4 Home-Based Business Ideas

Starting—and running—a business can often be done out of your own home. These ideas may give you the inspiration you need to get started.

Anne LaFolette remembers with crystal clarity the day she got laid off from her corporate vice president job. She was asked into her boss’s office, told the company was going through a reorganization, and that her job was eliminated. Effective immediately. She was 58 years old.

“I loved my job; my whole identity was wrapped up in it and I’d worked at the company for a long time,” LaFolette says. “I tried other jobs after that, but none of them worked. I felt very depressed.”

One day, her husband reminded her of the art supplies sitting idle in their basement. LaFolette hadn’t gone to an art class since she was a child, but with her newfound free time decided to enroll in an online course. That decision changed her life.

About half-way through the course, she was taught a lesson on how to paint a repeating pattern, and how to put those patterns on everything from textiles to mugs to notebooks. A lightbulb went off in her brain: This was going to be a business.

She spent the next few months perfecting her skills in a graphic design program and started selling products featuring her patterns at stores near her home in the San Francisco Bay Area, soon incorporating her new company Anne LaFollette Art. About a year into her business, she started looking for ways to earn passive income from home. She was tipped off to a 10-week course by digital marketing expert Amy Porterfield about how to launch your own online course.

The course took LaFollette, step by step, through every part of creating and launching her own course about pattern design as well as how to build an email list. It took her about six months to go through all of the material, and she launched it in January 2019.

“By the end of last year, I had made six figures of gross income from my course, and I work from home,” she says. “People really resonate with my story because I learned how to do this right before I turned 60 years old.”

LaFollette’s success at creating and running an online course is one of many home business ideas available to entrepreneurs. Here are a few other work-from-home business ideas:

1. Driving and Delivery
One of the best ways to come up with a list of home-based business ideas for yourself is to look at what you already have at your fingertips. If you own a well-functioning vehicle, you may have a business. Ride sharing apps (think Lyft, Uber and the like) provide income opportunities for people looking for a little extra cash (many drivers have full-time jobs and drive on their off-time), or even full-time income depending on the number of hours you can work.

Don’t want strangers getting in your car? No problem. Consider signing up to be a delivery worker at a company like Postmates or DoorDash. Pretty soon you’ll be sharing your home-based business ideas with your friends, and they may follow in your footsteps.

2. Affiliate Marketing
Chicago-based Hannah Fisher has a full-time job, but was looking for home business ideas as ways to make an extra income. She began reading business books and quickly learned about the concept of affiliate marketing, where a company can recommend another company’s products and receive a kickback for successful referrals.

Fisher has a lot of knowledge about the HVAC industry, so she decided to launch HVAC Supreme, a site that publishes stories to help people looking for HVAC equipment. Many of the products she mentions can be found on Amazon.com, so she decided to become part of the Amazon.com Associates affiliate program, and today receives a percentage of any sale that originates from her site.

The result of her efforts is a steady side income. She’s thrilled that she chose affiliate marketing among the many home business ideas out there, partly because there is so much support and education available to the public who want to do the same.

“If you want to do affiliate marketing, I recommend signing up for a good course,” she says. “One of the best is The Authority Site System. There are also great podcasts like Authority Hacker and Smart Passive Income, as well as free Facebook groups where you can learn more about how to do this from your home.”

3. Pet Sitting
Pet sitting is another excellent option among home business ideas, and these days it is easier than ever thanks to a host of tech companies that post sitters’ profiles and allow pet owners to book online. As long as you have a safe home, and pass background checks (depending on the company you enlist to market your services), you could be watching a dog or cat in no time.

The best thing to do is to pick a niche, not over-complicate it and just take action.”
—Ben Buckwalter, consultant

Rover is one of the largest pet sitting companies, offering job opportunities all over the country. Care.com also offers pet sitting, as does PetSitter.com.

4. Outsourced Ad Sales
Back in 2018, Ben Buckwalter decided he wanted to launch a home-based business that capitalized on his longtime experience in sales. He looked into a few industries in need of constant qualified leads, and landed on the mortgage industry. From there, he called up a few mortgage companies and offered to run online ads on their behalf for free for a short period of time. If he delivered a specified amount of quality leads, they agreed to give him a testimonial.

The plan worked. Within a few months, Buckwalter was running dozens of online ads for clients out of his St. Louis home. And those who had agreed to give him testimonials were now paying clients. Today, he has outsourced the creation of ads and focuses exclusively on recruiting new clients.

“I started with my cell phone and a website that cost me a few hundred dollars to make,” he says. “Within just four months I was making six-figures per month of recurring income.”

Today, Buckwalter runs his company as well as teaches others how to do the same from the comfort of their homes.

“The best thing to do is to pick a niche, not over-complicate it and just take action,” he says. “You don’t need to know how to run ads right away. There are tons of digital marketing groups out there that can teach you. You can partner with them and then scale your company on your own by calling companies to gauge their interest.”