"Participation Builds Unity"






the dti - Department of Trade and Industry - South Africa

Do you want to be your own boss and work your own hours? We have rounded up 50 businesses you can run from your own home for roughly around R1 000.

SMMEs (Small Medium and Micro Enterprises) contribute around 40% of South Africa's gross domestic product, and employ more than half of the private sector workforce. It is estimated that as much as 80% of new jobs in world economies are being created by SMMEs, making small business a key player in the future growth of our country.

The idea of starting a home-based business is becoming more of a trend in South Africa. People want to be at home with their families rather than waste precious time in traffic and at the office. The idea of being your own boss, being able to choose your own hours, being more flexible with family and friends and having control of your own financial life is becoming more and more inviting. With the unreliability of future pension packages and retirement annuities and the general uncertainty of our future wealth, it is becoming more and more necessary to start creating one's own nest eggs for the future.

Starting a business from home is a good way to save money on overheads such as rent, utilities, insurance and more. Having a business at home is tax deductible. Even first-time entrepreneurs find it easier to start a business from home, allowing to grow into a full-time venture. Start on a part-time basis and develop the business into a full-time homemade success.

You can be a pensioner, a teenager, a stay-at-home mom, be disabled or just be a regular person with a passion to achieve what you deserve.

We have outlined some of the basics of running a business from your kitchen table, garage, attic and spare bedroom. Use these basic tips to help you start your own business.

A. Do what you love
In choosing things, people tend to stick to what they know and like, which also refers to starting your own business. Find something you love and feel good about doing, then figure out how to get paid for it. Liking what you do and knowing how to do it properly will make for a more prosperous business than if you don't, so make sure you decide on the right business and choose something you love and are familiar with. While nurturing this business you will be spending plenty of time making it work.

B. Have the right attitude
Don't get caught up with the idea that you will earn money quickly. Business success is created by hard work and dedication. You will reap the rewards later, and they will be worth the work and dedication. Remember this is your business; nurture it like you would your children. Patience and persistence are two key elements required.

C. Create a plan to generate business
Hand out flyers, send out bulk emails, and send out press kits to local newspapers and corporate companies. Investigate advertising and utilise the power of word-of-mouth. Become active in local small business groups, get out and sell yourself and have opening/introductory specials, etc. These are some methods of how to become known. Marketing and advertising is costly, but is a good investment for the future of your business, although you must plan properly before spending money on this.
Use your existing equipment - computer, printer, knitting machine, sewing machine, etc.

1. Make and sell food products
Find your favourite recipe and sell it, such as biscuits, vetkoek, koeksisters, muffins, cakes, jams, pickled vegetables, etc. Sell them to Tuis Nywerheid shops, coffee shops and even corporate offices. Start small with low capital, charge to replace ingredients, and make profit to build up reserves.

2. Computer Design services
If you already have a computer and a printer, design labels and advertising pamphlets, type students' projects, CVs, etc. With the correct programs you can design letterheads and business cards.

3. Teach your craft
Are you good at a certain craft, and others keep telling you they wish they could also learn to be as good as you? Well, share this talent - start offering classes. You can teach one-on-one or small classes. This can be from glass painting, fabric painting, pottery, sketching, bead craft, etc.

4. Music teacher
Do you already have piano and/or other musical instruments? Teach from your own home, or visit students' homes. Singing lessons are also in demand.

5. Sewing Entrepreneur
With your sewing machine and your creative talent, start with sewing alterations. Design and make clothes for people from normal wear to specialised evening wear to fancy-dress costumes. With affordable, efficient, professional work and creativity, your business will grow quickly. Everyone needs alterations.

6. Photographer
If you are talented with photography and already have a good camera you can hire yourself out to take wedding pictures, 21st birthday parties, office functions. Once your business starts to grow you can build a studio at home and move into doing things like family portraits.
Take portrait photos of children at schools and creches. People love their pets almost as much as their children, so how about taking portrait pictures of people's beloved animals? Photograph people at local clubs, restaurants, pubs, etc and charge. Don't forget to get permission from establishments first.

7. Handyman/ Carpenter
You already have the basic tools and some know-how? It's easy to market yourself to neighbours and friends, and thereafter word-of-mouth will bring you further custom. Clients usually pay for material upfront. Start off with small jobs and as your confidence grows you can start taking on larger projects. You will eventually specialise in a particular area of business operation.

8. Mural painting
You are artistic and love to paint. Use this talent and start painting murals. Start on neighbours' and friends' walls. As your confidence grows and you develop an idea of what to specialise in, go to crèches, family nurseries, corporates for advertising commissions, restaurants, schools, churches, etc.

9. Direct Selling
It is easy and there are so many products to sell directly such as homewares (Tupperware), cosmetics (Avon, Sh'Zen, Avroy Shlain, Annique), kids' products (Smile, Acorn) and costume jewellery (Honey, etc). The start-up is a fairly small investment, usually the acquisition of a start-up kit from your local agent. Most companies supply you with sufficient help and guidance, and thereafter it's simply a matter of showing booklets to people wherever you are, obtaining orders, having parties at your house, and so on.

10. Party Entertainer
Utilise your love of children. Buy or get a costume made for you, such as a clown outfit, magician suite, etc., and entertain children at birthday parties, fundraisers or children's events. Make balloon characters, juggle, clown around and more. Rent yourself out to children's parties. Make flyers and hand out to schools, churches, crèches, etc.

11. Professional Organiser
This is best for articulate, neat people. Rent yourself out to residential houses by organising and tidying up garages, home offices, kitchens and other rooms. Become an adviser on how to organise areas efficiently and clutter-free. From this you can also branch out into organising files, data, etc. Specialise in closet organising as well.

12. Portrait Sketching
If you are a fairly talented artist who is good at portraits using various paint mediums, advertise yourself. Sketch or paint portraits from your home. Family portraits and children's portraits are popular.

13. Tutor
Offer to teach extra maths and other subjects to high school learners and students. This can be done after hours, giving you free time during the day or directly after school.

14. Cartoonist
Have you gotten into trouble several times for doodling cute cartoon characters or drawing the teacher in a funny way? Think about designing cartoon strips or characters for magazines, newspapers, private leaflets, restaurant walls etc.

15. Corporate Catering
Make sandwiches, muffins, soup, etc. and sell to corporate offices during lunch and tea times. Get permission from businesses first before going to their offices. Branch out into making and selling assorted platters on order. Ask for 50% deposit to cover food costs.

16. Second-hand Clothing dealer
Advertise around your neighbourhood and through acquaintances for quality secondhand clothes. Pay per packetful, fix the clothes up, add a more modern and customised touch and resell them at your local flea market as second-hand clothing.

17. Doll clothing designer/ toymaker
Are you good at sewing? Do you have several useless pieces of scrap material you don't know what to do with? Buy pieces of material offcuts cheaply, because you do not need large pieces of fabric to make dolls and Barbie clothes, and make and sell them for a quarter of the price retail shops ask, plus you can make a significant profit. Parents are always looking for an affordable way to keep their little girls happy.

18. Calligraphy service/ special invitation marketing
Calligraphy is still used for special invitations, corporate events and on certificates. There are software forms for personal computers, but the real thing is always preferred and more special. If you think you can or are good at calligraphy, hire yourself out and do it by hand for clients. If you have a knack for special writings this is very useful.

19. Second hand book and magazines dealer
Do you love books, classic magazines and comics, and do you know people who are pack rats? Find second-hand, sought-after books in garage sales, second-hand shops; flea markets, neighbours, auctions, family and friends, etc. You can sell these books over the Internet or through flyers. From the money you have made on existing books and part of the profits, buy new stock to replenish your stock.

20. Furniture Refurbishing
Are you good at revamping old furniture? Turn a boring desk into a decoupage masterpiece, whitewash old dining-room chairs to bring them back to life, repaint and revamp an old chest of drawers, etc. Why must people buy brand new expensive furniture when they have you to restore their existing classic pieces? Ask for a deposit upfront per project.

21. Growing Herbs
Do you have green fingers? Are you good at planting herbs and vegetables for cooking? Everyone loves fresh herbs to cook with. Try planting them in your home garden : basal, rosemary, parsley, thyme etc. Sell to local fresh produce markets or privately.

22. Management Consulting
This is one of the positions which always endures, particularly in a slow economy. More and more companies need consultants to help increase revenues and cut costs. This job entails intellectual challenge, prestige, opportunities to learn, and high levels of job satisfaction.

23. Nurse
Personalised weight-loss consulting, teaching childbirth classes, midwifery, lactation consultant, home healthcare, nutrition supplements or vitamin sales. Insurance companies and medical aids also require these skills for the review of cases and claims assessments.

24. Website publisher
If you already have a computer, information retrieval and the management of Internet information is a possibility. Become a website publisher.

25. Marketing
Provide public relations services, do copywriting, prepare marketing plans or plan events.

26. Administrative Assistant
Secretarial support for small businesses, desktop publishing if you already have a computer, typing services, preparation of CVs for college students.

27. Language Translator/ Teacher
If you are fluent in more than 2 languages, hire yourself out. You can translate corporate letters, documents, books and pamphlets targeted at certain foreign areas and population groups, etc. Magazines and the publishing industry hire freelance translators. Also, because of the many different cultures and languages spoken in South Africa, many people are looking to learn new cultures and languages. Find out more about becoming certified.

28. Patternmaker
If you have been working in the patternmaking, clothing design or fabric industry and want to branch out on your own and work from home, design patterns for designers, dressmakers and freelance for companies. Many part-time and full-time designers need help creating patterns for their creations. Make a name for yourself.

29. Mystery Shopper
Do you love shopping? Market yourself to retail companies. Advise on service glitches, staff customer service, security issues, etc. You can spend your days in shopping centres "shopping", and then compile reports at home for clients.

30. Freelance Writer
Tired of the rat race and constant deadline-driven environment? Work for companies writing articles, columns, press releases, etc.

31. Computer Consultant
If you are a whiz with computers, hire yourself out. Help small businesses with computer problems, repairs, and server problems, give advice on where to buy their equipment and what to buy, etc.

32. Dance Instructor
Has dancing been your life and do you want it to continue? Teach dancing from your lounge or garage, beginners to advanced levels.

33. Fundraiser
If you are an organised, articulate person and know you would be good at organising events, start freelancing as a fundraiser. Market yourself to small companies, corporate companies, schools, churches and organisations.

34. Image Consultant
Image consulting is a fast-growing industry as more people are becoming more conscious about how they dress in public and for functions. Target celebrities and socialites.

35. Pet walking
If you are a pet lover, look after pets while owners are on holiday or at work. Your clients will know that their pets get proper care and individual attention. They take their pets to your home where you look after them instead of the impersonal pet shelters and kennels/catteries. Walk dogs on the beach or around the area.

36. Proofreader/ Editor
Hire yourself out to publishing companies and small businesses, and proofread their press releases, websites, etc before finalisation. Spelling or grammar errors are unprofessional, and companies need to take care that their literature is perfect.

37. Professional Reviewer
Review CD's, books, websites, and programme packages, etc., or review restaurants, shops, clubs, etc.

38. Reunion Organiser
School reunions are being held every year in every high school. Become a professional Reunion Organiser for local schools.

39. Tax Consultant
Experience in the tax industry? Advise people on tax forms and assist in filling forms out correctly.

40. Sign Language Interpreter
Learn sign language and become an interpreter for companies and individuals.

41. Office Manager
Professional organiser, bookkeeping, virtual office manager. Retail saleswoman. Direct sales, online auctions.

42. After-care service
Want to stay home with your children? Look after your child, and others, after school. Get paid to pick children up after school and take care of them until their parents return home from work.

43. Car Mechanic
Love working on cars? Friends keep asking you to help fix theirs? Start renting your services out, starting with advice, then assisting and then taking full control of repair work.

44. Rubble/ Junk Removals
Do you already have a bakkie or truck? Remove people's unwanted rubble, furniture, scrap metal etc.

45. Relocation Consultant
Tasks include any or all of the following activities and services, which generally come with relocation. Finding a moving company, selling the old house, finding and buying a new home or renting an apartment. Suggesting schools, colleges, churches and spouse job placement counselling.

46. Display Artist
Offer your services as a display artist to small businesses, supervising their window and in-store displays. Handle store special promotions and seasonal requirements. Eventually hire out props, scenic backdrops etc made by yourself to enhance the display.

47. Business Matchmaking Service or personal dating
Use your business contacts and skills to bring together industry and commerce by getting them to utilise each others' strong points, i.e. manufacturing, supplies, research, subcontracting etc. The goal is to cut costs and improve productivity and effect maximum results, harnessing the client's knowledge and capabilities to maximum benefit. Especially useful if you can assist with BEE companies. Or matching couples.

48. Caretaking Service
Provide a service where you arrange to care for or find people to care for various buildings, i.e. sports clubs, town houses, flat, etc. You arrange grasscutting, keeping trespassers out, the carrying out of maintenance work, etc.

49. Kitting Service
Very few people have the patience to knit. Use your knitting skills (and knitting machine) to knit patterns chosen by your client. Manufacture soft toys and knitwear for the home industry market. Approach local knitting supplies shops to advertise yourself.

50. Ironing Service
Why should mothers waste half a day ironing, when they can spend their precious time with the family instead? Offer a service where you iron their clothes for them.



After 3 years of sending my parents money from Europe to Kenya, i thought there must be a better way to help than this long never ending cycle that has turned almost to begging and me bearing resentment as a result of feeling used, so that they can be self-sufficient.
With the 50 business ideas, written in your website, I now have a plan how we are going to come out of this rut.
I could never thank you enough!

Hi there
I know your document is now 15 years old but I was wondering if you could help with any further information.
My sister has done exactly as your document suggested. She and a couple of friends are running a very small retail outfit (10am-3pm) with perhaps 5 customers per day. Although they aren't yet able to employ anyone to help, they are supporting countrywide industry by selling South African made products only.
Her neighbor has complained about them (she constantly complains about whatever she can) and the local residents association has told them they must stop trading immediately - that they are not allowed to trade from residential premises. This seems to be correct from what we can see of the Jhb bylaws. Are you still familiar with this area and able to provide any suggestions, experience or anyone else who can help with advice on an issue like this?
I look forward to hearing from you.
Kind regards, Trish
Trish Charlton

Dear Trish,
We fully understand the frustration your sister is facing, however, we also understand the frustration her neighbour may be experiencing! I, for one, would be somewhat perturbed should my neighbour start a small business, say fixing cars, ever so often disrupting the peace and quiet with revving engines! Not only could it be disruptive but could also impact on the value of my capital investment.
Municipal by-laws are there to protect all – please do not regard them (the by-laws) as a restriction.
We need to find solutions to endeavour to 'formalise' the informal sector.
In most cases, including some of the fifty home ideas listed above, the local authorities tend to 'turn a blind eye' on the breach of the by-law until a complaint is lodged.
I would recommend your sister discuss the matter with her neighbour and try to resolve the aggravation.
Another approach would be for her to consult with the local government business development department who would have dealt with matters like this and may just have a useful solution.





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"Participation Builds Unity"


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