Sometimes I think about whether I could succeed in a home business, and what that business might be. I don’t dwell on it much, though. I have a full-time, salaried job with benefits. The amount of time and capital I’d need to replace that income would be immense and not worth it. If I hated my job, I would consider it, but I’m actually very fond of my job. I follow the age-old formula of trading my time and expertise for money. I made the upfront investment of 5 years of university, and 2-3 years of entry level work. Some people despise working regular hours or working for an employer, but I’m not one of them. Nevertheless, if I suddenly lost my job, I would probably try to bring in some income while looking for another career-level position.
Years ago, ideas for home businesses were very limited and they were divided along gender lines. Women would most often go into home childcare or direct sales, such as Tupperware, Avon or Amway. Like it or not, these were considered “unskilled” jobs. Another option was typing documents for people, such as university papers. Women who had creative talents would make and sell items at craft fairs, make birthday and wedding cakes, or offer music lessons. Meanwhile, men were more likely to offer their services as handymen, painting houses or building decks. In my opinion, men were more likely to access start-up capital and get into a home business like snow plowing (requiring a plow!) or gardening and landscaping (requiring a tiller, mower, trimmer, etc.) Rom recalls a lot of men being involved in flipping, such as buying a cheap car, fixing it up and selling it for a profit. I suppose the gender divide made some sense at the time because men were usually trying to replace their former career income, while women were more likely to be supplementing the family income while at home with kids.
Of course we thought that with the advent of personal computers, we’d all work from home, with shorter work weeks and growing leisure. We didn’t predict that in 2013, we’d be on call 24/7 via email, cell phone and texting; or that each of us would be doing the work of 3 people. I bet I’m at least 4 times more productive than I was in the late 80s when I started my first librarian job without a computer! However, personal computers and the Internet opened up a whole realm of home business ideas and/or extra income ideas:
- Website design work
- Online stock and ETF trading
- Winning at online poker
- Earning and selling items within online games
- Buying up cool domain names and reselling them
- Earning ad revenue through blogging
- Selling handmade goods through online stores such the ones at Etsy
- eBay sales
- Getting paid for completing surveys
- Entering contests
I think most of us will see a gender split within that list, too!
The current trend in web-based business seems to be coaching people online to be as successful as you’ve been. For example, if you fared well as a home organizer, instead of just continuing to earn money as a home organizer, you now offer a home organizer training course to help others become one. Very clever!
Meanwhile, offline home businesses have gone through cycles, too. It doesn’t seem so long ago that everyone I knew was qualifying as a yoga instructor, personal trainer, massage therapist or Reiki practitioner. And some of them are still in business! Over the past 5 years, the biggest growth I’ve seen has been in dog-related services such as dog grooming, dog washes, and doggie day care, all of which must have some substantial start-up costs.
Currently I see a lot of men picking up curbside finds, vintage-look items, antiques and collectibles, and selling them at big weekend flea markets. And I see a lot of women buying up wedding and prom dresses for resale, or upping their skills to become wedding photographers.
But you know what the number one self-employment aspiration is, where I live? Farming. Virtually everyone I know would love to own a plot of land, and sell vegetables or jam or eggs at the farmer’s market. Why anyone thinks this would be a life of leisure is beyond me! Maybe the appeal is that it’s good, honest, manual labour?
The boom in small and home based businesses has really transformed the way we all view “making a living.”
What is your current or upcoming home business or money-making enterprise?