Starting a business takes time, hard work and, of course, money. But it doesn’t have to cost much.
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According to Gallup, more than half of U.S. workers are “actively disengaged” in their roles, and Nielsen reports that the average household watches almost eight hours of television per day. That’s a lot of time and focus that could be invested in building a successful, rewarding new career instead. Anyone with ambition and an idea can grow a business at home. A small investment can cover the essential tools required to get started, laying the foundation for what may develop into a successful enterprise. Each of the businesses listed below can be launched around your day job and with an initial outlay of $1,000 or less.
The proliferation of cloud computing means more businesses require technical support than ever before. Small enterprises on tight budgets often struggle to afford in-house specialists and outsource their support instead. This presents an opportunity. Experience in a tech role, knowledge of cutting-edge systems and fast problem-solving skills are crucial for starting a tech-support business. Assistance may be delivered virtually (by phone, Skype, etc.) or in person. Tech-support specialists earn $18.54 per hour on average, according to PayScale.
Creating software programs is one of the most demanding business ideas on this list, but with the proper skills, experience and equipment, it can evolve into a rewarding career. In-depth knowledge of software architecture and access to such tools as Sketch and GitHub are essential. Software development demands a solid computer, too. Macs are a common choice for software specialists, but investing in one could put you beyond the $1,000 budget. Make the most of what’s available and purchase the best software compatible with your current system. Software developers earn $27.83 per hour on average.
Securing financial support for a startup can be a challenge for budding entrepreneurs, especially those with no experience. This is where business planning comes in. Experts create comprehensive, unique plans for any small enterprise. These ensure applications for funding appear professional and well-considered. This business requires experience writing successful plans and an ability to convey why the client is a viable investment for lenders. Business planners earn $18.26 per hour on average.
Setting up a freelance writing business is fairly cost-effective. A laptop, a good writing program (many of which are free, such as Google Docs or OpenOffice) and an account on a platform like Freelancer or Upwork are enough to get started. Years of experience and qualifications (such as a degree in journalism or literature) are helpful but not required. All you really need is a good command of the English language and a willingness to go out looking for jobs. Writing journalistic pieces (for sites covering news, entertainment, etc.) is tougher than writing for companies, but possible. Anyone starting a freelance writing business is best focusing on creating blog posts, articles, press releases, sales copy, case studies and whitepapers. Companies of all sizes rely on quality content, so there’s work available for reliable freelancers. The average hourly rate is $22.70.
There’s an app for almost everything. The total app revenue was more than $71bn across both the Google Play and iOS stores in 2018. And all these apps were developed by someone. Obviously, this is a competitive market, and landing clients is a formidable challenge. But starting small and working with local businesses will help growing app developers build a portfolio. Experienced, prolific businesses may command far higher rates.
As with software development, app development demands good tools. Fortunately, open-source options like BuildFire.js and Framework 7 are free to use. Good communication and planning skills are vital for determining exactly what clients want. App developers earn between $17 and $59 per hour on average.
Graphic designers work on various project types. They may design packaging, posters, billboards, company logos, magazine layouts and more. Obviously, education/training and provable experience in graphic design are fundamental. A website with a portfolio of projects is a must; clients will want to see what you’re capable of before reaching out. Graphic design today relies on such software as Adobe InDesign and Adobe Photoshop, but this comes bundled for a relatively small fee as a monthly cloud subscription. A drawing board or tablet is vital for sketching concepts and exploring ideas by hand, but even good models are affordable — an iPad and Apple Pencil can even get you there. Average hourly rate is $17.16.
Certified accountants may find regular work with businesses, organizations and sole traders. Managing finances, improving efficiency and ensuring taxes are paid in full allows companies to avoid costly mistakes or oversights. Holding a Certified Public Accountant slicense is a huge advantage, as is provable experience. Launching an accounting business requires little investment but lots of time, especially when working with clients whose financial records are in sorry shape. Good project-management software (Trello, Asana) and organizational skills are crucial. Accountants earn $20.04 per hour on average.
Launching an event-planning business involves handling all aspects of a conference, award ceremony, parade or other occasion. Discussing ideas with clients, finding suitable locations, organizing catering, managing budgets and more all feature in the job description. Event planning requires experience in coordinating events (possibly within a business), excellent organization skills, an ability to think outside the box and flexibility. Earning a Certified Special Events Professional designation, a degree in event planning or management creates valuable credibility, too. Event planners earn an average of $17.52 per hour.
Starting a business may sound like a daunting prospect, but there’s enough variety in the marketplace to offer everyone an opportunity, and it need not take a large nest egg to get started. Taking a few hours each night to launch your enterprise demands commitment (especially if you feel drained mentally and physically by the time you clock off), but it pays off in the end.