How to start a home business


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Nearly 31 million new businesses have started up in 2020 according to the U.S. Small Business Administration, and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says that just over 804,000 are small businesses like the one you might be dreaming of launching.

Look for real opportunities

The key to creating a successful home-based business is to first look for what’s missing in the marketplace. What do people need or want? That’s your opportunity.

Next, ask yourself some key questions: “What are my strengths?” “What do I excel at?” “What do I enjoy doing?” “What do I have an aptitude for?”

“The best businesses to start from home right now leverage the individual’s expertise, skill, or passion,” says business and branding consultant Clara Fairbanks, CEO of Clarity. “Look at what you can do for others. How can you add value to your community? Once you know the answers, then you ask how you can get paid for your information or services.”

Paige Arnof-Fenn, founder and CEO of Mavens & Moguls, sets a good example. “I started a global branding and digital marketing consulting business out of my home 19 years ago,” she says. “Setting up any type of consulting or coaching business is possible because all you need is some prior experience, a website, logo, name, email address, business cards, online stationery for proposals and invoices, cell phone, and a good idea to get going.”

Arno-Fenn notes that if you want to incorporate, that process will add some expense, but most of what you need can be done “on the cheap until you sign up some clients and choose to invest more.”

If you don’t have professional-level skills like marketing but enjoy landscaping or cleaning, you could develop a home-based business around those interests. “If you’re good at cleaning and have a basic knowledge of cleaning tools and chemicals, you can start offering housecleaning services in your neighborhood,” says David Cusick, chief strategy officer for House Method. Those working from home may not have the time or the will to do these things themselves, and that’s where you can step in.

Likewise, Cusick says, “if you’re into design and love to work outdoors, many homeowners and realtors can use your help to add curb appeal to yards.”

Go with your expertise

If you have expertise in marketing, human resources, coding, or similar high-level skills, consulting could be the best type of home business for you. Chelsea Baldwin, founder of Business Bitch, has helped hundreds of new entrepreneurs and freelancers start and grow their companies.

“Creatives are facing layoffs or being furloughed, and that means a lot of companies are dealing with not having those people to go to on their teams,” Baldwin says. “When push comes to shove, they look to freelancers to fill that void.”

Baldwin says you can operate from your LinkedIn profile to start until you decide to go full-time. When you’re able to position yourself as a freelance professional with a track record of achievement, you’ll have an easier time getting contracts.

So, what are the top businesses you can start from home? “If you’re thinking about leaping, pause, take a deep breath, redirect your focus on serving others with the expertise you have, and you will find a path to monetize it,” Fairbanks says. “Whether it is consulting, building an online course, starting an e-commerce store, or mowing people’s lawns, if you see an opportunity to help others, take it.”