5 Risk-Free Bootstrapped Business Ideas For A Shoestring Budget


Starting a business is usually a very costly undertaking. You commonly hear about aspiring business owners requiring a 6-7 figure franchise fee, several rounds of startup funding from venture capitalists, or at least tens of thousands of dollars in small business loans from the bank to just get a business off the ground. Not only are these costs prohibitive to most hopeful entrepreneurs, they are by no means a guarantee that you'll even actually turn a profit! You could even end up losing everything if you buy into a flawed business or fail in your own entrepreneurial exploit. Due to these serious barriers to entry and liability, taking one of these paths to owning your own business just isn't realistic for the everyday person that wants to start a company on a budget.

Luckily, there are plenty of great business opportunities out there with minimal initial costs and little to no risk. I've been successful in the past, and continue to be successful, with all of the methods listed below. Some have been more easier and more profitable than others, but I've earned tremendous returns on all of these endeavors. I know you can too! And even if you aren't, you'll only lose a few bucks at most instead of thousands!!

The key to maximizing your chances of success lies in utilizing powerful tools and strategies including social media marketing, content production, email marketing, SEO, and other free (or nearly free) online platforms.

Idea 1: Service Provider  (Cost: $0 + Transportation)

There are plenty of viable service-based businesses that require little or no startup costs and almost no overhead aside from commuting. As an example, before I was a digital marketing consultant or manager, I was a successful personal trainer for many years. I'd train clients in their homes with portable equipment and earn $50-100 per hour. The only overhead I had was really gas for my car and professional liability insurance at an incredibly low annual rate. How did I get so many clients and referrals in a congested and competitive industry? Online marketing of course! You could do the same by offering a variety of skilled or unskilled services as well and the possibilities are endless. 

Idea 2: Amazon / eBay Seller (Cost: $0 + Packaging Materials)

Ask Gary Vaynerchuk where he honed his sales and marketing chops and he'll it was buying and selling sports cards on eBay. I personally made over $20,000 selling items I no longer used or inventory (some bound for the landfill) I accumulated for little or no cost. Sell items on eBay or Amazon that could range from antiques, collectibles, media, parts, electronics, books, video games, or anything else you can fathom.  Packing materials are very cheap to buy in bulk or you could even pick some up at the local dollar store. Use Etsy or other similar platforms if you're selling more artistic works or clothing items.

To generate some inventory while earning a flat guaranteed rate, you could even use Idea 1 above to offer a service cleaning / organizing homes (garages, basements, estates) and save some of the more promising "junk" from the dumpster. Go green and earn green, that's a win-win situation!

You could also add even more to your bottom line through Amazon if you start a blog (outlined in greater detail  in Idea 3) that promotes Affiliate Sales or your own eBooks for sale. 

Idea 3: Blogger ($0 or $10/year for Custom Domain Name)

Yeah I know that everyone and their grandmother has a blog these days (or has tried at one point), but having a profitable and strategic business blog is another story. You want to start a blog with a topic that has some broad appeal but a focused niche. If you already have a product or service then you can build our blog around this existing offering and drive sales in the process. You can earn advertising revenue with Google AdSense, WordPress Ads, or other premium ad networks. You could sell advertising manually in addition to these ad networks. Sell your eBooks (learn more with Idea 5) or branded merchandise. Spreadshirt allows you to create branded clothing that is printed on demand so you don't have to worry about any overhead or inventory. Become a trusted source of product reviews and earn commissions from Affiliate Sales networks. Another option is seeking out sponsorships or strategic partnerships from other companies or large corporations. Blogs are so versatile that the potential for other earnings opportunities is nearly limitless. I've earned 6 figures on both of my blogs while only paying about $200 in domain name fees. Now that's a great ROI!

For more detail on how to earn from your business blog, read my comprehensive post: How To Monetize Your Digital Media.

Idea 4: Professional YouTuber  (Cost: $0)

While it is increasingly more competitive every day, being a professional YouTuber can be very lucrative. Create unique and memorable videos that build a community while earning advertising revenue as a YouTube Partner. Top YouTubers can earn millions annually! Be creative, be unique, and be memorable with your videos! While you probably won't defy the odds and be in this upper echelon making 7-8 figures annually, there are many YouTube creators that still earn a comfortable annual income of 5-6 figures. I myself earned tens of thousands of dollars in my YouTube career (and still earn some passive income each month) and I never spent more than a few hundred dollars on a camera a couple years into it.

While you can certainly spend a lot of money on an expensive camera and/or computer with top video editing software, the majority of successful YouTubers build up their initial following with just a web cam or cell phone that they already owned. There are free image and video editing programs available for you to utilize as well. There's plenty of time to invest in better technology once you've made some money with your YouTube Channel.

Idea 5: Author, Columnist, or Ghost Writer  (Cost $0)

Want to become an eBook or even traditional author? Interested in reaching readers all over the globe without having to order $10,000 worth of prints? It's not just a distant possibility these days with free eBook publishing on Amazon or near-free paperback / hardcover publishing on demand with CreateSpace (owned by Amazon). Printing physical copies on demand usually involves small commissions but you don't have to worry about buying too much inventory or fulfillment! Selling eBooks on the other hand can usually net you $2-10 per sale! You set your book price to determine what commission you'll earn on each book sale. A lot of people make even more money by selling eBook downloads directly from their website and cutting out the Amazon middleman. I've earned tens of thousands of dollars on my eBooks (and a few hundred paperbacks) over the years while growing my brand and enjoying excellent media exposure.

You could also take the route of being a columnist or editor at a magazine, website, or newspaper. You could even be a ghost writer for other professionals looking to tell their story!

Conclusion


All of these options are relatively easy to start but they do require a lot of time, effort, trial, and error before you find your stride. I'm proof that all of these business opportunities that cost next to nothing are viable and profitable options. The next time you want to start a side business or eventually go all in on your own business you'll know that it doesn't require you to dig yourself into a ditch of debt. Now go out there and make it happen!





I hope you enjoyed this article about 5 ways to grow a business from scratch on a shoestring budget and without risk. 

Interested in more articles about small business ideas?

Read My Posts:

- 6 Simple Low Cost Business Ideas 

- Maneuvering Money Minefields Of Modern Business

Published by Michael J Schiemer
Owner of Bootstrap Business
Money - Marketing - Motivation
Digital Marketing | SEO | Social Media
Mike Schiemer Builds Better Business

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