You are out of work and can’t find a job. You really, really, hate the job you have now and want to change but there just isn’t anything out there you’ll be happy with. You have two kids in college and need some extra income to pay tuition. You are retired and the Social Security you were promised when you began working is not enough to live on. You need a change and you need more money. What can you do? You have two choices: you can either join millions of others searching for jobs that just aren’t there or you can do what I did… start your own home based business.
If not now, when? That is the question I asked myself and you should too. There has never been a better time to start your own business. Companies are downsizing but the work still needs to be done. This means they are outsourcing the work. Want to sell something, maybe some handmade crafts or homemade chocolate covered grasshoppers? There is a global market available right at your fingertips. Goods, services, information, whatever you have, the market is just waiting to be tapped. All you need to do is go after it.
Look at me for example, both my significant other and I were out of work and job prospects were slim so I decided to do something I had wanted to do for a long time, I took the step and started my own home business. Now I am a freelancer, which is much better than the freeloader I was while out of work. In my case, I decided to pursue my passion which is writing and editing. You can do the same with your passion too.
How to Start a Business: First Steps
- Make sure running your own business is for you by using our resource How to Start a Business. Some people aren’t cut out to run their own businesses, see if it is for you.
- Decide what business you want to get into with Discover Your Calling. What are you called to do? Remember if you aren’t doing something you like, then it will be too much like work. If you are doing something you love, you’ll be happy.
- Stop procrastinating, get off your butt and do it.
Five Low Cost Small Business Ideas:
You’ve decided you want to strike out on your own, what should you do? Here are five low to no cost small business ideas to choose from. The beauty of all five of them is they can be done either full or part time. They cost little or nothing to start and you can be like me and never have to leave the house (unless you want to).
1. Start a Freelance Business:
Freelancers are hot right now. Well, I’m not hot, but maybe if I lose a few pounds and find some hair I could be. When I say hot, I mean in total demand. The possibilities are endless for freelancing: Writing, Information Technology, Web Design, Editing, Social Marketing, Programming, Graphic Design, whatever you want to do you can make it happen. Finding freelance work is easy; it just takes a little patience, a computer and an internet connection. Everything you need to get started is in our online course: Freelancing for Beginners. You can work from home, the beach, the library or your favorite donut shop, and the money you can earn is limited only by how hard you want to work.
2. Sell Online:
Here is another opportunity to earn money: working from home, selling online. There are several ways you can do this. We all know about eBay and other online auctions and an even easier way is to open an online store. It is easier than you might think and you can decide if you want to handle product or have someone else do the dirty work and just collect the money.
The two most well-known online stores are eBay and Amazon. Both have been around for years, each with their good points and bad points. We have two online learning opportunities for you to look at: You Can Learn to Sell on eBay or Learn How to Sell on Amazon are taught by our experts and will have you up and running in no time. There are other ways to sell products online as well. If you are a person who is good at crafts, you can go to a place like Etsy.com and set up an online store there. You can also sell antiques or other items as well. What I like about this site is you set the price; it is not an auction site like eBay (although eBay also has a storefront option). Yahoo! Store is another online market place which is becoming more popular. Decide what you want to sell, find a place to purchase the item wholesale and go for it. You never need to see, touch, taste or smell the product, just watch your bank account grow.
3. Blogging, Websites, and Affiliate Marketing:
While each of these can be a category by itself, they really are all linked together. If you are going to start a blog you need affiliate marketing in order to make money (unless you have something to sell). The same goes for a website, if there is nothing for a viewer to buy, while they may love your website or blog, you won’t make money. And affiliate marketing by itself, I guess would be okay, but would anyone come to your website only to shop?
The great thing about affiliate marketing is you don’t need to handle any product; you can link to a website such as Amazon, and pick out what you want to sell (or install widgets for daily deals, etc.) or use Google AdSense and let them pick the ads based on your content. There are other affiliate marketing programs as well, research them all and pick the one (or ones) that work best for you. Just remember don’t overdo it, the biggest turn-off on a blog or website is too many ads. Getting up to speed quickly with affiliate marketing is easy with this course: Affiliate Marketing for Noobs (I had to look up noobs too).
If you want to try blogging, all you need is something to blog about and you are off. This is one of the easier and more importantly (at least for me) cheaper ways to make money. You can start a blog for nothing on sites like WordPress or Blogger, get a free domain name (although I would suggest purchasing one) start an affiliate marketing program and type away. Try our Blogging Success Program and get started today. Can’t write worth a damn? That’s okay; we can help there as well with Becoming a Writer and our Blog Writing Workshop.
Websites can also be profitable and are easy (and inexpensive) to start. There are many companies out there who will build and design your website, but you can also do it yourself. With a little training you would be surprised what you can do, and again, for next to nothing. WordPress for Beginners is a great place to start.
4. Social Media Marketing:
This is one of the fastest growing online businesses out there right now. It involves using social media to bring people to your website, blog or business. Everyone you know has Facebook right? Twitter? LinkedIn? Myspace? (Okay that was a test since Myspace is lost in space.) Each one of these presents an opportunity for marketing a business, whether it is your own, or someone else’s. There are tons of small businesses out there that may have a Facebook page, a Twitter account or one of the many other social media platforms and not know how to use it. Sure you could teach them but the problem is most business owners don’t have the time to either learn or use it. Have you ever tried posting to Facebook while making an omelet? Trust me; iPhones just don’t work the same after having been beat into eggs, cheese, spinach and bacon. Social media marketing involves promoting a business through tweets and posts.
With a course like Social Media Marketing for Businesses, you can quickly become an expert in the field and sell this expertise to others. As hard as it has always been for me to believe, people will actually pay you for what you know and can do for them.
5. Write and Publish and EBook:
Last but by no means least, is another one of those jobs you thought you could never do: writing and publishing books. EBooks are becoming more and more popular and if you can write, you can publish an EBook. Actually, you don’t even have to know how to write, (I am proof of that) you can use voice recognition software to do the heavy lifting for you. You can take a subject you love and turn it into a book for little or even no money. For example in How to Become a Bestselling Author on Amazon Kindle you can learn what over 2,000 others have and sell a boatload of books.
Non-fiction books are always good, as I said above; people are willing to pay for what you know. Take your knowledge and write a book about it. After you write and publish your book, you can use what you have learned about websites, blogging, affiliate marketing, social media marketing and even freelancing to sell the darn thing.
Tips for Success:
- Knowledge is the key: Learn all you can about the business you want to start. The internet is full of information that can help you. Any of the links in this article are great places to start.
- You get out what you put in: Don’t expect to sit back and watch the money roll in, at least not right away. You have to work at it. Whatever business you get into, whether on this list or something else, you will need to hustle. As much as we all would like it if customers would come right to us, this won’t happen right away. You will need to market your business, you will need to persevere, you will need to keep knocking on doors and it will come.
- Don’t give up: Give yourself and your business a chance to succeed. Being patient is important and you have to give your business time. Even if you have a unique idea that no one else has thought of, it will take time to catch on. You have to establish a name for yourself, find customers, do the work, and it can get very frustrating. I am still developing my business and I have been at it over a year. It will come, be patient.
- Don’t quit the day job: As tempting as it will be to leave the day job, don’t make any rash decisions. If you are out of work you have nothing to lose, but if you are already working you still need to pay the rent and mortgage, feed the dog, and the bar tab. In this case get the business going well enough so you can make up what you will lose from your current job. A good goal to shoot for would be have at least a year’s expenses saved before you fully leave. And remember there will be times when business is slow, be ready for them.
- Don’t be afraid to fail: Finally, don’t be afraid to fail. Even if you learn all you can, knock on all the doors and do excellent work, you still might fail. It happens. I failed at one business and it stinks, but it happens. Let go and move on to the next. At least you are one step ahead of where I was when I failed, you are reading this and there are a lot of resources you can use.
One Last Thing:
It has never been easier to begin a business. For almost no money, you can start a business and market it around the world. You can work from home; you can work full time or part time. You can start your business while still working at your current job, the one you hate, and get to the point where you can sing Johnny Paycheck’s anthem “Take This Job and Shove it” to your boss. You can get up in the morning undressed (well unless of course you are going to Skype with someone).
All you need is the desire, the patience, a can-do attitude and the will to succeed to do it. So what the heck are you waiting for? Get moving!
From the “Also Good to Know Department”:
- The Small Biz Doers’ Guide to Small Biz Accounting
- Social Media Marketing for Startups
- Writing Effective Business Emails