Low Risk Businesses To Start From Home

work from homeStart An Online Business Free?

  • Starting an online business because you want to retire early and rich?
  • Or because you retired too early and you're cash-strapped?

Whatever your reason for wanting to start an online business, do you get tempting sounding emails promising low risk businesses to start from home? Promising that you can start for free, for no effort, and the cash will roll in.

Wow – sounds a dream.

Which is precisely what it is – a dream fantasy. A minute's analysis will dispel the myth. Because for profit to be generated, money must come from somewhere. If you want to build an online business, you must expect there to be costs involved.

OK, strictly speaking I know there are sites where you can build an income doing micro-tasks, but I wouldn't like to guess how long it takes. I was thinking of “SixFigureIncome”, but I can't actually find it any more – if anyone is a happy member, please feel free to share your experiences in the comments.

The idea that you can “start a free business online” is flawed, and therefore risky. I am firmly of the opinion that for any business to be profitable you need to spend a little bit of money to work smart instead of hard.

Low Risk Businesses To Start From Home

Of course when you decide to start a business, to make money online, the last thing you want to do is SPEND more money than you make. The idea is to make a profit, and – given your need to make money – it's fairly likely that you're not wanting to put any significant sums of money at risk – especially on a repeat basis.

Putting this in the context of buying a retail shop (quoted only because this is my family business background), youLow Risk Businesses To Start From Home might buy a shop and outlay some money to put stock into it.

So far so good and no more than you'd expect to do.

But if at the end of the month you hadn't sold your original stock, it would seem rather risky to go out and buy MORE stock, hoping that next month you will sell both sets of stock.

So when choosing a full-time or part-time business, you should only risk money you can afford to lose in the worst case.

Never put at risk money you need for food or accomodation. Instead, fund your business venture by cutting back on luxuries such as nights out. And don't commit yourself to regular costs where you “lose everything” if things don't work out as planned and you have to put the business on hold temporarily.

That's a simplistic approach to managing the risks of a home based business.

Of course, those of us who work from home are lucky, because we reduce our risks (costs) by having no additional premises to fund. We reduce travel costs, and we can reduce start-up risks by starting a business part-time while continuing any additional job or business.

So let's look briefly at some low risk / low cost businesses you can start part-time or full-time.

Freelance Sites

If you have a particular skill you can market (e.g. copy-writing, web-design, proof-reading) there are many reputable freelance sites where you can register for work. Here are just a few – in no particular order:

Even if you have no particular skill, I encourage you to register on these sites and look at the tasks being offered. They range from $1,000+ jobs so complicated I don't know what's being requested, right down to $5 bit parts in videos where someone is needed to say just a few words.insults

Fiverr in particular is noted for outlandish requests!

In the “Fun and Bizarre” sectron, there are ladies who will “Pop 12 inch balloons” for you, and also those who will “Chat to you on any subject”. There's even people you can insult, or be insulted by, for specific time periods. Weird.

warning-px_250Please note – I am suggesting places where you can find work. I am NOT recommending certain services – especially the “chatting” ones, or those where you can buy Facbook Likes, Twitter Followers, etc.

Some people have discovered, to their cost, that certain purchased Likes / Followers are fake.

The secret to success with freelance sites like these is to start by offering your services inexpensively, build yourself a good reputation, and you can then charge for add-ons as your repeat customer base expands.

Of course the main income limitation of sites like these is that you are still selling your time by the hour or minute. If you are unable to work for any reason (good, e.g. holiday, or bad e.g. illness), your income stops too. You may be wiser to build a low risk business that can carry on generating income even when you're not physically working at it yourself.

family timeThe previous paragraph is one of the main reasons I began to look for an online business to supplement my poor pension provisions.

As well as an extra income, I wanted more free time. You'll see why on the right, as my visiting Dad settles down to a serious game of Bingo with the younger members of the family.

Here are the two low risk business types I am building – two, because the first business is equipping me with skills that I need to build the second.

Product Production vs Affiliate Marketing

Many Internet Marketing coaches recommend that you produce your own digital products and market them.

Having tried this a few times (oops), I consider producing your own product a high risk strategy, because you need to learn so many skills to get started, but have no guarantee of sales.

On each occasion I produced and marketed my own digital product I never even recovered my costs – let alone making a profit 🙁

I prefer affiliate marketing where you choose from a vast range of ready-made products, and just learn the skills necessary to market them.

This earlier post gives a more detail comparison between affiliate marketing vs producing your own product.

Low Risk Businesses To Start From Home

There is no guarantee of sales in Affiliate Marketing, but at least you won't have risked time and money developing a product, and any marketing skills you will have learned are transferable to any other digital product, or any other online business.

The ready-made affiliate product I recommend and use in my business is a Content Marketing Service (affiliate link)

Using this service I save time and expense but benefit from top quality content written by professional marketers.  The cost is low, there's no long-term commitment, and the skills you learn from the contents will help you to earn in any business venture. With their affiliate program you can earn as you learn.

That's a good example of the affiliate marketing business model.

I need a genuinely part-time business I can “pick up and put down” as time permits. Something with the “admin and technical stuff” ready done for me – such as product deliveries, money handling, sales sites / videos. Affiliate marketing satisfies these criteria.

So, are there other types of low risk businesses to start from home?

Certainly! There's Network Marketing.

But Isn't Network Marketing Risky?

Another style of business said to be low risk is network marketing (multi-level-marketing aka MLM), where – for a low cost start – you receive a ready-made business with none of the traditional overheads (premises, stock, etc). All you are required to do is market a company's products to your own extended network of contacts.

It's low risk because everyone starts on a level playing field with everyone else, and you make of it what you can.

make money onlineNetwork marketing has the advantage that it can be undertaken offline or online, so you can either learn Internet Marketing – or you can make your sales face-to-face.

But be under no illusion – with traditional network marketing you will be expected to make sales. Where else will profits come from?

Because the start-up cost is low, the financial risk is low – but that can be a danger in itself, because with a low start-up cost you may be tempted to give up easily when the going gets tough – so the drop-out rate is high for all recruits.

Why Do Distributors Quit MLM?

Unfortunately MLM has a reputation for failure due to a high drop-out rate and the constant need to replace distributors who quit.

Often it turns out NOT to be the “easy option” that the “leaders” would have you believe, and some less enlightened “salesy types” still expect you to apply the 3-foot rule (tell everyone within 3-feet of you about your products.)

What fun – NOT!

Other downsides of some plans are:

  • You must make regularly monthly purchases – whether you need products or not
  • You may need to meet high sales targets
  • You may be encouraged to give away trial samples – often quite high value, so an expensive tactic
  • After attaining a particular qualification level you can still be demoted if you are inactive for a while

Is There A Better Part-time Business Model?

I'm still working full-time to “supplement” failed pension planning. It's too late to do anything about my pension, but it's not too late to have a business that I can build part-time so that it will eventually replace or supplement my current full-time income.

My life is already full even without the extra involvement of a part-time business, so I don't want the hassle of admin, spending money on products I already have, the need to meet sales targets plus the spectre of demotion.

Also, any product I promote needs to be something customers want to continue using month after month, rather than switch over to something cheaper as soon as the initial euphoria is over, which is what has happened to me in the past.

So far that reason, network marketing – as ethical as it might be in its legitimate form – is not for me.

Business Risk Warnings

With most businesses (online or offline), if you do nothing, you earn nothing. However hard you may protest, that seems fair to me.

So with most of the businesses I have mentioned above – all things being equal –  your rewards will be in some proportion to your efforts.

However, when you are using an essential service as the product of the network marketing company, or as affiliate marketing product, it doesn't matter if you earn or not – you have the benefit of the service you are paying for.

Also – remember that as a self-employed business owner you are responsible for paying the taxes and complying with all legislation in your country. Don't spend everything you earn. It's not a pay-packet like you would receive with a regular job. Set aside enough money to pay your taxes. You may be wise to employ the services of an accountant if your business takes off!


Above you have seen a variety of low risk businesses to start from home. What do you think about each of these models? How do they compare to what YOU are doing – with particular reference to cost and input of time?

Perhaps you're not really looking for a ‘proper' business to run – it's all sounding like hassle?

Perhaps you just need an extra side-income and/or a way to build up a retirement income?

In which case do check this Private Members Share Club.

Joy Healey

I left it too late to plan for a financially secure retirement. Don't make my mistake. Start building an extra income with a part-time (or full-time) business online. Think you don't have time? Can't afford the start-up cost? Can't meet sales targets? Contact me for free advice (no obligation) on the best fit for your circumstances. Exciting retirement business opportunities here.

Edward Thorpe - April 18, 2016

Hi Joy,

Thanks for the lovely ‘Bingo’ picture. Looks like Dad is about to B I N G O!

This post is a smart review of the advantages – and pitfalls – of low start-up business ventures. Having been successful, and having spectacular failure, with these business models, I can appreciate your candidness with this post.

Good post with savvy observations. Continued success with your ‘After Dark Retirement Business’…

    Joy Healey - April 18, 2016

    Hi Edward,

    Haha – that picture was taken in the calm few minutes before one of the younger players accidentally knocked someone else’s board and all hell broke loose, so I don’t remember if there actually was a winner. But it was a happy few minutes in the middle of a very happy day.

    I’d been worried that the large number of small visitors would “stress out” my Dad, but they formed a fairly orderly queue for cuddles – and “brown pieces of paper” that were handed over to vigilant parents to be redirected into savings accounts.

    Sadly he’s back home now, but the visit was most enjoyable. My turn to go to visit him at the seaside next! That’ll be after my eagerly anticipated New York trip later in the year (date still to be arranged).

    I guess you, like me, have learned from the school of hard knocks the pros and cons of low cost start-up businesses. It’s taken me a long time to work through the problems of different models and come up with this winning combination. I’ll be delighted if following my story helps anyone avoid the mistakes I made.

    Joy – Blogging After Dark

Donna Merrill - April 18, 2016

Hi Joy,

Because I have no retirement or pension coming in, I need to be working and investing all on my own to carry me through when I can no longer do anything. But who knows? I may be doing stuff until the end lol. I’ve always been self employed, so no pension for me.

You have eloquently explained so many business models and how they work. I know….I think I’ve tried them all lol. I could never “fit” into the MLM model…just not me.

However, I do sell my own products and coach and it has been great for the last two years. I also have some affiliate products thrown in the mix. The stream of income is more than I had expected, but it took some time to figure that all out!


    Joy Healey - April 18, 2016

    Hi Donna

    Although I’m lucky enough to get a state pension here in the UK, it would be a miserable existence if that was the only income I had to rely on.

    So, like you, I’m working and investing my time to build up an income to supplement my state pension (and a tiny private pension).
    I suspect both of us will be doing our stuff long beyond when we actually need to, because we enjoy it so much.

    I’ve tried all these business models too, unfortunately. Wish I had found this final combination first, but – being a stubborn so-and-so I had to learn the hard way, and as you say, it takes time to figure out the best combination for each one of us, we’re all different.

    For me, the biggest benefit of Premier Cashback is that once you have a starter position in the business you can leave it while you carry on with your main business. Personally promoting PCB is optional, the world-wide team builds for everyone (obviously this is a slower option).

    In fact it was during one of my “passive” phases that Premier Cashback suddenly exploded world-wide. Something running alongside my main offline business is just perfect for part-timers like me.

    I too tried many MLMs and got nowhere with them, so – yes, we all have to determine the best mix for our individual personalities. It’s great that you’ve got your business mix so well tuned, I know that takes some doing!

    Thanks for dropping by,

    Joy – Blogging After Dark

Robin Khokhar - April 18, 2016

Hi Joy,
Upwork and Fiverr are really a great way to start work from home but need lots of hard work. Although I enjoyed reading the post.
Thanks for share.

    Joy Healey - April 18, 2016

    Hi Robin

    Yes, I did try on Fiverr a while ago, and the amount of hard work required was one of the experiences that led me to my current mix as described above. Also the level of competition!

    With Fiverr and Upwork – excellent though they are – you’re still reliant solely on your own efforts, but with the other businesses I describe above, I have the pooled benefit of other people’s work and efforts. It’s transformed my online business.

    Joy – Blogging After Dark

Kim Willis - April 19, 2016

Hi Joy

Thanks for showing the Upwork/Fiverr option. Although it represents a ‘trading time for dollars’ scenario, it is an excellent option for people who have skills and want to create self-employed income NOW, not in 6 months time. The key to success with this option is to pick clients who have lots of backend upside potential – that’s where the real money is made.

Although – as you say – you don’t have ‘the pooled benefit of other people’s work,’ the flip side is that you don’t have the extra risk associated with building sales teams. In my experience sales teams are largely comprised of uncommitted and undisciplined people who will often not perform even the simplest tasks to build their business. (Trying to get them to do what we want them to do is a bit like herding cats!).

So, at the other end of the make money spectrum, we have the network marketing/recruitment programs. As you say, at least from a financial outlay point of view, the risks are usually small with the potential there to create leveraged income. For me, sustainability is the big issue. Most of these programs don’t last.

That said, I can see the plus points of your program, and it could be a viable option for entrepreneurial folk to investigate, and embrace.

Thanks very much for sharing these different options, Joy. Really helpful.


    Joy Healey - April 19, 2016

    Hi Kim,

    You’ve made some very good points above. Perhaps I didn’t give myself enough time to make money on Fiverr, I’m afraid I am rather impatient, and obviously there are some people on those sites making extremely good incomes.

    I had to smile at your image of salespeople and presumably network marketing teams being herded (or not) like cats. I know exactly what you mean. In my own previous programs most people have done precisely nothing and their earnings have been in relation to their effort.

    Thanks for adding these extra points to the discussion from your own experiences.

    Joy – Blogging After Dark

Chery Schmidt - April 19, 2016

Hello Joy, What a great post, I loved how you put this together for us. I also am happy to hear that your business is taking off. Congrats my friend, It does take a lot of hard work but in the end consistency pays off.

Keep up the good work..
Chery :))

    Joy Healey - April 20, 2016

    Thanks Chery. Glad you found it interesting.

    Joy – Blogging After Dark

ikechi - April 19, 2016

Hi Joy

You discuss a very important topic and I love your ideas about online marketing.

You know you are right about the traditional marketing i.e MLM. It takes a lot of work and it can be dangerous if you don’t know what you are doing. This kind of business model needs excellent leadership and I have seen MLM start strong and fail because the members jumped to another MLM business.

Premier cash back looks interesting. Thanks for sharing. Take Care

    Joy Healey - April 20, 2016

    Hi Ikechi,

    It’s very sad when people start off well with a networking business and then move on to the next “bright shiny object” before the first one has had chance to achieve its full potential. Often, the second one doesn’t deliver any better than the first would have done if the team had applied a bit more persistence.

    Joy – Blogging After Dark

James McAllister - April 19, 2016

Hi Joy!

My first web business was started with a domain name and $10 a month for web hosting, and what it’s transformed into is beyond anything I could have imagined.

Like Donna I will never have any sort of pension and I do plan on retiring long before I’m eligible for Social Security, if that’s still around 45 years from now. My goal though is pretty simple – have enough in investment accounts to live off of forever.

Of course as I approach that number I’m going to begin transitioning to more passive sources of income and coming up with some sort of exit strategy. I’m sure I’ll likely never stop blogging completely, but the long work days aren’t sustainable for me forever, and it will likely become just a hobby with other people handling most of the business work. I’ve placed more emphasis in recent months on reducing the time input required from me to grow. Right now, that time is going into growing other areas of the business. Later, that time will be spent doing personal things (I hope!)

When you look at the low risk options available it really shows you that there isn’t much of an excuse not to start a business today. Anybody from anywhere around the world can do it with just an internet connection and a computer. It amazes me.

    Joy Healey - April 20, 2016

    Hi James,

    Well, you’re just the perfect example to demonstrate the point of my article.

    There are so many different models available for getting started online with as little as a monthly hosting fee plus domain. Hopefully these are affordable even in countries where monthly incomes are way below what I’m lucky enough to enjoy. Of course the magic ingredients that most people miss out, and that you added, are intelligence and diligence and prudence.

    Investing part of your earnings (a) back into your business and (b) into investment funds for later life show common sense beyond what most people are prepared to apply to their business.

    It’s not easy, as we both know, but with a good, forward looking plan such as you outline above, it can definitely be done.

    I too am ready to try and shorten my working days, so I’m keen to explore ways for automation and out-sourcing (although I have to confess I’m a bit of a control freak and would need to be very reassured who I would out-source to!)

    Joy – Blogging After Dark

Adriana Refaeli - April 20, 2016

The ideas are great! i love them! I have been thinking of setting up a business myself, focusing on pets…These are very useful considerations! Can you give an estimate as to how much would be the capital I need to start my pet business?

    Joy Healey - April 20, 2016

    Hi Adriana,

    A pet business is quite a change from your main business! Sounds like an interesting venture.

    Without knowing far more about your plans it’s difficult to estimate your costs. To be honest you probably need a business coach.

    Joy – Blogging After Dark

Shantanu Sinha - April 22, 2016

Hey Joy,
Hope you are doing great 🙂

This is something very useful things you just brought in front of us.
Indeed we can start up the business just by sitting at our homes. But this might be a risky thing to do.
Many people lose out in the middle and all their things and money are gone.

Hard work is needed to get success because the market is very tough indeed.
Upwork and Fiverr are some really good insights to have here.
Lovely family pictures of yours. 🙂

Thanks for sharing this among us.
Have a great week ahead.
Keep Writing.

Shantanu sinha

    Joy Healey - April 22, 2016

    Hi Shantanu,

    All of life is risky – not just business. It always strikes me that putting your faith in an employer is very risky too, because they can fire you at any time and you’d have nothing to fall back on. At least starting an online business alongside a job someone would have something to fall back on.

    I would NEVER recommend anyone to risk more than they can afford to lose. You’ll see elsewhere in the comments that James started what has now turned into a very big online business with $10 a month plus hard work. Anyone who can’t divert that from non-essential spending is probably best not to start an online business.

    Of course they could use Upwork or Fiverr to generate that start-up $10.

    Glad you like the family photos and thanks for your visit,

    Joy – Blogging After Dark

Peter - April 24, 2016

Launch a new business while your still in school or working another job. This is the ultimate way to get ahead of the game. If you’re still in college when you start a business, it won’t hurt you for the business not to be profitable at first because you were already a poor college student. Launching a business while working another job is the best to ensure that your business will be successful. You will need to put in a 14 hour day of work at your current job and workng on the business, but you will substantially lower the amount of risk in your life. Think about all of the business failures you’ve listened to your friends and co-workers talk about. Why do you think they failed? They probably failed in the first 6 to 18 months, because they tried to start big when they weren’t big. I can’t start a retail chain to compete with Wal-Mart just by opening up 500 mega stores and borrowing a billion dollars. It would fall flat on it’s butt, because I haven’t established any brand recognition or marketing reputation. Why should people just start going to my store when they already KNOW they can get what they want for cheap at Wal-Mart.

    Joy Healey - April 26, 2016

    Hi Peter,

    You’re certainly right about the need to put in many hours to make ANY business work – offline or online, and you need to give it time too.

    If invested their life savings in a corner shop they wouldn’t pack it up a few weeks later because it “didn’t work”. Just because an online business can be started up at such little cost people can quit too soon.

    Joy – Blogging After Dark

Mandy Allen - April 26, 2016

I’ve listed on Fiverr for a few years but never had great returns. It’s a steady income but not a high income. I guess I have to remember, many streams make a river. Glad you’ve found something that works well for you though!

Enjoy the journey!

    Joy Healey - April 26, 2016

    Hi Mandy,

    My experience of listing my services on Fiverr was that I got nothing – so if you earn anything you’re doing better than I did. But clearly some people do very well out of it, and I guess I maybe didn’t put enough effort into my offer.

    But that’s a good point about many streams making a river – I like that!

    Thanks for sharing your experience of listing on Fiverr.

    Joy – Blogging After Dark

Patrick - April 28, 2016

Hi Joy,

I am new to this kind of business plans.But thinking of it to start.I found this article about Fiverr helps me.Thanks for sharing.

    Joy Healey - April 28, 2016

    Hi Patrick,

    Pleased to have helped you discover something new.

    Joy – Blogging After Dark

sazia kazia - April 29, 2016

Hi Joy Healey mam, Great ideas about work from home. Yes there is a risk if we start any business out side and we need to spend a lot. But work from home don’t have that much risk. But here as well we have to do hard work to get success. All points are valid and beneficial to all. thanks for sharing. 🙂

    Joy Healey - April 29, 2016

    Hi Sazia,

    Yes, I agree with you.

    Opening a home based business (done correctly) should be much lower risk financially but both require hard work.

    You may be more in control with an Internet based business where the world is your market-place than retail outlet on the local High Street where you are to some extent restricted as to who passes your shop door. That seems a very risky business to me!

    Joy – Blogging After Dark

Emmanuel - May 5, 2016

Hello Madam Joy,

Obviously this post really caught my attention as soon as I got here. Every wants to work from home but the question which comes in my mind is this; how many are willing to take that risk? Thank God it’s low risk here but one needs not forget the fact that time and patience are what are needed for any business to strive be it freelancing or whatever.

    Joy Healey - May 8, 2016

    Hi Emmanuel,

    I will never minimise the fact that hard work and persistence are needed to be successful online. The good thing is that because the cost is low, you can take your time and run any of these businesses alongside your existing commitments. So no need to take risks.

    Joy – Blogging After Dark

Santanu Debnath - May 15, 2017

There are various ways one can set up home business from home. Blogging & internet marketing is a very good way to start your own business with almost a negligible investment and risk. Thank you for your hard work and sharing this article.

    Joy Healey - May 18, 2017

    Hi Santanu,
    You are right, there are many ways to start a home business online. As many people are looking to make extra money, it’s important to keep the risk and investment at a minimum.
    Thanks for visiting.
    Joy – Blogging After Dark

aadhar - October 6, 2018

NIce article, my suggestion is Internet marketing..
Because it is easy and with low risk…

Comments are closed