Successful home business ideas let contractors, freelancers, and entrepreneurs be in charge of their own lives. Maybe you’d prefer to wake up late and take long lunches, confident in your ability to finish your work on time. Possibly you prefer to be your own boss, setting up best practices and ditching those quarterly reviews. Or, it could be that you want to travel or be at home for your family, and you view commuting as a pain.
Once you have that problem or need nailed, the next step is to validate that idea and make sure you’ve actually got customers who will pay for it. This means building a minimum viable product, getting objective feedback from real customers, incorporating updates, testing the market for demand, and getting pricing feedback to ensure there’s enough of a margin between your costs and what consumers are willing to pay.
Offer to watch children or pets. If you know anyone who has children or pets, you could easily begin a side gig as a babysitter or pet sitter. To let people know you’re interested, send out a group email describing your services, post an ad on Facebook, or tell friends and acquaintances about your availability in person or over the phone. You can also create a profile on a babysitting referral site like Care.com.
Hold a yard sale. If you have a yard or garage and plenty of items to sell, you can have a yard sale as early as tomorrow. By advertising your sale on local Facebook pages and Craigslist, you can also skip the paid newspaper ad and keep all of the profits for yourself. If you don’t have time to price everything, try asking patrons to “make an offer” or grouping similar items on tables with an advertised price (e.g. everything on this table is $5).
Motivator-hygiene theory differentiates between motivating factors (motivators) and dissatisfying factors (hygienes). Factors that are motivators such as recognition and career advancement may be lessened with telework. When teleworkers are not physically present, they may be “out of sight, out of mind” to other workers in the office. Additionally, telework may not always be seen positively by management due to fear of loss of managerial control. A 2008 study found that more time spent telecommuting decreased the perception of productivity of the teleworker in the eyes of management. Hygiene factors, such as work conditions, may improve when teleworking such that teleworkers have the flexibility to work in a variety of locations. Thus, telework has different work motivating factors and dissatisfying factors than office work.
Like birthdays, marriages happen all the time. Which means you can treat weddings as a recurring fountain of business opportunities: wedding dresses and coats, jewelers, food caterers, venue providers, photographers and videographers, performers, flower shops, travel agencies, souvenir crafts, and a host of other ventures. Now imagine if you can form a network of these service providers so you can offer engaged couples a range of hassle-free wedding packages as a turnkey business idea. The process is certainly fun (and time-consuming), but as a side business idea, the pay can be pretty great.
If you’re currently an accountant, this might be as simple as letting your clients know that you work remotely now for reasons of convenience or perhaps hanging your own shingle out to start your own firm. On the other hand, if you’re looking to enter the industry (virtually or not), you should be aware of the training and certifications necessary.
Do you love woodworking? Even without a huge workshop, you can create some of the more popular crafts and sell them. And like most things, your success in business isn’t necessarily related to how skilled you are as a woodworker. So if you can figure out which products consumers want and just create those, you could have a good business plan. Etsy.com and farmers’ markets are a great place to start selling.
People are turning to audio and visuals when it comes to technical subjects. However, you should consider doing an ebook first and turning it into an audiobook through a resource like Audible's ACX platform. You can hire a producer either through a royalty share program, so you don't have to shell out upfront cash, or you can do a pay-per-hour hire as well.
Multi-vendor marketplaces, like ThemeForest, can be very successful. Chose a niche and create a vendor website for it. Your marketplace could be anything, from a platform for local artists to sell their work on, to an online digital product store. Once set up, invite people in that industry to sell their products on your site. You take a percentage of their profits when items sell.
Prior to that group, they had an online community for teachers looking for lesson plans. That probably sounds pretty random, but it's crazy the type of communities you can build and rally people around. If it's something that you're passionate about yourself and you want to connect with others that have that same passion, then an online community is something you should definitely consider.
If you are a creative type, then you could make money online by designing and selling crafty products on Etsy. Etsy sells a range of beautiful and original items from independent suppliers. Categories range from jewelry, clothes, and accessories, to art, collectibles, and vintage. So if you have some stunning crafty creations, Etsy is the perfect platform from which to sell from.
Now, it’s time to start creating and uploading content. Make sure you’re using a high-enough quality camera (most smartphones will work but I’d suggest at least having a tripod so your footage isn’t shaky), but don’t worry about being perfect at first. The beauty of YouTube is that you can continue to test out different content and styles as you find what works for you. Instead, stick to a regular schedule to build up your subscriber base.
If you are a budding photographer and would like to be paid for your craft then you should consider setting up your own photography website. This is a great way to not only promote your services as a photographer but also to sell your images. You can charge visitors a fee to download your images. Or, if you’d rather, turn your site into a paid membership site, with free downloads of all images for paying subscribers.
Obviously some of these small business ideas have more earning potential than others, but what they all share in common are relatively low barriers to entry and the flexibility to work at them for a limited amount of time per week. I also tried to focus on side business ideas that have some sort of online component to them, since that's what I love most.
Mechanical Turk: Amazon's Mechanical Turk is a resource for doing human-intelligence tasks, or as the site commonly refers to them, HITs. You get paid a very small fee for any given HIT and you'll need a good deal of volume to make a substantial amount of money. But it is a resource you can use in your spare time to generate a small income online.
EatWith is a great way to test the waters as a chef for your side business idea, and if you have enough rave reviews you might be able to turn your knife skills into a full-time endeavor where you're leveraging your network to book catering events. This side business idea is built heavily upon getting happy referrals, so be sure to over-deliver for your first customers, and ask if they know anyone else who could be in need of your catering services.
If so, then consider putting your knack for arts, crafts, and design to use as the manager of an ecommerce store. So long as you believe your creations can find a market and sell at a profitable price, there’s very little stopping you from signing up as a seller on a site like Etsy and carving out your niche. While it might be a tough business, there’s plenty of wisdom out there to learn from—and it certainly fits on our list of home business ideas, especially while you’re small!
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