How to Start a Successful Home Business (From Scratch)

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Last Updated on October 9, 2021 by Rebecca Lake

Would you like to start a successful home business so you can make money while still having plenty of time to be a mom?

It might sound impossible, but it isn’t.

Several years ago, I had a newborn and a toddler and a decent-paying sales job that I left to be a stay at home mom. I started a freelance writing side hustle to make a few extra bucks to help out with the family budget.

Then I became a single mom and I had to figure out a way to make money fast to support myself and my two kids. I’ve since grown that little side gig into a business that helps me earn a five-figure income every month.

So if you want to start a home-based business, I’m just one mom who’s proof that it can be done.

And I want to share a little secret with you. When I started freelance writing full-time, I didn’t know a thing about running a business. The word “mompreneur” was not in my vocabulary.

But I’ve managed to build a money-making business at home completely from scratch. And if you want to do the same thing then this guide is just for you.

start a successful home business

How to Start a Successful Home Business (as a Busy Mom)

Everything I’m about to tell you about starting a business from home is stuff I’ve learned, either from reading about it or doing it. And aside from doing the succeeding, I’ve done a lot of failing, too so I want to help you avoid that.

Ready? Then let’s get to it.

1. Decide what kind of business you want to start

So the first thing you need to figure out is what kind of business you want to start. There are two main types you can choose from.

Service-based business ideas

As a freelance writer, I run a service-based business because I’m selling my creativity, writing skills and time. Although I produce blog posts, articles and other written content, I don’t consider this a product because I’m delivering something different to each of my clients.

Related post: 9 Amazing Benefits of Freelancing for the Stay at Home Mom

Besides writing, there are other services you can offer as a freelancer. For example, there’s:

  • Proofreading
  • Editing
  • Social media management
  • Graphic design
  • Transcription
  • Pinterest design/management
  • Photography
  • Translation
  • Tutoring
  • Being a virtual assistant
  • Blog management

These are successful home business ideas you can build using the skills you already have.

Product-based business ideas

With a product-based business, you’re selling a product.

It can be a digital product, like printables. (Sarah Titus is a genius at selling these things.)

Or it can be a physical product like handmade crafts or jewelry you sell on Etsy or baked goods you sell from your kitchen.

Some home businesses involve selling other peoples’ products. Think direct sales or multi-level marketing businesses like Scentsy or Pampered Chef.

What kind of business should you start?

I can’t say whether service-based or product-based is better since I don’t sell products. But if you don’t have a lot of money to sink into it in the beginning, it’s easier to get started with selling a service.

The most important thing is picking something that interests you and that has money-making potential.

If you need more successful home business ideas, check out these posts:

50+ Online Businesses You Can Start Right Now

How to Choose an Online Business Niche and Make Money From Home

4 Profitable Online Business Ideas for Busy Stay at Home Moms

2. Make a list of what you need to start your home business

If you have an idea of what kind of successful home business you want to start, it’s time to make a list of what you need to do it.

Your list depends on what you want to do. But if you’re planning to offer a service or product online, at a minimum you’ll need a computer, internet and an email address.

If you’re starting a blog or website, you’ll need a domain name and hosting. I’ve got a complete guide to starting a money-making blog you can bookmark for later.

My personal choice for hosting is Siteground–they’re a dream to use, especially if you’re the non-techie type like me.

What Else Do You Need to Start a Succesful Home Business?

You’ll also need a way to get paid. A PayPal business account is great for this. You cant set one up for free.

It’s also smart to set up a separate bank account for your business. This can help when you start making money with your business.

You might want to think about investing in some bookkeeping or tax software, too at some point. ‘Cause having a successful home business means ya gotta pay the tax man.

Since I run my business solo as an independent contractor, I file my taxes as a sole proprietor.

I pay my estimated taxes four times a year quarterly. Then I file my income taxes in April like everybody else.

For taxes, I do them myself using QuickBooks Self-Employed. This version is perfect for me since it covers all the typical business expenses and deductions a sole proprietor would have.

It’s totally up to you if you want to DIY taxes or pay someone to do them. But if you’d like to give QuickBooks a try, you can use this link to get it right now for 50% off.

quickbooks page graphic

3. Create a budget for your new business

While you’re making out a list of things you need to start your business, write down what those things are going to cost.

I was lucky that starting my freelance writing side hustle required $0. But not every home business is like that.

For example, having a product-based business can mean spending a little more money upfront, compared to a service business. You might have to buy materials to make your products or pay a deposit to buy your initial round of products with a direct sales business.

And even if you’re starting a freelancing business, a VA business, a blog or something service-related, you might still have to spend some money.

If you’re going to blog, you’ll want to invest in paid blog hosting instead of going for a free site. Paid hosting gives you more options for customizing your site and monetizing it, not to mention it looks more professional.

(And again, I can’t recommend Siteground enough for hosting. They’re worth every penny.)

You might also want to invest in some basic education, like a course or an ebook. Here’s my best advice for that:

Spend your money wisely. 

Take advantage of free resources whenever possible and don’t put money into something without doing your homework.

woman typing on a laptop

4. Cover the legal part of starting a business

On the legal side, there a few things to know about starting a successful home business.

First, you might need a license to start your business, depending on where you live. Whether you need a license can also depend on how you set up your business.

If you’re a sole proprietor, for example, you might not need a license at all. But if you want to set up a limited liability company, that’s a different story.

(And if you’re completely confused about what any of that even means, bookmark this post to read next.)

Your local business licensing office should be able to tell you what you need. If you’re at all unsure what’s required to legally start your business, it’s best to go straight to the source and ask.

Aside from that, you might need certain legal forms to run your business.

For example, if you’re starting a blog then you’ll need a disclosure, privacy policy and terms and conditions pages. If you’re freelancing, it’s good to have a standard contract to protect yourself when working with clients.

If you have no clue where to find those things, don’t panic. Amira at A Self Guru has legal templates you can buy that cover all the bases and they’re super affordable.

Just click the link below to buy the legal forms you need:

Legal Bundle for Your Website (Includes a privacy policy, disclaimer and terms & conditions form)

Independent Contractor Contract Template

LLC Operating Agreement Template

Sponsored Posts Contract Template (for bloggers)

5. Set your business goals

So here’s a question: What does having a successful home business mean to you?

It could be making a certain amount of money or becoming an influencer or any number of things. If you haven’t figured that part out, hit pause and give it some thought.

If you have a broad idea of what you want to do, figure out what goals you need to set to get there.

For example, if you want to make $100,000 a year with your business that’s a huge goal. You can make it realistic by breaking it out into smaller goals, like making your first $1,000, then your first $5,000, etc.

As you set goals, make them specific. And give yourself a timeline for completing each one.

Most importantly, stay accountable for reaching those goals.

6. Create a schedule for working on your business

As a mom, you need to know how to manage your time wisely. Otherwise, it’s impossible to get things done.

If you’re planning to throw starting a business from home into your daily routine, you need to plan out time for that.

Here’s the simplest way to create a work at home mom routine.

  • Write down all the things you do in a normal day and how much time you spend on each one.
  • Make a list of everything you need to do start and grow your business.
  • Go back through your normal routine and see where you can realistically work on your business.
  • Pencil in times on your calendar every day that are just for business activities.

Here’s the hard truth, you may only get an hour a day to work on your business. It stinks but it’s true because hey, you’re a mom.

My best advice? Do what you can with the time you have. 

Show up every single day for that time you’ve blocked off, even if it’s just a 15-minute window. Then use that time to its full advantage to work on your business.

mom and daughter smiling at one another

7. Market your business the right way

You’ve got your ducks in a row, now all you need is for the money to start rolling in!

This is where having a successful home business gets challenging.

Because you have to get out and promote and sell your business. Customers just won’t appear out of thin air.

How you promote yourself depends on what your business is.

For example, I’m a huge fan of networking on LinkedIn as a way to build a freelancing business. That’s been a reliable source of new clients and new writing gigs for me over the years and I highly recommend it.

If you’re blogging or starting an online store where you sell printables or another digital product, your marketing strategy might look different.

Your focus might be more on Pinterest and social media or even YouTube. Or you might be networking in Facebook groups for bloggers and mom bosses.

Just don’t stretch yourself thin. Trying to be everywhere at once doesn’t always work if you can’t put in the time to stay active on every platform.

So pick one or two to start promoting your business and growing your audience.

Start a Successful Home Business and Become a Work at Home Mom

Running a business at home takes a lot of work but it’s so rewarding. As a mom, there’s nothing better than being able to make money to support your family while still being there for your kids.

Hopefully, I’ve given you a good foundation for starting your own home-based business so you can live the work at home mom life.

Do you run a successful business from home or would you love to start one? Head to the comments and tell me about it! 

And please pin and share this post if it helped you!

About Rebecca Lake

Rebecca Lake is a Certified Educator in Personal Finance, freelance writer and homeschooling single mom of two. Since 2014, she's paid off nearly $100,000 in debt and grown her net worth to seven figures. Her work has appeared online at top personal finance websites, including Forbes Advisor, Bankrate, Investopedia, The Balance, and U.S. News & World Report. Find out more.

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