Technology has been the forerunner in enabling great businesses – from helping an idea become a reality to giving wings to dreams that are too big for the earth. It has shrunk the world and pushed us to realise our true potential, especially when it comes to money making and running a successful business. Take the example of e-commerce giant Amazon, which was originally a bookstore run from a garage and is now delivering books, clothes, and electronics worldwide.
In a world connected by the internet, buying, selling, and offering services have become all the more interactive and easy. Low on capital? No problem! Some startup ideas need as little as Rs 10,000 to get off the ground. The actual requirements can vary as per individual aspirations, but one can rest assured that building a business from the comfort of your home is well within the means of the vast majority of people. So if you don’t have much cash to invest, but have skills and a space at home, then here are some tried-and-tested home-based businesses you can start at low investment.
If you are artistic then you can make money both offline and online by using your talent and creativity. From homemade soaps and candles to stationery like pencils, notebooks, etc., there is a wide range of products you can explore. You can sell online on bigger portals like Amazon and Flipkart, or if you are looking to keep it small and simple then smaller platforms like Indiamart, Instagram, and WhatsApp are all you need. With just a little help from technology and minimal investment, you can cash in on your creativity.
Offline, you can be a part of local flea markets and festive melas and exhibitions. There is no dearth of opportunities to showcase your creative output, be it at Sunday Soul Sante in Bengaluru or the Diwali melas of Delhi. So many people have started with small items and gone on to build bigger businesses from the four walls of their house, such as Craft Cart which makes beautiful products like quilled miniatures, accessories, jewellery, greeting cards, candles, newspaper boxes, baskets, lamp shades, etc.
The swarming workforce in cities living away from their home craves home-cooked meals at great pricing. If you are in a locality surrounded by young working people and can cook a great meal, then you have a ready market. You can start small with just one-five households and then scale up as you become comfortable. With groceries being delivered at home, you can save up on shopping and instead spend that time on cooking and packing and send food to those missing ‘ghar ka khana’. If the demand increases for your food, all you need to do is hire a few more hands to help and still continue to serve up to 30-50 people from your own kitchen.
With courses now available online, the need for tutors may not be the same as before but a lot of parents still want their kids to learn something new, from coding to STEM subjects, or even just a little bit of help from someone who is ready to give personal time. Demand for basic programming languages is high. All you need to do is get started with one or two kids and then let word-of-mouth marketing take charge. If you are good there will be no dearth of requests from parents. To formalise it you can even use WhatsApp to create a group where you can connect with all the parents and share updates and class details.
Preschools are rapidly rising in popularity. Today’s competitive world lays great demand for a quality educational environment from a young age. Identify a colony or society in your area and start a play school. Under legal manifestations, you can register as a profit or not-for-profit enterprise. You can set up under an existing franchise or spin off on your own.
For the longest time, grandparents were the de-facto go-to for working parents looking for somebody to look after their children while they’re away daily. But now, parents want their kids to be a part of team building activities and “fit in”, and play schools and creches are the perfect avenues to answer this need. If you have a passion for teaching and love nurturing children, this might be just the right business idea for you.
Be it painting, singing, art and crafts, or music, there are still many takers for these classes, be it in cities or smaller towns. If you specialise in music, go ahead and teach some Carnatic music or give lessons in how to play the piano or guitar or drums. Take art classes or pottery classes. Wherever your skill lies, use it to your advantage and charge per class. To get even more visibility, share your and your students’ work on social media like Instagram or Snapchat. Not only is that good marketing, it is also a great way to showcase what you are doing.
Are you an extensive traveller and love clicking pictures? Do you know the ABCs of lighting and ISO, and can dissect picture composition for hours? As someone who understands the ins and outs of photography and videography, you can conduct sessions for professional training for other enthusiasts. Whether you choose to go to the great outdoors for shoots or prefer to do it within the confines of your home can depend on your preference and budget. There’s a whole big world waiting to be clicked, and people are often willing to pay good money to learn the best way of doing it from the pros. Take inspiration from Mansi Gandotra’s story.
Home bakes are delightful – one can smell a cake being baked from a mile away. Who doesn’t like baked items – from custom-made cakes, pies, pastries, doughnuts, cookies, and chocolates to bread, mousses, fruit-flavoured relishes, and more? If your baking skills are above par, you could easily set up a patisserie from the comfort of your home, and even pass on your skills through baking classes. That’s how Nazia Ali, a stay-at-home mom, started her journey as a baker.
From homegrown fruits to organic greens, your backyard can be the source of fresh produce. Herbs, fruits, and vegetables of all kinds – even exotic ones like passion fruit and peaches – can be grown in your backyard, which can then become your piggy bank. Homecrop is a startup that has proven this is possible by conceptualising growing crops in one’s backyard. Living a healthy lifestyle has become very popular these days – grow your produce organically and advertise it as such, and you’ll have regular customers in no time.
Apart from produce, flowering plants like bougainvillaea, bonsais, and ornamental plants used to beautify homes also provide a viable income source. From designing backyards and patios to terraces and balconies, your little nursery can be the start of a great interior designing business for green homes. You could even put your green thumbs to use and set up a gardening store. Take the example of Urban Firefly, a startup by Suman Chhabria Addepalli that is a one-stop shop for all your gardening needs.
Are you a bibliophile? Is your basement or penthouse filled with books? Start your very own community library and help out all the fellow book lovers in your area as well. Not only is this a great way to meet other bibliophiles, it’s also possible to earn some income from it through a token membership plan. You can even have events with token entry charges – how about a BYOB (Bring Your Own Book) evening? Exchange old books for new, host activities and meet-ups – the possibilities are many.
Have you ever wondered where people leave their pets if they go on a holiday and can’t take them along? Well, you can volunteer and offer to take care of their furry and feathered friends. Provide a temporary kennel in your home. Arrange for food, take them for walks and play catch (if needed), and show them some love. You can ask the owners to cover the costs and even pay you a token amount for looking after their beloved pets in their absence.
Preserved pickles, relishes, and jams are very popular and there’s something a little extra special about homemade ones. Ground spices are authentically flavourful and often preferable to the mass-produced ones you get from stores. If you have the means to make amazing pickles, relishes, fresh spices, and jams at home – and are good at it – place a label on it, sell some goodness, and watch your business take off. That’s how Apeksha Jain, the Founder of The Gourmet Jar, got started.
Accessory making is a skill and some people just love being artistic, vibrant, and colourful with a love for patterns. From earrings to necklaces – if you have an eye for detail and know how to set a trend, then you can give a handmade jewellery setup a go and brand-ify yourself. Rustic or stone-studded, metallic or glittery – if you can set standards for style, you are well on your way to becoming a home-grown brand.
Do you think you can give everything an edge in design, are good at embroidery or have a flair for prints? Are you confident enough to add a factor of glam to something ordinary? Can you transform a plain piece of cloth using handprints or paints? You may have the makings of a home-based entrepreneur already. People always want a grandiose look for their clothes. Satisfy their whims and meet their demands with your own unique printing and designing takes. Starting with a small clientele, you could eventually expand your business into a boutique for your curated style. Usha Jha, the Founder of Petal Crafts, started from her home and now is a champion of Madhubani art in Patna.
Many people are unaware of how to get basic tax filing done, or how they can best invest their money into different financial instruments. While there are many self-help guides available online, some people still prefer the human touch of a personal advisor. If you have domain knowledge and credentials in the sector, try your hand at counselling and financial planning – with so many sources of advice available, a lot of people are easily lost and in need of someone to take them through the process. If you have valuable advice to give and are an industry expert, trade that knowledge for a set fee.
Most people skip exercise if they have to go to a gym or a dance class, and here is where an expert can make the most of the gap. In most apartment complexes with gym facilities, all you need to do is start using your Zumba or yoga skills and offer training solutions. If you are into nutrition, partner with someone who is into physical fitness to provide training and nutrition to residents for a nominal fee. If you can use the apartment utilities, you could even save costs there. If you are good with diet recommendations for a healthy lifestyle, be an overall trainer. Make an online group on a common app to track people’s diet and share knowledge.
Do you practice a dance art form well enough to teach it? Launch a dance studio – whether salsa, jive, classical or any other. Be the guru in your field.
Do you have a place you can rent in a city that you don’t live in? Is your flat or home in the countryside or a hill station lying vacant? Furnish it with the minimal necessary supplies and Airbnb it. There are multiple platforms you can register on to give people a place to come and stay while travelling. This can become a source of passive income, or you could make it a full-time business. Since tourism is an evergreen industry, if you are okay renting your house to strangers for short periods, give this idea a whirl and you could be earning income just like that!
As you can see, it really isn’t that hard to convert a passion or hobby into a full-time business, and you don’t even necessarily have to step out of your comfort zone to do it. E-commerce can be your saviour if you’re scrambling for supplies. No matter what your idea, do make sure you satisfy all legal requirements such as registering your startup when needed, abiding by rules of what you can and can’t sell, and so on and so forth. Homegrown businesses don’t have to feel like rocket science – find your niche and get started on the path to entrepreneurship. Good luck!