Need a Business Idea? Here are 55

This article has been excerpted from 55 Surefire Home Based Businesses You Can Start for Under $5,000 by Entrepreneur Press & Cheryl Kimball (2009).

Today, tens of thousands of people are considering starting a home based business, and for good reasons. On average, people can expect to have two and three careers during their work life. Those leaving one career often think about their second or third career move being to their own home. People who have been part of the traditional nine-to-five work force and are on the verge of retiring from that life are thinking of what to do next. The good news: Starting a homebased business is within the reach of almost anyone who wants to take a risk and work hard.

$1,500 or less to start up

Experience, training or licensing may be needed

Create a flier outlining your services. Before you do that, you need to know what those services will be. Do you want to simply do bookkeeping for a small business? A more involved level of accounting would be do actually work up balance sheets, income statements, and other financial reports on a monthly, quarterly, and/or annual basis, depending on the needs of the business. Other specializations can include tax accounting, a huge area of potential work. Many business owners don’t mind keeping their own day-to-day bookkeeping records but would rather get professional help with their taxes.


In many parts of the country, this business tends to be seasonal, but you can find ways around that. Rent a storage unit and offer to store people’s bicycles over the winter after you do a tune-up and any needed repairs on them. If you want to cater to the Lance Armstrong wannabes, you can have business all year round. These road race riders are training through snow, sleet and dark of night. Some of them work on their own bicycles, but many of them don’t, so you can get their business all year. And if you keep Saturday shop hours, you can be sure you will have a group of enthusiasts coming by to talk all things cycling.

Experience, training or licensing may be needed

Boats that are hauled out of the water for the winter or even just for mid-season repairs will need the hull cleaned. And depending on the type of boat, it is a good time to give a major cleaning everything else too—the decks, the sleeping quarters, the head, and the holds. Start by approaching homes that have a boat sitting in the yard. Or you could market your services to the marina to contract you to do the boat cleaning it offers to customers.

Has expansion possibilities

Offer a soup-to-nuts business plan, including market research, the business plan narrative and the financial statements. Plan your fee around the main one that the client will want and offer the others as add-on services. You can give clients an electronic file and allow them to take it from there, or you can keep the business plan on file and offer the service of tweaking it whenever necessary. Have business plan samples to show clients—and make sure to include your own!

Read This: Write Your Business Plan by The Staff at Entrepreneur Media | Amazon | | Barnes & Noble


Learning to be a chimney sweep may mean nothing more than apprenticing with someone already in the business. By becoming a chimney expert, you can combine a chimney sweep business with a chimney inspection service—covering more than just whether or not the chimney needs cleaning but whether the chimney is in good working order or in need of repair.


There are many directions you can take this business. If you want to work during hours when no one else does, you can focus on office clients. You can focus on retail businesses and keep your customers clumped into one or two blocks. Restaurants are in great need of daily thorough cleaning and can be a great source of steady clients. Perhaps you would be more interested in house cleaning. Many times with cleaning services you don’t have to spend lots of money on advertising or marketing because your customers will come by word of mouth.

Read This: Start Your Own Cleaning Service by Entrepreneur Press and Jacquelyn Lynn | Amazon | | Barnes & Noble

Experience, training or licensing may be needed

Study the main types of software that system users will want—word processing, photo manipulation software, mail merge, spreadsheet, design and especially security software. Investigate all the components—monitor types in all their varieties; keyboards, from wired to ergonomic to wireless; mouse types; as well as peripheral components like printers and scanners. Become completely familiar with all the ISPs (internet service providers) available in the market area you plan to cover. Establish yourself as the guru who can meet the needs of the personal computer user, the small business or a larger corporation.

Has expansion possibilities

To be a consultant, you need to have an expertise in something so you can market yourself as an advisor to others looking to work in that area. Perhaps you managed several large warehouses in your career with a drugstore company, you did all the marketing for many years for a large shoe manufacturer or you set up a chain of beauty supply shops or take-out restaurants. You can use this experience to help others do similar things without making the same mistakes that you made along the way.

Read This: Start Your Own Consulting Business by Entrepreneur Press and Eileen F. Sandlin | Amazon | | Barnes & Noble

Experience, training, or licensing may be needed

Dog walkers take pooches out for their daily constitutional one or more times a day, either individually or in small groups. In some cities across the United States, like New York, dog walking alone can be a booming business. But it’s actually more common for dog walkers to offer additional services, including playing with and feeding pets, bringing in newspapers and mail, and turning lights on and off.

Read This: Start Your Own Pet Business and More by Entrepreneur Press and Eileen F. Sandlin | Amazon | | Barnes & Noble


Do you have items lurking around your household that you could sell on eBay? Figure out your asking price and decide whether to auction it or put it in your eBay store. Then decide if you want a minimum bid and how long you want the auction to last. You will want to establish a PayPal account to use for transactions. The eBay website provides all the information you need to know to get up and running with an eBay business.

Read This: eBay Business All-in-One For Dummies by Marsha Collier | Amazon | | Barnes & Noble 

From Editorial Services to Household Organizer

Has expansion possibilities

Here are some of the editorial services you can provide from the quiet of your own home:

  • Copyediting. This is where fact checking takes place, and where grammatical, stylistic and typographical errors are caught.
  • Proofreading. This is the last stop for a «finished» piece. The proofreader makes sure the copyediting changes have been properly made and no new errors are created in the process.
  • Indexing. There are indexing courses available and you can get indexing software.
  • Developmental editing. A developmental editor works with a manuscript on big-picture things like organization and content issues.
  • Book doctoring. This is an editorial service provided for manuscripts written by experts. They create a manuscript as best they can and then a book doctor puts it into publishable shape.
  • Ghost Writing. As a ghost writer, you actually do the research and write the book and someone else’s name is attached as the author.
  • Copywriting. Also known as business writing, this is writing that promotes a product or a service.
  • Book writing. Do you have an expertise in something professional, such as accounting or interior decorating? Or personally, like knitting? Why not write a book about it?
  • Magazine article writing. Magazines and newspapers are a great way to get your writing published before tackling the daunting task of writing a whole book.
  • Web page content provider. Providing content for a web site is a good way to make some money writing.

Read This: Start Your Own Freelance Writing Business and More by Entrepreneur Press and George Sheldon | Amazon | | Barnes & Noble

Has expansion possibilities

This business is similar to the computer repair business, but you will take on all sorts of electronic equipment besides just computers. With smaller electronics, you will need to be prepared to have customers bring their repair projects to you, as you would have difficulty recovering the cost of driving around picking up broken equipment and returning it. You may also want to encourage people to give you their old electronics so you can use them for parts.

Has expansion possibilities

One of the first things you need to do is visit every potential event location with which you plan to work. Work with the marketing manager to tour each site and learn what is available at each location. 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. Then when you are beginning to plan an event with a client, you can find out what the key parameters are for the event and easily pull up the three or four sites that meet the basic criteria. and engagement parties, etc.

Read This: Start Your Own Event Planning Business by The Staff at Entrepreneur Media and Cheryl Kimball | Amazon | | Barnes & Noble

Experience, training or licensing may be needed

One way to make money in this field is by being an expert witness yourself. If you have an expertise that could be useful in legal cases, you can market yourself to attorneys to act as an expert witness. Another way to be active in the expert witness field is to play a sort of matchmaker, matching attorneys up with expert witnesses for their cases—either for the defense or for the prosecution. Expert witnesses for big money cases can be expected to fly anywhere to testify. There’s no reason your database of witnesses can’t be from all parts of the country.

Experience, training or licensing may be needed

To start, you should go through the certification process so that you can label yourself a CFP (Certified Financial Planner). Your certificate shows that you have expertise and credibility, and this differentiation will help people choose you as their financial planner.

Has expansion possibilities

People love to spend weekends rummaging through tables full of other people’s unwanted items, looking for treasures. Make sure to change your layout and put new stuff out for sale often. You want people to come back time and again to see what’s new. You don’t even have to have that much new stuff to make things look new. Just moving an item from a table to the top of a bookshelf might get it noticed, even though the item has been in your inventory since you first started having sales.

Read This: Flea Market America: The Complete Guide to Flea Enterprise by Cree McCree | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Experience, training or licensing may be needed

Let the local public courses know about your coaching business. Cultivate relationships with the staff and encourage them to recommend you as a coach. Another place to look for customers is the corporate world. Golfing is a game that business people use to develop relationships outside the office. You do need to be a better than average golfer to develop a reputation as a golf coach. You also need to be a good teacher, know how to be motivational and be willing to work with many different types of people.

Experience, training or licensing may be needed

All homeowners are always on the lookout for ways to save on their utility bills. You can come to their aid by providing them with an audit of their house and giving them a breakdown of how they could accomplish real savings in heating, cooling and electrical use. You can go one step further and do the implementation and installation of some of your suggestions in their home yourself. Do a complete appliance audit, with efficiency ratings and calculations based on the age of the appliance. And don’t forget the water heater!

Read This: Toward a Zero Energy Home: A Complete Guide to Energy Self-Sufficiency at Home by David Johnston and Scott Gibson | Amazon | | Barnes & Noble

home inspection

Getty Images | David Sacks

Experience, training or licensing may be needed

In order to be successful, you will want to establish contacts with real estate agents who can recommend your services to customers. The home inspection field is one where you will need to do constant updating of your education and knowledge. New products are constantly coming out on the market—if you only know about decks made of wood, you will not know how to inspect and assess the new materials on the market, such as composites that are made to look like real wood. Also keep apprised of all safety updates of materials and issues with things like off-gassing, carbon monoxide production, and other chemical precautions.

Read This: Start Your Own Home Inspection Service by Entrepreneur Press | Amazon | | Barnes & Noble

Has expansion possibilities

You can choose either to do the organizing work or to come in to 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. Are the kids wildly busy with after-school activities? Or are they usually home after school and want access to their toys? Do they share rooms? All of these things will help you tailor an organizing plan and become the family hero.

From Import/Export to Solar Energy

Experience, training or licensing may be needed

If you don’t already have work experience with importing and/or exporting, you will have a longer learning curve. You can start by learning the basics and hosting educational sessions to teach others what they need to know to get started in import/export. That alone would probably gain you your first couple of clients. If you keep going with educational seminars and expand your reach to outside your immediate region, you could probably develop a sufficient and ongoing customer base very quickly, but be careful not to outpace your learning curve!

Read This: Start Your Own Import/Export Business by Entrepreneur Press and Krista Turner | Amazon | | Barnes & Noble

Experience, training or licensing may be needed

Market your talents to building contractors. People purchasing new homes can often be overwhelmed with the choices and possibilities in home decorating. Design some questionnaires for each major element and each major room in the house. Find out how the homeowner will use the home—are there children? Pets? Does the woman of the house wear high heels? Do the home’s residents neglect to remove shoes? How will each room be used? Where might task lighting and ambient lighting be most appropriate?

Experience, training or licensing may be needed

There are many different ways of getting into the jewelry business and many different types of materials with which you can work. Working in metal will probably require the most in the way of specific tools. You need to be able to heat the metal to manipulate it, and you need metalworking tools to cut and engrave it. But there are many other materials that you can work with to make jewelry—glass, plastic, beads, feathers, even wood, to name just a few.

Read This: Start Your Own Fashion Accessories Business by Entrepreneur Press and Eileen F. Sandlin | Amazon | | Barnes & Noble

Experience, training or licensing may be needed

If you can write copy that gets people excited about purchasing what your client has to sell, you can make good money in this business. Unless you are highly experienced from working in the copywriting field, take a course. There are online courses or classes at community colleges and universities that can give you a leg up in getting savvy at writing copy for brochures, catalogs, advertising and, of course, marketing copy for the web.

Experience, training or licensing may be needed

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 negligible. A justice of the peace typically performs wedding ceremonies. States have varying rules and procedures for becoming a JP and performing services. Becoming a JP and/or notary public does not cost much money. And it is not a big moneymaking venture! Many states set the fees you can charge for JP services. JPs can add additional fees, and often do, including travel and hourly rates for additional meetings such as rehearsals, other prep time and any special requests.


This business is for someone who is supremely efficient and has the ability to 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.

Read This: Start Your Own Personal Concierge Service by Entrepreneur Press and Ciree Linsenman | Amazon | | Barnes & Noble

Experience, training or licensing may be needed

Advertise your services in places where everyone goes, like restaurants and grocery stores. Having a website is a good idea—people want some privacy in their decision-making when it comes to getting fit. They can go to your website and determine if your approach to personal training is an approach that would work for them. It is important to emphasize the safety aspect of using a personal trainer. You can help clients get fit and avoid injury.

Read This: Start Your Own Personal Training Business by The Staff of Entrepreneur Media and Cheryl Kimball | Amazon | | Barnes & Noble


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. If the owners go away for six weeks in the winter, the property manager makes regular checks on the property. You will be the contact number if the security system operator needs to contact someone about a breach in security.

Experience, training or licensing may be needed

Most community colleges offer some level of engine-repair courses. Another way to learn would be to take a part-time position at a repair shop or a rental facility where you could learn on the job, although you will want to be open about your plans. You should be prepared to work on push-behind lawn mowers, riding lawn mowers, generators, garden tools such as rototillers and edgers, chainsaws, wood chippers and snowblowers. You need to decide whether you’ll want to take on bigger jobs, such as tractors, snowmobiles and ATVs; space may be your decision-maker.

Experience, training or licensing may be needed
Has expansion possibilities

As a solar consultant, you can basically conduct a home inspection and give clients a report on their solar options for their particular home and site. This can range from full-fledged general solar installations that generate electricity to simple solar walkway lighting. You might want to start by working in a solar products company to become knowledgeable in the solar energy field. However, to be a consultant, it is often best not to be affiliated with any one company or product and be able to recommend products and options across the field of solar energy.

Read This: Solar Energy: Technologies and Project Delivery for Buildings by Andy Walker | Amazon | | Barnes & Noble

From Tax Preparer to Graphic Design

Experience, training or licensing may be needed

Most tax preparation franchises offer courses, seminars, and training to get you ready to work for them. You will learn a lot about tax preparation while working for them before going out on your own. There is a lot of educational support out there to learn tax preparation and all its complexities. And there are lots of individuals and businesses willing to spend a few hundred dollars a year to have someone else prepare their taxes and keep watch for tax breaks or tax burdens on their behalf.

Experience, training or licensing may be needed

Today’s world of taxidermy isn’t exclusive to preserving real specimens. Taxidermy also refers to recreating a specimen using completely artificial materials. Taxidermy schools where you can learn the trade are located almost throughout the country, typically as courses over several weeks specializing in certain levels of expertise, from beginner to master’s level. Like any enterprise, there are taxidermy conventions that you can attend and learn about the latest techniques and materials.

Business owners reupholstering furniture

Getty Images | Jetta Productions



If you have a knack for sewing, upholstery repair might be a perfect business for you. One of the best ways to learn how to upholster is to get some discarded upholstered furniture and start tearing it apart. Many books and some videos are available to help you learn this trade. Often furniture ready for upholstering will also need repairs. Have a list available of furniture repair people you can recommend to your customers. Or you can take the piece in, have repair people you work with do this work for you, and add it to the overall cost. You can also learn to do this work, especially minor repairs, yourself.

Read This: Spruce: A Step-by-Step Guide to Upholstery and Design by Amanda Brown | Amazon | | Barnes & Noble


Almost everyone has a few boxes of books stashed away in the house somewhere. Why not make a business out of them? In order to gain customers—especially repeat customers—you will need to have some regular shop hours. Make your shop known for something-a specific category (or two) of books, having some first editions for sale, all paperbacks a dollar and all hardcovers two bucks, and/or a swap program. Maps, illustrations, postcards, greeting cards and magazines are good sidelines to include in your shop.


You will need to be up-to-date on wedding trends and fads, dress styles, color trends—almost everything under the sun! Offer your customers an ala carte menu of services, from helping pick flowers, the wedding gown and bridesmaid dresses to picking the venue and hiring the caterer. Before you open your business, shop at all the wedding shops, and even pretend you are a bride-to-be to see what kinds of services the wedding gown shop provides and how they treat potential customers. You need to know every detail of the business to give the accurate impression that you are the go-to person for anyone planning a wedding.

Read This: Start Your Own Event Planning Business by The Staff of Entrepreneur Media and Cheryl Kimball | Amazon | | Barnes & Noble

$1,500 to 3,000 to start up

Experience, training or licensing may be needed

Every household has a number of appliances, large and small. You can work on your own or on contract with appliance stores to cover their warranty service calls—or, best of all, you can do some of each. Plan to start slow and build your customer base on recommendations and referrals based on work well done. Consider developing relationships with contractors to be the go-to person to install appliances in newly constructed houses.

Experience, training or licensing may be needed
Has expansion possibilities

If you are proficient in both Macintosh and PC, you should offer training in both types of computers. You could probably make a living helping seniors learn how to use the internet and e-mail to keep in touch with their loved ones, who are now commonly spread around the country. Err on the side of caution in this business. People do not want to know all the details about what makes a computer work. If you overload them with information from the beginning by explaining bits, bytes, and megapixels, they will stick to their paper and pencil forever.

Experience, training or licensing may be needed

You can use desktop publishing software to create newsletters, magazines, books or even marketing materials. You can create the content for your desktop publications, or you can pay a writer to create the content for you. Alternatively, you can advertise your desktop publishing services to design and create newsletters and books for others with their content.


Fences are everywhere. And they don’t last forever, so they need to be repaired and replaced with a certain amount of frequency. The most common fence material is wood. However, vinyl has become a popular fence choice due to its longevity and relative freedom from maintenance. Wrought iron is another common fencing, especially in urban environments. You can have fun shopping for vintage wrought iron fencing at salvage yards.

Experience, training or licensing may be needed

Despite the proliferation of the internet, print media is here to stay for the foreseeable future! Fliers, newsletters, magazines, information sheets, letters and advertisements are just a few of the types of print media that business hire freelancers to create for them. Websites and online advertising need graphic design services as well. Even if your expertise is only in design, offer the works for potential clients, including the editorial creation and the printing and even mailing of the final piece. You can line up regular freelancers for those parts of the job you can’t do.

Read This: Start Your Own Graphic Design Business by Entrepreneur Press and George Sheldon | Amazon | | Barnes & Noble

From Gift Baskets to Rug Cleaning

Has expansion possibilities

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? Do you already create a product that a gift basket could be built around? Have you made your own soaps for the past 10 years? A gift basket that included one or two of your soaps, hand lotion, a scrub brush and manicure kit could be a lovely basket to receive.

Read This: Start Your Own Gift Basket Service by Entrepreneur Press and Cheryl Kimball | Amazon | | Barnes & Noble


Create an arsenal of cleaning products that can clean almost every kind of product (paint, chalk, markers) from every kind of surface (cement, wood, pavement). The best way to conduct a graffiti service is to offer a subscription-like arrangement. Once a month or whatever interval makes sense for your clients, go around to their property and clean off the graffiti. Charge them a monthly or quarterly fee and make it simple for everyone—they don’t have to think about graffiti, and you just do your job.

Experience, training or licensing may be needed

Hairstyling is a popular business that can be quite lucrative. Generally a home based hairstylist business is likely to be started by someone who has already has a cosmetology career and wants a change. If you already have your cosmetology training and license, and loads of experience under your belt working in a hairstyling salon, you probably have a following that will follow you right home without any hesitation.

Read This: Start Your Own Hair Salon and Day Spa by Entrepreneur Press and Eileen F. Sandlin | Amazon | | Barnes & Noble

You need to decide whether you will sell your herbs as live plants, picked or cut in bunches and packed, or dried. If you plan to market to cooks instead of gardeners, you will want to sell your herbs either fresh cut and packed in sealed bags, or dried and sold in baggies. You can also consider a «pick-your-own» arrangement; however, be aware that herbs are more delicate than most P.Y.O. products. You may save your garden a lot of strife and your plants a lot of wear and tear if you do the picking.

Experience, training or licensing may be needed

If you have a knack for this type of work, a degree won’t be necessary. Most people want their yards tidied up in the spring, their lawns mowed in the summer, their leaves removed in the fall, and their shrubs and driveways ready for winter snow. You will also want to offer garden work such as spring planting of annuals and perennials; vegetable garden preparation, planting and fall cleanup; pest control and watering. You can offer tree care service. There is plenty to do in the yard that has nothing to do with plants: stone wall restoration, fencing, irrigation system installation.

Read This: Start Your Own Lawn Care or Landscaping Business by The Staff of Entrepreneur Media and Cheryl Kimball | Amazon | | Barnes & Noble

Experience, training or licensing may be needed

You will want to become certified in massage therapy to be able to effectively market your services. Courses that lead to certification include not only information on human anatomy and physiology and the effects that massage has on both, but also on how to make a business out of the field of massage. You could do either a certification program or an associate’s degree and stay within the $5,000 scope of this book.

Read This: Start Your Own Day Spa and More by Entrepreneur Press and Preethi Burkholder | Amazon | | Barnes & Noble


Lots of people who are moving want to hire someone to do the heavy lifting for them. You can leave the large-scale, long-distance moving to the big moving companies. Your work can be the local, moving-across-town or to the town-next-door jobs. These are the ones that people start off thinking perhaps they could do themselves, and it will be your job to convince them otherwise. Your signs around town will tempt them to let you take care of that part of the move, while they are busy taking care of those other 500 items on their list.

Experience, training or licensing may be needed

You want to stick to the instrument(s) you know, but you may be a skilled enough musician to offer lessons on several different instruments, or those in a particular class, e.g., stringed or woodwind.You can decide to take on individuals or classes, depending on space and availability of instruments. Public schools are continually reducing their commitment to art and music classes for students, so you can try to work with the public school system to supplement their efforts in those areas.

Experience, training or licensing may be needed

Making money as a photographer can be done in a number of different ways. You can specialize in one area, the most common being weddings. There are niches you can explore for photography: portraits of people and their pets, families, and homes; photographs of holiday events, birthday parties or Christmas cards; the possibilities are endless.

Read This: Start Your Own Photography Business by Entrepreneur Press and Charlene Davis | Amazon | | Barnes & Noble


You will need to learn how to work with all kinds of carpet fabrics, from synthetic to wool carpets. Decide whether you will take on valuable antique carpets and family heirlooms; if so, you will want to get specialized training in how to handle these carpets and the specialized ways of cleaning them. Learn how to get tough stains and odors out of carpets—such as dog and cat odors—and your services will be in great demand.

From Websites to Pet Sitting

Experience, training or licensing may be needed

Many courses exist (many of which, logically, are offered online) where you can learn the language of website creation and can learn about the details, like how to set up shopping cart systems, security concerns, etc. You will, of course, need to learn about each company you design for. What is the atmosphere of the company that you need to reflect in the website design—is it wild and contemporary, meaning brilliant colors and fun graphics? Or will more classic colors like black, navy blue and maroon be more appropriate?

Offer: Get a 10-day free trial to and learn web development – among many other topics and courses – anytime, anywhere.

$3,000 to $5,000 to start up


Do you have a room that has its own bathroom and is private from the rest of the living space? Are you near attractions such as a tourist area, sports stadium or venue for a large annual event? Or is your home in the country with spring peepers, summer crickets and crisp fall nights that could give a city-dweller a weekend of peaceful living? Say you can rent the room for $150 a night for Friday and Saturday nights 48 weeks a year—that’s $14,400 in revenue! Utilize what you have and create a unique experience.

Read This: Start Your Own Bed and Breakfast by Entrepreneur Press and Cheryl Kimball | Amazon | | Barnes & Noble


If you want to start a Christmas tree farm, you need to plan ahead. It takes approximately seven years for a Balsam fir—perhaps the most traditional Christmas tree—to grow from a small sapling to a 5- to 6-foot tree. Selling your trees yourself is the best option. Consumers come to the property, pick the one they want, and you harvest it for them. The other option is to buy your trees from a wholesaler and sell them either in your yard or in a vacant lot that you rent from Thanksgiving to Christmas.

Experience, training or licensing may be needed

Perhaps you love children. Perhaps you have children of your own and the idea of taking care of a few more for part of the day appeals to you. Child-care needs continue to soar in the United States. Many people prefer the option of their child being cared for in a home environment while they are at work, opposed to a more institutional-like setting. These things mean that a homebased childcare business can get off and running immediately.

Read This: Start Your Own Child-Care Service by The Staff of Entrepreneur Media and Jacquelyn Lynn | Amazon | | Barnes & Noble

Experience, training or licensing may be needed

Starting a pet sitting service requires almost nothing in start-up costs. You do need some general credentials that will cost little or nothing to acquire. Your list of credentials should probably include personal pet ownership—if not currently, at least in the past—as well as other pet-related experience, including working at a pet food store, an animal hospital or other animal-related business. You will need to spend a little to become «bonded.» This is known as «honesty insurance,» and ensures your clients that you won’t get their house keys and make off with their valuables (or that they’ll get their money back if you do).

Read This: Start Your Own Pet Sitting Business and More by Entrepreneur Press and Cheryl Kimball | Amazon | | Barnes & Noble


Hannah Hart’s Best Advice for Entrepreneurs

In this video, Entrepreneur Network partner Bryan Elliott meets with entrepreneur, author and YouTuber Hannah Hart to discuss success and entrepreneurship

Finishing up school and working for a few years made Hart grateful for the fame and praise she started to gain when her creative work picked up traction in 2011. She learned that you have to work hard and understand that you won’t be making money for a long time. 

Success and how it’s measured are different for everyone. «To me, I measure my success by feeling joyful and purposeful,» she says. By being true to herself and expressing herself, she creates content and products that she’s proud of.

Entrepreneurship can be daunting, but it’s important to know that success doesn’t happen overnight — and «we’re all really insecure,» Hart says. 

To learn more, click play. 

See more episodes on Behind the Brand’s YouTube channel

Related: Why This Entrepreneur Believes You Should Never Chase Fame

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5 Reasons Ecommerce Brands Should Leverage User-Generated Content

Do you know how many sites there are in the ecommerce universe? According to Lemonstand, there are 12 to 24 million online stores — and counting.

As an ecommerce entrepreneur you may find it tough to position yourself successfully in front of your target customers, while knowing that tons of brands are also competing for their undivided attention. So, what’s the secret ingredient to gain ecommerce success? Think social proof.

You’ll be able to stand apart from your competition and skyrocket your sales if you tap into the power of social proof in the form of user-generated content.

Related: User-Generated Content Is How You Get Your Customers to Sell for You

But, what exactly is user-generated content? The term (abbreviated as UGC) refers to original, unpaid content created by fans or real users of a particular brand. It can exist in the form of testimonials, pictures, comments, Facebook statuses and tweets.

Why is UGC so important to you? How can it help you achieve your business goals? Here are some of the reasons why you should leverage user-generated content. 

1. Nurtures trust through authenticity

Studies have shown that 92 percent of online consumers trust recommendations from others. As an entrepreneur, you can spend a huge chunk of your time running paid ads and creating compelling posts to entice people to buy from you. However, you won’t be able to give customers a solid reason to do business with you if you don’t showcase authentic testimonials from real users.

Social proof is powerful. It helps brands become more transparent and worthy of people’s trust. Consider: When was the last time you bought from an online brand without looking into the opinions of previous customers?

2. Boosts brand awareness

When used in the context of online contests, user-generated content does wonders for boosting your brand awareness. When you run an online competition in which you give customers a chance to win a prize in exchange for taking a picture of themselves using your product and sharing it with their friends, your brand will often go viral.

With that kind of free incentive, you encourage real users to spread the word about your brand, thereby expanding your reach. You get more eyeballs for your product or service as your social shares or referrals increase.

3. Improves your SEO

How do you improve your SEO performance without having to create a regular stream of content? User-generated content does the work for you. 

Related: How to Avoid Potential Pitfalls With User-Generated Content

Since search engines rely on content to evaluate the quality of your website, featuring authentic user reviews and testimonials sends out the message to these web crawlers that you are providing value to your audience.

To optimize the power of user-generated content for better SEO performance, encourage your customers to leave their comments and upload images of themselves interacting with your product. Doing this will allow you to rank for long-tail keywords based on the phrases that your customers use in their feedback. 

4. Lets you provide better customer service

How would you be able to improve your customers’ experiences without knowing and understanding how customers feel about your product? You cannot take your customer service to the next level by basing your efforts on simple assumptions.

Win your customers’ hearts by allowing them to voice their thoughts and feelings in your forum section. This will help you identify their pain points and resolve any issues they run into. Moreover, providing a venue where people can leave their opinions about your brand encourages them to stay on your site longer and openly discuss these issues with other consumers.

5. Increases website engagement 

When users see the content they and other users have created on your site, they’ll feel more connected to you. Website users know that you value their personal experiences with your product. In return, those users will engage more with you and put you at the top of their list.

Instead of adding plain stock photos of your products, it’s awesome to feature user-generated content images, instead. Place these UGC images together with user reviews on your product page or home page. This strategy persuades visitors to make a purchase.

Related: How To Grow Your Instagram Followers with User Generated Content

Get your customers to market your brand for you by providing them opportunities to create user-generated content. Let the audience members who value you feel they belong, and you’ll be able to create better relationships, broaden your reach and be on top of SERPs. Most of all, your sales will increase.

There are tons of user-generated content ideas available today. You just have to tap into each one of these reasons to leverage user-generated content, to see which one works best for your brand.   


4 Questions To Help Leaders Define Their Brand

Whatever you think of our President-elect, Donald Trump has spent his lifetime building and constantly selling his brand, shaping it to the needs of his marketplace be they investors, a TV audience or voters. He is a master of personal branding.

That said Trump’s rise actually pre-dates the concept of personal branding—the idea that success comes from how you present and market yourself and your career as an individual—which dates back to 1997. Since then, a lot of leaders have talked about personal branding, but few connect it to their leadership to evolve into what they and the people they represent want and need them to be.

According to my organization’s research, fewer than 15% of leaders have defined their personal brand, and only 5% are living it every day. And if you can’t define your personal brand then how can you expect to know its value proposition (what your personal brand solves for)?

Over the course of four months in 2015, I interviewed three-dozen senior executives, and not one could clearly or succinctly answer what opportunities their personal brand solves for, and only 25% of those executives provided answers that were close to being strong responses. And when leaders lack this clarity and understanding of what their brand solves for, they are unable to effectively strengthen their own personal brands, let alone the personal brands of those they serve.

Your personal brand should represent the value you are able to consistently deliver to those whom you are serving. This doesn’t mean self-promotion – that you should be creating awareness for your brand by showcasing your achievements and success stories. What I didn’t tell you about my research I mentioned before is that 70% of professionals believe they have defined their personal brand and 50% believe they are living it. But when you peel back the onion so to speak and ask them to define it you realize that their focus was centered on self-promotion rather than a commitment to advance themselves by serving others.

Your personal brand is the total experience of someone having a relationship with who you are and what you represent as an individual and as a leader. Ask yourself and then ask close friends: What is the total experience of having a relationship with you like?  Write down the top 5 things you would expect others to experience and have your close friend do the same. Are the answers the same or similar in meaning? If they are, good for you! If not, you have some work to do.

Leaders who understand their personal brand can also answer these four questions about what that brand solves for – its value proposition – in just a few words. Can you?

  1. What is unique about the way I think?
  2. What gives me distinction as a leader?
  3. What impact do others expect from my presence?
  4. What type of solutions do I consistently deliver?

In 2017, I challenge you to answer these questions. Challenge you to think about what this means and what your personal brand is capable of solving for and thus delivering to the communities you are serving – both in and outside of the workplace. Much like social media, this is about making a full-time commitment to the journey of defining yourself as a leader and how this will shape the manner in which you will serve others.

Think about this yourself as it relates to your leadership: Are your differences clearly understood? The importance of your personal brand value proposition’s connection to leadership today cannot be understated, as it defines your leadership identity and your ability to value differences and enable the full potential of others: your team, your clients and yourself.

Remember: Managing your personal brand requires you to be a great role model, mentor and/or a voice that others can depend upon. For example, when I write, I am extremely mindful that my community of readers expect specific “experience of thought” from me. I also aim to attract new readers by offering something of value that will hopefully engage them enough to continue reading my work. Sound like a lot of pressure and a tremendous responsibility? It is . . . at first. But over time the responsibility becomes natural and instinctive.

This is the mindset you must develop and the level of accountability you must assume when deciding to define, live and manage your personal brand. Every day you know you must deliver to a standard of expectation that you have set forth for both yourself and those whom you serve. View your personal brand as a trademark; an asset that you must protect while continuously molding and shaping it. Manage it with the intention of helping others benefit from having a relationship with you and/or by being associated with your work and the industry you serve.

If your people don’t know what your personal brand is, the fault is yours and not theirs for not understanding what defines you as a leader and what that leadership solves for. Which is why those who define and live their personal brands will more naturally demonstrate an executive presence and as such may find themselves advancing more quickly at work.

Personal branding is no longer an option. It’s a powerful leadership enabler.


Employee Engagement and the Pursuit of Happiness

On July 4, 1776, our forefathers declared unanimously that the citizens of the United States of America had certain rights that cannot be given or taken away, including “the pursuit of Happiness.” Fast forward a few centuries, and we find ourselves in a workaholic, technology-crazed nation where we are plugged into email and available to work 24/7/365 — and we are still pursuing our happiness.

For many years, work and life have been labeled as two separate events that compete for equal balance and attention. As more and more of our personal lives overlap with work, it is natural that we should pursue our happiness at work, too. With this equation, it would be wise for employers to institutionalize practices at work that support employee well-being and help to create a positive work environment. In turn, organizations will benefit by having more engaged employees who will be more committed, more productive and more willing to go the extra mile — employees who say “how can I help” rather than “this isn’t in my job description.” 

Employee engagement has measured surprisingly low in the U.S. for many years, most notably by the Gallup organization, which reports only 30 percent of American workers as engaged. This leaves 70 percent of the workforce just going through the motions, or worse, actively seeking ways to disrupt other employees’ productivity or damage the organization in some way. 

With this dismal outlook, employers can move the dial in their own organizations and increase their employee engagement by following these steps:

The first step is to pay attention to the people.

People naturally want to be recognized both as professionals and as human beings. When you start to acknowledge the people in your organization, they will notice, and their work will respond to your well-deserved attention. This can be as simple as stopping by someone’s office and saying hello and thank you for the well-planned meeting agenda.

Related: 5 Companies Getting Employee Engagement Right

Reframe your employees’ relationship with accountability.

Too often, accountability at work is viewed as something that happens to you when you do something wrong. This relationship with accountability will stifle information sharing and creativity and breeds fear in work cultures. Create opportunities for employees to connect being accountable for their job responsibilities and work product as something to be proud of — and that being accountable represents success, not failure.

Related: How to Increase Accountability Without Breathing Down People’s Neck

Make sure you appropriately reward all behavior.

Your best employees will notice when poor performers are not called out on their bad behaviors, and it will foster resentment. If allowed to linger, your best employees will leave, and you will be left with your poor performers.

Connect the position to the purpose.

People crave work that is both meaningful and challenging, so make sure your employees understand the connection between their responsibilities and tasks, big and small, and the organization’s mission and vision.

Institute multiple engagement touch points.

This includes the first day — make sure they know they made the right choice when they accepted your job offer — ninety days and one year markers. Small but meaningful engagement touch points can boost employee engagement at times it would naturally start to ebb.

Prioritize well-being initiatives over a “fun” work environment.

A fun work environment, with perks such as game rooms or happy hour, provide short-lasting rewards for employees, but it doesn’t lead to long-term motivation or engagement. Invest the money into well-being initiatives that address important issues such as decreasing stress and increasing resilience. Your best and most engaged employees are most likely the hard workers who face burnout as a result of the consistently high levels of work they produce. Make sure they are taking advantage of opportunities to pause, refresh and breathe.

Related: To Meet Employees’ Expectations, Improve Engagement, Don’t Just Cater to Their Whims

Practice gratitude.

A little gratitude can go a long way and takes minimal effort. A popular theory in positive psychology is that we must maintain a ratio of several positive to one negative event to maintain a positive outlook and perspective, especially at work. Positive events can include very simple things such as being on the receiving end of a thank you for a job well done, listening to a favorite song or taking a short walk. Create opportunities for these types of events for your employees, and yourself, and encourage them to do the same.

To transform your employee engagement initiatives into lasting results, be sure your organization is committed to turning the dial. Shifting a culture has to be an organization-wide initiative with buy-in at all levels — not just a program that is coming out of Human Resources. Seek out champions who want to be a part of moving the work forward to create a team of engaged employees and foster a positive workplace culture. Happiness can and should be pursued and realized at work as a part of life, not something that happens off the clock. 


Safeguarding Your Brand in Trump’s Social Media World

As the Presidential Inauguration Day approaches, I think it’s fair to say that many brands are running scared right now…not an emotion we necessarily expected because of a new POTUS.

Sure, big business always carefully considers the policy changes that may come from a new administration. I have been involved in many scenario planning sessions the consider how regulatory changes could affect a business that I was working on. Any highly regulated industry — healthcare, insurance, financial services — is smart to plan out responses to changes in policies.

It’s smart SOP, for any brand.

But President-elect Trump is bringing a whole new type of scenario planning to reality as we face his administration. He’s directly calling out brands and identifying areas that he thinks need addressing.

We’ve never seen this before. I’m making no political statements here. We’ve never seen this before. Nor have we seen the speed and directness of the call outs on social media. Ford and Carrier are just two early examples.

Any brand should be prepared for this new environment. Even if not called out specifically, many issues are common to any company within a given industry or even, quite honestly, common to us all. Entrepreneurs and small business owners may feel immune but your industries may very well not be. You could be affected without even knowing it.

So what’s a brand to do?

Here are a few suggestions to consider as you formulate an action plan. You’ll want a plan in place in case your brand or industry suddenly comes under scrutiny.

Related: Shark Tank’s Mark Cuban Tweets Message of Healing

Start monitoring.

If you aren’t already monitoring news and social channels, then start. Pronto. You don’t have to do it by yourself, and you don’t have to rely on Google Search. There are many monitoring services available that can alert you to topics of interest. You may feel like you are doing this already, but I’ll bet it’s not as thorough or as timely as is now required in this new environment. Make sure you’re keeping track of those topics close to your business as well as periphery issues as well. They could all affect you, and you’ll want to be the first to know. Yesterday’s news may be too late.

Related: Sprint and OneWeb Say the 8,000 Jobs Announced by Trump Are Part of Previous Pledge

Get social.

Transparency is key these days. No one expects you to be perfect anymore, because  we all know that’s impossible. But we do expect you to come clean about it. Not only when the spotlight is on you, but proactively as well. Become active on the social channels that make the most sense for your business, like Twitter or LinkedIn, and start to share where you’re at. You aren’t exposing yourself at all. Quite the contrary, you are becoming a part of the community that can band together to address issues when necessary. Be an active part of the community, so if something does come up you’ll already be engaged and won’t be alone.

Related: Trump Team Says Twitter Too Small to Be Included in Tech Meeting

Be your brand.

At all times, be yourself. Know who you are as a brand and act consistently no matter the situation. Being yourself is the best defense to criticism because at its most fundamental you are not trying to be something that you’re not. This applies to us as humans as well as to brands. The worst thing you can do should you come under a microscope is to suddenly change who you are. It’ll appear like smoke and most people feel like where there’s smoke there’s fire.

Hopefully this will get you thinking…and realizing that this all really does apply to your business. Along the way you should start formulating an action plan around those issues that you may feel are sensitive about your business, so that you can be proactive in your activities.

Happy Inauguration!


How to Succeed in Business Beyond Your Wildest Dreams

We live in a chaotic world, where the dichotomy between the haves and the have-nots is increasingly more apparent with each subsequent year. It’s a world where people are immersed in a survival-of-the-fittest rat race, requiring them to evade a complex maze of distractions, bad habits and time wasters to reach their goals. Many are ill-equipped mentally, emotionally and physically to get ahead in life, much less to get far ahead.

Most people know that succeeding in business could afford them a life of leisure, one replete in the ability to travel to far-off destinations, engage in extravagant purchases and to do anything their hearts desire. But overcoming the instant urges and sudden basal needs that plague much of the world often proves to be too much.

What usually happens is the person who dreamed of greener pastures and riches beyond their wildest dreams, becomes so immersed in one problem after another, that it removes any joy whatsoever in building a successful business in the long term. Clearly, while many people yearn to start a business that will ultimately become a huge success, not everyone gets there.

So, what separates the so-called winners from the rest? Why will eight out of every 10 businesses fail in the first 18 months of operation? What are the other two out of 10 doing so differently than the rest? And how is that only four out of every 100 businesses are still around after 10 years? What are the factors that lead to the 96 percent failure rate in business over the long term?

Related: The 9 Things You Need to Let Go of For Success in 2017 

In a recent conversation with Niko Contardi, co-founder of eliteLYFE, a high-end luxury villa rental company that caters to the world’s most affluent jet-setters and an exclusive villa rental partner to some of the most prestigious concierge companies on earth, such as Quintessentially, I asked him how they did it. How can a company, in today’s day and age, succeed when so many of the odds are stacked against them?

Contardi, who’s had a hand in building a near-$100 million dollar business in a few short years, tells me that it’s all about delivering real value. «Delivering real value in business is what makes the difference between the so-called winners and losers. Those who try to cut corners and take shortcuts don’t actually get ahead in the long term. They might make some short-term traction, but that’s about it.»

That value needs to exist in everything the business does. By paying attention to all the meticulous details that are necessary to ensure that you deliver an impeccable product or service every single time, you can succeed. You might lose money at the outset, but as long as you continue to deliver enormous amounts of value, that’s how true business success is achieved over time.

In fact, the world’s richest and most successful individuals have always focused on the need to deliver enormous amounts of value. They didn’t necessarily get filthy rich at the outset, but it came over time, happening slowly but surely. People like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Richard Branson, Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, Mark Zuckerberg and many others have contributed real value to the world, making them some of the richest people in history.

Principles for achieving success in business.

Before my son was born, when he was still the size of a quarter inside my wife’s womb, I began writing these daily journal entries to him entitled, «To My Unborn Son.» We hadn’t named him back then, so the journal entries just took on that title and held that title, even after we had an idea of what we would name him when he was born.

In the journal entries, which I logged every single morning, I conveyed a lot of my thoughts and emotions. I wanted to teach him about success. Not just about how you can succeed in business, but more so, how you can succeed in life. But looking back on those entries, something became very apparent to me.

I realized that the principles for success in life are universal. They apply to personal success in relationships as much as they apply to success in business or in your finances. So when we talk about success at its very foundation, these core principles play a large role in dictating any one person’s ability to get far ahead in life.

If you abide by these principles, not only will you succeed in business, but you’ll succeed in anything that you do, no matter what that might be, great or small.

1. Gratitude

While most people who dream about success in business imagine a life devoid of problems, it’s quite the opposite. Every business has problems. The bigger the business, the bigger and more intricate those problems will be. In fact, the only time you’ll cease having problems is when you’re six feet under. Problems are a sign of life.

Instead of focusing on the problems, you have to focus on what you’re grateful for. Everything in your life was once a wish. We yearn for things, then when we attain them, we look toward the next thing. This Hedonic Treadmill is a defining factor of life and all the more reason why we need to be grateful for what we have right now, in this very moment.

Related: The Four A’s of Expressing Gratitude

By focusing on the things that we’re grateful for, no matter how small they might be, we open up the infinite wisdom, beauty and endless possibilities that exist in life. The universal ether that binds us all can help us attract the right things in life and achieve the seemingly impossible. But it all starts with an attitude of gratitude.

2. Integrity

At the heart of every successful entrepreneur is integrity. Every business needs to be run with integrity, putting the customer first. It should always be the priority of any business owner to do things the right way. Not just because of the potential for bad reviews, but because of the sheer importance of putting people first and foremost at all times.

In another recent interview with Ferrari collector David Lee, purveyor of the highly-successful Hing Wa Lee Group — valued at more than $500 million — and the son of an immigrant gemstone carver, integrity is one of his personal business rules for success.

By treating people the right way, like you would treat your family, you’ll eventually succeed in business over time. It might not happen as quickly as you’d hope for it to happen. It might actually take decades. But as long your focus is unwavering, you’ll get there if you don’t give up on your goals.

3. Value

Real inherent value has to be at the heart of everything any successful business owner does. If you don’t deliver value, you can kiss your chances of success goodbye. But most people don’t focus on delivering value. They focus on taking shortcuts and finding the easy way to do things. Success doesn’t quite work like that.

While many people are concerned with doing the least amount of work for the greatest initial return, true success in business over the long term demands quite the opposite. You have to do the most amount of work for the least initial return while focusing on delivering true value. As soon as you compromise on that value proposition, that’s when you’ll find your business in a decline or even a free fall. But if you put value above all else, not only will you succeed in business, but you’ll taste the most wild success possible at the highest level attainable. It just won’t happen quickly or easily.

4. Persistence

Giving up simply isn’t an option. Building a successful business over time takes work. It takes an endless amount of struggle, breakdowns, tears and failures. You can’t simply expect to succeed instantly. It doesn’t quite work that way. But for those who are willing to stick it out and see things through, success will most certainly be reached.

What most people don’t realize is that even the world’s most famous people failed numerous times. It didn’t come simply or easily. It took tremendous amounts of struggle and heartache. Stay persistent no matter what happens. Even if you feel like there’s no other way forward, you can’t give up. 

KFC founder Colonel Harland Sanders was 62 years old and had just a $105 social security check to his name when he finally found success. Even after 1,000 restaurants turned down his franchise chicken model, he kept persisting. Henry Ford went bankrupt twice, but never gave up, and J.K. Rowling’s first Harry Potter book was turned down by all 12 major publishers. That just shows you the power of persistence.

5. Loyalty

One thing I wanted my son to understand about success was loyalty. Loyalty is important in life. You have to be loyal to people who helped you when you were just starting out. Rather than try to stab people in the back due to greed or some other desire to get quickly ahead, you have to stay loyal.

There’s simply no need to create negative energy by being disloyal. Don’t go around someone or try to pull something over someone’s head. Don’t be conniving or underhanded. Take those who were there to support you at the outset to the top with you. Ensure they’re around because they were there when no one else was.

This isn’t just about loyalty to family; this is about loyalty to customers, employees, friends, partners and everyone else who helped you along the way. Be sure to keep them around, because one day, when you least expect it, they could be there to help you achieve some of your biggest business goals.

Related: This 25-Year-Old Found Success When He Started Helping Others Succeed

6. Contribution

Contribution should be at the heart of any successful business. As long as we’re looking for ways to contribute something in this world and make it a little bit better than it was when we first arrived in it, we’re doing ourselves and all others a huge service. However, not enough people focus on contribution.

One of the things I wanted my son to take away from my principles of success in business or in life was the importance of contribution. We have to search for ways we can help others. There are far too many people in this world who are enduring endless hardships. We simply have to stop and think of them at times before we think of ourselves.

Search for ways that you can contribute to those causes. It doesn’t have to be money. Time is more valuable than money. Find ways you can help those who are less fortunate and give a little bit back to society. Not only will you feel great, but you’ll end up attracting good things into your life over time. It’s simply how the world works. 


6 Types of Businesses You Can Start With Almost No Cash

If you’re like millions of Americans, you dream of starting your own business. But of course, there are dozens of obstacles that may keep you from actually doing that. You might not have enough motivation, for example, or time to actually see the work through; or you might not even have a solid idea to begin with — yet.

Related: The 10 Best New-Age Business Ideas You Haven’t Heard About Yet

But where most people get stopped cold is their realization that it takes money to start a business — money they don’t have.

Still, consider: There are loans, grants, and other fundraising options, like crowdfunding, available to get you what you need; so money is not a good excuse not to start a business. And, beyond that, there are certain types of businesses you can start with almost no cash.

What it takes to start a business

Your first step is to explore what it takes to formally “start” a business, and which of those items cost money.

  • Planning. You’ll need to come up with a business plan and financial model, of course, but you can do this on your own, for free.
  • Business license. If you’re planning on creating a partnership, LLC or corporation, you’ll need to file some paperwork — but it probably won’t cost you more than a few hundred dollars, depending on what licensing you need. The Small Business Administration has plenty of resources to help you figure out what you need, how to obtain it and how much it will cost.
  • A domain name. You’ll need to invest in your online brand early on; while I suggest going as professional as possible, you could also use a bare-bones approach to launch, if yours is a minimum viable product. Often, a catchy domain name is all you need to define your brand at the start, and one can be bought for as little as $10 (if you can find one that isn’t taken!). I use GoDaddy to buy domains.
  • A website. Website builders these days are free and intuitive to use. You won’t expend anything but time to build your first site. I recommend starting simple with a widely-used website platform, like WordPress.
  • Marketing. While marketing has a reputation for being very expensive, there are actually a ton of really effective tactics that can be performed with only an investment of your time. Social media marketing, SEO and content marketing all fit within this category — and, honestly, those are really all you need. For help, see The Definitive Guide to Marketing Your Business Online.
  • Equipment. Equipment, offices and other tangible assets are cash killers, but not all businesses need them. Some businesses don’t require any of these things, as I’ll explain shortly.
  • Products. Finally, all businesses need to sell something, which usually means some up-front investing. However, many services can be performed with an investment of time rather than money.

Types of businesses to start

So, which types of businesses can be started without a heavy financial burden in any of the above areas?

1. Personal creations

First off, there are personal creations, like arts and crafts. For example, if you’re a painter, you could sell your works of art with an investment of nothing more than art supplies and your own time. Platforms like Etsy, eBay and Amazon cater to creators and make it easy to turn a profit from your work.

Related: 101 Businesses You Can Start With Less Than $100

2. In-home services

Services don’t cost you any money up-front because they’re intangible goods. And if you’re working in people’s own homes or neighborhoods, you won’t need a physical headquarters for your business. For example, you could start a babysitting service, a dog-walking or pet-sitting service or something like landscaping or snow-plowing.

3. Repair or skill-based services

If you have a specific skill, you could use your skilled labor as the main revenue driver for your business. For example, if you’re a handyman, you could cater to homeowners who don’t know much about home repairs.

Just like in-home services, these types of gigs don’t require you to have a physical establishment and don’t require you to invest in anything up-front, except perhaps the tools or equipment you’re going to need for the job, which will vary in cost.

4. Consulting

Many workers think about becoming entrepreneurs only after getting several years of professional experience under their belt. Think about the industry you’re in, and how much you’ve been able to learn in that time. Up-and-coming professionals, or startup business owners will likely be glad to pay you for your expertise. Consulting is a service that costs only time to produce, but can be highly valuable as a career opportunity.

5. Resale

The idea behind resale is simple: You acquire products and sell them to other people. You can use dropshipping or wholesaling to acquire these goods. With dropshipping, you’ll ship directly from the manufacturer (and turn a lower profit), but you’ll need almost no startup cash. With wholesaling, you’ll need more money and space up-front, but you’ll end up with more control and more money.

6. Micropreneurship

Of course, you could also piece together your own miniature business through micropreneurship and shared-economy opportunities. For example, you could drive for a service like Uber, or rent your home out through AirBnB or find similar services that make use of what you’ve already got.

After you get your business started and start earning revenue, your lack of startup capital will become less of a problem. You can reap the profits from your venture and reinvest them, or use them to start an even bigger business.

Related: 12 Low-Cost Business Ideas for Introverts

Hopefully, you now realize that you don’t need a lot of up-front money to start a business. In fact, you can start one for almost nothing. You just need to know what types of businesses work best in that model.


8 Tips for Building Your Personal Brand in 2017

Branding is such a crucial component of success. Think of some of the largest companies in the world — from Nike’s “swoosh” to Apple’s icon — everyone is familiar with the brands they created.

Today, building your personal brand is just as important as building your company’s brand — in fact, it might even be more important. Consumers want to hear the story behind the founders — the failures, struggles and the success. This means putting yourself out there and marketing yourself in addition to your business. 

My company is launching a new division next week — an influencer marketing agency — and it was made possible, in part, to the personal brand I have built. The contacts I have developed over the years with large brands, agencies and influencers all happened because of my personal brand. Here are eight tips to help you build up a strong personal brand this year.

1. Be visible and accessible.

You can’t hide in your office behind your computer and expect to build a personal brand. You need to get out and make yourself visible and accessible. Attend industry conferences, even if it’s just to network and socialize. Make your social media profiles open to the public and allow incoming messages. Hold live video Q&A sessions on social media and interact with your followers. The more visible and accessible you make yourself, the stronger your personal brand.

Related: 5 Steps to Build Your Personal Brand

2. Show the real you on social media.

Don’t use social media as a 100 percent marketing channel. It’s fine to throw an offer out there or promote your company occasionally, but focus on showing the real you. If you come across as a robot or unauthentic you will push people away. Consumers love to see the other side — what you do on the weekends, where you eat, what your hobbies and interests are, etc. This makes you appear more human, which attracts more people to you. 

3. Understand your industry inside and out.

Your business is only as good as the people running it, yourself included. It’s important that you understand your industry inside and out — common sense. But, this also means staying up to date on latest trends, breaking news and your competition. When you do this, it helps to position yourself as a thought leader in your industry, elevating your personal brand to a higher level.

Related: 10 Unconventional Ways to Build Your Personal Brand

4. Practice 2-way networking.

A lot of people network the wrong way. They focus on their own needs and personal benefit, completely ignoring those needs and wants of the other person. Focus on 2-way beneficial networking, making sure to give the other person an opportunity to benefit from the relationship as well. This approach will help you secure more connections and opportunities, which will all contribute to strengthening your personal brand.

5. Maintain a detailed database of contacts.

As your personal brand grows, so will your list of contacts. It’s important that you keep a detailed list of all your contacts. Who the person is, where you connected, potential opportunities and how you can help them are all things to keep track of. While it can be a great resource to search when you need something, it can also be referenced when you have an opportunity. Your relationships will become much stronger and beneficial when you approach a contact with an opportunity that helps them without asking for anything in return.

Related: 22 Statistics That Prove the Value of Personal Branding

6. Become a trusted source of breaking news and relevant information. 

You know your personal brand is strong when you become a source of information. Strive to be the person media outlets and journalists contact when they need expert advice or information on a popular topic or breaking news. Start by sharing news and information that you feel is useful on social media and send it to your email list. This can also help to build your following, which leads to people viewing you as a trusted authority in your industry. Ultimately, this will attract more people to you.

7. Develop a strong value proposition.

Every major company has a value proposition and you should too. What makes you, as a person, attractive to potential customers or clients? What is it that makes you special? What should someone work with you? Once you have this established, make sure your audience knows what it is.

Related: How to Build a Personal Brand That Elevates Your Company

8. Give back.

Aside from feeling good and giving you personal satisfaction, giving back can help you build your personal brand. Whether it’s donating money to a charity or volunteering your time to a cause that’s important to you, this type of deed can benefit your personal brand. You can highlight your charitable deeds on your website and even issue press releases to attract positive attention. People remember selfless acts.


10 New Ideas for Making Money on the Side

Every year we make the same resolutions, like losing weight or to quit smoking. What about making more money?

While there proven ways to make extra cash on the side, even if you have a full-time job, if those haven’t worked-out for you in years past, then consider these 10 new ideas for earning some additional money on the side.

1. Join the sharing economy.

«The sharing economy is growing at an exponential rate,» says Nigel Wilson, managing director at Hitwise. «Thousands of sharing economy companies have sprouted up around the world, and consumers are actively engaging in collaborative consumption.

According to PwC, 44 percent of all adults in the U.S. are aware of the sharing economy and 19 percent have engaged in a sharing economy transaction. It is imperative for brands to consider how to support and participate in collaborative consumption, rather than compete against it.»

The sharing economy is exploding and the largest demographic in the country, millennials, have embraced it. For 2017, look beyond Uber, Lyft and AirBnb when looking to tap into this market. You can rent out your car on Turo, camera equipment on Cameralends, snowboard or bike on Spinlister and, if you own one, your sailboat on Sailo. Besides renting out the stuff that you already own, you can deliver home-cooked meals with Umi-Kitchen.

Related: How Millennials Are Defining the Sharing Economy

2. Launch a box subscription service.

If you want to tap your local or niche market then a box subscription service is the place to start. Over the last couple of years we’ve seen an explosion of box subscription services in niches ranging from beauty to food to gaming to novelty gifts. Since the goods or services are delivered to the customer each month, and it has a recurring billing model, it can quickly become a lucrative and passive source of income. Here’s a list of possible box service ideas to get you started.

3. Take over a mobile food truck.

More and more people, especially those between the ages of 18 to 34, are patronizing food trucks and that’s why the food truck industry is expected to surpass $985 million by 2019. For savvy entrepreneurs, food trucks are an appealing business because it’s inexpensive to start, isn’t strapped down to a one location, can be a part-time side gig and you don’t have to start from scratch. Every day thousands of baby boomers retire. If you know any baby boomer looking to get out of the food industry, consider purchasing their established business, which should include customers, recipes, and equipment at the very least.

My friend Keith Crossley was able to purchase several food trucks and recently opened several restaurants. It took him almost four years but over that time he was able to build a thriving business for himself. It all started trying to make money on the side and turned into his full time thriving business. It’s possible for you to do the same. His original investment was less than $35,000.

4. Earn cash by downloading apps.

I’ll be honest, you aren’t going to make a fortune downloading the following apps but you can make some extra cash each month by doing very little. Here’s some of my personal favorites:

  • The Swagbucks app pays you for answering simple survey questions.
  • Media Insiders pays you for watching television.
  • Stash gives you $5 to start investing.
  • Clink will give you $5 to start saving
  • When you walk, Bitwalking will pay you in a virtual currency called Bitwalking Dollars.
  • Nielsen Homescan gives you cash for scanning your grocery receipts.
  • Achievement pays you for completing healthy activities.
  • MobileXpression will give you cash, gift cards, and merchandise for surfing online.
  • The Ibotta app pays you for taking pics of your receipts.
  • Paribus scans your emails for receipts and will issue a refund if there’s a price drop.

Related: The Sharing Economy Isn’t a Niche. It’s the Future of Market Capitalism

5 Write to Congress.

Writing has long been a favorite side-gig for people. However, with the 2016 presidential election, don’t be surprised to see an influx of letters to Congress. And, you may be able cash-in on this trend. DDC Public Affairs and NextWave are bipartisan advocacy groups that launch grassroots political campaigns on issues ranging from energy, healthcare, taxes, and defense.

All of these hire people to call all constituents or advocates and then transfer their opinions into written letters. You’re assigned campaigns, but you can reject them if you want. They expect you to work 20-25 hours per week and you start-off at $12 to $15 per hour.

6. Invest in real estate.

If you aren’t working full-time or are already strapped for cash, then becoming a landlord probably isn’t the wisest decision. But, if you’re looking to make some extra cash, then you could consider invest in real estate. The reason? The housing market is looking strong for the foreseeable future.

Best of all, sites like Realty Mogul allow you to invest in commercial real estate for as little as $5,000.

7. Become an Instagram consultant.

Instagram had an incredible 2016. And, expect 2017 to be even better. Thanks to the Facebook-owned platform getting serious about attracting businesses, and launching exciting features like live video and Instagram Stories, a lot of brands are going to start promoting themselves on ‘the gram.’ If you’re a frequent Instagram user, have a passion for photography, and are a social media whiz, then you can start your own Instagram consulting business on-the-side.

8. EMV security consultant.

There are now around 300 million chip-card in-use by consumers with 1.2 million merchants accepting chip cards. Even though the transition to EMV is in full-swing, it’s expected that there will be an increase in fraud.

If you have security experience, or are knowledgeable in EMV, then you could start your own EMV security consulting business where you can instruct small business owners and their employees how to properly use EMV readers and inform them on the latest security measures.

Related: 5 Ways to Participate in the Bitcoin Revolution

9. Invest in bitcoin.

Bitcoin had a very good 2016. That should carry over into 2017 and beyond. In fact, some experts believe that the price for bitcoin will reach $1,000 within the next year, which would be a 40 percent increase. This is because of an increase in usage, more adoption, an increase in investments, and remittance in emerging markets like India.

10. Go green.

Millennials are extremely conscious about the environment. For example, 61 percent of millennials want to sign up for a digital application which can allow them to track their energy usage and control their household climate. That means that there’s a huge demand for “green” businesses in the near future.

Looking for a place to start? Here are a additional ways to make money on the side!