6 Businesses You Can Start for Almost Nothing

While you’re waiting for the business that is your main entrepreneurial passion to take off, you probably have to resort to something else to pay the bills — but you might always have to have multiple gigs at a time.  

Here are six businesses you can start for almost nothing.Angel investor and serial entreprenur James Altschuler has said that affluence comes from having multiple sources of income — he suggests seven of them, actually.

By not putting all of your entrepreneurial eggs into one basket, you increase your chance of growing a business beyond the startup stage.

Any business you can start quickly and with minimal to no upfront investment gets you closer toward the goal of diversifying your income streams.

With that in mind, here are six businesses you can start quickly and cheaply.

Tutor

If you were a great student — either all around or in one particular subject — you might make a great instructor. Starting out a tutor doesn’t require any special certifications, and you don’t have to apply to schools to hire you.

Instead, set yourself up on a website as a tutor, and depending on the subjects you specialize in, you can earn up to $50 an hour without making any upfront investment in the business. Of course, you may need to start out at a lower rate while you’re still trying to attract new clients, and then you can raise your price as you gain a following.

If you’re interested in tutoring at the community college level, head to the nearest such campus and post flyers promoting your services.

Or if you’re keen on reaching different types of students, you can also list your services on websites like Buddy SchoolTutor, and in the U.K. there’s Tutor Hub.

Create Business Logos

With the right software, you don’t have to be an artist to create logos that look like they were professionally designed. Plus you don’t have to invest time learning how to use an overly complicated illustration software package. Many applications have become very user friendly.

While some of the apps in the category are free, the higher-quality ones — that produce professional-looking designs efficiently — cost anywhere from $30 to $500. However, most of them let you pay on a month-to-month basis so you can spread out the cost and even benefit from frequent improvements. You can also start out by using one of the free apps and then as you make money invest it into a premium application so you can charge your clients more money.

Find work opportunities using some of the sites already mentioned earlier in this article, like Craigslist, Fiverr, TaskRabbit, Thumbtack and Upwork. Again, you might try reaching out to businesses and entrepreneurs directly but this might not be as time efficient as listing on a site where you might get leads faster.

Pet Sit

Depending on where you live, you can find dog walking or pet sitting clients by signing up on sites like Rover or Wag. Both let you define what type of work you want to do, when and for how much. Then they match you up with pet owners. You could also post on Craigslist to avoid having to let a website take a cut of your pay, but the tradeoff is that you might need to repost often.

As you accumulate good references from clients, you should be able to scale up your pay rates . Dog walking in particular lets you make more money because you can walk multiple owners’ pets at the same time.

Pet sitting gigs, by contrast, are usually harder to layer up — however you might be able to do pet sit at the same time that you do another work and hopefully not compromise either job.

Nanny

If you know a lot of parents, you might be able to get into this line of work simply through word of mouth. You can also find opportunities on community sites like NextDoor.

Additionally there are websites dedicated to babysitting, like Urbansitter,  where you can set up a profile and people will come to you with opportunities.

Set your prices based on the number of children there are in a particular household and try to find situations with more kids involved so you can turn this into a high paying side hustle.

Distribute Flyers

It might sound old fashioned, but many local businesses rely on paper-based promotions, especially for new store or restaurant openings. This often calls for people to hand out postcards and flyers to pedestrians — especially near mass transit stations during commuting hours.

You don’t have to pay any money up front to get in on the action. You just need to know where to look for these opportunities. Scan Craigslist and then create your own listing on Fiverr, TaskRabbit, Thumbtack or Upwork — describe what you’re able to do where, and how much you charge for it. Look at other people’s postings in this category for ideas on what to say in your ad.

Another way to find this work is to go directly to small local businesses in your area, but this requires a lot of effort — all of it is time that you’re not yet getting paid for. You might find greater efficiencies from going where people are already looking for the services you can provide.

Businesses You Can Start for Almost Nothing

All of the businesses mentioned in this article can get up and running without any initial investment. The more you work at it, the faster you’ll get to developing one of the high paying side hustles discussed above.

Fellow entrepreneurs, how many streams of income do you have — and are you looking for more?

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