Home business ideas

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Business Ideas

We explore a range of ideas to help you set up a home working business.

Many of us dream about working from home and getting away from the daily 9-5 grind and long commuting time. For many of us it has been a way of freeing up our lifestyle and working in a more flexible way.

1. Set up a website
This could be an online shop or it could be an online magazine. Either way, it is not a job for the faint hearted and you will have to learn a degree of web programming and web promotion. Luckily there is free open-source software such as WordPress or Joomla that could help get you going. You could start getting a website going within a week or so. The harder bit is making money from it. Until you get to at least 2,000 visitors per month to your shop or 15,000 visitors per month to your website the results will be meagre. It took us around four years (albeit working part time) to bring in a modest income.

2. Become a virtual assistant
This is like being a secretary for a small business but where you work from home and only work when there is work to do. Most virtual assistants have around four or five regular clients and do anything from spreadsheets, chasing up invoices, putting together presentations, adding content to websites. Pay rates vary but tend to be in the range of £10-£18 per hour ($20-$36) depending upon the skills offered. But remember you only charge for the direct hours worked. For more information visit IAVA or the Alliance of UK Virtual Assistants.

3. Freelance editorial and journalism work
If you are any good at writing, editing or proof reading then you may be able to set up a writing or editing business. The biggest challenge will be to find customers, but if you look on websites like Reed you will often find these types of roles advertised. The advertisers on Reed get loads of people bulk applying and so just sending in a CV won’t get you very far. Sending a portfolio of your writing would get you further. I would say (as a publisher that uses freelancers) that the best way to try and get work would be to write a piece for your target publication. Have a look at the type of articles that they publish and write one that would fit in to their style. Freelance journalism work ranges from £40-£100 per 1,000 words ($80-$200) or between £10 and £20 ($20 – $40) per hour.

4. Photography
Photography can suit many people for working from home. The easiest entry level is to start by supplying images to photo libraries. Istockphoto has a facility to do this and you get paid a royalty any time someone downloads an image. At its smallest size a download costs 50p ($1) and you can expect to get royalties of around 20% or 10p ($0.20) per image downloaded. For a list of photo libraries visit top-10-image sites. Business images sell the best, but it will take a while to build up an income. More lucrative would be to do freelance photography for weddings, local businesses or various publications. Finding a niche can work well in photography. For example, I had real problems finding freelance photographers in India to take call centre photos. Freelance photography rates can be between £100 and £500 per day ($200 and $1000).

5. Professional services
Business services are ideal candidates for home-based businesses. Database programming, graphic design, web design, book-keeping are all in demand. There are a number of sites such as elance where you can find work or offer your services.

6. Telephone sales
If you are any good at selling then telephone sales could be a great business for you. Many companies need to contact their customer base regularly or need to find sales leads. You may be able to offer your services to help find new business for them. You will, however, need to be aware of the distance selling and cold calling regulations first.

7. Keep your overheads down
Before rushing headfirst into your business idea it pays to keep your overheads as low as you can to start. Try to use whatever computing power that you already own. You can get an answering service from a company like alldaypa and free business banking from Abbey. If you need a website you could try to build your own site. You can start with a simple hosting package – these can be obtained for less than £10 per month from 1and1. Open-source software such as WordPress or Joomla is free and could get you set up. You can always buy in some freelance services to get you going. You can get some free business cards from Vistaprint. Try to keep the overheads as low as you can until you are sure that things are going well.

8. Borrow as little money as you can
The most healthy way to grow a business is through positive cash flow. This means that you make a profit before you invest for the next phase. This could potentially slow down your business growth in the early phases but you will have a very healthy business platform to work from. Your business will be much less likely to fail.

8. Watch out for franchises, training schemes or scams
There are lots of people out there advertising for you to work from home. Many of them say that you can earn £400 per day/week. While there may be some good franchises out there, most franchises and training schemes require a substantial investment up front. This could cripple the business even before you get going.

9. Test market your ideas – is your idea sound?
Before you kick off your project it is probably worth checking whether your small business idea is sound. Just as people will never tell you that your baby is ugly, you will seldom get an honest opinion from friends and family as to whether your business idea is sound.

Try to find prospective customers and ask them if you should set up in business with your product or service. If the results are promising then you will be on to a bit of a winner.

Read this article on test marketing your idea

10. Know when to carry on and when to give up
Many businesses fail because they do not know when to carry on and when to give up. Because people have invested so much in a business there is an overwhelming need to do double or quits and get more heavily into debt. If you keep the business in profit you will know when it starts to dip.

Other ideas sent in by readers

Junk jewellery
(Thanks to Anonymous)

Start a homebuyer’s information service
One of the problems with moving house is that you can never be sure what your neighbours are going to be like. They could be noisy or have mischievous children terrorising the neighbourhood . There may be other numerous drawbacks too. Unacceptable periods of busy traffic, smells emanating from nearby farms or industrial complexes, things that never come to light until you move in. Some individuals are making a good living from offering a service which provides a detailed report of these types of problems. They make a regular survey of the area at different times throughout a specified period. The information and service they provide can often make a big difference in the homebuyer’s final decision as to whether to buy or not. This is a business that is simple to start and run, but the hours can be unsociable.
(Thanks to Anonymous)

Sms, mms, j2me programming
(Thanks to abdul hamid dhaiban)

Designing, making, and selling bags and table runners
I have not tried this yet, but I am thinking seriously about it.
(Thanks to Anonymous)

Buying and selling-on mobile phones
I think this has good potential as many peole don’t do anything with their old phones and even broken mobiles have a spares or repairs value.
(Thanks to Anonymous)

Belly Dancing Lessons
(Thanks to Anonymous)

Personal fitness trainer
(Thanks to Anonymous)

Catalogue selling
I joined Kleeneze 18 months ago – delivering and collecting the catalogues (around my full-time job as an accountant) – which paid for me to get married on Concorde in March this year – we were featured in Full House Magazine.

(Thanks to Sarah)

Sell CDs from home

If you sell CDs from home selling, you could make $3 per CD.

(Thanks to Jessica)

Start a pop-up restuarant

You may be able to run a small food restaurant from your home. People will need to bring their own achohol, but you can serve them dinner. Make sure that the kitchen is spotless, though.

(Thanks to osha)

Do you have any other ideas? Please leave them in the comments box below.


Published On: 10th Aug 2010

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Business Ideas

  1. Q. how do I contact you with a question on using a picture from your pages?

    Anonymous 10 Nov at 6:33 am
  2. You can contact us through the presentation helper website

    admin 10 Nov at 4:59 pm
  3. Make sure when looking for a home business you do your research. There are a lot of people out there that will happily take you money and not follow through on their promises and the key to success is never to give up.
    Sandra Lindsay of Bodhico

    Anonymous 19 Jun at 4:11 am
  4. Do try and involve your family, many brains are better than one. I have recently started my own business and have enlisted the assistance of my family which means I have more to offer.

    Anonymous 6 Aug at 11:53 am
  5. private hire

    Anonymous 29 Sep at 11:28 am
  6. buy a house or apartment in spain, live in it for winter and rent for summer, your overheads will be lower than what you are paying now.

    Anonymous 30 Sep at 8:15 am
  7. printing company is more efficient. printing of t-shirts,bunners,street pole ads,pamphlets invitaton cards for weddings and parties.

    (lebo seete)

    Anonymous 6 Oct at 9:26 am
  8. printing company is more efficient. printing of t-shirts, banners,street pole ads, pamphlets invitaton cards for weddings and parties.

    Myrna Duran 24 Dec at 9:18 am
  9. Make sure when looking for a home business you do your research. There are a lot of people out there that will happily take you money and not follow through on their promises and the key to success is never to give up.

    Edna Nicholson 25 Dec at 9:37 pm