Are you looking for a small home-based business idea that offers more flexibility, creativity, and the ability to social distance? Check out these 16 options.

The world of work is changing. More and more people have tasted what it’s like to work from home and, I’ll tell ya, it tastes pretty sweet.

Say goodbye to your long, frustrating commute and say hello to casual office attire and sleeping in. Starting a small business from home allows you to manage your schedule, gives you unlimited creative control, and provides the option to stay safely socially distanced.

If you’ve been thinking about starting a work from home business, there has never been a better time.

Check out this list of 16 small businesses that you can start from home while social distancing.

Teach or tutor online

The 16 Best Small Businesses That You Can Start While Socially Distancing - Teach or tutor online

With more and more people moving online for education it’s a good time to be an online tutor or teacher. Online tutoring and teaching are just like regular tutoring and teaching except you do it over the internet and you don’t have to be in the same room as your student – yeah for social distancing!

What do you need to get started?

To get started you’ll need a computer with a video camera, high-speed wifi, a quality headset, and a quiet space.

In terms of what you need for qualifications, it varies based on the subject you are tutoring or teaching, as well as the level you intend to tutor or teach at (primary school vs. high school). The necessary qualifications will also be based on whether or not you tutor or teach with an established company or go it alone.

If you choose to join a tutoring company you’ll be required to meet their standards and qualifications. This can range from specific expertise in a certain subject to a bachelor’s degree (or higher).

As an example, VIPKid is an online learning platform that teaches English to children in China. They require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree to get started as a teacher.

If you choose to open your own tutoring business then you can choose what qualifications are necessary but your customers are probably going to ask about your education and background.

Pros & cons

If you like to teach but you don’t want the responsibility of creating lesson plans and working a traditional school-day schedule, then tutoring or teaching with a company like VIPKid can be a great option. This is a venture you can do on evenings and weekends all from the comfort of your home. 

The cons associated with tutoring and teaching? It requires more education and knowledge than something like dog walking.

Start a blog

Unless you’ve been living in a cave with no wifi, you’ve likely stumbled upon a blog. Blogs can be personal where someone documents their foray into raising chickens or becoming vegan. 

What do you need to get started?

If you want to find financial success as a blogger you’ll need a laptop, reliable wifi, a blogging platform/website, hosting, and domain name. You’ll also need to create a ton of super useful content to keep your readers coming back. And, because building an audience and making money through blogging isn’t easy, you’re going to need a boatload of grit, dedication, and patience.  

Pros & cons

Blogging is a great creative outlet. If you love to write, share content, and connect with others online then this might be the right small business for you. When it comes to some of the challenges associated with blogging – first of all, it costs money to get started. Not a ton of money but you’ll need to pay for your website, hosting, and domain name.

And, as I already said, blogging takes time. You need to establish yourself in your field of choice and get traffic to your site – this doesn’t happen overnight. If you need to start making money immediately some of the other options on this list might be a better choice.

Sell your wares on Etsy

If you’re crafty and creative then you may want to consider selling on Etsy. Etsy is an online e-commerce site that specializes in handmade crafts and vintage products.

You can use Etsy to sell all of your homemade creations from jewelry to toys to home décor.

What do you need to get started?

To start a small business as an Etsy seller, you will need to set up an Etsy shop and you will also need a product to sell. Etsy is saturated with certain products, so make sure you have a unique idea. Browse the site to find what sells well, and make your product even better. 

Pros & cons

This is a great small home-based business because it’s super easy to set up and it’s a great platform to use if you want to find customers. 

The downside of setting up a store on Etsy, you’ll have to part with some of your hard-earned dollars as they charge fees for listing items and for transactions. Also, when it comes to making money, your earning potential will be limited by how quickly you can produce your homemade product.

Freelance writing

The 16 Best Small Businesses That You Can Start While Socially Distancing - Freelance writing

Freelance writing is great because it offers a flexible schedule and allows you to complete your work from anywhere. As I write this article, I’m sitting in the passenger seat of our car headed to my in-laws’ farm 28 hours away.

What do you need to get started?

To get started as a freelance writer you need a computer and wifi. That’s pretty much it. You don’t need a degree in communications or journalism, though it doesn’t hurt. You do need to be a good writer (though you will improve over time) and you should enjoy writing.

Pros & cons

With so many businesses expanding their online services there is a huge need for content. And who can help fill that need – freelance writers! 

In my opinion, the best things about freelance writing are flexibility, the ability to choose your clients, and unlimited earning potential. 

However, it can be difficult to get started. Finding new clients can be a challenge when you don’t have any experience. Luckily there are tons of courses online you can look into (unfortunately, most of these cost a couple of hundred dollars). 

Dog walker

When I was in high school I created a lucrative side hustle as the neighborhood dog walker. I loved everything about it with the exception of being dragged down a gravel road by one of my disobedient customers.

What do you need to get started?

The great thing about a career in dog walking – it’s so easy to get started. In addition to a comfy pair of walking shoes and a love for animals, you’ll also need to find a way to advertise your services.

See if your community has a website where you can share your new business venture or you can go old school and put up some paper posters. You can also look into using apps like Rover if you want help finding clients.

Pros & cons

There are tons of perks when it comes to dog walking. First, your customers are adorable and easy to please. Second, it’s easy to socially distance when you’re outside. Third, you get to exercise and enjoy the outdoors while you work. 

The cons – poop.

It’s going to be your job to clean up after the pups so if you can’t handle some poop, this isn’t the business for you.

Airbnb host

Airbnb is an online platform that connects people looking for a place to stay with people who are interested in renting their property. You can make money on Airbnb by renting out your entire house or even just a room. 

What do you need to get started?

To get started you need to have a room or a house, motor home, boat, tree fort, or castle. In other words, you need to have access to a property or space in which to host your visitors. You will also need a laptop or smartphone and access to the internet to post your rental on the Airbnb site. 

Pros & cons

The great thing about starting a small business as an Airbnb host is that it’s pretty passive compared to some of the other options on this list. This means it requires less effort to earn money than some of the other ideas. There’s still some upfront work involved such as listing your property and ongoing management tasks such as communicating with clients and ensuring your property is cleaned after each guest. However, you can hire people to do all of this if you want to keep it super passive. 

The challenges associated with Airbnb is that you need access to a property to rent it out. Additionally, if you only have a single room to rent out in your house it might be difficult to maintain social distancing.

House sitting

The 16 Best Small Businesses That You Can Start While Socially Distancing - House sitting

In a similar vein to Airbnb hosting, you can start a small business as a house sitter. A house sitter is someone who looks after people’s homes when they are away. It might involve staying at the client’s house to look after pets or plants. Or, sometimes your client might just want someone to go in, turn on lights, and pick up the mail.

What do you need to get started?

All you need to get started is a creative marketing campaign so you can find and secure your first client. Unless you are planning to only house sit homes that are within walking distance you will also need a bike, car, or some other form of transportation to get to the houses.

Pros & cons

House sitting is a great gig because it’s cheap to get started, and it’s pretty easy. I mean, you’re babysitting a house so unless there’s a fire or a pipe burst it’s pretty manageable. Also, it’s easy to maintain adequate social distance when you are the only one in the home. 

The major struggle associated with this small business opportunity – finding clients. This is a common theme amongst many of these home-based small businesses. It can be challenging to find your first customer and unless you can build up a long list of clients it might be difficult to make a full-time income.

Virtual assistant

Nowadays it seems like everyone has a virtual assistant (VA) or wants one. So, what does a virtual assistant do? Well, it depends on the services you want to offer and what you feel qualified to offer (as in don’t offer bookkeeping services if you’re terrible at math).

Virtual assistants do things like scheduling, bookkeeping, social media management, and customer service. The services you can offer are virtually limitless (pun intended)!

What do you need to get started?

To start your home-based business as a VA you’ll need a reliable computer, access to wi-fi, a quiet, comfortable space to work, and a quality headset.

Pros & cons

A career as a virtual assistant allows you to work from wherever but not necessarily whenever. Depending on where your clients are located they might require you to be available during certain core business hours. Your success as a virtual assistant will depend on the quality of your work, the types of services you offer, and the number of clients you can obtain. 

The major challenge when it comes to starting a business as a virtual assistant – competition. Just as everyone wants a VA it seems like there is an unlimited pool of people who want the job. This can make it difficult to charge premium prices for your services, at least at first, because there’s always someone who will do it for cheaper. 

Teach virtual music lessons

A virtual music instructor teaches their students how to play an instrument. What you teach will obviously depend on what instrument(s) you’re skilled in.

What do you need to get started?

To start a small business as a virtual music instructor you’ll need a computer, wi-fi, presumably an instrument, and, most importantly, a ton of skill. Your success will also depend on your teaching abilities and how you can connect virtually with your students.  

Pros & cons

The pros of being a virtual music teacher include working from the comfort and safety of your own home and sharing your love of music with others. Plus, you get to make money doing something you love. The challenges are locating potential students and not being able to physically help with hand placement to improve technique on the instrument.

Online fitness instructor

The 16 Best Small Businesses That You Can Start While Socially Distancing - Online fitness instructor

A virtual fitness instructor does the same things that an in-person trainer does just in an online environment. Since many people are opting not to go to the gym but they still want to stay in shape, now seems like a good time to try out your online fitness business.

What do you need to get started?

Depending on the type of fitness you want to instruct you may want to obtain certain credentials to be taken seriously. You’ll also need a space to workout, the necessary workout equipment (weights, yoga mat, etc.), as well as a computer and recording equipment.

Pros & cons

If you’re passionate about fitness then one of the biggest benefits of starting a business as an online instructor is sharing your passion. Also, you get paid to work out! 

The cons – it might take some time to get any necessary qualifications or training if you don’t already have them. Also, this market might be getting a little crowded with more and more people opting to stay away from the gym and workout from home. 

Outdoor fitness trainer

Similar to a career as a virtual fitness instructor, an outdoor fitness trainer is passionate about working out and staying healthy. However, the difference between the two is where you do your training.

If you are used to doing one on one training with clients there are still ways to do this while also social distancing. At least this is true if you live somewhere with a warm client. Just train your clients outside.

What do you need to get started?

To get started you’ll need the proper training and qualifications, a space to train your clients (this could be a backyard or park), and possibly some exercise equipment (along with sanitizer to disinfect it!)

Pros & cons

If you already have clients and you just want to move your indoor practice outdoors to maintain social distancing guidelines, then this will be relatively easy.

If you’re just getting started then your main challenges will be getting the necessary training and qualifications as well as finding clients.

Transcriber

A transcriber is someone who takes video recordings, podcasts, conversations, or other audio and turns it into a written document. You listen and then type.

What do you need to get started?

To get started you obviously need a computer, wifi, and a headset to listen to all of the audio. Depending on the type of transcription you decide to do, you might require certain qualifications. For instance, legal or medical transcriptionists may require particular licensing, certifications, or degrees. To be successful, you’ll need to be a good listener and an excellent typist.

Pros & cons

A career in transcribing can be great because it’s super flexible- you can do it anytime from anywhere and there’s no in-person contact. However, transcribing can be tedious work especially if the audio is difficult to hear or understand. If patience is not one of your virtues it might be wise to pick a different work from home option from this list. 

Voice over actor

The 16 Best Small Businesses That You Can Start While Socially Distancing - Voice over actor

Voice-over acting is when you lend your voice to represent a character or to read some form of information. 

What do you need to get started?

To start a home-based voice over business, the most important thing you’ll need is a great voice. Excellent reading skills are also a must. To work from home, you’ll need certain equipment including a microphone, microphone stand, headphones, recording software, a computer, reliable wifi, as well as a super quiet space to work and a way to absorb the ambient noise in the room where you’re recording.

Pros & cons

If you have a great voice and you love to read then this will be an easy gig for you. However, the front end costs associated with setting up this small business can be substantial so make sure this is something you really want to do before investing a lot of money. 

If you need financial help to purchase the necessary equipment you can check out Credible. Credible is an online marketplace that partners with a variety of financial institutions so they can help match you with a lender that meets your needs. 

Credible allows you to perform side by side comparisons of different lenders on a variety of variables including loan amount, terms, and interest rates. It only takes a few minutes to see if you qualify for a loan and they use a soft credit check which means checking your prequalified rates won’t impact your credit score.

Virtual bookkeeper 

A virtual bookkeeper is like a regular bookkeeper – just online. It’s your job to keep track of your clients’ financial transactions

What do you need to get started?

To be a virtual bookkeeper you will need to be skilled in math, and some clients may want to see if you have specific professional certifications or licenses. You will also need a computer and wifi. Additionally, you might want to consider investing in some bookkeeping software. 

Pros & cons

If you like working with numbers then this can be an easy and dare I say fun job. If you have experience bookkeeping in your current or past job then you can use this experience to open your own small biz at home. 

Although you don’t need to have an accounting degree or license to become an online bookkeeper you might notice that some clients will want this. As a result, you might feel that you need more education to do this job. There also might be some upfront costs and learning required if you decide to invest in bookkeeping software. 

Online chat support

Most online companies offer their customers online chat support. This is when you can “chat” with a customer service agent online via text instead of waiting on hold on the phone for an hour. While some companies use bots to do this job, the more effective chat support employs real people. 

What do you need to get started?

To get started you need a computer and reliable wifi. You’ll also need to be a fast typer and some companies might require some additional training to familiarize you with the company or product you will be supporting.

Pros & cons

Since many companies provide 24/7 customer support this job has the potential to be quite flexible. If you’re at home with kids or in school during the regular work week there are opportunities to work nights or weekends.

The one con is that this job requires excellent customer service skills. If interacting with the public (even online) doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, you should look into other options.

Furniture flipper

The 16 Best Small Businesses That You Can Start While Socially Distancing - Furniture flipper

Do you like to make old furniture look new again? If the answer is yes then you could open a home-based business as a furniture flipper.

What do you need to get started?

To get started you’ll need some space for a little workshop. You will also need access to old furniture as well as some basic tools, sanding, and painting supplies.

Pros & cons

If you’re creative and you like to get your hands dirty then this is a great small business option. There’s something very satisfying about making something old new again. Becoming a furniture flipper doesn’t take much in terms of supplies and you don’t need any special skills – just time and effort. 

However, there are only so many hours in a day, and flipping a piece of furniture can be very time consuming, especially when you’re first getting started. Recognize that you might not make a ton of money until you get more skilled and efficient at flipping.  

Summary

If you’ve been thinking about starting a small business from home now is the time. As you can see from this list there are many work from home opportunities that will give you the freedom, flexibility, and social distance you’ve been looking for.

It doesn’t have to be super expensive or complicated to start your small business but it will require time, effort, creativity, and tons of motivation. 

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About the author

Jessica Martel picture
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Jessica Martel is a freelance writer, professional researcher, and mother of two rambunctious little boys. She’s interested in all things related to personal finance, psychology, and parenting. You can connect with Jessica on her website The Financial Graduate, Linkedin, or Twitter.