Low-Cost Business Ideas You Can Start from Home(PART 1)

The growth of working at home has paved the way for stay-at-home moms to provide something for the family while raising their little ones. While it may not be easy, starting your own business at home could be the key to achieving your personal and work dreams. If you are not sure of the type of business you want to start, I have compiled a list of 15 business ideas perfect for any stay-at-home moms. I have divided it into three categories of 5 business ideas.

#1. Baking

Starting a home-baking business in Kenya isn’t as easy as it sounds. There’s a lot of things you need to consider. Before taking this bold step, you need to have a few things in mind. But first;

Do you have a passion for baking and business?

If you want to start a home-baking business, make sure you have the passion for baking and business. Your passion will keep you going regardless of the pitfalls and the challenges you come across. Be ready to learn and equip yourself with the necessary skills whether through self-training or signing up for baking courses.

Do thorough market research

Choose a target market and the right location to sell your baked products. You need to have a list of the products that will be on your menu.

Do you have the capital?

Starting a home-baking business in Kenya requires approximately Sh100,000. This amount is for simple machinery and supplies. As opposed to bigger outlets that require a commercial oven alone selling at Sh400,000, this is an affordable price. Make a list of all the necessary equipment you need including pans and mixing equipment to have an estimate of the total amount.

Buy in bulk

When it comes to buying all the required raw materials like flour and sugar, make sure you buy in bulk. As opposed to stores, wholesale shops sell products at cheaper prices. If possible, ask your preferred wholesaler to give you a quotation so you know how much to budget for.

Registration and Licences

You don’t have to make this official immediately you begin. However, as you grow, think about registering and acquiring all the necessary licences. Make sure your business has a name and register it. Here is a simple way to do this:

Go to any Huduma Center near you and do a name search for your home business. This should cost you at least Sh100.

Register the name that passed and collect your certificate after one week. Registration should cost approximately Sh850.

You need a business permit from your county and a 6-month food handling certificate that costs Sh1000. Other documents you need to have include a 1-year food hygiene certificate at a cost of Sh300 and a Sh3,000 fire safety certificate. Visit your City Council Office to find out all the licences and permits your business requires.

Don’t strain too much because you don’t need a lot of space and commercial machinery to start a home-baking business. Shop for the simplest things to start and get everything else as you grow.

You don’t need unique recipes

There is competition and many SAHMs are embracing home-baking as a way to generate income while at home. This does not mean however that you need original products to have a unique recipe. Jazz up the basics and be creative with your ingredients to stand out from the competition. The secret is to maintain a consistent recipe. Try out the recipes, taste-test them and record the results once you have the desired results. Keep them standard if you want consistency throughout your menu.

You don’t need a client list but marketing is important

Sell your products to family and friends. Bake a cake for family functions or charitable events. These referrals will help you grow your business. Get a website and sell your services. You can also connect with potential customers via Facebook or Twitter. Keep your customers updated about new products and once in a while throw in special offers.

#2. Crochet Shaggy Mat

Making and selling shaggy mat is also a good way to earn some decent cash at home. The best thing about mat making is that you do not require a lot of money to start. You can start small and build a team with time when you start to handle bulk orders. To have a great final product, you need to acquire some practical skills. Find a mentor and get trained. Mat making training takes approximately 5 days and the charges can range anywhere from Sh1500 – Sh3000. If you can self-train, here is a video to guide you through the process.

Get all the materials you need

Buying your own materials reduces training charges. You need the right tools to startup so be sure to buy everything you need for your home-based mat making business. The good news is, you can get these materials locally at affordable prices. For a meter of a shaggy mat, you need:

  1. A crochet Sh.100
  2. Scissors Sh200
  3. Maker Pen Sh.200
  4. 25 Ball of Wool at Sh80 each
  5. Tapestry at Sh450 per meter.

If you are looking for the best rates, visit Biashara Street in Nairobi. Just like any other business, you need to have a good marketing plan to sell your mats. Have a few samples that you can show to potential buyers when you approach them. It takes at least 5 days to complete a 1-meter rag which you can sell at Sh7,000.

#3. Making Jewelry

Jewelry making is a competitive low-cost business that you can start from home. You don’t need connections or overhead costs to start this business. Even though the business is lucrative and competitive, it is very profitable if you know how to market your products.

You do not need any training to make jewelry but basic knowledge is important if you want to make great products that stand out. Stories from successful jewelry makers should be enough motivation to start out. With as low as Sh1000, you can buy all the necessary tools to make your first batch of jewelry to sell.

Making jewelry out of bones is the cheapest way to start out as a home-based jewelry maker. Collect bones from butcheries and train yourself how to carve necklaces and beautiful bracelets. Kenyan love art and trying new things especially when it’s about fashion.

#4. Photography

Photography pays and it pays very well. If you have a passion for it, then you need to start a photography business in Kenya. One of the best thing about photography is that is is always in high demand on holidays or during weekends.

But you can’t do everything

To grow as a photographer, you need to choose a specialization. Just like other fields, photography is very demanding and requires focus aside from the necessary skills and knowledge. You can shoot landscapes, weddings, nature or architecture. Professional photographers know they cannot be experts in all fields so generalization will not serve your clients well.

Buy the right equipment

Before rushing out to buy any model on the market, think about the camera and lenses that suits your area of specialization. A good model that delivers professional results;

  • Has the manual mode that lets you take total control over the exposure of an image
  • Offers ISO 1600+
  • Has a huge number of megapixels (not necessarily important though)
  • Is ergonomically designed so it feels comfortable in your hands

I love the Canon EOS 1300D because it is perfect for beginners working on a tight budget. It is easy to use, has eye-catching features and delivers solid image quality at an affordable cost. While it does not allow touchscreen control, this entry-level DSLR boasts high resolution screen, WiFi and NFC connectivity.

For convenience and the best experience, you will need:

  1. Computer
  2. Camera accessories like a tripod
  3. Different lenses
  4. Extra batteries
  5. Flash
  6. Latest photo editing software

Look at other photographers prices and fix up your rates to make them reasonable and competitive.

Have an attractive portfolio

Clients want to see proof of your talent and professionalism. Having a great portfolio will help you land new assignments especially if it is targeted to your particular audience. Have a website and create a social media profile to promote your services.

#5. Catering

It’s easy to put your cooking skills to good use if you are thinking of starting a small business. Catering is another business idea you can start from home will very little capital. It is all about providing food or cooking services at a strategic place like hotels, weddings and parties depending on the contract. It doesn’t mean that you have to provide lunch for 200 business people at a cooperate event. You can start small with parties for 30 or dinners for 10.

Kenyans have embraced the call-in caterers phenomenon. Unlike the normal practice where you have to cook for your guests, people now invite trained/self-taught caterers to cook at their homes for a small fee. Many people prefer professional cooking to having neighbors or relatives prepare meals for their small parties. If you believe in your cooking skills, then this is a work-at-home business that I highly recommend. If you’ve made up your mind about starting a catering business, then here are a few things you need to know.

Just like any other business, offering catering services to clients requires passion. You need to love what you do to reap the profits.

Have the necessary qualifications

One thing that sets you apart from other caterers in the industry is certification. Having a profitable catering bushiness means that you need to be an exceptional chef with strict hygienic standards. The best way to build up your knowledge is to attend a catering school. There is also the advantage of acquiring a certificate which adds a feather to your cap.

Develop entrepreneurial skills

If you truly want to succeed as a work-at-home caterer, you need to develop your entrepreneurial skills. Some skills that you’ll need to polish include:

  • Self-confidence
  • Persuasion and negotiation skills
  • Marketing skill
  • Sales skill
  • People management skill
  • Accounting e.t.c

What type of catering service do you want to offer? Find your niche

As usual, you cannot be an expert in everything. Think about the type of catering services you want to offer to best meet the needs of your customers. Do you want to be an indoor or outdoor caterer? Will you serve hotels, specific companies or fast foods? Your decision will either break or make your business. You may choose to cater for:

  • Special events
  • Social events
  • Community affairs
  • Cooperates

Find a niche that the competition has overlooked or settle with one that you feel you can excel at. As a small home-based caterer, you may not have the capacity to cater a large wedding of more that 100 guests, but you could cater wedding showers. You can also offer your services during engagement parties or bachelorette parties comfortably.

What will you cook?

Another important thing you must decide on before you start your business is the type of food you want to cook. Making this decision also helps you determine the course you will take in catering school or the clients to serve.You can specialize on:

  • Local dishes
  • African dishes
  • Continental dishes
  • Intercontinental dishes

Create a menu

Having a menu is important because it is one of the first things your clients will ask for before you begin the negotiations. Think about different items to match different tastes or demands even if you specialize in one type of meal. Your menu should have foods you are comfortable cooking with ingredients that you can source locally. You may want to consider offering vegan meals for clients who don’t eat meat. The bottom line is, base your menu on your specialties and what your target market wants.

Pricing

Pricing is always a challenge but make sure you price the items well so that you stay competitive while making a profit. You can determine your charges depending on:

Where you live

The cost of the ingredients

The time you take to prepare a dish

The profit margin you want to achieve

Research and find out how other caterers charge so that you don’t over-price or under-price.

Collect honest opinions

Now that you have a menu, organize a small scale party with a few friends and family and have them test-taste your dishes. Ask for honest feedback on the services and the food. If there are areas you need to improve, keep adjusting until you get positive feedback.

Establish the business

Create a business plan that covers all the extra investment you’ll need to get started and the first 3 months of both revenues and expenses. Collect all the required licences from the county you live including a business license, a food handler’s license and approval from the health department after inspecting your kitchen.

Buy the necessary equipment

The equipment you use depends on the service you offer and the size of your catering outfit. At a minimum though, you need serving utensils and platters. Have the right items to keep food hot or cold. You also need linens, napkins and table decorations. For outdoor events, you can also offer tent canopies. Invest in a means of transport like a van so it is easy and fast to transport food to different locations. Because you are working from home, you can rent catering equipment and a van as you start out.

Other items you need include:

  1. Food storage containers
  2. Blender
  3. Freezer
  4. Mixers
  5. Microwave
  6. Rolling carts
  7. Coolers
  8. Oven e.t.c

One last tip

Always dress professionally and don’t forget to carry and extra apron or shirt in case of messes.

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