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Start a Work-From-Home Business

Our readers get down to business, offering advice on how to be your own boss.

| June/July 2013

  • Susan Welsand, The Chile Woman, grew her plant-propagating hobby into a full-time business.
    Photo Courtesy Susan Welsand
  • Ohio Pork and Poultry, owned by Shawn Dostie, raises animals for clients on contract.
    Photo Courtesy Shawn Dostie
  • Fran Kwiecien’s crocheting helps pay the bills.
    Photo By Fran Kwiecien
  • A job loss led David Capocci to open Paca Pride Guest Ranch, which offers yurt lodging for hikers.
    Photo By David Capocci
  • “Find a niche,” recommends Bambi Iles, who makes and sells equipment for working goats.
    Photo Courtesy Bambi Iles
  • Wendy and Ken McKenzie did careful research before they began selling goat’s-milk soap.
    Photo Courtesy Wendy and Ken McKenzie
  • Always have a Plan B for your home-based business, counsels Christine Faith, who runs a CSA program and teaches urban farming skills.
    Photo Courtesy Christine Faith
  • Ducks at Ivywild Farm, operated by Christine Faith in her urban backyard at Colorado Springs, Colo.
    Photo Courtesy Christine Faith
  • Dr. Wyatt Mangum uses sunflower stalks to make inexpensive beehives, which he rents to farmers.
    Photo Courtesy Dr. Wyatt Mangum
  • Elias Keim’s toys are a hit with Lehman's shoppers who are looking for unique, handmade items.
    Photo Courtesy Lehman’s

Self-employment is a dream shared by many people, but finding the right work-at-home job can be daunting. We asked our readers to tell us their successful home-based business ideas. Despite their different ways of making money, these home-business veterans offer similar advice: Be creative, be patient, listen to your customers, learn from your failures, and have a backup plan for dealing with the inevitable setbacks.

Their stories provide inspiration for other start-ups. Many of our readers’ home-based business ideas grew out of a hobby, and these entrepreneurs urge you to choose something you have a passion for. They’re convinced that a work-from-home business will be rewarding if it provides a way to do what makes you happy.

Exotic Vegetables

I always describe my home business as a hobby that grew out of control. When I bought my current home, there was a handmade greenhouse that had become a giant litter box. I cleaned it up and started a huge garden. Friends began buying my pepper and tomato plants, and they encouraged me to sell the extras at the farmers market. So, I did.

People are always passing through Bloomington because it’s a college town. Out-of-towners asked how they could buy my exotic chile and tomato plants from their homes, and my mail-order business was born. I’ve operated it for more than 20 years, shipping pepper, tomato and tomatillo bedding plants across the country. My business, now at The Chile Woman, grew beyond my dreams and has become my full-time occupation. There is nothing more satisfying than the one-minute commute to my greenhouses.

Susan Welsand
Bloomington, Indiana

Internet Food Sales

A family friend gave me some chickens after I bought a 4-acre farm in 2009, and it was off to the races from there.

3/25/2016 9:09:35 AM

We haven't moved to our farm yet...still building our home on it. We do live on one acre at the time in suburbia where we raise meat rabbits for our own consumption as well as for selling. We also grow vegetable seedlings for ourselves and for selling during that season. We grow garlic on our farm for sale as well even though we don't live on our farmland yet. Garlic doesn't require constant maintenance so it can be managed from afar. I also sew and sell many hand crafted items through etsy, eBay and amazon. While we don't make our living 100% from these yet, it's getting closer to that and once we move to the farm, we'll be able to expand. Through this we are able to generate more income without me having to work for somebody else. My husband is employed and I stay home and take care of our small business and the household. Our business only makes me a part time paycheck but it has grown over the years from zero income to part time income and it keeps growing. I am also available to care for my family and home as well as take in the grand kids once in awhile. I don't have to waste gasoline on commuting to work, I grow much of our food so savings there (believe me, our grocery bill proves just how much we save compared to the past when we never grew our food). I can veggies for the winter and have plenty of jams to sell and gift. We enjoy doing all of this. It keeps our minds and spirit healthy and keeps us connected and grounded with our surroundings and what it takes to make food. You can do it too. Just start slowly and choose what you love to do.

9/12/2013 4:41:09 PM

Very well thought out article. I run a home based office and i can relate to what the writer is putting across. Kudos for the article. This should help a lot of our teeming unemployed youth to see the possibility of joining the labour force on their own terms by starting a business with little or no capital.. this is my blog please have a look ➜

7/13/2013 11:09:04 AM

We feel blessed to see other like-minded families and articles such as this. After husband losing our sole income from Corporate America last year, we have ventured full-time into eBay as "The Family Pickers". Though it hasn't provided full-time income to sustain all our monthly bills, it has been beneficial. It could very well be everyone's extra income at a part-time level or even primary. For us, the extra benefit is that we can do it as a family. From "pickin" the items, teaching the children basic finance, buying & selling, one taking pictures, one lisitng, etc. Of course there is always that extra excitement when we hear the "cha-ching" when a sale is made. This can be started with very low cost and packaging material is free through the USPS. You will need a internet connection but the great thing about an eBay business is that you can be located anywhere. Decide to move? No problem, your business can be operated anywhere. If your interested in getting started, feel free to contact us as we would help any way we can. Otherwise here is a link to a good source of direction for getting started if new to eBay:



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