Have you always dreamed of owning and operating your own home-based business? For numerous people, the idea of “being your own boss” appeals just as much as the financial advantages that come with having more than one stream of income.
From business and related mileage to mortgage interest, the tax deductions for running a home-based business in the United States are worth it fiscally, while nurturing and growing an independent business are deeply personally-rewarding.
For individuals who wish to pursue work-from-home opportunities to supplement their income or grow their part-time business into a full-time permanent opportunity, several service-based options are available that require minimal-to-no advanced preparation and minimum investment to get started.
14 Home Business Ideas
In my list of recommended best home-based business ideas, I’d like to point out that the most lucrative and profitable businesses are those built from little-to-no inventory or merchandise. Service-based occupations that harness the business owner’s unique talents and skills are the best to pursue and can be started quickly with minimum capital investment.
Home Business Idea #1: Content Writer and Blogger
2012 saw an important shift in digital marketing and pivot from Google, the world’s largest Internet search engine. Google changed algorithms and began to award websites and domains that frequently added high-quality content. From brand and corporate websites to small business owners and entrepreneurs, the demand for intuitive and charismatic content writers is increasing every year.
The content writer or blogger is either assigned topics by clients, or may be required to create and research appropriate subjects. The writer is responsible for understanding the specific audience or readers, and writing articles that are interesting and useful. The goal of the content writer is to generate engaged sharing of the article from one reader to the next (viral sharing) to increase traffic to the article and the website where it is published.
The average full-time income of a web content writer and blogger is $35,000 per annum. Content writers can also launch their own blogs and earn revenue from advertisers, expanding their own personal writing into another income opportunity.
Home Business Idea #2: Dog Walker
If you love dogs, you can quickly build a roster of happy clients that will use your services on a daily or weekly basis. A standard business license is required, but no specific training is generally needed to get a dog-walking business off the ground.
Since dog walkers are responsible for the safety of the pets they are looking after, it is important to have effective limited liability insurance coverage if the dog is injured, or in the rare occurrence where a supervised pet damages property, or harms another pet or individual.
While the pet owner is ultimately responsible for the damages incurred because of the pet’s actions, the dog walker is a supervising guardian of the animal in the absence of the owner. That means the dog walker is also partially responsible for injuries sustained or damages caused by the dog while under the walker’s supervision.
If the walker plans to have more than three dogs on a leash at the same time, he or she may also require a special permit from the municipality. The average full-time income of a dog walker is $32,000 per annum.
Home Business Idea #3: Daycare Provider
Pets not your thing? The good news is that spending time playing with and caring for children can be a profitable home-based business idea. Many states do not require a formal license for daycare, but parents prefer to see that some formal training and first-aid certification are in place before they allow a care provider into their home.
Some parents prefer to leave their children with the daycare provider, rather than invite a stranger into their home. Daycare providers are responsible not only for the safety of the child, but also for his/her education and the reinforcement of important developmental skills. The highest paid in-home jobs for daycare providers are offered to individuals who have completed early childhood educator (ECE) courses and accreditation.
The average licensed private daycare provider (in-home) in America earns more than $1,100 per week for six children. State and local municipal laws restrict the number of children that may be supervised by one individual in a private daycare setting.
Home Business Idea #4: Virtual Assistant
Start-up businesses and entrepreneurs cannot always afford to have a full-time assistant, regardless of how much they need one. The trend of virtual assistants is made possible by software, including Skype and other teleconferencing tools that allow managers to interface with an assistant that is in another state or even country.
There are several benefits to working as a virtual assistant. Not all managers require an assistant during normal business hours. In fact, most entrepreneurs work with virtual assistants during evenings and on weekends, which makes it an ideal part-time job for an administrative professional who is already employed full-time during the day. Essential skills include computer proficiencies, typing and grammar skills, organization and time-management strengths, and the ability to run a calendar of appointments.
The other benefit of working as a virtual assistant is getting opportunities to pick up new skills and habits that can help further your day-time administrative career. People learn by ‘doing’ and so, as a virtual assistant, the opportunity is there to build a professional portfolio and expand on industry experience, while earning a part-time or full-time income from home.
The average virtual assistant in North America earns between $20 and $40 per hour, and works with several clients at the same time, while under a non-disclosure agreement. Becoming a virtual assistant is a low-cost start-up and is one of the most successful at-home business ideas.
Home Business Idea #5: Uber or Lyft Driver
Did you know that alternative transportation for hire companies like Uber and Lyft typically pay almost double the rate of minimum wage jobs in most regions of the United States?
What is even more exciting is that an increasing number of cities and towns (including small suburban communities) are providing growth for Uber and Lyft. They are also providing limitless flexible part-time and full-time work opportunities for individuals who want to work from home (or their car, to be more accurate).
A job driving for Uber or Lyft works for people who require flexible scheduling. As a driver, employees can set their own schedule of availability. This works well for start-up entrepreneurs, stay-at-home moms or individuals who have family caregiving responsibilities.
Many Americans use Uber and Lyft employment opportunities to supplement their income, or to help accelerate financial goals like buying a first home, or paying off student loans and other debt.
All drivers are required to have an operational smartphone for using the booking and reservation app, which provides the route and passenger orders to the drivers. The only caveat to building your part-time or full-time income as a driver is the need for a reliable car that meets the specifications and inspection criteria, which include:
- Four-door sedan or larger vehicle
- Model newer than those manufactured in the year 2001 (taxi vehicles not permitted)
- In-state vehicle license plates
- Registered vehicle for owner in-state
Can’t see yourself making good money driving for Uber or Lyft? Guess again! The average full-time Uber driver earns more than $40,000 per year. Some drivers work full-time day jobs and drive 40 hours per week during evenings and weekends to effectively double their incomes, particularly in urban centers, where demand for rides exceeds available drivers.
Home Business Idea #6: Massage Therapist
There are two levels of massage therapy, and businesses can be run from home by massage therapists.
The first and most difficult task within massage therapy is to become accredited as a registered massage therapist (RMT). An RMT requires college education and medical licensure, and massage therapy services rendered by an RMT are eligible for reimbursement under health insurance.
It’s important to note that an RMT is equivalent to a medical practitioner, and requires years of education before entering a regulated massage college for professional registration within the profession.
The second type of massage therapy is not registered, but is in demand nonetheless, particularly by individuals who cannot afford services by RMTs. A spa masseuse is responsible for creating a Zen-like relaxing environment and massage experience.
Non-registered therapists focus on stress relief, not symptom or health condition support, while some states in the USA require formal training and licensure, many (like Vermont) do not.
Non-registered massage therapists earn an average of $38,000 per year, working full-time hours. A registered massage therapist, however, can earn upwards of $70,000 per year, and can work either outside the home in a chiropractic or therapeutic environment, or within the privacy of a dedicated studio space at home.
Home Business Idea #7: Aesthetics and Beauty Technician
If you have a finished basement, or even a large private main floor room in your home, you can convert it into an aesthetics studio. Many community colleges offer certification courses to train as an artificial nail technician, and it is an easy way to run a legal and profitable serviced-based business from home, provided the owner has completed state licensure requirements after training at an accredited aesthetics school. Tuition fees for aesthetics and licensure cost less than $5,000 in the U.S. on average.
After graduation, the start-up costs for nail technician supplies and equipment fall under $1,000 for a basic nail kit. Nail technicians earn a full-time salary that averages $24,000 per year.
While it is not a high-paying full-time job, the portability of the equipment makes it possible to work in the client’s home or elsewhere for a lucrative part-time side gig income. Other types of aesthetic services include pedicures, eyelash and hair extensions, cosmetic waxing, and ear candling.
Home Business Idea #8: Caterer and Personal Chef
Turn your passion for gourmet cooking into a part-time business. You know you have a knack for cooking when everyone compliments you on your meals.
Owning and operating an independent catering business requires licensing and training for food service. The standards and licensing vary by state, but are generally affordable and short in terms of training duration.
Some capital investment is required to get a catering company going, including investment in a food delivery truck, website and social media support, promotions and advertising. Kitchen facilities may also require periodic inspections by authorized food and safety agencies, depending on local ordinances.
The average private caterer makes about $48,000 per year, and can co-market with other services including event planners, florists and bridal retailers.
Home Business Idea #9: Landscaper
After working all week at a desk inside an office, perhaps the perfect part-time work-from-home opportunity for you is to utilize your flower power and become a professional landscaper.
From seniors to single moms, there are many scenarios where homeowners simply do not have the time, the tools or the patience to address their yard work. That’s where a paid professional comes in.
Landscaping requires some basic equipment which a homeowner may already possess, including rakes, lawn mowing, hedge trimming, ladders and mulching equipment. Liability insurance is required for landscapers to protect them against legal action, if the work damages the property, house or vehicles during the landscaping process.
Co-marketing opportunities exist between real estate agents and landscape companies for referrals from homeowners who are selling their property, and for those who have just purchased one and require an outdoor clean-up job.
The average full-time landscape laborer makes over $34,000 per year. However, owners that manage teams that can dispatch to more than one location at the same time earn almost $90,000 per year on average. Invite a few friends you trust to become partners in your part-time business and watch income opportunities grow in tandem.
Home Business Idea #10: Tutor
What could be more rewarding than using your talent and expertise in a certain academic area to help a struggling student or adult? From multilingual language training, and reading and writing to helping with mathematics or sciences like physics, students are always looking for the assistance of an effective tutor that can help them achieve better academic results.
The challenge in the past for home-based tutors has been to find enough paying customers and to schedule work accordingly. However, the development of new pay-per-use or subscription sites helps connect students to qualified tutors in every subject area. These websites provide details on booking an appointment with a tutor and tools to help build a student schedule for ongoing assistance.
Home Business Idea #11: Website Tester
Have you ever heard of “user experience” as applied to website design? A great deal of research, work and editing takes place on any successful brand and business website. Testing in digital marketing is key to refining the overall performance of a website from a sales perspective, but asking the internal marketing team to evaluate a website that they designed is biased and counterintuitive.
Digital marketing agencies and large advertising firms frequently hire website testers, who are not marketing professionals. The average consumer who fits the target market that the brand is trying to reach is ideal for evaluating the website and providing valuable feedback that designers can use to improve the UX (user experience) for buyers.
The average test takes about ten minutes and can pay anywhere from $10 to $25 per test, depending on the organization or business. A number of sites enroll consumers and notify them of paid testing opportunities, and it is possible to generate a decent part-time income taking surveys from the comfort of your own home.
Home Business Idea #12: Survey Taker
Much like website testing, marketers are constantly looking for insights from consumers (like you) about everything from commercials to new packaging designs, advertising and purchase habits. Data collected from the target market is then provided to marketers for strategic planning of successful promotions, customer events and products advertising.
Surveys do not typically pay very much, but can get you free product samples or services by registering as a respondent. Magazine subscriptions, contest entries and other non-monetary rewards are frequently offered, which can help work-from-home entrepreneurs save money, while networking with marketing agencies and big brands.
Home Business Idea #13: Transcriptionist
From authors to researchers, many of the most prolific minds need a little help transcribing their words into typed copy. Transcriptionists are in high-demand in legal and medical sectors. There are two types of employees within the field: those that document evidence or facts presented orally (or live transcription) and those that work from a pre-recorded file.
The industry standard is approximately one hour of transcribing service for every 15 minutes of audio file provided. Individuals who want to earn part-time income as a transcriber are required to fill out a non-disclosure agreement, and be aware of the transcription protocols and Web security measures for transferring the completed text copy.
The average transcriptionist makes over $40,000 per year, but with experience, speed and accuracy, a percentage of transcribers make over $80,000 per year.
Home Business Idea #14: Video Podcaster
From cracking practical jokes to formulating the top ten videos, it pays to be a YouTube celebrity! Have you ever wondered why millions of people are willing to educate and entertain others in front of the camera on the world’s largest video sharing network? It’s not just about the glory and the fame, it’s also about making money through advertising revenue.
When video celebrities concoct their fun podcasts, they collect viewers, comments and likes on their YouTube channel. This is known as audience sourcing; the people who follow the YouTube celebrity are highly valuable to advertisers. YouTube is owned by Google, and Google literally pays individuals for allowing them to run Google AdWords during their video.
You know the commercial that happens to play before your favorite music video, or celebrity gossip countdown show on YouTube? That is paid placement, or in other words, advertisers are paying Google to place their commercial in front of a refined target market.
Love dogs? Don’t be surprised to see a lot of advertising about dog food, toys, or even your local dog-training facility played for you right before your favorite new music video starts. When someone clicks on the link in the commercial, the podcaster is paid a small amount for providing the content.
To get started, you will need a good computer, camera and quality podcast microphone equipment, or just a video maker tool. YouTube channels are free (if you have a Gmail account) and the rest is creative history. Create a make-up or haircare tutorial channel, a parenting advice corner, or listicle-style content. Video blog what you are passionate about and if you can crowdsource a large audience, you will earn monthly residual payments from Google and YouTube.
If it sounds like too much work, consider that the average YouTube celebrity makes more than television series actors. Rhett McLaughlin and Charles Lincoln Heal III (Rhett & Link) created a comedy channel on YouTube that made 4.5 million dollars through paid content deals with Gillette, Wendy’s restaurants and Toyota in 2015 alone. The comedy team is only one of thousands of self-made millionaires, thanks to YouTube advertising and monetized content marketing.
In today’s rapidly-changing economy, having more than one source of income is not only financially advantageous, it is responsible for providing more security and options for individuals.
Working from home also presents substantial income tax deductions and opportunities to save more money by eliminating travel, parking, lunches and other daily expenses that can add up over the long term.
It is also important to note that when launching an at-home business, entrepreneurs should retain their full-time day job in the interim. There is a high failure rate of start-up at-home businesses, and retaining a day job that meets personal financial needs is the best way to begin.
Over time, with work and strategic growth, the part-time business may one day replace the day job, which is something every entrepreneur looks forward to.