Empowering People
& Revitalizing the Community

The Top 25 Home-Based Business Ideas

Posted on 8/13/2013 by Ray Lamboy in Small Business Planning

If you're thinking about starting your own home-based business, the available options can seem overwhelming. What type of business is the best fit for your background, skills, and interests? If you don't have a lot of initial capital to invest, which ones can be started at a low cost? And, most important, which home business has the best chance of succeeding, especially with the U.S. economy still on the rebound?

Narrow down your search with these 25 home-based business ideas that have growth potential, both now and in the future. Your new life as a small business owner awaits!
1. Personal Trainer
An aging baby boomer population eager to invest in longevity, along with a growing concern over childhood obesity, make it a great time to join this expanding field. As a personal trainer, you can visit clients in their homes and work with fitness centers on a contract basis.
Check out the National Federation of Professional Trainers for information about the certification process, insurance, marketing, and more. To make yourself stand out, think about taking extra courses in specialized fields, such as nutrition or Pilates.
2. Yoga Instructor
It's undeniable -- yoga is a trend with staying power. And it's especially appealing to an aging population, as seniors benefit from low-impact workouts. Yoga is also gaining attention in the medical community; according to a 2008 study by Yoga Journal, nearly 14 million Americans reported that a doctor or therapist had recommended yoga to them. And yoga is attractive to today's price-conscious consumers who don't want to spend a lot of money for exercise equipment.
You don't need a studio to teach yoga; just like a personal trainer, you can visit clients at their homes or offices. The Yoga Alliance website provides information on yoga schools, certification, insurance, and more.
3. Tutoring
This field no longer only caters to struggling children or those with learning disabilities -- ultracompetitive parents are flocking to tutors to help their children get ahead and, ultimately, into the best colleges. The tutoring industry has also seen a boost from the No Child Left Behind Act, which requires government-funded schools that have fallen short of performance goals three years in a row to offer federally financed tutoring.
You can start by tutoring students in their homes, at schools, or at local YMCAs or other child-care organizations. Talk to your local school district officials and school principals to determine their needs. To have a successful tutoring service, you'll need excellent credentials, competitive pricing, relevant experience, and glowing references.
4. Child Care Services
If you enjoy working with children, you can start a home-based daycare center. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, self-employment opportunities in this easy-to-enter industry are among the best in the current economy.
Before making the leap, find out about your state's regulations and insurance requirements. The National Resource Center for Health and Safety in Child Care and Early Education provides helpful information on its website. Aside from insurance, licensing fees, and advertising, you'll need enough startup capital to buy things like play equipment, toys, and educational supplies -- and don't forget to get CPR and first aid certified. If you set up your business as a nonprofit, you'll have better access to grants.
5. Business Coaching
In a tough economy, businesses need all of the help they can get. As a business coach, you can empower individuals -- often business owners and managers -- to improve their work performance through personal change. The most successful business coaches have plenty of experience in the business world, along with specialized expertise (e.g., marketing, finance, or sales). Whatever your niche, you need to have the ability to help your clients set and achieve their goals.
Network with others in the business world, both business coaches and owners, to find out what clients want and how to market to them. The International Coach Federation provides certification and a coach referral service for its members.
6. Consulting
Business consultants analyze businesses, identifying problems and implementing solutions. To be competitive, you'll need to be an expert in a special subject. Think human resources, IT, inventory management -- the possibilities are nearly endless. Many consultants have master degrees, and all have plenty of real-world business experience.
Once you've identified your niche, find out if there's a market for your services and what the competition is like. To set yourself up as the expert in your field, you'll need to make yourself heard in the local community (via speaking engagements, business events, interviews) and online (via your website, blogs, and social media).
7. Medical Transcription
Because they perform a necessary function, medical transcriptionists are always in demand. And with its low overhead -- you'll need a computer, Internet access, a printer, headphones, medical dictionaries, and a foot pedal and software for audio playback -- this business is easy to start.
Medical transcriptionists listen to audio recordings of medical records, such as doctors' notes, X-ray reports, and discharge summaries, and transcribe them into a word processing program. You must be able to listen and type at the same time, and quickly. A medical spellchecker helps, and you can get a system for rapid text entry, such as Instant Text. Find out about training and connect with others in the field through the Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity.
8. Legal Transcription
To become a legal transcriptionist, you'll need the same equipment as a medical transcriptionist (but swap those medical dictionaries for legal ones). You can work from home transcribing client interviews, court hearings, depositions, interrogations, and more.
As with medical transcription, top-notch typing skills are a must. While legal transcription training isn't required, it will give you the legal terminology and legal formatting knowledge you need to succeed. Check local community colleges or search online for transcription training courses.
9. Accounting
With loads of businesses looking to save money by outsourcing accounting services to qualified individuals, certified public accountants can make a solid income.
Starting a CPA business from home requires relatively low overhead, but it may take time to land the clients needed to turn a profit. You can market your services through networking, and you might consider starting your business part time until it gets off the ground.
While you can be an accountant without CPA certification, CPAs have a strong advantage over their noncertified peers. Visit the American Institute of CPAs website for information on specific state requirements.
10. Web Design
In today's tech-savvy world, more and more businesses and organizations are realizing that DIY websites or -- gasp -- no website at all just won't cut it. And with mobile Internet usage set to overtake desktop usage by 2014, the do-it-yourselfers are going to have a hard time designing websites that are smartphone compatible.
If you've got what it takes, Web design can make for a satisfying career. But the road isn't easy: You'll need to be able to market your skills effectively to stand out. Network as much as possible. You can start a blog, speak at local events, and learn from others in your field. You'll also need to have the skills to complete complex projects and the personality to please demanding customers.
11. Senior Care Services
A growing population of senior citizens means big opportunity for nonmedical home care providers, who help seniors with tasks of daily living. The services you offer might include transportation, house cleaning, dietary assistance, bathing, administering medicines, and, perhaps most important, companionship.
Before getting started, do your research. Find out how many seniors are in your area and what types of services they need. Contact local and state government agencies to learn about the regulations governing senior care businesses in your area. For more tips, visit the Small Business Administration website.
12. Photography
While royalty-free stock photo websites are taking a bite out of some photographers' profits, assignment photography is still big business. If you're skilled with a camera and have a mind for business, you can make money as a portrait, event, or wedding photographer.
Keep in mind that starting a photography business requires substantial capital for lighting, cameras, lenses, and photo-editing software, in addition to normal business expenses. Aside from skills and equipment, you'll have to market your business (think a cutting-edge website, social networking, and mailers) and set your pricing. Find out what similar photography businesses in your area are charging and work from there.
13. Debt Collection Agency
With scores of people falling behind on debts, now's the perfect time to start a debt collection agency, which requires little more than a phone and a computer. You'll help retailers, hospitals, and credit card companies recover money they're owed, and in return you'll get a percentage of the collected debt.
Before starting, you need to fully understand the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Also research state and local regulations, such as licensing. Though not required, training or a degree in business or finance may add credibility to your company. Finally, realize that debt collection requires a certain amount of finesse, empathy, and resolve.
14. Repossession Services
This is another business that benefits from a down economy. In this trade, you'll repossess vehicles on behalf of banks and loan companies from borrowers who fail to make payments.
Once you're experienced, repossessing a vehicle is a quick job, and you can make a lot of profit. Keep in mind, though, that the startup expenses can be substantial, including a tow truck, storage space, insurance, licensing, and more. You'll need to be well-versed in the repo laws for your state, and, of course, have the temperament to handle run-ins with potentially disgruntled borrowers.
15. Virtual Assistant
Businesses are looking to outsource key services, and instead of hiring full-time assistants, many are looking for virtual ones. As a virtual assistant, you'll perform office support duties, such as word processing, data entry, bookkeeping, and research, from your home.
Think about the expertise you can offer and what types of clients you'd like to cater to. Having specialized skills will make you stand out from the competition. Depending on your experience level, you may consider taking a virtual assistant training course, like one from VAClassroom. Find out more and connect with the virtual assistant community through the International Virtual Assistants Association.
16. Bakery
Americans' love affair with desserts -- the cuter and tinier, the better -- seems to have kicked in to overdrive. If you've got a knack for making delectable desserts, consider starting a home-based bakery. You can offer your desserts for delivery or pickup, parties, and sell them from stores and online.
Before getting started, contact your local public health department to find out about the laws governing at-home food production. New cottage food laws passed and pending in many states are making it easier to start a food business at home without a commercial kitchen. Other considerations are drafting a solid business plan, packaging, marketing, and, of course, using your tastiest recipes to keep customers coming back!
17. Junk Removal
It's indisputable: People will always have junk. For a fee, you can help them get rid of it.
First, find out what type of junk removal services are needed in your area. Depending on the services you offer, you may need trucks, dumpsters, safety equipment, shovels, and more. Research local and state regulations, and learn about proper removal and disposal techniques. You should be certified to deal with hazardous materials. Also consider disposal fees, and price high enough so that these fees don't eat into your profits.
18. Wedding Planner
If the rising number of guilty-pleasure wedding TV shows clogging cable channels is any indication, Americans' obsession with tying the knot is on the rise. If your organizational skills are top notch, you thrive under pressure, and you have a flair for putting together beautiful events, think about becoming a wedding planner.
In addition to managing budgets, you'll need to be able to build relationships with vendors. If you're new to the field, you might take a certification course. You can find many online, including one from the Association of Certified Professional Wedding Consultants. You can also gain experience by planning weddings and parties for friends and family.
19. Concierge Service
If you have energy, strong organizational skills, and, most important, a talent for customer service, consider starting a concierge service. The overhead is low, and the potential for profits is especially great if you live in an area with an upscale or corporate client base. You'll also find success offering niche services, such as catering to the senior market, organizing, caring for pets, and assisting busy parents.
Once you've decided on your market, think about pricing, advertising, and how you'll run your service on a day-to-day basis. Consider joining a concierge association, such as the International Concierge and Lifestyle Management Association or National Concierge Association, or find a concierge network in your area.
20. Craft Business
In a world of mass-produced junk, shoppers feel good about buying handmade, one-of-a-kind items. Turn your creativity and talent into a business by selling jewelry, ceramics, unique d├ęcor, purses, metalwork -- the sky's the limit! You can sell your crafts on your own website or on sites such as Etsy, and at craft fairs and local events.
Some items sell better than others, so do your research. Look on eBay and crafters' sites, and check out home shopping channels, such as HSN or QVC, to see what types of crafts are selling. Next, think about how much it will cost you to make each product, in time, materials, and other overhead. Make sure you charge a high enough price to make a profit.
21. Computer Repair
These days, more and more companies are looking to save by outsourcing key functions, including computer repair. You can set up a service catering to these businesses as well as to individuals. Before you start, check out the competition in your area. Who's offering what, and is there a niche you can fill? Get an idea of what types of rates you can charge.
If you require training before getting started, there are numerous technical schools teaching computer repair, and many online directories to help you find a program in your state.
22. Cleaning Service
Cleaning services are particularly recession-proof. Both residential and commercial cleaning operations can easily be run from home, but which you decide to start may depend on your resources. Commercial cleaning, for example, often requires commercial equipment, as well as a staff to clean big spaces. If you have less startup capital and are thinking of a solo operation, cleaning homes and smaller offices will be your best bet.
Whichever you choose, be sure to use simple yet effective marketing, such as fliers, ads on your vehicle, and, of course, word-of-mouth. And before you even so much as pull out a duster, find out if there are any regulations you need to follow, including licensing, and look into getting liability insurance.
23. Carpet Cleaning Service
A variation on cleaning, carpet and upholstery cleaning services are especially recession-resistant. Few people are willing to let their carpets get dirty, and even fewer have the equipment or skills to clean their own carpets. That's where you come in.
First, make sure you have the experience. The Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration offers certification courses. Depending on the types of services you're going to offer, you'll need a range of equipment and supplies. If you're low on startup capital, consider buying used equipment in the beginning, as well as purchasing a portable extractor to clean carpets instead of a truck-mounted unit, which can be costly.
24. Mobile Pet Grooming
The American Pet Products Association estimates that U.S. pet owners will spend nearly $51 billion on their pets in 2011. Join this growing industry by offering busy pet parents the convenience of mobile pet grooming.
With a well-equipped van, you can visit pets at their homes to bathe and groom them. Aside from equipment, it's absolutely necessary that you know how to handle frightened pets, who may bite or show other aggressive behaviors when it's time for their cleaning. Consider getting hands-on training at a grooming school. You can get answers to many questions by joining an online pet grooming community such as GroomerTalk.
25. Dog Walking
Another in-demand service in the pet industry is dog walking. Consider this opportunity if you enjoy working with dogs, know how to handle them, and are ready for an outdoor occupation.
As with many businesses, it'll take some time to build a solid clientele and earn a steady income. Fortunately, dog walking requires little startup capital. Some of your biggest expenses will be legal advice and insurance. Also, find out if you need any special licensing. Think about offering extra services, such as dog running and daycare. Finally, provide stellar service, because word-of-mouth will be your best marketing tool.
Source: www.allbusiness.com/top-25-home-based-businesses/16659292-1.html