If conventional employment doesn’t agree with you, you may want to consider starting a business from home. Here are fourteen of the best home business ideas for Canadians in 2020.
Why I Started a Small Business From Home
There are many reasons why conventional employment can be unappealing. In my case, I have a number of health problems which make spending eight or more hours a day out of the house extremely difficult. In the past six years, every time I’ve tried to hold down an ordinary job I’ve had to quit within a month or three to preserve my health.
However, in March 2019 I started a marketing and writing business out of my apartment. I’ve been working 40+ hours a week every week since then, and most folks would argue that owning your own business is more stressful than having a job… and yet my health has only improved.
I believe this is simply because certain things work well for some people, and not for others. I much prefer handling a variety of tasks that involve creative problem solving over performing repeated mundane duties, but I can understand why some people are the opposite. I prefer having the opportunity to make lots of money while managing the risk of making none, but I can see why many people opt for a steady, consistently-sized paycheck.
But if you’re like me and working for yourself (and eventually employing others) sounds like the better option, here is my list of the fourteen best home based businesses for Canadians to start in 2020.
The Best Home Based Business Ideas for Canadians in 2020
I’ll be honest; I’m a little bit biased towards my own experience, especially with the first three on the list. However I also did a lot of research and considered common skills the average Canadian might have to get started with. If you can think of a good option I missed, please comment and let me know!
I’m sure it’s not surprising that a blogger would recommend blogging, but there are many good reasons. First of all, you can get started blogging and making money absolutely for free, with no prior experience. Platforms like Medium.com and Vocal.Media allow writers to upload their work for free, and then pay them based on audience reading time.
While that’s a great way to get started, it’s not very sustainable and it’s not a practical way for most people to make enough money to survive. After all, less than 10% of writers on Medium make more than $100 per month, and Medium has higher payouts than Vocal.
If you’re going to look at blogging as a business, it’s important to have your own professional website, and I believe the best option is a self-hosted WordPress website like mine. WordPress is the most powerful blogging platform in the world, it’s extremely low cost, and it’s easy to make visually appealing sites with its massive selection of free and premium themes.
If you want to get started quickly with a WordPress blog, I recommend picking up a lifetime membership to Elegant Themes (affiliate link), and getting hosting from one of these trusted companies. Elegant Themes’ lifetime license will give you all the tools you need to get started on your first website, and the hosts I link to in that post will support you on your path to building your first blog.
Again, there should be no surprise that I recommend this. As a former freelance writer, I know there is money to be made creating words for other people. If you love writing and/or are good at producing high quality content quickly, this could be a perfect position for you.
While freelance writing can be a difficult field to get started in, the truth is there are many niches that currently have space for many new contributors. You can get started the same way as you would with blogging – by writing on topics you’re knowledgeable and passionate about on sites like Vocal and Medium. There are also plenty of resources available to writers online, such as Freedom With Writing.
Once you get some confidence and build a bit of a portfolio to show off, there are a couple paths open to you. The first (which I don’t recommend) is to get started on low-paying freelance sites such as Fiverr and Upwork. These don’t look great on your resume/portfolio and tend to pay little, but they can be a good way to get some experience writing for and working with clients.
The second option (which I do recommend) is to start querying potential clients and looking for work the same ways as any freelancer. One often overlooked strategy is to offer to handle overflow work for writing or marketing agencies. This is the kind of thing that can build into a bigger position down the road.
If you struggle with finding clients, consider these 4 Reasons to Hire a Writer, and how you might go about explaining them to potential clients.
The benefits of being a freelance writer are numerous; you can work from anywhere, you only need your brain and an internet connection, and you have a relatively small skillset to continuously cultivate. In fact, many professional writers find that the more they “niche down” the more successful they are. In other words, you might be able to make the majority of your living just writing on a handful of topics.
I’m getting predictable with these, aren’t I? About a year ago I decided that just being a freelance writer wasn’t the path for me and started expanding my skills. In March 2019 I opened my own marketing and writing business, offering services ranging from web design and SEO to social media management.
Digital marketing is one of the most needed skills in the current landscape of national and international business, and while there is a massive amount of competition in this niche, at the moment there’s room for more marketers.
I decided to become a marketer because I already had some of the required skills from my work as a writer. In truth, about 65% of what I do now is still writing. There’s just a different focus – rather than always writing to please a client, my words are more often intended for the masses, whether I’m posting to my blog or social media.
Digital marketing can be tougher to get started in than writing, because it’s more likely to require diverse skills and specialized software or equipment. However, if you select a specific aspect of marketing to specialize in, I think it can be an easier field to get started in than pure professional writing.
One of the things I love about being a marketer who offers a wide variety of services is that I have more choice over who I work with. If I was a health and fitness writer, the number of businesses who could benefit from my services would be much smaller. Therefore it’d be harder to find personalities I can work well with for forming long term working relationships.
I still love writing and it will always, always be a part of what I do personally and professionally… but being a digital marketer makes me feel like the swiss army knife of the business world, and that’s kind of cool.
Book Publishing Company
This option may seem a little odd, but the truth is if you have the skills and abilities to become a freelance writer or digital marketer, you can probably also become a publisher. Obviously you won’t be competing with Penguin anytime soon, but if you can attract some good writers and a decent audience, there’s still money to be made in the reading industry, especially with ebooks which require almost zero investment.
Before I settled into my role as a freelance writer I had aspirations of being a published author, and on more than one occasion I considered self-publishing and then offering the same service to other writers. If you’re good at reading, editing, pagination, and paying attention to details, there’s not much that would hold you back from becoming a successful publisher at a small scale.
One of the major advantages to being Canadian here is that the government of Canada provides ISBNs to publishers and self publishers for free. ISBNs are the unique identifying numbers found on most books alongside a barcode, which is just a scannable representation of the same digits. Once a book has an ISBN, it can be sold to libraries, stores, and through online stores and distributors such as Amazon.
Compared to the United States where ISBNs cost over a hundred dollars each in most cases, Canada is a great place to start a publishing company if you’re passionate about books, reading, and writing.
An affiliate marketer is someone who makes money by selling (or pre-selling) products or services for another person or company. Traditionally affiliate marketing was a fairly small affair, but since the internet became mainstream in most households the trade has taken off like a rocket.
If you have any kind of a following on social media, through a website or platform, or even in person, then affiliate marketing could be a good option for you. If lots of people like you, and trust you and your opinion/judgment, then it should be easy for you to recommend products and services that will help them.
If you recommend those products and services using an affiliate link, you’ll get paid a commission.
Many people get the wrong idea about affiliate marketing because of scummy marketers who use dirty tricks to make sales, or because of low-commission programs such as Amazon’s affiliate network. While many folks make full time livings off of Amazon affiliate selling, it can be intimidating to get started when you’re only earning pennies on the dollar.
That’s why I recommend finding products or services to affiliate sell which relate to your passions and knowledge, and which have high commissions. A perfect example is a web developer who recommends different hosting providers to clients, friends, and anyone else who asks their opinion. Web hosting is actually one of the most competitive and profitable affiliate niches, with some companies paying up to $100+ per new customer signup.
Affiliate marketing also has very little startup costs, and it’s a great way to practice and develop the skills you would need to be a digital marketer, blogger, or freelance writer.
If you get good enough at selling other people’s products, it would only make sense to try selling a few of your own. Ecommerce is a massive and still growing industry, with more and more people buying physical and digital products online. While ten years ago it might have been difficult to get started selling goods online, these days it can be done in a snap using one of a growing number of platforms, wholesalers, and dropshipping companies.
The easiest way that almost anyone can get started in ecommerce is by selling informational products related to topics they know at least a little about. It’s quite possible to set up a WordPress ecommerce (WooCommerce) website for less than $5 a month, and start selling digital downloads such as documents and videos you create using free software. You’ll have ample competition, but if you can create strong enough educational content and market it well, people will buy it and recommend it to their friends.
While virtual assistants can hail from anywhere around the globe, many Canadian professionals prefer to hire assistants who are in the same country. As a VA you can also potentially find clients in other English speaking countries such as America, the United Kingdom, and Australia.
I personally have never walked the VA path because being an assistant doesn’t appeal to me nearly as much as working primarily for myself. However I understand that many people find it easy and enjoyable to have their work laid out for them by a boss, and I can appreciate how helping others can be a great way to make money.
In order to become a virtual assistant, try beefing up your LinkedIn profile with all the skills you have that could potentially be useful to a business person online. Then, start making new connections and asking if anyone needs help or can refer you. This will work well for a number of the careers listed here, so long as you aren’t overly aggressive or annoying about it.
If you have a way with kids and a decent amount of space in your home, offering childcare services can be an easy (though involved) way to make some money. I personally don’t have much experience in this area, but I know of small businesses that range from a little babysitting on the side to a fully established home daycare.
Of course, you’ll need to get a criminal record check and vulnerable sector screening for this. Once you have some experience with childcare, you may find it’s easy to find additional work helping out local daycare centers, camps, and other kid centric organizations. The number of people who are willing to dedicate their time to working with children is often limited, so if you choose this path you will be providing an in demand service, even if it isn’t the most glamorous.
If there’s a private school, college, or university nearby, then chances are there are students in need of private tutoring. If you have professional expertise, or even if you just got straight A’s in a certain topic, you may in fact be overqualified for this position.
Tutoring students at a highschool or even early college level is fairly easy for most adults. The amount of experience and knowledge you have accumulated in your time on the planet will simply surpass that of your students, making your contribution to their lives valuable if they choose to pay attention.
This is another home based business idea that could snowball quickly. Since students always know other students and they tend to notice each others’ results, if you can successfully tutor a few people you may find yourself swamped with referral work.
As with most service businesses, it may be a good idea to set up a referral network of your own in case this happens. That way, if you get too many students you can refer some of them to your network and receive a flat fee or a percentage of ongoing payments in exchange.
This could cross over with tutor in some cases, but there are also many adults who develop the desire to learn artistic expression later in life. I’m actually a pretty terrible guitar player, but I used to busk (perform in the street) and on more than one occasion people offered to pay me for lessons.
If you’re actually good at making music or art, your can definitely find students locally or online who will be happy to pay for your time and effort. Being an online teacher also goes hand in hand with selling digital products, such as classes or informational products.
All you really have to do is make your work public, and put it out there that you’re willing to teach. If you perform at an open mic night, or submit a painting to a local art show, you’ll get immediate exposure. You might be surprised by how many people will strike up conversations with you and express an interest in hiring you. If you have an offer ready to go at that point, you stand to profit from your art even if you don’t make money from it directly.
Canada is, after all, a bilingual nation, and many other languages are beginning to become more prominent in our country. If you’re confidently bilingual, there’s a good chance you can find work translating documents for a wide variety of businesses. Some may even require oral translators for meetings.
Translators, especially those who command a professional grasp of multiple languages, can make a lot of money working for law firms, as an example, but there’s a wide variety of less skill-oriented work available such as translating books or emails.
While many people in Canada speak both English and French, the number who can read, write, and speak both languages confidently in a professional context is much smaller. If you fit into that group, starting a home business as a translator may make the most sense for you.
If you have a knack for minding fur babies, some folks are willing to pay a pretty penny to make sure their pets have proper care and company. You might even be able to combine this service with house/plant sitting for people who are going away for extended periods of time.
Although you’d probably need a decent sized home in order to create a really good pet hotel, minding a few animals throughout the day can be an easy way to get your feet wet in the business world. If you particularly enjoy spending time with animals, this could be an excellent option for you.
One way to wade into this job slowly would be to offer services such as dog walking, and then use your existing clients to source bigger projects such as in-home pet care.
If you have a head for numbers, you can get an accounting certification within a year or two in Canada just by studying from home. While you’re studying, there’s nothing to stop you from making a little money by helping friends or business owners balance their budgets and understand taxes.
For many Canadians, the tax system (and money in general) is and will remain an absolute mystery. If you’re in the minority who is comfortable working in this area, you may find it easy to build a home business as an accountant.
Do you have expertise in business, or any niche that relates to a business activity that can make money? Chances are you do, which means that you can be a consultant. I’m not saying that a consultant’s job is easy, or that they’re unskilled… I’m just saying that they can afford to focus on only being good at a small handful of things. They scale their businesses by finding bigger clients who have the same problems as their current clients.
Whatever you have experience with, chances are there is someone in the world who is willing to pay you to learn from you. Consultants can do well even locally, but they have massive potential when they get comfortable finding clients and providing services online.
Final Thoughts on Home Businesses in Canada
It shouldn’t be surprising that I think more Canadians should start their own businesses; I started one out of my apartment this year, and I have several friends who have done the same in their lives. There are certainly more risks involved with creating a home based business than there are with working a conventional job, but there are steps you can take to manage those risks effectively.
While I don’t love the extra stress of being self employed, I find it’s worth it because I get to dictate my own schedule and decide who I work with and who I don’t work with. The bottom line is, if you struggle with conventional employment, starting a home business using one of these ideas could be your best option.