Are you a stay-at-home mom (or dad)? Hoping to kick start an entrepreneurial dream or simply looking to bring in some extra income?
Starting a home-based business is a great way to do this. In fact, 52 percent of U.S. companies operate as home businesses (source) and many of today’s biggest brand names were established by stay-at-home moms – (Dorothy) Gerber, Mrs. (Debbi) Fields, and Julie Aigner-Clark (Baby Einstein), to name but a few. But what types of businesses can grow and thrive in the home environment?
Here are some business ideas and considerations for stay-at-home moms!
Perhaps the easiest form of business to delve into and operate is freelancing. Whatever your skill – writing, web design, marketing, tax advisor, or photography– freelancing affords an enormous amount of flexibility and freedom, and can be started with little cost or paperwork. Many freelancers get their start by approaching a former employer or customer who could benefit from their services, then branch out as their body of work and reputation grows.
Freelancing does have its challenges and requires discipline—you are running a business after all. Common mistakes freelancers make include not setting the business up properly and legally (getting the right permits, or licenses), forgetting to put money aside to pay estimated taxes, and not planning for peaks and valleys in cash flow.
Check out these blogs for tips and guidance to help you through the process of starting and operating your freelance business:
- Starting a Freelance Business – How to Take Care of Legal, Tax and Contractual Paperwork
- How to Set and Negotiate your Freelance Business Rates.
Become a Virtual Assistant
Virtual assistants (VAs) provide a wide variety of “virtual” services to other businesses including administrative, marketing and technical support from a home office. My local window cleaner, for example, uses a VA to answer his calls and manage his calendar while he’s busy on-site. VAs are growing in popularity, too, as firms look to cut costs and outsource administrative functions. If you are organized and have an administrative background, this might be for you. Start with your own connections or take advantage of the services of a VA organization or association who can help you get started and connect you with clients.
Make Money from Blogging
Yes, you can make money by blogging. I follow several stay-at-home moms who happen to be fashion and style bloggers – and it’s their business. If you can write and have a passion for a specific topic or hobby that you know will garner some attention, then this might be for you. Income generation opportunities can come in the form of affiliate marketing and advertising on your website or from companies who ask you to review and blog about their products. Look for ways to get traffic to your website through social media, search engine optimization and by getting involved in the wider blogosphere (networking with and commenting on the blogs of others in your niche).
Start a Creative Business
Whether it’s making gift baskets or offering interior design consultation services, if you have a creative streak and the room to store and create, then why not consider making money out of your talents? Get to know the market and do some planning to identify an untapped niche. SBA has several tools that can help including the Build your Business Plan tool and SizeUp a market and business analysis tool that lets you benchmark your business against competitors, map your customers, competitors and suppliers, and locate the best places to advertise.
Start a Home-Based Bakery or Food Business
Food production from a home is heavily regulated but it’s not impossible. Take Martha Stewart, for example—she famously entered the food service business with a basement-based catering company in 1976. Before you start a home-based food business you will need to understand the rules and regulations that govern the production of food for public consumption in an at-home environment. For example do you need a separate kitchen? What about product labeling? And so on. For tips and insight, read: Starting a Home-Based Food Production Business: Making Your Culinary Hobby Your Job.
Child Day Care
Home childcare businesses offer a potentially lucrative and long-lasting business opportunity. A home environment is often appealing to parents and once their kids are settled (and assuming you are doing a great job), then it’s likely you’ll have that business until they are old enough not to need care.
Of course, this is another regulated business and you’ll need to ensure you comply with state and local regulations that govern issues such as the provision of meals, minimum space requirements per child, and the number of licensed care workers per child. For information on starting a child care business including financing options, licensing requirements, and other regulatory matters read: Starting a Child Care Business? Government Tools and Resources that Can Help.
Start an Online Marketplace Store
If you have clutter that you want to get rid of and like the idea of selling products to an established worldwide network of consumers, consider starting a business on eBay, Etsy or Amazon. You can source products to sell from junk/yard sales or charity shops. If you want to get a bit more sophisticated, then consider buying wholesale or adopting a drop-shipping model. The goal is to find products that are in high-demand and not readily available from other sources. Read more about getting started here: More Than Just a Seller – How to Start a Business on an Online Marketplace.
Whatever your idea make sure you start, structure and operate your business according to legal and regulatory requirements. Check out SBA’s 10 Steps to Starting your Business for the facts.