My (Not) Home Based Business



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.

Photo: used too widely to attribute

Photo: used too widely to attribute



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?


  1. I feel as if my life has been a series of home businesses. Here are just some off the top of my head, editing manuscripts, tutoring, interior decorating,selling crafts, and ebay, babysitting, writing for software program, selling baked goods, and now restoring furniture. I prefer to have more flexibility in my daily life than a 9-5 job can give me.

    • I really admire the skill sets that people achieve when they work for themselves. There is a whole other skill set in continually making yourself relevant to the current market. Well done!

      • Well, it was more about making ends meet when I first started doing work from home. Now I’m glad I did because it would be hard for me to have a full time job.

  2. I am hoping to use my knitting obsession to good effect and make money from it one day…(if not, it shall just remain fun!) Possibly from selling knitted items, but more likely from selling patterns..fingers crossed!

  3. Fiona

    I’m like you, Dar – I don’t see it as horribly constricting to work for an employer. I find it liberating to have consistent, regular income, plus I don’t want the responsibility of finding or creating the work. From my perspective, the chase for income can leave you more ‘tied to the job’ than a regular wage-earner job.

    I worked 10 years in a self-employed family business (building company) and it was so, so many hours, plus a great deal of risk and responsibility. I’m glad we had the time together as a family, but it wasn’t very liberating or flexible! I really value the ‘perks’ of a wage job now (like sick pay, holiday pay, retirement benefits etc.)

    • Good point – when you work for yourself, a vacation or an illness can mean no wages. I am happy that my qualifications are still in demand in the traditional workforce and that I’ve never been forced into a career change.

  4. I’ve considered a home business from time to time (I think everyone has days they don’t feel like going to work), but my job is Monday – Friday, paid holidays off, and includes benefits. Going into business for myself is tempting sometimes, but I think it would mean more stress and less free time in the long run. I’m not a huge risk-taker, either . .

  5. Lisa

    Man, I would kill to be able to say I am ‘very fond of my job’. But I wasn’t, and now due to that, politics (thank you Harper) and a move to an area without a federal government office, I am on a career break, aka unemployment. I do so admire those that have so many skills and talents with the vision to be able to reinvent themselves as needed. I shudder to think of going back to school, and I feel quite unskilled at times. [Ever read World War Z (I recommend it if you like that genre)? Well, those so called professionals (besides doctors) found themselves on sewage duty or the like, whereas those with skills in the areas of mechanics, farming, sewing etc. went to the top.]

    • I should read World War Z because I do like my apocalyptic fiction. Don’t get me going about Harper! I am sorry for your job loss. I bet some new opportunity will arise that you never thought of.

  6. Lisa

    Yes, I’d bet you and I could have a really good rant together about his government. I’m in the environmental field so we were particularly hit hard. Also, the choice between my husband’s career and mine had to be made and we moved for his (I think that comment fits in with another of your recent posts about ‘adjusting plans for people’ in ones life). We’ll see what happens next.

    • Oy, could we ever! I think it’s inevitable that we have to adjust plans, compromise, and make sacrifices for people close to us sometimes. You should gain some points for that, though 🙂 Best of luck.

  7. Where’d my comment go? Another casulty of the business centre computer use evidently!

    I’m another one in the ‘I like my job’ camp – and the regular holidays and pay. I have ebayed stuff, but never to the extent that I could call it a side hustle. I do like baking and have often wondered if I could convert it to $$. I’ve also used my home once or twice to do flowers for a wedding (for friends) – but it’s too stressful for no matter the money! Another reader reminded me, I must get World War Z!

    • If I needed extra income, I would rather take a second job with regular hours than create my own business. I would be interested in a home business after retirement, but that’s a long way off. I want to read World War Z; not so keen on seeing the movie, though!

      • Lisa

        Loved the book, as I said. Apparently, the only things the movie and the book have in common are the title and zombies. I am not keen on seeing the movie either.

  8. I just made enough money from my adsense to get my first payment, which is super-exciting 🙂 I don’t see it ever turning into a full-time business but the extra money is welcome at the moment!

    I’ve also been brain-storming for things I could do next year to make money while I’m looking for a job and so far have come up with proof-reading students work (something I actually enjoy) and selling homemade toiletries at markets. I would love to make food and sell it but the law says you have to use a commercial kitchen, which means hiring one, so that would cost a bit to start up.

    • Congrats on your first payment! I would love to do proof-reading or any other editing/writing type work. Do you make soap or lotions? PS I like your avatar!

      • At the moment I make lotions, body butter and deodorant. I haven’t been brave enough to try soap yet! I’m currently testing them on myself, but once I get that right I will try them out on friends and family 🙂

  9. Hello! My first time here and I did enjoy it. As a person who owned a business (with husband) and ran it every day of my life…did I say everyday? Yes, Labor Day is not a holiday, I will say most (99.5%) of people have a very glamorized view of being in business.

  10. Really? I don’t know anyone who wants to make a living off their land (though know plenty who would like to grow their own food, me included).

    Currently volunteering on a small farm in Italy that does this, growing food and selling a little bit of it. It’s definitely not easy as you say. I can see the appeal, theoretically and even in practice somewhat, but not for me as a long term lifestyle thing. I also think it’d be hard to make good money.

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