Many people think of small business ownership and imagine investing thousands of dollars into a franchise or receiving millions of dollars from investors. While these are certainly ways that businesses develop, there are also low-cost ways to strike out in business on your own. Here are a few of our favorite business concepts for solopreneurs that can get going for less than $100.
Good at graphic design? Know how to write a great press release? Incredibly organized and prepared to make someone else’s life easier? The gig economy means that there are nearly endless opportunities on the web to sell your skills to companies who need help but can’t afford to pay another benefits package.
Use websites such as Upwork and Freenacer.com that connect customers and freelancers to start with, and as you build up your portfolio and confidence, branch off into a website of your own.
2. Sell on eBay
While you certainly can sell your own items, or great deals you find at local yard sales and rummage sales on eBay, an option with growing popularity is to buy large lots of items that are being liquidated online. You can then resell those same items on eBay for a 20% or more markup.
The great part is that once items are listed, your work is primarily in shipping items and customer service, while reinvesting your profits.
3. Direct Marketing
From Tupperware and Mary Kay in the 80s and 90s, a plethora of direct marketing companies have popped up in the last decade. Using social media to connect to a far larger group of people than salespeople did twenty years ago, direct marketers who are willing to cold contact and reach out beyond their personal network can make some serious profits.
Make sure to find an item that you are personally interested in selling so that you can be authentic in your sales.
Good at a particular subject in school? While you can list your services as a tutor on websites like Craigslist, you can also use various websites to connect with students who need tutoring around the world. One popular subject is English Second Language students who need a native speaker to help them become more fluent.
5. Affiliate Marketing
The most well-known examples of affiliate marketing are through Amazon and Google’s Adsense, but many companies have realized that the last century’s word of mouth is this century’s blogs and social media. Businesses are more than willing to pay a finder’s fee for customers who make a purchase based on a review or link.
You often need to invest in the website initially and maintain fresh content to get highly place in search engine results pages (SERP), but you can make good money through affiliate marketing.
6. Pet Sitting
If you like animals, you can make money pet sitting with no real startup costs. Visit a home to feed and water the pet, walk it or clean its litter box, and get going. Sitters can charge substantial fees, depending on where they live, and can often care for several animals in a day.
7. Taxi Services
Traditional taxi services are rapidly being replaced by apps like Uber and Lyft. If you have a reasonably nice car, you can easily sell your driving skills through these apps, setting your own hours and helping yourself pay for school or other fees.
8. Farmer’s Markets
Do you love to cook but aren’t interested in the fast paced world of restaurant ownership or life? Many cooks make small lot meals or items that are then sold at farmer’s markets. You might need to pay a booth fee, and you’ll need to buy your first lot of ingredients; after that, you will hopefully sustain yourself on your profits. Some exceptional vendors get deals with local independent stores and markets to sell items there as well.
9. Grocery Delivery
Some big companies have made a name for themselves with grocery delivery, but there’s room in the market for small delivery companies, especially in more rural areas where big grocery stores are harder to find. Make sure to pace yourself; you might start, for example, by offering your services in a retirement community where you can be clear about what you can and can’t do, and get many orders in the same day and the same location to minimize fuel costs.
You don’t need to be a millionaire to start your own business. Many small businesses never consider rounds of funding or finding the right venture capitalist investor. What other small business concepts with low startup costs have you considered?