With the help of Sageworks, a Raleigh, N.C.-based private-company data provider, Forbes.com has assembled a list of the 10 most profitable businesses--on a pretax basis--that could be run out of a home. The data were drawn from eight years worth of financial statements (nearly an entire business cycle) for tens of thousands of privately held U.S. companies with annual revenues under $1 million and bucketed by Internal Revenue Service classifications. Average pretax profits ranged from 8% to 14%.
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That's why I'm a huge advocate of always starting a side business while working full-time, so that you can test your way into your new product or service, get feedback, validate the business idea, and start generating income before you quit your job. If you can master the art of scaling a side business idea while keeping your day job, you'll have no trouble succeeding once you're fully self-employed.
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.
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.
If editing and advising college students on how to write compelling 500 word essays on topics such as "You were just invited to speak at the White House. Write your speech," seems like a compelling business idea to allocate your free time towards, trust me—tons of parents will pay you to edit admissions essays and offer constructive feedback for their children. Be careful not to blur the ethical line of actually writing their essays, but serving as an editor to help them convey their message can become a great side business idea that has the potential to spread by word-of-mouth referral in your community.
Live in a destination where travelers frequently visit? If you love meeting new people from around the world and also love the city you live in, starting your own local tour company is arguably the best business idea that will give you both of those perks. Take a unique spin on your local tour business like Erik from Vantigo. He was starting his VW van tour business in San Francisco as just a side business idea while he was still working a full-time job, and grew it to being a sustainable source of full-time income before quitting—now he's running a multiple van tour company on the back of what originally began as a crazy side business idea.
Are you an extrovert that loves meeting new people? Selling insurance products—particularly life insurance—may be a great way to bring in some extra cash and build residual income in your spare time. Selling life insurance on the side could quickly generate a consistent $1,000 - $2,000 per month depending on how much time you invest in this side business idea. To get started you’ll likely want to take an online course to brush up on the subject matter, and then pass a state licensing exam. The biggest challenge you'll face as a new agent is generating sales beyond just helping out friends and family. From there, it’s all about networking and lead generation to grow this one. Learn more about this side business idea with this getting started in life insurance guide from the team over at NoExam.
Modern technology has enabled entrepreneurs to do their work from almost anywhere. In fact, many companies operate in a wholly digital environment, lowering overhead costs and offering freedom to entrepreneurs who want to conduct business on the move. Creating an online business is simply a matter of focusing on your strengths and expanding your network. Here are 12 great online business ideas to get you started.
Add Google AdSense advertisements to your blog or website. Google’s AdSense is a revenue-sharing opportunity for small, medium and large web sites that places ads for goods and services that are relevant to the content of your site, targeted to the people who frequent your pages. In turn, you get paid a small amount when the ad is either displayed on your page, or clicked on.
The key to success in this business is being very disciplined in buying. Limit your car buying to popular models that you can turn over quickly, models that you have a strong understanding of current local pricing on, cars that you can buy at a significant discount to the price you believe you can fairly sell them for, and cars that are highly unlikely to need major work.
Every household has a number of appliances, large and small. You can work on your own or on contract with appliance stores to cover their warranty service calls--or, best of all, you can do some of each. Plan to start slow and build your customer base on recommendations and referrals based on work well done. Consider developing relationships with contractors to be the go-to person to install appliances in newly constructed houses.
Maintenance work from the comfort of your garage or basement is challenging on two fronts: overall set-up (equipment, ventilation) and finding clients. Take shoe repair. Ben Roush, a cobbler in Omaha, Neb., says that used finishing machines (with the proper buffering and sanding devices) go for $10,000; stitchers, $1200; and hydraulic presses for adding glue, $300. Some repair work requires more electrical power, too: 220 volts versus the typical 110 volt capacity in most houses.