Top 10 Home Business Ideas

Top 10 Home Business Ideas

10 Home Business Ideas That Lets You Work From Home

If you plan to own and operate a business, you might start thinking about things like leasing commercial real estate, commuting to the office or managing employees. Top 10 Home Business Ideas.

But with the rise of home businesses, more and more people are beginning to find ways to use remote work to find entrepreneurship, and their corporate headquarters are located at home.

In today’s connected world, technology provides us with greater flexibility in working methods and work, and home-based businesses appear in many forms.

Some require you to convert a spare room into a mini warehouse for storing products, while others can run completely online. But generally speaking, you can use existing space and means to carry out this type of business. Top 10 Home Business Ideas.

What makes a “family-style” home based business: pros and cons

Running a business at home is an adventure, whether it is a full-time operation or as a sideline business, you can use your own house as the basis for business to start. Some home-based businesses, especially those that sell online but do not buy and hold large amounts of inventory, can even run anytime, anywhere, without being limited to your house.

Of course, consider the pros and cons when deciding whether a home-based business is right for you.

Pros:

  • There are fewer overheads (such as storage fees) for low investment businesses, plus the potential tax deductions you can claim.
  • The option to sell products or services locally or internationally.
  • Flexible work-life balance, which is ideal if, for example, you’re a stay-at-home parent or a retiree.
  • You can create a family business where your relations or your spouse can chip in as needed.

Cons:

  • You may need to convert space in your home to support the needs of your business (e.g., holding inventory, creating a home office, or storing equipment). The challenge can be doing this without disrupting your life at home.
  • You still have to comply with any regulations that pertain to the business you want to start (e.g., you may need to rent a commercial kitchen if you plan to sell food products or a license/permit to hold inventory).
  • Your business may outgrow your home and require you to rent additional space and hire employees.
  • Working from home offers you a lot of freedom, but it can also be lonely. This might be difficult if you enjoy being around other people.

13 home-based business ideas you can start today

While there are plenty of ways to go about starting a home-based business, the following are some of the most approachable paths to creating a home business for yourself:

1. Buy products in bulk and sell them online

Many companies focus on the simple concept of importing products in batches and selling them separately for profit.

Maybe you recently traveled abroad and stumbled upon a unique product that is not easily available in your market, but you have a need.

Or maybe you are already in a niche market and know the ideal way to serve it. Either way, if these products are relatively easy to store and transport, then you may have some solid family-based business ideas on hand.

You can even initially use your house as a showroom for local sales, so that you can choose to expand more storage space and employees when you validate your ideas and start increasing sales.

This is how Artemis Design Co. started.

“I was living in the south end of Boston, and I had my living room just full of these products. I would have people come over if they wanted to look at something or try something on, and that’s how I made my first sale.” Milicent Armstrong, Artemis Design Co.

2. Sell homemade products

If you’re a maker yourself (or know someone who is), consider turning that hobby into a business. Even if you have to create your products elsewhere—in a studio, commercial kitchen, or workshop—you may be able to store and sell them in your own home.

When you have the ability to control nearly every aspect of the products you sell, you can make them more cost- effective, improve their quality, or cater them to a certain audience by targeting demand in the market. Top 10 Home Business Ideas.

Josh Pigford already had a thriving home business in a business analytics startup, but wanted to find a way to flex his creative muscles. He started printing succulent planters at home with his 3D printer—and a business was born. Cedar & Sail now carries planters, coasters, and other small desk tchotchkes.

Cedar and Sail

Whether you choose to start on a marketplace like Etsy or build your own branded storefront, selling your creations is a great way to share your passion with others and make money too. Just be wary of regulations concerning products that customers ingest or put on their skin.

Best of all, producing your own products doesn’t have to be overwhelming. When you’re ready to scale, you can establish a process and onboard new employees to help with production.

3. Start a dropshipping store

So far, we’ve covered business ideas that require you to hold inventory in your home. But there are a variety of online businesses ideas to pursue that don’t involve worrying about inventory and shipping.

These businesses employ a dropshipping model, where a third party produces, stores, and ships your products on your behalf, leaving marketing and customer service as your chief responsibilities.

Children’s brand Finer & Dandy is an example of a home-based business that uses a dropshipper. Founder Courtney White started the company in search of a way to make money from home without spending too much time providing services to customers. That’s when she discovered dropshipping. Now, she wakes up at 4 a.m. every morning to run her dropshipping business before going to her day job.

Your dropshipping supplier can be local or overseas, but you need to ensure you find a supplier you can trust to deliver a consistently great customer experience after the sale. Always do your due diligence or you might put your business’ reputation at risk.

There are even Shopify apps, such as Oberlo, that can connect you with suppliers to import products into your own store while streamlining order fulfillment.

At its core, dropshipping involves becoming a distributor of a third party’s products, taking on the costs (both financial and time-based) of marketing to be rewarded with the margins when you make a sale. In many cases, this can make your products a commodity with limited opportunity to brand your customer experience. Luckily, there are a few different ways you can still compete, even when there’s no shortage of your products in the market you’re selling in:

  • Curate products from different suppliers to create a store that serves a specific niche.
  • Compete through quality content and customer service, creating value beyond your products.
  • Target an underserved region of the world. (Be sure to pay attention to your shipping costs.)
  • Target a new audience with the same products (e.g., LED shoes can be marketed to music festival goers or runners).

If you’re interested in learning more about starting a dropshipping business, be sure to check out The Ultimate Guide to Dropshipping.

Using a similar dropshipping model, a print-on-demand business doesn’t require you to hold any inventory or ship anything yourself. Print-on-demand even offers you more flexibility to customize white label products with your own creative designs.

Rebecca Lee Funk launched The Outrage, a women’s rights activist apparel brand that sells print-on-demand t-shirt designs from her home. The business donates a portion of profits to Planned Parenthood in Donald Trump’s name. Her launch campaign went viral, and The Outrage turned into a thriving ecommerce business.

The Outrage

There are many other print-on-demand products you can sell: books, hats, backpacks, blankets, pillows, mugs, shoes, hoodies, phone cases, watches, and more, depending on the supplier you choose to work with.

Many print-on-demand businesses focus on serving a specific niche or, better yet, a shared identity.

What are people passionate about and proud to share?

What about yourself? From pet owners to vegans to gamers, there are plenty of passionate communities you can create products for.

If you have design skills, you can create your own designs. But if not, you can always hire the talent you need.

For a full runthrough of how print on demand works and how you can get started, be sure to take our video course inside Shopify Academy.

5. Offer online services

Services are even simpler than products to start selling at home, but the challenge is allocating your limited time. “Time is money” is never truer than when you’re running a service-based business.

Creative professionals, like designers or marketers, might freelance or consult with other companies, juggling multiple clients, often remotely from their own home office with occasional travel. Others might operate based on appointments and bookings to offer their services to individuals directly.

Service-based home business ideas include:

  • House cleaning
  • Freelance writing
  • Personal training
  • Virtual assistance
  • Dog walking
  • Marketing
  • Designing

Service-based businesses often require a lot of networking and word-of-mouth referrals to find suitable clients, but satisfied clients will likely retain your services over time.

For this reason, you don’t necessarily need a large number of customers to do well, as you would with a product-based business. Depending on the service you’re offering, a handful of high-quality clients can be enough to support yourself full time while working from home.

6. Teach online classes

online classes

Chris Carey, one of the founders of MAPerformance, started his automotive parts and services business from the comfort of home. He began by teaching car maintenance and repair tips to online users in forums. After establishing expertise and trust, people started heading over to his ecommerce site to buy parts.

MAPerformance

If you have a teachable skill, you not only can share that knowledge in forums to get your name out there, you can also turn it into online classes. There’s an audience for just about any desirable skill, whether it’s English as a second language, advanced marketing, or everyday home maintenance hacks.

If I Made is Emily Newman’s home-based business teaching classes to creative professionals. When you teach classes online, not only do you have the flexibility to do it from home, you can also choose to offer live or pre-recorded teaching and training. For example, you might offer the live courses at a premium rate, while customers can purchase the recorded sessions at a discounted price.

That’s what Yegi Saryan, founder of Yegi Beauty, does with her business. After establishing a successful online beauty brand, she turned her talents into passive income. Now, aspiring entrepreneurs can purchase lash classes to kickstart their skills and add it as a service offering in their business. Classes are available both online and in-person. Top 10 Home Business Ideas.

You can also choose the class size and length. If you like small groups or even one-on-one, consider tutoring, mentorship, or masterminds. If you like larger groups, do bigger training sessions and courses. Teach a one-time all-day summit, an hour a week, or somewhere in between. Top 10 Home Business Ideas.

Not interested in human interaction? Create a fully downloadable course for purchase. All you need is the content, be it a video walkthrough, templates, articles, or how-tos. Use a screen-recording tool like ScreenFlow to capture your screen and voice while you walk students through the material.

Whichever way you slice it, teaching online is a profitable home business idea because it requires low overhead—just an investment in time.

7. Productize your service or expertise

Close up of hands dressing a pale pink cake against a pale blue background.As we just discussed, one of the biggest downsides of running a service-based business is that you’re paid strictly for your time, skills, and effort. Emily Newman of If I Made productized her classes into digital courses, packaging the recordings from her live sessions and selling them at a lower rate.

“Productizing” your service—creating physical or digital products that package up your expertise and streamline or complement the service you offer—can add additional revenue streams to your business. You can cater to your current customer base or even find a new target customer in the same space.

Gabriella and Andrew Morrison started their home-based business by packaging up their expertise around tiny-home living. They sell courses and plans on Tiny House Build and StrawBale.com—operating everything from the comfort of their cozy, non-traditional house.

And here are some ideas for adding products to your service-based business:

  • Courses
  • Designs
  • Selling photos online
  • Downloadable reports
  • Digital templates
  • Merchandise
  • eBooks

As you can see, most of these ideas involve digital media packaged as products, which means no inventory to keep around the house. If you’re running your home business on Shopify, you can sell digital products seamlessly using the Digital Downloads or SendOwl app.

SendOwl

In some cases, though, productizing your expertise is more literal. That’s how Bullet Journal came about. Ryder Carroll created his own methodology to journaling that morphed into a home-based business idea. Now, he sells physical journals on his website.

8. Grow an audience you can monetize

monetize your audience like an influencer as a home business ideaIf you’re a content creator, have a sizable online audience already, or have always thought about starting your own blog, YouTube channel, Instagram account, or podcast, then you can potentially grow and monetize your following using any of the previous ideas on this list.

Andrew Finn co-founded Wait But Why, a blog-turned-business. After amassing more than 371,000 subscribers and millions of visits, they created digital content products tailored to an already loyal audience. Today, Wait Buy Why is a full-blown ecommerce site with digital and physical goods for sale.

Wait But Why

Jordan Ferney, founder of Oh Happy Day Shop!, also built an audience via blogging and later turned it into a full-fledged home-based business. She designed her business around her life and being able to spend time with her family and now sells products on her ecommerce site.

Oh Happy Day

Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark used Facebook groups to develop and nurture a community around their podcast, My Favorite Murder. This group of Murderinos, armchair investigators who are true crime fans, grew to more than 200,000 members before the podcast sunset in 2018. My Favorite Murder then created its own paid community, the Fan Cult forum, charging members an annual fee. Capitalizing even more on its fandom, My Favorite Murder also launched an ecommerce site with branded merchandise (it also sold event tickets there). Top 10 Home Business Ideas.

My Favorite Murder

You can also explore becoming an affiliate—selling other products or services for a commission—or accepting payment for sponsored posts to give brands a chance to connect with your audience.

Building a loyal audience requires patience, consistency, and focus. This isn’t the easiest way to start a home-based business, especially not in the short-term, but if you’re able to build a following around something you love it can be one of the most fulfilling and enduring, giving you the flexibility to pursue multiple revenue streams at once.

The potential to monetize your audience often depends on the niche you choose to serve. If you’re starting from scratch or are in the midst of growing your own audience, be sure to check out the following guides to learn how to best grow and monetize the most popular channels.

9. Buy an existing ecommerce business

If you’re more interested in investing in a source of income you can maintain while at home or on the go, consider buying an established ecommerce business. Top 10 Home Business Ideas.

Prices vary greatly based on a variety of factors, including total revenue generated, profit potential, available assets (like an email list or social following), inventory, and more. Some sellers will even onboard you and teach you the ropes of running their store.

Exchange is a marketplace powered by Shopify for buying and selling ecommerce stores. You can browse the listings for businesses that suit your budget, level of experience, and needs. Maybe you want to buy a proven business and are willing to invest more money to acquire it. Or perhaps one catches your eye with untapped potential that you’d like to build on.

Exchange

Standing Health is one example of an online store available for purchase on Exchange. The company currently does $1,246 in monthly revenue with a 15% profit margin.

Standing Health

Just be sure to vet each listing and consider everything that’s included in the sale. Revenue and other data can be verified through Shopify, so you can rest assured those numbers are accurate. If you’d like some more guidance, check out our guide How to Buy a Business on Exchange. home business ideas.

10. Start a subscription box business

start a subscription business

The online subscription box industry grew 100% over the course of just five years. That explosive growth has led to the emergence of new direct-to-consumer brands targeting this niche, as well as the adoption by major brands like Sephora and Walmart.

You can start a subscription business from home. Sylvia Song, co-founder of MISHIBOX, did exactly that. She started importing popular Korean beauty products and selling them to a global customer base—all from the comfort of her home in Virginia. Now, the thriving ecommerce brand is moving headquarters to New York.

MISHIBOX

For Song, starting a home business was about seeing a gap and finding a way to fill it. This is the secret to success for many top subscription box businesses. Birchbox, for example, saw that there was no way for consumers to test multiple beauty products without spending a fortune. So it filled that gap with affordable curated boxes of smaller sample-sized products.

Ashley Reynolds bundled surplus products into subscription boxes to sell via her ecommerce site, Cloth & Paper. If you already run ecommerce business from home, you could do the same to make use of what would otherwise be dead stock.

Cloth Paper

Subscription boxes don’t have to necessarily be about selling. Haverdash is a subscription box company that rents clothes. When customers are finished using the items, they send them back and Haverdash rents them out to another customer to generate even more revenue. Top 10 Home Business Ideas.

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