It's fairly easy to learn to make lampshades. Since there is not much competition for custom-made lampshades, a small business in this area could be profitable.
Purchase some books or instruction manuals on lampshade making. If you are inexperienced, start with lampshade kits to learn the technique. Brainstorm designs and techniques that are unusual and hard to find at retail outlets. The key is to find a unique, desirable product to produce.
Organize your business. Choose a business name. Check the requirements in your town and state to find out if you need a business license. Write a business plan, or just make some general decisions about how much you want to spend on initial inventory, what your prices will be, and how much time you want to spend on the endeavor.
Contact local home decor stores, interior designers, and other retail stores. Meet with them to show them your product. If you have a product that appeals to a niche market, such as Victorian lampshades or lampshades for children's rooms, try to place the product in stores that specialize in those areas.
Create samples. If you are going to have the same design in more than one color, get quality swatches of the other colors that will be used to show to potential buyers. Take pictures of your products and put together marketing materials such as brochures or a portfolio.
Display the lampshades in your home and give them as gifts. The more people see your shades, the more likely it is that someone will ask about where they can be purchased.
Sell your lampshades at local craft fairs and community events, on online craft stores and eBay. Consider starting your own website. Keep in mind that if you do this, you will need to budget for web hosting and website design fees.
Consider becoming an instructor for extra income. If you are comfortable with teaching others, contact local craft stores and adult education classes about teaching classes on making lampshades.
Be sure to find out what type of light bulbs must be used with the lampshade, and specify this when you sell the lampshades.