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.

With the rise of online craft marketplaces like Etsy, people with decent artisanal skills like sewing and woodworking have an always-open market to sell their products as a side business idea. If you’ve always wanted to design and make clothes by hand, then you can start turning those fashion ideas into real, hand-sewn garments and earn a little bit with this side business idea while you sleep and customers from around the world browse your Etsy & Amazon stores.

But it’s also easier for consumers to compare similar products, which makes your ability to differentiate yourself more important. For instance, if you decide to use Etsy to sell handcrafted cutting boards, when a potential customer searches for cutting boards on the site, they’ll wade through potentially hundreds or thousands of relatively similar listings.

1) A super short commute? The most obvious home business advantage is the lack of commuting necessary. No more minutes or hours spent each working day sitting in a car, on a bus or subway fighting your way to work. For many home-based business owners, their commute consists of just walking down a flight of stairs. (Of course, this advantage is wiped off the board if you don't actually work at home but have to travel to customers and clients.)
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.

I overheard my wife talking to a homeschool mom that raises and sells a certain type of dog (a registered breed of some kind) ranging from $1,000 to $1,800. I also know a couple teens that started a bread business where they sell the product at the local famer’s market and local stores. The product(s) have been so successful, most of the family has been involved in it.


If you’ve mostly been buying print ads, consider web-based ads. If you have tried Google Adwords, you might want to try to advertise on Bing or Facebook. Try sending out a newsletter by email, and don’t forget about social media. If you have a B2B target market, you could start your own business networking group. The key is to always try at least one new marketing technique. If it works, great, keep doing it. If it doesn’t work, try something else. Entrepreneurship is about experimenting with new ideas.


As far as network marketing is concerned, I think it’s very difficult for an average person to get through what it takes to make money. Being told that they have to try to recruit their warm market, have home meetings, prospect strangers and attend hotel meeting every week. I believe these task are so painful and takes the average person too far out of their comfort zone, it feels like a relief to just quit. I personally believe in network marketing and there are some awesome companies and awesome products. But it seems like people have to go through a lot of pain and sacrifice before they can win in traditional network marketing.

If you're a fast typer with an ear for dictation, than transcription might be right for you. A lot of different businesses require transcription, from medical practices to attorney's offices, and will pay handsomely for quality work. Why not be the service to meet their needs? All you need to start is a computer, an internet connection, and the will to build a network of professionals and gain their referrals.


One thing is clear – clothes and accessories will always be one of the super-profitable online business ideas for an ecommerce site. However, with so many boutiques and brands already online, rising above the noise is extremely difficult. Yet, one promising idea that savvy entrepreneurs have probably already noticed is the booming trend of “ethical fashion”. Brands, such as Pachacuti, People Tree, Sea Salt and Matt&Nat have successfully crafted their brands around the concept of organic, ethical production of fashion items and are riding the trend to the top of the strongest brands list.
1) A super short commute? The most obvious home business advantage is the lack of commuting necessary. No more minutes or hours spent each working day sitting in a car, on a bus or subway fighting your way to work. For many home-based business owners, their commute consists of just walking down a flight of stairs. (Of course, this advantage is wiped off the board if you don't actually work at home but have to travel to customers and clients.)

If you’re selling products, either hire a freelancer to do the job right or invest in the equipment that you’ll need to take and edit high-quality photos. If you’re not sure you can afford professional images, check with local colleges to see if there are students looking to learn and build their portfolios that cost less than well-established professionals.
Packaging your skills and knowledge into a downloadable eBook that delivers value to those seeking to learn a skill, advance in their careers, or start their own businesses, makes for a strong value proposition if you target the right audience. Check out Leslie Samuel's great guide to selling eBooks online and start building your strategy around this side  business idea. This class with Tara Gentile on CreativeLive will also show you how to use your existing body of work to write an eBook within the next week. Put in some serious work with your eBook, build an audience and you'll have a platform to pitch traditional publishers on landing a book deal—then you can write one of the best business books and really build your personal brand.
Long term: Persistence. The idea of a business overnight success is as uncommon as the proverbial three-dollar bill. In reality, the latest craze or hot item is most often the result of years of hard work and perseverance. In the case of Johnny Goldberg and his Spinning exercise craze, it took more than five years from the time he developed the idea until Spinning broke onto the national scene in a big way. Johnny could have given up many times along the way, but he didn't, instead pushing his idea until it eventually caught on with the exercising public. You might have the greatest idea since sliced bread but, if you aren't willing or able to hang in with it for the long haul, then you'll potentially miss enjoying the gold at the end of your rainbow.
It takes a very thick skin to go into this business, but debt collectors only need a telephone and a computer to work, making it a great work-at-home business. It’s also a recession-proof (or even recession-loving) business. Licensing requirements vary from state to state, so make sure you do your homework before setting up shop. Median salary: $31,300.
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.
Know someone who rents out property to others? Perhaps they could use a hand managing their property. If so, you can make a decent amount of money on this side business idea with relatively little work on your part (most of the time). It'll take some hustling and the willingness to be flexible with your schedule, as you'll be responsible for collecting rent checks, managing repairs and improvements, and simply being on call for emergencies. But, a property manager is essential for most real estate investors that have a large enough portfolio, so there's definitely merit to this business idea.
Organize your family time. Once your professional life is organized, you may need to consider organizing your personal life. Maybe you noticed right away, or maybe it's just becoming apparent, that you tend to work around the schedule of your family members. This is especially true if you have children. A lot of people, especially young moms, decide that they're going to quit their jobs in corporate America and work from home in order to care for their children and save on daycare expenses. But in reality, if you're serious about running a homebased business and earning a decent income, you're going to have to make arrangements for childcare in or outside the home. Otherwise it becomes too distracting. Consider hiring a babysitter so you're guaranteed five to six solid hours to get your work done.

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.

Expertise is another matter, but remember that writing can take many forms—from resumes to news articles to marketing materials and even thank-you notes. (You can even write for businesstown.com, although that gig doesn’t pay … yet.) There’s probably some form of writing you’re qualified to do. Plus, if you’re good enough with grammar and punctuation, companies will pay you to be a freelance editor. One friend made good money editing posts on a popular travel site.
Other steps in the process of forming a home-based business include selecting a legal structure, filing a fictitious name or "doing business as" statement, and obtaining any needed permits or licenses. The entrepreneur should also evaluate the risks associated with the business venture and make any necessary arrangements for health, life, liability, property, or business interruption insurance. Since it is sometimes difficult for a home-based business to be taken seriously by customers or creditors, it may be helpful to communicate a professional image through stationery and business cards, a separate phone line answered with a formal greeting, and distinct working hours.
Business owners’ lives can change forever with one storm or other catastrophic event. It’s better to be prepared than to lose everything if the unthinkable should wipe out your home or business. Keep records of all your important papers and contacts in a fire- or waterproof place; backup important computer files; update your insurance policies as your personal or business circumstances change; and stay current of any new dangers that could happen, so you will be adequately prepared.
If keeping your home organized comes naturally and you enjoy helping other people, consider becoming a professional organizer as a side business idea. As the need for baby boomers to start downsizing grows, you can use your organizing and decluttering skills to start making an industry standard $50-125 an hour with very little startup costs and some free expert advice from Jen Kilbourne. Believe it or not, pro organizers don't just work with hoarders. More and more people are hiring professional organizers in order stop wasting time and money due to the stress of everyday disorganization. What's even better, is that you can take this on as a side business idea during the nights and weekends when your clients will be at home.
Wedding photographers command premium rates. After all, you are capturing one of a couple's most important life moments, making it a very lucrative side business idea. Many professional wedding photographers charge between $2,500 - $10,000 (or more) to shoot a wedding, so it's realistic that this side business idea could quickly blossom into becoming a full-time endeavor with the right happy clientele base that's willing to refer you to their friends and family. Check out the Complete Wedding Photography Experience over on CreativeLive to get up to speed on everything you need to launch a successful wedding photography business. 

Create a stylish and functional website. Elegant or funky, classical or hipster, your online store should reflect what you’re selling. No matter what your style is, it's important to give off a professional air. Since you won't be able to earn people's trust in person, your website will have to do the selling for you. Your site should be engaging, and most importantly, easy for customers to use when they're ready to make a purchase.[4]

Tracey Wallace is the Editor-in-Chief at BigCommerce, where she covers all things ecommerce: marketing, design, development, strategy, plus emerging trends, including omnichannel and cloud replatforming.She is often featured in publications, such as Forbes, Entrepreneur, Mashable, and ELLE, along with leading BigCommerce partners like HubSpot and Square. She launched her career in ecommerce with Y-Combinator backed Shoptiques.
What a timely post, Corbett, especially since I’m on day 3 of the creation process of my 30 Day Online Business Success training. I remember talking to you last year, in a desperate email, asking you HOW I could possibly hit the next level of success online. I just couldn’t see it. You, of course, probably thought I was crazy for NOT noticing the millions of opportunities out there to teach, to offer needed services, products, and more.
Just about every company has a website that has the potential to collect data from its customers. Furthermore, many businesses store their customers' data, personal information – even credit card numbers – in their company computers. But, how many smaller firms can honestly say they know the data is safe from identity thieves and hackers? Most small companies can't afford to hire a full-time data security specialist. That's where your home-based security consulting business comes in. If you've got a background in IT, you could be working as a consultant helping small businesses shore up their data security.

First you need to secure a domain name for your website. Then find a hosting service. You will want to create content for your website that is easily read and used by potential customers. If you have set prices for your services, it is best to be transparent about them. If your fees are individually based, then state that. Explain your expertise and success in the business on your "About" page. Be sure to have a "Contact" page with your information so clients can get in touch. Once your website is ready, all you have to do is market it.
When I used to work at CreativeLive, I regularly paid $250-$500 (or even much more depending upon audience size) per episode for 90 seconds worth of advertisements on relevant podcasts like The Tim Ferriss Show, the #1 business podcast right now from the 4-Hour Workweek author, Tim Ferriss. The podcast has even helped Tim launch his latest New York Times bestseller, Tools of Titans to a wider readership.
With the byzantine complexity of modern medical billing practices, there is a definite need for patient advocates. These individuals take the time to track down hospital billing paperwork and potentially argue with insurance companies. Considering the fact that many of those who need to hire advocates are either ailing or grieving, this is a very necessary service.
This is a perfect business idea for trained accountants who would like to work from home, although it is not necessary to be a Certified Public Accountant in order to become a freelance bookkeeper—it’s just necessary to have the background knowledge that bookkeeping courses at any community college can offer. This kind of freelance work is especially helpful for small businesses that do not need or cannot afford a fulltime bookkeeper, making it possible for you to have full time work through several smaller clients. Median salary: $34,000.
A lot of car owners simply don’t have time to personally care for their vehicles, much less make them sparkle. With simple equipment such as car shampoo, polishing wax, tire black, sponges, a pail and a sturdy hose, you can start earning a decent side income by making cars look fresh in your free time after work and on weekends. Not bad for an easy business idea that'll keep you outdoors and moving your body on the weekends.
There are many directions you can take this business. If you want to work during hours when no one else does, you can focus on office clients. You can focus on retail businesses and keep your customers clumped into one or two blocks. Restaurants are in great need of daily thorough cleaning and can be a great source of steady clients. Perhaps you would be more interested in house cleaning. Many times with cleaning services you don't have to spend lots of money on advertising or marketing because your customers will come by word of mouth.
You can also use PR techniques to position your brand for media attention. There are several techniques for getting other people to share your work. Of course, blogging is very effective, if you’re consistent. But, I’ve found press releases can also work well. If your press release gets picked up by media experts, you can expect other authority sites to link back to you.
You need to decide whether you will sell your herbs as live plants, picked or cut in bunches and packed, or dried. If you plan to market to cooks instead of gardeners, you will want to sell your herbs either fresh cut and packed in sealed bags, or dried and sold in baggies. You can also consider a "pick-your-own" arrangement; however, be aware that herbs are more delicate than most P.Y.O. products. You may save your garden a lot of strife and your plants a lot of wear and tear if you do the picking.
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. 
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