesn’t require lots of people coming to your home regularly
- has the potential to expand at least a little bit before you have to move it to a bigger space
- allows you to have a break and maintain the balance between work and home life
- isn’t disruptive or inconvenient to the lives of others living with you – or next door!
Learn how to start a business from home
Got your home business idea sorted? The next step is to develop your business plan, get it registered, then get going.
Xero does not provide accounting, tax, business or legal advice. This guide has been provided for information purposes only. You should consult your own professional advisors for advice directly relating to your business or before taking action in relation to any of the content provided.
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