A good home-based business idea can improve your income and quality of life. Whether you want to pursue it as a primary source of income or just want to earn some extra bucks, a home-based business may help you out in that. Primarily, all it takes is to know your opportunities and understand the market needs. In this article, we are going to explore the top 10 business ideas you can pursue in South Africa.
An introduction to home-based businesses and Covid-19 Impact
Home-based businesses have always been in existence, even before the age of digitalisation. They have occupied our daily lives, satisfying small needs in various ways. Look back! Have you ever had your parents relying on their friends for needs such as tailoring, cooking, babysitting etc.? Yes, those are some examples of well-known home-based businesses today. Covid-19 saw a considerable rise in home-based businesses, especially digitally (Source: eweek). Through taking advantage of social media influences, a lot of businesses were able to achieve success in no time. Previously and traditionally, home-based business ideas were commonly seen as a ‘side-hustle‘ (Source: Wonolo). Now, thanks to digitalisation, the opportunities have improved and the horizons are expanding further!
The advantages of having a home-based business are low setup costs, working from the comfort of your home, and flexible hours. The drawbacks include uncertainty in income, long working hours, and domestic distractions. Know whether this field is right for you to explore or not: This article by The Balance Small Business will help you understand a clear picture. If you are a person who likes to be your own boss, these ideas might be just for you!
Want to know how you would turn your home-based business ideas into a reality? Check out this article that covers all the major points necessary in planning for your home-based business ideas. In South Africa, registering your home-based business is not necessary. Though remember that registering a business makes it a separate legal entity, which helps to protect your personal assets in case a business does not work out for you. (Source: CIPC)
Top 10 Successful Home-based Business Ideas
Let us dive-in and explore what could be some of the best emerging opportunities to launch your own home-based business in South Africa!
Food Catering Business
Food catering can be one daunting business to run. If you have decent cooking skills with a pinch of determination, ability to handle the fire and stress, then this business might be just right for you. Food catering is a competitive market but with finding that ‘right taste’, you can definitely sustain and grow as a food caterer! Although, that’s not everything in this business. Here’s what you need to know:
- Studying the local market is the key to making your business plan.
- Choose and study your target audience. This is important for understanding the client approach.
- Set your boundaries! Don’t overwork as it may affect the quality of cooking and services.
- Consider if you want assistance. Work solo or choose to get assistant(s) based on how your business is growing.
- Consider your financial options. Make your business plan according to your financial budget. Opt-in for a loan or choose cost-cutting options like using rental equipment for your kitchen if necessary.
Once some customers get satisfaction from your food and services, your business will hold great potential to grow. Although that is true, this is just like a double-edged sword. Negative feedback for your food and services may harm your business. Although the opportunities are lucrative in this model, it takes a lot of patience and endurance to grow. Furthermore, customers may make it hard for you with their unreasonable demands.
In conclusion, remember that you are the boss. Make sure you are prepared to handle the stress that comes up with it. Be respectful, show patience in handling your clients, and of course, find your ‘taste’ in cooking and you’ll sustain and grow in no time! Interested? Wikihow has really made it simple for us to understand how one would work on this home-based business idea!
On the background of the ongoing pandemic, this is likely the most favoured home-based business idea by many. The social distancing and lockdowns called out for a new approach in the education industry, and online tutoring proved to be an effective answer for it. As the pandemic continues in 2021, the majority of the schools are still having online classes. It is not always that one would rely solely on schools for education. Parents are always looking for extra specialised tutors to give their kids an edge in today’s competitive world. Just consider the following before you begin:
- Know where your expertise lies and plan accordingly.
- Consider the target audience you want to teach and prepare your lesson plans.
- A relevant teaching certificate or any certificate that would boost your credibility.
- Investment needed in teaching materials.
- Create demo lesson plans and provide demo classes for your customers.
- A good internet connection, a device with good camera quality, and decent explanation skills.
You may need to invest in advertising at first but once you get a few satisfactory customers, your business will grow based on your customers’ reviews and recommendations. The income in this industry is quite good and satisfactory as a side-hustle. Drawbacks often include inconsistent internet connection, limitations of interactions, or monitoring issues with your students. Even so, this business model is quite effective and relatively easy to pursue. Pick up your pen and start writing down a lesson plan if you are interested!
Teaching can be a refreshing experience for you. Know more about teaching online here. (Source: WikiHow)
Dropshipping is a popular choice favoured by many aspiring entrepreneurs. Simply put, dropshipping is an online retail store that keeps no inventory. Instead, when an order comes through the website, the business owner purchases the product from a third party supplier, which is delivered directly to the customer. This is similar to a middleman business model, where the drop-shipper takes a commission behind every product sold. You should know the following:
- Dropshipping is relatively new in South Africa, making it an ideal environment for new competition.
- Extensive research on the country’s demand and supply logistics.
- Make sure you have an online website that will work as your digital store
- Getting partners or suppliers for your dropshipping model.
- No setup cost except providing upkeep for the website.
Almost anybody can start this business. Easy to set up, hassle-free, and there’s less risk involved in this business model. But of course, there are downsides as well. Dropship business owners cannot guarantee the quality of the product or delivery services. In this model, the dropshipping business faces the consequences of such incidents which may hinder their reputation. The second major drawback is providing customer services. Dropshippers choose to sell at cheap prices if the competition is high and hence providing quality services might be too difficult as the resources invested in this business model are limited.
But since dropshipping is still an emerging market in South Africa, the competition is still fresh (Source: TeePrint). This article by TeePrint also gives you some insights and information about dropshipping and things you may need to understand. Furthermore, this WikiHow article will help you understand the entire process.
Sewing is another home-based business and has been in practice for a long time. This skill includes stitching, designing, making, and altering clothes as per the customers’ demands. Most home-based sewing businesses choose to do custom patterns and designs, stitching, and altering clothes. The charges depend upon the time taken to complete the work, materials used, and the complexity. Beginners tend to charge less than more experienced businesses.
If you think you have what it takes, then consider the following before getting into the business:
- Make sure you have the appropriate tools to work around your client orders.
- The start-up cost is relatively low. You may consider choosing top-quality materials if your budget allows you.
- Know your clients and consider what kind of business you will get into. There are plenty of ideas to choose from. (Source: 99businessideas)
- Consider going online to extend your reach. Social media platforms like Instagram will help you greatly!
- Having enough comfortable space for you to work at home.
The sewing business is good as a side-hustle at best unless you get big orders. If you are an artistic person who enjoys some me-time, you may be able to do so while also monetising your hobby. The drawbacks of having a sewing business are mostly having an inconsistent income, especially in the beginning phase. Other drawbacks would include disturbance to or from your family members, unreasonable orders from clients etc. Your business mostly depends on the satisfaction of your clients, hence sometimes, you have to walk an extra mile to keep them happy and satisfied.
Interested in this artistic trade? Know more with this WikiHow article here!
Freelance Digital Artist
You would be surprised to know how many people are willing to pay a freelance digital artist to get a desired piece of art. A freelance artist is responsible for creating art pieces based on their client’s instructions and needs. There are numerous artists online with a variety of art skills. They take commissions based on their choice of art style, genres they are comfortable with, and a price range set by them. If you love doing art, you may want to consider the following before you take a leap:
- Art supplies include a digital drawing tablet, a compatible device for running drawing applications.
- Good social media presence, preferably over Twitter, Tumblr, DeviantArt, Pixiv.
- A good art portfolio and a reference sheet to advertise your work and set prices. (Source: Tails1998 on DeviantArt)
- Considering the art style you are most comfortable and consistent with.
Commissions usually include character designs, background designs, scenarios, or a mixture of all these. They can charge based on the complexity of the art, the number of characters present in the art (if any), and so on.
Various types of graphic tablets are available in the market. Ideally, you would want to purchase a screen tablet that reflects the device screen directly on your tablet surface, allowing you to draw over it. But if your budget does not allow you to do so, you can also go for non-screen tablets. They are usually cheaper and still very convenient.
Being an artist requires tremendous practice, patience, and determination. The major setbacks artists face are bad customers and inconsistent income. Furthermore, it is possible that artists may find themselves unable to produce any art. This state is usually called an ‘art block‘ (Source: Medium). Artists are also a common target for plagiarism which may impact their business. Regardless, working as an artist can still be quite adventurous, exploring, and fun!
If this trade interests you and if you would like to learn about digital art and doing/practising digital art in general, check out this WikiHow article!
Another well-known and flourishing home-based business idea is freelance writing. Freelance writers are responsible for creating content for their clients such as blog-writing, copywriting, creative scenarios, or even legal document according to their client’s needs. Writing offers you a wide variety of topics and you must choose your expert domain if you wish to start your business as a freelance writer.
If you are considering choosing writing, then you should understand the following:
- Setting up on freelancing platforms such as Fiverr, Upwork etc. There are plenty to choose from.
- Know your pros and cons in writing. There are plenty of domains to choose from.
- A functional laptop/desktop and basic internet connection.
- Spellchecker tools like Grammarly can help you improve your quality of writing overall.
The setup cost as a freelance writer is very cheap. All you need is writing software on your device and some social presence to start your journey as a writer. Drawbacks include inconsistency in the income and facing bad customers, similar to being an artist. A creative profession is always a struggle and being a writer is not an exception to it.
Got an interest in writing? Here’s what you need to know! (Source: The Balance Small Business)
As we all are aware, digitisation has become a necessity for businesses to flourish. Even though website designing has got simpler over the course of recent years, various organisations and businesses still look for professional website designers for their businesses. As a web designer, you are responsible for creating sleek, intuitive designs as per the client’s requirements. (Example Source: WebFX)
As a web designer, you require:
- A computer/laptop with a decent internet connection.
- Presence on social media as well as on freelancing platforms such as Fiverr, Upwork etc.
- Sample website design as a portfolio to advertise yourself.
- Cost calculations like domain hosting services, necessary softwares, or subscription to stock photo websites.
Website Designing is popular with ever-increasing demand in the market and has a good future and a better chance of getting businesses. The pay, in the long run, is quite good and very well worth it. You may even choose to start a small enterprise and register your company within a year or less if your business goes well. The disadvantage mainly includes sitting for long hours, designing similar styles for various clients, difficulty in finding motivation and inspiration etc.
WikiHow has some good information about how one would become a web designer.
Video editor business can be an exciting and fun business to run as it brings a variety of clients with unique projects. As a video editor, your responsibility allows you to enhance video projects given by clients with cool visual and audio effects, smooth transitions, and synchronising music with the video. Furthermore, you may be requested to create storyboards and scripts, editing photos etc. The video editor can be an exciting adventure and it pays well. You should keep a checklist on the following:
- Active on Social Media platforms, especially video hosting sites such as Youtube, Vimeo.
- A licensed video editing program for your editing needs, such as Sony Vegas Pro.
- Knowledge of Photoshop and other Adobe-related tools or of similar software.
- Sample videos to show off your editing skills.
Video editor business start-up cost can be considerably heavy but the recurring costs mostly involve paying for subscriptions for your software services. Video editors are paid well though the business they receive may be inconsistent. Consider starting small as an editor with minimal expectations and grow your business from that. The drawback mainly includes requiring strong, high-end hardware so that you can render your edits quickly and without errors. Regular hardware may give mediocre and unprofessional renders that may hinder your quality of work and reputation.
This WikiHow article helps us better in understanding how one would become a Video Editor!
Freelance Program Developer
A freelance programmer business opportunity is quite a lucrative one and opens a vast marketplace to you, not just in South Africa but globally. Learning programming can be a daunting task and even then, being a stand-out can be difficult in the programming world. Complementary courses such as content marketing give you a competitive advantage in the field.
You should check the following things before you start this business:
- Familiarise yourself with the most commonly used programming languages such as Java, Python etc. (Source for Java: Wikipedia)
- Build an online portfolio of your works on platforms like Github, GitLab, SourceForge.
- If possible, try actively contributing to open source projects (Source: opensource.guide). It helps in boosting your credibility.
- You don’t need any investment or high-end hardware to start your business as a developer
- Understanding your weaknesses and your target audience is important before you start the business.
Being a programmer takes a business strategy, a lot of patience, and a strong network of clients. Getting recommendations and testimonials from your former clients will be an addition. The drawbacks mostly consist of the struggle you have to face in the beginning and the frustration of programming itself. The business is set with many challenges. If you are ready to take the challenge, the rewards await you.
Being a programmer can be very lucrative if done right. Want to know more? Check out this WikiHow article!
Vacation Hosting / Airbnb Hosting
South Africa gets more than 10 million foreign visitors yearly (Source: statista.com). Although the COVID-19 situation impacted the travel and tourism industry greatly, it has started kicking-off again slowly. Vacation hosting can be a great way to kickstart your 2021 home business plans. This refers to providing your personal space to travellers for accommodation purposes, both international and domestic. Many adventurous visitors find vacation housing great for experiencing the day-to-day lifestyle of South Africa.
Vacation housing can be a fun, yet very responsible business. Here’s what you need to know before you start renting your house to travellers:
- Determine if the local laws allow you to host visitors and any necessary taxes. Know more with this article here (Source: dkvg.co.za).
- Determine whether your neighbourhood is okay with it.
- Understand if you have enough space, cleanliness, and comfort to provide to your visitors.
- Understanding the importance of customer service.
- Understand whether you are personally ready to have guests (strangers) over at your place.
- Security of your own belongings and necessary insurances.
This business usually depends on the tourism season and so, income may vary. You must make sure to provide the best possible experience for your customers. Negative reviews may bring a lasting impact on your business. Although the setup cost is minimal, the process of registering as a host and other processes mentioned above can be a big hassle. This business requires a lot of patience to work around, so make sure you are mentally prepared for the challenge.
Airbnb is a popular choice to host your personal space for tourists. Know more with this WikiHow article here!
Home-based businesses require tremendous efforts, patience, endurance, and determination. You also need a strategy to run your business and to handle your customers. If you like to work alone or be your own boss, starting your own home business can be a great choice for you. Remember not to lose your heart when there’s a loss and cherish all your moments of success. That’s all part of being in this adventure called ‘business’. We wish you good luck in your endeavours!