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
Join the discussion

  • G-Day Mate,

    I like you’re idea regarding consumer complaints but unsure how to get it up and running. The idea sounds good because I have always been good at getting results in this type of field.


    • You can get that kind of business up and running in the same way you would get any writing-related business up and running. Figure out a specialty area (even consumer complaints can be narrowed down based on things like industries you know well or even the type of result the customer is looking for). Then research the market. Do you see a lot of those specific types of complaints online? Once you’ve settled on something, come up with a marketing plan. In other words, how are you planning to reach those people to offer your services?

      Set up a website. Share some success stories there. I imagine case studies would be great marketing tools for a business like that. (You read our article on case study writing below.) And I’d also focus on getting testimonials once you build an initial client base.


  • Hello,
    I like the Blogging idea, deffinately sounds like me! However I am unsure of how I would get into that? Do you have to get “hired” for a website to blog on or make your own? Any ideas are greatly appreciated!

    • You can do it either way Michelle. You just have to decide if you’re more interested in becoming a Web publisher (meaning you write the posts, deal with comment management, market the site, handle all of the tech and design issues, etc.) or if you essentially want to work as a freelance writer, blogging for others. You can do both if you’d like to. I do. Personally I blog for about a half dozen clients right now and I run around two dozen blogs of my own (although they’ve been a bit neglected lately during a move).

      It can be a good idea to start your own blog first even if you want to blog for clients. It shows potential clients that you understand blogging platforms and how that content differs from other types of writing. I highly recommend self-hosted WordPress (WordPress.org). But if you want to play around with platforms before paying for your own hosting, you can try the freely hosted versions to familiarize yourself (WordPress.com).

  • Hello,
    I’m looking to join Shaklee, are you familiar with this? What would I have to know before getting involve in it. This is MLM. How credible are this you tube ads about free video to show how you can be successfull in network marketing. I’m no computer savvy. When you exhausted warm market what would be the next option to marketing the product. Any thoughts on this. I appreciate any advise you may have on this. Thank you and many blessings to what you do.

    • Hello Guia,

      You may want to look at the resources I included in How to Make Money Online. I have not personally researched Shaklee in particular, but I did cite this statistic:

      “Based on available company data, approximately 99.7% of MLM participants lose money – spending more on company purchases and minimal operating expenses than they receive in commissions from the company.” ~ From Summary of Research Findings conducted by MLM-TheTruth.com

      MLM would not be my first choice as very few manage to make money in spite of serious effort.

  • hey,im iesha & i just wanted too know what all it atkes to start a business , i have a entrepreneurship class and im clueless when it comes to looking on the internet for business for my age .. i hope you can help me

    • Hi Iesha,

      I would recommend you read the last section in my 2013 Small Business Predictions post. It explains a great way for students to develop a business that benefits their local small businesses and communities, increases their skills, and actually creates jobs for them. Even better, you can do this with no money up front to invest and without having to buy advertising. All you need is time and the desire to work at it.

  • A very interesting article that I think my wife would be very interested in! She is a fairly new mum and would be interested in doing something like this to stimulate her mind now she is at home and also potentially bring in a little bit of money with some thought out strategy.

  • Great article! I really enjoy web writing but having trouble finding good opportunities to freelance in this field. Most of the ads I find online are looking for people based in the US and I’m in Canada.

    Any suggestions?



    • Geoff,

      I actually run an entire website on that topic at http://AllFreelanceWriting.com — I suggest you start there. We have a group blog from experts covering various freelance writing topics, a writing forum, writer’s market directory, and more.

      One of the big things I emphasize there is that you can’t simply focus on advertised writing jobs. The best gigs are rarely advertised publicly, and freelance marketplaces are littered with bottom of the barrel gigs.

      And your location doesn’t have to be a problem. I have clients all over the world, as do many of my colleagues. Spend some time on the blog there and you’ll learn a lot about getting started without settling.

  • Good information. I have tried my hand a several on the list with limited success. (ebay, blogging, freelance writing) I found my calling about 12 years ago when I started my handyman business. Its a great business with a large variety of work and customers. It never gets boring. If your interested in doing the same check out my website. I have written a guide for new business owners that will take a lot out of the learning curve of this type of business.

  • Rich people are making more money day by day… and poor are getting poor day by day.
    if you are not born rich… have no money either for any small business. These 25 tips are very helpful for an average man.
    Very interesting article… Highly appreciated