With the economy on the decline, more and more entrepreneurs are choosing to save their investment dollars and start their own businesses from home. With home prices declining and the stock market instability, there is a growing number of displaced workers, mothers with young children, retirees from the corporate world - and others who have chosen to start a home-based business to increase their income. The number of these potential businesses is growing dramatically. Tasks that were once routinely done by homeowners are now contracted out to others. The list of home business ideas that follows illustrates some of the business possibilities open to those who are interested in beginning their own business at a low cost and from the convenience of their homes.
- Personal Chef - This is a career opportunity that has taken off in recent years. If you have good cooking skills and a flair for food presentation, you may find this to be the perfect home-based job. You'll prepare meals for couples and families in their homes, sometimes providing a week's worth of meals to freeze. Businesses may also become clients. Start-up costs can be as low as $500, and personal chefs can make as much as $35 to $50 per hour. Type “personal chef" into your search engine for more information on starting this business.
- Children's Taxi Service - This is another growing business opportunity, providing transportation for children to and from school, medical appointments, after-school activities and other destinations. You can start with one van and expand to a company of several vans and drivers, offering transportation to children and senior citizens as well. You control the area you cover, as well as your rates and work hours. These services often charge by the month, receiving payment in advance.
- Children's Party Planner - At a time when a Bar Mitzvah or a Sweet Sixteen celebration can run into many thousands of dollars, starting a children's party planning service could be very rewarding, both personally and financially. You'll need to be creative, energetic, diplomatic and assertive, much like a wedding planner but with more freedom. You should also be attuned to area customs and expectations. Pricing your parties as packages makes sense, as it allows you to figure in your expenses. A simple theme party can start as low as $500 and run into the thousands.
- Gift Basket Business - This perennial favorite has suddenly become an annual $800 million dollar industry, and it's still growing. Gift baskets have become suitable for almost any occasion, including sympathy baskets and new pet baskets. Gift baskets do remain highly seasonal, so you'll need to be prepared for huge onslaughts of orders during holiday times. You'll also want to promote your year-round baskets for individual special occasions. Besides your creativity, you'll have to develop expertise in choosing the right products at the right prices.
- Pet Sitter Business - Pet sitting and dog walking services have grown impressively in the last few years, as people lavish more attention on their adored pets. Such “pet parents" want the very best in pet care and attention provided in their homes by animal lovers they know and trust. You'll need references from friends and neighbors, as well as membership in such organizations as NAPPS (National Association of Professional Pet Sitters). You can add services (trips to the vet for immunizations, overnight stays), with the result that your earning potential is limited only by your imagination.
- Carpet Cleaning Service - Again, this business offers lots of flexibility in time, area and type of service (private homes, businesses, contracting with a commercial service). You should have experience in this type of cleaning, and you will have to invest in equipment for either industrial or light carpet cleaning work. Hourly rates can vary between $25 and $50, with additional fees for estimates, furniture moving and other extras. You'll need to invest in a heavy-duty carpet shampooer, high quality cleaning products and reliable transportation. After start-up costs, you'll find you can make $35,000 working part time and six figures on a full time basis.
- Alteration Service - If you are fortunate enough to have advanced sewing skills and an industrial-strength sewing machine, you can have a nice home income in alterations, sewing repairs, and making everything from draperies to ball gowns. You should have accurate fitting abilities, knowledge of materials, and the creativity to bring a customer's ideas to life. A part time business can bring in around $20,000 per year - a six figure income is possible with a thriving full time alterations service. As with most home-based businesses, you'll need your own space, with room for fittings and all of your supplies and equipment.
The businesses in this article can be started at home and moved into commercial space as they grow. The feature that they share is flexibility and low cost. You can work part time, leaving room in your life for travel or raising children. On the other hand, you may decide to expand until your income reaches the six figure range. Either way, with a home-based business, the choice is strictly up to you.
Frances Howland is a writer for the award-winning web site FoundValue , best known for providing tools and information for finding business ideas , home based jobs, part-time jobs, low-cost business opportunities and business advice.