Looking for new business ideas? If you’re housebound, have limited mobility or are a stay at home parent, it can often feel as though business ownership is out of reach. The gig economy has popularised mobile businesses and house calls, but that doesn’t have to stop you from being your own boss. To inspire you, I’ve come up with a few examples of some small business ideas and businesses you can run from home.
Home Baking and Catering
Starting a home baking business is such a classic example of entrepreneurship, and the internet makes it easier than ever to advertise to your exact target market. If you are brilliant at making vegan macarons, gluten-free cookies or Kosher desserts, why not carve out a niche? Catering is another option, and it doesn’t have to involve three-course meals for hundreds of people; you could create finger food for private birthday parties, for example. A courier or driver can help you to deliver goods if you aren’t able to make the journey yourself.
If you do decide to start a food business, be sure to apply to your local authority and have your kitchen approved before you start selling. The Food Standards Agency has a wealth of resources to help you get started.
Love animals, but can’t commit to dog walking or house sitting? Help pet owners to spoil their furry babies by making and selling special products.
Dog biscuit bakeries are an unexpected business idea that you can begin with a clean kitchen and a little knowledge of which ingredients are safe and healthy. You will need to apply to your local authority in the same way as you would if you were selling food for humans, and make sure that pet and human food are kept separate. If you plan to use animal by-products like meat or honey you will also need to be approved by the Animal and Plant Health Agency. Learn more about starting an animal feed business at the Food Standards Agency.
For cats, why not sew, knit or build high-quality toys and furniture? Your niche could be extra-potent catnip, food-shaped toys or stylish beds, hammocks and climbing trees for design lovers. Etsy is the perfect place to sell your bespoke creations.
Teaching and Tutoring
Piano lessons are a classic example of an at-home business, so why not apply the idea to your personal skill set? Knitting, for example, would be a lovely skill to teach; it’s much easier to learn in-person than from pictures or videos, and a cosy living room is a perfect venue. Languages, academic tutoring and woodwork are other examples. If you would rather work online, you could create a course for Skillshare or offer video chat lessons; these are a particularly good fit for languages and mentorship.
As a web accessibility tester, you can make a positive change by helping businesses to make their websites more accessible. This type of work includes making sure that sites work with text-to-speech software, adding captions to images, using high-contrast colours and adding headings so that text is easy to read. You can learn more about accessibility via the Web Accessibility Initiative.
Online selling is admittedly a very obvious home business idea in the UK. What you might not realise is that it doesn’t necessarily require trips to the post office or going out to source products. Couriers can collect your parcels, and drop shipping means that you don’t need to store and pack your products at all.
Another idea is consignment; people send you items that they want to sell online and share a cut of the profits with you. This is best suited to high value, specialist goods like luxury fashion or musical equipment.
If you are artistically inclined and willing to put the work into mastering an image editor, graphic design is a rewarding job and can be applied to so many industries. For example, if you enjoy making patterns, you can upload your creations to Patternbank. Every time a company uses your print you’ll receive payment, and brands regularly commission special prints from designers.
Printing is straightforward but can be as creative as you like. Letterpress printing is increasingly popular as people want to make invitations and stationery extra-special; if you prefer working with photos, you could specialise in archival quality prints for artists and memory keepers. Don’t limit yourself to paper, either. Screenprinting and digitally printing textiles are both options that are very much in demand with musicians and designers.
3D Printing and Laser Cutting
3D printing and laser cutting equipment are rather prohibitively expensive, but if you have access to this kind of machine, why not monetise it? Many designers are looking to make products from wood, perspex, vinyl and plastic but don’t have the minimum order quantities required by factories. By offering custom work you could well help another creative to get their business started.
Transcription involves rather a steep learning curve but it’s reliable work and important for accessibility, especially as we consume more media than ever before. If you are a strong typist, excellent with spelling and grammar and good at following style guides, this could be a good path for you. Many transcriptionists choose to specialise in medical and legal work.
If you’re multilingual, why not make a little money from it? Translation software is still a long way from being perfect, and the global nature of business today demands accurate, native level translation work.
Virtual assistants are essentially online personal assistants. Your day to day work might include doing research, tracking finances, making phone calls, answering emails and managing your client’s calendar.
Content writing, copy editing, proofreading and structural editing are examples of editorial services. To make it as an editor or writer you’ll need an excellent command of grammar and syntax, combined with a knack for writing with different voices and styles.
Social Media Management
This one is just as it sounds: if you know your way around content, analytics and follower counts, why not share your expertise? Your work might include scheduling posts, replying to messages, searching for mentions of the company and giving your client’s pages an image refresh.
Bookkeeping and Accounting
There’s no escaping it: financial records are part of every business owner’s life, and it’s entirely too easy to leave them to a mad scramble at the end of the tax year. If you are mathematically inclined, put the rest of us out of our misery by offering your services.
Bookkeepers manage the day-to-day cash flow of businesses and keep paperwork like invoices in order. Some will manage payroll, VAT and tax returns. You don’t need any certifications to be a bookkeeper, but many choose to register with the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers or the International Association of Bookkeepers. People often confuse accounting with bookkeeping. It occupies a similar space but is more concerned with the legal side of finance. An accountant ensures that their client is paying the right taxes and provides financial advice. You will need to qualify to be an accountant.
When it comes to choosing how you go about your accounting and bookkeeping, you may wish to go about things in the ‘old-fashioned’ way and do everything yourself. This will entail taking care of things like company accounts, expenses, any payments and payrolls you may have and more. You will also need to keep abreast of HMRC requirements like submitting your VAT. However, nowadays, most businesses will use a piece of accounting software like Xero, Quickbooks or one of the various other platforms.
These clever pieces of accounting software make every aspect of the accounting needed for your company much easier. Furthermore, with HMRC ‘Making Tax Digital,’ having a piece of accepted accounting software means you are well-covered. Knowing which software is best for you and your business though can be tricky, so there are comparison sites which are designed to help save you time and money and make the right decision.
You will need a reliable internet connection, fast computer and professional software to be a film editor. A film editor takes existing footage and cuts it together to make the final video. The editing process usually includes colour grading, synching audio and adding music. It’s repetitive work that needs precision and a little technical knowledge, so you’ll likely find that your clients are filmmakers who prefer the artistic side of things. You can find opportunities on sites like Mandy; be sure to put together a show reel with examples of your work.
Points to Remember
While you’re hopefully feeling inspired to start your own small business from home, don’t forget to thoroughly research the regulations, licenses and insurance requirements for the field you choose. In many cases it’s as simple as applying for a license and passing a routine inspection.
When you’re feeling ready, we have a wealth of resources on starting your own business. Good luck!