If you've developed valuable skill sets or certifications within your industry over the years, consider putting your skills to use in your free time by offering your consulting services to local business owners as a potentially lucrative side business idea. Whether you're an expert marketer, business strategist, or manufacturing aficionado, there's likely a local business owner who's willing to pay you to help them solve an issue with their company—if you can craft an effective cold email that convinces them to hire you. Start with this 18-step checklist to becoming a local business consultant as a side business idea, from Karyn Greenstreet. When you're ready to get serious about becoming a consultant, check out all of my picks for the best online business courses to keep building your skills and learning how to land your first consulting clients. Personally, I think this is one of the best business ideas you can get started with today.
After creating a plan for the home-based business, the entrepreneur is ready to put the plan in action. One of the earliest steps involves preparing family members and enlisting their support. The loss of a reliable source of income may cause some anxiety or resentment among other members of the household. In addition, the creation of a home office will probably necessitate changes in family members' schedules or lifestyle. Dealing with such issues in advance can help avoid problems later. Another important step is to establish an area of the home as a business office. The most important consideration when choosing a location for a home office is that it allow the entrepreneur room to work comfortably and efficiently without too many distractions. The office should be as physically separate from the living area of the home as possible, and should project an air of professionalism to potential visitors as well as to its occupant.
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.
The first step in getting a top ranking in the search engines is to submit or suggest your site to them. In other words, you have to provide them with details about your small online business site. You want to make sure that the “spiders”–automated programs that crawl the web indexing sites for the search engines–find your site and include it in the search results.
15. Know what you’re signing up for. “Too many people want to work from home and expect the assignments to just flow in—so not the case,” says Kristen Fischer, author of Creatively Self-Employed: How Writers and Artists Deal with Career Ups and Downs. “Solid skills in business development, lead generation, sales, and marketing are vital to ensure success.”
I like these ideas! Besides being good ideas in themselves, they stimulate MORE ideas! Some of them reminded me of something I was reading about called Craigslist arbitrage – buying low and selling high on craigslist, kind of like the first part of the old Oregon Trail game, but with washers and dryers and bicycles instead of cases of crackers and horses. Sounds like fun! Anyway, that one about the pooper-scooper business, that works, I know because I was quite successful in the pooper-scooper service I started back in 1988! I’ve been in the industry for 25 years now, though I don’t go out and scoop any more.
Advertise your services in places where everyone goes, like restaurants and grocery stores. Having a website is a good idea--people want some privacy in their decision-making when it comes to getting fit. They can go to your website and determine if your approach to personal training is an approach that would work for them. It is important to emphasize the safety aspect of using a personal trainer. You can help clients get fit and avoid injury.
Be genuine. Yes, your blog is supposed to make money. But you can’t make marketing pitches all the time. Focus on useful content so that your readers come to know, like, and trust you. Then they will naturally click on your advertising or buy the products you recommend. In this era of the internet and social media people are looking for authenticity.
76. Create a sustainable routine that signals the beginning and the end of the work day. “One of my earliest clients was a software coder, and he would go to the local diner early in the morning to look at the paper, eat breakfast, and [hang out] with locals. Then he would code for seven hours, and when his wife came home from her job they would take a walk, and that was the end of the workday—no more coding until the next morning,” says McGraw.
In general, a home office deduction is allowed if the home office meets at least one of three criteria: 1) the home office is the principal place of business; 2) the home office is the place where the business owner meets with clients and customers as part of the normal business day; or 3) the place of business is a separate structure on the property, but is not attached to the house or residence. The deduction is figured on the size of the home office as a percentage of the total house or residence. For example, if the total house size is 2,400 square feet and the home office is 240 square feet, 10 percent of the total house is considered used for business. That would allow the business owner to deduct 10 percent of the household's costs for electricity, real estate taxes, mortgage interest, insurance, repairs, etc. as business expenses.
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.
Today, tens of thousands of people are considering starting a home based business, and for good reasons. On average, people can expect to have two and three careers during their work life. Those leaving one career often think about their second or third career move being to their own home. People who have been part of the traditional nine-to-five work force and are on the verge of retiring from that life are thinking of what to do next. The good news: Starting a homebased business is within the reach of almost anyone who wants to take a risk and work hard.
If you don’t mind doing other people’s chores, then TaskRabbit may be the right side business idea for you. Earn a little side money doing odd jobs like walking your neighbor’s dog or mowing Mr. Smith’s lawn. Running errands not your style? Tell that to the top taskers on the portal who reportedly earn as much as $7000 a month, making this a full-time business idea for some.
75. Invest in a time management class. “This is what I tell people to do before they do anything else,” says Tim McGraw, a home-based marketing strategist and copywriter. “It should be considered your ‘first day at work.’ I highly recommend a full-day seminar from the likes of Franklin-Covey or the American Management Association. It will be the best $300 you invest to launch your business, you will walk away with tools in hand—paper-based as well as software applications—and it will instill habits that will serve you through your career.”
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.
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.
The German Economist Schumpeter once said that there are “no original ideas”, only new combinations of old ones. Curation of curiosity-fueling content is an intriguing and little-known business model. One of the best success stories out there is Brainpickings – a platform that describes itself as “an inventory of cross-disciplinary interestingness, spanning art, science, design, history, philosophy, and more”. The subscription-based model and successful utilisation of affiliate links have turned the blog into a self-sustaining business.
Most hosting providers come in at a similar low price point – often from just £1 a month – so business owners should look at online reviews and go for quality of support, says Alex Price, founder of 93digital.co.uk. ‘You need to know you can get in touch with your hosting provider quickly and easily, at any hour, if your website goes down,’ he adds.
Mild spoiler alert: Viewers of the TV drama Orange Is the New Black might remember that the show’s main character made amends with one of her fellow prison inmates by making her a soothing lotion. Hopefully you won’t find yourself in prison, but if you find yourself wanting to start a home-based business, consider hand-making soaps and lotions yourself.
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Sometimes it seems like there’s an app for everything. Yet somehow, new ones keep popping up and selling for lots of money, all the time. If you spot a niche that hasn’t been filled to its potential just yet, and you can learn the coding skills (or know someone who already has them), you could be on to something with this side business idea. Today, it's even possible to build an app without any coding skills whatsoever. Just make sure you validate your app idea before jumping too far in. Even if your app business idea doesn't pan out to be a best-seller, you'll still pick up valuable skills.
Focus on what makes you stand out. If you’re using an ecommerce marketplace, pay particular attention to the quality of the images you use on your page. Good product photography can set your listing apart. But remember, hosting your own ecommerce site isn’t a free pass for using mediocre images either. Either way, customers will rely on images to form an opinion about your product or service’s value.
Your home office also must be your principal place of business if you want to claim the deduction. Some small business owners fear that taking the home office deduction will trigger an IRS audit. While even tax pros don’t know exactly how the IRS decides whom to audit, most agree that small business owners should not worry about the home office deduction bringing the IRS to their door.
Ultimately, starting an online business is similar to starting a business with a physical storefront. You’ll still need to do business planning and you’ll benefit from making sure you understand your tax obligations from the start. Just don’t underestimate the importance of putting together a functional website and getting it in front of your target market.
In order to be successful, you will want to establish contacts with real estate agents who can recommend your services to customers. The home inspection field is one where you will need to do constant updating of your education and knowledge. New products are constantly coming out on the market--if you only know about decks made of wood, you will not know how to inspect and assess the new materials on the market, such as composites that are made to look like real wood. Also keep apprised of all safety updates of materials and issues with things like off-gassing, carbon monoxide production, and other chemical precautions.
Not to be confused with hoarding, this business idea takes a lot of time, patience, and passion. If you have an eye for good art, it’s easy to get in on the ground level by visiting the studio department at your local university—though don't expect to get rich overnight with this side business idea. Many art students are more than happy to sell their work for a bargain, and in as little as a few years, there's a chance that piece you bought for a couple hundred bucks may be worth well into the thousands. Beware though, this business idea will take a whole lot of patience (and storage space for all that art).
If you don’t mind parading yourself around in public places as a side business idea, and enjoy a little attention, then working as a human billboard can pay a surprising amount of dividends. Renting out your beard, for example can earn you as much as $5 a day while having a brand logo tattooed on your shaven head for five years could pay as much as $7,000—though this type of earning opportunity is admittedly rare. This business idea is definitely not for the faint of heart, and is a little extreme for me, but nonetheless it's been done as a side hustle for many people. You can start by holding a placard or wearing a sandwich board. If you think this is a good side business idea, you can go all the way and turn it into a full on small business idea with enough hard work—plus you won't have to deal with all the issues other more complex businesses have to constantly think about (like reducing churn).
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.
Use inexpensive marketing methods to promote your web site such as submitting articles for online and print publications; publishing an e-zine; participating in online chats; and posting your web site URL on all your marketing materials and correspondence. Visit the SBA’s E-Commerce section: www.sba.gov/training/courses.html; and www.practicalecommerce.com/ for web site and marketing tips.
The number of websites and blogs operating online demand a constant stream of high-quality, beautiful photographs that can help businesses attract and convert more customers. Setting up a stock photo library is a great business idea as it targets virtually every industry regardless of a company’s size. Check out sites like SmugMug, Photoshelter and iStockPhoto for more information.
If you've got the attitude (and look), there should be a product or service out there on the hunt for the right model to promote their brand as a side business idea. You can sign up with a large agency, find a freelance agent, or look for your own modeling gigs as an independent talent. Since modeling is a complex field, get all the advice you need before jumping right in and find a mentor who can guide you through some of the early challenges it'll take to establish your brand. Depending on your preference, you can specialize in a single media format such as video or still images, to build a compelling portfolio and grow this into a business idea that has the potential to scale.
Create a flier outlining your services. Before you do that, you need to know what those services will be. Do you want to simply do bookkeeping for a small business? A more involved level of accounting would be do actually work up balance sheets, income statements, and other financial reports on a monthly, quarterly, and/or annual basis, depending on the needs of the business. Other specializations can include tax accounting, a huge area of potential work. Service companies like Due.com assisted freelancers with payments. Many owners don't mind keeping their own day-to-day bookkeeping records but would rather get professional help with their taxes.
‘Facebook retargeting has been effective for us: when people go on our site, we can drop a cookie on their browser, and if they go on Facebook we can remarket an advert to them. Retargeting means you know the people are qualified, and you don’t pay unless they click on your ads, so you aren’t spending lots of money waiting for random clicks – it’s more focused.
A doula is a labor coach that can help a birthing mother in any labor environment, from a hospital to a midwife clinic to home. Doulas are non-medical professionals who offer information, emotional support, and physical assistance in the process of giving birth. While licensing for doulas is not required by most states, getting certified by DONA International, the only certifying body for this profession, is a good idea. Doulas do have to deal with unpredictable schedules, but they easily can do this work from home. Doulas generally charge between $500 and $1000 per birth.
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.
Yet another common problem encountered by home-based business people is frequent distractions that reduce productivity. In fact, distractions are everywhere for people who work from home. When faced with a difficult work task, it sometimes seems far preferable to run the vacuum, clean out a closet, walk the dog, have a snack, take a nap, raid the refrigerator, pull some weeds in the garden, or do any of the myriad other things that need doing around a normal household. In addition, people who work from home lack the motivation that peer pressure can provide in a regular office. They also face spouses and children who demand time and attention, as well as friends and neighbors who call to chat or stop by to ask favors.