Are you an entrepreneur in search of a good idea to start up as a small business? Not every startup is high-tech or will turn into Uber. There are many business opportunities that can succeed with hard work and moxie.
I don’t subscribe to the idea that you should grow a company with many employees to be legitimate. If you can create a small business that supports you and your family, that’s good enough. Often there is growth potential with only that as a foundation. The key is to find the lowest-cost way to make a sale and then parlay your profits into the next step. Some entrepreneurs have bootstrapped their way to millions using this basic formula.
I started my marketing firm 30 years ago on a $2000 severance check and one class from UCSD Extended Studies. I grossed more the first year in business than I had ever made working for anyone else. So, ditch the boss. Be your own boss.
Start by taking stock of your own skills and aspirations. Do you want something you can do immediately, or are you willing to get a little education first? Take a hard look at what you’re good at and what excites you. If you can create something that fits both of those criteria you will be just fine.
Here are a few ideas. If you Google “Easy to start up small businesses” you’ll probably find many more. Most of these can be started from home with very little money required.
1. Website Consultant – Most people don’t have the slightest idea how to really create and promote a business website. A website consultant functions as a multi-faceted guide to building and maintaining a business’s website, working with development, hosting, managing content, search engine optimization and security. You’d be my competitor, but there’s enough business for both of us.
2. Graffiti Remover – Businesses don’t have the time to maintain their external walls. With the right products, an entrepreneur can not only remove graffiti, but also prevent it in the future. Become an expert in graffiti, network with community kingpins and take a leadership role in making your community graffiti free.
3. Boat Cleaner – On the coast boats need repairs and cleaning year-round. If you like hanging out on the waterfront, this could be for you. Get to know the tight marine trade community, boat brokers and chandleries which are frequently looking for freelance maintenance providers.
4. Vehicle Advertiser – All sizes of cars have the potential to be used to generate easy profit. Keep your car in decent condition and it can become a tool to pick up extra cash. Grow your fleet and all you need is drivers. Crazy, huh?
5. Pet Sitter – Animal lovers will particularly enjoy this business and find the most success. Pet sitting can involve light grooming, walks, feeding and playtime. Concentrate on building a portfolio of clients who trust and depend on you. Create a professional image, a logo, and website to compete with the slobs who aren’t the slightest bit sophisticated.
6. Business Plan Writer – You would be amazed how many business owners either cannot write or are terrified by the prospect. A business plan is useful in many ways, including getting a bank loan or courting investors. Cultivate vendors, such as financial planners, who can do the parts of the job where you need expert help. Start by writing one for your own business.
7. Event Planner – If you’re organized and energetic, creative and ingenious, event planning could be for you. Start a database that will allow you to sort venues by varying features–the number of people each site holds, if there is AV equipment available on site, will you need to arrange for rental chairs, etc. Let sites know you’re available to help plan events. Stay away from weddings if you don’t want to discover the meaning of “bridezilla.”
8. Household Organizer/Staging Pro – You can choose either to do the organizing work or to come into a home and consult on the things the homeowner could do to better organize. Have a portfolio of different organizational scenarios in different rooms in the home and talk with the homeowner about the style he or she likes. Create checklists and questionnaires to understand how the family uses the home. Network with local realtors who can send you business.
9. Notary Public – In most states in the U.S., a notary public is a state officer who is authorized to witness and attest to the legalities of certain documents by signature and stamping a seal. Most states require that you pass an exam and a background check. It costs very little to become a notary and your income from notary work is dependent on building relationships with referral sources. This is a great side business if you have a retirement income in place.
10. Personal Concierge – This business is for someone who is supremely efficient and can make things happen. People who hire you will expect things when they want them and you need to be able to come through with not only what they want, but with a personal touch and a smile on your face. The most likely clients for a personal concierge service are top executives who find themselves at the office by 7 a.m. and are there most nights until 9 p.m., leaving them very little time to do all those things that often need to be done during those very hours.
11. Property Management – Your job, in the case of rental units, will be to make sure the property is running smoothly. For seasonal properties, you will most likely spend your management time making sure the property is ready for seasonal visits and well-maintained when no one is around. You will be the contact number if the security system operator needs to contact someone about a breach in security. You can grow this from a one-person operation to a big enterprise if you want.
12. Gift Basket Service – Finding a niche is the best way to start out in the gift basket business. Are you a dog lover, horse lover, or exercise guru who could put together baskets that hold the things that people with this interest would like? This is going to be easier if you provide your services to corporations rather than one-off consumers.
13. Landscaper/Tree Care – Don’t just think of this as just two people with a truck. Yes, it can include mowing lawns and cutting back shrubs. Offer garden work such as spring planting of annuals and perennials; vegetable garden preparation, planting and fall cleanup; pest control and watering systems. Tree care and trimming can be a highly skilled, in-demand professional operation. There is plenty to do in the yard that has nothing to do with plants: stone wall restoration, fencing, irrigation system installation. Consider contracting with housing developments by offering your services to management companies.
14. Uber Driver – This might be something great to do while you’re building your other business. You will need to pass a minimal background check and have a 4-door car. When you want to make money, just open the app and you’ll start to receive trip requests. You’ll get information about your rider and directions to their location and destination. When the trip is over, you’ll receive another nearby request. And if you’re ready to get off the road, you can sign off at any time.
15. Tour Guide – Enjoy introducing visitors to your area? Have a special interest in history, cooking, culture, art or another passion? If you know an area well, simply sign up with a website like www.Vayable.com and let them find your customers for a cut of the revenue. Once you know the ropes and make some money, you can encourage returning visitors to come to you (and your new employees) directly. Vayable provides guides with marketing toolkits, training in best practices, exclusive community events and a list of online tools to help you build your business.
Many of the above have local professional associations that can be helpful. Be sure and check to see if any there are any licensing requirements for your endeavor. Once again, do your homework. Check out www.bookstore.entrepreneur.com where you can find how-to guides on almost any business.
Vicki Garcia is the Co-Founder of Veteran Entrepreneurs Today & President of Marketing Impressions. She wants to hear from you, and can guide you through your business decisions for free! Email her at email@example.com. Look for trusted advisors, or apply to be a B2B vendor for veteran entrepreneurs at www.veteranentrepreneurstoday.org.