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15 At-Home Small Business Opportunities That Could Turn Full Time

small business opportunities

Maybe you’re looking to make some extra cash or fill some extra free time — the kids are getting older or you’re retired. Maybe you want to eventually leave an office job to start your own business or supplement an existing business you run. There are dozens of reasons why someone might want to start an at-home business.

Running a business from your home gives you flexibility and, in some cases, can save you a lot of money on startup costs. The ability to work from home is especially useful if you already have a full- or part-time job that you plan you to keep or have kids at home. Technology today has made working at home easier than ever.

If you decide to start an at-home business, you’ll be in good company. Home-based companies make up about 50 percent of all businesses and 60.1 percent of businesses that don’t have employees. The best part is that some of these businesses require little more than an internet connection, a computer and a phone.

Choosing an at-home small business

So what kind of at-home small business should you start? First, think about your skills:

  • Do you have any marketable skills that are in demand?
  • Do any of your skills naturally translate into an at-home business, such as web design or freelance writing?
  • Do you have a passion or hobby — cooking, fitness or shopping, for example — that you could turn into a business?

Once you’ve settled on an idea, you’ll have to think about how much money you’d like to make, how many hours you have to dedicate to the business, and what zoning, licensing or permit requirements you might need.

Do your homework and research all regulations and tax considerations associated with your business — there are plenty of resources out there. Check out SCORE, a nonprofit organization that partners with the U.S. Small Business Administration and offers small business owners free advice. There’s also the SBA itself, which provides information on everything from permits and paperwork to finances and tips for writing a business plan. The SBA also has a great guide on how to handle legal, tax and contractual paperwork when you set up a freelance business.

Taxes, permits and insurance are just a few of the issues you’ll need to consider if you’re planning to run your business out of your home, especially if clients will be coming to your house. Review these 15 at-home work ideas that might help you turn your skills into a full-time business.

Virtual assistant

A virtual assistant is a remote employee or contractor who helps out with administrative, technical or creative services for one or more clients. Duties can include editing and formatting newsletters; responding to emails and phone calls; ordering supplies; conducting online research; handling travel arrangements; and creating spreadsheets and presentations.

You don’t need a degree, but getting certified through organizations such as VA Certified or the International Virtual Assistants Association could boost your credibility and attract more business. Some of these professional organizations require you to work in the field for a year before you can become certified.

This job is particularly good for people with backgrounds as administrative assistants or office managers, but it’s also one that just about anyone with solid computer, communication and organization skills might enjoy and do well. The average hourly salary is $15.64.

Freelance writing and editing

If you have a background in writing and/or editing — and clips to prove it — you can make a living as a freelance writer or editor. Unless you already have a network of potential clients, however, it will take some hustle.

People with backgrounds in journalism, public relations, communications or marketing are good matches for the job, as well as anyone with strong writing skills and knowledge in certain subject areas — especially niche topics, such as technology, health, finance or education. A solid portfolio, references and pitch ideas might help set you apart from the pack. Check out sites like Upwork and the ProBlogger Job Board for possible gigs.

Sell a product online

Are you the crafty type? Do you make jewelry, do woodworking, create baked treats or make other types of art? If you create something you think people want to buy, consider selling it online, either through your own website or sites like Etsy. If you’re not the crafty sort but have a talent for finding hidden gems at thrift stores, consider reselling used items on eBay or Amazon.

Selling through another site means paying it a portion of your profit, but the site will handle a lot of the headaches of online selling. Depending on your business type, you’ll still need to figure out how to collect sales tax, whether you need insurance and what your shipping-and-return policies will be.

Tutor

If you have a teaching or education background — or knowledge in specific subjects like math, science, language, reading, writing or test preparation — consider tutoring. You don’t need an education degree to be a tutor, but becoming certified could help you get higher rates — and more work. Two potential certification sites include the National Tutoring Association and the International Tutors Association.

Many tutors also do their jobs virtually, through online classrooms or web chats. The average hourly rate is $17.54, but can go as high as $40.

Web designer and developer

Even the smallest small business needs a website, and if you’re a talented website designer, you can build your portfolio through sites like Upwork. If you’re a designer and a developer — with knowledge of languages like Java, JavaScript, CSS and HTML — you’ll have the potential to earn even more.

The average hourly wage for a web designer is $19.71 and the average for a web designer/developer is $20.50. A web designer creates the layout and visual elements for a website using tools like Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator and a web developer uses languages like HTML and CSS to turn the design into a working, live website.

Personal trainer

Even if you’re not a personal trainer by trade, you can become certified and turn your passion into a job. Organizations that certify personal trainers include the American Council on Exercise, the National Academy of Sports Medicine and the National Strength and Conditioning Association. If you’re thinking about teaching Pilates, consider the National Exercise Trainers Association; if you want to teach yoga, consider the Yoga Alliance.

Personal trainers can work with clients in their own homes, in their clients’ homes or in a gym. If you build up a large enough clientele, it could lead to you opening your own space someday. The median pay is $18.85 an hour.

Social media management

Almost every business these days needs a social media presence. Many small businesses, however, don’t have the money, capacity or desire to effectively handle their social media. If you have a background in social media or a flair for it, this job could be a good fit for you.

It’s suitable for people with marketing, public relations or digital media experience — or a business owner with a great track record of social media marketing. The median hourly rate for a social media manager is $15.81.

Salon services

Are you a hair stylist, an esthetician or a makeup expert? You can save yourself a lot of expense by running your business out of your home instead of renting or buying a place, but you still need to do more than most at-home businesses. For one, you need a dedicated space to provide the services. You also need a business license and a resale permit if you plan on selling beauty products — and you need to schedule a health inspection.

Depending on the type of services you provide, you might be required to get a specific license, such as a cosmetology salon license to operate a beauty salon. Expect to make anywhere from $7 to $20 an hour, plus tips.

Accounting and bookkeeping

Most small companies don’t have an accountant on staff, so they hire an outside person to keep their books and prepare their taxes. Bookkeepers can help process invoices and payroll and track expenses. As a Certified Public Accountant, you can also file your client’s taxes, provide financial models and offer business recommendations.

If you have your CPA license or bookkeeping experience, this can be a great gig for you. The average hourly rate for a bookkeeper is $16.56, and it’s $29.31 for a CPA.

Tax preparer

You don’t need a certain background or a degree to prepare taxes, although if you’re detail-oriented and good with numbers it certainly helps. You will, however, need an IRS Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) to authorize federal tax returns. If you’re considering making this a steady business, think about becoming an enrolled agent, which means the IRS licenses you. Or, take part in the IRS’s Annual Filing Season Program, which provides a Record of Completion to return preparers who finish a certain number of continuing education hours in preparation for a specific tax year.

This job requires some training if you’re not already familiar with the tax code. Some organizations, such as H&R Block, offer free tax preparation training classes, but you have to pay for course materials, which run approximately $149.

Repair service

If you have a knack for fixing things, running a handyman-type business could be for you. If you don’t want the hassle of building up your own business, you can join a company like TaskRabbit — or another handyman-on-demand site — which connects customers to repair folks. Depending on what kind of work you’re doing, you might need special certification, such as a contractor’s license. Expect to make about $20.54 an hour.

Child care

If you have experience taking care of children or just really enjoy it, watching kids in your home could be a great option. If you want to run a licensed child care or day care center, you need to meet certain requirements and regulations, which vary by city and state. That said, many states don’t require a license for watching a small number of kids, which might be appealing if you’re already a stay-at-home parent. The median pay for a child care worker is $10.72 an hour.

Rent a room

If you have an extra room, you could rent it out on Airbnb or VRBO and make some extra cash. If you like people, enjoy cooking, live in a tourist or vacation-friendly area and have a fair amount of extra space, consider running a bed and breakfast. Renting through sites like Airbnb is pretty simple, but if you run your own B&B you’ll need to meet your local, city and state health and safety regulation requirements and obtain occupancy permits. The average Airbnb host earns about $924 a month.

Massage therapist

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects the number of massage therapist jobs to increase by 26 percent between 2016 and 2026. You need a license to be a massage therapist, so you’ll need to attend a training program and complete your city and state’s requirements, which might mean logging a certain number of practice hours and/or passing the Massage and Bodywork Licensing Exam. You also have to meet the zoning regulations for running a business in your home. The median hourly pay is $19.23.

Business consulting

If you have experience in a certain field and feel you’d be good at sharing what you’ve learned, consider business consulting. If you’re currently working in the field in which you’d like to consult, it makes sense to run both businesses simultaneously for a while. If your consulting business takes off, you could turn that into your full-time gig. The average hourly pay is $36.76.

 

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