By Ernest O’Dell

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The perfect formula for finding the right home based business doesn’t exist. But if you do your homework, you can find something that you’re good at, and make money at it while basing your operations out of a spare room in your home, or from your dining room table.

It will involve some trial and error, and yes, you will make some mistakes along the way, but that’s the only way you’re going to learn.

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Here are some ideas that are simple to start and can be done from home during your spare time.

Coming up with a good business idea isn’t a static process; it’s fluid. It can change from one day to the next. But when you find the right formula, you’ll be able to apply the “wash, rinse, repeat” formula to it. As I mentioned above, it will involve some trial and error — and in some cases — more trial and error than others.

The best way to generate good business ideas is to write and write often. Make lists every day of things that you might enjoy, and try to figure out how you could make money doing them. Find a “niche” — or a need — then provide the solution to that need and you’ll have a captive market with little to no competition.

Below is a list of some ideas which are very simple to start, and most can be done as a sole proprietorship at first (meaning you don’t have to file any legal documents to get started, although you might want to consult a tax expert and do that if your business starts to grow). Most of these can be done “at home” or ‘from home’ in your spare time, and in your spare space, too.

1.) Consulting

If you have years of experience in a particular profession, you can open up a consulting practice under your own name. You don’t even need a license in many fields, unless you’re in a legal, or an engineering, profession. If you’re going to “hang your shingle” as a legal or engineering consultant, then you’ll definitely have to be certified and registered with your state (and sometimes, national) associations.

But if you’re a web designer, or an SEO (Search Engine Optimization) consultant, you probably don’t need any licensing. But you WILL need a good reputation and some proof of your work to pass yourself off as an expert.

2.) Landscaper, Lawn Care, Gardening

If you’ve been cutting your own lawn, landscaping your flower beds and raising your own garden, then you’ve probably acquired a certain amount of knowledge and expertise in that area. Lots of men and women make good money every day just mowing lawns. Some of them “branch out” and offer other services like landscaping and gardening, and leaf retrieval. Some landscapers even haul the leaves off and put them into a mulch pile and let them “cook” in a composting area to sell as worm bedding or potting soil.

During the off season, you might even put your “extra services” on your fliers for snow removal, tree trimming, during the winter months. Think outside the box.

3.) Doggie Poop Removal Service

Yes, it’s a stinky, dirty job, but somebody’s gotta do it. And there are lots of people who will pay you do clean up their yards for dog poop. Check out Poop 911 for ideas and pricing. You can even open up your own franchise and license other operators in your area. Get a domain name with your city name in combination with the words “dog poop” or “dog poop removal” to make it searchable and keyword rich, and you could virtually monopolize the business in your area.

4.) Auto Detailing

Do you have a meticulous eye for detail and love to get things gleaming clean? Auto detailing is probably a perfect side business for you. In essence, your job is to make cars sparkle inside and out – and many people are quite happy to pay well for this service.

Here’s another twist that one of my guys is doing: they take customers cars over to an auto detailing shop, pay them their going rate, and bring it back to the customer with a mark up on the price. They don’t have to invest in equipment, and they get it done by a professional, and they provide “at your door” service. What a concept!

5.) Babysitting Day Care

Got lots of evenings free? Like kids? Babysitting may be a great side business for you. Keep an eye on multiple children on Friday and Saturday nights and you can earn some easy cash over time. I see members of our Facebook groups and classified ad site advertising for babysitting and day care all the time.

6.) Blogging and Contributing Article Writer

If you enjoy writing, find a topic you’re passionate about and start a website dedicated to covering that topic and anything else interesting you want to talk about. The guys at Compare Forex Brokers started their Forex comparison blog 6 months ago and haven’t looked back since. All you need is a computer, some time, and some energy to consistently write. It can start as a hobby and turn into a business over time. And blog hosting account can cost less than $7 per month at Hosting-Nation, and the guys at* can help you get a nice blog up and running for under $1,000, with all the bells and whistles.

*See David’s blog here…

7.) Buying and Selling on eBay, Amazon, and Affiliate Marketing

Thanks to technology, there are more opportunities than ever to buy and resell products for extra money. Plenty of people buy local and in-demand products at a discount and resell them on eBay and Amazon for profit. You can even get paid as an advertiser for major Fortune 500 companies when you send them paid referrals. There is an investment in Making Easy Dollars, but it’s only a “one time” qualification depending on the trial products and services you would like to try. Once you’re qualified with a full 1.0 credit, you’ll never have to re-qualify. It’s a great way to make some IMMEDIATE cash, and you can even get paid every day as long as you have qualified referrals coming into your affiliate site.

8.) Cake and cupcake baking and decorating

Got a sweet tooth? Enjoy baking and have a bit of an artistic touch? Learn how to decorate cakes and make them for special events. Sell your creations online via Craigslist or your local neighborhood Facebook page, or at local farmers markets. Many people are willing to pay others to create custom cakes for birthday parties and special events. I see people setting up tables outside of the Walmart store entrances selling cakes, cookies and cupcakes all the time. It’s not hard to get the manager’s permission: all you have to do is ask.

9.) Home Day-Care

Many states, counties, and cities allow people to start an “in-home” day care with minimal licensing and paperwork. If you love children and have plenty of time and space at home, this is a perfect business to get into. All you need is a safe room or two for children to play in, some toys and activities, a place for meals and naps, and a whole lot of patience.

10.) Cleaning Services for Businesses

Many businesses and civic institutions need individuals who can clean their offices and common areas outside of normal business hours. If you’re willing to work some nights and weekends, you can build a cleaning side business and get in shape all in one fell swoop.

I have a buddy in Missouri who was looking for a part time “extra” job and he went and got some contracts with local banks, cleaning their offices. You might have to call around and ask them what their rates are, and you might have to be competitive to get a contract with a bank that already has a cleaning service, but you won’t know until you try.

Back in the early 80’s, I washed windows for restaurants and one story office buildings. All I needed was some clean water, dishwashing liquid, some squeegees and some paper towels for the occasional spots you miss. You can pick up squeegees and buckets at your local Home Depot, Lowes, Walmart, and online at Amazon. I was knocking out 4 or 5 buildings a day at the rate of $50 to $200 per building, depending on the number of windows they had. It was all outside work, so I wasn’t disrupting business during serving hours. Besides, the inside windows were usually done by the service staff in the restaurant, and each office tenant in the office building would do their own, or their cleaning service did them (see item # 10).

During the summer it was hot and the winters were cold, but I always went home with $250 to $500 a day… more than you’ll ever make working for Walmart, for sure!

These are just a few of the many side business opportunities that have grown more popular in the past few years. However, there are many more out there in addition to some that are yet to be discovered. Remember that you are only limited by your own imagination and skill set. Don’t be afraid to be creative, and don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t succeed.

Whatever your business idea, you’ll have high hopes of growing and with that comes important financial considerations. When it comes time for you to expand your business, talk to your personal banker first before going anywhere else. They are there to help you and take the hassle out of business finance so you can focus on your business.

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