Your goal in conducting preliminary market research is to choose a product or service that will be in demand by potential customers; and to size-up your competitors so you will know how to make your business standout from theirs. Look especially for those people whose needs are not being met by larger companies. Business experts label these “niche markets,” and fulfilling their wants are making many solo entrepreneurs rich.
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%.
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.
People respect those who know more than they do. By specializing, you assume the role of a presumed expert, even if you’ve just started your business. It makes good business sense for your clients to hire an expert instead of someone less experienced. By avoiding the mistakes and dead ends that someone with less experience may make, your clients could end up spending less money by hiring you — even if your hourly rates are higher.
#3 listening: I created a community targeted towards what I wanted to write about. I learned by providing value to my audience that what I was writing wasn’t what they wanted. So I rewrote an entirely new ebook the month of January. And every product I’ve launched after that has been in direct response to what my community is struggling with and needs help with.
It sounds too good to be true—getting paid to represent your favorite brands at events across the nation. But, if you have a friendly and outgoing personality (a growing social media following helps too), you can forge a potentially paid relationship as a brand ambassador with companies who want to reach other people within your community with this side business idea. As a Brand Ambassador, you do anything from demoing the latest technology, to passing out free swag at music festivals, to going on nationwide tours, to pumping people up as a mascot, and more. Depending upon the gig, you can expect to earn anywhere from $18-$100/hr. You can get started as early as this weekend by joining the Brand Ambassador Facebook group for your nearest major city (e.g. join the "Brand Ambassadors of Seattle" group if you live in/near Seattle). Once you've been approved to the group, you'll get access to daily job postings from big brands and agencies with opportunities in your area. All you need to do is submit your resume and headshot to apply. For a step-by-step guide on how to get hired for the best gigs and the highest pay rates, I recommend checking out The Brand Ambassador Blueprint.
Strauss advises that you should never lose sight of this advantage as your business grows. If you play your cards right, you will reach a point when your house has become too small for your venture. Now that you can afford to get your business its own space, Strauss shares this lesson: “The main reason you were successful enough to move out was that your overhead was low. Keep it that way. Run a lean and mean, low overhead, entrepreneurial machine out there in the real world, and you can’t go wrong.”
67. Virtual tech equipment: Make sure you have equipped your team with the right tools to stay in communication [and] send large files, or provide [them] access to systems. You want to ensure you remove barriers to performance by providing the right tools for virtual business. (Note: Tools such as instant messaging, wikis or message boards, and conference meeting software will help improve communication.)
Sammi Caramela has always loved words. When she isn't working as a Business News Daily and Business.com staff writer, she's writing (and furiously editing) her first novel, reading a YA book with a third cup of coffee, or attending local pop-punk concerts. The only time Sammi doesn't play it safe is when she's writing. Reach her by email, or check out her blog at sammisays.org.
“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.
Hairstyling is a popular business that can be quite lucrative. Generally a home based hairstylist business is likely to be started by someone who has already has a cosmetology career and wants a change. If you already have your cosmetology training and license, and loads of experience under your belt working in a hairstyling salon, you probably have a following that will follow you right home without any hesitation.
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.
Countless small businesses start out their web presence using a WordPress hosted website (myself included) before needing to upgrade to other solutions for various reasons. Many of them will pay several hundreds of dollars for someone to get their business idea set up online. If you have the patience to learn how to do it yourself, it's an extremely valuable skill and can be turned into a very lucrative side business idea—especially if you sign up for affiliate programs with companies like Kinsta, who offer high quality managed WordPress hosting plans that allow you to collect fees from the clients you refer their way. Plus, with the skills you pick up from this side business idea, you'll be able to spin up other profitable website ideas like my friend Andy's been able to do with his site, AwesomeStuffToBuy.
A real estate appraisal business can be operated from home, on a part-time basis, making for a fun side business idea if you have the credentials to back it up. A perfect option if you want to keep your day job while earning a little extra on the side. You won’t need a college degree to start in on this business idea, but you’ll need bankable appraiser credentials (including relevant training and professional licenses), strong knowledge of the sector, and a growing network of industry players including mortgage brokers, real estate agents, banks, and fellow appraisers that'll want to utilize your services.
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.”
To locate sites that might be interested in your content, e-mail other website owners in your industry–be sure to choose sites that receive attention and visits from your target market–and invite them to use your article on their site or in their newsletter at absolutely no cost. Many site owners need fresh content, so they’ll be more than happy to post your articles–and it won’t be long before those articles start driving traffic back to your site.