Home based businesses are the bedrock of the American economy.

Family run and small businesses power 80% of the American economy. In the post lock down world more and more people are looking to build a back up plan to provide a sense of security should the world become less stable than in the past. Building a home based business, weather a small side project or the birth of a future fully working business, is one way people have taken that security into their own hands.

1. Soap Making

Soap Making is the heart of CottageDIY.com and the start of our top 16 list. There are over 5 thousand open air markets and indoor craft fairs in the United States and nearly all of them will feature a hand made soap artisan. For nearly five thousand years  people have been using saponified materials to clean clothes and bathe, and there is no sign that the use of tried and true soap is going away anytime soon.

A soap making business start up is a natural thought process when one first learns to make their own hand made DIY soap at home. The learning curve is essential but short, and the amount of soap that can be manufactured by one person is enough to get a small business started, prepped, and then transported to any local open air community market. The thought of starting a small business by soap making is very achievable and can be in full bloom in just a few weeks.

To make the barrier to entry even easier you can learn every thing you need to learn to start soap making in the book The Soap Making Companion which is completely free an avaiable online.  This takes you through everything you need to know  nd includes a dozen recipes to get you started.

Get A FREE copy of The Soap Making Companion

Start learning the basics of soap making with this FREE Book

Start a soap making business

It only takes a week to fully learn how to make bar soap . Once your homestead kitchen has curing shelves full of natural soap made by either cold process or hot process its time to move on to more creative artistic styles, matching bath products, and items that reflect your branding style. The craft of soap making is truly a cottage industry that can be infused with an artistic unique style that can evolve as long as the artist has the will to imagine their brand.

2. Candle Making

Starting a candle making business can be a strong stand alone business or it can be a complimentary addition to any of the entrepreneurial activities on this list.

Handmade crafts, like candles, are some of the fastest-growing small businesses in the country. According to the National Candle Association, candle sales in the U.S. are estimated at $3.2 billion per year. Here are a few more reasons why candles are a fantastic business opportunity:

  • A thriving, high-demand market: Did you know 7 out of 10 U.S. households use candles? People love quality handmade products and supporting locally owned businesses. And uniquely branded candles are some of the most popular home decor items on the market.
  • Easy to start: You don’t need a lot of equipment or space to hit the ground running—just basic supplies, tools, and a workspace—and learning the process is quick and easy.

  • Easy to price and sell: What might cost you $3 to make you can sell for $9 or more. You can market your candles through gift stores, craft malls, and farmers markets; online through outlets like  BathArtisan.com
  • You’re never alone: When you launch a candle business, you’ve joined a community of fellow crafters and entrepreneurs where you can share resources and knowledge.

Why You Should Start Your Own Candle Business

Starting your own candle business might seem daunting at first, but there are quite a few benefits to taking the plunge.

Be Your Own Boss

By starting your own business, especially a candle business, you grant yourself the privilege of being your own boss and working from home. During the pandemic, plenty of people took advantage of the extra time spent at home to start up new hobbies, even turning them into full-time gigs. Running your own business allows you to work at your own pace, create your own schedule, and dedicate your time to something you’re passionate about.

Accessible to Start

Candle-making is easy to learn thanks to all the great resources on the Internet. Finding and purchasing materials is simple, and you only need a few basic pieces of equipment at the beginning. A low startup cost means your candle business could be profitable within the first few months of candle-making!

Supportive Community

The candle-making community is one of the most supportive out there. Many makers host in-person candle-making workshops where they share their knowledge and techniques. Some makers even have robust YouTube channels that include guides on getting started, how to design candle labels, packaging tips, and more. Memory Box Candle Co. on YouTube has a fantastic series on Candle Making for Beginners that’s a great place to start.

3. Crochet

Crochet craft was the first art that came across my radar when etsy took off many year ago that made me pause and look, and it was a really long pause. Ladies making simple crochet hats and scarves were making 150K a year once orders started piling up. Of course, with orders out of control small one human businesses quickly realized that if they didn't manage their time carefully they could be living a twelve hour crochet day.

A crochet business may be the easiest small business start up of all

 Flexibility : You can put as much time into the business as you'd like. If you like the work and have some initial experience, you can start small and manage all aspects of the business on your own.

Ability to start your business from home : It's not necessary to have a physical storefront or office space to get your business started. You can do everything from the comfort of your own home, at least in the beginning!

Rewarding work : Starting a crochet business can be really rewarding work. After all, you are solving an immediate issue for your customer and you're working on something you truly care about.•

Scalable :With businesses and processes changing daily, there will always be demand for new features, products and services for your business. Additionally, there are several different business models and pricing tiers you can implement that will allow you to reach all types of customers.

Quick build time : The average time it takes to build your product is quick - typically around 5 months. This will allow you to bring your product to market faster.

 Control of workload: With starting a crochet business, you have the unique ability to choose how little or how much you want to work. You also have the freedom to decide which projects you want to work on, and can turn down the ones that do not interest you.

You are your own boss! : With starting a crochet business, you are the one to make decisions for almost all of the operations. Calling the shots can be empowering and liberating!

Higher likelihood of getting referrals : This business is all about referrals, which can be a a very impactful way to attract and retain customers. It's critical that you have a great referral program in place that incentivizes your customers to tell their friends about your product.

You can sell your product in various places! : There are various different markets to sell your product, which will help you reach different audiences and revenue streams.

Simple business model. A crochet business has the advantage of a simple business model, which makes launching and building the business more seamless.

Minimal experience required : Starting A Crochet Business requires little experience and no specific certifications or qualifications. To be successful, you need hard work, determination and the desire to achieve greatness!

4.  Knitting

Knitting is the older sister of crochet, a bit more difficult and a longer learning curve, but the tight knit creates a beautiful fabric for sweaters and socks. Just like starting a crochet business, a knitting business brings the same advantages. Being your own boss and working around your convienence is a luxury that many people envy.

Again, the income potential is extremely flexable with some knitters making $10,000 a month by selling with online platforms that allows crafts to be offered to the world, and just like with crochet selling the finished product is not the only thing people will pay for. Many people love to browse pictures of the finished product and want to try to make the same item for themselves.That's why selling a pdf of your pattern with instructions is an ever green way to keep the money coming in.

5. Quilting

Quilting as a side job was a common activity only a few decades ago. If you are a genX-er you may remember your mother haveing an entire sewing room of her own in an extra room in the house. A hand made baby blanket made with love and skill could easily bring in a few hundred dollars, a well deserved price tag for the work that goes into a unique and practical item like a quilt.

Quilting machines on the market today have become so versitile and easy to use that the stream line work of machine quilting has become easier and more achievable. Even after hundreds of years of colonial American folk designs the love for hand made quilts has not faded into the past.  There is still a thriving demand for quilt making, and there are many ways to craft an income from the skill of quilt making.

Quilts Commissions : Not everyone who appreciates art wants to go through the work of learning the skill, and that’s where quilters like you come in to help! With so many quilt lovers in the world who don’t have the time and skills to create their ideas, you can offer services for making custom quilts. A small cottage industry like this is fantastic because of revenue, as shoppers pay well becasue handcrafted items feel very personal and will last 100 years or more.

Patterns :  Many quilters love to try their hand at bringing new ideas to life. Writing patterns and transfering them to pdf files means you can sell them online to anyone in the world. This is a great way to add to your qilters income because once the pattern is ready for sale it can be purchased over and over again. The potential is unlimited.

6. Tatting

Tatting is a the folk art of lace weaving  using thread and tools to create intricate knotwork. Historically tatting was used primarily to add detailed edging and design to garments to increase their value.

Today people are discovering a new found interest in the folk art that had slipped away with the emergence of technology from the inustrial revolution. Hand crafted tatting lace can be made into clothing embellishment and decorations for linnens and household items. In fact, there is a whole small cottage industry of people who have mastered the work with thread and shuttle to professionally produce items that turn a profit on platforms like etsy and bathartisan.com

7. Jewelry Making

As competitive as the jewellery industry might be, opportunities to make a profitable jewellery-making business certainly still exist. In fact, the industry remains so profitable that the industry, didn’t even falter during the recession.  Not only is the jewellery industry attractive for its profit potential, though. It’s also a business that enables artisans and designers to pursue their entrepreneurial interests whilst continuing to express their creativity. With such a broad range of options to choose from when creating a jewellery brand, like fine jewellery, custom products and handmade crafts, artisans are better able to develop a business model that best suits their personal interests.

Moreover,  the financial barrier to entry is not high at all. Businesses can be launched on a relatively low budget and come with considerably low startup costs, too, enabling entrepreneurs to enter the industry with relatively low risk.Of course, it should be noted that starting a jewellery business, like all things worthwhile, isn’t easy. It takes time, commitment and a lot of planning and preparation. Of course, to set up a jewellery designing business, you’ll need to be experienced in designing jewellery. That entails having a creative flair, knowledge of design and passion for your work. But starting a jewellery enterprise requires more than just artisanal skill.

8. Rug Making

After my DIY weaving project I felt like I needed another challenge, so I decided to tackle another large-scale project that’s been on my list…a DIY rug from scratch! I desperately needed a new rug and I tirelessly searched for one that I absolutely loved (that was also budget-friendly).

Sadly, I apparently have very expensive taste because every rug I found that would work was WAY outside the range of what my wallet felt like it could handle. So, like any DIYer, I decided to make one myself, using cotton piping.

It was definitely a labor of love (as I’m sure you can imagine making a giant rug by hand would be), but I really like how it turned out. And it is just in time for the weather to start cooling down because this thing is as cozy as it comes…It’s like walking on clouds! Super fluffy and plush.

9. Gardening

Whether you are an aspiring full-time farmer or a homesteader looking to earn extra money, starting a market garden is a great way to begin selling your own produce for profit. Luckily, the steps involved in how to start a market garden are fairly simple and easy to follow for small scale growers.

No matter where you are starting from, here are the basic steps to starting your own market garden.

10. Leather Work

Leatherworking is a great skill to pick up to make everything from practical projects to ornate artwork. The start-up costs are relatively low, and the basic techniques are easy to pick up on and apply to more advanced projects. Leather is used to make a variety of objects, including footwear, car seats, clothing, footballs, backpacks, purses, books, furniture, and more. Here, we will cover exactly how to get started leatherworking and what you need to set up.

Leatherworking, also known as leather crafting, is the practice of making leather into practical objects or artwork, using molding, dyeing, carving, stamping, and fabrication techniques. Once you start leatherworking, you will be able to apply basic knowledge and techniques to a vast number of projects. The tools for leatherworking are relatively inexpensive, long-lasting, and versatile for many different projects. There are a limitless number of possibilities when you are starting to plan out leather projects. Ideal beginner projects, like a card wallet or a keychain, show you techniques that you can continue to apply to more complicated pieces, like bags, purses, and even bike seats.

11. Wood Work

Woodworking requires skill and a dedicated space to craft your talents, but out of all the homestead businesses on this list it is probably the most lucrative with some wood workers making as much as 500K a year just from manufactureing items from thier home. 

12. Food Preserving

There has never been a better time to lern how to properly store food, and frankly there has not been a time in my memory where there has been so much interest. With the change in economic stability people seem to prioritize re-learning skills from yester-year that provided comfort to ones way of life. For some home grown produce and food preservation provides a feeling of stability that is sure to keep the household peace.

Cool Temperature Storage, Food Drying.  Foods that dehydrate well are fruits, vegetables, legumes, spices, meat, and fish. Canning: Canning in a bath of boiling water is ideal for high-acid foods, like fruits and fruit juice, pickled vegetables, salsa, chutneys, vinegars, and condiments. Water bath canning requires extended cooking time at a low temperature temperature to destroys the mold, yeast, and enzymes that cause spoilage while making a vacuum seal for long-term storage. Canning: Pressure Canning. The second primary type of home canning, pressure canning uses high temperatures (240°F) and special equipment to preserve low-acid foods, like vegetables, dairy, meat and seafood, legumes, and soups. Freezing. Freezing foods uses little specialized equipment, while preserving fresh flavors and textures. Freezing slows the growth of microorganisms and enzymes that can cause food spoilage. For the best results, freeze room-temperature foods, remove all the air from the freezer bag, and consume within 6 months of freezing. Sealing frozen produce in vacuum-sealed bags prevents ice crystals from forming and can extend the shelf life of food. Freeze-drying. Freeze-drying is a low-temperature dehydration process that involves freezing food and removing the ice by sublimation—turning ice into vapor. This method can be done in a freezer (takes several weeks), on dry ice, or using a modern freeze-dryer unit, which can take less than 24 hours. Fermentation. This process creates some of our favorite funky foods like cheese, yogurt, kombucha, sauerkraut, kimchi, and sourdough bread. Preserving in Salt and Sugar. inhibits microbial growth in meats, fruits, and vegetables aiding in preservation. Common sugar-preserved foods are jams and while salt cod, salt pork, corned beef, and bacon are common foods preserved with salt. Vinegar Pickling. Vinegar pickling creates a high acid environment that kills off microbes and causes food to change in flavor and texture. Vinegar, salt, and sugar are heated and added to fruit or vegetables to make pickles of cucumber, okra, apples, beets, peppers, carrots, onions, cauliflower, green beans, and plums. Olive Oil Preserving. Extra-virgin olive oil is a natural preservative that prevents spoilage by isolating food from air, providing a seal that can slow down oxidation and molding. It is used for preserving fresh herbs, vegetables, and fish. It’s important to keep food safety in mind when storing vegetables such as garlic, mushrooms, chili peppers, or herbs in oil—these low-acid foods can be a source of bacteria and should be stored in the refrigerator as a precaution.

13. Tea Making

Making a combination of herbal teas from loose leaf combinations is a practice that is crossed between food preservation and creative candy making. From chocolate peppermint tea to morrocan mint, blending and packaging your own combinations of flavors and herbs can be a profitable business that you can start at your kitchen table.

Your small cottage business does not need to start from planting seeds on a perfectly pruned homestead farm (although it certainly can.) One can get started by ordering bulk packaging of hibiscus teas, peppermint teas, and a variety of others and mixing your own unique blends.

14. Candy Making

If you've ever picked up a candy making hobby from the shelves at your local craft store, you'll quickly guess that you can wrap into a git box just about anything you can meld with sugar. The candy making shelves are packed with tools, molds, papers, and sculpting tools.

Candy making can be a lucrative small business that can be run straight from your own kitchen (per local laws which may vary) Items like cake pops, truffles, and chocolate covered candies can be sold for school fundraisers, sports events, or from your own market tables.

15. Night Crawlers

start a worm business for fishermen

I'll never forget my very first business idea when I was 5 years old and I saw the number of night crawlers that came up from the ground after a night of heavy rain. Hundreds of big fat earth worms as fat as my baby fingers writhed in and out of the wet soil.

My uncle noted how valuable this was to fishermen, and it seemed like a no brainer to collect them up and put a sign  in the yard.  I told the girl next door about this idea and she immediately said, let's be business partners."

I made signs in the back yard, and she collected worms. Over the next few weeks she made about $15 from random neighbors stopping by her house to pick up a dozen worms for a day of fishing. Once the cash became real, she quickly informed me that five year olds didn't need money, and there was no reason for her to share her business any longer. (Sigh, my first business lesson: choose your partners wisely.)

I completely forgot about this until 40 years later when I noticed the bait shop was selling a dozen night crawlers for $8. Wow! Many people don't realize that you don't necessarily have to go hunting for nightcrawlers after a rain, but can keep them in a plastic pool filled with compost and top soil where they reproduce on their own. 

Here's a potential side hustle that requires minimal work and can have people driving to you to drop off a few dollars at a time.

16. Bee Keeping

Bee keeping requires a lot more work, skill, and dedication than collecting up fishing worms, but you literally have a army working for you producing a profitable crop. Bee keeping is so valuable to the environment that some states even offer tax cuts for some people who keep homes for bees on their property.

Not only does the honey and beeswax  provide a form of revenue, but many farms and orchards will rent boxes of bees to be placed in their propery seasonally to give their crops a better return.

Once you create a product line with your honey and wax you can start to become more creative with bees wax candles, lip balms, and even christmas ornaments.