The 22 Most Affordable Home Business Ideas

Ben Rashkovich

Ben Rashkovich

Content Strategy Manager at Fundera
Ben is the resident wordsmith and grammar guru at Fundera. He makes sure their top-notch content stays accessible, interesting, and useful for small business owners. Previously, Ben wrote for the Columbia Spectator and eBay's curatorial team.
Ben Rashkovich

Currently in the United States, around 3.7 million self-employed people consider their home to also be their place of business. And you might not find it surprising that 80%-90% of the U.S. workforce admits that they’d like to work remotely at least part-time.

Working from home—wherever that means for you—has grown in popularity over the past decade, and it’s not difficult to figure out why.

Successful home business ideas let contractors, freelancers, and entrepreneurs be in charge of their own lives. Maybe you’d prefer to wake up late and take long lunches, confident in your ability to finish your work on time. Possibly you prefer to be your own boss, setting up best practices and ditching those quarterly reviews. Or, it could be that you want to travel or be at home for your family, and you view commuting as a pain.

There are plenty of compelling reasons to search around for the home business ideas that work for you. If a change in lifestyle is what you’re after, then take a close look at your skills and interests to figure out which fields fit you best.

After you’ve done some introspection, check out our list of the 22 best home business ideas around. They’re affordable, engaging, and most importantly—flexible.

The 11 Best Online Home Business Ideas

It’s a classic office worker’s daydream: Stand up, quit the day job, and ride off into the sunset to explore the world.

But if you’re really committed to this dream, then you’re in luck. In today’s age of interconnectedness, you can find work just about anywhere….

As long as you’ve got a computer and an internet connection.

These 11 online home business ideas are great for travelers and globetrotters, as well as for those of you who just want the ultimate level of convenience and flexibility out of your work.

1. Freelance Writer

If you’re a great writer, then you could make a great freelance writer. And best of all?

Freelance writers work from all over the world. Whether you want to sit in your neighborhood café all day or country-hop all year, this job could apply to you.

Of course, successful writers need to have a firm grasp on grammar and tone, superb editing chops, and the ability to do their own research and synthesize content that they might be unfamiliar with. It could help if you become an expert in a few different fields, like technology or small business finance, and it’s always important for all freelancers to know how to market themselves and network with potential customers.

You might be asked to write anything from a blog post series to an industry white paper, website copy, or email newsletters. The more you’re familiar with, the better off you are.

Plus, this is an especially useful freelancing job if you know multiple languages—because then you multiply your opportunities! Want to write for foreign blogs to dust off your linguistic skills? Or translate the articles you or other people have written to make some extra cash? Make sure to include this important skill in your cover letter when applying for a freelancing gig.

And finally, don’t forego the possibility of writing your own ebooks to sell on Amazon and similar websites. With basically zero publishing and low design costs, this is another way your writing can benefit your bank account directly. (You could even write an ebook about freelance writing!)

2. Virtual Assistant

If all of your friends know you as “the really, really organized one,” then being a virtual assistant might be the home business idea for you.

Here’s the deal: Busy executives usually reach a point in their careers where they simply can’t manage all the calls, emails, appointments, and smaller responsibilities on their plates. They’re distracted by, y’know, running their companies.

That’s where you come in. As a virtual assistant, you would use your phone, email, computer skills, and any number of online tools and applications to handle their online calendars, schedule appointments and meetings, make reservations, purchase tickets, set up reminders, organize events, file documents, and more.

If this kind of work isn’t your thing, then it might sound a bit unglamorous. But if you’re the type of person who color-codes their planners and sends out Google calendar invitations for coffee dates, then being a virtual assistant could be a fun and fulfilling job—that you can work from home.

3. Researcher & Fact-Checker

Not everybody who needs a fact-checker actually knows that they need a fact-checker.

That’s alright, though. As a professional researcher and fact-checker, it’s partially your job to remind all of the business professionals, scholars, academics, lawyers, educators, journalists, and more about just how valuable your service can be.

It’s a simple fact of life: These professionals don’t have the time they actually need to carry out all of the research necessary on a day-to-day basis. Whether it’s perusing old academic essays or case files, analyzing bibliographies, or carrying out some market research, you can be a valuable asset to a company with your research and fact-checking.

You need to be organized, meticulous, and skilled at communication. If that sounds like you, then add this to your personal list of home business ideas!

4. Social Media Manager

Is social media that one thing that you’re crazy good at, but never thought you’d make a living out of?

That changes today.

As it turns out, many companies pay pretty highly for people to manage their social media accounts well. If you can stay on brand, share content appropriately, and reply to customers intelligently—while getting those precious likes, hearts, retweets, and upvotes en masse—then you could be a killer social media manager.

Plus, if you’re such a social media guru already that you’re thinking of making a living out of it, then it shouldn’t be hard for you to get your name out there!

5. Blogger & Affiliate Marketer

Maybe you’re a writer at heart, but putting pen to paper for other people’s companies just doesn’t motivate you.

Not a problem! If you believe that your own words of wisdom will get readers running over to your internet blog, then it can be another one of those home business ideas for you to consider.

While managing a blog in and of itself won’t net you any money—in fact, it’ll cost you to purchase a domain, upgrade the appearance, and run marketing campaigns—there are a few ways for you to monetize. You could offer up advertising space, which is a useful but typically minor revenue stream, but a lot more money is often found in sponsorships and affiliate marketing.

Affiliate marketing, a sort of product placement, will let you receive nice checks from companies in return for advocating for their goods and services. Although this might sound a bit iffy, if you truly do recommend that your readers try out these products, then it doesn’t need to come across as salesy or insincere. Readers will understand that you need to make money somehow, and many will appreciate your recommendations if they’re accurate.

Plus, if you’re in the blogging game for long enough, then you might even be able to score a real, live book deal!

6. Freelance Designer

If you’re more of a visual person, then the freelance lifestyle can still work wonders. Try your hand at designing posters, flyers, or online advertisements for companies that don’t have the time or talent to do this work themselves.

As a freelance designer, you’ll build an online reputation and eventually have control over the projects and timelines you manage. Try out Behance, Upwork, and other freelance design sites to check out your options.

7. Freelance Coder

If you’ve got a skillset that largely can be done on the computer, then there’s very little stopping you from changing that day job into one of our home business ideas.

And freelance coder is an especially great one, since it’s already such a commonplace gig. Whether you want the flexibility of being your own boss, enjoy taking on a wide diversity of projects rather than working with a single company, or prefer to travel instead of staying in one place, you’ve got many reasons to pursue freelance software development—even though technology companies and startups offer their own perks as well.

Webpage design and development is especially sought-after from freelance coders, but any kind of software engineering fields can get you clientele and cash.

8. Online Thrifter

Got a unique eye and the salesman’s pitch down to a science?

If so, you might want to consider running your own online thrift shop. Whether you focus on fashion especially, another category of product, or prefer to amass collections of interesting items from all over the internet (but especially eBay!), there’s always a strong demand for items with a story. Give your store a compelling, memorable identity, and it will be seen as much more than a simple consignment store.

9. Data Entry Guru

It might not be the most lucrative or stimulating job in the universe, but data entry can certainly give you the funds you need to work from home or abroad. Forget cubicles—kick your feet up on that tropical beach chair and relax as you work.

Plus, data entry jobs rarely require a lot of time or attention, unlike many on this list of home business ideas. Listen to your favorite podcasts or audiobooks as you work your own hours!

10. College Consultant

If you’re a top-notch editor with a deep understanding of how college admissions works—including standardized test preparation, personal statement requirements, supplemental essay requirements, applicant statistics, and even financial aid—then you might be able to snag a rather well-paying job as a college consultant. Some families are willing and able to pay through the nose to make sure their kids submit the best possible applications to their dream schools….

And you can help.

It’s by no means an easy job, as it requires a lot of knowledge and skillsets, but it can bring in a lot of cash for a home-based business. A head’s up: Some clients might want to see a top-tier college in your own educational background as proof of your past success.

11. Online Tutor

Whether you’re an expert in a certain subject matter, like calculus or biology, or you’ve secured top scores on standardized tests, like the SATs or MCATs, you may be able to share that knowledge with current students looking to get an edge.

So if you have a passion for teaching, are up-to-date and the formats and policies of the tests you plan to instruct students on, and feel comfortable handling the content, then it might be time to start marketing yourself as an online tutor.

And just like with the rest of these online home business ideas, you can easily service customers over the phone or, in this case, a video conferencing program like Skype.

The 11 Best Hands-On Home Business Ideas

Don’t want to commute? Prefer to be your own boss?

You don’t have to be a jetsetter or a technology wizard to make all of these home business ideas successful. While these suggestions do involve more interaction and coordination, you can make these jobs fit for you and your lifestyle—instead of the other way around.

Check out the 11 best hands-on home business ideas right here:

1. Pet Sitter

Do you love animals?

As a pet sitter, you would get to spend time with other people’s animals while they’re away for business or on vacation. Simply follow your client instructions, as well as your own experience and expertise, to provide care and comfort to these pets. It’s an easy way to get paid, especially if you’re an organized and trustworthy individual with a reputation for or history of animal care.

Plus—if you’re spending days, or even weeks, taking care of these pets, you could work on other jobs online as well!

2. Arts & Crafts Master

Ever browse the most popular home decor Pinterest boards and think to yourself, “I could do that”?

If so, then consider putting your knack for arts, crafts, and design to use as the manager of an ecommerce store. So long as you believe your creations can find a market and sell at a profitable price, there’s very little stopping you from signing up as a seller on a site like Etsy or Amazon and carving out your niche. While it might be a tough business, there’s plenty of wisdom out there to learn from—and it certainly fits on our list of home business ideas, especially while you’re small!

3. Accountant

Whether you want to be an accountant without an office—cutting your costs and possibly even passing those savings onto clients—or enter the virtual accounting industry, there are a few different ways you can finagle an accounting job to fit as one of our home business ideas.

If you’re currently an accountant, this might be as simple as letting your clients know that you work remotely now for reasons of convenience or perhaps hanging your own shingle out to start your own firm. On the other hand, if you’re looking to enter the industry (virtually or not), you should be aware of the training and certifications necessary.

4. T-Shirtpreneur

The U.S. apparel industry is a $225 billion dollar market…. And as it turns out, the t-shirt business is relatively quick, easy, and painless to get into.

So if you’re interested in entering the eclectic and diverse t-shirt industry with an idea or brand of your own, rejoice: This is certainly one of the home business ideas that will let you set your own hours and call your own shots. (Although, like many of the jobs on this list, you’ll still need to work hard to make your living!)

5. Cleaning Service

If you love—or even don’t mind—cleaning up after others, then running a small-time cleaning service could give you the flexibility you want without forcing you to sit at a computer all day long.

However, this is one of those home business ideas that could certainly grow into a much larger company if you’re successful…. Meaning that, eventually, you’d probably have to get an office and hire staff.

6. Massage Therapist & Wellness Expert

Over the past decade, the massage therapy industry has grown nearly 20% with no indication of stopping. If this statistic interests you, then you might want to consider entering this burgeoning field.

After getting your massage therapy certification, along with the business permit and massage equipment needed to work from home, you can turn your house into a local massage parlor for clients to come to, relax, and improve their health and wellness. Massage therapy involves mental and emotional as well as physical health, and is an important service—that you can offer without leaving your front door.

Plus, you could combine your massage therapy with a more holistic wellness practice or a nutritionist practice—but make sure to check your state’s licensing laws before offering dietary advice or supplements to customers.

7. Personal Trainer

Into health and wellness, but not massage therapy? Consider becoming a personal trainer instead.

As a personal trainer, you could make house calls, visit a gym, or let clients come to you (if you have the necessary equipment). You need to be very knowledgeable about everything from proper exercises for different body types to how to motivate people who want to get healthy. And you should feel comfortable getting close to your clients in order to learn what works best for them.

(Although a certification may not absolutely be necessary, it’s not a bad idea to find out if you can get one in your state before starting up, just in case!)

8. Interior Decorator

Constantly on the lookout for the latest and greatest furniture fashions? Have an eye for composition, organization, and feng shui?

If so, think about becoming an interior decorator. Partner with local furniture stores and design businesses (with your clients’ knowledge!) to get good deals, help decorate public spaces and business interiors as well as houses and apartments, and let everyone and their grandmother know that your services are available.

Being an interior decorator lets you live out your design fantasies over and over again—if that sounds good to you, then there’s no reason not to add this to your list of home business ideas!

9. Event Planner

Everyone plans events—but not everyone lives and breathes it. Do you love coordinating food and drinks, invitations, scheduling conflicts, music, gifts, goody bags, and every other aspect of the parties or events you’ve set up?

From birthdays to weddings, corporate get-togethers, and local conventions, the world is your oyster when it comes to events to plan. If you’re passionate about logistics, then this home business idea is worth looking more into.

10. Caterer

Are you the friend who everyone goes to on Thanksgiving or Christmas? Do people come running when they smell your famous dishes or baked goods? If nobody you know can stop talking about your cooking, then maybe it’s time to charge for your services and talent!

While you won’t necessarily be able to do all of your catering work from home—you need to use a commercial kitchen and will likely have to hire some part-time employees to help during events—much of the organization, planning, marketing, and actual business work can be done wherever you like.

But if you’re content with baking desserts and breads rather than cooking full meals, you might be able to serve up your food right out of your home. Check the local food regulations to find out.

11. Bed-and-Breakfast Manager

The last of our home business ideas is for the folks who live in often-visited locations—or would like to move to one. With some preparation, planning, tidying, cooking, and a dash of advertising (made easier by services like Airbnb), you can convert your home into a bed-and-breakfast for weary travelers to rest in.

Keep in mind that you need spare bedrooms or a guest house for your customers, and you might want to invest into your cooking and decorating skills to leave a lasting positive impression. Good reviews go a long way in booking out your house for the future!

The Bottom Line on Home Business Ideas

Hopefully at least one or two of these home business ideas stood out to you as a plausible, enjoyable opportunity. If you’re intent on working from home—whatever and wherever that means for you—then good luck! The internet has made things a lot easier for home-dwelling entrepreneurs, whether or not you plan on working entirely virtually.

Let us know in the comments if we’ve missed one of your favorite home business ideas!

Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.
Ben Rashkovich

Ben Rashkovich

Content Strategy Manager at Fundera
Ben is the resident wordsmith and grammar guru at Fundera. He makes sure their top-notch content stays accessible, interesting, and useful for small business owners. Previously, Ben wrote for the Columbia Spectator and eBay's curatorial team.
Ben Rashkovich

0 Comments

Our Picks

Ready to Grow Your Business?