Old home-based business ideas that now seem quaint and some home businesses that never die

Kitten Office
Kitten Office (Photo credits: Giphy)

I was looking through lists of home-based business ideas from some years back and found some that with the passing of time seem quaint. These businesses may once have had an appeal but are now definitely out of fashion.

One such business was a disco operator. The idea was to provide music at weddings and holiday resorts by renting turntables, flashing lights and amplifiers with a large variety of old and new records, transporting them in a van or Combi to venues. Though the disco operator has become extinct, the DJ became the modern replacement and is popular at venues throughout the country.

Another small business idea that came out of yesteryear was the bunny gram. This small business involved three women with good singing voices taking along a guitar and singing a song requested by the customer and being presented with chocolates, champagne, a teddy bear and a gift voucher for a restaurant popular at the time.

The dial-a-menu home-based business gives away its vintage merely by the name. The business involved coming up with a list of dinner menus for every day of the year, charging members a fee for using the service. They would have to quote their membership number or code before giving out a daily meal idea. These days they are so many free recipes about that this idea seems ludicrous. All you have to do is type your specific recipe into a Google search and the recipe is instantly at your fingertips. Many of the supermarket chains and food manufacturers provide recipes for free.

Home-based businesses change rapidly as consumer tastes change. Yet there are some home-based businesses that never seem to go out of fashion and just keep on growing. Think of the second-hand goods sellers that originally started from home but now there are nation-wide chain stores that sell second-hand goods. Garden planning and new layouts are ever popular with the increase in cluster homes, townhouses, standalone homes and the many small and large office complexes. One business that never seems to go out of fashion is carpet cleaning. Who likes to clean their carpets? Carpet cleaning is still a reliable source of income for solopreneurs or small businesses, cleaning homes and offices.

Some home-based business ideas that were published on the list some decades back have still not taken off but as needs change they could be worth looking into again. One is a space saving specialist. The idea was to go into homes and analyse where storage space could be better used. In our consumer-driven society with demand for more and more furniture, appliances, electronic equipment and exercise equipment, the average garage fills up so quickly these days that many homeowners are desperate for extra space. While there hasn’t been any visible growth in space-saving specialists, there has been huge demand for the use of storage companies where you can hire out a garage and store your extra goods for a monthly rental. Yet why go to all this expense when the space-saving specialist could help you better use your existing space and assist with selling unwanted or not-in-use furniture and equipment.

These lists of ready-made home-based business ideas that you see in the small business income opportunity magazines and books make for interesting reading but are actually nothing more than a list of potential ideas or idea joggers. The best way to go about finding a home-based business idea is to spend some time thinking about what you enjoy doing. Find out for yourself using your own inner resources whether your passion could be transformed into a business idea. This might sound a bit abstract so I’ll give an example. One person I know has an enormous passion for animals, especially cats and dogs, and has decided to explore the possibility of starting a home-based doggy parlour. She will be supported by a cousin who runs an existing such business in another city.

Some sceptics scoff at the idea that when you follow your passion the money will follow. They believe that this is just naive and wishful thinking. This may well be very true for those who sit around criticising and never do anything themselves. For those who are prepared to deal with the fun and excitement of starting something new as well as the fear of the unknown and unexpected, coming up with your own ideas and expanding them beyond what is already offered on the market, could prove profitable. But before you do, look around and see which business ideas are perennial winners and which go out of fashion quickly.

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