20 Low-Cost Home Businesses You Can Start From
By Marcus P. Meleton, Jr. and Cary Arentz
So you want a home business. You have the time, the ambition,
and are excited about the prospect. All you need is the right
idea that's perfect for your first start-up or for a second,
third or fourth business. We at Home Business Magazine
watch for these ideas and present them to you with the
expectation that one will provide you with home-based success.
When evaluating these possibilities, keep in mind the items
shown in the box and look at our next issue to get more great
ideas for businesses.
If "Surfing the Net" is something you can't get enough of,
then maybe you should get paid for it. E-mail marketing is
an exciting new business opportunity. The objective is to
compile E-mail address lists to support a client's mailing
and then broadcast your client's E-mail to that list. A
secondary market is to sell you lists to businesses or
individuals who market their goods and services by E-mail.
Internet experts will be able to search for and collect
lists at a moment's notice. You most likely have all the
computer equipment you'll need, although upgrades may be
Raising Pets For Money.
Do you like dogs, cats, birds, reptiles, or fish?
Would you enjoy raising them?
Why not turn it into a business?
Find out what your local pet stores need or what
the general market is looking for, such as rabbits and
chickens for Easter, or dalmatians to capitalize on
the Disney movie. Not only is this business opportunity
fun for animal lovers, it's a great first business for kids.
Guinea pigs, hamsters, rats, and mice multiply rapidly
and make good pets or science projects. Be sure to evaluate
your demand first, or you'll be sharing your home with
permanent pets. Expanding your business to care for
other people's animals is also a possibility. Make sure
that zoning laws and other regulations related to raising
animals do not affect you.
One of the most difficult endeavors is earning money through art.
The best way to do this is to go commercial. Look at the type
of art you excel at: painting, computer art, or line drawings,
and decide how it could benefit businesses. For instance,
marketing companies hire artists to do artwork for advertising.
You can also develop and draw ads and flyers for small shops
that need publicity. Approach the shops and offer to develop
material that they can buy upon approval. As your sales increase,
create a portfolio to show to other businesses.
Local rock bands and dance clubs like the more radical stuff.
Over time, your art and contacts will enable you to expand
into more traditional outlets.
People just don't have the time to develop photo albums,
or they do it haphazardly with no idea about how creative
a photo album can be. This is a service that gets you out
of the house to meet people. You will build a reputation
and can do the work on your kitchen table. You interview
clients, go through their pictures, and suggest ways their
photo albums can be arranged or improved. Books on the
subject are available to help you improve your skills.
Use your family or friends as your initial customers and
bring their albums to potential customers to show what you can do.
It is rewarding to see how grateful people are with the results.
The best thing that could possibly happen to a home-business owner
is to have so much business that you can't do it all yourself.
When this happens, you can become an agent for your type of
business by sub-contracting excess work out to others and taking
a percentage of the fee. In this capacity,
you do the billing and maintain the clients. When business is slow,
you assume the workload and maintain service to your customers.
People who run everything from home businesses to
Fortune 500 companies often lack the time to get everything done.
That's why there's such a large demand for errand services.
If you have a small truck or van, are punctual and trustworthy,
and don't mind an occasionally hectic schedule, you can profit
from delivering packages, picking up supplies, and handling similar
details for harried home business owners and executives alike.
To locate clients, check with businesses in your area, or
have your friends and family ask their employers if they
could use your services.
Most of us are curious about our an ancestors.
That's why written accounts of family history or family trees,
known as genealogy, make popular gifts. Why not make this your business?
Although the task of digging deeply into someone's past may
seem daunting, there is a variety of software packages and books
available that will make this task much easier. Visit large
software and book stores to see what's available.
To reach your customers, arrange with local card and gift shop owners
to let you display your advertising and samples in their stores.
Placing advertisements in local newspapers is a relatively inexpensive
way to reach a large audience.
Any appliance, tool, or toy you buy eventually breaks — that's a fact
of life. Al though America is said to be a disposable society,
most of us would rather hold on to what we have rather than incur
the cost of buying something new. Having a knack for fixing
household items means you can earn up to $100 an hour,
and you never have to leave your own garage! There are many low-cost ways
to advertise your services — flyers, classified ads, and the Yellow Pages
are just a few. There are also many ways to expand your business;
for example, you could offer pick-up and delivery, stock
replacement parts, or refurbish toys and appliances and sell them
for less than what they'd cost new.
Do you enjoy working with the public, and helping those less fortunate?
If so, you can put your people skills to work by offering yourself
to local community, hospital, school, and civic groups as a fund raiser.
You help the group raise money for its cause, and take a percentage
of the amount for your fee. Your organizational skills,
pleasant phone manner, and ability to develop effective
direct mail pieces mean success in this career.
Keep in mind that those who act as fund raisers for charities are
often expected to do so on a volunteer basis, but this is a great
way to gain experience, make valuable contacts, and build your reputation.
Leaky faucets, clogged drains, doors that stick — the list of
minor home repair needs is almost endless. Most of us just don't
have the time or the know-how to tackle these problems ourselves.
If you're good with your hands and have a general knowledge of
home repair, then start a handyman service.
Charge your clients less than the professionals.
Your customers' savings is your gain! You'll need a good set
of tools and a truck. It's also a good idea to check with your
city to see what licensing is required. Begin your business
with your friends and family, then expand into your neighborhood.
Cooking with home-grown herbs holds a special appeal these days.
If you have a green thumb, you can capitalize on this culinary
trend by growing herbs to sell to small restaurants, specialty shops,
health-food stores, or even your friends and neighbors.
Use your computer to create attractive, eye-catching labels for
your packages. Cultivating an herb garden can require very
little space - in fact, you can grow a fair assortment in flower pots
on your window sill! Put your gardening expertise to work in
another way by becoming a "gardening consultant," — assisting
your clients in setting up their own herb gardens.
Companies of all types and sizes use direct mail to advertise goods
and services. However, many of these companies may not have the
personnel to undertake a mass mailing, especially if it involves
a large base of potential clients. That's where you come in.
Contracting with these businesses to handle their mass mailings
could result in ample financial rewards. You'll need a computer,
special software to create labels and process lists, and most
importantly, clients. Check with local businesses, especially
those involved with publishing, computer accessories, or special
events. Friends, relatives, and business associates can also
Expand your business by writing the promotional material, obtaining
the target lists, and maintaining the client lists.
Do you have a talent for sewing? Starting a sewing service in
your home is a profitable and enjoyable business. You al ready
have the equipment and skill, and the demand is great.
Busy professionals need to keep their clothes in shape.
Local dry cleaning and clothing stores are good sources for leads.
Also, try advertising in the classified section of your local
newspaper, or posting flyers in your neighborhood. Put your
creativity to work by creating curtains and other home decorations,
or sewing costumes for holidays and stage productions.
To expand, consider the large demand for upholsterers.
BBQ Catering Service.
If you like to barbecue, get compliments as a chef, and
like to meet people, why don't you set up a barbecue
catering service? You need a truck, portable barbecue pits,
and a little marketing. Send out flyers, post them at grocery stores,
or advertise in your local newspaper or weekly ad magazine.
People will love having outdoor parties with you showing up,
setting up, cooking, and cleaning up afterwards. You can offer
various options on meat and expand out to more and more
food options and drinks.
You thought outdoor cooking was fun; well, it's profitable also.
If you notice the messes in other people's homes and businesses,
then maybe you should be an organizer. There are many books on
organizing and a multitude of products that help conserve space
or provide filing or stacking capability. Gather material on the subject.
To start your business, practice on people you know for a small fee,
then use this experience to sell yourself to others. You can purchase
and mark up ready-made products, or call in carpenters to put in
closet organizers, shelves, and furniture. What people save in time
and money will more than make up the difference.
Apartments must be cleaned, painted, and repaired after renters vacate.
Since this is a frequent event, this event provides an opportunity
for you to make money. Apartment unit sizes, damage, and cleaning needs
vary widely. So develop estimates after a walk-through or charge
by the hour.
Cleaning equipment and a small truck will get you started and college
students can provide help. Your target market is defined, so visit and
send mailers to apartment complexes, rental management companies, condo
complexes, and also offer your services to real estate brokers who need
property prepared for sale.
Baby furniture is constantly being cycled in and out of homes and
sold at garage sales. Acquiring baby furniture can be expensive
for new parents, so a service that will satisfy them and give you
a good income is to stock their homes with what they need.
You can get beds, chairs, tables, potty seats, and the like at
garage sales. Clean and paint them, and turn them around for sale.
Market at pediatrician offices, Lamaze training classes, and
prenatal care services. You can provide single furniture items to full
set-ups, and get the parents to resell them to you after they no longer
need them, ready for you to make money on them again.
You can be the answer to the April 15th blues. Use your accounting
background and your computer to process tax returns from your home.
This business is seasonal and starts out slowly, building over time
as you get returning clientele the next years. There are a number
of great tax preparation software packages available that makes
this task easier. Start by doing returns for your family and friends,
then use them to help get business referrals. Be sure to keep up with
the latest tax rules and join accounting organizations to work
Used Computer Sales.
Are you a tinkerer who likes to take computers apart
and put them together? Used computers that are gathering
dust can make money for you. Although technology advances
rapidly, much of what people need computers for can be
handled by the simplest of machines. Make yourself available
to buy the obsolete machines at fire sale prices. Many
of the parts are interchangeable; you can cannibalize and
rebuild computers that are fine for normal use, and add
new parts as necessary. Then, sell the computers with your
own warrantee. This is a business your high-school children
may love to assist with, or even run. Repair books and
training are readily available.
Flea Market Sales.
Flea markets are like the ultimate garage sale. If you
like garage sales maybe you should become a participant
in flea markets. There are a number of products that
you can sell: Your own crafts, collectibles from your own
hobby collections (trains, coins, comics, etc), and products
for resale (polishes, toys, tools, garage sale items you purchased).
Some markets are opportunities to sell your skills or services
such as furniture refinishing, car detailing, sewing and
handyman services. Find out what flea markets are local to
your area and which apply to your products or skills.
Contact the organizers to find the cost of booths, qualifications,
tax laws and other necessary information. HBM
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