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.
Web designers are incredibly valuable for technology companies—which is why becoming a freelance web designer is a top side business idea today. Web design is all about mastering the art of creating a beautiful, value-driven experience for the people using a website or app. There are always new websites popping up in need of professional web design, and foundational books like HTML & CSS: Design and Build Websites by acclaimed web designer Jon Duckett and Don't Make Me Think by user experience legend Steve Krug will get you started down the right path to quickly determining whether or not becoming a web designer is a viable side business idea for you.
Great ideas! I’ve been thinking about starting a home-based business for years but I just never stopped long enough to actually start and I didn’t know what kind of business to pursue. Now I’m ready to get started and you gave me some really good ideas. I really appreciate the links to more information on how to get started in several of these business opportunities. I will definitely look into them.
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.
Even the portrait and general-interest options, though, aren’t really for beginners. Photography businesses can be complex operations, with lots of equipment required and years of portfolio and relationship building necessary to really get steady income flowing. Still, if you’re a hobbyist already, starting a photography business as a side operation is a great way to make some extra money and possibly begin a career change.
Some firms outsource their customer service operations and many of these companies accept home-based contractors. You can start by signing up on freelancing sites such as Upwork to test the waters with this business idea first. If you’re already a CSR specialist with management skills, then you can form and lead a virtual team online and engage clients as a bona fide customer service company or, provide customer service training to such teams as well as individuals.
Even the portrait and general-interest options, though, aren’t really for beginners. Photography businesses can be complex operations, with lots of equipment required and years of portfolio and relationship building necessary to really get steady income flowing. Still, if you’re a hobbyist already, starting a photography business as a side operation is a great way to make some extra money and possibly begin a career change.
Be prepared to face a catch-22 when it comes to funding. “More often than not, a home-based business is going to require less capital, but often, because most of the funding is for intangible assets, it’s harder to get more traditional sources of funding,” says David Nilssen, CEO and cofounder of Guidant Financial Group, a firm specializing in self-directed IRAs and small business financing. If you’re having trouble getting a traditional bank loan, Nilssen recommends these options for obtaining outside funding.
I think the biggest killer of new ventures is good ideas. A good idea sparks the imagination, causes the founder to invest heavily in a dream, and much of that investment goes into building filters to bad news, which ensures you will be way too overconfident and prevents you from transforming a good idea into an idea that works. The end result can get pretty ugly, and usually involves uncontrollable crying. (That’s right. Real men cry.) As an idea man, I have learned the hard way to distrust my ideas. Better to start with some problems worth solving that I am uniquely able to address and build a simple MVP prototype with no expectation that it will work. Then find out what is wrong with it, fix it, repeat.
Everyone (even kids and retirees) need to have some level of technical know-how to stay competitive and appreciate the marvels of the digital age. Just observe how learning sites like Codecademy, Treehouse, and Udacity continue to grow and you’ll understand the urgency of getting computer training for our generation (thus making it a great business idea to train others if you already have the skills). If you’re a techie, you can cash in on this need by offering lessons and tutorials within your neighborhood or across cyberspace through portals like YouTube or Udemy as a side business idea. You can even set up your own tutorial site with an interface for online payments.
How can you make a living as a real social-media expert? Practice. Build an audience for yourself before offering your services to others. Determine your target sector, build your own online presence in that community and start making contact with the social-media elite. Twitter is a great place to start. Keep cranking out content and getting it to the right users, and you’ll find a way to get yourself hired even in an ever-expanding universe.
Who needs a nasty commute when you can make a decent buck but a few feet from your kitchen? Over half of all U.S. businesses are now based out of an owner's home, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. With the economy shedding jobs, the ranks of the self-employed may well keep swelling. Plenty more entrepreneurs may look to eliminate rent and fuel costs to pinch pennies.
Event planning is a bit like wedding planning, just on steroids. The scope of this idea is so large that it includes everything from cheesy stag and hen do parties to sophisticated product launches. Again, the entry barriers are rather low, but a flush work portfolio and a few glowing testimonials are something you need to consider to get a good head start in this field. 
Anyone can sell goods on Amazon, provided you have products to sell (or buy low, then resell). If you’re the type to hit all the local garage sales each weekend, there’s all sorts of valuable things that can be resold online as a side business idea. If you want to step your Amazon selling game up, check out this detailed guide to Amazon and eBay retail arbitrage on Entrepreneur featuring an interview with Julie Becker and several drop-shippers who've grown this home based business idea from side business idea into a lucrative money-maker.
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