20 Low-Cost Businesses You Can Start From Home

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.

E-Mail Marketing

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 necessary.

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 Eas ter, 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. Expand ing 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.

Photo Albums

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.

Errand Service

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.

Family History

Most of us are curious about our an cestors. That’s why written accounts of
family history or family trees, known as gen e alogy, make popular gifts.
Why not make this your business? Al though 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.

Fix-It Shop

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.

Fund Raiser

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.

Handyman Service

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.

Herb Garden

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.

Mail Services

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 provide leads.
Expand your business by writing the promotional material, obtaining the
target lists, and maintaining the client lists.

Sewing Service

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.

Professional Organizer

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.

Apartment Renewal

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 Furnishing

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.

Tax Assistance

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 the with latest tax rules and join
accounting organizations to work on accreditations.

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

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

Originally Published at http://www.homebusinessmag.com/

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SMB Reviews
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SMBReviews is committed to providing small and mid-sized business owners with the information and resources they need to select the best service or product for their company.

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