Business ideas you can run from home
The idea of being able to run a profitable small business from home is one that lots of people share. For most home business owners, their main goal is to achieve financial freedom and security. And where possible, provide free time to pursue their leisure interests and spend more time with their family. But is it as easy as it sounds?
For someone with determination and a clear business plan, perhaps. But more often than not, getting a new business off the ground can be fraught with difficulty, even a simple home business can sometimes struggle in the early stages of the business.
Ideally, your home business should be easy to start up without a huge investment, and quick to establish profitabilty. This will mainly depend on how soon you can find new customers. So it pays to do some market research first. Is there a demand for the type of business you’re planning? Are there plenty of potential customers? Is there a good margin for profit? If the results of your research are positive, you can then move on to the next step and formulate a business plan. There’s some good advice on developing a business plan on this website. You can also find ready made software for a range of business plans in our business plan directory.
You probably have a clear idea of what type of business you want to set up or get involved in. But if you’re still looking for ideas or inspiration, then let’s consider some of the options that are available. Let’s take a look at some of the businesses that can easily be set up from home without a major investment in equipment, or the need to employ others to help you run the business. This will enable you to start and test the business with minimum risk. Perhaps one of these business ideas will suit your personal skills. If not, there’s plenty more information available on our website for other types of business, such as those listed at the end of this article.
A bookkeeping business is perfectly suited to working from home. Obviously, you will need to be good at figures and have a thorough understanding of accountancy. Building a regular income from a number of clients is an easily achievable goal if you provide a good service at a reasonable price. There should be no shortage of clients if the price is right. To begin with, it’s worth checking out who your competitors are and the rates they charge. You will then be in a better position to decide how you much you could charge for your own service. One way to let businesses know about your new bookkeeping service is to send out letters direct to the companies, or email them directly. An advert in your local paper may also bring results. For more detailed information about starting and running a bookkeeping business click here
Custom jewellery business
If you’re talented and creative in the art of jewellery making, this can be an enjoyable business venture. But making jewellery and selling jewellery are two different things.
It can take hard work and determination to sell your own products successfully. One way is to design and sell your jewellery at trade fairs. You can make quite a lot of money from these type of events over a relatively short period of time. Especially when buyers like what you have to offer. However, you’ll also have more expenses to set up and pay for your stand, but at least you’re making sales and getting your name out there. Another way to drum up business is to establish a good relationship with shops that are willing to sell your products. Once you can build up a good supply of customers, your business will then be more likely to survive in the long term.
Probably the easiest way to start and test how people respond to your products is to sell via party plan. Design a range of jewelley that will appeal to your target market and set up appointments to arrange a demonstration of what you have to offer. It’s normal practise to offer the hostess some incentive to hold the party and invite their friends and aqaintances around. Usually, a nice piece of jewellery will suffice.
Cake decoration business
Cake decorating is an easy business to start, providing you follow some basic rules. First you will need to comply with the laws on food hygeine and inform your local environmental health department when you start your business. There’s a very good book called Starting a Cake Decorating Business from Home written by Kathy Moore which offers a wealth of advice for starting and running a cake decorating business from home. The book includes a clear and informative step-by-step guide to running the business, costing and pricing advice, information on environmental health issues, complying with regulations and legislation, information on tax, national insurance, keeping accounts, marketing and advertising the business. If you have a lot of experience decorating cakes, but lack the business knowledge, this book will help. But you can also get further help and advice from Business Link who will guide you through the steps of starting your own business. (see resource links below)
Dressmaking & sewing alteration business
A dressmaking business requires excellent sewing skills and a good eye for detail. This is especially important if you’re wanting to specialise in wedding dresses and formal occasion outfits which can be very, very profitable. Alternatively, you may prefer to simply offer a made to measure service for men’s, women's and children's clothing. Perhaps also offering to undertake repairs and alterations as well. This type of business can be as simple or as ambitious as you want it to be. It depends on your goals and aspirations. To start with you’re obviously going to need the basic tools and equipment. i.e. sewing machine, tailors dummy, a good range of needles and threads etc. But eventually you’re likely to need further equipment such as an overlocker in order to provide a fully professional service. In addition, you need to be able to follow a design pattern, which the customer will sometimes supply. You also need to be familiar with the day to day procedure of running a small business.
As regards payment for your services, a good plan is to charge an hourly rate for general dressmaking work and alterations. If you have a good sense of fashion design, you may want to design and make your own creations and sell them at prices you consider appropriate. Another option is to offer your services to trade customers such as clothing retailers and fancy dress hire shops. If this is something that appeals to you, but you don’t have experience in fashion design, there are various courses available at colleges throughout the UK.
This could be an additional service to the aforementioned dressmaking and alteration business, or could be a business completely tailored towards curtain making. This is a business wheer every home owner in your area is a potential customer. You might also want to consider accepting orders for making cushion covers, chair covers and other soft furnishings. There’s often a high demand for good curtain makers in highly populated areas. You could start working from home and eventually expand into opening a shop or business unit if the business takes off in a big way. But that’s something you would need to think seriously about before committing yourself to the extra financial responsibilities you would entail. Anyway, this article is about running a home based business, and many home business owners prefer to keep their business simple and uncomplicated rather than taking on extra staff, and taking on business loans, even if the business has the potential to grow.
Arts and craft business
Starting an art or craft business can be a wonderful experience for someone who is creative and wants to showcase their work to a wider public. The element of job satisfaction in itself will more likely make this a business that will last and survive the difficult early stages that a new business can sometimes encounter. The main stumbling block might be self doubt. How can you be sure that your work will be good enough to sell? One way to find out is to try selling your work at an arts & crafts fair. You can set up a stall for a small price and showcase your work to the public. You’ll soon discover whether people like your products, and guage their opinions. Of course, certain types of art or craft products will always sell better than others. But whether you sell your own manufactured goods, or decide that selling a range of other people’s products will be more successful, an art or craft business can easily be tailored to suit your requirements. For ideas on setting up an arts and craft business click here.
Dog breeding business
A dog breeding business can be an attractive business idea for someone who loves dogs and has a lot’s of experience in this field. In many ways it can be quite satisfying and profitable if breeding the right type of dog, but it also carries a lot of responsibility. You must make sure that a healthy environment is maintained in which to breed your dogs. The kennels should be kept scrupulously clean to avoid contamination and disease. A good relationship with a local vet is also essential, and the dogs and their offspring should be checked regularly. As a business, dog breeding is sometimes frowned upon by some people who believe that if you breed dogs it should be because you love the breed of dog, and not as a means to make an income. Ultimately, it’s your decision as to whether you feel this is the right business for you. For more details, see the link below to our business resources page.
Music tuition business
There is usually a good demand for music tutors in most areas. Whether it be piano tuition or guitar tuition, both are popular services that are always in need. I have a friend who runs a guitar tuition business and he does really well. The hourly rate is good and the overheads are practically zero. Other than forking out the money for equipment, which you probably already own if you're a musician, whatever you charge is a 100% profit. Most guitar lessons usually only need to last half an hour, especially if you're providing one-to-one tuition. But you might also consider providing some lessons to small groups of people for a longer period at a reduced hourly rate. If you have three or four pupils or more in a group, you could charge a lower rate but make more money. How much you charge however, may depend on the area you live in. In highly populated areas there is likely to be more competition and their charges might reflect this. The best way to assess how much to charge is to ring around and get some prices. Some of your local music shops may offer this type of service, but if they don’t you could try approaching them and offer your tuition service to their customers while providing them with a small commission. This will help you get established while you build up your business and reputation.
Computer repair business
Anyone who has had a computer for a while will know the feeling one gets when they start to go wrong. Thankfully though, there is usually a local computer repair service that is ready and willing to help you out. So if you have the necessary knowledge and skills to repair computers then you could turn them into a cash machine. Almost every home in the UK now has a computer, so the potential for finding customers shouldn’t be a problem. All the small business owners in your area will also be using computers to help them run their business, so that’s another market you can target. Businesses especially depend on their computers to be working properly. Start by advertising your service in your local newspaper, then get some business cards printed and hand them out to your customers and potential customers. Leaflets may also bring in a good response if distributed in the right areas. This type of business has lots of potential to expand also. For example, you could build and sell your own brand of computer, or provide a network installation service to businesses and educational establishments. The business could be run part time to begin with, but don’t be surprised if demand is high and you need to take on extra help. If you prefer, you can always regulate the work you take in and remain a one-man business.
Internet marketing business
Thousands of people every day search the internet looking for ways to make money. Internet marketing has become a familiar term to many of those people who have seriously considered the idea of using the internet as a way to make an income. Unfortunately, out of the thousands who take up the challenge, many fall by the wayside. Contrary to what you might believe, faced with all the hype that exists about how to make money online, internet marketing (which covers many areas such as affiliate marketing and info product marketing) requires at the very least, a good basic knowledge of how to promote products and services online. There are many skills involved, but some jobs can be outsourced to those with more experience or specialised skills. However, a lot of determination and persistence is required to become a successful internet marketer. And for those that climb to the highest level, the rewards can be staggering. If your knowledge of internet marketing is limited, start by doing some research online. Visit Making Money Online UK and you’ll find some useful articles there. You’ll also find some links to the best online resources. And the 500 Ways site has a section on internet marketing too. (see also our recommended books on internet marketing in the business books section)
Picture framing business
A picture framing business will suit those with good carpentry skills and eye for design. Your service will not only cater for artists and people who want their photos framed, you can also provide a service to frame certificates, awards, coin collections and even t-shirts! Yes, there are many types of items that can be framed. This type of business can be started at home in a spare room, garage or workshop. But it’s also a business which can profit immensely from opening a shop in a busy location where lots of people can see the work you’ve already done, and there’s plenty of passing trade. As a home based business however, you can start off with a decent workbench and some good quality framing equipment and materials. These might include a mitre block and saw, or better still an electrically powered mitring machine for precision cuts, some mounting boards, frame moulding, mount cutter, and pins etc. You might also want tools to cut your own glass to size. It’s worth a mention that the business market can be just as lucrative than the consumer market, if not more. Hotels, restaurants, office-based businesses are all potential customers. Also, if you can build a good relationship with a number of local businesses, as well as artists who use your services, they may be happy to recommend your service to their customers.
Bed and breakfast business
The bed and breakfast business is a popular choice for those who have a suitable property with enough rooms available. And it’s particularly suitable if you’re in a good tourist location. However, this type of home business does need a fair size investment to make it viable and conform to legal requirements. Although it may seem like a simple business to set up and run, it’s still adviseable to have a clear business plan before you start. For more details on how to start a bed and breakfast business click this link and see the resource links below for further information on planning a bed and breakfast business.
More home based business ideas
Being self-employed as a freelance agent or consultant also offers many opportunities to be your own boss. Especially if you can pick and choose who you want to do the work for, and be able to choose the the type of jobs that you like to do. Otherwise, you may find that it’s not much different than being employed. Businesses and freelancers that fall into this category, who often work from home, include web designers, graphic designers, magazine and book illustrators, cartoonists, writers, portrait artists, proof readers, computer programmers, dog groomers, engravers, stained glass repairers, wedding stationary printers, secretarial services, technical designers and illustrators, as well as health consultants such as osteopaths, chiropractors, physio therapists, masseurs, and manicurists, etc.
We can expand on this list considerably if we take into account people who operate their business from home, but have to travel to carry out their business. For example, architects, driving instructors, plumbers, carpenters, electricians, gas appliance installers, window cleaners, handyman, mobile hairdressers, nail technicians, mortgage advisors, childrens entertainers, double glazing installers, painters and decorators, interior designers, installers for blinds, gardeners, chimney sweeps, child minders, dog walkers, wedding planners, mobile auto repairers, pest controllers, light haulage, security services, locksmiths, wedding photographers, mobile discotheques, professional organisers, party caterers, domestic cleaners, carpet cleaners, health and safety consultants, party plan sales, TV and domestic appliance repairers, and the list goes on.
You can find more information about how to start and run some of the businesses listed above on our business resources links page.