Have you ever considered launching an online home-based business?
There are plenty of reasons to do so, and each person will have their own motivators. But first and most crucial on our list are the practicality and flexibility that comes with having full control over the creative and operational processes and decisions of the day-to-day.
Whether you’ve thought of doing so full-time or part-time, there are plenty of options for you to chew over. But before you take the plunge, consider the challenges that come with an online home-based business as well.
You will potentially work longer hours than you would in a 9-5 job, and it’s definitely more isolating, too. The lines between your work and home lives can easily overlap and blur, dredging up a whole Pandora’s box you may or may not be prepared to handle. You will also have to think about space for inventory and how to expand your operations when the time comes—and it most probably will.
If this sounds overwhelming to you, it’s because it is.
Starting and running your own online home-based business is no walk in the park, and it’s not a walk everyone can take.
Nonetheless, if all of these are things you can stay on top of and take on, then get ready to put on your thinking cap because we’re about to get you started on your online home-based business journey.
Conceptualizing: how to start an online home-based business
The key to running a successful online home-based business rests on four things: the viability of your business idea, your interest in or passion for that idea, your own skills and expertise, and your ability to network.
Each of these pillars, so to speak, play varying but equally important roles at different stages of your journey.
It’s crucial that you take all these in consideration before pursuing full-scale operations, which is why the first step in starting your online home-based business calls for a little introspection.
Assess your skills and expertise
Anyone who’s involved in business knows that customers make or break a business. After all, no buyers means no profit.
One of the best ways to build a loyal following and customer base of your own is by showing your credentials. This is an easy way to market yourself and your business, as solid credentials draw in customers like a moth to flame.
Therefore, start on the groundwork of building your business by considering what your particular credentials are.
What is your educational background like, and how can it help you play up your image? How about your skills and expertise? What trade or field can you get into after taking these into consideration? And lastly, what relevant experiences do you have that prove you’re the best fit for the job?
Take the time to ponder over these things, as your answers will be the starting point for finding the core of your business.
Decide on your line-up
There are four types of online home-based businesses you can tap into.
The first type is the more prevalent one today: e-commerce. This is the selling or reselling of physical products through an online platform or store.
The more common types of online businesses are the time-based and information-based ones. These are businesses where you capitalize on and monetize your time and skills.
In particular, time-based businesses focus on providing services, consulting, or freelancing. On the other hand, information-based businesses work with producing content, conducting research, or harnessing information.
A more novel type of online business has to do with digital products, often with regards to launching a start-up. There are plenty of goods you can offer, including but not limited to apps, software, online courses, and web-based tools.
You will want to select the type of business that would best match your personal skills and expertise. In this way, you are able to maximize your talents and resources.
Once that is settled, decide on your product line-up. Here are some questions to get the ball rolling:
- What types of products or services will you offer?
- What need will this product or service meet?
- Is it a seasonal product or will it be offered yearlong?
- Is it born out of a passing trend or is it evergreen?
Understand your market and competition
A good way to address all of the previously listed questions is by first understanding your market and competition.
After all, choosing a feasible product or service to provide will depend on your target market and the players already catering to them.
You will need to dedicate considerable time and resources to do your research, but it is more than its worth in spades as it will help you position your business advantageously, in addition to keeping you from entering the market blindly.
The first thing you’ll want to do is to identify who your target market is. To know your target market is to know what and how to sell. Take a look at the demographics and their economic motivators to get a feel of how they think.
Once you’ve got a good grasp of this, put together a competitor analysis. Who are you up against and what are they doing right? What is their competitive advantage at current? These will help you understand what already works, as well as to identify what gaps in the market are still left unmet.
Based on the information you’ve collected, establish your product or service’s unique selling point (USP) to differentiate from your competitors. Keep in mind that your value proposition will be your key selling point, so don’t cut corners just because it will require a whole lot of effort!
One last thing: you might want to come up with a marketing plan, too.
Another tedious thing to add to the mix? Why yes! A marketing plan is extremely useful, as it helps you align expectations with objectives and wraps it up in a nice bow of feasible means to achieve them.
Make sure you can deliver
By now, you should be feeling the gravitas of how running a business, no matter how small, is not as cut-and-dry easy as the movies make it seem.
There are a lot of things to consider and to stay on top of at any given point, so you need to be patient, self-motivated, and able to stay the course, especially when things are slow-moving.
You will also find yourself juggling multiple roles on your own, especially in the beginning, and you will have to find healthy ways to deal with frustrations and disappointments, too.
Most especially, you will need to effectively manage your time and prioritize well, because your business’s future rests on your back. If you fail to deliver, the business suffers. So make sure you can, and if you can’t do it alone, don’t hesitate to look for help!
Get the preliminaries done
At this point, you’re more or less in the trenches and you’re gearing up to go. But before you actually hit the brakes, make sure you already have everything you need set up and in place.
Purchase the necessary equipment, tools, and software you will need to operate your business. Are there technologies you haven’t gotten a hold of? How about everyday materials such as ledgers and packaging?
Set up shop, figuratively and literally. Since you’ll be working out of your own home, make space for your very own office, as well as storage for inventory and the like.
Ensure that you have all the marketing materials you need to get into the game: resume, portfolio, online shop, social media accounts, and whatnot.
Work out your rates and have accounts set up to receive payments. Obviously, you can’t start advertising your product if you don’t know how much you’ll charge for them.
Determine startup costs
Now comes the tricky part, especially for those who, like us, fell asleep in or struggled immensely with Economics and Accounting classes.
We’re assuming that you’ll bootstrap your way into starting your home-business, so it’s important that you keep track of your expenses from the get-go.
This will help you allocate your budget more carefully, as well as to more accurately settle on your rates. Doing so will also help you track and gauge your business’s numbers, such as how much you’ll need to earn to breakeven and to start earning profit.
Some of the more common startup expenses include equipment and tools, software, supplies, website and platform fees, professional services, and licenses or certifications.
Last but not least, put your business out there and get some exposure. Your customer base will only grow as far as your marketing powers can reach, so make sure that you network well.
Join online groups and discussion boards relevant to your business. There are hundreds upon thousands of Facebook and Viber groups that can get you started on this. Start interacting with members and post information about your business. Answer each question as much as you can and befriend those who show an interest in what you’re offering.
Get friends and family in on it, too. Word of mouth is often an effective, not to mention free, marketing tool that gets the job done, so capitalize on that!
Think of the numbers in this way: if each person in your social circle tells one friend who tells another who tells two others, and so on, your product or service awareness multiplies tenfold in just a matter of time.
You should also use your business’s and your personal social media accounts to connect with others and to promote. These days, social media is a power to behold, so capitalize on your online presence and get selling.
Executing: online home-based business ideas that work
Here are some of our favorite tried-and-tested business ideas that you can get started with.
As we’ve pointed out earlier, there are literally a million products you can sell from home.
From selling your own handcrafted goods, to offering a variety of food items, cosmetics, clothes, tools, and even knickknacks, the possibilities are endless.
But just because they are doesn’t mean you should just sell anything at all. Of course, it’s all kanya-kanyang diskarte, but at the end of the day, you still want to be selling products that actually have a demand for.
A well-calculated risk is better than a misguided one. This is why it’s important to do your market research—it helps narrow down the field.
If you want to take it one step further, take extra time to research trends, or simply keep an eye out for what there is a high demand for no matter the time of year.
You can use online tools, or even just lurk around online marketplaces, to see what sells in number and quickly at that. Then taking everything you now know, look for a supplier that you can trust and launch your product.
To start selling, you can opt to do so by word of mouth, by setting up your own website, by posting on online groups and marketplace, or by creating a seller account on online platforms such as Shopee and Lazada.
This is a concept that is pretty novel, so if you’re unfamiliar, think of e-commerce made even more advantageous.
Drop-shipping is a retail fulfillment method where you only buy inventory as needed. The product you sell stays with your supplier and you only have to arrange for shipping from the supplier to the customer once a transaction is made. Cool concept, right?
This is a good idea if storage is a concern and logistics a task you would rather not handle yourself. All you have to do is set up an online store and payment channels.
This is also especially beneficial if you are planning to sell perishable items, as you won’t have to worry about inventory losses due to spoilage or expirations.
You also cut down on various costs a physical store would otherwise entail, such as rent, utilities and maintenance expenses, and personnel salaries.
Drop-shipping works just like e-commerce does: just about anything goes. But if we might suggest, it will be more advantageous for you to find a niche market—such as collector’s items, limited edition or special collection items, and the like—or to simply tap into products that aren’t as accessible via other delivery services. This will really set you apart and help you cater to a wider customer base.
What do blogging, vlogging, and podcasting have in common? They’re all a means of getting your thoughts and ideas out there.
They may differ in medium and execution, but they are essentially cut from the same cloth, as these are the three types of content publishing.
With this generation’s obsession with social media and influencers, one of the quickest—but not necessarily the easiest—ways to make a name for yourself and to earn money from your bedroom, even, is to get into one of these three ideas.
Anyone who has the gift of writing can get into blogging. Anyone with the gift of gab can get into podcasting. And anyone who isn’t camera shy but would rather write than talk can get into vlogging.
For the best ways to earn money by blogging, check out our article here.
If selling products or going into content publishing is not for you, you can try capitalizing on your time and services instead.
Due to the flexibility that freelancing provides, you can take on multiple clients simultaneously. And if you’re a jack of all trades, you may even take on projects of different varieties at the same time.
Pro tip: grow your portfolio and experiences while freelancing—then scale up to establish your own agency in the future.
Here are some of the most common freelancing jobs you can take on:
If you are fluent in multiple languages, you should consider offering translation services. You can offer to translate written works or to do so live. That is, you will act as a translator for a client at a meeting, event, and the like.
Have you ever been told the more, the merrier? In this case, the more languages you know, the better, as this opens up more avenues for you to earn income from.
It also boosts your credentials if you are able to acquire certifications as necessary.
If you are patient, have a knack for explaining things simply, and enjoy teaching others, this is a fitting option for you.
The great thing about tutoring is that you don’t need any certifications. However, you’ll definitely need the credentials by way of experience or expertise in a field of subject to back you up.
You must also be able to break down complex topics into simple terms that are easily digestible and understandable, especially if you will be teaching children or high school students. What you know should translate to what you can explain, so this is very important.
Another perk for tutors is you can conduct sessions virtually or in-person, depending on your preferences.
Freelance writing is a flexible and varied trade.
You can get into writing advertising copies, articles, blogs, instructions for technical manuals, student papers, and even books.
You don’t necessarily need a journalism degree, although it’s definitely a plus. All you need is excellent writing skills and a keen eye for grammar.
If you are a highly creative individual who can keep up with trends, then this is the freelancing route for you.
Take note, however, that this is a highly competitive industry. Set yourself apart by playing on your personal style and ability to meet customer needs, especially as your clientele will depend on your skills and style.
If you have a background in web design and a creative flair, this is for you.
Web design has a sizable market since a lot of businesses going online need their own websites. By the same token though, the supply market is very saturated since it’s a highly-competitive field.
Just as you would in graphic design, find a way to make yourself stand out and build your portfolio.
Online consulting business
Want to know a secret? The knowledge and skills of a trade that you’ve acquired over the years can be monetized.
Thousands of people are in search of consultants every day, so help yourself by helping others. To know yourself is to know your assets, huh?
For more freelancing ideas, check out our article on part-time work-from-home jobs (which you can easily turn into a full-time gig).
If you’re in the loop with K-dramas, you’ve probably seen “Start-up” by now.
And if, like millions of fans, your interest in the grueling world of start-ups was piqued, you’ve probably asked yourself if it’s possible for you to become your own CEO as well.
The answer is both yes and no.
A host of different start-ups are launched every day with the hopes of solving a consumer problem that also has a considerable market demand. But to enter a market, you must be able to prove your business idea’s feasibility and viability first.
This is on top of putting together a team that’s up to the challenge of making your idea come to life from scratch, as well as securing the funding necessary to sustain the production and continued innovation after you launch.
As can probably tell by now, as well as from watching the show, operating a start-up is not for the weak of heart. But if you’re committed to start one (pun intended), then a good market to enter is the digital products market. Not only will inventory and storage not be a problem, you can manage such a business from home, too.
Digital products are any type of system, tool, or platform that require a single manufacture and can then be distributed repeatedly. You will need to do the backend work to keep improving and innovating the product, of course, but the production is, at the risk of fraught comparison, a one-time-big-time thing.
Here are some ideas for digital products you can get into:
Apps are a wonderful gift from and to mankind. With every new app that hits the market, you sort of have to pause and just be at awe at how technological wonders never cease. How did you manage to get by without this before discovering its existence?
If you hope to inspire a similar reaction in others, you can opt to develop a mobile app, a web-based app, or both.
Mobile apps are built with a particular platform in mind, such as iOS or Android, and are downloaded from the app store of the corresponding mobile device it was built for. This makes mobile apps a parasite, shall we say, of your mobile device.
Web-based apps, on the other hand, are more flexible. They are accessible by browser and adapt to your device, be it mobile, laptop, or tablet.
Most apps these days have both features, but developing a model and interface as such requires more work and funds. A practical option is to start with one and develop the other when your revenue picks up.
Software as a service (SaaS)
If there’s an app for everything, then you can best bet that there’s a software for everything, too.
SaaS, also known as cloud-based software, uses a web-based model to deliver software to users connected to the internet on a browser.
SaaS developers are responsible for hosting and maintaining the code, servers, and databases that allow the software to run smoothly.
You earn money through a subscription model, often on a monthly basis, that covers software license, support, and other fees you incur.
Nowadays, attending classes from Harvard, Stanford, and even Google isn’t a mere pipe dream anymore. With the advent of online courses, you can take lessons from your dream school, company, or instructor with a single click.
The catalogue of topics is endless, making it an alternative source of learning, especially if you’re in between jobs or classes, but still hoping to brush up on skills and knowledge elsehow.
As an online course provider, your target market is essentially the digital population. Anyone who has access to the internet, a browser, and has the desire to learn something new can and most probably will gravitate towards your platform if it has a good enough catalogue and interface.
You can either build a platform yourself or just get into the business of teaching by signing up as an instructor. Alternatively, you can host webinars instead.
Web elements and design templates
Ever make use of extensions or plug-ins on your browser? How about downloading fonts and templates for a project or report?
These are web elements and design templates that others have developed and sold to meet needs and to improve digital experiences.
If you have the background and means, you can easily get into this bandwagon, too. Simply find a field you want to specialize in and develop the tools or templates necessary to innovate in the said field.
Prospering: final thoughts
At the end of the day, starting your own online home-based business is much like launching an actual, physical business.
You need to put in the work and the time to get your wheels off the ground, and you’ll need to keep putting in the work and the time to keep yourself afloat.
It is by no means an easy journey. Much of what needs to be done rests on your shoulders alone, and you will have to wear many hats to get things done.
But just because it’s not easy does not mean it is not worth it.