Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Making Money From A Home-based Beginning

When we think of earning extra money or a small business often our ideas start big and we think we need a building, office, staff, and a big loan to finance it all. Then when we hear that 80% of small businesses fail we wonder if the risk is really worth it. Recently I posted a small business roundup with some good tips on how to start small and build. Starting small minimizes the risk and allows you to learn by trial and error without risking a major investment. There are many excellent books and on-line articles about small business ideas to stimulate the creativity to find one that is right for you.

Here's a list of ideas that I have come up with that can be started from home. Once you come up with something you would like to try be sure and check with your local business offices to make sure you are able to comply with their regulations.

Real Estate Services
  • Property Manager. This may require obtaining a real estate license but if you already have one it may be an opportunity to use it until the housing market picks up.
  • Trash out business. When a home is foreclosed often the former owners will leave the place a mess. The trash out company submits a bid to do a basic clean up that may include trash removal, lawn care, making arrangements for abandoned vehicles to be hauled off. The bid would determine the specific services provided. This can be a dirty job with heavy lifting.
  • Apartment cleaner. Love to clean? This is an ongoing need for apartments and rental homes.
  • Commercial cleaning. Small businesses often hire out their cleaning services and obtaining a number of jobs can provide a steady income.

More Real Estate Services
  • Lawn Care. Have you seen the little old man planting flowers and mowing the lawn? He may be a millionaire. That's how my uncle got rich. Residential and commercial contract yard services.
  • Exterior Painting. The investment in this is minimal. Start small to hone your skill with the pressure gun.
  • Interior Painting. Another good service to work with property managers on.
  • Handy man. Don't take on more than you can handle but if you can fix a leaking sink you can find someone with a drip.
  • Tree pruner.
  • Chipper. There is a machine that goes on the back of a truck that chips branches. These can be rented and are especially needed after storms have gone through an area.
  • Snow plowing. In our small community there were men that had purchased a plow blade that went on the front of a pick-up truck. When the snows came they would drive around and do driveways and parking lots.
  • Bug Man. Many people have a bug man that comes on a regular basis and sprays the perimeter of the home to keep out unwanted creepy things.
  • Roof and Gutter Cleaning. Not afraid of heights? There you go. Sometime I'll have to tell you the story about how I got stuck on the barn roof while attempting this very thing.
  • Power Washer. Many homes, decks, and driveways can look as good as new with a good power washing. But watch out that you don't take off the paint.
  • Residential Window Washing.  Since no one else seems to want to do it maybe it's still and open opportunity.

Food Services
  • Low Cost Cooking Advisor. Are you able to plan a meal for under $5? Start an Internet service with the recipe and shopping list prepared. Set up weekly, monthly, and annual subscriptions to the service for a fee. Remember the special diets - no pork, diabetic, vegan, salt free, meat and potatoes.
  • Local Low Cost Cooking Advisor. Building on the item above you can do the shopping for a select group of subscribers.
  • Cooking/ Catering. Prepare Low Cost Meals using the ideas above. Meals on Wheels. Delivery or Pick-up. Check for food handling requirements in your area. You may be able to cook the meals right in someones home and have one scheduled for 4pm, 5pm, 6pm, 7pm.
  • Specialty Foods. Lumpia, Pies, Jams.
  • Grocery shopping and delivery.


Teach classes or seminars on your favorite subject. Most community colleges and senior centers have a personal enrichment sections. The teachers are community members with a skill who share it for a small fee. Some of the subjects I have seen:
  • Computer Skills.
  • Dance and Exercise.
  • Knitting, Crochet, Quilting, Spinning, etc.
  • Cooking.
  • Budgeting and other Financial Strategies.
  • Photography. Speaking of that if you have a lot of great pictures calendars are easy to make and could be sold.
Sewing and Crafts
  • Make and sell your handcrafted items.
  • Quilting. There are many more people who enjoy making a quilt top than doing the actual quilting (me). A quilting machine is a bigger investment than some of the projects previously listed but if you have one already it can be a good side income.
  • Alterations.
  • Bird houses.
  • Chimes.

  • Grow fruits and vegetables and sell the surplus.
  • Start seeds in a green house and sell the small plants.
  • Dahlia tubers.
  • Form a co-op and deliver to the members.

Other Ideas
  • On-line bookstore.
  • Avon.
  • Party clean up service.
  • Babysitting. The old fashioned way.
  • Dog walking.
  • On-line Writing.  Blogs, Freelance, etc.  Many useful articles are available to take you through this step-by-step.
  • Manure processing. ;)

I'm thoroughly exhausted just thinking about all the possible ways of making a little extra spending money. The key is to pick one you already enjoy and have the tools to accomplish. Spread the word and see if friends, family, or co-workers would be interested. Start small. One of the most interesting stories I have heard was a lady who made cute little do dads for her daughters shoes. The kids at school thought they were so cool they wanted them also. Soon it became a garage and then a warehouse. Amazing story of taking a little idea and doing big things with it.

You might also like this extra money post from Barb Friedberg about having multiple streams of income.


Practical Parsimony said...

Writng for money is my goal. I have done many of the jobs you listed. You missed one that has been profitable for me. I tutor. Maybe you covered it in a form I did not see. Since I have the education degree and a current teaching license, convincing people I can do the job is not difficult. One summer a woman paid all my bills by employing me to tutor her! We worked for 20-25 hours each week.

Even an hour per day for two or three days each week gives me $40-$60 extra. I can make an extra $2000 each year in what amounts to spare time. The work is clean, not physically demanding, not in the elements, and very rewarding. Of course, if one can tutor trigonometry, the per hour fee would be higher. Mostly, I tutor high and college students in algebra or help students with papers to write. Oh, since I was a GED teacher, tutoring individuals who are not going to regular GED classes is a plus.

Carol said...

Tutoring is a excellent idea! Younger children can often excel with just a little extra one on one time.

@Alan, thanks.