Low-Cost Business Ideas You Can Start from Home(PART 3)

#1. Day Care

Things were easier for working families in the past. Hiring a house-help was cheap, all you had to do was make a phone call, and a relative would send you a young house-help from the rural area. Such was the norm for many families, but things have changed today. If you’ve been following the news, house-helps have become very expensive because of the recently enacted law. Many parents are now shifting to daycare centers because of this. Don’t even get me started with rouge house-helps who abuse and even kidnap kids.

For the business-minded Stay-at-home mommy, this is a potential investment you can’t overlook if you live in an estate where there are many working parents with little ones. Why is it on my list? Well, unlike other business opportunities that require huge capital, starting a child daycare business costs next to nothing. Besides, all you need is a special liking for children and basic knowledge on early childhood development.

So I recently purchased a child daycare business plan prepared by Crack a Business Kenya because I wanted to understand more before I put my first foot forward. I must say there’s a lot to keep in mind before moving forward. Most families within Nairobi and its environs are desperately looking for the best daycare centers to take their children. Don’t trust my word? Go to Google and start typing ‘Daycare Centres.’ Look at the alternative keywords that people use to search the same information, and you’ll be amazed at how people are searching for daycare centers near them.

Starting out

Fortunately, you don’t have to lease a house to start out. You can operate a daycare business from your home, but you need to get legal approval on whether or not your home is suitable for operating as a daycare facility.

Registration

You need to think about getting the necessary licenses and insurance. Important licenses that you need to look for include:

  • Single business permit – from Sh4,000 to Sh15,000
  • Public health license – Sh3,000
  • Individual health certificate – Sh1,500
  • Education license (optional) – Sh9,000

Visit your county office to get all the information on licensing. You also need to think about purchasing a liability insurance cover to protect your house and the children.

Prepare your home and buy the right equipment

Hopefully, you have the phone number of an affordable carpenter and painter who can convert your house into a child-friendly environment. The carpenter can also help you make affordable equipment that you need to have.

Here is a list of commonly-used equipment in daycare facilities. Note that the prices depend on size and quality, so you don’t have to stick to my budget.

  • Mattresses – Sh4,000
  • Tables – Sh1000
  • Chairs – Sh500
  • Toys – from Sh50
  • Potties – Sh200
  • Assorted items like drawing books, charts and stickers
  • TV
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Utensils

You can buy these items from supermarkets or shops along Biashara street. Other places to consider are Kamukunji for plastic items and toys or Second-hand dealers in Gikomba.

Marketing

You need trust from parents so that they can entrust you with their kids. The best way to build a clientele base is through referrals. Network with parents and invest in business cards. Social media is also another great way to market your business, but you can always do this later on as you grow.

Additional staff

Your workload as you begin may not be a lot, but with time, you’ll need to hire additional staff to help you with the growing number of children. Make sure you do thorough background checks on applicants and let them produce relevant identification documents including a certificate of good conduct. The smaller the team, the better for your business, but make sure you compensate them well. You may need to hire:

  • ECD tutors
  • Cooks
  • Security personnel
  • Cleaners

Pricing

There is no clear formula for this. Before setting a price for your business though, check:

  • The competition
  • How much the parents are willing to pay per month
  • The quality of your facility and branding
  • The income level of residents in the area

Lower end daycares charge between Sh50 to Sh200 a day depending on the location. This is because most of these daycares are within low-mid level income estates and they tend to have basic facilities. There is less emphasis on aesthetics as long as the children feed and have someone to keep an eye on them.

Mid-level daycares charge between Sh200 to Sh500 while High-end daycares operating in places like Lavington and Nyari can charge up to a maximum of Sh2000 per day for their services. These daycares tend to provide extra services including insurance covers and on-call vehicles in case children fall sick.

Record keeping

Keep records of transactions and contacts of parents. You also need to have an exclusive business line where parents can call to check on their little ones.

#2. Hair Salon

A hair salon business can be a step in the right direction if you enjoy styling hair and performing manicures. It is the best home-based business to start on a low budget. You can start small with friends and family, build a clientele base and grow slowly as word about your excellent skills spreads.

A salon is a sensitive business venture because you will be dealing with products made from chemicals. You need formal training to be able to understand these products and how they react to different hair types.

Starting out

For a home salon, you need basic equipment like a blow dryer, combs, and styling products which can set you back approximately Sh21,000. If you are working on a tight budget, you may want to invest in services that are not equipment-intensive like plaiting.

Your equipment list can have things like:

  • Water heater – Sh3,000
  • Towels – Sh1,000
  • Flatiron – Sh3,000
  • Blow dryer – Sh2,000
  • Hair Dryer – 12,000

You can shop for these items in Supermarkets or Best Lady shops in town. Alternatively, you can shop online on sites like OLX if you want to reduce costs.

Do a good job and use the first few months to build a name for yourself. With time, you will be able to expand the business, rent a shop and hire more workers whom you can pay on commission.

Profit

A home-based salon can earn you around Sh.16,000 per month. This is enough income to help you budget and expand your business.

#3. Event Planning

Organizing events like weddings or corporate parties can be daunting. Instead of doing everything alone, many people hire event planners to help them. Event planning is a good income opportunity if you have the skills and passion. Event planning requires little capital to start, but you need to be comfortable in dealing with different people.

Start small

Most event planning businesses start from home enabling the mompreneur to save on overhead costs. When you start out, all you need is a laptop, internet connection, a mobile phone and a network of suppliers. With proper research, you can do so much with these tools. Eventually, you will be able to expand your business, but you need to be patient because this takes time.

Marketing

You can either choose to focus on the private market or the corporate market. The private market involves planning small weddings, reunion parties or family events. The Corporate market involves planning stakeholders’ meetings and trade shows.

Locate good suppliers

If you are working on a tight budget, you can negotiate with freelance suppliers who charge affordable prices for their services.

As an event  planner, you need to:

Possess good work ethics

Be flexible

Have great leadership skills

How do you start an event planning business with no clients?

Start using your contacts and email people you know. Your first job, no matter how small, is likely to be someone you know. If you do a good job, your skills will undoubtedly sell themselves, and the word will spread. Ask your contacts to recommend you.

#4. Laundry business

Many Kenyans are busy with their daily hassles that they don’t have enough time to clean dirty clothes at home. As a stay-at-home mom, you can start a laundry business and earn some good cash. This is a very lucrative business that is very profitable especially in mid-class estates and the leafy suburbs of Nairobi.

Starting out

You can wash your clients’ clothes manually or use a washing machine. This depends on whether you have enough capital to start out or not.

To start a laundry service business as a small home-based venture, you need a basic front-loading machine will get the job done. Buying a brand new machine that can handle 7kgs laundry load costs approximately Sh50,000. Aside from this machine, you need:

  • An iron box
  • A dryer
  • An ironing board
  • folding board
  • Detergents

You can buy these items at your local supermarket.

Standing out

As a home-based business, you need to stand out from the competition to penetrate the already growing market. You can offer door-to-door pickups for your busy clients or any other strategy you have up your sleeve to draw in and maintain customers. You can capitalize on social media to market your business or use word of mouth to get the word out.

As you grow, think about renting a room so you can have a small reception office and a large work area. Don’t forget to register as a single business entity.

#5. Cleaning Services

Yes, moms, there is money in this business – good money. Just like laundry, many people barely have enough time to clean their houses. They prefer outsourcing work to professional cleaners who can do an excellent job within the stipulated time. Aside from households, organizations like hotels, offices, and schools are willing to pay for professional work provided the job is done as per expectation. I love the cleaning business because it is very flexible. You can run it right at your home, but once you have a large client base, you may want to set up a commercial office in a suitable and accessible place.

What’s your area of specialization?

You can either choose to specialize in residential cleaning or commercial cleaning. Commercial cleaning is quite lucrative, but if you land a lot of household deals, that’s great!

Services

If you are sure this is the type of business you want to start, here is a list of what your clients expect you to do:

  • Washing floors
  • Cleaning the washrooms
  • Cleaning windows and doors
  • Emptying the trash cans
  • Arranging the office

Depending on the clients’ needs, you can render these services at least twice a week, over the weekend or in the evening.

Here is a list of items you need to have when starting out

  • Carpet cleaner
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Bucket
  • Mop
  • Toilet brush
  • Spray bottle
  • Cleaning agents
  • Squeegees
  • Gloves and masks

Becuase you are starting out, you can rent some of the expensive equipment like the carpet cleaner and vacuum cleaner.

Marketing

There is demand for these basic services, no wonder I put it under the ‘Necessary Services’ category. However, you need to be patient and honest to thrive in the cleaning business. Ask your friends or family members for referrals. Facebook Ads are powerful and very affordable.

Pricing

Pricing depends on several factors including the market prices, the type of service you offer and the nature of the work. Before setting a standard rate, you need to make sure that the price you charge can cover your expenses while still giving you a good profit in the end.

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.