Top 10 Inexpensive Businesses That Anyone Can Start
Working for yourself can be a liberating experience. You get back 100% of the effort you put in and because you are your own boss, you know the management are going to value your work and treat you with respect.
There may be many reasons to start your own business. Some people set up on their own because they are fed up of the corporate grind and think that they can do better on their own whilst others decide to work for themselves when they are having a hard time finding traditional employment or following a redundancy. Still more start a small business on the side to keep their work and qualifications ticking over while they are at home caring for young children or elderly relatives and others do it to keep them busy during retirement.
Your own business can be based on just about anything – from using your professional skills and contacts you made in your traditional job to branch out on your own to doing something completely different – based on a hobby perhaps. The world is, literally, your oyster!
Setting up on your own can be expensive with costs for office hire, computers, business planning, seed investment from the bank, personal guarantees (with your home as collateral), tax advice etc etc. These costs and associated bureaucracy can put people off going it alone.
Your own business does not have to be complex and expensive to set up. Here is our list of 10 ideas that you can set up easily, quickly and cheaply. Many if not all of these can be done on the side, as an evening or weekend job to supplement your main income if you need a boost or you could grow them, in time, into a full time business.
People love dogs and people love having dogs. Sadly, for many owners their lifestyle is not compatible with their pet’s needs. For some owners long work hours make it difficult to walk their pooch while for others the demands of child care mean the dog is losing out. Yet more people might find that changes in their life such as getting sick mean that they cannot give their much loved pet the access to the outdoors that they want and need.
This is where a dog walking business can do very well. Advertise in your local shops, local Facebook pages and in local veterinary offices and you will almost certainly find people happy to pay you to take a chore off their hands.
Dog walking can be a great job for a teenager or university student but suits just about anyone who is fit and healthy and has the time and inclination to spend in the great outdoors. At its simplest all you need is a leash and a place to walk the dogs. In order to make a success of the business, however, there are a few things you might want to bear in mind. You need to be confident around dogs. Grow your business slowly – you might see dog walkers wrangling 6-10 Great Danes in Hollywood films but this is not really practical. Walk one or two dogs at a time to start off with and get to know their personalities. If won’t be long before you know which of your charges are great to use as companions to help introduce new doggy clients to your routines and which ones are more time intensive.
Take the time to scope out your local dog parks and walking tracks to find out the best places to walk your charges. You should also make sure that your charges are realistic – look at what others in the area are charging per pet per hour and set yours at a broadly similar level. When talking to potential clients also make sure that they know what is included (i.e. will you supply your own leash or use theirs, will their dog get one on one attention or be walked in a group, will you walk on or off leash etc.). You will also need to make sure that all the dogs that you walk have suitable insurance against any damage they might cause (a minimum of third party). As your business progresses you may want to purchase your own insurance.
Garden and Home Management
This is the property version of dog walking. Essentially you offer to do the heavy and difficult tasks that others do not want to do. Of course there are many gardening services out there that offer highly qualified landscape gardeners who will keep people’s lawns and borders looking like they should be featured in a magazine. If you are a keen gardening enthusiast and can offer this service – good for you! Try it out and see how you go.
Even if you do not have a green thumb, however, you should be able to make money by helping people around their home. Remember the days when people used to hire the kid next door to mow their lawn and trim hedges? Many people are happy to outsource this job and if you can stretch to bringing your own lawn mower or strimmer so they do not need to leave you the key to their shed so much the better. There are plenty of other tasks you can offer to do as well – most of which require little or no prior knowledge. Cleaning the pool, painting fencing, weeding borders, maintaining the bikes or even washing and detailing cars.
Put together a list of as many services as you think you can manage and advertise this. Check what competitors exist in your local area and modify your prices accordingly. You can always add more services as your expertise grows. Of course as your client list grows you can purchase more equipment to offer an improved service.
Decluttering And Wardrobe Management
Minimalist living is all the rage these days. Magazines and lifestyle websites show beautiful homes with pared down furniture, clean lines and… absolutely no clutter whatsoever. While people might aspire to this aesthetic many people find it almost impossible to declutter their own lives. It is all too easy to get attached to your own stuff and when it comes time to get rid of it to not be able to see the wood for the trees.
If you have a knack for being tidy then you could turn this into a business. Offer to help people with wardrobe clear outs, kitchen gadget rationalization, scanning photos from albums onto disks and clearing out old books. Get started by having questionnaires to help people establish what items they use most often, what has sentimental value and what is useless. Other ‘add on’ services that you could offer might include removing the accumulated junk to charity shops or tips, helping bereaved relatives clear up after the death of a loved one and other associated services.
If you are already successfully running a garden management service this will also combine well with that as an excellent side offer. One key thing you should bear in mind is to make sure that you get your client’s approval for every single thing (or group of things) you dispose of. You don’t want to find that you threw away a family heirloom by mistake.
Personal Assistant Service
How many times have you thought about how much easier life would be with the help of a secretary to make things run smoothly? You are not alone, almost everyone thinks about this from time to time and with two parent working families becoming the norm more and more people find that they just don’t have the time to manage simple day to day things.
Have a think about the type of services people might need help with – collecting and dropping off dry-cleaning is a bug bear for most people. How about offering to remember to send flowers for family birthdays or major events, writing birthday cards? You can offer to put together holiday itineraries, book the best value flights, search for hotels, shop for groceries or collect prescription medicines. Search some high profile concierge services and find out what services they offer and then put together your own list of services designed to fit with the needs and lifestyles of people in your local area. Not all of your services will be a big hit and you can cull those from your main list and, after you have worked for a while you might find that people are asking for services you had never thought of (fridge cleaning and defrosting…) which you can then add to your list.
So many people love the feel and look of freshly ironed clothes but often either hate the process of ironing their own clothes or simply don’t have the time to make sure their clothes and sheets look their best at all times.
If you have a knack for getting those pants seams razor sharp and shirts looking beautifully crisp you can turn this into your own business. It is relatively easy to customize your business by offering variable services i.e. charging less to have items folded in a basket, more to deliver them hung on a hangar.
The set up costs for an ironing service are very low – you almost certainly have an iron and ironing board already. You may find it easier to invest in a larger board with a thick cover and a powerful iron that will deliver a good head of steam. A water bottle with a spray attachment will also help you get creases out.
As with most businesses consider what your competition are charging and offering before setting up your list and make sure that you consider the logistics – will people deliver and collect from you (in which case they will know where you live) or will you collect from them. Will you ask them to provide hangars for items they want hung or will you provide (and charge) your own. You should check with your client before using starch on shirts (some are allergic) and make sure that they sign an indemnity against accidental damage to the garments while in your possession.
If you have a skill then it is almost certain that there are other people who will want to learn it. Some of the most scalable skills are language based. If you speak a foreign language, for example, there will be plenty of people who want to learn it. It doesn’t have to be a foreign language either, many people around the world are desperate to learn to speak and write English well. Other ‘in demand’ skills include science, mathematics and computer skills.
In order to make a success of tutoring as a business you will need to have some level of qualification that sets you aside from the crowd. If, for example, you are a native French speaker living in the USA you will find that there is probably a lot of demand from children studying French exams who will be willing to pay (or their parents will). If you have nothing more than high school French yourself you will probably not be such a good business prospect! If you want to teach English search for companies that offer online tutoring sessions to people abroad. Many freelance sites (People Per Hour, Upwork etc) have sections looking for people to do online tutoring work.
However you decide to work you will need to set out your skills and qualifications to your prospective clients and set out a structure for how you will teach the lessons (1 hour sessions, intensive weekly courses, online on demand sessions etc). If you have enough material to create written lessons and can film the verbal part of your sessions you may be able to set up a course on a MOOC such as UDEMY which will give you passive income long into the future.
In the old days people used to leave their children with a local teenager and head out for the night with very little worry. These days parents (new parents in particular) tend to be a little less sanguine about who they leave their young children with and look for someone with a little more experience.
If your children are old enough to leave home alone (or even old enough to have left home) you can turn your evenings into a business opportunity by offering to look after the children of others. The key to successful babysitting is to realize that everyone parents differently and follow the parents’ rules and requests to the letter.
Ad hoc babysitting for a range of clients requires very little in the way of set up. You should consider getting a child centered CPR and first aid certification as not only is this good practice and will help set your mind (and the parents’) at ease but it will also enable you to charge more for your services. Indeed the more qualifications you have (whether in terms of children you have raised yourself or in terms of professional child care or nursing qualifications) the more money you can charge for your services.
If, of course, you wish to become a registered child minder looking after children in a home from home environment during the day you will have to register with the relevant authorities and meet all the required qualifications in your country/state of residence
The internet has revolutionized the way that people communicate. There are websites dedicated to just about every interest group you can think of (and then some!). All that content has to come from somewhere and, for the most part that content is not written (although it might be checked) by the people who own the websites people read. Instead a lot of the writing jobs are outsourced through freelancer platforms (see above). All you need to get started is a computer, an internet connection, the ability to research a wide range of topic areas and the willingness to put through a number of job applications before you get some stable client relationships.
Most clients will want to see a sample of your writing style before giving you commissions so if you have not worked before consider writing up a few samples in a variety of different styles so that people can review your work. You will need to make sure that it is spell-checked, error free and checked on an online program such as Copyscape for any plagiarism or inadvertent duplication. It can take some time to get your first job but once you get one good review it is easier to get the next project. Heck, you can even write for ListLand.com.
Social Media Manager
Just as websites need people to source content for them there are companies that need help with their social media presence. Just about everyone these days has a presence online but it is not enough to have a website, it (and the business it represents) needs to be promoted on social media i.e. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram etc. Not only do companies need to promote their own product but in order to look legitimate they need to engage with the online community and comment on posts made by others as well.
It is very rare that a small company will be able to afford to give an employee time to devote to managing their media strategy so many smaller companies prefer to outsource this responsibility to a freelancer. You will need to prove to your clients that you are reliable, can be trusted with their account log ins and will post in an appropriate manner that reflects the ethos of their brand. Getting your first client is the hardest hurdle, once you have broken that barrier it should be easier to get the next, and the next etc! Jobs can be found on the freelancer portals listed above and on other, dedicated sites.
Now this job does require you to be living somewhere near a ‘tour worthy’ attraction but there are more of those than you might think. There is plenty of scope for nature trails, botany walks, ghost tours, history tours, the inside track on local museums, history of art tours, the possibilities are endless. The chances are that if tourists come anywhere close to your area there will be something you can capitalise on.
In order to get started put together a list of ‘tours’ you are able to do together with prices. Think about interesting ways to grow your business, in addition to an online presence you could speak with local hotels and restaurants and ask if they would be willing to put your leaflets in reception, you could even offer an incentive such as a 5% discount to people who are staying there. If you speak a second language it would be an extra bonus.
There are a couple of things you will need to make a success of all these businesses. If you are starting small, or running a secondary business on the side you may not need to employ a separate accountant but you might want to set up a separate bank account for your business. That means that it is easy to keep track of all income and expenses for filing purposes at the end of the tax year. If you are going to be using your car for any business purposes check that this is covered by your insurance or see whether you need to purchase an extension of cover.
Some states and municipalities require certain businesses to be registered with them, make sure that you check (a quick online search should usually tell you) which permits you need to apply for. These are usually cheap and easy to get.
You should also consider setting up a separate email account using the name of your business and build a profile, either using a separate Facebook page or get your own webpage. Ideally you should develop a webpage and use social media (Facebook, Twitter etc.) to support this. The webpage allows you to advertise your services in a way that is easily searchable and accessible to your clients.
In addition to your website and social media consider listing your services on a directory (both web and paper based) in your local area. Some of these listings are free and you should start off with those. As your business grows you can look to list your services on the more high profile, paid for directories should you want to grow your client base.