10 Small business ideas you can start from home (with advice from people who are doing it)

The beauty of starting a small business from home is that anyone can do it. 

Even within my immediate network, I know several friends who are already small business owners, running their business on the side, and not to mention – doing quite well for themselves. Some of them can hardly be called ‘small’ anymore, but the point is, they started from home too

On top of that, there are many good reasons for you to choose to start your small business from the comfort of your home

Benefits of starting a small business from home

Low Cost

The cost is menial when you start a small business from home. There are no office rental costs, no new subscriptions required, and no additional utility bills.

I also know first-hand that there is minimal wastage for food businesses, which is one of the main costs a retail food business can incur.

Flexibility

A small business started at home can be done as a side hustle, like many of the examples that you will see in this article. It also saves you time (how long does it take for you to travel back and forth from your office?) and lets you run your small business at your own pace. All of this means less stress, and more efficiency

Easy to start

It took me approximately 3 months of planning when I started my travel agency – From renovating the office, to the approval of various business licenses, to installing the office furniture, and setting up the office equipment. Not to mention that we couldn’t generate any income during that period of time

Comparatively, starting a home based business can be done very quickly. All you need to do is do a little planning, work on your online presence, and you’re good to go! In many instances, you can even start generating income before doing anything else, and who doesn’t like to hear their cash register ringing? Kaching!

Tax benefits

In many countries, including Malaysia and the US, running a small business from home lets you deduct a portion of your home’s expenses – such as your utility bills, internet bills, and even phone bills – against your business taxes. However, this goes without saying that there are different regulations for different countries and businesses. For detailed information, kindly refer to a local accounting professional

What constitutes a good small business idea?

There are a ton of websites writing about small business ideas that you can start from home, but I find a lot of these business ideas are not viable – either the effort outweighs the reward,  it’s too small of a market, or requires skills that are too specialized

After speaking to many small business owners, I realised a good small business idea that you can start from home have the following good characteristics:

  1. It’s actually doable. These small business ideas do not require too much equipment and do not require specialised knowledge. With practice and hard work, the skills for these small businesses can be picked up by the average joe. In fact, it’s the case in point for a few small business owners below
  2. They are in evergreen niches. Meaning it’s something that will always be around, have demand, and will not run out of style soon
  3. They have a very low starting cost. Who doesn’t like low risks and paying less money?
  4. They have a big enough market to sustain themselves and for future growth. This is usually the case when you are in an evergreen niche
  5. It’s profitable enough to justify putting your time and effort into the small business
  6. It does not require a lot of manpower to run the business
  7. The small business idea will compliment your current skill

10 Small business ideas you can start from home

Here it is – a list of 10 small business ideas that fit most of the criteria of a good small business idea that you can actually start from home (In alphabetical order)

To prove that these home based businesses are actually doable and people have seen success – I’ve reached out to some good friends and included some quotes from them such as why they started their small business, and what advice do their have for people who want to start their small business

10 Small business ideas you can start from home (with advice from people who are doing it) Click To Tweet

Small business idea # 1 – Blogging

Emily Quak

Emily is a makeup enthusiast, and one of the most successful bloggers I know. She started blogging as a way to share her enthusiasm with others and this eventually led to an extremely successful YouTube Channel and Instagram page. On top of that, she is able to work with the biggest global fashion brands.

Today, Emily works with various brands to create videos, magazine features, conduct brand events, workshops, speak on panels, and travel on brand trips. Best thing is, she has the freedom to work with people whom she shares the same values with. All of this started from a simple blog

What’s awesome about this:

  • Turning something you’re passionate about into a thriving career
  • Choosing the people who you want to work with
  • A business model which gives you the freedom to work from anywhere

Make sure you have passion for what you’re doing. Things might not kick off so quickly/easily so being fully invested in what you do will help get you through the tough times

— Emily Quak – Founder of EmilyQuak.com

Small business idea #2 – Buy and sell

On the top of my head I don’t know anyone who has made a permanent official small business out of buying and selling stuff. But I do know some friends who have made quite a bit of money buying and reselling things such as limited edition sneakers, computer accessories, and home products. Personally, I think this is a really cool side hustle to have

If you have an eye for sourcing good products and some skills for refurbishing old products, buying, refurbishing, and then selling stuffs on sites like Etsy can be a viable way of making side income

Small business idea #3 – E-book author

Quarantine Toddler

I first got to know about Sarah Levinger and heard about her story through one of the Facebook groups I was in. Trapped in her home because of the pandemic, she created an e-book of toddler workouts during quarantine in just eight days! She took 2 days for validation, 2 days for copyrighting and cover design, 2 days for illustration, and 2 days to set up her website and start selling – all while taking care of a toddler and pregnant with her second baby

What’s awesome about this

  • Product was validated (i.e. there were people wanting to buy it) even before it was created
  • 8 days from ZERO product to SELLING a product
  • Right off my head, I can think of 5 ways to expand this product

Small business idea #4 – Home Baker

Kee’s Creampuffs

Kee’s Creampuffs is a bakery that serves the best cream puffs in the world. I might also be biased about this given that I am also the co-founder of this small business????. My sister and I started Kee’s Creampuffs as part-time home bakers 11 years ago.

Our business grew solely through introduction and word of mouth. Soon after, we focused slowly on pop-up markets and food bazaars. Today, we operate as a fully online, pre-order only bakery based from a central kitchen. The best part of our business model is that there is literally zero wastage in food cost

Why is this so awesome?

  • Way lower operating costs (which equals to way higher margins)
  • Flexibility and freedom of time
  • Sustainable business model

Start small and validate your product whenever possible. Time management is very important when working from home – the importance of setting aside time for work as it’s not easy to separate personal and work time.

— Katherine – Co-founder, Kee’s Creampuffs

Adeabakery

Professionally, Arthur is a very talented engineer. Personally, he loves to watch cooking and baking channels – which led him to start Adeabakery. Originally, Adeabakery was intended as a platform to connect various home bakers with customers. Unfortunately, after 1 year Arthur decided this business model was unsustainable and switched to baking himself instead. At the present day, he specializes in kick-ass burnt cheesecake!

Why is this so awesome?

  • Starting on a part time basis
  • Being able to pivot almost immediately after knowing your business model is unsustainable
  • Being able to recover and do well with minimal financial loss

One thing I can assure those who are still considering to start a small business, I strongly encourage you to just go with it! I’ve enjoyed it so much and the affirmations from customers are always rewarding

— Arthur – Founder of Adeabakery

Little Ting Patisserie

This home-based bakery is run by a sister and brother duo – Pei Ting and Chang Xin. Chang Xin runs another small business and is running this bakery on the side. Pei Ting on the other hand, is a very experienced 5-star hotel Pastry Chef who started baking from home because she wanted a new challenge. Just looking at the cakes and pastries that they serve is literally making my mouth water now

Why is this so awesome?

  • Starting a business that is an extension of your professional skills
  • Being able to express your creative self without restriction
  • Make people’s tummies (and eyes) happy

Always bake with passion and love!

— Pei Ting – Founder, Little Ting Patisserie

Small business idea #5 – Home-cooked food

Debal Curry Kitchen

Debal Curry Kitchen is a home-based business started by mother and son duo – Karl and Jennifer – just as a fun idea to do something productive during the pandemic lockdown

Being a digital marketer, Karl utilized his knowledge and gave away free curry every night via Facebook live, he also organised a meme contest about Debal Curry Kitchen amongst his followers. Merely 30 days after starting this business, Debal Curry Kitchen has been noticed and featured by various local media sites, and Karl had to build a website just so it’s easier to handle increasing orders. Talk about where things can go for a just-for-fun project!

What’s awesome about this:

  • Crossing over digital marketing skills and cooking skills for great results
  • Watching a just-for-fun business idea turn into a success in just 30 days
  • Who doesn’t like memes?

Small business idea #6 – Online Marketing

Creative Professionals

Ruby is a passionate artist and also a digital strategist. One of her main goals as an artist is to improve the overall art scene’s online presence. That’s why when she’s not busy creating art, she makes it a point to help her fellow artists bring their art online. She also consults other businesses and assists them in fine tuning their digital strategy by organising their digital resources to achieve important business outcomes. A majority of her digital work is done at home; and doing what she enjoys have landed her regular appearances with a number of major media companies

What’s awesome about this:

  • Being able to fuse two things that you are passionate about together
  • Fighting for a bigger cause than yourself
  • Using a skillset you are proficient at to help other people

Be ready to take on radical self-responsibility, There really isn’t gonna be anyone coming to save your ass if you don’t do it yourself first

— Ruby – Founder, Creative Professionals

Copywriter

There’s a huge demand for good copywriters, especially for those who have a good track record of helping companies increase their sales through good copies. Almost every company will need one of these – attractive website copy, compelling product pages, sales copy for promotion campaigns, and more! If you have a talent for writing and are interested, or even better, have knowledge of a particular industry – being a copywriter is a good choice. Plus, it’s extremely easy to start a copywriting business from home.

Website designer

If you have a keen eye for design and have good computer skills, you can start a website design business from home. Best thing is, you don’t necessarily have to know how to code to be able to do this, although having coding knowledge will definitely give you an advantage. 

There are many businesses that need basic websites either for their corporate online presence or to use as an online brochure, but don’t have the time and resource to do so. These websites do not need much advanced functionalities and there are many platforms that you can use to create and design these websites without having to learn coding such as WordPress, Wix, and even Weebly

Did you know?

1 Day 1 Thought provides copy writing services and website design services. Some samples of my work includes 1 Day 1 Thought’s website, Kee’s Creampuffs website, and articles of my blog. Contact us here for more information

Small business idea #7 – Online Store

Everyday Flowers

Samantha is a good friend of mine runs a very successful Photobooth business. In fact, she was the one who supplied the photobooth for my wedding???? and all my guests loved it! 3 years back, she started part-time home-based florist and created an online store for her flower business.

Today, she has to rent a studio for her flower business because she has too much stuff. Best part is that she’s achieved all this with a business model that is fully online and does not accept any walk-ins

What’s awesome about this

  • Starting another small business that compliments your current business
  • No walk-ins = more time to focus on growing your business
  • Delivering smiles all around town

Flowers are magical. We want to put a smile on anyone’s face with pretty blooms

— Samantha, Founder – Everyday Flowers

Small business idea #8 – Personal Trainer

我要减肥 (I want to lose weight)

Eddy runs a Facebook page called 我要减肥 (Translated into: I want to lose weight). He does Facebook live sessions at 8pm every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday to get people to exercise together with him

In the span of 2 months, he went from starting a new page to over 1000 followers, all without any advertising. Moving on, he plans to start selling digital publishing products and health related items

What’s awesome about this

  • Managing to build a strong personal brand in such a short span of time by choosing the right niche
  • Imagine during a workout session, Eddy picks up a shaker bottle, drinks from it and says this shaker bottle is awesome. Boom, instant sales
  • Many other possibilities of expansion – meal plans, recipes, health related products

Small business idea #9 – Something that you are good at making

by Meichi

Mei Chi started off as a home based fashion designer. Initially, she made bespoke dresses, each tailored to specific customer requests. As her business bloomed and her craftsmanship leveled up through consistent practice, she moved into making wedding gowns too. Today, she owns and runs a beautiful studio that carries 3 distinct in-house labels

  1. Bespoke pieces that are tailor made to customer preference
  2. Signature wedding gown series or customised wedding gowns
  3. Made-to-measure pieces for special occasions

What’s awesome about this

  • Expanding an already successful niche into complimentary niches
  • Evergreen market, people will always get married
  • Making bespoke products means you can involve customers in the process, which means higher customer satisfaction and higher margins

Small business idea #10 – Tuition teacher

Liang J’s Mathematics

Liang Jie has been a mathematics tuition teacher for as long as I can remember. He also enjoys drawing cartoons very much. Throughout the years, he’s been able to build up a huge following of students by illustrating math questions with his unique drawing skills. He also provides private tuition from home.

Today, he is moving towards online classes because he can run his classes from home without students having to travel to his house. This way, he is able to be more cost effective, getting higher returns for a lower cost

What’s awesome about this:

  • Differentiation of a personal brand by using cartoon illustrations in his mathematics class
  • Online classes – more returns for the same amount of effort invested
  • The education industry is one of the most recession proof industries

Whatever sh*t that helps in Realising your goal, do it without hesitation. What’s the point of endlessly planning before you start doing it? Learn while you DO 

— Liang Jie – Founder, Liang J’s Mathematics

It’s not hard to start a small business from home

Like what you can see, with a good niche selection and the willingness to put in the work,starting a small business from home is perfectly doable

I realised that a lot of the small business owners I spoke to have one thing in common – whether they realise it or not, they are quite good planners. They put thought into their business model, pick a good niche, and try to lay a solid foundation for their business

But starting a business is just one side of the coin. If you are passionate about your small business and decide to put in more effort to grow it – careful planning will bring you a long way and gives you a better chance to succeed.

If you haven’t read about our ultimate challenge of starting a small business with a comprehensive business plan, you should check it out here.

P/S: We’re also giving away the exact business plan template for free

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