I read an interesting article recently over at TheStreet.com which outlined five business ventures which can be undertaken with little or no cash investment. These are proven ideas which may work for just about anyone. I'd like to give you a brief synopsis of that article by Jeffrey Strain and I'd also like to interject a couple ideas of my own.
Jeffrey's opportunity list starts out by suggesting a venture which is near and dear to my heart (and wallet). That suggestion is blogging. Yes my friends, there is money to be made in blogging. In fact, I'm padding my own bottom line right now. Blogs are easy to start and if you're a natural writer, blogging is easy to do. Jeffrey gives you a couple directions you can go for getting started as an independent, or you could take your shot at blogging right here with us! There are two basic kinds of blogging you may wish to consider. You can blog as a strict independent or you can blog as a freelance / contract writer. I prefer the contract gigs for myself, because they offer a good measure of security and you often have seasoned writers zipping around who can help you out of an occasional tough spot. (Thanks team!)
The second idea the article suggests is the classic dog walker scenario. The business doesn't take much in the way of start up capital but I guarantee that to make good money at it you'll need nerves of steel. Walking a few dogs a day for a few dollars an hour probably won't qualify as "substantial" income. However, if you can pull off getting 15 to 20 dogs to the hydrant each day, you'll probably make more than enough money to pay your rent and grocery bill.
An adjunct to the dog walking idea exists in serving the people who have dogs but don't need you to walk them because they have an adequate backyard. Believe it or not, there are thriving businesses which sustain themselves by cleaning up after the dogs. As proof of this, I myself have seen full size billboards offering those services just south of Green Bay, Wisconsin. They must be doing pretty well for themselves because they have two prime billboards rented on a major arterial highway and those billboards don't come cheap.
Cleaning is a very large category where people can make a lot of money working for themselves. You can clean cars, houses, windows, yards, basements, cabins or garages. The larger the population where you live, the more options you'll have. Be careful when starting cleaning businesses because in some regions there are licensing requirements for specific types of work. You may also want to consider some basic liability insurance just in case you damage someone's Picasso painting or Remington statue.
Tutoring is suggested as a nice side business if you have special skills or knowledge which other people might be willing to pay you for. You'll need the ability to sell yourself first and this field takes a great deal of confidence. You might also consider getting into the world of public speaking if you tend to be a leader or motivator. Depending on reputation and experience, public speakers can make anywhere from $600 to $60,000 or more per engagement. You could also undertake the writing of pamphlets and books if you might be considered an expert in any particular field of endeavor.
A major opportunity on this list is the great wide world of online stores and auctions. It takes a bit of retail savvy to make big money selling online but it's being done successfully every day. eBay heads the list of names when we think about online selling, but names like Etsy, HiBidder, Plunderhere, and Tazbar are among a healthy growing field of smaller alternative selling sites. It's imperative that you learn the ways to protect yourself and your personal information online before jumping headlong into online marketing. Far too many people have opened up their online business ventures only to find that they also opened themselves up to a lot of financial misery in the process. The best part of starting up an online retail business is that you can usually begin with items that you already have on hand. That way you can test your abilities and desires before ever investing more than a few dollars.
Starting a business for yourself doesn't have to be overly stressful or expensive. In fact, the only limiting factor is your own imagination. Don't be forced into believing that your idea is too unconventional. Think about all the things that you'd be willing to pay someone else to do for you if you had the money and a willing person was available to do them. Taking out your garbage, cleaning your aquarium, or picking up your groceries might serve as good examples, just to name a few.
If it's in your personality to serve other people, and you have the drive to stick to it, take a shot at starting your own service oriented business. Heck, the way I heard it, that's the attitude that two very wealthy geeks employed when they started out building Google!
Businesses you can start with little or no cash