Every time pollsters ask Americans whether they're interested in entrepreneurship, way more than half stick up their hands and declare they'd love to be business owners. Yet a much smaller percentage actually takes the plunge.


Sometimes the answer is self-doubt or aversion to risk. Sometimes inevitable life complexities hold people back. But often the reason people don't start their own businesses is simpler--they don't have any money to seed their new ventures.

Yet according to a pair of encouraging and useful new posts, that's no reason to forgo your entrepreneurial dreams. Both Entrepreneur's Jonathan Long and Bplan's Briana Morgaine insist in their respective articles that there are plenty of ways to get started, even if you barely have a dollar to spare (Long focuses on Web-based gigs; Morgaine on both online and offline opportunities).

Between them, the two lists offer more than 30 businesses you can set up if your funds are extremely limited, along with helpful resources to further explore many of these avenues. Here are a few ideas to give you a taste.

1. Business coach or consultant

"If you are an expert in a particular field, leverage your knowledge and become a coach, teaching students from all over the world. The internet allows you to reach anyone that is interested, regardless of their geographical location," suggests Long.

Or, put your expertise to use as a consultant. "Consulting can prove to be a very lucrative business, granted the person offering their service knows what he or she is talking about," he writes.

2. Freelance writing

"Virtually every business is doing some form of content marketing these days," Long points out. "With everyone trying to capture attention, demand for excellent writers is at an all time high." It's a path also recommended by Morgaine, who adds, "to build up your portfolio and client base, you may want to start with a site like Upwork."

3. Home organization

Here's one for the neatniks. "Does the idea of visiting The Container Store fill you with excitement (don't worry--you're not alone)?" asks Morgaine. "If so, you may want to consider offering home organization services." She adds: "To get a taste of what the process of becoming a professional organizer looks like, check out this article on Organize 365, where blogger and professional organizer Lisa Woodruff discusses the process and offers tips."

4. Virtual assistant

More and more industries and companies are hiring remotely, which means there are more and more opportunities to work from home as a virtual assistant. "You can start small with a single client and then, once you identify your specialty or an area you want to focus on-- social media customer service, for example--you can begin to take on more clients," suggests Long.

5. Language teaching

If you speak English well and don't mind chatting with strangers, you have all the qualifications you need to try your hand at online language teaching--but you can do even better if you're multi-lingual. Morgaine points those interested in this path to "this article by Tammy Bjelland, who started a language teaching and consulting business," and notes there are "plenty of options beyond basic Craigslist" where you can list your services.

6. House or pet sitting

Reputation is everything when people are entrusting their homes and beloved pets to your care, Morgaine points out. But the post says you can make this one work by having satisfied customers refer you to others going out of town. Just focus on "building up a reputation of respectful, trustworthy behavior, keeping client needs first, and thinking about what they would want in a house sitter," Morgaine recommends.

If you're a real animal lover, pet grooming or training might be other options to consider.

7. T-shirt e-commerce store

This option has recently become a lot cheaper thanks to technology, according to Long. "In the past, you would have to order large quantities of shirts, in multiple colors and sizes, forcing you to guess what was going to sell," he writes. "Now, creative designs and the power of social media can get a T-shirt brand up and running--and generating revenue--almost overnight." So exercise your creativity and get paid--all without investing a bundle.

Check out both lists for more great ideas and helpful resources.

Published on: Aug 16, 2016
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