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This is a very broad topic, and what it means to different people varies widely. Some picture sitting in their living room with a computer while others see a traditional business run out of their home. I’ve covered a lot of ideas for the computer based crowd already in Work From Home On The Computer. In this article I want to focus on the more traditional home based business ideas with low startup costs. These are all ideas you could probably start right away with items you already own.
The ideas here are for those people who like the physical side of work, but want to be in control of when, where and how they do that work. Knowing that the money earned from your efforts goes directly into your pocket instead of being sent to a corporate office comes with a sense of pride that is hard to find anywhere else. Being able to step back when the job is done and say “I did that,” and to be financially rewarded for that accomplishment is an amazing feeling.
So for those of you who want to get out there and see the fruits of your labor directly affecting your bank accounts, here are some business ideas you can start with items you already own.
- Residential Cleaning
- Home Repair/Handyman
- Yard Care
- Car Detailing
- Auto Repair
- Parking Lot Cleanup
- Storm Cleanup
- Roof Shoveling
Maybe the idea of washing windows and scrubbing toilets doesn’t appeal to everyone, but you can make a very nice living cleaning other peoples’ homes. How much you can make on each house will depend on what services you offer and which ones your clients choose to have you perform. If all they need down is dusting and vacuuming once a week, you may make $25-50 on that house. If they want a whole top-to-bottom cleaning, depending on the size of the house you could be looking at a couple hundred dollars. What does that mean for you? Well, if you work fast it could mean making upwards of $25 an hour.
How much will it cost to get started? Probably next to nothing. You already clean you own house, right? That means you’ve already got the tools you need to clean someone else’s house. So no cost for tools.
It would be a good idea to get a basic business insurance policy, just in case you knock something over and break it while you’re cleaning. This type of insurance can cost as little as $250 a year. After you have a few clients lined up, a week’s worth of work could easily cover your yearly insurance expenses.
Do you take care of fixing things around your house? Have you got a hammer, tape measure, saw, and screw gun? Then you’ve probably got what you need to start a home repair or handyman business. As every homeowner knows, things break and need to be fixed. Maybe the kids get a little rambunctious and put a whole in the Sheetrock. Sometimes deck railings get old and fall apart. A neighborhood baseball game could end up with a home run going right through a living room window. If you know how to take care of these kinds of issues, you could have a nice little income on your hands. Depending on the area you live, a handyman can charge upwards of $40 an hour. Some jobs you wouldn’t even have to give an hourly rate. How much do you want to charge to replace that window? A flat rate of $250 plus the cost of the material is very typical, and if you know what you’re doing it won’t take much longer than an hour. That’s about $250 an hour!
How much will it cost to get started? Not a lot if you already have the tools to take care of your own house.
You will definitely want to get basic business insurance. When you are taking things apart and putting them back together on someone else’s house, you don’t want the liability for any possible damages hanging over your head. Talk with an insurance agent about coverage. If you plan on staying as a handyman rather than a full-on general contractor, you won’t need a huge policy, and it shouldn’t cost you more than a few hundred dollars a year.
Nature doesn’t care how busy your life is. Leaves will fall, grass will grow, and weeds will continue to poke through gardens. Some people simply don’t have the time to take care of their yards. Others just don’t want the hassle. That creates an opportunity for you if you like working outside. Do you have a lawnmower, rake, shovel, hedge trimmer, pruning shears, loppers, and gloves? If you’ve got all of that, you’re ready to tackle just about any yard job a homeowner could toss your way. When you get the call take a look at the property and what they want done. Figure out about how long you think it will take, and how much you think the job is worth. Think it will take you two hours and you want $100 for the job? Go ahead and tell them it will be $100. The worst that could happen is they say it’s too much. “How about $75?” For two hours work, that’s still $37.50 an hour. Not a bad pay rate to be outside and get a little exercise at the same time!
How much will it cost to get started? That all depends on what yard care tools you already have, and if you have a pickup. Using a push mower to mow other peoples’ lawns? You can load that in the back of your truck. Using a riding mower? If you don’t already have one, you’ll need to buy a small trailer to get the mower back and forth.
You will want basic business insurance. That mower could easily toss a rock through a window. Getting a little out of hand with the hedge trimmer you could buzz off the top of a mature rose bush. You don’t want to have to pay for these out of pocket. Luckily, a policy for a basic yard care service is only a couple hundred dollars a year in most areas.
Is yours the shiniest car on the street? Does the interior look like you just drove it off the lot? If so, you’ve got an opportunity for a lucrative business. Some people pay big money to keep their cars looking showroom ready. If they’re anything like me, they don’t want to be the one vacuuming the upholstery, scrubbing the rims, and polishing the dash. That’s where you come in. If you enjoy keeping cars looking new and sparkling, toss your polish, sponges, and car vacuum in your trunk and head to your client’s house to get their car looking like new. Don’t feel like taking your equipment to them? Good thing cars are portable. You can have your clients come to you and do the work in your own driveway or garage and have them pick their car up later.
How much will it cost to get started? If your car is already sparkling clean, probably nothing. You will have to resupply your polishes, waxes and sponges now and then, so set aside 15% from each job to reinvest in your business and make sure you always have your supplies on hand. If you don’t end up using the entire 15% you’ve set aside, put it in savings for later!
Definitely get basic business insurance coverage. Even a cheap car costs about $20,000 brand new, and repairs aren’t cheap either. If you end up breaking something you don’t want to have to worry about replacing it out of pocket. Do you plan on having your customers come to you? Make sure you talk with your insurance agent about your homeowners insurance. Doing business on the property could increase your premium, or require a different type of coverage.
Are you the one that friends and family call when their car is making funny noises? Do you have a garage full of more wrenches than the tool aisle at Sears? If so, you could open up shop in your garage and make a decent living with a 30-second morning commute! Oil changes. Tune ups. Belt replacements. A/C recharge. Brake jobs. Any or all of these could be done in short order right out of your garage. Most shops charge upwards of $40 for a simple oil change. How long would it take you to do that job? 15 minutes? Schedule 4 back-to-back and you just made $160 an hour before expenses. That’s not a bad take for an hour’s work. What will you do for the rest of the day? Brake job? $400. That sounds like a decent day to me!
How much will it cost to get started? If you already have all the tools you need, nothing! If you want to install a lift, then you’re talking a little investment! It all depends on what you already have, what you want to have, and how big an operation you intend to have. Just keep in mind that you will have to get rid of waste fluids, and this will cost you as well. Call around and get quotes on disposal fees before you dive in head first. You will also need to contact your town or city to make sure that operating this type of business is permitted where you live.
Definitely get basic business insurance. Whenever you take someone’s car apart, you run the risk of something going wrong when you put it back together. If you are a good mechanic that risk is minimal, but it’s still there. Get the insurance just in case. Also, if you are running your shop out of your home garage, make sure to contact your insurance agent about your homeowners policy. Running a business out of your home may increase your premium or require a different type of coverage.
Picking trash up after other people may not sound like the most fun to be had, but it can earn you a nice living. Have you ever noticed the street sweepers driving through parking lots for grocery stores and department stores? They don’t do that for free! Those stores, or the property owner if the store doesn’t own the property, have to pay to have those sweepers clean their lots. You could do the same thing, just on a smaller scale (at least, I’m assuming you don’t own a street sweeper!). Take a walk around your neighborhood and look at the parking lots of smaller businesses. Think along the lines of convenience stores, neighborhood dry-cleaners or delis. Are the parking lots clean, or are there wrappers and cigarette butts lying around? If you see trash in the parking lot, head in and ask to talk to the manager or owner. Maybe they clean it themselves when and if they have they time. That’s your chance to offer your services. For most of them, not having to take the time out of their day would be worth $100 once a week to have you do it for them. It’s worth asking, right?
How much will it cost to get started? Head to your local Home Depot, buy a broom, a long-handled dustpan, and a box of trash bags. Initial investment, less than $50. You could easily make that back on the first parking lot you clean!
Basic business insurance would be a good idea. You’ll be working on someone else’s property, and in close proximity to their customers’ cars. Insurance may not be a requirement for this type of work, but it’s a good idea. Also, if you walk into the store and ask if they are looking for a parking lot cleaning service and you can honestly tell them that you’re insured, they’ll feel much better about paying for your service. Not only does it reduce their liability if you have insurance, it makes you seem that much more professional.
Do you live in an area that gets a lot of storms? Maybe high winds, hurricanes, tornadoes. Any kind of frequent weather that makes a mess of yards can provide you with a business opportunity. People have jobs, and may not have the time or the energy to clean their yards after a storm. If you can put up a sign that says you’ll clean up the mess for them, you are sure to get some phone calls. Get the call, head to the house, assess the damage, and figure out how long it will take you to clean the yard up and looking nice again. Give them your price, and you’ll probably be surprised to find that most won’t even think about arguing about it. They just want their yard looking right again, and don’t have the time to do it themselves. It’s worth it to them to pay you for that service.
How much will it cost to get started? If you already have a pickup truck and basic yard care items like a chainsaw, rake, and shovel, you probably won’t need to spend a dime on equipment. As you get going and start building a name for yourself, you may get called for bigger cleanup jobs that require more equipment, but to get going you should be alright with what you’ve already got.
Definitely get basic business insurance. Cleaning up things that are already a mess and broken may make it sound like there’s no need for insurance, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Take a downed limb as an example. It could have fallen against something, but not broken it. When you move that limb to clean it up, you might drop the end through a window or knock down a fence. Get the insurance, and be covered in case of an accident.
Do you live in an area that gets snow? Then roof shoveling could be a great source of extra seasonal income. Where I grew up there were a lot of trailer parks and modular home parks. The roofs were relatively flat, and snow built up quickly. I could easily shovel one of these roofs and cleanup what dropped onto decks and into walkways in an hour, and I charged $125 per roof! I’m sure prices are higher now, and the $125 I charged was for a simple single-story ranch. There could be a lot of money for you if you started doing this. Not a lot of people are comfortable getting up on a roof in the best of times, so forget it if there’s snow up there! And when you show up to do the job you were called for, a lot of times the neighbors will see what you’re doing and ask you to do theirs when you’re finished!
How much will it cost to get started? Do you have a snow shovel, a ladder, and a way to get the ladder to the job? If so, it won’t cost you anything, because that’s all you need! Get your ladder and shovel to the house, stand the ladder up, climb up on the roof with your shovel, and push the snow off the roof. That’s the job.
Definitely get basic business insurance. Running a shovel over someone’s roof comes with some risk. If you peel up shingles their roof is going to leak, and a leaky roof can lead to very expensive repairs. You don’t want to have to worry about that. Be careful, and you shouldn’t have a problem. But be smart about it and get the insurance, just in case.
These are just a few out of hundreds upon hundreds of home based business ideas with low startup costs. I will certainly add more as time goes on, so make sure you check back!
I would love it if you could leave me a comment below. Let me know what you though of these ideas. Give me some suggestions for other ideas that I should add to make this list better. Ask me any questions this list may have brought up. I would really like to hear from you, and I will get back to you as soon as I can.
Thanks for reading,