6 Home Business Ideas to Help You Kickoff Your Next Venture

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

A home business puts you in control of where and how you work. Explore the different types of home business ideas you can run and get started today.

[Featured image] A woman in hijab smiles and stands before the products she sells through her home business.

Before printing your eggshell business cards with Roman type, you need to decide what your business will do. Will you sell handmade goods through an online storefront? Run a drop-shipping business? Use your graphic design training and become a one-person design studio?

Or, will you do something else entirely?

While the possibilities might be endless, the business idea you settle on will likely depend on your interests, goals, and available resources. This article includes a list of common home business ideas and some common considerations for each to help you pick the business that best fits your needs. Your next venture could be just around the corner.

What you need to know: Home business types and stats

Small businesses abound in Canada. According to Canada.ca, there were an estimated 1,187,658 small-sized enterprises nationwide, accounting for 97.9 per cent of all Canadian businesses in 2021 [1].

While these businesses include everything from one-person operations to companies with 500 employees, the number of small businesses in Canada illustrates the feasibility of starting your own business and the competition that can inevitably develop from such a crowded field.

To throw your hat into the ring, you should first decide on the type of business you will run: a product or service business.

In simplest terms, a product business sells physical products, while service businesses sell services that do something for someone. For example, a grocery store is a product business because it sells customers physical foodstuffs, such as fruit and vegetables. However, a tax accountant runs a service business because they sell their time and expertise to customers looking for help on their tax returns.

Product and service businesses have advantages and disadvantages. Product businesses typically require a higher financial investment than service businesses because they need a stock of physical goods to sell. However, product businesses are usually much easier to scale than service businesses because they sell manufacturable products rather than the time of individuals with a specialized skill set [2].

Product business

Service business

Capital investment

High initial investment

Low initial investment


Easily scalable

Difficult to scale

Home product business ideas

You don’t need a brick-and-mortar store to start selling products to customers. Today, the internet makes running a product business from home easier than ever. 

The following home-based business ideas highlight three distinct ways to sell products online.

1. Drop-shipping

Drop-shipping is an order-fulfillment business model in which a seller acts as a middleman between a customer and manufacturer. Drop-shippers don’t own their product stock. Instead, they purchase products directly from manufacturers and wholesalers when a customer makes a purchase.  The manufacturer or wholesaler then ships the product directly to the customer.

Today, drop-shipping is a growing industry worth billions of dollars annually. A Research and Markets report found the global drop-shipping industry made an estimated $76.88 billion USD in 2021. The researchers project that figure will rise to $107.86 billion USD by 2026 [3].

Unlike a traditional storefront that maintains a physical inventory of products, drop-shipping allows businesses to sell products that they don’t physically stock or technically even own. Drop-shipping is one way for entrepreneurs to start a product business without investing the capital typically required to purchase stock and store it. 

2. Subscription boxes

Subscription boxes contain curated items customers receive regularly through a subscription. These boxes offer a monthly stock of everything, including cocktail mixes, gourmet cheese, and patterned socks.

Subscription boxes are a multi-billion dollar industry that is only growing globally. According to research by EMR, the global market for subscription boxes grew to US$26.9 billion in 2022 and is anticipated to grow to US$74.2 billion by 2028 [4]. Subscription boxes are likely to appeal to entrepreneurs who are knowledgeable and passionate about a specific niche product or market. Subscription boxes can be practical, silly, or anything in between—it’s up to you. Some fun and unique subscription boxes include:

  • Munch Addict: A subscription box that sends recipients a box of snacks from all around the world.

  • Essentials Eco: A monthly subscription box that sends eco-friendly and sustainable home goods to recipients.

  • Hello Fresh Canada: A subscription box that sends ingredients and recipes to make food at home with weekly deliveries.

  • Bokksu: A monthly subscription box that delivers local Japanese snacks and teas for each season of the year.

3. Make your own products

Making products and selling them online is one of the most common home businesses. The products you sell can be everything from artisanal soaps to handcrafted knives, or anything else you can conceivably make.

The internet's broad reach has made online storefronts selling handmade goods a common enterprise. In 2012, Etsy had US$890 million in merchandised sales. By 2021, that number rocketed up to US$13.4 billion [5]. In the same span, the number of active Etsy buyers went from 9.32 million in 2012 to 96.3 million in 2021 [6].

Selling handmade products will likely appeal to entrepreneurs who want to flex their creativity and have the resources required to create and store their goods. At the same time, it can also be a good option for entrepreneurs with a pre-existing skill set that is not currently employed, such as ceramics or knitting.

Home service businesses

Service-oriented businesses sell customers the time and energy of a skilled professional in a particular field. Thanks to the internet, it’s never been easier for customers and individual service providers to connect. 

The list below includes some of the most common home service businesses operating today. 

4. Online tutoring

Tutors help students of all levels learn course material and prepare for important exams. Students range from elementary school students to graduate students working toward their doctorate degrees. 

Today, more and more people are learning online. In 2019, for example, the global online learning market was already worth nearly US$200 billion. By 2026, that number is expected to grow to US$375 billion [7]. 

Online tutoring is a potentially good business idea for patient individuals who enjoy teaching and working with others. It could also be ideal for college-educated individuals looking for a business opportunity that allows them to work from home with a flexible schedule. 

5. Writing and editing

Writing is everywhere—from the blog posts you read online to the manuals that come with your new vacuum cleaner. As a result, freelance writers are in demand in virtually all industries requiring communication.

Writing is a growing field with the potential to make an income above the median in Canada. According to Indeed, writers and authors earn an average annual salary of Can$53,895, and there are 5,400 new job openings annually [8,9]. 

Freelance writing and editing are best suited to talented communicators who don’t mind spending time alone. Not all writing assignments are the same. While copywriting requires writers to collaborate with clients and craft compelling copy for marketing purposes, technical writing requires writers to create documents that clearly describe how a reader should use a product. SEO content writers, meanwhile, craft original writing to help draw online search engine users to a specific website.

6. Digital marketing

Businesses use marketing to get the word out about their products and services. If you have marketing experience, why not parlay your skills into a digital marketing business? 

Today, billions of people worldwide are online. One recent study found that, as of January 2023, an estimated 5.16 billion people were online [10]. In response to this massive audience, marketing firms are dedicating more and more of their yearly budgets to digital marketing compared to traditional marketing methods, such as television commercials and print advertisements [11]. 

Starting a home-based marketing business could be a good fit for entrepreneurs with a keen understanding of digital marketing. Some of the most common services digital marketers provide include affiliate marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), content creation, and social media management. 

Next steps

A new business venture offers the opportunity for a new beginning. As you prepare for your next chapter, you might consider taking a flexible online specialization in entrepreneurship offered by the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. The five-course specialization is designed to take you from opportunity identification through launch, growth, financing, and profitability.

If you want to learn how to use social media to promote and advertise your home business, consider the Meta Social Media Marketing Professional Certificate.

Article sources


Canada.ca. "Key Small BusinessStatistics-2022,https://ised-isde.canada.ca/site/sme-research-statistics/en/key-small-business-statistics/key-small-business-statistics-2022." Accessed March 22, 2023.

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