Do you dream of being your own boss? Would you love to step out of the rat race and work to your own agenda instead? Starting a business from home can be a fantastic way to get back in control of your own future.
But, whilst this can be an alluring prospect, the idea of heading out on your own can be a daunting experience. Most business owners will tell you that it can be really hard work, but that it comes with a huge sense of satisfaction.
With that said, it can sometimes be difficult to work out what your dream business might be. So we’ve come up with 10 very different home business ideas, which could offer you the kind of work-life balance you’ve been looking for.
1. Online Tutor
If you’re looking to start a home-based business with a particularly high satisfaction rate, then tutoring a child or young person online is an extremely rewarding way to share your knowledge and experience. If you choose to tutor people online, then there’s usually no need to worry about insurance or licences, and you’ll be able to take on clients from around the country without leaving the comfort of your own home.
Private tutors typically earn between £20 and £40 per hour, and get the chance to watch their students grow and progress with each tutoring session. There are opportunities to tutor individuals in most subjects, so you can choose your area and level of expertise. You may hold relevant qualifications in this area or you may have built up substantial knowledge in a particular subject area through other means.
The number of hours you choose to work are completely up to you, as the role is fully flexible and you can take on as little or as much work as you like. You can find everything you need to get started by visiting companies such as Tutorful and Tutorfair. Setting up a profile is easy, and you can get started in a few simple steps.
2. Dog Groomer
For the avid dog lover, Dog Grooming is a convenient way to spend time around animals whilst running your own business – as well as giving you the chance to get in touch with your creative side. A Dog Groomer’s job is to make dogs look, feel and smell fantastic by providing a full range of grooming services such as coat maintenance, nail clipping, and ear/teeth cleaning.
The way that each dog is groomed will often depend on their breed type – as different coat types may be washed, fluffed and trimmed differently. The best way to get to grips with how to groom different dogs is to either train on the job as an employee in a dog grooming salon, or to gain an industry-recognised qualification and start your business at home.
If you’re keen to set up from home, then there are plenty of courses out there that can teach you the essential skills and knowledge you need to get started. Whilst you’re still getting to grips with your new skills, it’s a good idea to practice on your own dog or on the dogs of willing friends and family members. Once you start to build up your confidence, you can ask them to recommend you to other people they know. You may also want to advertise your services on social media or on community notice boards.
Alternatively, you could apply for a job as a trainee first to build your confidence before going it alone – there are plenty of part and full-time opportunities available.
Due to the extraordinarily strong bond between owners and their dogs, it’s important that before you start your business, you have public liability insurance and professional indemnity insurance, which will cover you against any claims of wrongdoing whilst dogs and their owners are in your home. It’s also worth looking into companies who offer insurance that is specifically related to animal-related industries, as these can cover you against more unusual circumstances related to animals, for example, if a dog escapes from your home!
3. Virtual Assistant
Do you enjoy being organised? Do you like helping others? If so, you could get comfy at home whilst providing online support to companies, entrepreneurs and anyone who needs help with a range of online tasks. This could include anything from administration and research, through to managing a company’s social media pages.
The best way to get started as a Virtual Assistant is to first decide what kind of services you’d like to offer your clients and whether you will charge per task/project, or per day/hour.
Once you’ve done this, you then need to start making your online presence known so that people know you are available to be hired. The best way to start networking and meeting clients is to join websites for freelancers such as People per Hour, where you can list yourself as a Virtual Assistant and start applying for jobs. Some people need help with one-off tasks, while others need help on a long-term basis, so it’s up to you to choose what sort of work arrangement would suit you best.
It’s also a good idea to set up your own website and build out your LinkedIn profile, which will tell people about you, your services and how they can contact you. Once you have a few regular clients, you can ask them to provide you with testimonies for your site, which will enhance your credibility.
Working with children is a great way to reconnect with your inner child and gain a fresh perspective on life. One of the great things about children is that they often see things in black and white, which means that they don’t tend to worry about or complicate things in the same way that adults do. Their days often consist of cartoons, potato smiley faces, finger paints and playdough – and their happy-go-lucky, carefree nature can be a refreshing change from working in a more serious adult environment.
If you’d like to become a childminder and be paid to look after children in your own home, then it’s important that you become Ofsted registered – which you can usually do for a small fee. In order to register, you’ll need:
- A UK criminal record certificate, which you can apply for here.
- Criminal record certificates for anyone aged 16 or over who also lives in your home.
- First aid training which is relevant to the age group that you’ll be looking after.
- Childcare training – which can usually be organised through your local council.
- A health declaration booklet.
- Contact details for 2 references.
Once your application has been processed (which usually takes about 12 weeks) and you’ve been added to the Ofsted register, the best way to start building up a client base is through friends and family, or on websites such as ChildCare.co.uk. Once you have a handful of regular clients who feel they can trust and rely on you, it’s likely that they’ll start recommending you to other people.
5. Pet Sitter
For animal lovers, getting paid to hang out with a few furry friends at home may seem too good to be true – but it really isn’t! And whilst pet sitting is a role that has always been around, the culture of it is changing. With more people becoming so career focussed and embracing opportunities to travel for work and work into later life, pet sitting is something which is becoming more widely available through sites such as Tailster* and Pawshake – which are great for building up clients when you’re first starting out.
PDSA estimates that 49% of UK households now own a pet (with the majority of these being dogs and cats), which means there are plenty of animals out there just waiting to be walked, cuddled and loved while their owners are away.
The great thing about starting a pet sitting business from home is that start-up costs are usually low as most pet owners will just want to know that you’re reliable and trustworthy with an enthusiasm for their pet. Although it’s not compulsory, many pet sitter’s invest in insurance to protect their business from any costs that may result from a pet becoming injured or unwell whilst in their care – the price of which will vary depending on your individual circumstances.
Success is so much sweeter when you can really immerse yourself in a career you love. So if you love getting creative in the kitchen, then you could consider turning your favourite hobby into a home business. For many people, baking is a chance to combine a love of food with a creative passion – and with shows like the BBC’s Great British Bake-Off inspiring millions of people every year, it’s unsurprising that more people are recognising the potential that a career as a professional baker has to offer.
Chances are – if you’re already a keen baker – you’ll already have a lot of baking equipment you need. Apart from making sure you have the right equipment and ingredients, there are a few other things you need to take care of before you can legally cook and sell food to members of the public:
- Register your food business with your local council at least 28 days before you start selling. This is completely free – and once registered, a member of the council will make regular visits to your home to check that your kitchen complies with the regulations set out by the Food Standards Agency. These visits are nothing to worry about – they are just the council’s way of making sure that the baking delights you’re selling are being prepared in a clean and hygienic environment.
- Get permission to run your baking business at home from your landlord, home insurance provider and/or mortgage lender. The good news is that, by law, they cannot delay or withhold permission without a good reason.
- Many home bakers get public and product liability insurance. These make sure that if a member of the public comes to your property to collect their order and injures themselves, or claims they have become unwell as a result of your baked goods, that you can cover the relevant legal or medical costs.
- Anyone who wants to run a food business should also have appropriate food hygiene training. Oddly, the law doesn’t state specifics about what this training should be, but it is strongly recommended by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) that you aim to get a Level 2 Food Hygiene Certificate, by taking a short training course. This will prove to people that you have been taught how to handle, prepare and bake food products safely and may increase business.
7. Freelance Writer
Are you a keen writer in your spare time? If you love expressing your creativity through words, then freelance writing is something you could do to make money from home.
Freelance writers are classed as self-employed and typically tend to write for more than one client. Some freelance writers enjoy variety and will write anything from horoscopes to news articles, whilst other writers prefer to adopt a niche (for example, animals, finance, beauty etc).
The best way to start getting paid jobs is by proving that you can write well – and the best way to do this is by putting together a portfolio of all your favourite pieces of work. Free websites like Issuu or Medium are great for keeping your work all in one place, so that it’s easy to show to potential employers. It can also be useful to start a blog about something you’re passionate about, as this is when your writing will usually be at it’s best.
Once you’ve got your work out there for people to see, the best way to get started – if you’ve got little or no paid experience – is to join freelance sites such as Upwork, where you can apply for a range of one off writing jobs. Once you’ve had a few paid jobs, you’ll be able to start building up a network of regular clients, who may also recommend you to other employers.
If you’re a people person, and you like the idea of helping other people look and feel great, then there’s no reason why – with a little time and effort – you can’t set up your own salon at home or travel to clients in your local area.
You don’t need any formal qualifications to get started, but nearly all hairdressers will have some sort of training before they take on their first paying client. If you’re keen to bypass the route of working as an employee in a salon first, and would rather set up your own business at home, then the best thing you can do to help clients feel confident in your ability, is to take a fast-track training course first. You may also want to start by cutting, dyeing and styling friends or family members’ hair (who you feel more at ease with), before working on strangers.
In order to get your business up and running, you may need permission from your:
- Landlord, home insurance provider or mortgage lender- who you can contact directly.
- Local council – who may want to check that you are following health and safety rules and issue you with a licence.
As you will be having customers visit your home regularly – and you will be working with sharp objects and things like hair dye which contain strong chemicals – it’s best practice to make sure that you have the right insurance. Most self-employed hairdressers have public and professional liability insurance (which will protect you against accidents and injuries that may occur whilst the person is in your care) and also specialist hairdressers’ treatment risk insurance, (which will protect you against any claims for hair products and dyes).
9. Sell handcrafted items
If you already spend your evenings and weekends handcrafting greetings cards, making unique jewellery pieces, or making wood carvings for fun, then you may be able to turn your casual hobby into a business that you can run from home.
Once upon a time, the only way people could make a living by making and selling handcrafted pieces was by lugging them all to a market or a car boot sale. But with sites like Etsy becoming increasingly popular, it’s never been easier to make and sell your creations without leaving your front room. It’s literally as easy as deciding what it is you want to sell, making sure you have all the right materials to start crafting, and listing items for sale on your online shop. Then, when an item sells, you simply package it up and take it to the post office.
The most difficult part of selling handcrafted items can be building up customers – which is why it’s a good idea to find different ways to promote your online shop – e.g. by setting up a Facebook page or an Instagram account and getting as many followers as you can. You may also want to start off selling your handmade items to friends and family, or visiting local craft fairs where you can show off your handy work to others and hopefully encourage more sales.
10. Bed and breakfast owner
If you’ve got some extra space in your house, then why not consider turning it into a bed and breakfast? This is a great way to make use of unused space whilst providing people with a home-away-from-home experience on their travels.
Running a B&B is fairly straightforward, but there are several considerations and adjustments you’ll need to make to your home before you make it available to paying customers. The most important legal requirements to be aware of are:
- Kitchen hygiene – a B&B is also classed as a ‘food business’ because you’ll be providing people with food whilst they stay. For this reason, you’ll need to register with your local council, so that they can check that your kitchen is safe and hygienic before you open your doors to the public. If you plan to serve alcohol on the premises – even in the form of a welcome drink – then you’ll also need to apply for an alcohol licence.
- Fire regulations – in order for your home to become fit for public use, you will need to make sure that you inform your local fire service that you are setting up a B&B. They will then come and make sure that your home is as fire-safe as possible.
- Planning permission – even if you aren’t planning to make any structural alterations to your home, you may still need to apply for planning permission if your home is undergoing a ‘change of use’.
- Informing your home insurance provider and/or mortgage lender to check they don’t have any special requirements or conditions that you will need to abide by.
- Gas safety – you’ll need to have an inspection done by a Gas Safe registered engineer and then display the certificate somewhere where guests can easily see it.
It’s also important that you have public liability and business insurance to protect you from any claims of wrongdoing whilst someone is staying in your home. This also ensures that you are covered from any potential guest damage whilst they are staying.
Whilst there are a fair few things to set up before you can get going, once you’re up and running, being a live-in B&B owner is a great way to meet new people and enjoy a healthier work-life balance
Important things to note…
The type of business you set up will determine what licences and certificates you may need (by law) in order to operate. While the above tips will hopefully act as useful starting points, they won’t be exhaustive and you should do your own further research before setting out on your journey.
Health and Safety
The general rule is that if you are starting a business where customers are regularly visiting your home, there will need to be certain health and safety regulations in place. You can find out more about the legal side of running a business at home on the government’s website.
It’s also worth noting that there are certain businesses that may require you to have a licence – as always the government website is a good starting point to check this.
It’s important to remember that once you’ve set up your business, you will need to register with HMRC as a sole trader, keep track of your earnings and expenses, and be sure to keep records of receipts and invoices as you will need to send a self-assessment tax return every year. This process will help you to pay the correct amount of income tax every year.
If you are setting up a business from home, you will need to take care of two sets of insurances. The first is around protecting you and the business and includes things like professional indemnity insurance and public liability insurance to protect you from someone making a claim against the business. A good place to start for these is Simply Business who specialise in small business insurance.
The second type of insurance is to ensure that your existing household insurer will still cover you if you set up a business from home – most will, but it varies by the type of business you want to run and from insurer to insurer. Even if they will cover you it’s important to notify them in advance to avoid any potential surprises further down the line.
When it comes to setting up your own home-based business, the most difficult part is usually getting started, but it’s important to think of the benefits that lie ahead once you’ve gotten past the initial red tape. Working from home is a great way to reduce stress and potentially save a lot of money too – and you’ll usually find yourself with more time to enjoy leisure activities.
And while going into business for yourself can seem a little daunting, especially if it’s your first time, then remember that you don’t have to go it alone – you can always get help from experienced professionals through organisations like Auditel.
Auditel is a network of 100 self-employed business consultants that can not only help you to build your own business, but to achieve a better work-life balance, save money, boost profits, and most importantly, enjoy your new venture.
Some of the best things in life happen when we’re prepared to step outside of our comfort zone and try new things – as the saying goes, who dares, wins!
Did you find this page helpful? What are your experiences of starting a business at home? We’d love to hear from you. Join the conversation over on the Rest Less community forum, or leave a comment below.