5 Home Based Business Ideas with Low Start Up Costs

The recession has many thinking that a home business might not be a bad idea. It’s not just about escaping the rat race; in some cases, it’s about income diversity. The reality that anyone could get fired from a steady paying job is one that has been brought home — literally. Starting a home business can provide you with a way to earn some extra money, protecting yourself, to some degree, from economic upheaval and lay-offs.

You don’t need a lot of money, either, to start a home business. There are a number of solid ideas that can be started from home. Here are 5 home business ideas with low start-up costs:

Nice Home Office

Photo by mkosut via Flickr

1. Home Services

You can provide services to others. If you know how to groom pets, you can start a business where you go to pets’ homes and groom them. No need to purchase an expensive building and set up shop there; just start out in your home. Buy some quality tools to do your job, and then advertise. Other home services that you can provide might include cleaning (just buy good products) and even errand-running services (you must have reliable transportation).

2. Tutoring and Teaching

There are a number of opportunities to tutor others. If you are good at a particular subject, or have qualifications in an area related to school studies, you can start up as a tutor. You don’t even have to meet students at your home. You can go to their homes, or reserve a quiet study room in a library. It is also possible to teach online. There are schools that will pay you teach online courses. My brother is teaching an online course at a university hundreds of miles away, from the comfort of his home. All you need is a reliable computer and high-speed Internet connection — and your knowledge.

3. Freelancing

There are a number of opportunities to start freelancing businesses in your home. I’m a freelance writer and sometimes editor. But writing isn’t the only service that can make for a profitable freelance offering. Web design, graphic design, web development and software development make great home-based freelance business. Even advertising design and PR campaigning and management can be done on a freelance or consultant basis from your home. You might need to buy specialized software for some freelance businesses, and you will need to pay for Internet access and a computer, but generally start-up costs are reasonably low — less than $10,000. (I started my freelance writing business for less than $2,000, most of it the cost of a good computer.)

4. Virtual Assisting

If you are organized, and good at helping keep others organized, you might try your hand at virtual assisting. This is a rapidly growing career opportunity as more people seek to outsource some of their more mundane tasks. Virtual assistants can help those who don’t feel they need a full-time, in-person assistant, but who want a little bit of help managing their schedules and contacts. Get a good headset, and maybe a dedicated business phone line, along with Internet access and a computer, and you are mostly set.

5. Affiliate Marketing

You can get started in affiliate marketing for a fairly low cost. Consider what products and services you might be willing to help sell. You can set up affiliate ads on a blog or web site you create. Then, as you draw traffic, you will see results from affiliates. There are affiliate ad sites that can help you get access to affiliate programs and makes a little more money. Just make sure that the program is legitimate and reputable. You may need to pay for some quality web hosting or web development, along with Internet access and a computer, but costs aren’t too bad for starting up.

For a really great affiliate marketing community, check out ABestWeb.com.

What other ideas do you have for low cost home business startups?

About the Author

By , on Nov 22, 2010
Miranda Marquit
Miranda is a professional personal finance journalist. She is a contributor for several personal finance web sites. Her work has been mentioned in and linked to from, USA Today, The Huffington Post, The San Francisco Chronicle, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and other publications. She also has her own personal finance blog: Planting Money Seeds.

Leave Your Comment (7 Comments)

  1. Cal says:

    I think all the ideas listed above are very good. I also think having an online business is also a great idea, especially for those with little money. I had great difficulty in my life, foreclosure, loss of job, divorce, car repossessed and IRS issues and alcohol problems. I thought I was made for failure and I should just give up.

    That has all changed for me after I learned the new school way to make money on the internet. When I first started out in marketing I was told get your business cards, make a list of friends call them and call your grandmother and get them signed up. Well that just didn’t work to the extent it should and is old school. I now do 100% of my marketing online without trying to sell friends and family. But just placing ads on Google wont do much but drain your money fast. There are certain things that work and don’t work or just a waste of time. I have more free time now and it works on my schedule.

    Good Luck too all.

    • John says:

      Hello,

      I’m a bit curious about your buisiness, would you mind sharing some info with me Etc…? I’m thinking about starting a Home Based buisiness but not sure what or where to start with no start up cash or hardly none to speak of!?

      Thanks in advance for all or any info that you can give me?

      John

  2. Don’t limit yourself to thinking that freelancing is just writing or design work. There are virtually unlimited things you can do as a freelancer/consultant.

    So, while I think that freelancing/consulting is one of the easiest and least costly businesses to start, since it has:
       –>very low start-up costs,
       –>flexible hours,
       –>a high hourly pay rate, and
       –>you likely already have the expertise to get started,
    there are certainly lots of other businesses you can pursue.

    By far the best thing I’ve done in the past 18 months is to automate my marketing, by doing things like SEO to create an automated pipeline of new freelance/consulting work. This saves HUGE amounts of time, since I no longer have to do any cold calls–and I hate cold calls. Perhaps best of all, automating my marketing has brought in clients I would never have known about–including a couple of my biggest clients.

    A few other ways you can snag freelance/consulting work:
    –>conduct a free training/webinar
    –>subcontract from other consultants/freelancers
    –>network with other freelancers/consultants who have complimentary skills
    –>establish yourself as an expert in your niche by blogging, speaking, writing print articles, etc.

  3. I agree with you Miranda about income diversity, it much better to start a business on the side, while working full time, because it does take a while to get a business going, a lot of stress related to starting up a business is because people want results now. You don’t have to wait till there is an emergency to start one.

  4. Vincent says:

    Good information Miranda. It is amazing how many people are just living on the brink of disaster. Many live above their means, others live paycheck to paycheck. But a sudden job loss, or even a pay cut can start some bad days ahead.

  5. Melva Pratt says:

    Great list of ideas. I agree with Philip that passion is everything.

  6. Great list of ideas, Miranda. This pretty much covers it all. I think the hardest part for some people is finding that one thing that they can put their passions behind. But if it’s just a matter of $100 extra dollars a month then surely there is something on this list that anyone could do.

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