8 Tips for Starting a Home-Based Business


Before I got into blogging, I had a habit of trying different business ideas. The thrill of earning extra cash prompted me to try some pretty random things; selling vintage items on Ebay, cleaning houses, glittering cards for a stationery company, doing online questionnaires, selling natural hair products online, selling t-shirts at summer festivals and doing a monthly newsletter for a local business. Some of this work I hated, some I loved. Each experience taught me a little bit more about myself, and what it takes to start a business.

Here is my advice for getting started in home-based work.

1. Start with what you’re interested in, what you enjoy and what you’re good at. Everyone has talents and interest. Can you draw well? Are you stylish? Is your house always neat? Are your finances always in order? Is your hair always beautifully done? Are you funny? Do you mix your own beauty products? Do you make your own jewelry? At the heart, home-based work is about taking something you have an affinity for, and finding a way to earn money off of it.

2. Sometimes it’s just about doing things that others are too tired, unmotivated or busy to do. Can you do someone’s taxes and charge $75? Can you bake a cake for a friend’s party? Can you clean a busy friend’s house? Can you charge neighbors to watch their kids during the day? These ideas aren’t glamorous, but they’re solid and marketable!

3. It helps to be self-motivated and a self-starter. Certain personality types do best with home-based work; individuals who are organized and self-motivated to achieve short-term (keeping your days productive) and long-term (getting your business to profitability) goals.

4. If not, partner up with someone who is driven and organized. If you have a great idea, but need some help — partner up with someone you trust to bring it to fruition. I have found older family members (parents, grandparents, in-laws, aunts) to be a great resource for this. They tend to have more time on their hands, can be trusted with proprietary information and would welcome a chance to work with their child/daughter-in-law/granddaughter/niece.

But please be sure that whoever you partner with is reliable and will do their share of work. I once went into business with a friend who turned out to be unreliable. This destroyed both the business and our friendship.

5. Once you have an idea don’t overthink and procrastinate. Just do it. I know quite a few people who have ‘great ideas’ but are ‘waiting for the right time.’ Look… the right time is now! You’re really not going to know exactly what works as a business until you test it out, so the sooner is the better! The beauty of a home-based business is that it’s not a 9 to 5. There’s no contract to sign. No boss to report to. It’s essentially a project that you can start and stop at any time.

Also keep in mind that, in the 20s and 30s, life tends to get busier over time. If you think you’re busy now, you’ll probably be even busier a year or two from now.

6. Pick business ideas that require low to no overhead costs. Unless you have a wealthy benefactor (and most of us don’t), you’re going to have to scale your business idea down to its simplest form. If, for example, you want to start a daycare, don’t begin with buying signage and paying for a business license. Start by watching a friends’ kids for an afternoon to see what it’s like.

If you want to sell your own beauty products don’t start by buying expensive packaging and paying for marketing to ‘get your name out there.’ Start by mixing up some raw ingredients and selling them to friends and family, at a local farmer’s market (if they don’t require a business license) or at a church event.

Think cheap and think small, and remember that word-of-mouth can be powerful in the early days.

7. Don’t be discouraged at your earnings because, chances are, they’ll start out small. Instead of thinking of your earnings in terms of dollars and cents, think in terms of scale and net profit. Starting out, the priority is to get your business to profitability. Depending on what your business idea is, you might start out in the red, but — with a home based business — you should aim to be in the black within the first 6 months to a year. Once you are in the black, focus on scale. Say you earned $25 in your first profitable month of operation, aim to increase that by 25% from month to month. Identify the elements that are driving your profit growth, and expand on them.

Many businesses don’t become significantly profitable until the first 12 to 15 months. Until then, just focus on getting and/or staying in the black.

8. Your first few business ideas might not work. It’s common — even standard, for entrepreneurs to try and fail at ventures before they hit the right one. Don’t let it discourage you!

Black women and entrepreneurship
Recent studies have shown that black women are the fastest-growing entrepreneurial group in America! My theory is that we are catering to ourselves since so many of our needs are overlooked by mainstream commerce. I find this knowledge to be empowering. Your business idea might seem insignificant — but there’s a good chance that you’re serving a need that many women have!

Are there any home-based business owners/workers out there? Do you have tips to share? How did you start your individual businesses?

Leila Noelliste is the founder and editor of Baby and Blog and Black Girl with Long Hair.

  • http://www.15melbourne.com/ Evelyn Soetono

    I completely agree with all of these points! It really is important to love what you choose to do. I would add that it’s essential to write a business plan too. Even a loose plan will help clarify your business for yourself and keep you on track if you get frustrated when you hit a wall.

    I started my own skincare business because I was always modifying hair and skin products to suit my needs, and one day came up with a lotion that friends and family loved! Over a period of 8 years The biz has slowly grown, and now I run it with my husband’s help.

    Good luck to any budding entrepreneurs and don’t give up!

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  • http://www.radiance.wakeupnow.com/videos Raina Hull-Perry

    Wonderful suggestions but one thing I would add us to be ready for rejection! I have a Financial Services business where I help people save money on everyday purchases and services, plug them into resources for freebies and discounts, software to help them get out of debt quicker and will even show them how to make additional money doing the same thing I’m doing.
    People that I know for a fact that need these services but won’t support. I really want to help people I know before I just start helping strangers but it doesn’t seem like people want to research for themselves. I’m willing to give info to anyone here who may be interested however.

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  • Tiffany Leiba

    My biggest asset in my home business is that I worked for someone else who already had it going on and learned a lot from them. Working for a similar, successful and established company is like school that pays you while you learn valuable skills!

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  • http://tinashekubvoruno.wakeupnow.com/ Tinashe Kubvoruno

    Success in a home based businesses I believe begins with something you are passionate for. You need to have passion for what it is that you are doing. It cant just be all about the money. Speaking of that I have had the opportunity to be involved in something really great and It came to me at the right time with the right people. The value the opportunity brings is enough even before the compensation. That is when you know you have something great.

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  • http://remoteonlineworkfromhome.com Mattieau Brose

    Such good insights! I also heard that freight brokerage business at home is huge nowadays. I would recommend to study first about the brokerage business and learn the know how of the industy. I hope the link below would help any aspirants.


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  • http://tinyurl.com/freedomforever-1 Vidal


    I agree so much what is stated in #1. You have to do something you are good at but also that you love doing. Sometimes, we end up doing businesses that we don’t really enjoy and then we don’t do very well with them. The ones, we want to do are the ones we would jump out of bed to start working. You will even feel like it’s not work it is more of a hobbie. Has anyone ever seen the commercial on tv, when the girl is playing around with a camera and she is outside. Then she says, her dad told her if you love what you do in life you will never work a day in your life. That is what it’s all about!

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  • http://sci-ficeilings.com/ Lee Cusano

    A business with low or no overhead costs is ideal for new business people. They just don’t need the stress and distraction of spending a lot of money when they should be focusing on their goals.

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