Want to start a business but don't have a lot of start up money or time to invest in developing specialized skills? Then you'll want to have a look at this list of business ideas.
Each is a business that you can start inexpensively; some can be started for next to nothing if you already have the equipment. Every one of these suggestions will let you start a business quickly - in some cases, almost instantly. And all can be operated as home-based businesses.
Be warned though; these types of businesses are not suitable for anyone looking for a "get rich quick" plan or a way to become an instant millionaire. What these businesses offer to the person prepared to work at them is a good living - and of course, the satisfaction of being your own boss.
1. Pet Sitting.
More and more people are looking for someone to care for their pets when they can't - people who don't like the idea of putting "precious" into a kennel. Professional pet care givers comes into the home to care for the pet while the owner is away, feeding, walking, and playing with the animal(s). If you love animals and are knowledgeable about them, this could be a great business idea for you. According to the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters (NAPPS), in-home pet-care is one of the fastest growing industries in North America today.
Requirements: Knowledge of and affinity with animals. Currently accreditation and special training is not required (although this may change).
Variations on the theme: Dog walking services.
2. Residential cleaning services.
Having your house cleaned by someone else is no longer only for the rich. With everyone getting busier all the time, more people than ever are willing to pay to get the benefits of a cleaner home and more free time to do things they consider to be more important. Residential cleaning services are normally provided on a once-a-month or once-a-week basis. If you're an organized person who can build a clientele, you could do extremely well if you start a cleaning business.
Requirements: Knowledge of cleaning products and procedures. The ability to attract and keep reliable staff. Strong scheduling and organizational abilities.
Variations on the theme: Specialized cleaning services, such as blind cleaning.
3. Delivery services.
We're all familiar with the "big names" in the delivery industry, but that doesn't mean that there's no room for the little guy (or gal). If you can deliver things quickly and efficiently in your local area at a reasonable price, this may be a good business idea for you.
Requirements: Clean driving record and good driving skills. Strong organizational skills. A suitable vehicle; it may be necessary to transport large items.
Variations on the theme: Delivery services of a particular product, such as establishing an organic vegetable box route.
4. Grass cutting/snow removal services.
We mow our own grass here (and remove our own snow). But we’re in the minority in our neighborhood. Many people would rather spend the money on having someone else keep their yard looking good. The great thing about this business idea is that in many places, you can combine the two and have a viable business all year long.
Requirements: Equipment, such as power mowers, edgers, etc. You need to be prepared to trim as well as to mow. Trucks equipped with blades for snow clearing. Basic mechanical knowledge to run and repair equipment.
Variations on the theme: For those with more knowledge and experience, landscaping and or gardening services.
I freely admit that I know little about scrapbooking. But I do know that scrapbooking is a growing industry (of about $3 billion a year currently) and that kind of popularity tells me that it's a business idea that could be very profitable. You can start a business as a creator of original scrapbooks or by becoming a consultant for a scrapbook business that's already established. About’s Scrapbooking site is a great place to learn more about scrapbooking.
Requirements: Artistic talent. Knowledge of scrapbooking (which you can get through research and experience or by taking scrapbooking courses). Materials to make scrapbooks.
Variations on the theme: Specializing in a particular type of memory book, such as books memorializing the lives of beloved pets.
6. Hauling services.
Ever try to fit a sheet of plywood into the back of one of those new compact SUVs? Then you know why the demand for hauling services is on the rise. Besides the size issue, there’s the whole issue of things that people don't want to haul in their own shiny vehicles, such as yard waste or loads of compost for the garden. All the things they don't want to or can't haul could be money in your pocket.
Requirements: A suitable vehicle or vehicles and a clean driving record. Sometimes a strong back if you’re loading the material yourself.
Variations on the theme: Specializing in hauling a particular product, such as delivering loads of compost or soil for gardeners.
7. eBay selling.
eBay's popularity continues to explode. I personally know very few people who haven't bought or sold something on eBay. But did you know that eBay is also a solid business idea? If you have a product that there's a demand for and that is suitable for being sold online and shipped to the purchaser, eBay may be the way to go. It can be a more inexpensive option than setting up your own online store and eBay offers all kinds of information to help you sell successfully - including eBay seminars.
Requirements: A worthy product or products. A computer. Knowledge of online selling and shipping. For more information on selling on eBay successfully see my article 7 Tips for Selling on eBay.
Variations on the theme: Moving from eBay auctions to having your own eBay online store.
So there they are - seven ideas for businesses that almost anyone can start. What else do you need to turn one of these ideas into a successful business? The kind of people skills that will allow you to attract and build a regular clientele. But I'm guessing that you have these, or you wouldn't be thinking of starting a business in the first place.
If one of these business ideas appeals to you, the next step is to see if it will work for you by developing a business plan. My Writing a Business Plan series will lead you through the process. Best of luck with your new business!