25 Businesses You Can Start From Home (With Little to No Money)

Do you long to be your own boss? Would you love to work from home, at least most of the time? Would you like to be in control of your own financial destiny rather than constantly making a buck for someone else? If so, the idea of a home-based business might appeal to you.

If you’d love to work from home, but you don’t have a small fortune to invest in your business up front, that’s ok. Being an entrepreneur might still be in your future! Here are a few low cost business ideas for businesses you can start at home.

  1. Arts and Crafts — If you’re the artsy type, why not create and sell your very own masterpieces? From quilts to scrapbooking kits, you can sell your arts and crafts at craft shows or even online.
  2. Author — Have you ever dreamed of writing a book? Why not start today? Even if you don’t pursue a traditional publishing path, you can make money in self-publishing. You might invest directly in the printing and promotion of your book, or you can take an extremely low cost route of print-on-demand (POD) publishing through companies like Lulu.com.
  3. Babysitting / Daycare — If childcare is more your thing, you could always offer a babysitting or daycare service for other working parents in your neighborhood. Check with your local government to find out what their rules on registration and insurance are for daycare providers before diving into this one.
  4. Blogging — Blogging might not be the easiest way to make money, but there’s still plenty of money to be made. The trick? Choose a niche where advertisers are aplenty, one you’re passionate enough about that you’ll always have post ideas, and make an effort to really connect with your readers so they keep coming back and spread the word.
  5. Bookkeeping — Is math your strong suit? If you’re a numbers person with a bookkeeping or accounting background, you might be just what other business owners in your area need. Who couldn’t use a little help getting their finances in order?
  6. Consulting — If you have experience or strong credentials, you can become a work at home consultant in just about any service area you can imagine. There’s marketing, PR, wedding planning, and even business startup consulting just to give you a few ideas.
  7. Consumer Complaints — Are you good at getting what you want? Do you have a take-no-prisoners approach to handling consumer complaints of your own? If you have a talent for making companies sit up and take notice and then fix customer service problems, you might have a future in writing consumer complaint letters. Many people would love to get results to their consumer nightmares, but they’re either afraid to be firm or they just don’t know what to do, who to contact, or what organizations to report companies to. You can handle it for them and ease their stress levels a bit.
  8.  Dog Walking / Dog Sitting — Do you live in a community with a lot of dog owners? Chances are that at least some of them would love to know there’s a dedicated dog lover around to take care of their pooches while they’re at work or on vacation. Why not offer daily dog walking services and more comprehensive dog sitting when people are away? You’ll even have a chance to bond with some new four-legged friends!
  9. eBay Business — Do you have an attic or garage full of things you don’t want or need anymore? Why not sell them on eBay (or Craigslist)? When you’ve sold your own wares, you can visit yard sales, antique stores, and auctions to pick up new items to flip for a profit through online auctions and classifieds.
  10. Energy Conservation — Are you the local expert on energy conservation? Are your friends and neighbors always jealous when they hear how much you’re saving with your new energy-efficient ways? Why not turn that passion into a salable service helping others save money on energy by going green?
  11. Financial Planning — With the world’s recent various financial crises, who doesn’t have money on the brain? If you’re a financial professional looking to go the solo work route, your very own financial planning business might be a lucrative idea.
  12. Freelance Coding / Programming — Any business not on the Web yet probably should be, and those that are already could always use a spruced up site. That might mean coding their designer’s work, improving their existing code for better site performance, programming software solutions, or anything in between.
  13. Freelance Design — Businesses always need designers — for websites, brochures, newsletters, logos, and much more. If design is your forte, this might just be the home-based business for you!
  14. Freelance Photography — Are you a genius behind a camera? If so, why not put those skills to use through a new business? Maybe you want to photograph weddings or other events. Or perhaps creating and selling stock photography online is more your idea of work meeting fun because of the added freedom. Either way, what are you waiting for?
  15. Freelance Translation — Businesses are global these days. A company in China might need to target an English-speaking audience with their marketing materials (or vice versa). If you can translate fluently between two in-demand languages, the world might literally be at your doorstep.
  16. Freelance Writing — I’ll admit I’m biased towards freelance writing, as it’s how I make much of my living (in addition to blogging). There’s great money in it if you don’t settle for low paying markets up front, and with more businesses moving to the Web there’s a seemingly endless supply of Web writing work available if you just go out there and find it.
  17. Garage Sale Organizing — If eBay wasn’t quite your cup of tea, that’s okay. Plenty of folks still love a good old fashioned garage sale or yard sale. Why not help them with the logistics so they don’t have to be bothered? You could deal with pricing and stickers, organizing the sale setup, promoting it, and staffing the sale on the day it happens.
  18. Home / Office Organizing — Are you a natural-born neat freak? If so, your talents for organization and order might make you a perfect professional organizer!
  19. Internet Marketing / Affiliate Marketing — Did you know that you can make a lot of money online by promoting other people’s products? Write sales pages, drive traffic, push sales, collect a portion of each sale as an affiliate. Sound good? Give it a try!
  20. Personal Assistance — If you don’t like to be stuck doing the same thing day in and day out, becoming a personal assistant might be a good home business idea for you. The tasks are pretty much endless — run errands, help with housework, or do whatever your client happens to need help with on any given day.
  21. Real Estate Staging — Are people in your neighborhood struggling to sell their houses? If you’re good at both decorating and “cleaning house,” you might want to start a home staging business. This is where you go to homes on the market and you make them more appealing to buyers (get rid of the clutter, put out fresh flowers and plants, etc.). Make them buy those beauties!
  22. Recycling — If your neighborhood doesn’t require recycling yet and there’s no recycling pickup, you could help the environment while you earn a bit of green to line your pockets with a recycling business. Help locals sort their recycling, then haul it away for them to the nearest recycling center.
  23. Tutoring — Are you a bit of a brainiac? Do you remember your calculus, world history, and literature in a way that would put most Jeopardy contestants to shame? You can put those academic skills to use by tutoring students who need some extra help.
  24. Virtual Assistance — Similar to a personal assistant for your neighbors, why not consider being a virtual assistant for other business owners? You can help them with routine tasks like taking calls, answering emails, or doing data entry work remotely, working with companies not only all over the country, but all over the world!
  25. Webmaster — Do you have a great idea for a website that no one’s tried yet? Do you think you could improve on an existing type of website enough to at least make it profitable? Then put your Web prowess to work for you and become the proud owner of a new money-making website today!

Are you a home-based entrepreneur? Is your business idea not included in this list? If you have other low cost business ideas people can do from home, leave a comment and tell us about it!

Written by
Jennifer Mattern