Tuesday, October 14, 2008

My Favorite Home-Based Businesses

Here's my current list of favorite home businesses. They require small investment, are offshore- and recession-resistant, and offer a good risk/reward ratio. 
  • Agent for job seekers. So many job seekers feel unable to write a resume and cover letter, let alone cold-call potential employers. Just as actors and musicians hire agents to land them  auditions, you can help job seekers to land job interviews. 
  • Marketing consultant. For example, help small business owners to market their business. Specialize, for example, in mom 'n' pop restaurants, or help owners of vacation homes and time shares to get their places rented.
  • Consulting writer or editor. Solicit small businesses to hire you to write or edit a newsletter,  ads, catalog copy, even business letters. 
  • Counselor to college-bound students. You'll have an edge if you can also advise on how to find money for college.
  • Personal, career, life-transitions, money, or dating coach. 
  • Accountant or bookkeeper. Especially as electronic records become ubiquitous even in small businesses, this is a business you can run from home.
  • Create small-scale architectural models for developers, realtors, municipalities, architects, and landscape architects.
  • Tutor. You can charge surprisingly high rates, especially if you specialize. Examples: math for girls, autistic kids, organic chemistry.
Alas, the idea is only 10% of success. The rest?
  • Practical intelligence. That means the ability to buy cost-effectively, price at market value, and quickly solve the myriad problems that arise in running a business. You can't always ask a consultant or friend to help you.
  • Drive. Procrastinators, you're probably better off working for someone else.
  • Willingness to sweat the details. You're at risk of failing if you think you can get away with being big-picture. You must be willing to to discipline yourself to take care of the details.
Can you think of any other home-based businesses that you think should be added to my list?


Dave said...

What about a professional researcher? I came across a few business cards at the National Archives and Records Administration. That's what gave me the idea.

Cornhusker said...


I tried working as consulting writer or editor here in the DC area and failed miserably. I presume because I am a terrible marketer, and the area is flooded with writers. Any ideas on making myself a better marketer? By the way, I also like Dave's idea of a professional researcher. I was going to pursue an MLS after my last layoff from a technical writing job. I landed a job instead with the federal government, and it has been a miserable experience.

Marty Nemko said...


Some possible solutions:

1. A specialty on which you are or become expert and then market assiduously to people who could use your services--for example, financial planners like to send newsletters to clients but are often lousy writers.

2. Market more innovatively--for example, troll websites in an area of your specialization. When you see one that you believe your writing or editing could improve, pitch the site owner.

Cornhusker said...


Thanks for the great suggestions!

Dave said...


I think an MLS is a marketable degree. Information technology skills gained from an MLS program can be useful in many fields. Even if your business tanks, you always have librarianship to fall back on.


Anonymous said...

Some possible solutions:

1. A specialty on which you are or become expert and then market assiduously to people who could use your services

This may be a good avenue, but only if you have a (preferably advanced) degree in the specialty, or you've written a stack of relevant publications. Otherwise, even if you know the subject cold, you can't prove it, and they won't hire you.

Okie said...

I agree with the "Anonymous" poster. This is why I feel the trades are a good career choice. Plumbers in many cities have told me they have too much business!

Dr. Fred said...

“Agent for job seekers”

This is a fantastic idea!

I remember being so unnerved (for the lack of a better word) answering ads and cold calling potential leads. I would have paid someone $2,000 to perform the uncomfortable activities for me.

When I say ‘activities’ this is what I mean:

• organizational time line with goals and implementation schedule
• résumé and cover letter re/creation
• finding ads/cold call leads
• setting up interviews
• pre-interview telephone skills overview
• in-person interview skills overview
• offer negotiations
• tactics to keep the job

I read seventeen (17) books on the above mentioned subjects prior to even calling my first prospect.

- Dr. Fred

Work Parenting Tipster said...

Hi Marty,
How is a job agent different than a career coach?

Suggestion: Ghostwriting or Online Copywiter for those with good writing skills.

Marty Nemko said...

Career coaches teach the client how to do the job search. Job search agents actually make the cold calls, send out the letters, etc. All the job applicant needs to do is show up for the interviews.