Expert answers to home-based business questions

home-based business

With so many of us working from home these days, the small business landscape has changed. Maybe your team is slowly starting to return to the office, or maybe you’re exploring the idea of remote working in the future. Maybe you’ve become inspired to start a home-based business of your own.

Our GoForth Experts have fielded lots of questions about home-based businesses over the years, and have answers about topics such as zoning, permits, the home-based business lifestyle – and more! Here are a few home-based business questions our expert entrepreneurs have answered:

Have a question of your own? Search our database of over 1,000 small business questions and find answers from our expert entrepreneurs.

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56 businesses you can start from home

home-based business ideas

Many entrepreneurs run home-based businesses. These self-employed entrepreneurs work alone, or have a few employees. Home-based businesses usually don’t have a storefront, street advertising signs or customer parking. Home-based entrepreneurs, despite the name, may have an office, studio or workshop, depending on their business. This sort of business has several pros, including greater schedule flexibility, no dress code, potential savings on expenses such as childcare, and availability of tax deductions. And with the prevalence of online productivity and collaboration tools, running a business from home is easier than ever.

Sounds great, right? If you think starting a home-based business might be ideal for you, here are 56 small businesses you can start from home, either full-time, or on the side:

  • Social media influencer
  • Video creator/editor
  • Copywriter
  • Travel writer
  • Personal trainer
  • Tutor
  • Home inspector
  • Financial planner
  • Bookkeeper/accountant
  • Photographer
  • Event planner
  • Visual artist
  • Blogger
  • Computer repair
  • Make-up artist
  • Freelance journalist
  • Personal assistant
  • Editor
  • Graphic designer
  • Web designer
  • Web developer
  • Wedding planner
  • Bicycle repair
  • Social media management
  • IT consultant
  • Marketing consultant
  • Grant writer
  • Alterations or sewing
  • Hairstylist
  • Manicurist
  • Personal shopper
  • Virtual assistant
  • Transcriptionist
  • Massage therapist
  • Bed & breakfast
  • Daycare
  • Clothing designer
  • Dog walker/pet sitter
  • Pet groomer
  • Dog trainer
  • Online reseller
  • Jewelry designer
  • Gardening
  • Video game review writer
  • Ceramicist
  • Music instructor
  • Purse designer
  • Notary public
  • Language instructor
  • Home organizer
  • Home cleaner
  • Interior decorator
  • Business coach
  • Personal chef
  • Caterer
  • Woodworking

As always, we strongly recommend proper research and planning when starting a small business. Entrepreneurs starting a home-based business should be especially wary of scams and opportunities that sound too good to be true. Also, investigate any licenses and permits your home-based business may need before getting started.

Check out these posts for more information and advice about home-based businesses:

How to identify a work-from-home scam
You should sell these! How to start a business selling your handcrafted work
Perks and snags of internet or home-based businesses
Home-based business permits and expenses
Small business permits and licenses in Canada
Tools to help entrepreneurs stay productive

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How to identify a work-from-home scam

legitimate work from home businessStarting a small business from home definitely has its perks, including time to run errands during the day, increased workspace flexibility, and money saved on transportation. So if you encounter a company that claims to give you the freedom to work from home, it can be tempting. However, not all home-based business programs are as good as they seem. Here are a few ways you can identify home-based business scams:

  • Read the terms and conditions on the company’s site very carefully. You may be asked to pay a small fee for the start-up DVD or instruction guide. Be sure you can return this material without incurring even more fees.
  • Look for money-back guarantees or free, no-obligation trials.
  • If you can discuss the program directly with a representative, then there’s a good chance it’s a legitimate home-based business opportunity. Be wary of people who are evasive about your questions, pressure you into signing up, or insist that you pay for more information.
  • Companies that insist you must spend exorbitant amounts of money in order to work for them are usually not reputable.
  • Research the company as thoroughly as you can. Do an online search of messageboards, member blogs, and review sites. Talk with people you know who may be involved with the program.
  • Be suspicious of sites that boast mind-blowing income promises. No business can promise you $25,000 a week for four hours of work. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Trust your instinct!
  • Even if promises of great income seem realistic, many companies post the income expectations of their highest earners – not the average.

For more information, check out what our GoForth Expert Carla Young had to say about finding legitimate home-based business opportunities.


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Small business inspiration: Inklings Paperie

party-small-businessAt GoForth, we know that being creative and open to new ways of thinking can be a great source of small business inspiration. That’s why we love the story of Inklings Paperie, an American company based out of Michigan that creates customizable scratch-off greeting cards, telegrams, and lunchbox notes, as well as other paper goods.

Inklings owner Lindsay Henry has a background in corporate design. After friends began to ask her to design bridal and baby shower cards and games for them, she realized that there wasn’t much new and exciting going on in that space. According to her website, “I learned that 27% of bridesmaids consider shower-planning their least favorite part of being a bridesmaid, and that only 7% consider it one of their favorite parts.”

In an interview with WXYZ Detroit, Henry describes her a-ha moment, after creating scratch-off cards and games for a baby shower:

“People loved them, they were responding well to them, asking if we had different designs and I thought, wow, there’s really an opportunity for a beautifully made whimsical games and cards that people were looking for, that were different and unique.”

Henry opened her Etsy shop in 2010, and her home-based business has grown to include full-time staff. Inklings products are sold in stores across the US and around the world, and have even been featured in celebrity swag bags at the 2012 Emmy Awards!

Approximately 60% of new business ideas come from our own work experience, and the story of Inklings Paperie is a great example of an entrepreneur using her creativity and professional background as a jumping-off point for success in entrepreneurship.

You can watch a video interview with James and get a behind-the-scenes look at this unique small business on WXYZ’s website.

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From the archives: Forty-three small businesses you can start from home

Do you want to start a home-based business in Canada? Are you unsure whether your ideal business can even be run from home?

Check out our mega-list of 43 small businesses you can start from home – including things like event planning, music instructor, carpenter, even pet groomer!

As always, be sure to check with your local and provincial Powers That Be to make sure you’ve got all the necessary permits and licenses in place to operate your home-based business!

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