Best Home Based Businesses in Canada (2020): Top 10 Business Ideas + How to Choose the Best One

Best Home Based Businesses in Canada

You’ve probably heard the term side hustle, where people who have a full-time job add a second, part time job (or business) that they can perform in their spare time for a little extra income. Side hustles can involve traveling (depending on the job or business) or no traveling if you work from home.

Sometimes, though, you need a side hustle-type of business that you can use as your full-time gig… and you need to be able to work from home full time.

Perhaps you are a stay at-home mom or dad who’s caring for young children. Maybe you have an aging parent living with you who needs you to be at home during the day, which eliminates working outside the home.

Fortunately, it is easier than ever to start a home based business for stay at-home moms and dads. With high speed Internet nearly everywhere across the country, the options for the best home based businesses in Canada are greater than ever too.

Pros and Cons of Home Based Businesses in Canada

Certainly, there is no guarantee of success when starting a new business venture from home. Just as with businesses in the brick and mortar world, some will succeed, and some won’t.

So before investing your sweat, time, and money (not necessarily in that order) into a new work at-home venture, take some time to understand the pros and cons of going down this path.

Pros of Home Based Businesses in Canada

  • Flexibility with family. Starting a business at home gives you flexibility if you need to care for others, or if you need to stop working for an hour to prepare a meal or help with some homework.
  • Flexibility with schedule. If you choose to work at night, early in the morning, or somewhere in between, you have the option to do so, giving you plenty of scheduling flexibility.
  • Sell anywhere. Running an internet business (for example) gives you the option of selling to an audience anywhere in the world.
  • No commuting. Very few people like the drive in to work during rush hour; working from home eliminates this hassle.
  • No overhead and rent. If you have your business at home, you don’t have to pay to rent a building, saving you money.
  • No dress clothes. You can work in your pajamas (or underwear!) with an at-home business if you want. (This is not recommended for Zoom calls where you are trying to impress clients, by the way.)

Cons of Home Based Business in Canada

  • Focusing on work. It can be a challenge to focus on the work you need to do when there are distractions going on at home.
  • Isolation. Some people struggle to work from home, as they miss interacting with their co-workers, feeling isolated.
  • Licensing and permits. When starting certain types of at-home businesses, you may have to apply for various licenses and permits, which can be challenging and may require legal help.
  • Tax implications. Being self-employed has some odd requirements for paying income taxes, which can be tough to understand.
  • Can interfere with family obligations. If your obligations around caring for the kids takes up a lot of your time, having a home based business could interfere with what you need to do as a family.
  • Feeling of working all the time. When you have a home business, you can feel pressure that you need to spend all of your free time working, as it can be difficult to feel like you can escape.

Choosing the Right Home Based Business

Simply choosing to start a home based business is only the beginning. You need to try to figure out what kind of home based business will fully let you utilize your talents … and let you make money, of course.

Here are five tips to help you choose the best home based business for you:

  • Assess your strengths and weaknesses. Give yourself an honest assessment of your talents. Do you like to make things? Are you good at selling? How are you with technology? Can you work on tight deadlines? If you are someone who hates to try to sell things, for example, it might be difficult for you to run a business making homemade salsa to sell to local grocers.
  • Look at your work experience and history. Look at the jobs you’ve had in the past. What did you like about them? What did you dislike? What experiences that you’ve had in the workplace could benefit you in a work at-home job? If you haven’t written more than e-mail messages since college 10 years ago, for example, it may be tricky to make money a freelance writer.
  • Determine what kind of income you need. Now here comes the really tough part. Try to assess what kind of income you have to have from this at-home job. Understand that the first 12 to 24 months can be tough financially for many home based businesses. Can you live with a reduced income for a while? If you need full time income immediately, you may want to start your home based business as a side hustle at first, until you’ve built up a client base on which you can rely, before leaving your full time position.
  • Create a business plan. More self-honesty is required here. Create a plan for your work at-home business, showing things like the target market, your projected customers, how you will market yourself, your financial projections, and what startup costs you may have. Set the plan aside for a while, maybe as long as a week. Look at it again after the delay with fresh eyes. Is this a realistic plan? Do you believe the market is as large as you originally estimated? You may need some tweaking of the plan, or you may decide it is ready to go.
  • Seek advice. The final step is to seek some advice from someone who has done something similar to what you will be trying to do. If you know someone personally, that’s the best solution, as you can trust the advice you’ll receive. Otherwise, home business message boards and Facebook pages may be able to help you find someone. If you feel comfortable with these people, show them your business plan and ask for tips to give your home based business the best chance at success.

Best Home Based Businesses in Canada

Here are 10 businesses that stay at-home moms and dads in Canada can start on their own, many of which have minimal startup costs:

Day Care or Pet Care

If you are already taking care of your own kids at home, you could start a day care business out of your house. Parents are always looking for trustworthy day care providers, and if you can provide a safe environment for their children, you can build a strong client base in very little time.

If you are concerned about adding more children to your home, another option is an at-home pet care business. With a fenced-in area for dogs, you could run this business relatively easily. Pet care won’t bring in the same amount of income as day care, however.

Freelance Writing and Blogging

If you enjoy learning about new topics and don’t mind working within tight deadlines, freelance writing is a strong work at-home business. Once you’ve built a client base, you can choose to work at much or as little as you want at the hours that suit you (depending on those pesky deadlines, of course).

To be a freelance writer, you need a reliable Internet connection and a computer, so startup and ongoing costs are low.

The biggest challenge is building a portfolio of published articles, as clients nearly always want writers with experience. Consider offering to write content for non-profit groups for free or for a reduced price to build your portfolio quickly.

Music Lessons and Online Tutoring

With the advent of Zoom video conferencing, online tutoring or online music lessons have become a viable work from home business in Canada.

Although it can be difficult to build a client base at first, you can consider partnering with a local school to provide extra lessons outside of normal class time for kids who want more practice and instruction.

The other primary challenge with teaching children online is that you typically will be unable to work during the mornings and afternoons, as the kids will be in school.

Another option is teaching online classes to help high school students with college standardized testing preparation.

Purchase an Existing e-Commerce Business

If you hesitate to start a work at-home business because you despise the idea of trying to grow a customer and client base, you do have the option of purchasing an existing e-commerce business and running it yourself. Or you may be able to provide investment capital to an existing online business, becoming a partner.

If you have plenty of upfront capital to invest, this is an option worth considering. The Shopify Exchange Marketplace has some online business that are up for sale, and you may be able to find one that fits your skills and interests.

Selling Products Online

You have a few different options for selling products in a work at-home business.

If you have homemade items, you can sell them through your own website, or use an existing online marketplace like Etsy or eBay to sell your items.

If you’re looking to purchase items in bulk and sell them individually at a markup, this is possible too. Amazon is one of the easiest ways to set up a reseller online marketplace.

The downside to this type of at-home business is that you will have quite a few startup costs and expenses to obtain or create products, along with shipping costs.

Social Media Coordinator

If you have skills with developing social media strategies that grab attention, many businesses and non-profit groups can use your skills.

For traditional brick and mortar businesses, creating effective social media campaigns can be a significant challenge, and they’ll be willing to pay you to help them.

The biggest hurdle will be convincing a business to pay you a fair wage for this job. If the business management already doesn’t understand how social media works, they may balk at paying a fair amount. Make sure you can show them results you’ve achieved elsewhere to make the wage negotiations go smoother.

Tax Preparation and Accounting

If you have a background in accounting, or if you have multiple financial related skills, you could start your own business related to accounting and tax preparation.

Many small businesses really struggle with determining how to do proper accounting, so this is a good place to start to try to obtain clients.

To gain experience that you can use for references for other clients, consider offering your tax prep and accounting services to non-profit organizations for free or for a greatly reduced price.

Transcription

Becoming a transcriptionist is a possible work from home job, as long as you can type fast and can have quiet conditions to hear the recording as you transcribe it.

Some types of transcription require you to be able to use a dictation machine or certain types of software, so you may need some certifications to qualify for certain jobs.

As with freelance writing, you can work as much or as little as you want. Just watch out for scams related to transcription, as there are quite a few fake job posting for at-home transcriptionist.

Translation

Because Canada has two official languages (you knew that, right? ;), if you are fluent in both French and English, you may be able to operate a translation business.

Websites, businesses, and individuals often need help translating English content to French and vice-versa. Or you could find jobs to proofread documents in one language or the other, checking on the work of an in-house translator.

A smart option to build a client base here is to contact website designers, who may be able to refer clients to you for a small commission on the job. Or if you notice Canadian businesses that are trying to expand into Quebec, you could offer your translation services.

Virtual Assistant

As a virtual assistant, you will do a variety of jobs that businesses need done, often tasks that they don’t have people or time available to do. Think of yourself as someone who handles overflow work. You also could fill in for people who are on vacation, all from your home.

If you have a variety of skills, you can become a quite valuable virtual assistant. Some virtual assistants may create newsletters, take dictation, manage social media, manage a website’s SEO, or perform overflow accounting tasks.


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