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The increasingly prevalent role of the Internet in countless businesses has exposed the unrivaled convenience of working from home. More and more companies now offer remote work for employees, and starting your own home-based business has never been easier. Thanks to the Internet, you don’t have to leave the house to talk to clients, perform essential services, and advertise your products to your target audience.

Today, millions of people in the US run businesses from the comfort of their homes. It’s perfectly feasible for these individuals to make just as much money as any other business owner (if not more). Think about how much it costs to commute to an office every day, rent commercial property, buy furniture, and pay monthly utility bills. Well, you don’t have to worry about any of these expenses if you work from home.

Starting your own home-based business also allows you to work according to your own schedule. It’s safe to say that much of the appeal of freelance work stems from the monotonous exhaustion of working from 9am to 5pm, Monday through Friday. When you make your own hours, you can start and finish your work whenever you please. As long as you fulfill your obligations, your weekend can last well over two days.

Since you can start so many different businesses from home, aspiring entrepreneurs must simply determine which option makes the most sense for their skills and interests. Luckily, it’s safe to assume that you’ll find at least one home business idea that suits your background, regardless of what you love to do.

Online Home Business Ideas

Every home-based business utilizes the Internet in one way or another. But certain businesses revolve around digital products and digital correspondence with clients. These entrepreneurs spend their days at their computer, since that’s the only equipment you really need. Thus, if you wish to have the lowest overhead imaginable, look into the following online home business ideas:

Freelance Writer

Freelance writing comes with numerous pros and cons. The former refers to the rewards of having an established reputation, while the latter refers to the price of getting to that highly-coveted position.

When you’re just starting out, you may have to market yourself very aggressively (i.e. going to social events solely to scope out potential clients) and take virtually any assignment that comes your way. Even after you’ve made enough money to cover your personal expenses, you will probably still have to keep hunting for work in anticipation of dry spells. And while it’s certainly acceptable to negotiate appropriate compensation, you’re not exactly in the position to name your price.

Eventually, however, you will develop an impressive track record and discover your specialty. Though you might prefer to write about certain topics, you can’t really control what you get good at. The topic or service (blog posts, web copy, etc.) you get assigned most often consequentially becomes your specialty. When you write about something every day, you become an expert, whether you like that topic or not.

Your track record, however, will not only make the work easier but also allow you to charge higher fees. Finally, you can live the dream: Getting the bulk of your assignments via referrals and only having to accept assignments that come easily to you.

Virtual Assistant

In the past, assistants had to work right next to their bosses, record schedules on notepads, and organize mountains of paperwork into file cabinets and drawers. Fast forward to 2019, when there’s no need for paper, and you can communicate through instant messages. With just one or two online tools, you can keep track of documents, schedule calls and meetings, create daily to-do lists, automate pitch emails, etc.

If organization comes naturally to you, why not get paid for it?

At first, the life of an assistant may sound pretty boring. But as any secretary knows, the more time you spend with your boss, the more of the boss’s work you take on. You will soon feel less like an assistant and more like the real head of the company.

The demand for virtual assistants has also increased as of late. Entrepreneurs do whatever they can to get as much work done as possible each day. Virtually assistants help their bosses increase productivity while maintaining their sanity, despite never meeting face-to-face.

Social Media Manager

Do you know what certain audiences like to see on social media? Do you know what catches eyes and turns people from casual followers to leads?

Contrary to popular belief, not every social media aficionado knows how to get likes, hearts, shares, re-tweets, etc. Many young companies treat these forms of attention as currency. Some would even argue that popularity on social media matters more than quality or customer service. As long as you have enough followers, the company remains alive and kicking.

For this reason, social media managers for successful companies can get paid very well. But in addition to composing posts, replying to customers and developing campaign strategies, social media managers spend lots of time looking at data. Social media managers frequently have to abandon what they think their audience will like in exchange for what their data tells them to do. They also use numerous data points from previous campaigns to establish track records, as opposed to just basing their success on followers.

Hence, if you wish to start your own social media business, you must accept that what gains traction for your posts might not work for your employer.

Freelance Designer

Freelancer graphic designers help companies create everything from logos to advertisements to new websites. The path to success greatly resembles that of the freelance writer. You have to start at the bottom of the totem pole, where you’ll find clients with little experience working with designers. Your clients will likely determine your projects’ due dates and – much like clients of freelance writers – they’ll have trouble expressing exactly what they want. Budding freelance designers will quickly get accustomed to making corrections over and over again, even if they carefully followed the client’s initial directions.

After establishing your track record, you’ll have more control over the kind of projects you accept as well as their due dates.

Since freelance designers laid the foundation for the gig economy, clients can enlist their services on various reputable websites. So, building your personal brand may very well come down to figuring out which website will bring you the most clients. You can also use these websites, like Behance and 99designs, to communicate with other designers and learn how they command attention, the average turnaround times for different projects, and how to negotiate better compensation.

Online Tutor

Everyone has benefited from tutors at some point in their academic career. You may not have used them as much because in most cases, you had to meet through someone else, the tutor had to come to your house, and their schedules filled up pretty quickly. But thanks to video conferencing tools like Skype, tutors can give their students much more attention, offer more flexible hours and answer small questions whenever their students need them.

The value of this home business idea speaks for itself: Would you have struggled so much with your worst subjects if someone told you exactly how to pass that test, write that paper, etc.? Some online tutoring websites even advertise 24/7 availability!

Online tutoring might also make sense if you love teaching but don’t care for the classroom environment. Instead of grading papers and filling out tedious paperwork, you can spend all of your time connecting with students directly.

But remember: teaching procedures and grading systems have likely changed significantly since you were in school. Thus, you’ll have to research the new structures of certain tests and what teachers want to see in written papers (grammar vs. information).

Video Producing

Over the past few years, the role of video production in advertising has skyrocketed. In some industries, you could almost say that video marketing has become as necessary as social media marketing in general. Any business that teaches people how to do something or sells products requiring any sort of instruction can benefit video marketing. You’ve probably noticed an increase in videos on your social media feed as well as the homepages of business websites.

Not every business, however, can afford to hire the most reputable production companies.

As video producer, you will cut and edit videos to make your client appear more professional. If you have little experience with video production, you can learn the most important skills for the job through online tutorials or full courses from various types of educational institutions.

Hands-On Home Business Ideas

Not every home-based entrepreneur has to sit in front of their computer and stay inside all day. Other home business ideas allow you to work with your hands or do your work at your customers’ houses. Since you don’t have an office, they still technically count as “home-based” businesses even though they involve much more face-to-face interaction.

Pet Sitter

You’ve probably heard an animal-lover claim that he or she enjoys the company of animals more than human beings. People like this make fabulous pet sitters, which take care of animals while their owners work or go on vacation.

Of nearly every home business idea on this list, few options have an easier time finding work than pet sitters. Demand for their services has steadily increased as more pet owners realize how anxious it makes them to leave their pets home alone all day. And unlike more traditional occupations, pet sitters usually don’t have to prove their experience with resumes or portfolios. If anything, potential customers will ask to speak with previous customers who can vouch for your expertise. Many pet sitters likely get work simply by exuding trust and joy, or giving the impression that they truly love animals.

Aside from feeding, walking, training, and cleaning up after their animals, most pet sitters spend lots of time hanging around their customers’ houses. The more financially secure pet sitters, however, spend this time doing other work. Combining pet sitting and another source of income could allow you to devote just enough energy to both jobs and ultimately keep your overall stress level low.

Handmade Item Designer

Popular sites like Etsy suggest that the right mix of design, material and price can make anyone an arts and crafts superstar. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Successful designers would likely not recommend getting into this business unless you know the size of your audience, what they like/dislike, and have figured out an appropriate but profitable pricing strategy. This audience also won’t find your products unless you market to them and, like lots of successful designers, guarantee exceptional customer service.

Due to the massive competition within this home business idea, you’ll probably need much more than unique products to succeed. For example, customers on Etsy tend to choose their products based on the seller’s reviews. You may very well have to go above and beyond for your first batch of customers to incentivize positive reviews and free advertisements on social media.

Some of your competitors will likely have no problem offering tips for establishing your reputation. You might as well reach out to any seller you admire and implement any ideas that seem relevant to your goals.


Experienced accountants start their own home-based businesses for multiple reasons. During tax season, accountants get very busy and often need to work all day and into the night. Working from home cuts out the time required for commuting, and it’s easier to concentrate in the comfort of your own home office.

Since you have less expenses, you can likely charge lower fees. The lack of expenses will also come in handy when the slow season rolls around and traditional accounting firms have to take out business loans just to keep their lights on.

Cleaning Service

Believe it or not, cleaning brings peace of mind to plenty of people. You get to move around, listen to music, and feel like you really accomplished something after every job. Once you start taking on larger jobs, however, you will accrue myriad expenses such as supplies, a company vehicle, and, yes, employees.

So, if you intend to start your own cleaning service, keep in mind that you will eventually have to move from your home to an office. Compared to other businesses, it’s much easier for home-based cleaning services to grow into larger companies.

Massage Therapist

The massage and wellness industry has grown dramatically as of late, possibly due to the mounting stress that comes with managing a successful career and personal life these days. It seems the world has finally discovered the importance of self-care and how much more you can get done when you feel truly relaxed. An increasing amount of people now get massages and other wellness treatments regularly, as opposed to once every so often.

Home-based massage therapists have two options: They can turn their homes into relaxation centers and invite customers there or go to their customers’ homes with their massage beds, oils, etc. You just need your massage therapy certification as well as any other licenses required by your home state. If your target audience also enjoys other forms of wellness therapy (meditation, crystal therapy, cupping therapy, etc.), you might want to consider obtaining the necessary certifications to offer more services.

Makeup Artist

Employees of cosmetic stores (Sephora, Lush, etc.) already put makeup on strangers for work. Why not earn some extra cash doing this on their own? People need professional makeup jobs for all sorts of occasions: proms, weddings, or even just an upscale party. While some makeup artists have makeup stations with good lighting at their homes, most offer to visit their customers’ houses.

As for marketing, makeup artists must focus on their busy season (prom and wedding season) and build an online presence. For example, you could start your YouTube channel where you show viewers how to look like their favorite celebrities or simply apply certain styles.

Home Business Ideas: Licenses and Permits

Most home-based businesses are sole proprietorships. Therefore, all you have to do to begin selling your products or services is obtain the required licenses and permits. This will likely include some of the same documentation required by traditional businesses. Every year, many owners of home-based businesses receive fines for neglecting to obtain the necessary licenses and permits.

The following list contains the general licenses and permits required by most home-based businesses:

Home Occupation Permit

Virtually all home-based businesses need state-issued Home Occupation Permits. If your home-based business revolves around consulting or freelance work, you might not need any other permits aside from this one.

Recipients of Home Occupation Permits have proven that their businesses will not disrupt the peace in their neighborhood. In other words, their businesses will not bring excessive traffic, noise, or environmental hazards.

You can apply by contacting your state government.

Property Use and Zoning Permits

Some cities have zoning regulations designed exclusively for home-based businesses. Particularly strict regulations might only allow home-based businesses that have obtained variances or conditional-use permits. Obtaining this permit likely won’t be an issue, however, since nationwide support for home-based businesses has only increased as of late.

You can find out local zoning regulations for your area by contacting your local or city government.

Local Business Operating License

Without this license, you cannot legally operate your business within your town’s or city’s limits. You must apply to your local or city government and pay the required fee.

Contact your city’s business license department to learn how to obtain your local business operating license (a.k.a. local business license). You may have to go to the department’s physical location. Not sure where to find the building? Contact your local city hall or courthouse to find out exactly where local business licenses are obtained.

Health Licenses and Permits

Health licenses and permits apply to businesses that directly impact the customer’s health, like restaurants or fitness centers. Like fire department permits, businesses that require health licenses and permits typically cannot open their doors until they obtain the necessary documents. The license costs around $25, and the health department will probably want to inspect your business before giving you the permit.

The amount of health licenses and permits required for different businesses varies tremendously from location to location. You can find out which licenses and permits are required for your business by visiting your local town hall.

Occupational Licenses

Many states require licenses for certain professions, even if you don’t have your own business. You must renew this license periodically because it’s against state law to conduct business without it. Some states have very long lists of professions requiring licenses. So, check with your state’s business licensing office to see that includes your profession.

What to Do After Obtaining All Required Paperwork

Be sure to make copies of each document for your records and display them for your customers to see. You must periodically renew some of your documents in order to continue operating legally. These documents should therefore always remain within your sight. Allowing them to get lost under stacks of other paperwork makes it harder to remember renewal due dates. But as long as you keep track of those dates, you won’t have to worry about legal problems. Stay organized and get back to doing what you love!

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