7 Businesses You Can Really Start at Home

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Today's fast paced, technologically savvy world allows for countless at-home career opportunities. From a creative calling like painting, writing or illustrating to business-related vocations such as affiliate marketing or product branding, there's no shortage of possibilities.

For those with a strong case of entrepreneurialism, consider where your strengths and passions meet and go from there.

Hilary Rushford, who founded her personal styling company in early 2011, also suggests talking to your friends to see which of your skills they admire most.

"If people are already encouraging you in this area, they'll be excited you're taking it to the next level," she explains. "Their support will help and they'll be your best advertising."

The following seven women opted for various paths according to their own strengths. Let their stories inspire your own.

Home Organizer

For some, maintaining an organized home is as natural as walking. For others, it's a daily struggle. If you fit into the former category, you may be able to help the latter group.

Inspired by myriad TV shows featuring professional organizers, Nettie Owens and her husband realized that their ability to de-clutter and organize made for a potentially lucrative business.

"I read books, did research online and found that there were other organizers already in my area, so I decided to try it," she says. Owens set up a booth at a local home and garden show in 2004 and has slowly grown her business, Sappari Solutions, LLC. She was even featured on TLC's hit TV show, "Hoarding: Buried Alive."

Owens' at-home business now provides various services, including small business organizing, virtual organizing, cleaning, speaking and instruction.

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Academic or Music Tutor

Academic or musical types with a fondness for sharing their knowledge may enjoy an at-home tutoring business. From primary school subjects like basic mathematics and geography to advanced topics like LSAT and GRE prep, you'll find there's no shortage of potential students.

"Whatever a woman excels at can be taught to others with very little start-up cost," noted Jodi Teti, who started her LSAT prep company, Blueprint Test Preparation, out of her condo in 2005. Her small start-up blossomed into a national company with 12 full-time employees and a $3 million gross in 2011.

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Baking Business

If you consider yourself an aspiring Julia Childs, perhaps your calling is an at-home business in baking. That was the case for Kathy Miller, who started her business, the Incredibly Edible Cookie Company, in 2008. Miller works out of her licensed home kitchen and sells her tasty confections online.

"Being at home helps you build a customer base without the worry of making a certain number of sales to pay for rent, employees and more major improvements in opening a store front," she says of her at-home business.

If an at-home baking business appeals to you, check up on your state's license and food handler laws first.

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Illustrator or Author

As a former urban elementary school teacher and literacy specialist, Kathryn Starke found that her school's textbooks and materials were inadequate. Frustrated but inspired, Starke wrote a children's educational book on geography, complete with lesson plans for teachers and parents. Today, Starke's book can be found in schools and homes on six continents, and it is poised for its second printing.

If you're passionate about writing or illustrating a certain topic, find your niche market.

"Be persistent," she advises. "I send out at least two emails a day to connect and share my work with others. People don't know who you are if you don't tell them."

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Personal Stylist

Anyone with a penchant for fashion should consider a career in helping others look chic. That's exactly what Hilary Rushford did in early 2011 when she founded Dean Street Society, a personal styling business for "real people with real budgets."

After receiving countless compliments on her chic style and queries as to how she pulled off said style on her itsy bitsy budget, Rushford realized the potential in an at-home, personal styling business.

"If you have the entrepreneurial bug, start noticing what other people compliment you on, thank you for or ask you for help with," suggested Rushford. "For me, it was my style. I monetized that by creating one-on-one sessions for in-home wardrobe edits, personal shopping or wedding styling."

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Marketing Consultant

Many small companies and creative types love what they do, but have an aversion to the technical aspect of their businesses. That's where marketing consultants come into play. Roughly 11 years ago, Cynthia Nevels realized the importance of marketing and began an at-home business that offered marketing services to small businesses.

"Because small business owner are sometimes allergic to technology and paper 'stuff,' my business flourished," she said. Her business helps clients identify what business they're in and how to reach their target audience through branding.

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Sell Your Products

From bath and beauty goods to handcrafted jewelry to your own clothing line, there's no limit to what you can sell -- or what people will buy. Determine where your passion and skills collide and then begin making and selling. You can use online platforms like Etsy, eBay, Artfire and Big Cartel, or create your own website and go from there.

You can also invent and market a product, like Stephanie Corey did with her business, Stephanie's Potions. After her 7-year-old refused to sleep for fear of monsters coming out after dark, she slapped a label on a bottle of room spray that said, "Zombie Repellent." She marketed the product and the rest is history.

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