Starting a home business can be a rewarding decision. There are hundreds of home business ideas to choose from, and the good news is many are easy and cheap to get started.
Before you start: home business essentials
Before brainstorming home business ideas, you’ll need to ensure you have the space, permission and paperwork in place to start a home business. This ranges from telling HMRC that you’re self-employed to checking any restrictions on the type of business you can run from home.
- Register as a limited company or sole trader – you must register as a sole trader with HMRC or incorporate a limited company when running a business from home. As a sole trader, you’ll need to file an annual self-assessment form and pay income tax and NICs on earnings. A limited business will need to file annual returns with HMRC, pay Corporation Tax on profits and you’ll need to take money from the business using PAYE and dividends.
- Check permissions – depending on the nature of your business, you may need special permission from your local council. If selling products from a council home or rented property, for example, you may need to get permission from the landlord.
- Space and equipment – running a business from home can be fraught if it interferes too much with your personal life. If possible, dedicate a room to running your business. Equip it with a computer, printer and broadband. You can offset some of the costs as business expenses.
How to brainstorm home business ideas
Different types of home businesses require different skills, experience and costs. While it’s tempting to jump straight in with the first home business idea you think of, it pays to do some research to ensure there is a market. Pick a home business idea that you’re enthusiastic about and are happy to put in the time over the long term – it takes time to grow a home business idea into a reliable income. However, being your own boss allows you to experiment with different types of home business ideas to find the right one for you.
Top 13 home business ideas
Stuck for inspiration? There are plenty of home-based business ideas for the UK – from dog walking and tutoring to becoming a virtual assistant or providing childminding. Use these home business ideas to start the ball rolling.
1. Child minding and day care
Childminders make around £11,000 per year per child they look after. Childminding is incredibly rewarding – helping children grow and develop new skills. It’s cheap and relatively easy to get started, though there is some paperwork. You’ll need to register with the Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted), applying to either the Early Years Register or the Childcare Register in England, or the Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales (CSSIW) in Wales, the Care Inspectorate in Scotland or the Health and Social Care Trust (HSCT) in Northern Ireland.
2. Handmade crafts
Handmade crafts are incredibly popular, with personalised gifts, vintage and retro-style crafts in high demand. Crafting is low cost – it just needs your time, skill and the cost of materials. Look to sell locally at school fairs and community events. Alternatively, make use of the growing number of websites that allow you to sell online such as Etsy, Asos Marketplace, Folksy and Handmade In Britain.
3. Dog walking and grooming
Professional dog walkers can earn up to £64,000 each year with relatively low overheads. You’ll need to have a genuine interest in dogs, be physically fit, and ideally have looked after dogs previously. While no qualifications are needed, you must be able to control the dogs in your care, adhere to legal requirements and take out public liability insurance. Expect to charge up to £20 per hour per dog.
4. Become a virtual assistant
If you’re highly organised, you could become a virtual assistant. This involves remote working from home assisting other business owners, executives and professionals on a range of tasks. Expect to charge £25 per hour upwards depending on your experience. Virtual assistants aren’t limited to email and calendar management, either. Tasks can include writing and proofing letters, operating social media accounts, invoicing and basic bookkeeping, research and planning events. You’ll need a good computer, reliable broadband and office software, as well as a webcam and communication software.
5. Drop ship ecommerce
You don’t need tons of storage space or have to invest in inventory to set up and run an ecommerce store. While it is possible to sell, fulfil and manage inventory as a home business, a better option may be to adopt a drop-ship model. This involves selling products online via your own ecommerce website and passing the orders directly to the product manufacturer or distributor. They handle the order fulfilment then share revenue from the sale with you.
6. Lodging and lettings
Renting out a room in your home is an easy way to earn an income. There are plenty of listings websites you can use to list your room. You can also hire out your driveway on a daily basis or rent out storage space such as your garage. Alternatively, consider building a lettings website of your own, encouraging local landlords to list their property on it. You’ll earn a commission for each let you arrange.
7. Writing, editing and proofing services
Armed with little more than a computer, broadband and decent writing skills, you can set up a writing, editing and proofing business from home. Proofing services include reviewing technical literature, publications or other types of commercial content. Editing includes improving CVs through to editing manuals and corporate documents. You could offer translation services if you have a degree-level understanding of a language. Writing can be anything from magazine articles to writing marketing copy for other businesses.
8. Create a YouTube channel or launch a podcast
Modern home-based businesses are rapidly embracing new technologies, opening up new avenues such as creating a YouTube channel, launching a podcast or becoming a social media influencer. The cost of entry is low. You’ll need a computer, decent video camera or audio equipment which costs around £200, and high-speed broadband. You can set up a YouTube channel and start filming and publishing videos, create regular podcasts or simply engage with social media.
The trick is to pick something you are passionate about and that has a huge amount of interest. Video games, new technology, how-to videos and film reviews are always popular. If you can build a large audience, your business can earn money through advertising or product endorsements, where companies pay for you to recommend their products.
9. Sewing, curtain-making and alterations
Plenty of people find that off-the-peg clothing doesn’t quite fit. By starting a sewing and alterations business and marketing it through local shops, dry cleaners and local offices, you can attract plenty of customers. Collect clothing from office workers for alteration and return the following day, providing hassle-free alternations for busy professionals. If you’re more creative, offer services such as curtain making or alterations.
10. Tutoring and coaching
Remote tutoring services are increasingly popular, allowing you to offer tutoring for entrance exams, GCSE subjects, A-Levels, languages and even professional coaching such as interview techniques and management skills. You can manage everything yourself – there are platforms for handling student records, lesson scheduling and invoicing – or use an online tutoring marketplace that can match you with students looking for a tutor. Expect to earn around £30 per hour upwards.
11. Home party and direct selling
Most people think of businesses such as cosmetics when thinking about home party and direct selling. This is where you sell products directly to friends, neighbours and in the local community on behalf of a national business. These can be sold directly, or you can host a home party showcasing products such as bakeware, cosmetics, kitchenware and children’s clothing. You’ll earn a commission on sales you make, and you’ll usually get support including marketing materials.
12. Affiliate marketing
Similar to drop-ship ecommerce, affiliate marketing is a home business that involves creating websites with relevant content that attracts potential buyers of a product or service. When visitors click a link to make a purchase you’ll receive a commission – up to 50% of the sale price – for any referrals you make. Successful affiliate marketing involves attracting as many potential customers as possible, with big name brands such as Amazon and eBay offering affiliate marketing programmes you can sign up to.
13. Hair and beauty
At home hair, nail and beauty treatments are ideal for busy people on a budget. You’ll benefit from lower overheads compared to leasing a shop, and you can either have customers come to your house or take your business mobile and visit them at their home. You’ll need public liability insurance and invest in beauty equipment and treatments. Some treatments are regulated, such as cosmetic procedures, and can only be carried out by a qualified, registered professional.