You may have the entrepreneurial fire in the belly. You may have a new product or service in mind that’s going to knock the socks off the competition. You may even have the business plan to back it all up. But if you don’t have any start-up capital to get your business idea off the ground, you may want to take a step back and look at it from the other direction. Certainly any successful new idea must have passion behind it. Almost every entrepreneurial venture is bound to require crazy hours, unexpected bumps in the road, and loads of hard work and energy. But in your determination to pursue a costly project, don’t overlook other potential avenues that align with your passions, talents, or experience yet require less capital to start. Working as a consultant for a business card company, I am on the front lines of new business ventures as professionals order cards, and I’ve begun to take note of some trends in start-ups of late that actually require very little money up front.
Yes you can put that facebook and twitter addiction to good use. Businesses are turning to social networking for all the obvious reasons: it’s less expensive than traditional marketing, it’s where their potential customers are spending a lot of time, and it is an effective way to interact with customers. The problems for companies who would like to pursue social networking are problems a social networking business can solve. Managers may not have time to do networking themselves yet they may not need or be able to hire a new employee dedicated to social networking. Also older or more traditionally-minded managers or owners may not be engaged in social networking and would rather leave it up to someone else. There are various reasons why outsourcing this service makes sense for companies. As long as you have a computer, time, and know-how you can start freelancing your social networking services and go from there. There are several good industry blogs that can guide you and teach you the nuances of effective social networking as well as provide a support “community” for any questions or concerns you may encounter along the way.
Wherever your talents and experience lie, there are people out there who could use your help. Many new consulting businesses seem to be extensions of previous jobs – people formerly employed in corporate human resources departments are now independent human resources consultants and the same with marketing consultants, communications consultants, workplace and environmental safety consultants, and even legal liability consultants. Another way to look at a consulting business is from the point of view of following a particular interest or passion. Consulting businesses I’ve seen lately that tap into people’s passions or interests include parenting coaches, college choice and application consultants, career consultants, birthing consultants, corporate event planners, children’s birthday party planners, and even one-on-one sewing, knitting, and gardening instructors.
This trend is somewhat similar to the consulting trend, but is a little more broad in focus. Instead of providing a specific service or input, a concierge business serves to save customers’ time and energy by taking care of a wide range of tasks they either can’t or don’t want to do themselves. A successful concierge business owner I know does everything from wrapping presents to buying stamps, making travel arrangements, and contracting with a housekeeping service – all in one day. These services take only her time, organizational ability, and friendly customer-service attitude. I have even seen concierge businesses with more specific niches, such as elderly concierge services that include driving clients to appointments, picking up prescriptions, and dropping off groceries and dry cleaning.
There has been a huge trend lately in organizing professionals. If you’ve got a case of OCD you’d like to take advantage of, you may want to consider offering your services. Not only do individuals need help organizing their homes, closets, and garages, they also need help preparing for a move or unpacking afterward. Offices need help developing filing systems, converting from paper to computer files, and organizing furniture and equipment for optimal use. With the rise in popularity of television shows featuring “hoarders,” awareness of the issue has increased and more family members are seeking help. Psychologists who treat patients with hoarding tendencies may be good people to connect with for referrals or even to get greater insight into the motivations behind hoarding (as well as excessive organizing!).
Freelance Website Design and Development
For the foreseeable future, as long as there is business there will be websites. Some kind of web presence has become a must-have even for brick-and-mortar companies. Business owners and managers, for a large part, would rather spend time running their business than their website. Not only can freelance website designers create websites, but businesses are also springing up that maintain websites, including updating content, blogging, and linking to other sites and social networks.
What all of these trends have in common is that they take what you personally have to offer – your talents, experience, and interests – and monetizes it. Each of these businesses costs almost exclusively your time and effort. Overhead such as office space can come as income and need increases. The hardest part about starting a business that depends only on your own blood, sweat, and tears is charging for it! Many a business has started after a person does a favor for a friend – such as helping organize a kitchen – and then realizes he or she could get paid to do the same thing for clients. It can be a challenge to take money – or enough money – when the work feels more like fun, but make your rates clear up front and stick to them so payment is not an issue. Enjoy not only starting a business that doesn’t feel like work, but also the freedom of growing your business without the burden of overhead, loans, or other major costs.
Bill Post, Small Business Research Analyst, has been providing research on issues of concern to small businesses for 123Print.com Business Card Design for three years. A former business owner prior to his involvement with 123Print Custom Business Cards, Bill spent several years after receiving his degree in the fast-paced corporate world before going out on his own to provide marketing and branding services to other small businesses in the Washington, DC metro area. In his work for 123Print Business Cards Online, Bill works to help small businesses get ahead and assist the little guy to prosper.
Category: Startup Advice