Taxes become significantly more complicated with a home-based business. Self-employed persons are allowed to deduct business-related expenses—such as wages paid to others, the cost of professional services, shipping and postage charges, advertising costs, the cost of office supplies and equipment, professional dues and publications, insurance premiums, automobile expenses, and some entertainment and travel costs—from their income taxes, but are also required to pay self-employment taxes. People who work from their homes may be eligible for another tax deduction known as a home office deduction. The home office deduction allows individuals who meet certain criteria to deduct a portion of mortgage interest or rent, depreciation of the space used as an office, utility bills, home insurance costs, and cleaning, repairs, and security costs from their federal income taxes. Although the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has set strict regulations about who qualifies for the deduction, about 1.6 million people claim the deduction each year. According to Gloria Gibbs Marullo in an article for Nation's Business, the savings can be considerable: a sole proprietor living in a $150,000 home stands to save about $2,500 in actual taxes annually.
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It’s a well-known fact that America’s small business owners are movers and shakers. They come up with innovative products and services; they employ about 50% of all private sector workers; and they persist even during tough economic times. But what might not be such a well-known fact is that most of them do all of this without even leaving their homes.
Then you can move into more actionable online courses like Modern Web Design on CreativeLive and Learn Web Design and Profitable Freelancing on Udemy will teach you everything from foundational web design knowledge to earning your first freelance income as a web designer. On top of that, you can take even more immersive courses and learning experiences with access to direct instructor feedback and personal mentorship with platforms like Treehouse, LinkedIn Learning and General Assembly to get up-to-speed even quicker with this career path and listen to my podcast interview with Ian Paget about how to become a freelance designer as a side business idea.
Think blogging is no longer a viable source of income? Think again. Tens of thousands of bloggers (including yours truly) are creating profitable content on topics as diverse as scrapbooking, home cooking, travel, film, lifestyle, business, personal finance and more. And we're growing our blogs into six-figure businesses thanks to a combination of email subscribers, affiliate marketing, blog sponsorships, and other revenue streams. Your first step with starting a blog is quickly getting the technical side of things handled (my free master course on blogging will show you how), and then both understanding what your audience craves and learning how to attract those readers online.
But before you can graduate from side business idea and start earning a full-time living as a graphic designer, you'll need to build your skills—I recommend starting with reading the foundational book Graphic Design School and Steal Like an Artist, the incredible book by Austin Kleon about how to become more creative. To accelerate your education in becoming a graphic designer even quicker, check out the online courses Graphic Design Fundamentals and The Graphic Design Bootcamp. Then once you're an expert at your craft, you can further your education and move up to offering more hands-on experiences like design sprints for higher-value clients around the world.
The internet changes so fast that one year online equals about five years in the real world. But the principles of how to start and grow a successful online business haven't changed at all. If you're just starting a small business online, stick to this sequence. If you've been online awhile, do a quick review and see if there's a step you're neglecting, or never got around to doing in the first place. You can't go wrong with the basics.
Enjoy plenty of flexibility. One big pro of running a home-based business is that your home office is just a few steps away. So if you’re a night owl whose prime work hours are from 10 to midnight, you can take advantage of that without having to drive to a commercial office and let yourself in after everyone else is gone for the day. Working from home, without set office space size and costs, also gives you the flexibility to scale up or down as needed. For example, if you grow quickly and need to contract or hire more help, you don’t have to worry about whether more workers will fit in the office space you lease. On the other hand, if business slows and you need to streamline temporarily, you’re not stuck with more space than you need.
For a small business on a modest budget, advertising must be cost effective, as the price can be prohibitive. ‘Businesses looking to take on advertising must weigh up their ROI,’ says James Blackman of CocoonFX Media. ‘If, for example, you’re considering an advert for £1,000 in a magazine with 12,000 readers, ensure that magazine is very much your target audience.’
Additional legal matters you will want to check pertaining to your business may include advertising guidelines and labeling requirements regulated by the Federal Trade Commission; complying with labor laws if you have employees – U. S. Department of Labor; abiding by environmental regulations – U. S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA); and paying business taxes – IRS. SBA provides a guide to federal government rules and regulations.
Like recycling, this side business idea requires the willingness to get your hands a little dirty. If you enjoy working outdoors, then you can make a pretty good side income cleaning up litter outside retail, office and industrial properties—especially for businesses that have large parking lots that need regular cleaning. Property management companies need their properties maintained litter free and you can do so with an on-foot service using inexpensive equipment like this cheap pick-up tool and a broom. Charge for your time at $35 - $50 per hour and bill your clients the same contract price each month. For even more on how to get started with a litter removal side business idea, check out Cleanlots.
Have a talent for crafting or creating other handmade goods? From bracelets to phone cases, rings, furniture, and more, Etsy is one of the world's largest independent marketplaces that’s perfect for anyone who is creative and willing to sell their handmade creations. As long as you have the space, this can make for one of the best home business ideas that can be started as a side hustle with a very limited investment. Consider these 5 steps to starting an Etsy store, from Handmadeology. Then, after you're able to build your brand and grow your own audience, you can start an eCommerce site of your own and retain a larger portion of the revenue from your product sales—making this a very lucrative potential business idea if you're able to find an audience that loves your products.
The German Economist Schumpeter once said that there are “no original ideas”, only new combinations of old ones. Curation of curiosity-fueling content is an intriguing and little-known business model. One of the best success stories out there is Brainpickings – a platform that describes itself as “an inventory of cross-disciplinary interestingness, spanning art, science, design, history, philosophy, and more”. The subscription-based model and successful utilisation of affiliate links have turned the blog into a self-sustaining business.
Busy schedules can stress people out. It can also disrupt family life to the point that busy parents and homework-laden kids barely have time to prepare decent dinners and weekend meals. Hence, the surprising demand for part-time family chefs as a business idea. If cooking healthy and delicious meals is your thing, then this lucrative side business idea can supplement your regular income by helping feed busy homes. Hear Gaby Dalkin's story of going from side business idea to full-time blogger while she was a part-time personal chef right here on my podcast.