Working from Home: 28 Small Business Ideas for Women Entrepreneurs (and How to Pick the Right one for You)
Motherhood was the tipping point that gave me the courage to quit my job and pursue a dream I'd held since middle school: work as a freelance writer. However, while I was a mom first and a freelance writer second, a third title inadvertently fell into my lap: entrepreneur.
Entrepreneurship, for me, came as a way to solve a problem—I graduated college in the middle of the recession with no desire to move to a big city to find my dream writing job. I'm certainly not alone—women own thirty percent of all businesses.
However, women entrepreneurs face several unique challenges. Take funding, for starters. Despite studies showing that women entrepreneurs tend to create a higher return on investment, ninety percent of entrepreneurs that successfully find financial backing are men.
Finding startup funds isn't the only issue that women entrepreneurs face. Many, like myself, juggle both the demands of starting a business, raising children, and running a household. The answer, for me and many others, is working from home.
Starting a venture simply based on a quick “ideas for home business” Google search is a good way to get burnt out fast. Finding the best small business ideas for women entrepreneurs is about getting creative with what you know (and love). Here's how to find a small business idea that can become a source of pride instead of a huge headache down the road as well as 28 different ideas to get you started.
Start looking for inspiration within your own personality. Ask yourself a few questions and jot down what comes to mind:
- What do you love to do?
- What gives you a sense of fulfillment?
- What types of challenges do you enjoy, and which ones are sources of frustration?
- What skills do you have?
- How do your closest friends describe you?
Steer clear of ads proclaiming “Mom makes $1,000 a Week Doing X.” Don't just start a home-based business because so-and-so was successful at it. Start a home-based business because that's what you love to do and that's what fits your personality. There will be days (and probably weeks) where you won't do much outside of building your business and caring for your family—ask yourself, can you still do X without burning out at that point?
Image source: Big Stock
Base your business area on what you already know, but don't expect to head into a business without learning some new skills. Maybe you are a great quilter—you'll still have to learn how to market and sell those great quilts you make. Whatever your venture is, there's always something new to learn—even after you've been in business for several years—so don't let that discourage you.
Basing a home-based business on passion is great, but that needs to be balanced with a need for whatever service or product you provide. Once you've narrowed down a few ideas, check and see which other companies offer something similar. If your passion is photography, for example, but there are dozens of portrait photographers already serving your area, try a different area like real estate photography.
Once you have your passions and skills in mind, it's time to start turning them into business ideas.
Small Business Ideas for Creative Women Entrepreneurs
Creativity is a great skill to have as an entrepreneur. Not only does creativity open up different types of businesses, it also comes in handy when it comes to brainstorming ideas for marketing your new business. If you have a creative streak, consider these small business ideas.
Content writing is a big field and an excellent opportunity for creative entrepreneurs that have a knack for the written word (formal training helps too). There are dozens of ways to turn a passion for writing into a business. Write website content, marketing copy, resumes, articles, books, grants, and technical manuals—there are many different subcategories to focus on. To get started, concentrate on building a great portfolio of solid writing. To solve that “chicken before the egg” problem and get published before you have a portfolio (so that you can actually put something in your portfolio), try submitting guest posts to websites or volunteering to write content for a nonprofit.
If you know your way around a camera, photography can be a good small business opportunity. There's more than one way to start a photography business—you could shoot weddings, portraits, corporate events or real estate, just to name a few. Take a class on lighting and set up some shots to practice (and start your portfolio).
While graphic design is a competitive field, it can be a rewarding one for the right person. Make sure you understand the design principles and that you know your way around the software. Build a portfolio (even if that means creating logos or other graphics for fake companies) and try getting work on sites like Upwork or 99Designs.
Blogging is a competitive field, but many women have found success by carving out a niche through publishing their own blogs. Choose a topic that you are both passionate and knowledgeable about, and then work to find your own voice or the thing that sets you apart from other blogs with the same topic.
More comfortable with a paintbrush in your hand? The good news is that artists have been working from home studios for years, so there's no need to reinvent the wheel. Many artists now will sell their work online, either through their own site or a larger site like Etsy.
Love designing your own clothes? Selling clothing designs can be difficult but certainly not possible—some entrepreneurs even start by sewing everything themselves and getting into local shops or selling online. Of course, the more traditional methods of licensing your design to a large company can be a good avenue as well.
Thanks to the growth of the online platform Etsy, many female entrepreneurs create successful businesses crafting items and selling them online. From jewelry to furniture, there are tons of possibilities. Outside of trying Etsy, you can also try selling at local craft shows or directly from your own website.
Home-Based Bakery or Catering Company
For entrepreneurs that are creative in the kitchen, a baking or catering company could be a valid business idea. Start by checking the local regulations regarding home-based food service and ensuring that you can meet the proper guidelines. While it may seem weird to ship cupcakes, some bakeries also find success in selling their products online as well.
Small Business Ideas for Math and Science-Minded Female Entrepreneurs
Maybe you can't sew to save your life but have computer engineering experience or are great with numbers. While math and science-related business ideas are more likely to require formal training, they certainly offer some excellent opportunities.
Image source: Big Stock
Design and Sell an App
With a great idea, you can make money by creating and selling an app. You'll need the help of a programmer (or need to have some programming skills yourself), but you can sell directly on app platforms to minimize your initial start-up costs.
Programming knowledge paired with a bit of creativity is a great combination for starting a home-based web design business. Today, if a business isn't online, customers don’t know that it exists. That means that there's a high demand for good web designers that help businesses market themselves online.
Invent a Product That Solves a Problem
With the right background, you could invent your own product. New products that solve a problem in a unique way can make excellent business ventures. While the exact avenue you pursue will depend a lot on the product, there are multiple ways to get started—crowdfunding, for example, is a new option that has gained popularity in recent years.
Tutor Students (locally or online)
Math and science are sticking points for a lot of students—so if you have both the passion and a knack for teaching, why not start a tutoring business? Tutoring businesses can be successful locally, or they can open online without being restricted by a zip code. This is a great option for current or former teachers looking to work from home.
Work as an Accountant
Working from home doesn't mean that you have to abandon traditional careers—options like accounting can offer opportunities to work from home, especially if you live in an urban area. Of course, this business option requires formal schooling—but keep in mind that businesses that require more education tend to pay more as well.
Small Business Ideas for Service-Oriented Entrepreneurs
Offering a service is a great way to start a work-from-home business with little start-up funding since you don't have to invest in a big inventory like selling a product. If your passion is in helping others, look into these business ideas.
Love to create the perfect event, even if it's just for your dog's birthday? Party planning takes time and creativity—something many busy people and even businesses are more than willing to hire out. Look into different options for types of parties, like weddings and birthdays.
For women that love to decorate, offering their eye for design can be a good way to earn income from home. Think outside the box—interior decorators can spruce up more than just homes; businesses are another possibility or even staging homes for sale.
Maybe you have a green thumb and a knack for not only keeping your houseplants alive but planting some pretty spectacular landscaping. Forget the traditional idea of a landscaper; women can do it too and do it well. Find an avenue that makes you different from other landscapers in the area—perhaps you could specialize in rose beds or spectacular butterfly gardens.
Day Care or Elder Care
Caring for kids or elders can be a great home-based business for women that enjoy working with people and have a passion for helping. Start by checking out the requirements for operating a home-based care facility in your state—you'll likely need to have a few inspections and follow a strict set of guidelines.
Forget dogs being man's best friend. Pets can be a great business opportunity for anyone with a love for animals. There's more than one way to run a pet business too. You could offer boarding, dog walking, grooming or a combination of services.
If you like finding a place for everything, you could consider opening an organizing business. Professional organizers help individuals (and even businesses) get their homes in order and find an organizing scheme that works in the long run.
Beauticians can offer a variety of services, and while many work at salons, many others work from home. Choose a specialty or offer a variety of options from hair and makeup to nails.
Small Health Business Ideas for Women Entrepreneurs
While health-related businesses aren't as popular for home-based businesses, there are several options for entrepreneurs that are interested in the field.
Massage therapy does require a certification but can be a solid business option for many individuals. The certification requirements vary by state, so check your area first. Massage therapists can work from their own homes or work on the go by visiting their customers’ homes.
Doulas, or birth coaches, help get moms through one of their most difficult moments: labor. For the right women that are passionate about healthy deliveries, working as a doula can be a rewarding career. Keep in mind that doulas are on call and often have to head into the hospital (or birth center or a home birth) without much notice. For training information, visit DONA International (http://www.dona.org/develop/birth_cert.php).
Medical transcriptionists are actually in high demand. This can be a lucrative career option because getting started requires just a bit of training and a computer—that's pretty minimal considering the potential start-up costs of other businesses.
While exercise is important, few people know how to exercise properly or what exercises will work the areas that they want to tighten up the most. Personal trainers act as guides and show individuals how to best exercise. Along with working with one-on-one with customers, many personal trainers also teach group fitness classes.
More Business Ideas for Women
A virtual assistant is like a secretary that works from home. Virtual assistants help with a variety of different tasks, from responding to emails to handling blog posts. It's a lucrative option because it doesn't really require start-up funds if you already own a computer, phone, and Internet connection.
Thanks to the Internet, selling a product no longer requires a storefront. Whether you make your own product or collect the best products from other manufacturers and resell them, many entrepreneurs have turned to e-commerce.
Consulting is an excellent way for many career-minded women to take their work experience and turn it into home-based businesses. Consulting is a wide field, and many women with previous experience can find success here, whether it's offering marketing, business, SEO, writing, coaching or a number of other types of consultations. Consulting is a great option for women with good backgrounds in growing fields who can teach other individuals or other businesses.
You can still be a people person and work from home. Many businesses are choosing to outsource their customer service to freelancers so that they can offer customers a good experience without using overseas call centers.
Entrepreneurs solve problems—whether that problem is in creating their own employment or solving an issue for their customers. Working from home is a lucrative option for many women, but there are many different possibilities. The best way to start a home-based business is to first identify what you are passionate about and what you have some experience in and then branch out from there with creative business ideas.
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