Blake and Anne Shreck courtesy StartupNation

Related topics: boomers, jobs, income, getting started, recession

Entrepreneurship starts at home

The idea of waking up, putting on slippers and walking down the hall to "work" sounds appealing to a lot of people. But it's not the main reason more than half of the nation's businesses call home their office.

The contestants in StartupNation's 2010 Home-Based 100 competition demonstrate once again that in today's economic environment, homes serve as staging grounds for many an entrepreneurial dream. They nurture bold ideas and innovation.

Home-based business has always been a relatively low-capital way to turn a passion into a revenue stream. But in this economy, being able to work out of the home has kept many small businesses afloat -- and often made them profitable -- while some of their larger, overhead-laden brethren are going under.

Take a look at the winners in nine categories that comprise this year's Home-Based 100 annual list; for the rest, as well as ideas on starting your own venture, visit StartupNation.

Most glamorous: Once Wed

When most brides-to-be go shopping for the perfect gown, they're looking to buy -- and the idea of selling it is hardly a notion. Emily Newman, however, bought her dress secondhand on eBay with the full intention of reselling it after her wedding.

"For a lot of brides, 'dream dress' isn't in the budget and the idea of wearing a dress that's only been used once isn't a problem," says Newman, 25. But there aren't many options for resale. So, in 2008, she launched Atlanta-based Once Wed, a website for selling secondhand gowns. She then sold her used dress for the same price she paid for it.

As if working in the glamorous wedding industry isn't enough, the company's evolution is even more remarkable. The site now includes articles, photos, featured weddings, vendors and more, garnering more than 3.3 million page views a month. "I get to work with some of the most creative, talented people in the industry," Newman says. "It's like a dream."

Most Votes: CurlyQ

Stephanie Estrin's Cedar Park, Texas, home business tried but didn't make StartupNation's top 100 list of home businesses last year. So she pushed hard to get votes this year and topped our reader-selected category. "We didn't put a consistent effort or emphasis into asking people to vote for us (last year)," says the founder of CurlyQ Cuties, a company that sells made-to-order plush monsters that customers can design themselves. "But this year, we decided to change our methods."