The terms “side hustle” and “gig economy” are becoming common vocabulary and the number of people trying to start a business or work outside of the traditional 9-5 is growing like never before. In fact it is projected that by the year 2020, 43% of the U.S. workforce will be made up of freelancers – those who take on short-term projects as opposed to a typical 9-5 job for one company. The reason for this emerging entrepreneurial trend? For some it’s out of necessity when a job can’t be found. For others it’s by choice and an attempt at crafting a more desirable lifestyle.
The trick is finding a viable business that is compatible with your skills/interests, and getting it running without breaking the bank. Let’s get the juices flowing.
HERE ARE 8 BUSINESSES YOU CAN START ON A SHOESTRING BUDGET
Web Design Business
Websites are a minimum requirement to getting into business these days, yet the vast majority of business owners are not capable of putting a professional website together themselves. Having an understanding of the web design process puts you in a valuable position. There is also a myriad of website tools and resources out there to help you. Everything from web design ideas and website templates to free stock photos (warning: always abide by photo copyright laws). Need content but don’t write well? Hire a freelance writer to create the content for you. These days there are no excuses.
Online Marketing Consultant
Websites aren’t too useful if nobody visits them and even if they do, they need to convert web traffic to leads, which will hopefully boil down to sales for the company. If you have online marketing expertise, this could be a good business to pursue. The traditional model is that you offer packaged Search Engine Optimization and/or Pay Per Click services to businesses who could use the help…maybe with a website redesign. Typically you’ll charge a setup fee and then an ongoing maintenance fee for such services.
A twist to this idea is that you talk to businesses that are ‘offline’ who don’t have any idea about the online world. Make a deal where you use online marketing strategies to promote their product/service and get paid a percentage of their resulting sales. Once you have an online marketing system in place for that company, it can basically become a recurring revenue stream for them and you. Find the next company and offer to do the same. This approach works particularly well with experts in their field who have lots of knowledge in their subject, but maybe just don’t know how to convert it into an information product to be sold on the web. Help them get the product together, market it and get commissions on every sale.
Social Media Management
Social media isn’t just a buzzword anymore — it is becoming a fundamental part of how companies market themselves, build a positive reputation and generate new business. Still, countless organizations lack the knowhow, time or interest to establish and manage their social presence. If you feel you have a flare for engaging with online communities, are comfortable on the different social platforms and know how to leverage the top social media marketing tools, opportunity is in the air.
Enjoy writing? Good with words? If you are an expert in a particular subject you can offer to post in related publications. In addition, if you are open to widening your range of topics, there are an infinite number of companies needing quality written content for websites, blogs and articles. How do you find clients? For any business, successful prospecting is a key ingredient. In addition to that, there are many sites where you can find freelance writing jobs.
Joint Venture Connector
What do a health food store and a yoga studio and a personal trainer have in common? Well, the things their clients are interested in, namely health and fitness, are related. How about being in the business of connecting companies with complimentary products/services. Create a reciprocal relationship between the different companies by getting them to continually promote or endorse each others products to their own customer base. Structure it so that you, the connector, earn a commission from any resulting sales.
The benefits children get from music go far beyond the inherent joy that it brings. Studies have shown that childhood music education can accelerate brain development in areas of language, reading and math. (Sounds like the beginning of a good elevator pitch, doesn’t it.) Have some musical talent? Dust off the piano and start to pass your skills on to the younger (or even older) generations.
Marketing Tip: A lot of people don’t know they love something until they experience it. Get them in the door with a free lesson or effective coupon strategies and then provide a remarkable experience to ensure they want to come back for regular lessons.
If you have a heightened taste when it comes to gift-giving and an eye for design and good packaging, the gift basket business might be worth considering.
There is a healthy demand for quality, eye-catching gift baskets whether it be friends and family sending on a special occasion, or for companies and professionals who want to thank clients for their business.
Offer basket theme ideas that might match the different tastes of recipients (eg. A basket with car cleaning products/accessories or a beauty/spa-themed basket, etc). It’s a business that is visual. Take pictures of your baskets and use them in marketing brochures. List the contents of your baskets and the price. Sell your baskets online or through local stores.
Have a love for dogs? Offer dog walking services to those who don’t always have the time or energy to take their furry friends for a stroll. Advertise at vet clinics, pet food stores and in apartment buildings offering blocks of time for a limited number of dogs. Build the relationships with the dogs and their owners and perhaps later expand to offering pet sitting, dog training or other related services.
FINAL ADVICE FROM THE TRENCHES
Starting your own business can be a fulfilling endeavor and everything you dreamed of, but if it is to work, YOU need to work it.
Adopt a ‘cash flow is king’ mindset.
Sales is the lifeblood of any successful business no matter what stage it’s at. Spending time/money on things that don’t matter is a trap many new businesses fall into. Before you invest all kinds of time or money designing the perfect logo, or buying fancy equipment/furniture, make a point of getting some early sales under your belt. Paying customers will give you the proof of concept that you need in the early stages and will allow you to begin reinvesting in the business and growing it to fulfill your vision.