Seven Ideas For Starting a Home Based Business

Forget get-rich-quick programs. If you want to earn some extra money in your extra time, or if you are a stay-at-home mom, take a look at these ideas for starting a home based business. They require a very small investment (less than $100) to get started, and have been tested and proven prosperous by thousands of people.

1. Direct Sales

No matter what your interests and hobbies are, there is a company out there selling products for it. They are recognized as Direct Sale Companies. You earn money through person-to-person sales, retail, home parties or fundraising. Some companies will bestow you with a website for online sales.

The worst thing about this type of job is that is based solely on commission and you need to sell consistently in order to bring in a profit. The good part? Commissions are usually high (20-50%) and you can earn free merchandise as a reward for good sales.

To get started, you need to invest in a Starter Kit from the company, which usually includes sample products, brochures or catalogs, and all necessary forms and applications.

Some companies with a proven record of good sales are: Pampered Chef (sells cookware, kitchen gadgets, and seasonings; Starter Kit is $90), Petra Fashions (lingerie; Bronze Kit is $79; others available), Discovery Toys (educational toys, books, games, and software; Standard Kit, $99), Country Bunny Bath & Body (bath, body, and spa products; their Managing Services Program is $89), White Lily Candles (Choice Kit, $80; cheaper kits are available).

2. Sell Discount Healthcare Plans

Discount benefits plans can be medical only, or cover dental, vision, prescription, and sometimes chiropractic services. They are aimed to people without insurance that want to save money on medical assistance. This is a relatively new service, so there is little competition out there and a potential for great income.

Although you start with direct sales, you can also make money by persuading other brokers, which would earn a commission for you with every sale they make.

AmeriPlan is the top selling plan on the market. You pay $95 for the Basic Broker Kit and then $35 each month to continue as a broker. This includes a free coverage plan for you and all household members and a free website to promote your business. You earn a 30% commission on every enrollment.

3. Sell Crafts

If you are an artist of some kind, you already have the foundation for a new business. Ceramics and pottery are particularly saleable, but you can branch into anything you like, from wood ornaments to pressed flowers to scrapbooking.

Start small, attending craft or county fairs, flea markets, or renaissance fairs. Talk to other artists to see what sells and what doesn’t. If you form a friendship with another crafter, you can offer to share the expenses of a booth with him or her. In smaller fairs, you can buy your own table. Unless you think of participating only in fine art and juried shows, keep in mind that most crafts are impulse buys and they should be priced accordingly (usually under $50).

Other places to sell your crafts are consignment shops and farmers markets. Also check sampler, an online magazine that will advertise your crafts for a small commission on sales.

4. Private Tutor

If you are qualified in an academic subject, you could take up tutoring. Math and foreign languages are always in demand, but many other subjects work as well. You can also offer after-school assistance with homework or test preparation.

Another alternative is to teach an arts and crafts or any other specialty class at a local community center. After you’ve gained some experience, or if you are truly an expert, search for a Learning Annex and examine the possibilities of teaching a workshop or presenting a lecture.

There is little to no investment required to set up this business, unless you count some incidentals, such as office supplies and maybe some used books (visit library sales for this) on the subject you are considering to teach.

5. Cleaning Services

Begin by advertising in the service directory of your local newspaper and taking on small, general house cleaning jobs until you get used to the dynamics of it. Later on you can pursuit companies, building managers, office directors, etc. for large scale jobs, which offer the benefit of being more regular and can guarantee a fixed income.

Most jobs will provide you with their own cleaning supplies, so there is little investment required on your part aside from advertising expenses.

Although not mandatory in many cities, consider getting licensed. Not only it will provide some sort of insurance should something happen to you while at work, but it will also open doors to major companies that may be hesitant to hire you otherwise.

6. Consulting Services

A consultant is an expert in any subject who helps others make the best of an event or a situation. A prime example is the bridal consultant, who’s in charge of planning a wedding to the minimum detail. Other popular areas of consulting: Art, Image, Feng Shui, and Websites & Computers. Event Planners are also consultants with a different name; so are Life Coaches, a very popular and rewarding enterprise nowadays.

Find a niche you can fill. Although there are thousands of Feng Shui consultant, you can differentiate yourself by specializing in Feng Shui for busy people or Feng Shui for the newborn.

Start by picking a area you enjoy and learning as much as you can about it. Find an online class, attend workshops and lectures, or consider a professional degree if one is available on your field.

Build a portfolio. Offer your services for free to friends and family members in exchange for reference letters. Take a few representative photographs of the final product for your portfolio.

A good place to get started is The Association of Professional Consultants (CONSULTAPC).

7. Pet Services

Pet Sitting – Just as the name infers, it entails taking care of animals, usually when the owners go away on vacation. Many pet sitters take animals into their own homes (works only if you have the space and no pets of your own) or visit the animals twice daily. Do not limit yourself to dogs and cats. There is an ever increasing market for owners of birds, fish, and other small animals.

Dog Trainer – Dog trainers help with proper housetraining methods, teach animals to follow commands, and provide assistance with choosing the right type of breed for every individual. They can also handle common behavior problems (excessive barking, biting, etc.) and train animals for shows and competitions. The National Association of Dog Obedience Instructors (NADOI) offers assistance to potential dog trainers, as well as a certification exam. Check their website for more information.

Dog Walker – Although the primary responsibility is simply to take the animals out for a walk, many dog walkers do much more than that. To set yourself apart, you can learn to plan exercise routines for overweight pets, administer medications, or offer pet boarding as part of your service. Most dog walkers take several dogs at a time and charge by the hour; you can also offer the option of “private walking” and charge more.

Dog Groomer – Dog groomers are in charge of maintaining the overall appearance of the animal, including trimming and shampooing the coat, nail clipping, and brushing and combing. Many start working at pet shops or boarding kennels to gain experience before opening their own business. Mobile dog grooming is a flourishing business, which entails the groomer driving to the client’s house, usually in a van, which is equipped with all necessary tools for a complete grooming. For more information, check the NDGAA (National Dog Groomers Association of America) website.

It’s always a good idea to be prepared for emergency situations. The American Red Cross offer a First Aid/CPR for Pets certification. Even if you never have a need for it, it would show potential clients you are a serious professional.