Starting a business is a big step in someone’s life. It takes time, effort, and usually money. If you’re starting a business you have to be prepared for all the startup costs that come with a business in your chosen industry. You may need to be ready to hire outside help to create business plans, develop marketing and advertising strategies, or assist in other aspects of the business.
Another option, typically much cheaper, is starting a home-based business—something you can invest your time and effort in without the need for a physical location. Many people are beginning to look for work-from-home ideas as the concept becomes more appealing.
As more people look to the internet for information, goods, and services, more home-based, online business opportunities arise. Today, we’re going to look at some of those home-based business ideas while exploring the process of making money from home.
Home Business Ideas with Low Startup Costs
The first and most important step in the process is developing your business concept. If you’re someone who doesn’t have a lot of money, or not sure if they want to invest a lot of money into a startup, these ideas are for you!
1. Start a Freelancing Career
Depending on your skills, you could already be missing out on a great side income or a full-time position online. If you’re looking to work from home part-time, a freelance career is perfect for you.
If you have a knack for writing, businesses all over the world are looking for writers to assist in website copy, article writing, blog writing, and more. If you have business experience, you can help people construct their business plans. If you’re creative, you can take up graphic design or web design jobs, which will pay very well.
Use your skills to your advantage and start looking for freelance work online. Freelancing has very minimal to no startup costs.
2. Start a Blog
Starting a blog goes together with freelancing if you’re a writer. You can start your blog with very minimal startup costs. All you need is a website, which you can design yourself on platforms like Wix and WordPress, and content to write about!
To be successful in blogging, you have to find your niche. There are already so many blogs on the internet, so you must find a way to stand out.
Once you have your blog, and eventually a following, you can make money from advertising, selling goods, or using an email list for promotional content.
3. Affiliate Marketing
Like blogging, if you have a website with some followers, affiliate marketing is a great potential source of income. As your readers or followers, look to your website and find promotional content from other businesses, you can make money. Affiliate marketing works by helping a business advertise its products and when your followers make a purchase, you earn some money.
Affiliate marketing is easy only after you put in all the hard work to get the followers! It’s a great option to make money, but it takes significant work to gain your followers first.
Just like blogging, it has very minimal startup costs—only creating and hosting your website.
Using drop shipping as a side business has a high potential for earnings, however, it isn’t guaranteed to be successful. Dropshipping requires you to purchase items from wholesalers and then sell them yourself.
You can sell the products through your own website, something like eBay, or any other platform you find useful. The nice thing about drop shipping is you don’t need to have any inventory, storage, or even much money upfront.
You can start by purchasing a few products and work your way up from there! The startup cost is dependent on how much product you want to buy upfront and how you choose to sell.
5. Start an Online Store
If you have a knack for art, woodworking, design, or anything where you can make products, this is for you. However, it doesn’t require you to be the artistic type—if you have any product in mind that is worth selling, this is a great option.
Opening an online store is easy to do, has minimal startup costs, and can be highly rewarding. It’s best to start with a smaller inventory to get the feel of things. As time goes on, and sales grow, purchasing or developing larger quantities will allow you to make more profit.
You can open an online store with Shopify for a small fee and begin selling your products!
Other Business Ideas
Some other work from home, part-time business ideas with low startup costs are:
- Translating or transcribing
- Competing online surveys
- Teaching or tutoring online
- Renting out a room/apartment
- Virtual Assistant
How to Start a Small Business in Canada
Once you have your business idea, it’s time to start bringing that idea to fruition. It’s best to take the process step-by-step and not overwhelm yourself.
1. Choose a Name
Now that you have a business idea, you have to name it! This may not seem to be that important, but in reality it can help with marketing and branding. Think about some big-name brands we all know such as Apple, Google, Amazon, and Spotify. None of their names have anything to do with the services they offer. Amazon has nothing to do with the jungle. Apple sells technology products, not fruit.
Coming up with a creative name can help your business stand out. However, you must abide by Canadian laws and register your business’s name with the government. You can find more information about that here.
2. Create a Business Plan
This step may or may not take some outside help. Hiring someone to write your business plan will ensure the plan is thorough and complete. However, it will take some money to hire someone. Alternatively, you can write your own plan if you have the skills or are willing to learn.
Having a concrete business plan can help you throughout the rest of the process. You’ll be aware of your competitors, be ready to market, and potentially find some outside investors.
The Canadian government has some information about planning your business here that you may find helpful.
3. Determining Business Ownership
There are three main types of business ownership—sole proprietor, partnership, incorporation. The most common for new businesses is the sole proprietor. Here, you and the business are one entity as the law sees it. This makes you liable for all debts and functions of your business.
A partnership is similar except there are two or more proprietors where they share the business’ responsibilities, debts, and revenue. Typically a contract is created which delegates revenue and responsibilities to the partners.
Incorporation is a bit more complicated, and you can read about it and the others here. You will most likely be choosing between a partnership or being the sole proprietor.
4. Registrations and Business Licenses
Here’s where most of the technical aspects of starting a business come into play. Depending on the type of business you start, and where you live, you may need to get a business license to legally operate in your municipality. There are various licenses and permits needed, but luckily you can use BizPal to help you figure out what you need.
Using BizPal will tell you everything you need to know to run a business in good standing with the Canadian government.
Another thing to consider doing right away is registering for GST (goods and services tax), HST (harmonized sales tax), and either PST (provincial sales tax) or QST (Quebec Sales Tax) if needed. To register for GST and HST look at the government’s website here. Once you register you’ll receive your business number and you’ll be ready to go.
5. Marketing and Advertising
Once you have your business registered and licensed, you’re ready to start selling your services. To reach potential clients you’ll need to advertise. When you or someone you hired created your business plan, a marketing strategy should have been developed.
Now is the time to put that into place! Promoting your business effectively is how you attract your clients.
If you do not have a marketing strategy check out Canada’s Small Business Services page on marketing plan outlines.
6. Get Ready for Expansion
Before you know it your business may need some extra help. If your business happens to take off quicker than you anticipate, you’ll need to be prepared to hire and pay employees.
Hiring employees requires you to have a Payroll Account, pay Employer Health Tax, and comply with other regulations and standards. More information on the regulations with employee hiring can be found here.
7. Additional Considerations
With your business up and running you may want to consider purchasing further business insurance. You will already have employment insurance, but having further protection is always a good idea.
You should also be keeping track of all records including purchases, payments, taxes, and everything else that comes with owning a business. To see a full list of things to keep in mind check out Canada’s small business checklist.
Have you ever had one of those ‘moments of clarity’ where you said to yourself I’m going to quit my regular job to start a home business? Have you ever been frustrated because it’s minus 5 degrees outside and you have to get ready to go to a job you don’t like? Are you one of those people who really feel you can do it? Start a successful home business? If you are, you’re one of the many Canadians who have the desire to be successful. The question is why haven’t you started?
Start a Home Business Today
So many people say they want to start a home business but that’s are far as it gets. Just saying is not doing. Doing is action. Action leads to success with the right formula. Not to fear. Help is here. Read on to get information about how to start a successful home business.
Home businesses come in many sizes and and offer just about every service you can think of. You can do an online search for graduation cakes, pasta salads, or the best lemonade. There are dozens if not hundreds of recipes. In the same sense if you have a home business and you sell custom mittens to people with big thumbs, for example, how will customers find you so they can buy your product or service? Maybe your business is cutting trees, offering financial services to first time investors or even snowmobile repair at an affordable price. The same question comes up over and over again. How will you be successful with your home business?
How Do I Start a Home Business in Canada?
Here’s where we get down to the brass tacks, where the sap runs from the tree, where the rubber meets the road, the nitty gritty, the nuts and bolts, the ins and outs of how to start a home business. First things first. When you see advertisement from one of those ‘follow my proven method’ people, run as fast as you can the other way. The one thing for sure is their proven method will definitely make lots of money; for them, not you.
Clever marketers know how to make a bad deal sound like the best offer you can get. Here are some suggestions and recommendations that are sure to help you start and maintain a successful home business.
Is it a Hobby or Business?
You must first decide if what you are doing is a hobby or is it really a business. This is where so many new entrepreneurs get confused. They have a great idea and have been working at it for some time then decide they want to make money from what they are doing. If it is a hobby you probably have not done any market research. In other words, if you get to the point where you need to look for investors, what percentage of the business would you offer and how much money would you be looking for? Would you offer 15% of the business for a CAD $100,000 investment? Why. What value does that put on the business? Other significant question that might help you to decide if what you are doing is a hobby or a business include, how willing are to to see it succeed in tough times? How much of your own money are you willing to invest to sustain the idea in lean market times?
Seasonal or Year Round
The Great White North has long sustained winters with lots of snow and cold weather. If you have a business that mainly functions in the winter, what happens in May through September, for example? Do you sell widgets? Go on holiday or hang out a sign that says, ‘Closed until it gets cold again’. If you are seasonal, how do you make sure your customers come back next season? What can you do to keep your market share? If you had a great idea last winter, what’s to stop a competitor from offering the same service at a lower price with better service or products? If you offer a summer-based service what do you do during the cold season? These questions will get answered in your business plan.
Creating a Business Plan
What is your objective? What are your goals? What steps will you take as a home business to reach your goals? This document is the backbone of your business. It describes your plan for your future and how you will achieve success in your business. Too many home-based businesses will try to start without one. Not a good idea. Today you can find many examples and template online to help you write a realistic business plan. Start with a business plan and stick to it.
Are you going to be a Sole proprietorship, partnership, or something else? The government website https://canadabusiness.ca/starting/before-starting-your-business/corporation-partnership-or-sole-proprietorship/ can help you to decide what might be the best way to set up your home business. The information is essential. In addition, you will find suggestions and recommendations on how to network and build partnerships.
Just because the name is ‘home based’ business does not mean you do not have to be accountable for any taxes or compliance rules. For example, if you sell food from home, are there health and sanitation requirements you must comply with? You might have the best moose jerky in town, but you also want to make sure people who buy your product do not get sick.
Visibility and Operating Space
You might have a great home business idea. If that is the case, how will you find repeat business? Word of mouth or door to door sales are wonderful to start. When you want to expand how will your customers find you? In a way, this gets right back to the question of hobby or business. If you are happy working out of your home, it just might be a hobby. As you grow will you need room for inventory? If you offer a service are you in compliance with city or province ordinances? The first point is about marketing and advertising. Of course, there are businesses such as home repair where all you do is jump in your truck and off you go to a client to do your job. That might work for a while but what happens when success knocks on your door and you hire five service technicians and you must park trucks overnight? When you plan your growth, these things will get sorted out through your business plan.
A bit more about Marketing
In today’s market, an online presence is essential. True, there are some businesses that do not have an online presence, but most do. Now you have to think about a website. Will you do all the work yourself or hire a marketing company to build and maintain your website. In addition to the online side of the business, there are other things to consider. Sponsorship, and offering services to charitable organizations are other factors to think about if you must deal with them.
The bottom line is home based business can be enjoyable and rewarding when you approach it from the standpoint of a business. Some people who operate successful homebased businesses will tell you that they have a dedicated space, specific hours and do not take long breaks to get coffee or donuts. Work time is work time. It should be something you enjoy doing and are passionate about doing. Why bother if you are not? If you need a desktop computer don’t try to get the job done with a small laptop. If you need a dedicated telephone line don’t split call between your business and your bowling team members. Get a dedicated phone line.
Many businesses started as a homebased business in the garage. Two that moved out of the garage to become global giants are Microsoft and Apple. Both started as home-based businesses. Here is a valuable link that can help get you started https://www.canada.ca/en/services/business/start.html
You are the success or failure of your home-based business. Keep in mind you will be as successful as you visualize. It will take work, patience and discipline. In the long run your success will be the testament to your diligence. Finally, get out there and talk to successful ‘small time operators’. People who are successful and have just started. Ask questions about failure. Ask questions about problem solving. Ask question about what do they do when they want to give up and go back to a ‘day job’. The answer will amaze you.