5 Business Ideas for Stay-at-Home Moms

Do you ever get the feeling life is passing you by because you’re always stuck in the house?

Even if you go out and do things during the day it still might not be enough. You chose to stay home and look after the kids, which is great, but it doesn’t mean you can’t try to make your life a little more exciting.

Have you thought about what you could do to pass the time when you have any available? Why don’t you try and start your own little home business?

Moms don’t need to sit around doing nothing and if you have an entrepreneurial spirit it’s quite easy to make a little cash on the side. At the end of the day, it doesn’t even need to be about the money, but watching your bank account increase is fun even if you aren’t struggling to put food on your table.

You might even be able to turn it into a bigger business once the kids have grown up, so if you’re interested we can look at a few ways you can get started building a home business.

Baking Cakes

Fresh Fruit Upside Down Cake

If you are great in the kitchen you could easily bake cakes all day at the same time as looking after the children. The cakes you make will depend on your skills, but if you could get people to order birthday or wedding cakes you could easily turn a nice profit.

You don’t have to limit yourself to making cupcakes for the village fair. You will need to do a big of marketing to generate some business, but once you have started word of mouth could help you along.

Selling Clothes


If you love designing your own clothes you could easily bring your creations to life faster than ever before. Once you have the proper machines you just need to go around collecting the materials and you’re set.

If you make a few garments for people you know they can show them off to everyone and rave about you. People are always looking for custom clothes that are unique and it means there should be enough people who will order from you.


#76 - The Harvest Writer

If you love writing then doing it at home with the intention of selling books is easy. You can easily write them all day long and upload them to somewhere like Amazon for free.

In the beginning it’s going to be tough, but after you built up an audience that loves your work you can easily sell a decent amount of copies. You might not become the next best-selling author, but at least you will have fun doing what you love.

Build an Online Business

If you were a businesswoman in a previous life you could start your own online business that can slowly be built up over the years. If you don’t have something to sell online you could think of something, or you could even provide a service to other people.

As your company grows you could slowly start to hire more staff and because everyone can work from home they will be easy for you to manage. You just need to find something the market wants.


Family, Hawaii

Some moms are not so lucky and they have to keep working because there might not be enough money coming in. That means they need someone to look after their small children.

You could start a little daycare center in your home because you’re going to be looking after your children anyway. If you love children it could be a fun way to pass the time, plus if you see how much daycare centers charge these days you’ll know you can make a nice bit of money.

Creative commons image credits:

Kish Winner is the author of today’s guest post and also an expert blogger. You might be interested in his Guide to franchise article, which gives tips on starting your own franchise.

The Craigslist Arbitrage Game

In every big city, there is a healthy Craigslist community. Among the many sections of the giant classified ads site is a popular section for free stuff.

craigslist arbitrageOf course, a lot of this stuff is pretty junky but in many cases it still has some value. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, right?

Last week I posted a dresser to the free section of Craigslist. I probably could have sold it, but it had been through several moves and was pretty banged up. Within 10 minutes I had half a dozen calls from people to come pick it up.

The family that made the first call arrived with a passenger van (seats removed) full of stuff, presumably all from Craigslist as well. It made wonder if they were running this as a business.

Here’s the basic premise:

  1. Find free or otherwise undervalued stuff on Craigslist or Freecycle.
  2. Re-sell it for a profit.

What you’d need:

  • A pickup truck.
  • A garage or other safe place for storage.
  • Cleaning supplies, tools, fix-it know-how, and a nice camera to take pictures.
  • Salesmanship.

For example, today I found an almost-new rowing workout machine listed for free:

“Wife bought, didn’t use. Can you? If so, come & get it. Please.”

workout machine


Brand new, the same item sells for more than $300 on Amazon!

Think you could turn a profit when you’re “cost of goods sold” is zero?

I like this business idea because it’s very simple, requires little to no start-up capital, and can be done without any specialized training or skills.

Be quick and courteous on the phone, grab the goods, clean/fix them up, take some nice pictures and re-post the items for sale.

I’ve actually heard of people doing this quite successfully with used cars (which is essentially what dealers do with trade-ins), but there is a lot more red tape to deal with in the car-flipping business.

As an added benefit, you can donate to charity any items that don’t sell and take a small write-off against your business profits.

I thought semi-seriously about doing this during college when I had a truck but never pulled the trigger. What do you think? Is playing the Craigslist arbitrage game a viable business idea?

The Playground Sports League

Beer league softball and flag football have been around for ages, which shows there is a strong demand for adult recreational sports.

Rec sports are popular for many reasons. For instance:

  • They give you a chance to burn some calories in a fun way
  • They offer face-to-face human social interaction
  • They let you relive your athletic glory days

Recently, I’ve seen a rise in “non-sports” sports leagues. Kickball leagues have taken off. A friend of mine even plays trampoline dodgeball on Monday nights!

Naturally, there’s an opportunity there.

Could you build a league of your own (or collection of leagues) that specializes in playground, backyard, or bar games?

Beyond kickball and dodgeball, what about:

  • Wiffle ball?
  • HORSE?
  • Ping pong? or Beer pong?
  • Shuffleboard?
  • Darts?
  • Croquet?
  • Capture the flag?
  • Kick the can?
  • Frisbee golf?
  • Ultimate frisbee?
  • Tag?

If you have access to public spaces for the games, you could start with almost no overhead. All you’d need is a website to promote sign-ups.

The challenge would be in creating a critical mass of players and teams, but after that, many will stick around season after season if you provide a good experience. In that sense, it’s a lot like a membership site in that it becomes a recurring income stream.

People are busy, but shouldn’t be too busy to have fun with friends and meet new people. Plus there’s always the nostalgia factor of playing some old-school games. Retro is in, if not just for the irony!

The 2-Minute Personalized News Digest

The traditional newspaper business may be dying, but that is creating opportunity for new business models.  It’s not that people have stopped consuming the news; it’s that they’ve stopped paying for it.  Reading the newspaper is time-consuming and costly, not to mention the information delay problems that come from printing and delivery time.

The majority of the news I don’t care about, and I would venture to guess most other people don’t care either.  Mitt Romney selected Paul Ryan as his running mate?  Great.  Does that impact my day at all?  Not in the least.

However, if Google rolled out a new advertising product, or Nike launched a new must-have sneaker, that’s something I might like to know.

But what if you could introduce an efficient and personalized news service worth paying for?

Curate content from different sources and email people a 2-minute daily digest on the topics they’re interested in.  Topics could be very granular.  Charge a monthly subscription fee.

People don’t want to be ignorant, but pertinent information needs to be delivered quickly in need-to-know chunks.

Google Alerts is the closest product to this I’m aware of.  It’s free, which is an advantage, but the results aren’t awesome.  I think there’s room for a premium model.

A million subscribers at $1 a month is a $12 million a year business.  It scales nicely, costs nearly nothing to procure and deliver.   Plus you’ll be developing email lists of people proven to have an interest in given topics, which lends itself well to advertising opportunities for additional revenue streams.

Could be a winner.  What do you think?

Create a Product or Service to Sell on Fiverr

Do you know about Fiverr.com?  It’s a fun and useful marketplace where everything is just $5.  I’ve used it for some graphic design work, article writing, and even bought a bracelet made out of baseball seams.

You can find a ton of stuff on there, ranging from helpful to hilarious.  The question is, why not sell your own product or service?


Although some people are selling physical products, I believe the bigger opportunity is with digital products like software, ebooks, or video guides.  Because you only collect $4 (Fiverr takes a $1 cut on every sale), a digital product works best because it has a zero cost-of-goods-sold and can be delivered for free electronically.

What are you an expert in? Could you create an awesome video tutorial on how to more effectively manage your time at the gym?  How about a guide on how to earn thousands of free frequent flyer miles?  Or how to crate-train a stubborn dog?  The possibilities are endless.


I’m less enthusiastic about selling services, because they will usually involve your time, and I’m somewhat opposed to trading hours for dollars — especially such small dollars.

Some examples of services you’ll find beyond the article writing and graphics work mentioned above might be marketing consultations, software debugging, resume editing, foreign language practice via skype, and more.

The opportunity I see in selling services is as a creative lead-generation tool for other areas of your business.  For example, if you’re a travel agent, you could offer some insider tips on where to stay in Tokyo.  Then, explain how you can save your Fiverr client money if they decide to book through you.

The best thing about Fiverr is that the marketplace and the customers are already in place.  If you can carve out some shelf space and deliver a great product or service, you’ve got a nice little side business.

Video Cliff’s Notes

English Lit majors will hate me for this, but I believe most people are perfectly happy with an entertaining plot summary and some bullet-point takeaways.  I once met a woman who thought The Death of Ivan Ilyich was the greatest book ever written.

Spoiler alert: he dies.

I think people have a basic desire to know and understand classic literature — enough to be conversational and maybe get some trivia questions right.  Certain works are part of our collective culture — but that doesn’t mean we need them read it line-by-line and analyze every passage.  (As my English class did with Heart of Darkness).

Even as an ace student, I relied heavily on Cliff’s Notes.  But the problem is, they’re not much better than reading the actual book.

The Pitch:

Create short videos for classic books.  I’m picturing some pen-and-ink-style animation like the Story of Stuff YouTube videos, but really it’s up to you.

  • Plot summary
  • Literary analysis
  • Historical significance
  • 5-10 minutes MAX

Well TED talks get away with 20 minutes so maybe people will have a longer attention span, especially if they’re paying you.  And even at 20 minutes, you’re still saving them HOURS over actually reading.

How to Monetize:

You could turn this into a business in a few different ways.  You could put up a few teaser videos   to get people interested, and keep most content behind a paid membership wall.  The advantage of this is the recurring revenue stream and the scalability.

Another option is to charge by the title.  The price point would have to be pretty low, but there’s a lot of volume potential.  I mean every year how many millions of students have to read Hamlet, right?

A third monetization strategy would be to give all the short video away for free, and charge for “premium” service — access to your team of English majors or librarians, more in-depth analyses, one-on-one essay writing help, etc.  It would be more labor intensive but could be positioned as a more high-end service.

What do you think?  Start-up costs wouldn’t be huge.  Just need an animator/video editor and a giant passion for literature.

Disclaimer: I’m a reader.  But I think there are a lot of people who would find value in this service.  This business idea isn’t about cheating; it’s about making learning more fun and efficient.

Mobile Laundry Service

Successful businesses often get paid to solve a problem for their customers.  And for a lot of people, especially in urban areas without on-site facilities, laundry is a problem:

It’s time-consuming, menial, and costly.

It sounds like an opportunity to create a mobile laundry service that lets busy people outsource the chore.

I invision this as a weekly or bi-weekly pick-up service. Just like the garbage man, right?  You come by and grab the bags of dirty laundry and return them freshly cleaned.

Customers no longer have to worry about going to the laundromat, buying detergent, finding enough quarters, and killing time waiting for everything to finish.

Why I like it:

  • Recurring Revenue Model.  It’s a membership system; as long as you keep customers happy, you can collect income week after week, month after month, and year after year.
  • Start Small.  Starting out, you can make pick-ups in your own car, and maybe even use your own washer and dryer.
  • Upsell Opportunities.  Depending on how you price your service, folding and ironing could be extra, and you can add-on services like dry cleaning.  In the beginning you can partner with a local laundromat or dry cleaner and they will probably be happy to offer some volume discount in return for your business.

I HATE ironing and I can’t be the only one!

It’s All About the Story

Convincing people to change their habits is never easy, but it can be done with a compelling story.  You’ve probably seen the Dollar Shave Club video that’s been making the rounds lately.  They’ve got a great story and there’s no reason you can’t create something similar for your mobile laundry service.

You’re selling convenience, yes, but you’re also kind of selling a lifestyle.  ”Laundry?” your customers will say. “I’ve got people for that.”

Two Challenges to Overcome:

  1. Security — how will you arrange pick-up and delivery so clothes don’t get stolen?
  2. Privacy — how will you make customers trust you with their underwear?

What do you think? Done right, I bet something like this could take off in New York, San Francisco, Tokyo, or other apartment-dense cities.

Junk Hauling Service

Americans have more “stuff” than anyone else on earth.  In fact, we don’t even have room for it all so we built a billion-dollar industry out of self-storage.

But with great amounts of stuff comes great opportunity.  It all has to go somewhere, and that’s where you come in with your junk hauling service.

Sure, there are competitors in this space already, but here a few reasons I like it:

  • Low Start-Up Costs.  You can get a cheap pick-up or rent a moving van.
  • Potential Multiple Income Streams.  People pay you to take their stuff away, and if it’s worth anything, you can sell it on craigslist or ebay.  Now how many businesses can you think of with a negative cost-of-goods-sold?  Alternatively, you can turn around and donate it to Goodwill and take the write-off.
  • Easy to Expand.  Expanding into new territories is as easy as getting another truck and driver, and expanding into other verticals like moving or delivery services is as easy as saying you’re a moving/delivery company too.

Your Strengths:

Junk removal can be a boring business, so you have to find ways to make it fun and exciting.

For marketing, you could make videos about the biggest/smallest/weirdest/most worthless stuff people asked you to haul.  Maybe your drivers wear crazy JunkBusters uniforms a la Ghostbusters.

Two Weaknesses:

  1. One downside is many customers will view this as a commodity service, so it might be tough to avoid price wars with competitors.  Build a recognizable and desirable brand and you’ll be golden.
  2. With junk hauling, most customers will be one-time clients.  If you can master customer-acquisition/sales and potentially find some repeat business on the side, I think it can still work.

One man’s trinket is another man’s treasure, and there’s definitely no shortage of trinkets. Time to back up the truck and make some money!