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Business Ideas

So you want to be your own boss? Start a successful business? But you worry about the risk and potential hardship that comes with funding your business ideas? You’re right to do so. Only half of new businesses make it to year five. And these days, many successful entrepreneurs start out with businesses that require minimal investment, like freelancing or consulting.

Low-cost ideas may not be the sexiest, but they’re safe, won’t break your bank, and will provide you with ample more learning experiences than you’d get working for anyone. Here are a few low-risk ideas to jumpstart your entrepreneurship or help fund your current venture. People love the water, and there’s high demand for things to do around it. One of the coolest water events I’ve participated in was a craft beer-tasting cruise around Manhattan.

How do you pull something like that off without capital? First, you’d get craft breweries on board (pardon the pun). Next, you’d call up boat rental companies and negotiate for a boat based on time, day, and size (number of people attending). Then, you’d sell tickets BEFORE you pay for the boat. It’s essentially an event; you’re just securing a boat as the venue. There may be a down payment (deposit) required by the boat service – much like a venue. If you shop around, you can negotiate a lower deposit.

Do you make incredible youtube tutorials on how to design and develop websites? Do you love to write fiction short stories? Make music? I discovered Patreon recently, and not to my surprise – there are people making a killing on the platform. Patreon allows writers, artists, and creators of all types to get paid a subscription by their fans, or “patrons” in exchange for access to content. Typical subscription fees range from as little as $1 to $10+ per month.

Freelance (designer, developer, writer, marketer) I`m a fan of what I call the big four freelance genres: designers, developers, writers, and marketers. I was able to build a successful writing business within a couple of months. If you’re good at any of these sought-after skills, you can make money without spending a dime. You need a solid portfolio (build one for free with WordPress), and you need to learn how to sell and market your services based on VALUE and not TIME.

You can only sell so much of your time before you don’t have room for more clients. Selling value instead of time can be tricky, particularly if you’re not providing direct growth (like SEO or marketing services). Nonetheless, it can be done. One of the best explanations on how to sell value is in Alan Weiss’s book, Million Dollar Consulting. Dog (or other pets) walking service. Love dogs and other animals? A dog walking or pet-care service might be your cup of tea (last week I saw a man walking cats near Central Park, for real).

You can create an affordable website using Weebly, Squarespace, or WordPress. If you optimize your website for SEO results in your neighborhood (example, Sugar Land, Texas), it won’t be so hard for your pages to rise to the top as local results tend to be less competitive (depending on the neighborhood). You could also set up a local Facebook Ad with a small budget, targeting people in your neighborhood that also like pet-related topics or animal groups like PETA.