One of the most common wishes I hear from people is, “I wish I could work from home.” And the thought that almost always immediately follows that is, “But I don’t know what I could do or how to go about it.” Either that or I hear, “Poor me. There’s nothing that I can do from home that’s not hard to get started.” When people tell me things like this, I know they don’t want to work from home badly enough. There’s a reason it’s called “work” from home; it’s not supposed to be easy. If you really wanted to work from home and it was a priority in your life, you would think about it, research it, and find something that you could do from home. There are so many things you can do from home today that finding something you can do shouldn’t be a problem, if you’re willing to put in the work.
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The root of this attitude is that people want to work from home and have it be easy. They want to get up when they want, work only when they want, take a lot of vacations, and do everything with their kids, yet still make a lot of money. They don’t want to have to learn how to run a business, how to comply with local ordinances, how to deal with the kids during work hours, and how to handle the finances of a business. It’s this, “I want an easy life” mentality that leads so many people to fall for the many scams and “home based business opportunities” out there instead of doing things the hard way and working to build a business of their own.
There are no legitimate easy ways to work from home. It’s true that if you enjoy what you do, it seems easier because the time goes by quickly and you get a sense of accomplishment. But the truth is, working from home isn’t that different from working in an office. In fact, I think it’s often harder. You have to attract your own clients, do your own marketing and bookkeeping, handle your own taxes, and complete your projects in the meantime. Even if you are blessed to work for your employer from home, you are still responsible for getting the work done competently and on time.
Working from home doesn’t just happen overnight, either. Most people I talk to want to just decide to stay home and have the money start rolling in. It takes time to get a work from home job up and running. Only the very rare individual hangs out his shingle and has enough clients to make a living from day one. For most people, it’s a slow building process before the business can stand alone and bring in a livable income. In the meantime, you have to be patient and keep working toward the goal.
When people say to me, “I want to work form home,” I say, “What do you want to do? Do you have a plan to get there?” If they hem and haw and say, “I don’t know,” or they start whining about how hard it will be or how they can’t afford to take the time to start something, I tell them it’s probably not for them. If I offer up ideas and every one is rejected with, “No, that doesn’t interest me,” or “No, I can’t do that,” or “No, that’s too hard,” or “No, that’s no fun,” then I know they don’t want it badly enough. If someone can’t even bother to put in the research, thought, and time that beginning to work from home requires, how are they going to do the actual work and run the business?
Because I’ve heard this wish a lot lately, I’ve decided to swallow my typical smart aleck answers and list all the home business opportunities I can think of. I can’t tell you what you should do if you want to work from home. I don’t know your skills and interests. No one but you knows what you can do and you’re going to have to invest the time to find and create something that works for you. The only thing I can do is unload all of the ideas I know so that you can see that working from home is possible in all sorts of fields. If you’re determined to work from home, you’ll find something, either on this list or in your own imagination, that you can do and do well. If you can’t, then you probably don’t want it badly enough and you should probably stick to working for an employer. If you want to work from home, but don’t know what you could do (and you’re willing to put in the work), here are some choices:
1. Pet sitting
2. Professional scrapbooker/photo organizer. You’d be surprised how many people don’t have the time or inclination to organize their family memories.
4. Freelance writing
5. Consulting as an expert in your field
6. Sell on eBay. Many people make a living at this by purchasing items at yard sales or consignment stores and then selling them for a profit on eBay.
7. Home/garage/closet/office organizer
8. Medical/legal transcription. Once the darling of at home businesses, this one has fallen out of favor somewhat with the advent of technology that can handle the work and the fact that it has fallen prey to a lot of scams. However, there is still a market for skilled and experienced transcriptionists.
9. Answer calls for a call center from your home.
10. Work from home for your current company. Technology has made it possible to do most jobs from home. Ask your employer if you could qualify.
12. Tax preparation
13. Computer repair/set up/training/back up service
14. Virtual administrative assistant/answering service
15. Freelance human resources consultant
16. Graphic design
17. Web design
18. Teach a musical instrument
19. Personal training
20. Art instruction
21. Counseling/life coaching
22. Resume preparation/skill assessment
23. Desktop publishing
24. Personal chef/cook meals for busy people or shut-ins
25. Interior designer/decorator
26. Handyman service/building contractor/remodeling service
27. In-home child care/babysitting
28. Wedding planner/consultant
29. Personal shopper
30. Cleaning service/housekeeper
31. Create gift baskets
32. Act as a concierge for busy people/executives. You take care of their needs such as securing tickets for events, handling their errands, making reservations, etc.
33. Jewelry designer
34. Furniture maker
36. Travel agent
37. Open a bed and breakfast
38. Pet grooming
39. Alterations/sewing/seamstress. If you’re really good, you can design custom gowns or clothes.
40. Cake decorator/custom cakes/wedding cakes
41. Genealogy research
43. Sell your arts/crafts. If you have a talent for making something, sell it ether online or open your own shop.
44. Information broker/professional searcher. When people need to find information, you know exactly where to look to find it fast.
45. VIP escort service. No, not that kind of escort. These people are paid to drive VIP’s such as authors and actors to and from their hotels and to their events, to make sure they stay on schedule, to show them the highlights of an area and to generally coordinate their time in the local area.
47. Landscaping/lawn care
48. Small publisher. Print on demand technology makes it possible for you to publish and sell your own books or the works of others.
49. Artist, either commercial or fine art
50. Real estate agent
51. Party/event planner
52. Businesses such as Mary Kay, Avon, or become a consultant/host for businesses such as Pampered Chef, Usborne Books, etc.
53. Coaching sports
54. Grant writing
56. Tour guide for your local area
57. Pet training
58. Antique dealer or picker. Antique pickers literally “pick” antiques from estate or yard sales and then sell them to dealers at a profit. Some also run their own shops.
60. Literary/artist’s agent
61. Auto repair/service
62. Appraisal services. Whether it’s real estate, autos, antiques, jewelry, etc. Plenty of people need to know the value of their things.
64. Financial advisor
65. Professional errand service. You take care of the things other’s don’t have time for such as picking up the dry cleaning, taking the car in for service, shopping, etc.
66. Lamaze trainer/birth coach
67. Birthday party coordinator. People will pay you to set up and organize their kid’s birthday parties.
68. Dog walking
69. Elder care consultant. You help people with aging relatives navigate the maze of healthcare, estate planning, executorship, and burial arrangements.
70. Restoration/preservation. Whether it’s homes, furniture, art, or other old items, there is work to be had in the cleaning, refurbishment and repair of such items.
71. Greeting card design
72. Healthcare consultant. Most people don’t have time to deal with insurers and hospitals when faced with large medical bills and procedures. They will pay you to help them get through the system.
73. Teach organizational skills
74. House sitter
75. Video production
76. Video/photo conversion. People will pay you to convert VHS to DVD, or scan photos/negatives to CD.
77. Foreign language instruction
78. Teach what you know. Whatever you’re good at, chances are there’s a market to teach it, either on an individual basis or through community extension programs.
79. Translator, either for print work or as a personal translator.
80. Sign language instructor/interpreter
81. Home/private nursing
82. Relocation service
83. Plant sitter/plant care
84. Stationary/business card/invitation design for businesses and individuals
85. Portraiture, either photography or paint
86. Public relations
89. Outdoor adventures. If you live in a suitable area, you can operate a rafting business, mountain climbing excursions, campgrounds, hiking tours, nature tours, etc.
90. Secret/mystery shopper
91. Self defense/personal safety instructor
92. Computer programming
93. Software trainer. Teach people to use advanced programs such as PhotoShop, Quark, etc.
94. College admissions consultant/planner. Help kids and their parents navigate the admissions process.
95. Testing coach. From the SAT to the MCAT and the GMAT, plus industry specific certifications, there are many standardized tests that people have to take today. You can coach them to great scores.
96. Songwriter/commercial music composer/jingle writer. If you have a musical talent and don’t want to teach, this is a way to make money.
97. Technical writer
98. Time management consultant
99. Seasonal lawn/home care. Snow and leaf removal, installing and removing storm windows, clearing storm debris, cleaning gutters and chimney sweeping are all things that people need done at least occasionally. Offer enough of them and you can make good money.
101. Small engine repair. If you can fix a lawnmower, weed eater, GoKart or ATV engine, your skills are in demand.
102. Small appliance/electronics repair.
103. Marketing consultant
104. Garden consultant. Help people determine what they can plant in their area, design the garden and teach them pest management and other secrets to a successful garden.
105. Pressure washing business
106. Christmas/holiday coordinator. There are people who will pay you to do their decorating, plane their parties, wrap the presents, and handle the whole holiday hoopla.
107. Weight loss consultant
109. “Green” consultant. Teach people how to be greener in their daily lives without disrupting their regular lives.
110. New mom’s helper. Help the overwhelmed new mom by cooking, cleaning, teaching baby care, helping with the baby, etc.
111. Novel writer
112. Write non-fiction books
113. Lawyer/some paralegal work
114. Psychological counseling
As you can see, there really is no excuse for not working from home if it’s something you really want to do. There are plenty of choices in almost every field and within this list there are plenty of niches you can create if you want to specialize. There are also many more things I haven’t listed here and plenty of things yet to be thought of. If you find something you like, but don’t think it can pull in enough money, there’s nothing wrong with doing more than one and creating multiple income streams. Get creative and create your own job(s) doing what you like and are good at. There are ways to turn almost any job or field into a work from home venture, with the exception of some highly specialized fields such as science and medicine that require expensive equipment. And even then you can probably carve out a niche for yourself if you think about it long enough.
Most of the ideas listed above can be started on a part time basis with very little up front investment, particularly if you’re already trained in a particular area. You can build up as you start making money. Most of the excuses people give for not being able to work from home are just that: Excuses. If you are willing to put in the time, effort, and research that’s required to start your at home job, it is a dream that’s within your reach. If you can’t be bothered, well, as the saying goes, “Don’t quit your day job.”