For even the most diligent bootstrappers, the costs associated with starting a business can be intimidating. But there's at least one simple way to cut down on costs: by running your business from home.
If you want to start and run a business from your house, Keith Hall, the CEO for the National Association for the Self-Employed, suggests entering a service-oriented business that doesn't require much manufacturing space. Aspiring entrepreneurs should also think about special skills they have, and the businesses that will best use those skills.
"There's no great little mathematical formula. Whether or not you should work from home, that is purely and simply a personal work environment question," Hall says. "The people who seem to thrive from home are those who are able to work all the time, wherever they are."
Here are some of the best business ideas that typically have lower startup costs, and that you could start from home.
The industry with the highest number of one-person businesses is the professional, scientific, and technical services sector, according to 2013 U.S. Census Data. Many are accounting firms. Nearly 70 percent of accounting firms employ four employees or fewer. Another bonus: You won't need a lot of space, though you do need a thorough record-keeping system and an aptitude for numbers. A lot of work, such as bookkeeping or preparing tax returns, doesn't require an accounting degree or a Certified Public Accountant credential.
If you want to start your own graphic design business, you won't be competing with many large corporations. Freelancers make up a majority of the operators in the graphic design industry, according to business research firm IBIS World. Graphic design also requires little to minimal investment in equipment, apart from a computer and various software programs, making it an ideal business to manage from your couch.
Like graphic design, photography is an industry that doesn't require a large production space. While improvements in digital camera technology present a threat to professional photographers, portrait photographers make up the largest share of U.S. professional photographers, at about 34.1 percent. The industry grew by about 3 percent in the U.S. from 2011 to 2016, according to IBIS World.
IBIS World predicts that the real estate industry will generate a whopping $122 billion in revenue in 2015. The industry also has a high number of people working for themselves, without any paid employees (approximately 2.5 million), meaning you'll have a lot of company, even if you decide to enter the business solo. You'll have to obtain a broker's license, but in most states in can be done after a few weeks in the classroom and by passing an exam.
Some of the most iconic brands in the food industry--from Newman's Own salad dressings to Jimmy Dean breakfast sausage--were born out of a household kitchen. But if you want to sell homemade pasta sauce or chocolate, proceed with caution. Some states have regulations on what homemade food items you can and cannot sell commercially. For a list of your state's regulations, USA Today suggests checking out Forrager.com, a website that tracks developments in "cottage food laws."