Starting a Home-Based Business
Living the dream.
We’ve all heard that saying before.
There’s no set definition for what ‘the dream’ actually is, or how to live it. But most of us can agree that it involves minimal stress and maximum happiness.
Oh, and money. Lots of money.
As we zoom through the 21st century and the internet takes over virtually every aspect of our lives, more and more people are recognizing their dream as the ability to have a fulfilling career without having to deal with the 9-to-5 grind or answering to the needy shrieks of a boss.
And so, more and more people are looking to make money from home. To be their own boss from the comfort of their living room. Pants optional.
The numbers support this theory. From 2005 to 2018, there’s been a 115% increase in the number of people who do at least half their work from home.
Of the people who do freelance and remote work, 90% plan to do it the rest of their career, and a whopping 94% recommend it to others.
What many may not realize is that there are literally hundreds – even thousands – of opportunities to start an online business from home. What was once a far-away dream is now a very tangible, very reasonable reality.
That’s where I come in. In this ebook, I’ll show you all the basics of how to make money from home.
From a freelance photography business to an ecommerce store to selling your old clothes from your attic, we’ll discuss how to find the right match for your interests and skill sets, where to find the best resources to learn and explore, and how to set up and get rolling.
While I can’t say I know what ‘living the dream’ means to you specifically, I have this crazy feeling that it might involve learning how to make money from home.
So let’s get started!
In this chapter, we’ll cover the basics of how to make money from home online: the different types of home businesses, how to decide if a home-based business is right for you, how to make money online without investment (or very little investment), and how to ensure you’re avoiding scams as you gain your footing.
1.1. What Home-Based Business Can I Start?
First thing’s first: before we address how to make money from home, you need to think about the type of home biz you’d like to start.
To begin, you’ll need a grasp on the different types of home-based businesses that are out there and how they work. You never know, there might be a perfect opportunity right under your nose that you never saw coming.
For example, did you know that you can make money from home online as a translator if you speak more than one language?
Or that you can use your brainy math skills to be a freelance accountant?
Or that you can make your own online courses to teach others your awesome creative talents, like painting or playing piano?
Once you have a business idea you like, it’s critical that you take a good look at your resources, lifestyle, and unique situation to make sure that it’s the right fit for you.
In a nutshell, there are two main types of home-based business: product-based and service-based.
- Product-based: Selling physical items, like clothing, electronics, jewelry, and the like. This also includes digital products, like ebooks or online courses.
- Service-based: Selling the business owner’s skills, like marketing, consulting, or creative talents like writing or graphic design.
Let’s briefly define and illustrate what these terms mean.
Is there a tangible item that’s being sold to your customer? Then you’ve got a product-based business.
In the most common types of product-based online business from home, business owners operate through an ecommerce store via a platform like Shopify. Having a storefront is a streamlined and simplified way to get your items into the hands of customers.
There’s nothing quite like a sexy online store.
That said, there are plenty of other options to think about when considering how to make money from home.
These third-party options are better for those who want to start an online business from home but don’t wish to manage a full store – perhaps they don’t have any tech expertise or resources, or they have a limited number of items to sell.
Selling Digital Products
Selling online isn’t limited to tangible items.
You can sell digital goods like:
- Online courses
- Software or web-based applications
- Themes and templates
- Training courses or webinars
- Music and audio clips
- Content like white papers, ebooks, or research
- Videos and photographs
- Creative items like recipes or DIY printable craft patterns
Who Are These Business Owners?
There are plenty of examples of people who’ve found success with a product-based business.
Here are a few personalities you might find. (I think you’ll catch pretty quickly that these are fictional examples.)
The Ecommerce Guru: Zahara has entrepreneurship oozing out of every pore. She’s clever, resourceful, and dedicated to her dream of owning a business while still being able to travel the world. Now she runs her flourishing dropshipping business from anywhere with an internet connection.
The Not-Starving Artist: Viktor has been creating things since before he could walk. When he grew up, he was determined to make a living as an artist, and saw that the internet was a perfect pathway to share his gift. Today, he sells his masterpieces on online art marketplaces.
The Master Chef: Lucas is often described as a wizard in the kitchen. He bakes so much he always seems to have flour stuck under his fingernails. To keep his vigor alive, he built a website called “For Goodness Cakes” where he sells his treats to hungry customers across the country.
If you want to get nit-picky, a service-based business is still technically selling a product. But the important difference is that the ‘product’ isn’t a tangible item that you can hold in your hands.
When choosing how to make money from home, services can range from writing resumes to walking your neighbor’s dog – which brings the important distinction that starting a business from home isn’t always strictly online.
So this will tie into your big decision of weighing out your skills and resources, and whether it’s worth it to start a business that requires you to leave the house to perform your services.
(I know what you’re thinking… yes, this usually means you’ll have to put on pants.)
As you learn how to run a service-based business, you can choose to have your own branded website or operate through a third-party website that connects providers and customers.
These marketplaces can be helpful, as they connect the right business with the right customer. As you can imagine, they can really streamline the steps for how to start a home business.
Some of these websites also provide protection to make sure that you get paid for your services, which can be harder when you’re doing everything yourself.
Who Are These Business Owners?
You didn’t think we’d move on without giving you some service-based business examples, did you?
The Stay-at-Home Mom: Taylor actually hates the concept of a stay-at-home mom. She doesn’t see the need to choose between a career and nurturing a family. So she took her knack for social media and turned it into an internet marketing business that she runs while running after her kids.
The Self-Made Teacher: Tomás is incredibly passionate about (not to mention incredibly good at) playing and teaching guitar. He also has a unique, magnetic, and sincere personality. That’s why, when he made a series of online guitar lesson courses, he was an instant success. His course sales earn him passive income even while he sleeps.
The Retired 9-to-5er: Isabella spent many years in the rat race, climbing her way up the Wall Street corporate ladder. But she was exhausted. Now, she uses her expert knowledge and impressive experience to run her own freelance financial consultant and advisor business from her living room.
1.2. Is a Home-Based Business Right for Me?
By now, your gears are probably turning as you consider how to make money from home in a way that suits your lifestyle and skillset.
Some new entrepreneurs are so eager to get started that they completely bypass this step of really examining the details to make sure it’s a good fit.
Don’t be one of those people.
Here are some questions to ask yourself while considering how to start your home business:
- How many hours per day do I have to give to this business?
- Do I have any obstacles, challenges, or circumstances that I have to work around?
- Do I want a hands-on business, or one that can be more autonomous?
- Can I monetize my favorite hobbies and passions, or my best skills and talents?
- How much money and resources can I invest in building the business’s infrastructure or buying supplies?
- Do I have any resources that I can repurpose toward starting this business?
- Can/should I look for funding to get off the ground as I master how to make money from home?
- How much risk can I afford to take when it comes to investing my time, money, and resources?
- Am I looking to make some quick money now, or build a sustainable, long-term company?
- Am I prepared to take a short-term loss to help build a long-term plan?
- Do I want to expand in the future and possibly hire employees?
- Is there something unique or special about my business idea(s)? Can I compete with existing businesses?
- Do I know the logistics of getting my idea off the ground, or do I need help? Think legal issues, finances, working with other parties like suppliers, etc.
These questions might help you brainstorm ideas for how to make money at home. As you read through them, make notes on how to start a home business that suits your individual needs and abilities.
Different businesses lend themselves to unique needs and requirements.
But in virtually any case, you’ll need to work out logistics like a business plan, finances, services and contracts, assembling a team (if needed), and the like.
But there are more basic decisions to make when you’re in the initial brainstorming phase.
For example, a service-based business can’t function unless you’re spending your time on providing that service. That means that your income is limited to how much time you have to work.
Whereas if you run a dropshipping ecommerce business, you can make money from home online whenever someone buys something. Even if they buy at 3 a.m. when you’re snoozing away.
This is not the case if you’re a travel planner: your client’s vacation won’t plan itself while you’re sleeping!
(Of course, if your service-based business grows large enough for you to hire employees, this is a different story. But we’re working on the assumption that for now, you’ll be starting out solo as you learn the basics of how to make money from home with your new business.)
1.3. How to Make Money from Home Without Investment?
Most of us don’t have $10,000 dollars laying around to start a new business. So it’s no shocker if you’re wondering if you can make money online without investment.
The good news: Yes, it’s totally possible. However, there is a bit of a catch.
While there are plenty of ways to make profits without investing money, you’ll obviously need to devote some time and effort.
This ties into the next section, where we discuss scams that promise a huge payoff with little or no effort. Spoiler alert: This is usually not the case.Generally speaking, the simplest ways to make money online without investment involve providing a service, like the ones we discussed earlier in this chapter. When you move into the product side of how to make money from home, you may need to invest in overhead costs like purchasing items or software. But even in these cases, it can involve relatively little investment.
In the service side of things, it’s made much simpler when you’re going through a third party site that helps connect people and relevant jobs. For example, with freelance sites like Fiverr and PeoplePerHour, all you need to do is sign up for your account, build out a profile, and start applying for jobs.
If you’re flying solo without the help of a third party site, figuring out how to make money from home will play out a bit differently. You might choose to start with friends or family as your first clients, or build a business through word-of-mouth.
On the product side of things, you’ll need items to sell. And you’ll need to make sure they’re getting to customers efficiently.
This means you might need to purchase from a supplier if you’re not making the items yourself. You might also need a tool to help simplify and automate the whole process, from order to delivery.
“Be comfortable with losing at least $500 before you start to become profitable. Opening up an actual retail store involves spending near $10,000 before any revenue comes in, so spending only $500 on an ecommerce business is an extremely small investment that can change your life.”
And this mindset paid off as HUSKYBEARD made more than $100,000 in revenue its first year in business.
Marketing: The Unexpected Yet Important Cost
A common mistake when learning how to make money from home is the belief that once you’re rolling, the business will build itself.
Don’t make this mistake.
It’s critical that you have a plan in place to help get exposure for your business.
This is where the costs can really rack up. But the good news is that you don’t have to spend thousands on marketing. There are plenty of things you can do by yourself, with no financial cost.
For example, social media has made word-of-mouth marketing easier than ever. And you’ll be surprised how much business you can generate with some top-quality marketing content like blogs, infographics, webinars, and podcasts.
We’ll discuss marketing a bit more in Chapter 2, so stay tuned.
1.4. Avoiding Scams 101
It’s safe to say that scams have been around as long as human interaction. I would imagine that even cavemen fell victim to scams when it came time for hunters and gatherers to trade wild berries for saber-tooth tiger meat.
When starting a business from home, you might encounter scammers. In this section, we’ll discuss how to make money from home without falling for online scams.
Let’s go over some of the warning signs that an online opportunity might be a big fat scam.
Top Signs of an Online Scam
The general rule of thumb is to be very weary of an opportunity that requires you to pay before you can get started. This is one million times truer when they ask you to wire them money through a company like Western Union.
Just. Don’t. Do. It.
There are, of course, some exceptions to this. For example, a website like Care.com might ask you to pay for a membership that gives you access to premium job listings or profile options. This in turn opens your options for how to make money from home as a home-based caregiver.
Another top reason to be weary is exaggerated claims or anything that promises an unrealistic profit margin. I hate to break it to you, but you’re probably not going to make $2,000 your first week doing anything.
My favorite part is when obviously scammy websites have names like “LegitOnlineJobs.com”.
Other signs include:
- Asking you for personal information, like your social security, driver’s license, credit card, or checking account numbers
- One-time fees that don’t seem to offer any logic or function, or they ask you to pay for training, a credit report, etc.
- Getting a job immediately after you apply, with barely any interviewing or screening
- The ‘bait-and-switch’, where they tell you that the job you applied for doesn’t exist, but then they offer you something completely different
- Vague job requirements, descriptions, and information about how they’ll pay you
- High-paying jobs that don’t require any experience
- Flashy, obnoxious, and unprofessional looking websites, emails, and other materials
- No contact information on the website or company materials
- Your gut telling you that something isn’t right
Always do your research online, including trying to look up the company on the Better Business Bureau website. The BBB also has tons of articles and tips on making sure you’re not getting scammed.
Chapter 1 Takeaways
- Generally speaking, your options for starting a business from home are to choose a product-based business selling physical items, or service-based business selling your skills or talents.
- Give it a lot of thought during the brainstorming process: Do you have the time, money, resources, and knowledge to do it right? Look closely at all your options and goals. Don’t go after an idea that doesn’t fit with your current or expected life situation.
- It’s possible to make money online without investment (especially with a service-based business), though you should pad in some funding depending on the type of business you want to start. Also, consider extra for short-term and long-term marketing costs.
If you’re applying for positions or gigs online, keep your guard up. Pay attention to details, do your research on the company, don’t fall for unrealistic offers, and never give them any money or personal info without fully investigating.