Many people dream of starting their own business, whether to make money and improve their lives, to build something they can be proud of, because they have an idea they'd like to see come to fruition — or all three of these reasons combined. Being an entrepreneur is both challenging and rewarding, and it's easy to see the appeal of being your own boss and reaching success through your own efforts.
Some potential entrepreneurs know from the very beginning what type of business they want to start, but for others it's not so clear.
They have the drive to succeed, but their business idea hasn't fully come together yet. Some are hampered by a lack of starting capital or by a living situation that doesn't give them much room for products. But while money and space can be challenges, they don't have to be deal-breakers. You can start a business even with limited money and a one-room apartment; you just have to start one that works with your current circumstances.
Here are five ideas for starting a business from your own home, some of which are ideal for future entrepreneurs working under financial or space restrictions.
1. Sell Products through Dropshipping
Dropshipping is a fulfillment model in which the seller lists products for sale without keeping anything in inventory. When a customer makes a purchase, the item is then shipped to them directly from the distributor. With dropshipping, you don't need to maintain inventory space or risk buying products that may not sell later, and you also don't need to worry about packing and shipping products yourself. You only need to list the products on your online store, or on a marketplace like Amazon or eBay.
To start dropshipping, you need to find wholesale distributors or dropshipping agencies to supply the products. Reliability is extremely important, because if the dropshipper makes a shipping error or delivers a poor-quality product, your business will take the blame. Work with a reputable dropshipper that maintains quality standards for inventory and shipping.
2. Create a Subscription Service
Some products are natural repeat purchases. We're betting you can think of quite a few items that need to be replenished or disposed of and replaced on a regular basis. Many consumers hate shopping for this type of product for various reasons — they forget to buy it, they run out at an inconvenient time and don't want to make a special trip to the store, they're sick of keeping track of their supply, etc.
This is why subscription services for needed disposables have become popular. It's much more convenient for the customer when they can sign up for a regularly scheduled delivery of these products.
To create your own subscription service,
- Identify a type of product that needs frequent replenishment, such as kitchen items, vitamins and supplements, cleaning supplies, pet products, or another niche.
- Build an online store with recurring billing and auto-ship capabilities so your customers can "set and forget" their subscription.
The great thing about this business model is that it speaks to the customer's need for convenience, and helps you attract customers who have every intention of sticking around.
3. Sell Items You Make
If you have a crafting skill, you may be able to turn it into a thriving business. Of course, purely decorative crafts can become great sellers, but don't forget you can make useful items as well.
For example, woodcarving and pottery are both skills that you could put into making practical (yet beautiful) household items. Or, maybe you have access to a specific resource you can use for both inspiration and materials.
A great benefit of selling handmade products is the low investment required, especially if you use local resources you can get with little expense. Plus, there's a definite market for artisan products of all types.
The main drawbacks involve finding that market (one reason we suggest you make items that are useful rather than just decorative) and sinking time into the actual crafting process. But as long as you keep both eyes open, you can definitely turn your skill or hobby into a thriving business.
4. Sell Downloadable Content
Do you have a lot of knowledge that could translate into ebooks or instructional videos? Do you have a talent for music or photography? Consider putting your skills to use by creating content for digital download. You could easily create and sell ebooks on your area of expertise, sell your musical compositions (whether full albums, songs, or short musical cues), provide digital photographs customers can buy and use in their own projects, and more.
Downloadable content is fantastic in many ways: you only have to create it once and can then sell it unlimited times, it doesn't take up any space, and your expenses are likely to be minimal. You're also likely to create content in line with things you already do, so it can be easy to fit into your life as a side job.
While several platforms exist to provide marketplaces for digital downloads of various types, you can still create your own online store to sell your work — which you should strongly consider in order to strengthen your brand. You will need an eCommerce platform that supports digital downloads.
5. Sell Customized Products
People's love for customization is at direct odds with their reluctance to build something on their own. Many don’t have the skills or time, or are just afraid they'll mess it up. This is where you can come in and do the hard work for the customer. If you have the skills and knowledge, you can customize anything from furniture to electronics.
Your business model could take several different shapes depending on the type of products you offer. Maybe you buy wholesale unfinished furniture and alter it according to customer wishes. Maybe you build computers and have the customer buy the parts to be shipped to you for assembly. Maybe you design and sew apparel, creating each piece to order once the customer selects their options. Your process is directly related to the type of customization you do. Ideally, you can do this long-distance and ship finished items to customers. The fact that they don't have to search for someone in their area for this type of work can be very attractive.
Depending on how you source your products, you may consider yourself as more of a service provider than a retailer.
For example, you might choose to build several custom PCs and keep them in inventory, which would put you more on the retail side. In that case, you'd want to charge for both labor and materials. However, if you only build the PCs from parts the customer pays for up front, you'd only charge for your time and work. Both are valid options!
Turning an Idea into a Business
Maybe one of these five business ideas has inspired you to take action. If so, it's time to dive into the world of entrepreneurship. But even with a great idea, there's a lot to learn before you actually start your business, and the better-informed you are, the more likely you are to achieve success.
To get started, download our free ebook below. You'll learn the process of bringing your idea to life and creating a business from the ground up.