We’ve broken down our favorite home businesses into seven categories and ranked their startup costs, required skill level, and earning potential to help you decide which business idea is right for you.
DIGITAL ART & DESIGN BUSINESSES
These businesses require the use of digital tools to create and edit art and other media for clients. This could involve anything from editing family portraits to designing professional websites.
GRAPHIC DESIGN BUSINESS
This business is ideal for artistically-minded people who can work independently, but also effectively communicate with clients to ensure they meet their design needs. Graphic designers usually have a degree in design or a related field.
Startup expenses for a graphic design business can be relatively low, but they typically include the cost of software and a company website. Growth prospects for the business are only limited by your sales success and capacity.
PHOTO RESTORATION SERVICE
Photo restoration is ideal for highly-skilled, detail-oriented digital photo editors who enjoy working independently. It’s a niche market, but there’s room for growth by operating online and/or hiring additional digital artists.
This business requires a professional-grade scanner, as well as other high-end computer hardware and software, which can be a bit costly. With a steady stream of paying clients, you could expect profits of around $60,000 per year.
PORTRAIT PHOTOGRAPHY BUSINESS
Portrait photography is an excellent business venture for folks who have an eye for visual composition and enjoy one-on-one human interaction. That said, previous digital photography and editing experience are helpful to have under your belt. Growth potential may be modest, but there are many different niches you could focus on, such as senior pictures, family portraits, or professional headshots.
Startup costs include an array of photography and computer equipment, including cameras, lenses, lights, and editing software. Earning potential for portrait photographers varies drastically depending on the consistency of their clientele.
PHOTO EDITING BUSINESS
This business is a good fit for people with a keen eye for detail and a desire to master Photoshop or other editing software. Formal education related to photography and digital editing is helpful but not essential.
A home-based photo editing business can be started at a relatively low cost, although startup expenses do include a computer and editing software (if you don’t already have these), as well as a professional website and advertising. Since ongoing costs are also low, photo editing can easily turn into a high five-figure job.
Working as an illustrator requires both artistic ability and entrepreneurial drive. Certain illustration niches (particularly in digital multimedia and eBooks) are growing at a decent rate, meaning the work can be fairly sustainable. In order to get started, you’ll need hardware such as a computer, printer, and scanner, as well as software and art supplies.
Commercial illustrators tend to charge between $25 and $100 per hour, but ultimately your earning potential will depend on your drive to win new customers, the quality of your work, and the particular niche(s) you decide to focus on.
WEB DESIGN BUSINESS
Creative, tech-savvy individuals are great candidates for a web design business. These days, virtually everyone has or needs a website, so work is easy to come by. While it’s possible to get into this market as a beginner, having previous experience with web design and relevant software is a major plus.
The average web designer makes around $75,000 per year, and the potential is even greater if you hire on a team of designers. Of course, this may require moving the business out of your home, which would increase overhead expenses.
ADULT COLORING BOOK BUSINESS
Although they end up on paper, adult coloring books are initially designed digitally. Most coloring book designs are made with vectors, so it’s important for the designer to understand these visual principles. Anyone with a background in graphic design and enthusiasm for this rising trend has the potential to turn a decent profit in this industry.
Adult coloring books typically sell for around $10, and of course, your earning potential is determined by how many you can sell. The cost of design and publication can be significant, but so can the profits. This trend is on the upswing, as many adults are now using coloring books as a creative, even therapeutic, outlet.
SPECIALTY CRAFT BUSINESSES
These businesses involve doing things old-fashioned way: by hand. They require mastering a craft and providing products or services to clients who are looking for a personal touch.
CANDLE MAKING BUSINESS
Someone starting a candle making business should love handmade crafts and have significant sales and marketing skills. Folks who are willing to pay a higher price point for handmade candles are typically looking to enjoy a certain sensory experience. However, selling this type of specialty item does not offer as much financial security as some of the other businesses on this list.
Startup costs are low, but it’s important to keep in mind that you may need to purchase fire insurance. An ambitious candle maker can gross up to $50,000 per year -- sometimes even more via relationships with large retailers.
Woodworking businesses are started by self-motivated individuals with a deep knowledge of the craft. Most professional woodworkers start out as hobbyists, and often already have the necessary equipment and space at their disposal -- which typically makes their startup costs low.
The wood product manufacturing industry is massive and offers considerable opportunities for new businesses, but earning potential depends largely on your skill, product niche, and selling ability.
MAKEUP ARTIST BUSINESS
Professional makeup artists are highly-skilled, artistic individuals with a passion for makeup and beauty products. Many makeup artists have formal training, but these days it’s possible to get sufficient education in this field via YouTube tutorials.
Startup costs are low, and jobs in the cosmetics industry are projected to grow steadily, making this a sustainable, low-risk business venture. Particularly with the help of effective social media marketing, talented makeup artists can make high five-figure or low six-figure salaries.
If you’re interested in crafting handmade specialty products and have strong marketing and sales instincts, a soapmaking business could be a good fit for you. With solid profit margins, the growth and earning potential is only limited by your ability to find customers.
There are no formal training or experience requirements for soapmaking, and the startup costs are minimal.
CARE & HOSPITALITY BUSINESSES
These businesses involve providing services ranging from personal caretaking to housing accommodation. Whether for an hour or a week, these practices prioritize the physical comfort and well-being of the client.
BED & BREAKFAST
If you own a beautiful home and enjoy hosting guests, a bed & breakfast could be a good business for you. Because B&Bs typically only have a single location, the growth potential is low. B&B owners should have excellent interpersonal, cooking, and general maintenance skills.
Earning potential is determined by the size and location of your home, how many guests you’re able to accommodate, and the quality of experience you provide. Positive reviews on platforms like TripAdvisor can make a huge difference when it comes to achieving a steady clientele.
Open-minded, spiritual people with a passion for healing and the discipline to manage the day-to-day operations of a business might consider starting a reiki practice. Reiki healers need to undergo proper training and should have some basic knowledge of how to run and market a business.
Still, startup costs for a home-based practice are low. Depending on how many clients they’re able to see, healers make low to mid-range five-figure annual incomes.
If you travel frequently or have unused space in your home, starting an Airbnb business is a great way to monetize your existing assets. Because this business involves renting out property you already own, startup costs are incredibly low. Just like owners of independent B&Bs, Airbnb entrepreneurs should be highly personable and have basic maintenance skills.
Earning potential varies considerably depending on your location, the size and availability of your space, and the effectiveness of your listing (which includes the quality your photos, description, and reviews).
If you enjoy spending time with kids and connect well with parents, a nanny service (or babysitting business) could be a profitable venture for you. Parents are always looking for reliable childcare, so this type of service is super sustainable. Startup costs are extremely low, and essential qualifications typically only consist of CPR and first-aid training.
That said, earning potential depends on your experience, the number of families you work with, and how many children they have. According to a 2017 survey by the International Nanny Association, the average hourly rate for nannies in the U.S. is $19.14 per hour.
If you love children and have a kid-friendly, reasonably-sized home, you might consider starting a daycare. While there aren’t formal training requirements for daycare owners, most parents are quite cautious when it comes to finding safe, positive, and educational environments for their children -- so fostering this type of space is very important.
In order to do this, you’ll need to invest in things like children’s toys and educational materials, and take all necessary childproofing measures. Successful operations see profits of between $40,000 to $60,000 per year.
PET CARE BUSINESSES
Humans aren’t the only ones who need proper care. From teaching, to grooming, to accommodation, these home-based businesses involve taking care of people’s pets -- who many owners consider to be members of the family.
If you love animals and setting your own schedule, pet-sitting could be a good fit for you. There are no required skills, although most pet owners prefer their sitters have some previous experience.
Startup costs are minimal, and typically so is the earning potential. However, with a full slate of customers, a pet sitter can make $50,000 or more per year.
Dog training is a good business for patient people who have extensive experience with dogs of all ages. Dog trainers typically have certifications to show their training experience and other credentials.
If you’re already certified, startup costs are incredibly low -- especially for home-based operations. Earning potential varies depending on the number of dogs you train, but rates can be as high as $100 per hour for private lessons.
MOBILE DOG-GROOMING BUSINESS
If you’re comfortable interacting with dogs of various sizes, breeds, ages, and temperaments, you may consider starting a mobile dog-grooming business. This business calls for a bit more training and experience than other pet-related practices, as both the groomer and the dog’s safety can be put in jeopardy during the grooming process.
Startup costs are moderate, with the bulk of the expenses coming from the grooming equipment. Mobile groomers typically charge between $30 and $70 per session depending on the size of the dog.
TEACHING & COACHING BUSINESSES
People are always looking to learn new things, develop existing skills, or feel that they’re bettering themselves in some other way -- and the majority could benefit from the help of a quality teacher or coach. Sharing your expertise to help clients improve their lives can be both rewarding and profitable.
ACTING CLASSES BUSINESS
Teaching acting classes can be a profitable business for experienced actors. Much more than other businesses on this list, having formal training and a good reputation in the industry is critical if you want to succeed as an acting coach.
That being said, by operating out of your home, you’ll have virtually zero startup costs or overhead. Earning potential totally depends on two factors: your experience and your location.
ART LESSONS BUSINESS
Any practicing artist with excellent interpersonal skills might enjoy running an art lessons business. There are no formal requirements to become an independent art teacher, but having a background in art or art education could be a good selling point for your services.
Art supplies and marketing will make up the bulk of your startup expenses. If you’re a highly experienced artist, you could charge clients up to $70 per hour -- and depending on the consistency of your client base, this could earn you over $100,000 annually.
FOREIGN LANGUAGE INSTRUCTION BUSINESS
If you are fluent in a foreign language, love interacting with people, and have a passion for teaching others and sharing your knowledge, foreign language instruction could be a good path to consider. Having a degree in the language, being a native speaker, and having a foreign language teaching certificate are all desirable qualifications.
Startup costs for foreign language instructors are extremely low. Private instructors typically charge between $20 and $70 per hour, adding up to a mid-range five-figure annual income.
Former teachers, as well as experts in particular academic subjects, are good candidates for starting a home tutoring business. Tutors should be very patient and have excellent interpersonal skills. Having experience working with children is also a plus.
As a tutor, you can expect to charge between $30 and $40 per hour (or more for certain subjects). Particularly when working with children and teens, you’ll hardly have to invest in any educational materials, as they’ll bring their own from school. However, it’s important to consider that a big chunk of working hours will be in the evenings, and that business will be slow during the summer.
MUSIC LESSONS BUSINESS
Anyone who is passionate about music, highly skilled at playing at least one instrument, and excited to share their craft could be a successful music teacher. Most music teachers have some formal music training or education, although some are self-taught. Either way, this line of work can be very sustainable, as students tend to stay with the same music teacher for years.
Odds are that as a skilled musician, you already own the equipment you need to get a home-based music lessons business going. With expenses so low, most of the $30 to $60 per hour you charge will be profit.
LIFE COACHING BUSINESS
Unlike formal counseling, life coaching doesn’t require any particular training or certification. Anyone with great people skills who has been able to achieve their own goals could be a good candidate for life coaching. That said, there are certification programs that can help you stand out and add legitimacy to your business.
Startup costs are minimal, as are overhead expenses -- and depending on your location, life experience, and overall client satisfaction, this type of practice can make you a very good living. The average life coach in the U.S. makes around $60,000 per year, but six-figure annual incomes are not at all uncommon for successful life coaches.
In the modern moment, more people than ever are making a living by creating or leveraging online platforms, or using other digital skills. Below are a few businesses that tech-savvy entrepreneurs can easily start and run from their homes.
SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING BUSINESS
People who are highly familiar with a variety of social media platforms and have a knack for communicating with a range of demographics can be very successful in this business. The number of companies using social media to engage with potential customers is on the rise, so if you bring the right skills to the table, you could run a very profitable and sustainable operation.
No formal training is necessary, but it’s essential that you have a keen sense of how to engage people on various social media platforms – and this skill comes much more naturally to some than others. Successful full-time social media marketers earn an average of $50,000 per year, although many make over $100,000.
WEB DEVELOPMENT COMPANY
If you are skilled at computer coding, have excellent attention to detail, and enjoy problem-solving, you might consider working in web development. Web developers are well-versed in the fundamentals of design imaging, multimedia design, content management, and multimedia programming and technology.
Training requirements (and therefore, startup costs) vary -- many developers are self-taught, tech-savvy individuals, while others have Master’s degrees in programming. An entry-level developer can expect to make between $25 to $100 per hour, while more experienced developers can earn as much as $200 hourly.
Anyone who is excited by the process of collecting and analyzing data could be a good fit for a survey business. Having a background in psychology and/or marketing is a plus, but not totally essential.
Startup expenses are minimal, especially if you’re using original content. While there are a lot of survey companies out there, there’s also plenty of demand. Still, some argue that you can’t make a living conducting surveys, but it really comes down to what niche(s) you’re working in and how many surveys you’re administering.
VIRTUAL ASSISTANT BUSINESS
Someone who is organized, responsible, attentive, and tech-savvy may be a good virtual assistant business. Any experience as a personal or executive assistant would be helpful, as would a background in writing or marketing.
Startup costs are low and the industry is growing, but the main challenge is that many clients are looking to hire people from overseas who will work for a fraction of the price. However, if you can market yourself well and show that you provide a lot of value, earning $30,000 to $50,000 per year is not unrealistic.
CURRENCY TRADING BUSINESS
If you are good with numbers and enjoy taking risks, you may want to look into currency trading. There are no experience or skill requirements, but you will need to be licensed if you decide to become a broker and trade for clients.
Startup costs are minimal, and growth and earning potential are unlimited. The primary factors influencing your profits are the amount of money you are working with and the success of your trades.
An eCommerce store is an excellent business option for someone who is knowledgeable about computer programming and web design, and interested in selling products online. That said, if you don’t want to create your own eCommerce website, you can always create a store on an existing platform like eBay or Etsy.
If you choose to build your own eCommerce website, startup expenses will include inventory, marketing, servers, and website security. These costs can be quite significant, especially when they require hiring professional help. However, if you invest the necessary time and money upfront, your earning potential is unlimited.
LIVE STREAMING BUSINESS
Live streaming can be a profitable venture for skilled gamers with engaging personalities. Since virtually every professional live streamer starts as a gaming enthusiast, they typically already have most of the necessary equipment. However, they may need to invest in a high-quality mic and some other streaming technology.
This industry is growing quickly, and full-time streamers who attract a large number of subscribers can make between $3,000 and $5,000 per month. The most popular streamers have annual incomes as high as $300,000.
If you enjoy public entertainment and are a skilled interviewer and conversationalist, you may have considered podcasting. When it comes to running a podcast, having knowledge of a particular niche is important. Marketing experience comes in handy as well. Startup expenses are low, with the necessary equipment costing as little as $1,000 in total.
Earning potential depends entirely on the podcaster’s ability to attract listeners and sponsors. Some podcasters never turn a profit, while others bring in tens of thousands of dollars per episode. If you have the time and the passion, it’s possible you could run a highly lucrative podcast.
WRITING & PUBLISHING BUSINESSES
Even in today’s digital world, the written word is everywhere. Whether in the form of a blog post, a children’s book, or a business plan, writers and publishers today are working to meet the steady demand for high-quality content.
FREELANCE WRITING BUSINESS
Freelance writing is the perfect business for skilled writers who enjoy having a flexible schedule and are motivated enough to meet deadlines and satisfy client demands. Research skills and a varied writing background are important points of leverage for a freelance writer.
Aside from any marketing expenses, startup costs only consist of a computer -- which you most likely already have. Freelance writers should initially expect to earn between $20,000 and $30,000 annually, and upwards of $50,000 per year after gaining some experience.
A strong command of the English language and a very close eye for detail are critical traits of a successful proofreader. Having an English degree or some formal training in copyediting can be extremely helpful for professional proofreaders.
Most proofreaders charge around $25 per hour, which adds up to an annual income of about $50,000. There’s minimal growth potential in this line of work, but much like freelance writers, proofreaders have minimal startup costs and tons of flexibility.
GRANT WRITING BUSINESS
If you’re able to write very clearly and concisely (and ideally have some experience with nonprofits), grant writing could be a good business for you. Understanding the objectives of nonprofits as well as funders is essential for effective grant writers.
Grant writers in the U.S. make around $70,000 per year, which is significantly higher than the average freelance writer. This can be a very profitable niche for writers with the desire to learn how to do it well.
In addition to the ability to craft engaging content, knowledge of and passion for a particular topic are the most important qualities for a blogger to have. Having some social media and web design experience can also be beneficial.
The main startup expenses bloggers have are domain registration and hosting, both of which can be fairly cheap. However, earning potential varies considerably, and some never make any money whatsoever. It’s an uncertain venture, but if you’re already creating the content, it’s worth trying to monetize.
Transcriptionists convert voice recordings into written documents, which requires full attention, fast typing, and a solid grasp of English grammar. If you meet these criteria and don’t mind the nature of the work, a home-based transcription business is worth considering.
Required experience varies depending on your niche. Most transcriptionists don’t require formal certification, but those working in the medical field do. A full-time transcriptionist in the U.S. can expect to make a low to mid-range five-figure income.
CHILDREN'S BOOK BUSINESS
Most people who start children’s book businesses have previous writing experience, and many have already written their own books. However, even if you are in the early phases of a story concept, a children’s book business could be a worthwhile venture -- particularly if you have significant experience with children.
Startup costs are relatively high, with illustration, publishing and marketing expenses being the most significant. However, children’s books can be quite profitable, especially if you’re able to create popular series. The only problem is that nothing is certain in this industry -- ultimately it comes down to how many books you’re able to sell.