Susan Ward wrote about small businesses for The Balance Small Business for 18 years. She has run an IT consulting firm and designed and presented courses on how to promote small businesses.
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Updated November 20, 2019
Notice the “may be”. Although there are many entrepreneurs that make an excellent living at home in professions such as consulting or information technology, the home businesses listed here are not generally big money makers. They are however, legitimate businesses rather than “make money in your sleep” or any of those other phony work from home schemes.
Nor are these for people who expect to just make an initial investment and then just watch the money roll in. Successful home businesses are real businesses. To turn a home business opportunity into a success, you need to be prepared to work at it and have the appropriate knowledge and skills that you need to run any business.
But those caveats aside, here are the best home businesses you can start – best because of their potential right now and because there’s going to be even greater demand for these products and/or services over the next few years.
Home renovation services are hot, hot, hot — and there’s no sign of this trend slowing down. Home improvement and repair expenditures in the U.S. topped 300 billion dollars in 2017 according to Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies. The Home Improvement Research Institute (HIRI) expects 5.3% growth in the home improvement products market in 2018.
And as the population ages, even more people are going to want to make their homes more livable by investing in the renovations they need to stay where there are.
If you have carpentry, plumbing, electrical, decorating, or other home improvement expertise and the requisite tools and equipment, home renovation can be an ideal business to operate from home. The best home renovation to focus on for the long-term? Bathroom renovations. My recent bathroom renovation included cabinets that were installed by a local contractor who operates his cabinetry business from his home.
Best home business opportunities: pet products and services. Dave Mcleod / Susan Ward
Is there anything that indulgent pet owners won’t buy for their pets? If you can come up with a product for dogs or cats that you can produce in your home, you’ll have a real winner of a business opportunity on your hands. From designer collars to “organic” pet foods, the sky’s the limit.
Pet services are also an ideal home-based business. Travelers require pet/house sitting services. And people who enjoy owning dogs but don’t always have time to give them proper exercise need dog walking and even doggy day care services.
According to the American Pet Products Association (APPA), total spending on pets in the US reached $69.51 billion in 2017, a $3 billion increase over 2016:
Actual Sales within the U.S. Market in 2017
- Food – $29.07 billion
- Supplies/OTC Medicine – $15.11 billion
- Vet Care – $17.07 billion
- Live animal purchases – $2.1 billion
- Pet Services: grooming & boarding – $6.16 billion
Think dinner for eight. Not just delivered, but served. Catering services aren’t just for weddings, trade shows, birthday parties, and business lunches anymore. Career couples are having almost every social occasion catered, and busy families who are tired of living on take-out are spending more on having food brought in.
If you have a well-equipped kitchen and a knack for planning and preparing nourishing, appealing food and can deliver it hot, this is the home-based business for you.
In addition to catering meal kit services are becoming increasingly popular with busy people who don’t have the time to shop and prepare food.The meal kit industry in the U.S. is expected to reach $10 billion in sales by 2020.
Customers select recipes online and meal kits with pre-chopped and measured ingredients are delivered to their homes on the chosen date/time, along with instructions for cooking and/or final preparation.
Best home business opportunities: cleaning services. fatihhoca/Getty Images
Along the same lines, there’s currently a heavy demand for cleaning services, and the demand for domestic cleaning services will only increase with our aging population. If you’re good at organizing and comfortable with the thought of running a crew, this home business opportunity has the potential of turning into something big.
For example, the cleaning service I use is a man and wife operated home-based business that has multiple cleaning crews and over 150 residential and commercial customers.
Best home business opportunities: fall prevention products. Silvia Jansen/Getty Images
Did you know that falls are the leading cause of fatal injury among elderly American and Canadians? And did you know that the death rates from falls among older men and women have risen sharply over the past decade? (Falls Among Older Adults: An Overview, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).
One of my business associates distributes a variety of fall prevention products from her home, including a padded hip garment that prevents hip fractures from falls. Another sells and services electric scooters as a home-based business.
Best home business opportunities: wedding planner. Jetta Productions/ Getty Images
People are still getting married. In 2016, 6.9 people per 1,000 married in the United States, meaning there were 2,245,404 marriages (CDC). And these numbers refer only to the traditional kind of marriage; there’s also a growing demand for gay marriages, providing even more opportunities for wedding-related businesses of all kinds.
In the U.S., ecommerce spending totalled $97.3 billion in the second quarter of 2016 alone, an increase of 4.5 percent from the first quarter of 2016 (U.S. Census Bureau News). Online sales in the United States are expected to reach $523 billion in the next five years, up 56% from $335 billion in 2015, Forrester Research Inc. says. Canadian companies sold more than $136 billion in goods and services online in 2013, up from $122 billion a year earlier, according to Statistics Canada. Obviously more people than ever are shopping online.
And it’s an ideal home business opportunity, especially as ecommerce is so easy to get into now. One of the main barriers to operating a successful e-commerce business is finding the right product or products to sell; the other is providing the kind of online environment that will make people want to buy from you rather than competitors. 8 Rules for a Successful Ecommerce Website provides information on how to do this.
This home-based business opportunity combines two trends; the insatiable demand for services that make people look and feel younger and better and the growing desire to have those services delivered. And why not? Having someone come to your home and cleanse and tone your skin and do your makeup is the height of luxury.
And caring for and making up the face are only two beauty services you could offer to provide to people in their homes — or in yours, others include:
These types of services are especially beneficial to seniors, who may have difficulties with mobility or lack of transportation.
Best home business opportunities: sewing and alteration services. Hero Images/ Getty Images
Sewing is on the way to becoming a lost art as more and more people find they have less and less time. But as not everyone is the regulation size, the demand for other people to provide these services will only increase.
If you’re really skilled, tailoring and alterations could be another potentially lucrative home-based business.
And what about combining your seamstress skills with the inner fashion designer you’ve always wanted to release? Find and develop your niche, such as custom-designed wedding dresses, medieval clothing or Halloween costumes and loose your talent on the world!
Coaching has been hot for a while now, but this is still a growth industry. Remember when everyone had or wanted a personal fitness trainer? Now everyone has or wants a personal coach.
In the last ten years the coaching industry has exploded says MarketPlace; membership in the International Coach Federation (ICF) has more than tripled. According to ICF statistics, the estimated market for coaching in the U.S. reached $1.02 billion in 2016.
And remember, coaching people to be more successful business people or executives is not your only option; there are many different ways you could specialize. Tzabia Siegel, for instance, is a nutrition coach. Read her tips for startup success.
Invest in a home business opportunity. zoranm/ Getty Images
And a last tip — Most of the home-based business opportunities in this article call for specialized training or skills. If you don’t have the specialized training or skills needed to start a business you want to start, you can still “be a part of it”. Find a person with the appropriate training or skills and invest in his or her business. Being an angel investor can be rewarding in so many ways.
For even more home business opportunities, browse the following articles: