According to a study by the Office of Advocacy of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), America’s home-based sole proprietors generate $102 billion in annual revenue. With a steady rise in inflation and living expenses and less job security than ever, an increasing number of people are leaving their jobs to start home-based ventures. If you are ready to join these entrepreneurs, here are ten essential steps to turn your entrepreneurial dream into a successful home-based business reality.
The main driving force behind the growth of home-based businesses is the increasing capability and availability of computer and communications technology. Powerful yet affordable home computer systems equipped with modems allow people to send and receive messages, transfer data, and conduct research from their homes, largely eliminating the need for those employed in such endeavors from having to commute to a place of employment. Similarly, sophisticated software programs offering applications in desktop publishing, database management, financial management, and word processing enable one individual to do the work formerly handled by an entire support staff. In addition, the widespread use of cellular phones, pagers, voice-mail systems, and toll-free telephone numbers has enhanced the ability of home-based business owners to remain connected to the outside business world. Rapid improvements in technology have enabled large numbers of home-based business people to earn the same income they could at a regular jobs while also gaining a number of lifestyle benefits. Another important factor in the growth of home-based businesses is the transformation of the American economy from a product orientation to a service orientation. Since service businesses generally have no need to store inventory or run production machinery, they are less disruptive and more adaptable to a neighborhood environment.
13. Have backup. “Have subcontractors in mind, should you get enough business to warrant bringing them onboard,” says Michelle Garrett, founder of Garrett Public Relations. “I’m a one-person shop, so there are times when it’s nice to call a colleague and give them some projects to work on on my behalf when I’m feeling overloaded. What you want to avoid is getting into a situation when you need help and then trying to find subcontractors. This can be extremely stressful.”
You can choose either to do the organizing work or to come in to a home and consult on the things the homeowner could do to better organize. Have a portfolio of different organizational scenarios in different rooms in the home and talk with the homeowner about the style he or she likes. Create checklists and questionnaires to understand how the family uses the home. Are the kids wildly busy with after-school activities? Or are they usually home after school and want access to their toys? Do they share rooms? All of these things will help you tailor an organizing plan and become the family hero.
Thanks for sharing these top 10 mistakes. Sometimes I think these “top failures/mistakes” posts are even more helpful than the usual “top 10 best advices” type of posts, since they give people concrete ideas about what they should avoid. For me, the biggest setback was and still is number 7, wasting too much time thinking and not enough doing. One of my favorite quotes regarding this is by Napoleon: “Take time to deliberate, but when the time for action comes, stop thinking and go in.”
If you’re the sort who takes apart the computer for fun, operating an electronics repair shop out of your home is a natural decision. In particular, repairing iPads and other tablets would provide you with a great deal of business, as many tablet users are looking for a less expensive way to fix smashed screens and other damages that can be costly through the manufacturer. Median salary: $49,170.
10. Avoid going into business before you know you have a winning idea. “A good way to vet this is also a method of bootstrapping: Apply for grants. If your idea is good enough to become a successful startup, it’s good enough for someone else to help with development,” advises Amy Baxter, founder of MMJ Labs, which makes reusable, inexpensive products for personal pain control. “Programs such as local university incubators, Huggies MomInspired, Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards, and even Small Business Innovation Research grants can bankroll part of your R&D.”
As long as there is still the written word, there will always be editors. Freelance editing and proofreading not only pays a decent hourly wage, it also gives you the chance to read about potentially interesting topics too. What's more, pursuing freelance writing & editing as a business idea can afford you a lifestyle that lets you travel the world as a digital nomad. You can find lots of job postings from companies and individuals in need of writing, proofreading, and editing services on Upwork, which makes this a high-demand side business idea.
To register a domain name, I researched special offers among a list of providers recommended by friends and colleagues from their own experience. I opted for a three-year deal, so if my income was limited or non-existent, potential clients would always be able to contact me through email or my website and not get the dreaded ‘404 page not found’ error when visiting my site or an ‘undeliverable’ email message.
It’s funny how much baking can relate to making money. Start bringing in some side income by kneading flour, mastering the oven, and appeasing everyone’s sweet tooth. While some experts have already turned baking into their sole “bread and butter,” you need not leave your day job to pursue this business idea just yet. Depending on your experience, you can start by doing something simple on the side like perfecting Grandma’s nostalgic cookies before heading on to offer exquisite artisanal fare.
Focus on user experience. Your biggest considerations with an ecommerce site will be setting up your website to offer the best user experience. Choosing the right web design is crucial, as is making sure that your shopping cart software is well-suited for your business. Be sure to check out the various shopping cart options available—from Shopify to X-Cart and many more.
A lot of people with middle-class income would like to create a robust investment portfolio to secure a financially stable future but simply have no clue where to start. If you have professional experience as an investment analyst or do a lot of investment yourself, then offering investment advice for middle-class investors is a natural move for you.
If you own a camera, starting a freelance portrait photography business could be a very natural way to turn your skills and passions into a profitable business idea. Start with doing free shoots for friends and family to build up a strong online portfolio, get familiar with your gear and the editing process, then you'll be able to get paid for photographing professional head shots and celebratory family moments as your side business idea. Get started by checking out this men's portrait photography class that regularly broadcasts for free on CreativeLive. Plus, once you have all the photography gear, you can earn a little extra side income by renting it out when you're not using it through online marketplaces like Fat Lama.
Leaving corporate America to run a homebased business is the ideal situation for many people: There's no boss breathing down your neck, no boring meetings to attend and no 45-minute drives in rush hour traffic. Working from home can be a rewarding experience, but it's easy to forget the basic rules of running a successful business when it's 10 hours of just you, your computer and the distractions of home.
Competition to get into top universities is as tough as it has ever been, so nervous parents are willing to pay handsomely for tutoring for their kids. You need an area of expertise—math, and specifically SAT math preparation, is always a favorite—but almost any subject will work. If you know how to market yourself locally, you can take advantage of parental paranoia and make money by tutoring right in your own home, or at a local library or coffee shop. Just make sure to do your homework on your local market in order to set prices and know which areas of expertise are most desired by parents in your area.
#4 is killer important. So, so very. In fact, until I got into Fizzle at the beginning of this year, I hadn’t done the hard work of figuring out the “different” and the “better” as it applied to my business, even though I knew I really, really needed to, and even though I fully knew it was hurting my business not to get this sh*t figured out — in the form of price-shoppers and less than ideal projects and so on.
My addition to this already great list is not investing money in the beginning. I know that money is tight when you start a business but focusing your funds on the important things (like design, knowledge, etc) . There are times to scrimp and save and there are times to invest. By not investing in the beginning, you tend to greatly limit your growth
2. Keep your overhead to a minimum. “It’s not about how much money you make, it’s about how much you keep, so overhead is key,” says Craig Wolfe, founder of CelebriDucks, a company that creates celebrity rubber ducks. “It’s great that you’re working from home, but you can still bankrupt yourself through ill-conceived overspending, especially in technology.”
For example, many local governments place limits on the amount of traffic at a home-based business, as well as restrictions on the type and size of signage permitted or changes to the outside of the property. If your business would violate zoning laws, you may be able to apply for a special exception, known as a variance. You may have to attend a hearing with the city zoning board to present your case. If you can show your business will not negatively impact the neighborhood with traffic or noise, you might win.
And it's an ideal home business opportunity, especially as ecommerce is so easy to get into now. One of the main barriers to operating a successful e-commerce business is finding the right product or products to sell; the other is providing the kind of online environment that will make people want to buy from you rather than competitors. 8 Rules for a Successful Ecommerce Website provides information on how to do this.
Software drives businesses today. This is a fact not lost on individuals and companies attempting to earn a profit, make a name for themselves, or simply get things done. As a result, the job outlook for software developers will be much sunnier than prospects for many other occupations—creating massive opportunities for this business idea well into the future. In fact, it won’t take you long to find a good-paying software development project as a side business idea on sites like Upwork, Guru.com, and Freelancer. LinkedIn also recently launched their brand new freelancing platform, ProFinder which has a dedicated section just for hiring talented software developers.
Also, make sure you’re up-to-date on CPR, first aid and other emergency procedures. Then make sure your own kids are OK with sharing their home every day. Once all of that is wrapped up, go to your friends and neighbors, your kids’ teachers, your place of worship and anywhere else busy parents are looking for day-care services, and get your word out.
For the musically gifted, offering lessons to others who want to learn an instrument can be a great source of extra income. Unless you're teaching piano, students can bring their own instruments to your home for hour-long lessons. Stock up on sheet music or songbooks in varying genres and aimed at various skill levels so you can offer a wide selection for your potential clients. Voice lessons can also bring in a lot of money if you market yourself to local high school and community theater groups.
Choosing the path of entrepreneurship, and working on your side business idea, is without a doubt riskier than being content with holding a 9-5 job. It requires way more sacrifice. However, once you’re reaping the lifestyle benefits of being your own boss and hustling your way into making significantly more money with your business idea than you ever could at your day job, the hard work will have all been worth it. So, let’s talk business ideas.
If you're ready to be in charge of your own destiny, but don’t have the capital to buy a franchise or open up a storefront, consider starting an online business. When your store is online, you can reach millions of customers instead of whoever happens to wander in - plus, you don't have to pay for retail space. However, like with any business, you'll need an excellent product and a solid marketing plan. See Step 1 to learn what it takes to start your business online.
When you have your name decided on, you have to register it. Nominet is the official registry for all UK domain names. The UK Domain by Nominet provides free expert advice helping businesses to achieve more online. The domain search and domain name comparison tools will help you to check that your chosen .UK domain is available, then present you with a selection of accredited registrars to choose from, giving you information on each so that you can make an informed decision to buy a domain with confidence.
“It’s a gazillion times easier if you can dedicate a room that you can shut the door to that really is your space,” Wolfe says. He recommends decorating your office so that it reflects the personality and achievements of your company, using artwork, awards, products, or anything else that conveys your vision. His home office is filled wall-to-wall with rubber ducks, and the space reflects his company so well that he proudly invites film and TV crews in, even though he works at home. “Film crews come in and say, ‘Wow,'” he says.
Sure, there are plenty of businesses offering social media consulting services, but you can stand out from the crowd by focusing primarily on networks that are still gathering steam with businesses. Facebook and Twitter are still the top networks, but businesses tend to struggle the most with more visual platforms like Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr and Snapchat. All of these platforms have huge audiences, but many businesses don't realize how big they really are, how effective they can be and how to make them work for their niche. Snapchat has more than 158 million users per day, according to Business Insider. Instagram has more than 500 million daily active users, according to Statista, and Pinterest has more than 200 million.
There are a lot of items that can be purchased very inexpensively at garage sales or thrift stores and sold for higher prices elsewhere. A few years ago I discovered that I could purchase good hardcover books at my local thrift shop for $1 or less. I realized that some of them could be sold on Amazon.com for $15-$20, which turns out to be a pretty decent profit.
It’s not exactly a way to make consistent great money, but housesitting—exactly what it sounds like—is a fantastically easy business idea that can fund your ability to live in exciting locales around the world (or your city) without paying a dime in rent. Did I mention it’s a way to travel and live rent free? Here’s a list of four great websites from the legendary Nomadic Matt, to start your housesitting side business idea search.
Word of mouth and referrals are crucial to getting new clients. Satisfied customers “spread the good word” and are the secure foundation on which to build your business. Treat all customers with respect and demonstrate that you care by delivering top quality offerings and optimum customers service. Thank loyal customers with cards, exclusive specials, and other expressions of your appreciation. Remember it takes less effort and money to satisfy existing customers than it does to get new ones.
If you are new to entrepreneurship, you can enroll in business start-up classes offered at area schools, colleges, or government SBDCs, Women’s Business Centers, and local SCORE offices. Consult with a professional organizer, a time management specialist, and/or a computer consultant to set up an efficient workspace, schedule, and an operational system with the best technology and communications for your type of business.
Naturally, it helps if you already have an online audience you can tap for listening to your regular podcast (like I did), but that hasn't stopped thousands of people from building successful side business ideas into lucrative podcasts—including Alex Blumberg, founder of Gimlet Media who teaches how to use storytelling and launch a podcast. You can also check out this class from podcaster and entrepreneur, Lewis Howes, about how to make money podcasting as a side business idea, which regularly broadcasts for free on CreativeLive.
At some point, you might be ready to hire employees. Fortunately, that won’t necessarily require you to expand into a commercial office space because your employees can work remotely from their own homes. Not only is it becoming more common to have a remote workforce, apps and other tools make it fairly easy to manage others from afar, so long as the job can be done remotely and you use the right tools.
Got a thing for numbers? Plenty of companies need to hire talented contractors who are good at data analysis, making this a potentially lucrative side business idea if you have the right credentials and experience. Platforms like Upwork and Digiserved are but a two of many websites that are great for freelancers with an analytical prowess, looking for extra work as a side business idea around their full-time jobs.
People love to spend weekends rummaging through tables full of other people's unwanted items, looking for treasures. Make sure to change your layout and put new stuff out for sale often. You want people to come back time and again to see what's new. You don't even have to have that much new stuff to make things look new. Just moving an item from a table to the top of a bookshelf might get it noticed, even though the item has been in your inventory since you first started having sales.
Create a structure that mimics what you had in the workplace. Structure your day so you have a start and finish time, with certain hours set aside for specific activities. A general rule is to spend the first hour of the day prospecting for new clients. Send your emails, write your letters and make your phone calls first thing so you don't forget to do it later.
New entrepreneurs often find it difficult in determining what to charge. Factors that will influence your pricing include the value your customers place in your products and services and what they are willing to pay for them; your industry’s pricing guidelines; and your own pricing strategy and “formula.” Your accountant can guide you in determining how to charge enough for each “billable” hour or product to cover your expenses and to ensure you will be making a profit.
Do you play a musical instrument well enough to teach it to others? How about taking your skills at producing music or sound design and teaching others as a service-based business idea based on your experience? Private music instructors in all disciplines charge upwards of $20-100/hr (or more depending upon skill and experience), and you don’t necessarily have to do them in person, either. This makes for a great side business idea that can channel your passion for music into profits.
If you have a talent for helping people look their best, and know how to mesmerize with eyeliners and turn heads with lipsticks, consider using your beauty skills to pursue this easily profitable side business idea. For under $2000, you can start your own make-up artist business which can make for the foundation of a potentially lucrative side business idea that turns a profit largely by referrals and word-of-mouth from your happy customers.
Blogging for a while now but like a lot of things – you have to learn from the experts and working with the Copyblogger team, Danny Ing, Jon Morrow etc is helping. It also has a lot to do with believing in oneself and persisting and tweaking. Blogging is one part of a marketing strategy but is not a stand alone tactic. I am working hard on the collaboration one.
Another starting point is to have an idea that very few people other than the founders can actually build. These technical feats provide a natural defense against competition. Remember, every hard problem you solve drops a massive obstacle in front of anyone who’d want to replicate you. Certain problems haven’t been solved because none of the few people smart enough to do so have made it happen. Look at something like Google, which co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin were technically capable of building at a time when not many people were. Back then, there were very few people smart enough to build their own search engine let alone imbue it with software that could crawl and rank the entire World Wide Web.