How to start a home based business! Seventy-five businesses to start and run from home for $500 or less!
If you are looking for a new lifestyle and want to start a home based business, you have come to the right place. You won’t spend money on overhead renting an outside facility, and you just can’t beat the commute. We’ve rounded up 75 small business ideas that you can start and conduct from your home office, spare bedroom, attic, garage, backyard shed or kitchen table.
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1. MOVE-IN SERVICE: How many times have you or someone you know moved into an apartment to find the refrigerator in need of cleaning, the stove quite unkempt, the bathroom grout full of mildew, the walls in need of a paint job, etc. Well, you can make some money by starting a move in service. You get everything ready for the folks before they move. Promote to building managers and realtors.
2. HOLIDAY DECORATING: There are plenty of homeowners and business owners who just don’t have the time, inclination or the design know-how to decorate their homes and businesses for the holiday season. You’ll also be putting up other decorative items. You could start this business all by yourself and then expand by hiring folks to work for you.
3. PARTY ENTERTAINING: If you are a natural entertainer, consider starting your own entertainment business. You will be hired to perform at parties—parties for kids, civic groups, corporate sponsors, town celebrations, etc. You’ll need a good rapport with people. Think of the various personas you could create: gorilla, historian, clown, etc.
4. CAR BUYING SERVICE: You interview your clients to determine what their needs are and then begin searching for their perfect car. You can establish relationships with a couple of car dealers so that they will help you get good deals for your clients. They’ll know you’ll keep customers coming to them if they offer good rates for your client.
5. CRAFTS C0-OP: Do you have the space to invite 50 or 100 crafts people to set up tables and sell their wares? If you do, and your property is zoned to accept the amount of cars this type of sale can attract, you have the makings of an exciting crafts fair. You don’t sell anything but table or booth space. The crafts people are happy to pay for space and will fork over about $10 or $15 a day. Some crafts co-op entrepreneurs take a cut of their take for the day, too. Make sure you have enough parking space and bathroom facilities.
6. ART GALLERY: You can set up your very own art gallery right in your home. Hang the art of local artists on your walls and host a party once a month to show the work to potential buyers. Getting together a group of artists for a show will not be a problem. There are plenty of folks out there who are making art but who have no place to show their work. You will make a percentage of whatever the paintings sell for the customer. For example, perhaps you’ll give the artist 60% of the sale price and you’ll keep 40%. Hang the art in your living room and you’re ready to sell.
7. WINDOW WASHING: Window washing is a business that, while you don’t actually work at home, you do run the business from home (sending out fliers, making calls to place ads, calling customers to get business). You will be booking clients on a steady basis if you do a good job. You won’t need much in the way of supplies, just a bucket, a cleaner, a window cleaning squeegee and elbow grease.
8. HANDYMAN: Are you handy around the house? Wouldn’t it be nice to get paid for it?! There are probably plenty of folks right in your own town who would love to avail themselves of your handyman services. You might think it’s simple to install a light socket, put up molding, change a doorknob, patch a screen, repair a broken door hinge or put up some bookshelves, but most people do not. Promote your business via word of mouth, fliers or a small advertisement in the local paper.
9. AFFILIATE MARKETING: If you have a website, you place ads for companies and their products. When a visitor clicks on the ad and goes to their site, you get $$$ for the click and even more if they buy the product. Amazon.com and MusiciansFriend.com have affiliate programs. Google search to find others.
10. PET SITTING: Do you love animals? This could be a business dream come true. There are plenty of people out there who don’t want to leave their precious pets alone during the day. Or maybe there is an individual who travels a great deal for the job he or she holds and would prefer to leave their pet in their own home or in yours, rather than in a kennel. You might call a local insurance company and ask them what it takes to become “bonded.” This way, should a vase break or something else get damaged when you are in someone’s home, they’ll be a means by which it will be paid for or replaced.
11. SPECIAL-EVENTS DVDS: Make clips of special gatherings for your family and friends, and get paid for it. Take your camera and start a business recording events around town for your neighbors and business associates. Your jobs could range from a corporate retirement dinner, a school picnic, a wedding, a special town club event, a marathon, a local bands’ gig—you name it. You might need to pick up a tripod or some special light to start this business, so save the receipts. These supplies are tax deductible.
12. VINTAGE CLOTHING STORE: Set up a vintage clothing store in your backyard or attic. Check with the local zoning board and make sure this is all right in your neighborhood. Some towns require that you get a permit to do this occasionally. Hang the goods—they can be yours, you could have bought them, or they could belong to friends and neighbors—on a few garment racks.
13. DECK BUILDING: If you are handy with carpentry, then starting a deck building specialty business could be the right one for you. Specialize in just a few styles and build some for your friends. (Let them supply the materials.) Use these “models” for your photo brochure or deck album.
14. CLOSET RENOVATION: You’ll have to brush up on some of the new organizer systems that are available, and if you have a knack for installing things, you’ll be good at fixing up closets and giving people more of that everyone wants: more closet space.
15. PARTIES FOR KIDS: Start a business planning parties for children. You can buy all the party fair and drop it off, or you can also provide the cake, the entertainment and even be on hand to supervise these events. You’ll need good resources for the cake, entertainment and party goods. Advertise in local papers and at local clubs that cater to moms.
16. WEDDING PLANNER: Planning a wedding is tough for the harried bride who has enough on her mind. A wedding planner sits down with the bride and the groom and plans a wedding that they want. The wedding planner must work within a budget and should have good resources in the community to find a location, a caterer, band or DJ, flowers, invitations, etc.
17. STEPPING STONES: If you can make concrete stepping stones from a simple mold, you can start a lucrative business making garden paths for your clients. You can dye the concrete to have a wide variety of color offerings, too. Mix in some decorative stones or pebbles and you are really onto something.
18. AQUARIUM MAINTENANCE: Maintain tropical fish tanks for clients who don’t know how or don’t have the time to care for them. You’ll need to drop by once or twice a week, clean out the tank and feed the fish. If you maintain the tanks in, say, doctor’s offices, you’ll have steady customers. There are very few doctors or nurses who want to take on the additional responsibilities the fish!
19. FURNITURE REFINISHING: You can offer this as a service and do it at your place, or theirs. Study up on new techniques and finishes.
20. DIRECT SELLING: Direct selling means that you sell your products directly to the customer without a store or shop. It’s the Avon way of earning extra money. Today there are direct-selling opportunities galore! There’s a direct-selling venture for just about any type of product you’d want to sell.
21. SERVICES FOR SENIORS: There are plenty of senior citizens out there who could use some help in getting chores done, answering mail, helping out with seasonal duties around the house and much, much more. You can start a senior service business where you help them do all of these things. Post notices around town and ask the local newspaper if they would consider putting your flier in every paper.
22. JUNK REMOVAL: You can start a business carting away stuff people can’t get rid of themselves. Maybe your customers have no way to haul their stuff to the dump; maybe it is too heavy for their car, etc. You do the research and find out what dumping/recycling facilities are available in your county.
23. INSTALLATION SERVICE Adver-tise in local papers, put up a flier and drop into stores that sell these items and ask them if they can refer you to their customers. The store might be convinced that they will sell more items if they have a person to hook them up!
24. KEEPSAKE ALBUMS: You meet with your clients to review their photos, letters, keepsakes, mementos. You organize them into photo albums, scrapbooks or a digital file. Charge by the hour or by the project.
25. PASTRY PROFITS: You can turn a recipe you’ve refined into a hot money-maker. Make a batch of your favorite bread, cookie, cake or tart and offer it to the appropriate business. For example, offer your homemade bread to local restaurants, etc. Check out requirements for a food handler’s license in your state. It varies from state to state.
26. PARTY DJ: Do you love music, parties and people? Try starting your own disc jockey service. You’ll need a good sound system and perhaps some lights to get the ball rolling. Look into a karaoke system so the party goers can get up and sing. Try and tie in with a local catering company so that they can turn you on to jobs. Don’t forget local parties and local events, too.
27. CART VENDING: Sell lemonade, fruit salad, cookies, sunglasses, suntan lotion, but start selling. If you live en route to a busy beach, sell your goods to drivers sitting in traffic. Sell vegetables from the roadside. Sell ski wax. This is a four-season business. Pick and choose the items that you will sell for each season. Buy them wholesale.
28. HORSE BOARDING: Some areas across the United States are known as “horse country.” If you live in or near a region that qualifies, you might consider building a stable on your property and renting it out to people who own horses but who don’t have anywhere to keep them. Once again, call your insurance company and inquire about the possibility of beefing up your liability coverage.
29. BIRDHOUSE BUILDING: If you can build birdhouses, start turning them out and sell them at local fairs and flea markets. Make sure you investigate what types of birds like what types of houses.
30. ASSEMBLY SERVICE: You assemble items such as bookshelves, armoires, dressers and just about anything else that people buy from stores that needs to be put together. Most people are too frustrated to read directions. You can also pick up and deliver them.
31. GARAGE CLEANING: Just about every garage in the United States could use a cleaning. Some need a complete overhaul. You can offer this service to homeowners in your community and by the time you get all the garages cleaned and straightened up, it will be time to start all over again. You can offer additional services, too, like stain removal, painting, building shelves, etc.
32. RESIDENTIAL CLEANING SER-VICE: Pick up a batch of cleaning supplies, place an ad and get ready to make money. You can charge $50 to clean a one-bedroom apartment and up to $150 for a house. What will your market bear?
33. HOME INVENTORY BIZ: Horrible storms and tornadoes have taught homeowners the importance of keeping a good inventory log of all possessions. This audit is necessary in case of fire, storm, mudslides, robbery, etc. Insurance companies want to see documentation before they start writing their checks to help homeowners recover from tragic losses. Use a computer and/or video. You record everything your clients own and organize it into a written and photo/video report.
34. BLIND CLEANING: Almost every American home or business has at least one blind hanging in the window and we’ll guarantee you that about 100% of those homeowners hate cleaning them. You can establish a business in which you clean mini and micro blinds for your customers. You can take the blinds home or clean them on the premises. Charge by the blind or by the hour.
35. HOWDY NEIGHBOR SERVICE: You make your money from all of the local merchants who pay you to include them in your “get to know the neighborhood” package. The merchants often give you coupons to present to these newcomers to generate business.
36. DRIED FLOWER WREATHS: You can gather dried flowers from your own garden and make your own wreaths from dried flowers, herbs, ornamental grasses, hollies and pines. These could be sold at crafts fairs, flea markets or via mail order. You can also customize the wreaths to meet special events.
37. KNIFE SHARPENING: Just about everyone has knives at home that really need to be sharpened, but they don’t seem to get around to it. If a knife-sharpening entrepreneur drove around in a van and offered to sharpen knives on site, they would likely get a lot of takers.
38. EBAY SELLER: Do you love old things and love collecting? Old toys, Barbie dolls, Mickey Mouse watches, snowglobes and lunchboxes are all valued collectible items. Collectors looking for the one or two they don’t have will pay a fortune to complete their set. Set up an eBay account and start selling.
39. PERENNIAL GARDENS: You visit the home of your clients and design a perennial border for them. You purchase the plants—or transplant them from your own divided perennial garden—actually plant the garden.
40. PERSONAL SHOPPER: Lots of busy people and harried single parents don’t have the time to shop for themselves or for others. You select and choose and maybe even wrap the gifts for your clients. When you start shopping around for clients, don’t forget to call on local corporations for their business. Prepare a letter on some good-looking stationery of your own and send it to companies in your area offering your services. Charge by the hour, and try to come up with a fee that clients in your region can afford.
41. GIFT-BASKET BIZ: The gift-basket business is still booming as Americans have discovered a tried-and-true solution to the “what should I give” blues. Gift baskets aren’t just for those get-well times, either. They come in all shapes and sizes. They can be customized for a wide variety of recipients from the golfer who finally hit par to the single mom who just got a great promotion. It’s key to develop a good list of resources from where you can purchase the items at wholesale rates. Look into getting a “resale number.”
42. FLEA MARKET ENTREPRE-NEUR: Do you have goods to sell? Then you can become a flea market entrepreneur. You’ll need to research locations in your region where you can set up shop and sell your wares. Some flea market entrepreneurs empty their homes and attics or get their products from neighbors and friends.
43. MAIL ORDER: To start a mail-order business, you need to find a product or series of products to offer for sale. Then you place ads to advertise these goods or have them placed in someone’s catalog, whether it’s in print or online. Sit back and wait for the orders to roll in. You’ll need to get a “resale number” in order to purchase goods wholesale. Your local county clerk’s office can help you with that.
44. HERB GARDEN: You plant an herb garden for your clients. It can be indoors or outside. You supply the equipment, soil, herbs and give them a plan to keep the herbs going, or they can hire you to come back to maintain the garden.
45. TOOL RENTAL: Do you have a basement full of tools that you are not using all the time? If you do, why not start a business renting them to people who need them for a limited time and limited use? Do you really need that sander hanging around all day next to your dusty wet saw?
46. HOME DELIVERY SERVICE: Home delivery is predicted to be one of the hottest business opportunities of the decade, and beyond. People are lazy and pressed for time. You’ll need to tie in with stores and shops in your region that don’t deliver.
47. HOMETOWN GUIDE: If your hometown features some unique historical monument or water mill or windmill, or if you town is steeped in history that others would find fascinating, then why don’t you put together a tour and offer it as an option whenever tourists come to town. You can dress up like a character from that period to make the tour more accessible, amusing and fun for your clients. Contact the local chamber of commerce and ask them if you could give them the tour. You could also print up a brochure and ask the chamber of commerce to send it out with their mailings on your town.
48. INTERIOR DESIGN FOR KIDS: You can establish an interior design business that specializes in creating great themed rooms for children and for babies. Nursery set-ups are a natural add-on to this business. There are so many themes from which to choose, parents-to-be can get overwhelmed. Makeover a room in your own home, or do one for a friend. Photograph it and it will act as a “reference” for your new design business.
49. SOCIAL MEDIA & NEWSLET-TERS: A lot of businesses want to get into social media, but don’t know where to start. You help set up Twitter and Facebook accounts and develop an easy-to-execute digital newsletter on your computer that you can update for them weekly or monthly, or teach them how to do it.
50. LAWN SERVICE: Cutting lawns is something that many homeowners must do. You can start a business offering this service. If there is lot of competition in your region, offer a discounted price for new customers.
51. FAMILY TREES: do you enjoy history? Do you like to do research? Then you can start a business tracing family histories? There are software programs on the market that can help you trace family histories by plugging in a few items. You interview your client, get the answers to the right questions and tap out a fortune with your home computer.
52. SPORTS EQUIPMENT REFURB-ISHING: You can start a business sprucing up golf clubs in the springtime and waxing skis in the fall, and fixing dings in surfboards, for example. Examine what your area has to offer in the way of sports and figure out how you can get paid to keep this gear in top-notch condition.
53. KIDPROOF HOMES: You can set up a business in which you go into homes and conduct a troubleshooting session for parents who have young kids and babies. Are there harmful chemicals within reach of the children? Could a child fall down a staircase or from a deck? These are the types of situations you’ll be looking to uncover as you help childproof their home from potential disaster.
54. WEED REMOVAL: That’s it. Just weeds, okay, and maybe some vines, too. You advertise in local papers, offer prices that are lower than landscapers and you take on clients. You don’t need much equipment at all, just some weed-digging tools and a pruner.
55. SPECIAL-EFFECTS DECORAT-ING: You don’t need to be a master artist to learn the tricks of special-effects decorating. Look at the wide variety of stencil kits available on the marketplace today. Practice your skills and photograph the results. Use this as a portfolio to get jobs. You can do the work on their premises or take it home to complete the work.
56. FOOD DELIVERY: You purchase sandwiches at a local deli and resell them at the roadside or at a busy intersection, or in a corporate or industrial park. Some meal-delivery businesses started out on a shoestring and have grown into franchised ventures with vans, uniforms and the works. You can also make arrangements with several local restaurants and deliver their dinners or lunches to corporations or to individuals who are too busy to cook at night. You charge a 15% service charge on all items to make your profit.
57. PET PHOTOGRAPHER: If you like animals and enjoy taking pictures, consider starting a business in which you photograph people’s pets. Ask local pet shops if you can display a flier offering your service. If you own a pet, drop by your vet’s office and ask if you can hang a flier there, too.
58. TEACH YOUR CRAFT: Do you engage in a hobby or craft that people have told you they would love to learn? Then why don’t you start offering classes or lessons in this hobby craft? Do you make quilts, stained glass or build small sailboats? There is probably a market to teach this service in your community. If you don’t want to teach at home, call your local high school. You might be able to teach this class at an adult education class, too.
59. BACKYARD PONDS & WATER GARDENS: These are increasingly in demand. Homeowners want to have this type of sanctuary in their yard. These ponds are very easy to build. There are kits that can help you construct them very quickly.
60. GARAGE SALE: It is possible to host a garage sale every weekend. You don’t have to come up with all of the merchandise. You can sell things on consignment or buy up the contents of homes for sale and then re-sell them at a profit. You’ll need to advertise your mega garage sale to generate a steady flow of customers.
61. COMMERCIAL CLEANING: You can start a weekends-only business cleaning office. Most offices are closed on weekends so you will be able to get in and do a good job. There is a wide variety of potential businesses that could hire you: legal offices, tax services, medical offices, and any other small business.
62. ERRAND SERVICE: Charge by the hour to perform a wide variety of errands for your clients. You can market your services to single parents, grandparents, seniors, etc.
63. SEWING ENTREPRENEUR: Sew-ing is a dying art. You can get paid for it these services. If you can make slipcovers and drapes, that’s a super bonus business opportunity for you.
64. MARKET YOUR ARTS AND OR CRAFTS: If you make jewelry, art, photography, distress furniture, baskets, etc., sell it. Get an Etsy account. Sell at fairs or directly to stores.
65. SEWING ENTREPRENEUR: Sew-ing is a dying art. You can get paid for it these services. If you can make slipcovers and drapes, that’s a super bonus business opportunity for you.
66. BED & BREAKFAST BIZ: Do you have an extra room or two that you could rent out? You should call your insurance company and ask them to review your policy. Should you beef up your liability coverage? If you live near a tourist attraction, such as a beach, lake or a ski slope, it makes your bed and breakfast much easier to market.
67. PERSONAL ASSISTANT: If you are good with details and you are a perfectionist about the jobs you do, you can start a business hiring yourself out as a personal assistant to your clients. You will do everything from problem solving and writing letters to handling the caterer, the gardener and special events for your clients. Your clients might be small business owners who need an occasional right hand or they might be homeowners who have too much to do.
68. MAKE AND SELL A FOOD PRO-DUCT: Do you make sauce or salad dressing that people suggest you should market? Then do it! Investigate with local health officials if you can produce your recipe at home. You might need a food handler’s license. Find out what information you must include on a label.
69. BOOKKEEPING FOR SMALL BIZ: If you are handy with numbers and can master some of the accounting software programs available, you can start a business offering bookkeeping and accounting services to small business owners who don’t have the time nor the inclination to set this type of system up for themselves.
70. VENDING VENTURES: Look into the possibility of running your own vending machine empire. Candy, soda, fruit, juice, clothing, cosmetics, socks—you name it. You’ll have to find some good spots to place your vending machines. Most vending entrepreneurs must share a bit of their profits with the owner of the establishment in which you are placing the vending machine. Do your homework before you invest.
71. CAR DETAILING: Americans spend more and more on their cars, and they are willing to spend an extra $50 to $150 a month to have the car hand washed and waxed. You can start this service with very little money. Spend a day in an auto products store and learn what products are available and how to use them.
72. PLANT SERVICE: Do you have a green thumb? Are you lucky with plants? Then consider starting a plant service. This business is similar to a pet-sitting business. You’ll care for plants when folks are away on business trips or on vacations. You can care for the plants in their home or yours.
73. BALLOON DELIVERY SERVICE: Everyone loves balloons, and they are gaining on flowers in terms of items to be delivered to your home or office. Balloons are festive and fun, and you don’t need to be an artist to learn how to arrange them. Blow them up or purchase a helium tank.
74. POWER WASHING: It’s not hard to use and master power washers, but everyone seems to need them and dread having to find a place to rent them and get to know how to use them. You can buy one and use it for a wide variety of services for your clients.
75. PARTY PLANNER: If you enjoy people and parties, then this could be a great business for you. Do you have great organizational skills? Then you are one step closer to launching your own party-planning service. You get to throw great parties spending other people’s money. You’ll have to develop a very good file of resources for music, catering, places to hold events, florists, invitation printing, and just about any other aspect of hosting an event. •