It could be the new year, it could be that you are tired of working for other people or it could just be that you have a gut feeling. Whatever the reason, you feel that you should start a business. Beyond that, however, you feel lost. What business should you set up? How much money will you need? What happens if you fail? These are all common questions asked by all logical first time entrepreneurs. All first steps look daunting and just like a new parent who is about to start raising a child, starting a business fills you with worries, stress, but also excitement. Excitement of opportunity.
To help you decide which business to start I present to you a list of easy ideas which have been proven to work and require minimal start up costs. These businesses can offer you a very good living wage and, what’s more, as your business grows you can employ people to do the heavy lifting whilst you focus on the growth. You could also decide to keep the business small and just live a comfortable life, working flexible hours and getting a good living. Let’s jump right into it!
Car valeting is more professional sounding than car wash, but they are basically the same thing. For a car to be properly valeted it would need to be cleaned thoroughly, including hard to get to spaces. To start a business in car valeting you need very little start up money. You probably have all the basic equipment already in your house; a bucket, a sponge, soap and car wax. You can also find more professional equipment online. Make sure that you have everything you need to properly wash and rinse a car from the outside. For water, you’d need to see whether you can take some from your clients or, alternatively, carry a water tank (though you’d need a vehicle for that).
Getting your first customers can be very easy and if you do a good job and are fairly priced you can almost guarantee that they will be repeat customers. Almost everyone wants their car washed on a fairly regular basis but very few people have the time or patience to do it. They would be willing to pay someone to wash their car, especially whilst they’re at work and not using it. To grasp this opportunity you need to find large companies and put a business card or a printed flyer of your services on the windscreen. Make sure you have a scheduler to keep track of the bookings so that you allow yourself enough time to get to the client, wash the car and get on to your next client.
To start a business valeting cars you don’t need any complicated permits and you needn’t worry about licences and permits until you have a steady stream of customers. The work is long and labour intensive, but the costs are low and the profit is decent. As you get better at washing cars you will spend less time to finish, giving you more profit. You can also upgrade your services and include a vacuuming service, a dashboard wax, etc. These addons can really increase your profit margin so do look into them. Don’t forget to also use social media to spread the word quickly. Take plenty of before and after photos of the cars (don’t show number plates) you wash so that you show prospective customers how good the quality of your work is.
To start a business as an accountant, you need to be qualified and have the proper licence. If you do not have the qualifications but like the job, then you should consider getting the qualifications, perhaps on a part time schedule. The start up costs are very low as you will be selling your skilled services. You can choose to rent an office or, to keep costs low, you can work directly from home and visit clients at their premises. All you’d need to start off would be a basic computer and printer, some stationery and, most importantly, business cards.
To get your first customers seek business networking meetings in your area. Entrepreneurs enjoy meeting each other to share ideas, work together and find out about new opportunities. Remember such meetings or gatherings also occur online, on social media and entrepreneur focused websites. Introduce yourself at these meetings and explain what services you offer. Include ways that you can make entrepreneurs’ lives easier when they outsource some or all of their bookkeeping to you. Being a one person business with low start up costs allows you to charge very competitive rates and still make a sustained profit.
Opportunities for growth are considerable. You can choose to remain a one person show and charge premium rates to your customers. This would mean only the best clients would use your services, but you would avoid the hassle of maintaining customers who seek low cost services. Alternatively, you could keep your competitive rates and employ new graduates to do the grunt work whilst you seek out new customers. This would involve a greater risk and introduce managerial responsibilities, but the payoff may be higher in the long term.
Pets are a business worth over $60 billion in the US alone. We love our pets and we love spending money on their care. You can start a business to tap into this enormous market as a pet sitter and it will not cost you much to set up. Whilst the job does not require a special set of skills, a great love of animals is a must as you will be spending a large amount of time with them. Plan your services depending on the pet; dogs would need exercise, possibly outdoors, and plenty of food and water, whilst cats, birds, fish or other caged pets only require food and water.
To succeed in this business you will need to have good references. People need to trust you to give you access to their home and pets when they are not around. You could start by volunteering at an animal shelter (this would help you get accustomed to animals) and share your experiences on social media. Be sure to join pet friendly groups and answer questions people ask to show your expertise. Advertise your services and ask the other followers of these pet groups to spread the word. You might need to do a couple of pet sittings for free to begin, but it will be a good investment for your business.
Whilst you could grow this business by employing people to handle an increase in requests, you need to be aware of the high possibility of stealing your clients. You would need to protect yourself beforehand by asking any employees to sign non compete forms. However many people in the business enjoy the good income it provides and the fantastic company they have and choose not to seek ways to grow the business beyond their time.
If you are the kind of person to whom planning an event, of whatever size, is not a daunting task, then you might want to start a business as an event planner. Events, such as business networking, speed dating and fairs, are constantly being organised around you. You don’t need any particular skills set to plan events, though experience in managing a lot of people would certainly be useful. It would also be a good idea to write a business plan first so that you have a clear understanding of what you will be offering.
Before you can sell yourself as an event planner you need to seek out the best support suppliers. You should start by finding the right locations to host a variety of events. Speak to the owners and inform them of your intent to start a business as an event planner. You will find that they could pass on valuable advice to you. Ask to see the venues and remember to take pictures, or ask the owner for pictures of the venue during an event. Do the same to other suppliers, such as catering, entertainment, photography, cleaning, chair and table rental and so on. It is sufficient to have good suppliers for the main things people ask for.
Once you have the details and photos of the suppliers start contacting anyone who might need an event planned. Start small, business events, conferences or even birthday parties and weddings. At each event mingle with the guests and get feedback of what worked and what didn’t. Be sure to have a good stack of business cards on you so that as soon as someone compliments you on the event you pass on a card on to them to recommend you to whoever they may know who needs an event planned. This is a business where a good recommendation can help you get your next sale faster than any paid marketing you could do.
You can start a business being a photographer in a very short period of time. If you know very little about photography and effects, you can learn everything you need to on Youtube. Whilst today’s mobile phone cameras are quite capable, I would still recommend you invest in a proper camera, complete with lenses, zoom lense and the works. You don’t need to spend much, but you will give the impression of being a proper photographer, rather than a bloke with a mobile phone taking pictures.
To succeed as a photographer you need to be creative and be able to inspire your audience. You should therefore go out and take photos of the world, experiment with different effects and post your photos on social media. Instagram is the best medium to showcase your work. Share your best photos with information portals, and stock image sites, such as Shuttershock. Once you get a following of people promote your services of a photographer for events, such as weddings or conferences, as well as custom photography shoots, such as for a product launch or party.
As you develop your business you might want to invest in better equipment, such as drones, to compliment your services. You could also seek to collaborate with other businesses, such as frame builders, to sell your photos in exchange of a royalty. This is a business which you can scale fairly quickly as long as you deliver pictures worth gazing at by your audience.