One of the biggest obstacles aspiring entrepreneurs report standing in the way of their dreams is, of course, money. The accumulation of wealth is no easy task and as the old saying goes, “It takes money to make money” and let’s face it, in today’s economy most of us don’t have a lot of it laying around.
Unless you have really good credit and an income or assets to back it up or you’re able to travel around, make a great sales pitch, and get a bunch of serious investors on board you’re probably not going to be able to gather the required capital to start a sustainable business. Even worse, most businesses will not even produce a profit in the first 3-5 years. For many, this is simply too long to wait for a return on such a big investment, especially when there are bills to be paid.
Money is certainly an obstacle, but I once heard a motivational speaker say that when we’re low on money, we should see this not as an obstacle but as an opportunity to use our creativity. While many people don’t realize it, the internet has changed everything about our economy, and technology is continuing to change things all the time. Now more than ever, it is becoming easier to become an entrepreneur. Whether you’re breaking into the gig economy or starting something up from the comfort of your home, there are plenty of low-cost business ideas out there. Below are a few you should consider. However, you should also continue to explore other options out there that might be right for you.
These ideas require minimal cash on hand, don’t need you to immediately invest in a brick and mortar facility, and, best of all, don’t require you to quit your job.
1. Start an Arts and Crafts Business
Creative is a great source of inspiration for your low-cost business idea. If you happen to have a talent and a passion in the visual arts and take prides in the works of your hands you might want to consider starting an arts & crafts business Starting an arts & crafts business is easier than ever online, and you don’t have to sink a fortune into your operations. All you’ll need to get started is an art kit with some tools that may vary based on what you’re selling. Are you a painter, a talented jeweler, or do you make beautiful pottery? All you’ll need is some materials and some equipment, and you’ll be ready to begin making your products
Once you have products ready for sale, you will need a sales tax license from the department of revenue in your state and may need to register with your local jurisdiction. Liability insurance may be optional, depending on where you live, but you should consider making the investment to protect yourself, and it will be required if you’re selling at public events or in any public space.
You will certainly want to sell your products online using eCommerce apps like Shopify, or even better for an artistic audience, Etsy, but you will also want to consider attending public events like art shows, and festivals to both sell your products and promote your brand while creating valuable networking opportunities.
If you don’t have any artistic talent, you may want to consider partnering with an artist or a crafty friend who may have the creativity but lack the business skills and sense, as well as the confidence it requires to become a successful seller and entrepreneur.
2. Become a Mary Kay or Avon Rep.
Your low-cost business idea might now be your company at all, but a business opportunity established in the framework of an already well-known and reputable brand. If you have a knack for sales and a passion for cosmetics, you may want to consider throwing in your lot with Mary Kay, Avon, or a similar company selling similar products. You would be able to sell in person or online as essentially a one-person affiliate of already popular brands. Startup costs are insanely low compared to what you’d be paying to start your own thing. For example, Mary Kay only requires a $100 sign-on few and a monthly investment of $200 in wholesale orders to motivate you to keep your sales going. If you can manage that, then you already have a potentially profitable enterprise, and you get to do something you love aside from the 9-5 grind you’d endure with similar sales positions.
3.Create A Mobile Apothecary
Do you have an eye for beauty, a love for herbal remedies and all things natural, and a passion for natural health and beauty? You may want to consider starting your own online apothecary brand, making your own natural beauty products right from the comfort of your own kitchen. All you’ll need is some packaging (small mason jars seem particularly popular for lotions), some kitchen supplies, and some ingredients to make your organic cosmetics.
The all-natural beauty market is a growing and emerging one, but it is also a new one, and the business is somewhat high risk. You’ll want to know where to find where your buyers are hiding, and something to set your product apart from the competition, a special personal touch. You will need to know your stuff when it comes to herbal remedies and the use of natural products and ingredients, and you’ll need to be extremely careful not to make any health claims you can’t back up with proper (and legal) credentials.
This business requires patience and an eye for artistic arrangements as well as extensive knowledge of the natural world. You will certainly want to invest in liability insurance along with your sales tax license, and any permits and qualifications that may be required in your locality. Once you have all this, you’ll be ready to sell online, and may be able to convince a few local brick and mortar businesses to carry your new local brand.
4.Set Up an Online Freelance Service
Are you a writer, a designer, a web developer? You may or may not be able to obtain a traditional job in any of these fields unless you have certified training and experience to back it up, and even these fields are becoming increasingly more competitive, and companies have plenty of resumes stacked up. Even if this weren’t true, isn’t it so much better working on your own time, in your own home, on your own terms? If this sounds appealing and you know you have the skills the Freelance life may be for you.
You could start handing out business cards and starting email campaigns to get clients the old-fashioned way, or you may consider turning to job-bidding sites like Fiverr and UpWork for a quick start. The best part about these kinds of services is that they require almost no startup costs since you’ll be offering services you can already provide.
5. Launch a Moving Company and./or Odd Jobs Service
Even if you have no skills, no artistic talent, and love for making things with your hands, you can still start a business. You can start a company today by rolling up your sleeves and volunteering to do some old-fashioned work.
Starting a moving company may require some investments. You’ll need some boxes and packing materials and a small crew of folks who are willing to do some hard work and help out. You’ll also need a good vehicle, either a van or a truck that can carry a decent load for tools and belongings. If you don’t have a vehicle already, you may be able to lease one long-term at fairly decent rates, and it may be worth the investment if you’re making customers happy and driving around all the time.
Starting a moving business is usually going to be a seasonal venture. Moves are more common in the summer, and business may not be booming when the economy is weak, and if there’s a downturn in the housing market. For this reason, you may want to use this business as supplemental income, which you can further expand by performing odd jobs in the community.
Depending on what time of year it is, you may be able to make some extra cash mowing lawns, raking leaves, shoveling snow, cleaning, and performing any other number of odd jobs. All you should need is a few tools and a willingness to work, and you’re ready to go.
Don’t let money stand in the way!
Most of these low-cost business ideas require very little capital investment, and if you do it part-time, you won’t have to jump all in at once and quit the regular job. You can schedule your jobs around your busy schedule and still make some extra cash on the side. You might surprise yourself and find yourself ditching the office before you know it as your business begins to soar.
Even so, you will want to look into additional business requirements. Most localities will require a tax license, and you will need to keep meticulous records on every penny you earn. Liability insurance should always be on the table, and if you’re taking on any help workman’s comp insurance is usually a legal requirement.
Once you have all this squared away, you’ll be ready to pursue your entrepreneurial dreams. Money is no object, and why should it be? What are some of your low-cost business ideas? Share them in the comments, contact me, or join the discussion on Facebook!