After working hard for your boss all year, let’s say you’ve ended up with savings over the $2,000 mark. You’ve long held an idea for a business of your own, although your inner critic tells you that it’s impossible to go freelance without connections and capital. But is it really as hard as it seems? This small windfall could help your entrepreneurial dreams bloom, with the right preparations.
The gig economy has changed the way many people think about business in general, and several simple career or business options make it easy. Some business startups can be funded with $2,000 or less — an amount you might be able to secure by selling a big-ticket item you no longer need, or just with a few months of prudent saving. Or, if you’re already estimating your taxes for next year, calculate your refund, then plan to set that amount aside for investing once it arrives.
Other business options cost almost nothing, requiring little but Wi-Fi access and hard work to achieve success. Several industries can use the power of e-commerce platforms and the reach of the internet to help you succeed remotely from anywhere. You no longer have to live in Silicon Valley to work in the tech industry or be in New York to create fashion. For example, you could set up shop in Tampa, or go farther afield in Guatemala or Vietnam — and earn big-city pay while enjoying the low cost of living. Consider these possibilities for branching out on your own:
If you have a laptop, internet access, and word skills, you can start up a freelance writing business. If you hustle to get high-paying clients, you can feasibly set your own schedule, work in your pajamas, and listen to music while writing great content all day.
However, make sure that you have a little nest egg saved up before you start this business to ensure that you don’t get behind. The money you save from your tax refund can provide a cushion until you get on your feet. And if you’re especially gifted, try writing a book series and become the next J.K. Rowling!
Jewelry Design and Fabrication
If you’re into creating incredible jewelry for yourself, why not expand your skills and go professional? A large number of people sell their goods on handcraft sales sites like Etsy. If you’re smart and skillful, you can make and sell great jewelry that people will clamor to buy.
The great thing about this kind of business is that you can complete the whole supply cycle from anywhere, from fabrication and marketing through sales and delivery. You only need to buy your tools and materials to start, create your wares, then upload your inventory to an e-commerce platform. You can work right from your kitchen table, no matter where it’s located.
Although going door-to-door or contacting people to sell things is not the path for everyone, direct sales can be a great way to start a business with little to no money. Some companies allow you to buy in as a dealer for under $100, offering a quick and efficient way to start your new business. Make sure, though, that you feel comfortable negotiating with people for extended periods, or you may struggle to succeed. And plan to attend trade shows and other events to showcase your products and get the most out of your business.
Are you an animal lover who can’t get enough of dogs or cats? Why not start up a pet-walking or pet-sitting business? Many people either can’t take the time to walk their pets or don’t have the physical strength to do so. As a pet lover, you can take over these duties and provide your clients’ pets with the exercise they need.
To get the word out, you’ll want to create a website and print business cards and/or brochures. List yourself in local directories, and collect testimonials and reviews. In terms of supplies, you might need leashes, toys, snacks, and bags for packing up waste. If you plan to board animals in your own home, pet beds and baby gates will be necessary. Mostly, you just need kindness and energy.
Do you have a creative mind and want to show off your love of natural beauty, such as flowers? Then consider a career in floral design. This surprising career choice is relatively inexpensive — you can start for under $500 — and in regular demand. For example, you will be intensely busy during the Valentine, wedding, and prom seasons.
Make sure that you keep your flowers in great shape or find a retailer who can provide you the best choices possible. And make sure you’re connected online to make shopping and ordering easy and accessible for potential customers. This straightforward business investment can be a life-changer for many.
If you’re renowned for your culinary skills, chances are that family or friends have suggested you look into catering. They make a good point. A catering business can start small and grow over time. Start with a website and mouth-watering photos of a few of your favorite dishes. You might need access to another oven, as well as serving platters, warming plates, or specialty utensils. But you should be able to keep your initial costs low while you test the waters. As you get busier, you can hire help and buy more equipment.
If you’re a funny person or have a talent such as juggling, dancing, or magic, you may want to start up a party entertainment business. This type of career could be hard for some to handle because it requires a lot of hustle, plus the energy and extroversion to engage large groups of people.
But thankfully, the monetary investment is quite low for this career. For live entertainment, you may only need to buy a handful of supplies to get started, such as costumes, a small portable rig to play music, or props for magic tricks. If you’re a standup comedian, all you’ll need is your wit and enough cash to cover travel expenses as you move from gig to gig.
What exactly is a business consultant? This is someone who’s called in to help a company’s management identify problems and understand how to streamline elements of its operation. For example, you may specialize in marketing and help your customers understand how to avoid making common marketing mistakes. Or you understand the chain of supply and can help a company identify the kinks in their sales and fulfillment processes. The important keyword here is specialization: Once you get training for specific types of consultation, you can start up your business for next to nothing.
Landscaping & Lawn Mowing
We’re not talking about small-fry, kid-level lawn mowing here, in which you make just a little bit of extra cash. Instead, you can take your $2,000 or so, buy a lawnmower, trailer, and weed-eater, and start going from door to door to take care of people’s lawns. If you work hard and charge a reasonable price, you can do surprisingly well in this business. Investing in a CDL license for a commercial lawnmower may be a wise choice if you want to take on the landscaping of big properties for considerable amounts of cash.
Of course starting a business requires money. But for many industries, the startup costs are not as prohibitive as many believe — especially ones in which passion, talent, connectivity, and savvy do most of the heavy lifting. With these qualities, an internet connection, and a nominal amount of cash, you’re already set to begin realizing your dreams of running your own business.
Laura Gayle, Business Woman Guide