Most of the posts on this blog are about working at home for other people. However, there are a lot of fantastic things about working from home for yourself! This is something I've come to realize since I became a full-time blogger.
Advantages of Starting a Home Business
Some of the best things about working for yourself include being in complete control of your own hours, setting your own rates for your products and services, and the fact that there isn't as much of a “cap” on your income. Because you are running your own business, you have the power to get as much out of it as you put into it. Granted that's not always easy, but the potential to do that is there.
Disadvantage of Starting a Home Business
The one major disadvantage of starting a home business is startup costs. In fact, this is the very thing that causes most people to shy away from doing it. That fear of investing money at first into something and not being able to make it back within a reasonable amount of time. It's a risk, and understandably many people believe it is “safer” to just go to work for someone else and know that paycheck is coming every week.
Today, we are going to talk about several different home businesses you can start that shouldn't run you broke. Many of these are things that you've probably seen reviewed here in the form of jobs where you can work for someone else, and some will be other types of inexpensive businesses. I've also included information on resources to help you learn to start these types of businesses where it's applicable.
#1 – Blogging
This is what I do, so I've listed it first. You might be cut out for this line of work if you enjoy writing and sharing information or your thoughts and opinions with others. It's not at all expensive to start, although it can take a while for the money to build up into an income. You really have to spend about as much time learning how to blog for profit as you do updating and managing your blog.
I have a post here on setting up your own WordPress blog in ten minutes or less that will help you get going, plus you can download this e-Book FREE to get a good idea of what you're doing before you begin. The only thing you have to spend money on to start is a domain name and hosting plan.
If you happen to have a little money to invest in learning, the Blog By Number e-course is affordable and perfect for beginners. I have gone through the material myself and highly recommend it.
To help make ends meet while you're getting your blog launched, you can pick up some side blogging jobs for others. ProBlogger has a job board you can use to find work.
#2 – Freelance Writing
You can earn so much more money taking on private clients and setting your own rates as a freelance writer than you can signing up to work for various content sites. The catch of course (as it is with any home business) is that it can take a while to get things moving.
As long as you have a computer and internet, it won't cost you anything to get started, although you may want to set up a website with a rundown of services you offer, your rates, and some writing samples. You can start advertising for free on Craiglist and it might be worth it to start posting on forums and work at home communities, adding a signature line to your forum profile with a link to your site.
If you can spare $197, I highly recommend Gina Horkey's freelance writing course which will help you get your business off the ground.
To help make ends meet while you're launching your business, you can always pick up work here and there on different content sites.
#3 – Virtual Assisting
There are busy people everywhere who are in desperate need of virtual assistant services, and you can start your own business offering these services. The great thing about this line of work is that you can offer the services you want that you're already good at — writing, social media management, taking or making calls — and then find clients who need those specific things done.
If you're unsure what services you could offer as a virtual assistant, Gina Horkey has an extensive free list of 150+ services VA's can offer here to help get your wheels turning.
Virtual assisting is another low-cost business to start since the main things you need you likely already have — a computer with internet access. You'll want to market your business online which can also be done for free.
To read more about it, I recommend Leisa Good's “21 Days to a VA Biz” e-Book and also “The Bootstrap VA.” Neither of these will set you back very much and they both give you a solid plan for getting your VA business off the ground.
For more detailed, hands on guidance in starting a VA biz, this is a great eCourse.
To help make ends meet while you're launching your business, you can work for larger companies that employ multiple VA's such as the ones in this list.
#4 – Tutoring
You can start a business working either inside or outside your home as a tutor. The great thing about this is that you could choose what age group of students to tutor — elementary, middle, high school, or even college level — just depending on what you're best at.
Also, you don't necessarily need to have a degree, especially if you're planning to tutor elementary age students.
You can get started with little to no money. You just need to get the word out that you're offering tutoring services. Advertise in your local newspaper (very cheap), contact local schools, and soon you'll start to get clients.
Over time, word of mouth should help keep you pretty busy without you having to spend much money at all on advertising.
To make ends meet, consider tutoring for any of these companies while you work to get your own business launched.
There are also many companies right now looking for online ESL (English Second Language) tutoring that would help you get some experience while also making money.
#5 – Writing e-Books
There are e-Book authors that earn four and five figures per month every single month — all without ever having gone to a publishing house. Keep in mind that most people earning this much money do have more than one book out there, so it might take a while to build up your income.
If you like to tell stories, you can write fiction books and publish them on Amazon. Of if you simply have some specialized knowledge you'd like to share, you can write non-fiction books and publish those on Amazon.
Start up costs here are minimal because you probably already have a computer and internet with a word processing program installed to start writing your book.
Some e-Book authors swear by the Scrivener software to help simplify the writing process as well as making the formatting and converting your document to an e-Book much simpler. That comes with a 30-day free trial.
You'll also want to get a nice cover for your e-Book, and I wouldn't recommend doing this yourself unless you're skilled in graphic design. But the good news is you can find someone to design it for you on Fiverr, costing you just $5. You can also find people on Fiverr to edit your e-Book for you (another thing that it's a good idea to outsource).
#6 – Graphic Design
If you're good at graphic design, you can make excellent money offering this as a service to people who desperately need graphics with no idea how to create them.
To start, you will for sure need a website explaining your services, rates, and of course an impressive portfolio of your past work.
Like many of the other businesses I've listed above, word of mouth will carry you far once you get work completed for some satisfied clients.
Fiverr is an excellent choice for picking up side jobs in graphic design since there are so many people who use it looking for people to make their logos, website buttons, banners, e-Book covers, etc. Another popular option for aspiring graphic designers is 99 Designs.
#7 – Bookkeeping
Contrary to popular belief, you do not need a degree to start your own bookkeeping business. If you are patient, organized, and good at crunching numbers, you may have what it takes to be a bookkeeper.
Start up costs are minimal. You will need a computer, internet, a phone for talking to clients, and a filing cabinet you can lock for safe storage of sensitive client information.
Most bookkeepers also use software — such as QuickBooks — to help keep everything organized.
If you would like some bookkeeping training to help guide you through how to do the work and also how to get your business off the ground, I highly recommend Ben Robinson's bookkeeping business e-course if you can spare the funds. There is a no-strings-attached free class you can take first to be sure the info would be helpful to you before signing up.
#8 – eBay or Amazon Seller
You can run a business selling or re-selling items on either eBay or Amazon — two of the most popular online shopping sites that exist on the web. I have an interview here with someone who makes a living selling on eBay and an interview here with someone who makes a living selling on Amazon that I'd recommend reading.
Start-up costs to begin selling on both of these sites are minimal since it is possible to start out selling stuff you find around the house that you no longer need, then take that money and go “thrifting” to find more items to re-sell.
Amazon FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon) is something that is pretty popular with many of my readers. Unlike with eBay, Amazon FBA handles the shipping, payments, etc. for you. All you have to do is source your items, price them, pack them and send them in bulk to Amazon, and they do the rest.
I recommend Jessica Larrew's resources for learning more about how to start with Amazon FBA if that interests you.
#9 – Direct Sales Consultant
If you can't think of a product or service of your own to start a business around, direct sales makes it possible to start a business selling products from companies you love. And your options are not limited to just make-up and tupperware these days. You can see our big list of direct sales companies in all sorts of categories to get ideas.
As far as start-up costs are concerned, most of these companies don't ask for an arm and a leg. You can usually start anywhere from $20 to $100, and the price you pay will should get you a starter kit full of sample items and business supplies. This is great because even if the business doesn't work out for you, it's not like you spent the money for nothing since you did get the starter kit of products in exchange for what you paid.
Keep in mind direct sales is not for everyone. Even though you're technically running a business, you don't exactly own the business. This means if the company goes belly up through no fault of your own, there is nothing you can do about it. You're just done. For this reason, it may be best to sign up with a company that has been around for many years with a solid track record.
Avon is a good example of a company that has stood the test of time. It's possible to become an Avon consultant for just $25! How's that for cheap??
#10 – House Cleaning
Some people not only love to clean, they just happen to be awesome at it! If that sounds like you, why not start your own cleaning business? You can bet there are plenty of people out there who hate to clean, aren't good at it, and can afford to pay someone else to do it for them.
It may be a good strategy to do cleaning work for your friends and family prior to taking on other clients so you'll have some referrals. Advertising can be done locally via newspaper, local Facebook groups, or dropping business cards around town.
Start-up costs are minimal. Cleaning products are fairly inexpensive, although you may want to invest in some “green” products for those clients who would insist on that. You can use your own products if you have them for your first few clients.
The most expensive things you may need to do are getting liability insurance, bonding, and licensing, but these are all very important to ensure you're going about things professionally.
“How to Start a Cleaning Business That Makes You Money in 30 Days or Less” is a highly-rated e-Book on Amazon that may offer you a little more direction.
#11 – Babysitting – Daycare Provider
I recently interviewed someone who made a full-time income from home running a daycare inside her home. This is actually an ideal home business for a parent because it's a way to stay with your kids during the day while also having other kids around for them to play with.
The interview linked above is a must-read if you're considering this because it contains all the information you're probably curious about, including how much you can make and what you need to start.
You can easily get started for around $300 or even less. Advertising in your local area should be a piece of cake considering you can use the newspaper, create business cards to drop around town, or even utilize local area Facebook groups to let people know you have openings.
I Have More Ideas For You!
If you curious about other low-cost home business ideas, see this huge list of over 50 options I came up with a few years ago. This post doesn't go into all the detail that I have broken down for you above, but most of the options listed will link you to additional resources that do go into great detail.
Good luck to you!
This post was originally published on August 3, 2015. Updated and republished on September 10, 2019.