At one time or another, most people entertain the idea of owning their own business. After all, what could sound more glamorous and lucrative than to be your own boss and be rolling in the dough before you know it? Although few businesses actually make it to the top, it is still possible to start a small business from your home and take it farther than many people have before you, because all it takes is a little creativity and a lot of hard work.

What To Know Before You Start a New Business

Some of the best small business ideas are also some of the simplest, because in many cases, if something has worked for other people, it will likely work for you, too. People often try to come up with a “big idea” when they’re interested in starting their own business, and even though it is still possible to make that idea work, it is not as likely to be successful as some of the more basic ideas are. 

It is also recommended that you start out small and never “quit your day job” until the side job gets its wings and starts to fly on its own. While having two jobs may not appeal to you, the truth is that the number of hours you’re putting in with these two jobs may just be the same number you’ll work once you own your own business, so you might as well get used to working that many hours now. It takes time to build a business, and you need to accept that you’re going to be putting in a lot of hours until your side job becomes successful.

If you’d like to start a business on the side, but you aren’t sure which type to choose, it’s best to first consider what your situation is. Once you answer a few basic questions, you can get a clearer idea of which type of business you’d like to create. Some of these questions include:

  • How much money do I have to spend on the business?
  • How many hours per week am I willing to devote to the business?
  • Am I ready now, or will I need additional training or schooling?
  • Have I done enough research on what it will take to succeed at this business?

You can’t just pull a business idea out of the air. Instead, you have to do your due diligence and research, research, research. The more you know about the business, the more prepared you’ll be each step of the way. The most creative small business ideas usually are borne out of research and the desire to meet a certain need in today’s society. You should also determine what it is you’re good at because you’ll be working very hard at this business for a very long time, and the last thing you want is to be doing something you’ll quickly become bored with.

Which Small Business Is the Right One for You

At one time, multi-level marketing companies, or MLMs, were what everyone wanted to get into, but in today’s virtual world, a lot more business types are possible. Although MLMs don’t deserve the bad reputation they often have – Amway, Mary Kay, and Discovery Toys are all MLMs – some of them have provided less-than-honest ways to get people to “join” the business, which is why so many people now stay away from them. Even the best MLMs, however, often recommend that you start by contacting and sharing the business information with friends and family, and this is not something most people feel comfortable doing.

Still, there has to be a simple way to come up with small business ideas from home, right? Fortunately, the answer is “yes.” Hundreds of magazines and websites are devoted to helping people find the right home business, and thanks to the virtual world we are now all used to, there are more of these opportunities popping up all the time. 

For instance, since the beginning of time, companies have needed secretaries and assistants, and today is no different. But these days, more and more companies are hiring virtual help that allows people to work from their own home. If you were a great administrative assistant in a past job, therefore, you can easily transition into a virtual assistant job today. You still have to have the qualifications they’re looking for and participate in a formal interview, but once you’re hired, the rest can be done in your pajamas if you like!

Another job to consider is that of a consultant. If you have years of experience doing a particular job and you feel like you’re an expert at it, you should definitely consider a consulting job. Whatever you’re good at, there is a company or individual somewhere that needs that expertise and knowledge. Especially if you are a former business owner and were in a particular field for many years, now might be the best time to break away and start working for yourself. Somewhere, someone will contact you and ask that you share your knowledge with them, and you can charge some handsome per-hour fees for jobs like this.

The Top Home-Based and Side Businesses

Naturally, there are many other home-based businesses that are easier to start than you think. Keep in mind that many of these jobs are not 100% home-based, because you will likely have to leave your home and meet with clients at some point. However, they are jobs that allow you to work for yourself, and best of all, many of them you can do either part-time or full-time.

Here is a list of some of these jobs:

Proofreading business. If you have a degree in English or Journalism and have always considered yourself good at proofreading, this is a very lucrative way to make a living. The truth is, most people hate to proofread and aren’t very good at it, and this is where you come in! You can charge per-word or per-page for this type of work, and both individuals (think: college students) and business owners can be your customers. Businesses, in particular, need proofreaders for newsletters, annual reports, and any type of documents sent to their board of directors or employees, so you’ll likely never run out of clients when you choose this profession.

Earn money by blogging. If you have expertise in a specific area, such as fashion or even work-from-home opportunities, you can share that knowledge with the online community – and make good money doing it! Don’t fool yourself, however, because this is a job that requires your full-time attention, at least in the beginning. Become an affiliate with a few companies so that you can earn money each time someone clicks on their link on your blog, and before you know it, you’re making money in several different ways. If you’re a good writer, love social media, and have a passion for a particular subject matter, you can get started right away. But first, do some research so that you know how to proceed, and most of all, be prepared to work at it every single day.

Become an online teacher. Oddly enough, most online teaching jobs require no actual degree in education, although it is certainly a benefit. Most of these websites center around two types of work: helping students of various ages with homework and writing assignments, and teaching ESL (English as a second language) classes. You can search online for companies that offer these types of jobs, and the best part is, they are in more demand than you think. Many of these sites offer $17 to $24 per hour, which is great money, and it is something you can do any time, night or day, in the comfort of your own home – even while wearing your bunny slippers!

Transcription work. In the United States and many other countries, many companies will hire at-home transcriptionists to transcribe meeting minutes, medical notes from doctors, and basic secretarial documents because they don’t have either the resources or the desire to hire full-time employees for these tasks. In many cases the work is sporadic, but other companies have steady work that can keep you busy for as many days per week as you wish to work. While some companies pay per recorded word, others pay per hour. You’ll just have to go over everything with them in detail so you know for sure how you’re going to be paid.

Become a bookkeeper. If you have bookkeeping experience, you can consider working for yourself in this profession. With the right software and the right experience – and a few dozen business cards – you can get started right away. It’s a very lucrative job because businesses both large and small need a good bookkeeper, and you can do most, if not all of it from home. Some clients may want you to spend some of your time in their office or attend an occasional meeting or two, but for the most part, this job can be completed from your own home. You should also be prepared to be available during regular business hours in case your clients need to contact you, but the job itself is usually very flexible and accommodating.

Graphic design work. This is a great side business for those who don’t want to work 40 hours a week, although you can certainly work that many hours if you wish. Graphic artists work with layouts and photos, and they design, edit, and create a lot of what businesses need to promote and market their business. Better still, it is very possible for you to work exclusively online because most businesses have numerous online media platforms they use to grow their business and keep both regular and prospective customers up-to-date on what is going on in that business. If you have some experience and an eye for design, this could be the job for you.

Facebook ads managers. The best part about this job is that it requires no experience, because it is a very simple concept and because the business will help you learn exactly how to do it. Let’s face it, all businesses want more customers, and one of the best ways to get those customers is through Facebook ads. But, if business owners don’t have time to keep track of these ads themselves, they often hire people to do this for them. This is where you come in! You will be in charge of their media ad campaign and will generate ads and respond to inquiries so that contact with prospective customers is personalized and professional. Most of all, you’ll have to be good at monitoring the ads so that the business can keep track of them, and most of these managers make $500 to $1,000 per month, which is a great part-time income.

Data entry jobs. Although these jobs typically only pay in the $10-12 per hour range, this is still not bad considering all you’ll be doing is entering data and information into a computer. You may be entering numbers, addresses, personal phone numbers, or even websites, among others, but there are many businesses willing to pay you to sit at the computer and enter this data. Some businesses pay per entry or per job, but it is still a great way to earn extra money without leaving home.

Professional translation jobs. If you are fluent in a second language, you can put that skill to good use and become a professional translator. This is a great way to work from home because you’ll be utilizing your talent to translate books, court documents, official government papers, and many others, and much of it can be done online. Even better, you can earn roughly $25 per hour, but that fee gets even higher if the language you’re good at is not very common or there are few people who can translate it. There are truly numerous ways you can become a professional translator, and the best way to get started is to check online, especially with governmental organizations or large international businesses.

Call center/customer service work. Virtual customer service assistants are in demand, and more and more businesses are hiring people to work from their home as call center agents. These companies will train you and sometimes even provide you with the computer system you need to do the job properly, and you’ll be doing everything. The company will let you know if you need computer programming or general customer-service experience, but once you get hired, they will provide the training you need so that you can get to work immediately.

And those are just some ideas, you can also look into becoming a massage therapist, dog walker, personal trainer, or start a house cleaning business. There are also big-name companies that hire people to work in their homes, but the best thing to do if this is something that interests you is to contact the companies directly. Never assume that just because you get an email regarding these opportunities that it is legitimate. Always contact the company directly, and they will let you know if they are hiring and if so, what you need to do to get hired. Some of these big-name companies include Amazon, Dell, Intuit, Aetna, and Robert Half, to name a few.

Always Invest in Yourself

Whether starting a business from scratch or working at what you do best from your home, it is always a good idea to treat an at-home or side job just as you would any other job – in other words, treat it like a real job. Invest in a home office, preferably in a quiet location with no disruptions, and set hours that you consider to be work hours so that your personal life and work-life don’t become one and the same. You also have to be continually marketing and promoting yourself, and if you need marketing ideas for small business operations, it’s best to start with the most obvious: online marketing.

If you talk to most business owners, they’ll tell you the same thing – that you can’t expect your business to thrive without the use of websites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and even YouTube, among others. Most businesses use all of these platforms to grow their business, because gone are the days when you can simply hang up a shingle and watch hoards of customers walk through the door. Customers are more sophisticated than ever before, and you have to reach them in the right way, and the most effective way is always through social media outlets.

Of course, if you need funding for your new business and have to go to a bank, remember to take this just as seriously as you do your small business advertising ideas. If they want you to have a business plan, make sure you provide them with one that you’ve spent a lot of time on and one that is professional and thoroughly researched. Financial institutions can detect a haphazard and irresponsible plan from a mile away, so make sure you give it your all before you meet with the bankers.

Not all home businesses are the same, so whether you are starting a brand-new business or simply finding one that you can operate out of the comfort of your home, you should always take it seriously and pay attention to the business model you’ve designed – or copied – so that you can know exactly what to do every step of the way. There is nothing wrong with following other business owners’ methods of success, so if you need help with any of the documentation that the bank requires, all you have to do is conduct a little online research so you can find out what other business owners before you have done to be successful.

What Do You Need to Be Successful at Your Own Business?

If you’ve entertained the thought of working for yourself, but you still aren’t sure you have what it takes, not to worry. There are some characteristics that all successful business owners tend to share, and looking at these characteristics can help you decide if owning your own business is right for you. For instance, these are a few things you’ll need to be successful at a business of your own:

  • A lot of self-discipline
  • You are not easily distracted
  • A lot of drive and passion
  • The expertise and knowledge you need for that particular type of business
  • An honest opinion of your talents and faults
  • The money and time you’ll need to make it in the business

Naturally, having your own business is not something everyone can or should do, but in these days of information overload via the Internet, you can easily research business ownership and prepare yourself for what you need to do to succeed. If you have a passion for something, but not the experience, go ahead and work a real job to get the experience you need. This is what many business owners did to get where they are today – they started at the bottom, worked their way up the corporate ladder, then branched off on their own to create their own business niche and make a lot of money.

Although owning your own business and working for yourself may seem like a pipe dream, the truth is that if you’re determined enough and you’re willing to do what it takes to make your dreams come true, you should go ahead and give it a try. Take your time and learn what you need to know to be successful, and most of all, be persistent and never give up. Remember, there are legitimate and reputable companies out there hiring home workers, and even more legitimate ideas just waiting for someone to take them by the horns and make them into a business. Whether your goal is to work from home or start a business no one has ever tried before, all you need is a little patience and a lot of determination to make it happen.

Of course, research and learning are important parts of any type of self-owned businesses, and the best way to do this is to start with the Internet because it has all of the information you need to start and to grow your own business.