Working from home

60 UK home business ideas for 2017

Home business

If you're interested in running a small business from home then you’ve come to the right place!

With a huge variety of business types to choose from, we’re sure that you will find a business idea here that can really take off. You can also get home insurance for an existing home business

Update: This blog post has been edited to include new business ideas for 2017. Discover your home business start-up!

Scan our list of home business start-ups now:

1. Website Consultant

These days it’s rare for a business not to have a website. They can also take a lot of time to build and maintain as they include managing hosting services, web content management and understanding SEO. If you can create a website and offer a maintenance service, with design graphics and copywriting services too, then you could make a lot of cash from home.

2. Upholstery/Furniture repair

Upcycling is a popular trend at the moment, particularly with apps like Shpock where you can pick up a bargain and rejuvenate it into something stylish. People might have grand ideas of how they would like to restore furniture but there is a certain skill-set to make sure the job is done right. If you can sew then reupholstering could be a great money-maker. And if you can make quick work of repairs then all the better!

3. Medical billing

Despite the NHS not every hospital service is free and hospitals still need to be paid, usually by health insurance companies. With a qualification you could set up a home based medical billing service, involving management of invoices, collection services and resolving claims on behalf of healthcare facilities or doctor surgeries.

4. Herb farming

A popular and fast-growing sector in the gardening industry these days is herb farming. Herbs are used in soaps, candles, aromatherapy oils, cooking, teas and alternative medicines. The great thing about herbs is that they can be grown in relatively small spaces too, with just a few square feet to get you started.

5. Voice over

Do you have a distinctive voice? Are you good at changing your voice? Start working as a freelance voice over artist and you could sell recordings of your vocal genius. Who knows, you could appear on TV, film or radio!

6. Babysitting

As long as there are parents who need a night off from their kids, there will be an opportunity to make money from babysitting. It’s a great small business because it can pay pretty well and you’re not restricted by set hours. It’s one of those businesses that grows best by word of mouth, so if you start looking after a neighbour’s children, you could soon find yourself in high demand! Who knows, maybe your experience in babysitting could lead to running a fully-fledged child care service.

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7. Bed & Breakfast

Tourism is one of the biggest contributors to the UK economy. It can be a highly flexible way of working, since you can pick and choose when to let rooms and you can set your own rates. Of course, it takes a certain type of person to welcome strangers into your home. Most paying guests appreciate homes that are clean, inviting and still offer privacy and provide a great breakfast. It helps if your house is close to a popular tourist destination, as the demand will already be there. You just need to tap into it. Services like Airbnb are making running your own business from home easier than ever!

8. Car cleaning

Lots of people like to take good care of their car but sometimes it’s difficult to find the time. A mobile car cleaning service can be a great help to your local community as well as a good source of income, particularly as it is relatively cheap to setup. The main drawback to this type of work, however, is that it is often seasonal.

9. Domestic cleaning

Working 9-5 and running around after the kids, dog and in-laws can leave very little time for yourself. It’s no wonder that many households choose to take on a cleaner to help manage the housework nowadays. If you’re thinking about starting your own cleaning business then you are pretty sure to find work relatively quickly. With minimal overheads, this type of business can be quick to set up, with only some costs going on cleaning supplies and the rest straight in your pocket!

10. Carpet cleaning

While you can expect a steady customer base with a carpet cleaning business, there are likely to be some costs involved initially. Carpets are expensive and no homeowner is going to want an amateur to handle cleaning this. Invest in some training and quality equipment before getting to work. Remember that anyone can hire a carpet cleaning machine, so you’ve got to make it more worthwhile that they bring in a professional – that’s you!

11. Oven cleaning

Cleaning the oven is one of those household chores that most people put off, like the ironing. The problem with this is that you regularly use your oven and a build-up of dirt and grease will only make cleaning it much harder work. If you set up an oven cleaning business then you could do very well for yourself, just make sure that you’ve got the right detergents for the job to cut through the muck! Bagging a contract with a restaurant could keep you very busy as well.

12. Window washing

What better way to make money than washing windows? With this essential household service, you have complete flexibility in your working life and will have a regular income from loyal customers once you tap up your local community. All you need to start is a bucket, some suds and a squeegee. Just take care that you record all of your jobs to collect payment, this is important if you’re working while the owner is out of the house.

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13. Power washing house exteriors

There are actually lots of instances where pressure washers can come in handy. With some training you can learn about the added risks of using a pressure washer when cleaning a property, such as dealing with asbestos or lead paint. These are hazards that most homeowners are not equipped to deal with. Since vinyl, metal, wood and brick can all be treated with a pressure washer, you could also find yourself working on lots of different house projects with this type of business. Unusual building materials are becoming more prevalent across the UK, particularly for eco houses.

14. Ironing, laundry service

Although considered by some as an adrenaline sport, Extreme Ironing is not for everyone. In most cases, ordinary ironing is enough hassle. So why not set up your own ironing service? There are sure to be lots of neighbours in your area who put this task off and who would be glad to have your help! It’s a simple service to set up (and one you can even do in front of the telly if you want!). With a clean laundry room to work in, you’re basically good to go. If you offer to pick up and drop off ironing bundles then you’ll be very well appreciated.

15. Alterations, knitting, sewing service

Clothing alterations are tricky. If you’ve got the know-how to take in a dress or take out a suit jacket, then you’ve got the skills to provide a great service. Many people have favourite items of clothing that don’t quite fit and would welcome the chance to be able to wear them for a reasonable fee. The number of hand-me-down wedding dresses alone would keep you in business! If you’ve got a sewing machine already then all you need to get this business up and running is some effective advertising.

16. Decorator

Decorating is one of those jobs that requires trust. Not only are you going into someone’s home but you are making changes to its appearance, and house proud customers want the perfect finish. Having a portfolio of past jobs and a string of recommendations will do wonders for you. You also need to be very skilled and have the right equipment for the job, as well as being well versed in different paints and materials to suit any budget. If you’re just beginning to look into this line of work as a career change, then try being an apprentice to see if you like the job.

17. Business coach

Becoming a coach can be the ideal solution if you’re a busy parent for instance looking for a career that will fit around your home life. You can even work from home by setting up an online coaching business. If you have the qualifications and the industry experience to be able to teach, then why not share your know-how with other professionals? There are plenty of opportunities to grow your coaching business too. You could become a public speaker, write a book, run webinars or podcasts.

18. Catering, private dining chef

If you’ve got a natural flair for cooking and know which flavours can tantalise taste buds then you’re well on your way to creating a catering business. This is what will make customers want to keep coming back for more, after all! The other side to catering can be tough, however, as this is a heavily regulated industry. You must consider premises, licences, equipment, waste, food safety, product and supplier traceability, hygiene, storage, transport, menus, VAT and pricing, plus other legislation. Catering is not a light-hearted business endeavour, it’s an all or nothing deal.

19. Popup restaurant, cafe

Pop up restaurants are growing in popularity. They’re a firm favourite in summer and there’s lots of opportunities to take advantage of during festival season, and then there’s the Christmas markets in winter. Like any catering business you need to arrange licenses, manage food standards, hygiene, and transport. Assuming you’ve managed to arrange all of these factors, then all that you really need to get started is a van and some quality ingredients to entice punters. Why not test your pop up restaurant at a food festival first!

20. Childcare

Childcare is one of those services which are always going to be in demand as there is no shortage of working parents in the UK. Child safety is obviously paramount in this line of work, so an up to date Disclosure and Barring Service check (DBS, formerly CRB check) is an absolute must-have. You will need other certificates or licenses to be able to operate, such as food hygiene and first aid. You can find out more on the gov.uk website – in fact, there’s a Childcare Business Grant available from the UK Government if you’re setting up a childminder, nursery or after school service. This is not an easy job either, so make sure that you are fit and healthy to take on responsibility for other people’s children. If you’re renting you might also need to check whether you can operate a childcare business from the property before setting up shop.

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21. Domiciliary care agency for the elderly

People are living longer but they are not always as mobile or independent as they would like to be. Elderly care is an area where you can not only make money but make a difference to many people’s lives. As a qualified carer you should be regulated by the Care Quality Commission (or similar) and be registered with the United Kingdom Homecare Association (UKHCA). These accreditations are important for giving your customers confidence, which is very important for vulnerable families choosing a care agency.

22. Computer repair

For a nation of technology users, very few of us actually have the technical knowledge or patience to be able to repair our own devices. Computer repair is an essential and very viable business to set up from home. If you know your way around a PC and Mac then you could be very popular with people in the area that need a quick fix or spare part. Devices can be very expensive to repair if they are taken to the manufacturer, so your service could be a very welcome alternative if prices are competitive!

23. Data entry

If you can touch-type at the speed of light and have a fantastic eye for detail then what could be better than putting these skills to good use. Thousands of businesses all over the world create vast amounts of data, and it all needs to be stored. Data entry business start-up costs can be low so it’s a great home business idea, but it can often be low paid so you could have to take on a lot of work to make a profit. It also means spending a lot of time at your computer, so be careful of repetitive strain injury and eye strain.

24. Debt collection

Not everybody can or will pay on time for products and services. Debt collection is not only a valuable service to other businesses, but it can be a profitable one if you’ve got the mind-set and tenacity to pursue cases. As a debt collector you would manage all correspondence and legal processes on behalf of your client, and for it you would be rewarded with a sizeable commission. Just bear in mind that lots of competitors operate on a no win, no fee basis so you may do well to follow this business model when pricing.

25. DJ

If you’re a music nut and love being in charge of the decks at a party then why not set up your own DJ business. It’s relatively easy to do, particularly if you’ve already got the turntables and other equipment. You can work from home when making your set lists, and pick and choose which events to play. There’s no shortage of events either; weddings, company events, Christmas parties, birthday parties, school discos. Of course, there’s more to being a DJ than simply playing music. More often than not you’ll also be Master of Ceremonies, and will guide the event from beginning to end with a pre-planned soundtrack, coordinating between catering, photographers, videographers and guests!

26. Flower arranging

Flower arranging and floristry are not the same thing. To be a florist, you’ll likely need training, an apprenticeship or a horticultural degree. With flower arranging you can get to work with little hands-on experience. If you’re a creative person with a love of flowers, then you can start working on designs and displays for all sorts of events, such as weddings, funerals and private functions. To work from home, you will need a workroom of some kind where you can keep your tools and supplies, as well as a cooler if you are using fresh flowers instead of silk artificial ones. If you plan to deliver your creations then you’ll also need a van.

27. Gardening

What better way to spend your days than in the garden? Gardening is a great business if you are an active person with creative flair. It can also be very demanding on you physically, with early mornings, weekend work and manual labouring. A willingness to travel is essential for this line of work. After all, the more towns you work in the more opportunities you have to make money! You will need to invest in tools and equipment to work efficiently, and will need a suitable area at home to store these overnight. Some work can be a two-man job, so you might consider taking on an employee or two as your business grows.

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28. Hire-a-hubby service

No, not a husband, a DIY expert! A man about the house for hire that will do all of those small jobs that you (or your actual husband) either haven’t had the time or the inclination to do. Hire-a-hubby handyman services are in popular demand for a range of jobs: electrical, painting, repairs and maintenance, plumbing, gardening, tiling and even getting rid of spiders. Most hubbies are responsible for their own region, so if you’ve got the trade skills then this is a ready-made local job for you.

29. Tutor students

If you’re an expert in a particular subject then why not share your knowledge and help a student to learn? Tutoring can be very fulfilling work, inspiring even. While you’ll obviously need to look into certifications, particularly if you are tutoring children, this can be a relatively simple business to start up. You could approach schools in the area to find out whether there is a need for your service, and drum up some prospects. No matter what age group you decide to work with, you should work on a lesson plan that is not only relevant to the topic but that is also tailored to the individual student’s needs and learning capabilities. Personalisation and a relaxed, supportive learning environment could be the difference between a pass and a fail.

30. Leaflet distribution

This is a great business idea for working with local companies near you. Companies like MOT garages, takeaways, cleaning or laundry services, taxis, estate agents and so many more! All you really need to get going is perhaps a little bravado and negotiation skill to strike up a relationship with several local businesses, and some comfortable walking shoes. You’ll need to keep a clean record of the areas you’ve dropped leaflets in, but in time maybe you can take on some part time staff to do the drops for you. You might even consider moving into leaflet design and printing to grow the business...

31. Online surveys

You might be surprised at the amount of cash that you can make. Once you sign up to take part on a survey website, all you need to do is wait for an email invitation to take part. Surveys can range across a huge number of topics and queries, so you might find this becomes a very interesting pastime too! Focus groups can be fairly lucrative as well, and they mostly involve sharing your opinion on a specific subject. And who doesn’t like sharing their opinion?

32. Personal or virtual assistant

Why work in an office building for someone else when you could work in your own home for yourself? The virtual assistant industry is booming and there’s no better time to start your own business from home. Many companies will hire a virtual assistant now because it saves them costs, since you pay for your own equipment. You could work as a general secretary, or if you have a background in IT, Marketing, Sales or another area, you can become a specialist virtual assistant. The key to making this business work is a great marketing strategy to get you noticed and a strong internet signal to stay connected to clients.

33. Personal shopping

Not everybody has a good eye for style. Although people know what clothes they like, they are not always well suited to their body shape or personality. If you are someone who can tell what will look good on other people, and how changing their style can make them more comfortable and confident in their own skin, then personal shopping might be right for you. There’s more to it than picking out nice clothes; often there will be interviews and personality assessments to get an understanding of what your client is looking for from their wardrobe. Fashion is an industry where you can find work too, with sites like Pinterest and Chictopia gathering huge audiences who all want to know what to wear; they’re a good place to start looking for clients as well as your local neighbourhood.

34. Coaching for exams

We’ve all been there. After weeks of preparing for an exam, cramming in as much information as possible, only to arrive on the day feeling completely unprepared, nervous and a little sick. For some, exam stress can be crippling. For others, they just don’t know what information is more important to remember. Coaching for exams can help ease the stress felt by so many. As a coach, you can teach techniques to help students access their memories in a much calmer way. You can help them with breathing techniques to reduce nervousness, and you can help them to revise in the lead up to the exams.

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35. Pet grooming

Pet grooming is as essential to owners as their own grooming habits. You can definitely make money by setting yourself up in this industry, so establish yourself as the go-to groomer in your town or city with a salon setup at home. Remember that people are very protective of their pets, they’re part of the family, and having confidence in your abilities is paramount. You should make a big deal of your qualifications and experience when you are starting out, and always aim to get new customers through client recommendations. Mobile grooming is also becoming increasingly popular but remember that it will cost you a lot to upgrade a van with all of the equipment you need.

36. Dog walking

Professional dog walkers provide an in-demand service for many pet owners. There is very little cost involved in setting up this business, although you might like to take a course in pet first aid or even animal behaviour. A collection and drop-off service is probably going to be essential, particularly if owners are travelling to and from work and cannot guarantee a time to be in. This is definitely a job for someone who likes walking and the outdoors, and an obvious choice for an animal lover. A common rate is £10 per dog per hour, so the more clients you have, the more you can make! In time you could expand with services in grooming or training.

37. Rubbish removal

You would be amazed at the amount of rubbish that people collect over time. Eventually, spring comes around and everyone wants to clear out the house, and you’ll be ready to help! All you really need to get going is a truck or lorry where you can collect old clothes, kitchen appliances, broken furniture, etc. For many people, particularly those without a car, disposing of large rubbish items like this can be a real challenge. Place adverts for your business in shop windows and have flyers about the area. Remember that you will need to dispose of the waste appropriately. In some cases, with permission, you might even be able to restore or repair unwanted items to sell on.

38. Acting as an 'extra'

There are dozens of agencies across the UK that can offer you acting jobs as an extra on television and in film. For someone who would like the chance to be in the spotlight, albeit briefly, this can be a quick money-maker. It helps if you can be available at short notice, and if you have any special talents, like juggling, you might be called on for specific roles. Extras are often paid a daily rate, so as long as this is competitive and you are in frequent demand, you can make some good cash as well as enjoying your 15-minutes of fame.

39. Photography

To start a photography business, you should choose a specialisation. This will help you to distinguish yourself from the crowd and build a relevant portfolio. You should also invest in your equipment, since it’s very important to have the right tools for the job. Technology is always evolving as well, so you should stay in tune with popular trends in imagery, style and lenses. Photography is a very competitive business, so be prepared to hunt for commissions. Brush up on your editing skills too, as a few touch ups can make all the difference.

40. Wedding planning

Who doesn’t love a wedding? It’s an exciting event to be part of, but it’s a very big moment in people’s lives and needs to go off without a hitch. Organisation is crucial, as well as an obsession about the details. You need to be two steps ahead of your client at every opportunity, and you also need to be a good listener to make sure that you deliver what the bride and groom want. Happy clients are very important for new business referrals but ultimately clients buy into your personality, skills and experience. Contacts are also important in this line of work; think about hairdressers, caterers, venues, DJs, etc.

41. Event planning, party planning

Like wedding planners, party planners need to be on point when it comes to organisation and timing. For most clients, particularly business clients putting on a large event, they’re looking for someone experienced that can take the hassle out of the planning process and deliver a successful event. They will pay you to figure out the details for them, so get your address book and mobile ready to negotiate costs and make bookings.

42. Write a book

Writing a book is easier than ever thanks to electronic publishing. Forget begging an agent to take you on or crafting the perfect pitch to a publisher. Just do it yourself! With eBooks popular all over the world and available at low prices, it’s never been simpler to become a published author and rack up downloads from a beloved audience. This is how E L James, who wrote Fifty Shades of Grey, selling over 100 million copies worldwide, came to success after all. With a great story, you can do it.

43. Personal trainer

Obesity is a serious and growing issue in the UK. There’s never been a better time to promote your business as a personal trainer. You will need a studio to train in, or to contract at a gym. You could even offer to visit client’s homes but that can be difficult if they haven’t got the space... You’ll probably find that many people who are trying to lose weight like to work out with a partner or friend, so if you can successfully help one client to meet their weight loss and fitness goals, then they’ll likely refer you to others in their group. This is the lifeblood of a PT working from home.

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44. Yoga trainer

You already know that yoga is great for your body and mind. Share your experience with others and make money by starting your own workshop or retreat. This is a business that you can run from home with ease, as long as you’ve got a nice room to work in and welcome clients to. You can even make home visits, which might be good for those who are interested in more advanced training, as you’ll undoubtedly find that there are varying levels of proficiency amongst clients.

45. Games referee

If you’re passionate about a sport then there’s more ways to enjoy it than playing or spectating. Become a referee. As a ref you could help to train youngsters part-time or you could be a full-time professional.

46. Walking and bike tours

As a local resident, passionate about your area, you have all the skills you need to start a walking tour business. Tourists want to learn about an area’s history, architecture, cuisine and local culture. More often than not they also want to learn about if from a real local, so grab your walking boots and get going! Start drumming up some business by approaching your local tourist board.

47. Social media assistant

The growing popularity of social media sites means that there is a huge opportunity to capitalise on as a consultant. For many businesses, they know that social media is an important channel for communicating with customers but it can be difficult to prove ROI to the board. As a consultant, you can provide a service that helps businesses to navigate the new social media landscape, all from the comfort of your own home!

48. Antique dealing, collectible dealing

Got an eye for antiques or one-of-a-kind finds? Start dealing in antiques and you could make some quick gains. To get started, you should join the British Antique Dealers’ Association or the Association of Art & Antiques Dealers. An accreditation like this is important to give buyers confidence in your business. If you work with rare items then you could come to be a known specialist, and be sought out for your expert opinion.

49. Homemade food

Artisan food is having a resurgence in popularity. Now is a great time to share your cake-making skills with the world! Biscuits, breads, sweets, jams, preserves, cakes and foods like this are not only delicious but can be quite coveted if you get your recipe right. Make a name for yourself at food festivals, or start a pop up restaurant.

50. Homemade stationery

One-of-a-kind crafts can be very popular, particularly when it comes to selling on websites like Etsy. If you make greeting cards, notebooks, etc. then there is an outlet for you online and an opportunity to profit from your skills. You can also sell your wares at craft markets and festivals.

51. Homemade jewellery

Turn your hobby into a business! There’s a huge market out there for unique pieces of jewellery. You can sell online or at craft fairs, but then best thing about it is you can work on your collection in your own time at home!

52. Homemade gift baskets

For a truly unique present many people turn to gift baskets. Not only can they be personalised to the likes and needs of the recipient but the baskets themselves can be hand-crafted, adding an extra level of uniqueness. Corporations could be some of your biggest clients, particularly around Christmas, so make sure that your marketing machine is well oiled in the run up to the festive season. Orders start early!

53. Home grown vegetables, fruit, herbs & flowering plants

Have you got a green thumb? You can show off your produce and make money by selling at markets. You could even launch into a home delivery service; these are becoming very popular since brands like Graze set the scene. Many people are looking for fresher fruit and veg which can be traced back to the farmer, so why not cut out the middlemen and get some cash flowing into your home grown business.

54. Car boot sales, garage sales

It seems like there is never a shortage of car boot sales in the UK. Often you only need to live near a school and there will be a regular event where you can park up and sell your unwanted items. Remember, your junk is someone else’s gem!

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55. Selling cosmetics

Starting a cosmetics business from home can be very exciting, especially if you have found a gap in the market! For most sellers working from home, they join an established organisation like Avon and distribute their products, however, you might do well on your own if you are providing something new or an alternative, such as cosmetics that are animal-friendly or made from more natural sources.

56. Buying and selling products on eBay

It couldn’t be simper to set up a business on eBay or similar online marketplaces. With the right products, there will always be demand. All that you need to get started are the supplies, a storage area or workroom, and a slick distribution service. The postman will be a regular!

57. Sell stock photography

Contribute your photos to stock websites. It’s easy to join as a member, and as soon as you’re approved, you can start uploading images. Businesses and designers need huge amounts of creative so there’s no shortage of demand. If you’ve got a particularly unique style then you’ll do well, as stock images can often get a bad press. Stand out from the crowd, it’s worth it.

58. Late-night alcohol delivery

We’ve all been in that situation where the party comes to an abrupt end because the fridge is suddenly empty, and of course all the shops are now shut. Now you can take advantage of this moment by providing a much-needed delivery service for party-lovers everywhere! Students and professional events alike will use this type of business, so as long as you meet the legal standards, have a car and don’t mind working nights, you’ll do well.

59. Bookkeeper

Similar to an accountant, bookkeeping is the recording of financial transactions. This is a great home business idea because you can choose your hours and can often manage relationships with clients electronically. All that you really need to get going is a PC and good internet connection.

60. Hairdresser

Why work in a salon when you can run your own from home? With a book of regular customers returning every 6-8 weeks, you can be in charge of your own affairs. Offer your services for special events too, like weddings, or look into mobile hairdressing. Many people, particularly those with young children, might find this a better fit for their lifestyle than taking time out to visit a salon in town.

HomeProtect Home Business Insurance

Home business insurance from HomeProtect will cover office furniture and computing equipment. You should also take protection for your business stock (if any) into account. Remember, home business insurance is not a substitute for the other types of insurance that you may require for the safe and legal operation of your home business, such as employer’s liability insurance.

In short, they give comprehensive specialist cover at good rates, and respect their customers' intelligence - I highly recommend them if you need insurance for a home business as well as buildings and contents.

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