14 Small Business Ideas You Can Start Tomorrow for Free
If you’re ready to get up and running with your own business today, we’ve compiled some resources to help you figure out what kind of business to start without spending your entire life savings.
According to the SBA’s 2018 Small Business Profile of the United States, there are over 30 million small businesses running in the U.S.
Starting a small business not only gives you control over your future, but also allows you to join the largest sector driving the American economy.
Though the many small businesses come with long lead times, huge upfront investments, and specialized experience, there are many more ideas that you can get started today with no upfront investment and no special training.
If you’re ready to get up and running with your own business today, we’ve compiled some resources to help you figure out what kind of business to start and a list of business ideas that you can start right now without spending a dollar!
Finding Your Small Business Acumen
Starting your own business means you get to run the show.
The possibilities are endless, right?
Possibly too endless?
Deciding where to focus your entrepreneurial spirit is the first and most important step to a successful business venture.
As such, jumping on the latest money maker may not be the right path for you. Instead of focusing on profits, focus on finding a business idea that meshes with your tastes and values. A few questions to ask yourself as you determine the type of business that you’d like start:
·What are your hobbies?
Think of the things that you already enjoy doing for free. That woodworking hobby or passion for crafting could be your ticket to a successful business.
·What are your skills?
Aside from hobbies, consider the certifications and education that you bring to the table. Conversely, if there’s an area that really interests you, you may be able to find free training online to learn those skills.
·What is your long-term goal?
Whether you’re in it to hand down an empire to the grandkids or just trying to pull in extra money for an early mortgage payoff is an important factor in the type of business you pursue.
·How much sweat equity can I invest?
While the ideas we present are free to start, don’t underestimate the value of your own blood, sweat, and tears. Carefully consider how much time and energy you’re realistically able and willing to devote to your business venture.
For a step-by-step process to determine the right type of business for your, Santa Clara University offers an entire module on thinking through your options with exercises and guidance to help you uncover your path.
Business Ideas to Inspire Your Inner Entrepreneur
1.Open an Online Store
By 2021, the ecommerce market will tip $4 billion dollars. This is the perfect time to open an online store and get your piece of that market. With the ecommerce platforms like Shopify, Volusion, and Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA), you can easily set up an ecommerce store without learning HTML. Many of these sites will not only give you a platform to run your store on, but also help you find products to sell, manage your inventory and handle shipping.
Being successful as an online store owner means understanding that your job doesn’t end when the store launches. In order to turn a profit and stay viable, you’ll need to plan activities to promote your store (social media, email campaigns, etc.), processes for dealing with customer complaints, and stay on top of trends to ensure that your product line aligns with market demand.
Start with a free trial. This will give you time to play around with the platform and a chance to compare the features and usability of different platforms before you invest time and money. When determining what products to sell, focus on niches as opposed to general categories. For example, veer away from opening a crafts store and focus on the niches within a craft store, like an ecommerce store that only sells knitting and knitting supplies. Consider the following when deciding which niche to tackle:
·Turn your passion into your store. You might be surprised to know how many other folks share your love for dolphin figurines.
·View sales activity on sites like Amazon, eBay, and AliExpress. Read through the reviews to get a feel for existing pain points around a product to help you differentiate your store.
·Search for bloggers and influencers with audiences targeted at your niche to stay abreast of news and trends.
·Hunt down forecasting and growth predictions find out the long-term view for products that you’re considering.
2.Become a Virtual Assistant (VA)
As a VA, you’ll complete remote assignments for online clients that administrative assistants normally perform. Assignments may include tasks like:
·Social media posting and management
·Email and calendar organization
·Scheduling appointments and meetings
·Planning events and arranging travel
·Writing and editing
Unlike most business ideas, the key to success as a VA isn’t finding a niche. For VAs, it’s more important to be open to new opportunities and willing to learn new skills to expand the services that you can offer potential clients.
You can get started with a standard website outlining your services and pricing, a well-written email message to potential clients, or use online services like Upwork and Remote.Co to list your services and find virtual assistant jobs.
3.Digital Marketing Consultant
The majority of marketing has moved online. Many businesses are struggling to keep up and need both directions on what to do in addition to resources to execute. With a few free SEO courses online, some knowledge about social media and content marketing, and an understanding of digital marketing, you can rent your services out to businesses looking to improve search rankings and attract more leads to their site.
As a consultant, you’ll:
·Help businesses set realistic goals and growth plans around digital marketing activities.
·Audit, advise, and draw up plans to improve keyword quality, location, and density.
·Build go-to market strategies for social media, email, and content marketing initiatives.
·Gather analytics, report on effectiveness, and adjust tactics accordingly
As you get into consulting, consider extending your services by adding extras, like meta and image tagging, content writing, and design.
Take your expertise or interests and turn it into a blog or vlog. Blogs leverage text and image-based content to entertain or educate. You can make money by allowing ads on your blog or writing product reviews. Use online tools like Google Trends or Moz to see what’s trending around your chosen topic.
And if writing isn’t your forte, vlogging is another option to consider. Vloggers use video sharing platforms to post and promote video content. From product demos to beauty how-tos, you can leverage YouTube, Vimeo, and others to create, edit, and distribute your videos. According to WP Beginner, the most popular blog categories are:
Start your brainstorming around these topics and think of related niches that you can build content around. For example, fashion is a popular blog topic with a broad reach. Fashion for Busy Moms targets a niche and helps you focus your content.
To get started as a blogger or vlogger, you’ll need to select a distribution platform and have a computer with good video and sound quality. Your smartphone setup may even be enough to get started.
Root your business on what you already know. You can use free resources like eBook templates, tools to produce video courses, and podcasting platforms to sell access to your skills or special talents. Popular areas to explore:
·Wellness and beauty
·Technical skills (web design, coding, and image and video editing)
·Personal or career development
·Arts and crafts
Look around at the things you know: pop culture, your profession, your hobbies, etc., to find timely topics with motivated consumers. Lean on your personal knowledge and supplement it with research. Pop it all into a website with a shopping cart so that interested pupils can easily buy your content online. Refer to Ecommerce CEO for a complete guide to selling eBooks, video courses, and other digital products online.
6.Mobile Auto Detailing
There are more cars on the road than ever before. Retail car washes brought in an astounding $15 billion last year. And that’s for customers who went to the car wash location. Get a piece of that market with a small business that brings the car wash to your customers as a mobile detailer.
With your vehicle and basic car cleaning supplies, you can arrange washings while clients are at work or at the gym or offer pickup and delivery service. If you have basic mechanic skills, you can sweeten the service by offering mobile mechanic services, like oil changes, brakes, tune-ups, etc.
To grow your business, offer customers incentives like loyalty programs and frequent user discounts to build up a reliable customer base and stimulate word of mouth.
Digital is driving a new need for original images for websites and apps. Layer that need with the demand for traditional, live photography gigs for weddings, family portraits, sports, and other big events to create a business with long-term growth potential. With a professional camera, or even your smartphone, you can supply the need for both.
If you lack photography skills, you’re in luck. You can find free training from schools like Harvard and Stanford. Go to vendor sites, like Adobe and GIMP, to find free tutorials and step-by-step instructions on how to use their tools to produce professional results.
8. Call Center Owner
Call centers used to occupy huge office buildings bustling with phone reps. Now, more and more companies are contracting with services that leverage work-at-home employees to answer calls. Call center calls break down into three categories:
·Inbound calls might involve taking orders from customers, answering questions or providing tech support.
·Outbound calls will entail selling a product or service or setting up appointments. You could also take surveys.
·Telemarketing is advertising a product or service by describing key features or telling potential customers about special discounts.
Companies like Arise and LiveOps let you work at home as an individual call center rep or manage multiple employees. Running your own call center means managing scheduling to ensure you have coverage and understanding human resources best practices and regulations. These services typically require access to basic equipment that you already have like a computer and phone service.
Businesses use webinars to promote their products and their expertise, but not all of them have the expertise to produce professional presentations. Webinars can be delivered in multiple formats:
·Whiteboard: Live motion, a graphical representation of a process or method lead by a subject matter expert.
·Voice over presentation: Talks through a prepared presentation with no on-air talent.
·Live event: Orchestrates live talent with a prepared presentation.
As a webinar producer, you’ll need to learn the basics of each format to wow your clients. It’ll be your job to coordinate talent, graphics, and technology. You may even help with promotion and follow up.
10. Tax Consultant
If you have an accounting or tax background, you can use it to help clients prepare their taxes. Even without accounting or tax experience, most tax preparation chains, and even the IRS, offer free tax preparation classes to teach you the basics.
Your busiest season will revolve around the first few months of the year, but tax expertise is needed all year around. You can find tax consultant work in the following places:
·Work with local organizations offering low-cost tax services
·Partner with a small business incubator to find new businesses needing tax help
For those with a flair for music, there’s a huge market looking for your skills. With the rise in markets for film and television, so too is there a rise in the need for audio content for intro and outro music, theme songs, jingles, and more. To get your music producing business up and running, consider the following:
·Focus on a particular genre of music (rock, R&B, jazz, etc.) and types of projects (independent films, sitcoms, talk shows, etc.).
·Confirm that your computer equipment can handle the bandwidth needed to create and distribute large audio files.
12. Travel Agent
Even though it’s easier than ever to book your own travel, not everyone has time to find the best deals. Use that need to build a business customizing travel packages or arranging luxury trips for clients. You’ll earn your income from fees paid by clients in addition to commissions and discounts from transportation and hospitality providers. The duties of a travel agent include:
·Book hotel accommodations
·Coordinate air and ground transportation
·Getting clients the best travel deals for their budget
·Being a point of contact in case something goes wrong while traveling
To get started, you’ll need a computer, great organizational skills, and a knack for finding great travel deals. Travel Agent University offers training in the craft and you can also leverage a bounty of free resources on building your travel agent business from Travel Agent Central.
13.Sell Handmade Goods
Take your crafting to the world. There’s no limit to what you can create and sell – but you need a reliable market. Before you put in the work and effort to sell your goods online, do the research to make sure there’s a demand and that your product idea isn’t already on the market. The most popular handmade goods on Etsy include the following:
·Craft and jewelry supplies
·Refurbished vintage items
·Customized items (coffee mugs, household items, clothing)
·Original paintings, artwork, and home décor
Though a broad category, that covers anything from leatherwork to crocheted creations, you can find niche sites, like LeatherTrader, or general sites, like Etsy and ArtFire to sell your one-of-a-kind wares.
14.Website Designer/App Developer
Just because you don’t have a computer science degree doesn’t mean you can’t be a web designer or an application developer. Both gigs come with high earning potential and lots of schedule flexibility.
With easy tools like Wix and Squarespace, you can be a novice web designer and look like a pro while helping others make their business dreams come true. Keep in mind that these platforms can limit what you’re able to do in order to keep it easy to use for everyone. In addition to the educational materials offered by these platforms, you can also take free classes in web design and development to further develop your skills.
Though it sounds complex, there are a number of free courses to walk you through the nitty-gritty of application development as well. Once you get the basics, then you can apply your chops to building out your own market-shaking app idea or sell your skills to others with an idea who need technical execution.
Because these functions tend to operate together, learn both and startup a full-service agency that offers both application development and web design services.
These suggestions are only a drop in the pan of possible business ideas. Whatever path you choose, make sure you draw up a complete business plan to stay on track.
There are few new businesses under the sun, so it’s imperative that you bake a strategy for differentiation into your business plan. For example, there are lots of VAs, so your challenge will be to distinguish yourself either by experience or marketing from the pack.
As you build your plan, also consider how you’ll brand and distinguish your business from the competition.