8 Home-Based Business Ideas You Didn't Think Of

By business.com editorial staff,
business.com writer
| Updated
Jun 17, 2020
Image Credit: BongkarnThanyakij / Getty Images

These home-based business ideas probably weren't on your radar until now, but there are many opportunities for starting a business from your home.

  • With a home-based business, you have the benefit of working in the comfort of your home with minimal overhead costs.
  • Home-based businesses require discipline. You must consistently set time aside for your business on top of attending to your home.
  • To choose a home-based business idea, consider your skills and the necessary capital.

Starting a home-based business is a dream that many of us share. What could be better than earning a living from the comfort of your own home? The low overhead and flexibility of a home business can be very lucrative. In fact, more than half of all small businesses are based out of the owner's home.

Perhaps you have your heart set on starting a home-based business but aren't sure which kind to try. There are many common ideas that you hear of, but closed-mindedness can limit your options. Here are a few home business ideas that you may not have thought of.

1. Staffing agency

Some staffing firms provide temporary staffing, while others provide long-term help. Either way, the model is the same: They recruit workers on the behalf of other businesses. This may be due to a temporary employee shortage or a company's desire to outsource their hiring.

You'll only need a computer, a phone and insurance to start a staffing agency. Some permits or licenses may be necessary, depending on your locality. You can perform job interviews over the phone or at a public place such as a local coffee shop. It's easy to see how you could run a business like this from home.

These are some common tasks involved in running a staffing startup:

  • Soliciting potential clients over the phone, by email or at their place of business
  • Recruiting and hiring new employees
  • Billing clients and processing payroll

Many staffing startups feel the pain of the heavy cash flow requirements. They must make payroll weekly, while clients are on net-30 or similar payment terms. Various financial products can solve this problem, though. You'll have to run the numbers and determine which one makes sense for you. [To help you in your search, you can check out our reviews of the best online payroll services.]

2. Trucking business

That's right, it's possible to start a trucking business from your home. Both truckers and companies that ship freight rely on a third party, known as a freight broker.

A freight brokerage operates as a transportation company that doesn't own any trucks. They contract with outside owner-operators and motor carriers instead. A shipper will pay their broker after a load is delivered. The broker then pays a lesser amount to the carrier they contracted with. The difference between the two is the freight broker's commission.

If you get some customers to offer you their freight, you aren't quite done yet. You'll still have to find a suitable truck to haul the freight. Load boards are the preferred method, but they are usually expensive. Most brokers use one of the many free ones out there until their brokerage becomes profitable.

This is a business that you can easily run from your home. You'll need to get a bond and register with the FMCSA to start out, but not much else. Because overhead can be low and commissions high, there are many others trying to get their share of it all too, so you'll have to perfect your sales pitch. Expert salespeople and fierce negotiators will thrive as freight brokers.

3. Brokering lumber and building materials from home

Lumber brokers perform a service similar to a freight broker: They act as middlemen between sawmills and lumber distributors. They sometimes sell to retailers or even large construction companies. They are experts in their industry and know exactly where to source a specific type of lumber based on a customer's needs.

Some can also assist with the transportation of their customers' lumber orders. In these scenarios, they'll work with a freight broker. Some may even become licensed freight brokers themselves and capture that commission too. Now that's an idea that can be a great selling point. Offering an all-in-one service is a great way to stand out in a competitive marketplace.

In most cases, you don't need to secure any special licenses or permits to start a lumber brokerage. You don't need any expensive tools or software either. Grab your laptop and plug in your old landline telephone, and you're ready to go. This is a business that you can run from your dining room table with ease.

4. Drop-shipping store

Running a drop-shipping store has the advantage of not holding the stock in your house. A third party produces, stores and ships products to the market. Your sole responsibility is to find the market and connect it to the producers. The producers then ship the product to the buyer and collect payments on your behalf. You earn profits either through commissions or from your retail price you sold the items at. Your supplier can be local or overseas, but you'll have to ensure that the goods delivered are of great quality and that your clients receive good customer service.

5. Print-on-demand business

A print-on-demand business does not require you to hold any inventory. You simply market your well-designed items online and only have them printed when a client makes an order. Print-on-demand items can include books, watches, hats and phone cases, depending on the supplier you work with.

6. Online services

Freelancers, marketers, designers and accountants can market their skills online and find clients to work for in the comfort of their homes. Some clients may require the services to be offered directly to them via bookings. Other online business ideas include personal training, virtual assistance and dog walking.

7. Teaching online classes

Based on your area of expertise, you can start teaching online classes for a fee. For example, you could teach a foreign language, physical training exercises or professional skills such as accounting. You can usually choose your desired class size and a convenient time for the classes.

8. Selling homemade products

If you're crafty, you could sell your homemade products such as mats, crocheted items, or gourmet foods and baked goods such as cookies. 

These examples aren't the most glamorous opportunities out there, but they are proven models. You've discovered some unique home-based opportunities – now what's your idea? Try to be creative and make it your own. Creativity is the key to rising above the competition in a lucrative but competitive market.

business.com editorial staff
business.com editorial staff
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