Running your own business is the dream. Whether it’s the culmination of a lifelong passion or the reward of calling the shots, most of us plan to start our own thing at some stage. That said, it’s rarely a smooth ride, and a lack of startup capital can be a major roadblock.
So, what if you didn’t need any cash to get started? While time and effort are not negotiable, cash isn’t always a prerequisite.
Here are five genuine businesses you can start right now with nil in the bank.
Copywriting, graphic design, web development, photography – these are all marketable skills across several industries. If you’ve been working in your field for a while, chances are you’ve built up a solid network. Make use of friends or former colleagues who know you and respect your work, and start by offering your services to them.
Freelancing takes discipline, of course. Working on a project-by-project basis means managing your workflow and income diligently. When you’re pitching for new projects you’re only ever as good as your portfolio, so keep your standards up to land the kind of jobs you want.
While freelancers are generally used on smaller projects, consultants tend to work on large-scale strategic recommendations, so it’s crucial to have the requisite authority to make big calls.
What you’ll need to consult:
- The prestige of having worked for a reputable firm or firms
- Tangible results from past work
- Case studies and testimonials
- The ability to tap into your existing network
If you’re planning to go it alone, it’s also important to choose your niche. This is your point of difference when competing with other consultants and established firms.
3. In-home services
This could be babysitting, dog walking, or cleaning, for example. Often you don’t need a whole lot of expertise – just time and enthusiasm. Start by assessing the needs of friends and neighbours and offering your services. Maybe you could run errands for people who are debilitated or the elderly, such as delivering groceries or cooking.
Bear in mind, you’ll need a friendly demeanour to deal with people. It can also be tricky formalising payment for informal tasks like these, so look into accounting software, like QuickBooks Online, which allow you to invoice on the job immediately after you’ve completed the work.
4. Maintenance or repair work
To quote pragmatic parents, “It never hurts to learn a trade.”
It’s true there’s always work that needs doing. Australia is a renovation nation – just look at the sheer volume of home improvement shows on TV. Plumbing, wiring, flooring, roofing, painting, landscaping – the list goes on. Handymen and women are keenly sought after by time-poor homeowners. If you’ve completed the necessary courses and apprenticeships, you’re good to go. The main hurdle will be earning the trust of potential clients, so make sure you know how to be a top-rated tradie.
Sporting or academic, take your pick. There are plenty more coaching categories, but these are the big two. For example, there’s always a big market for tutors to help students prep for their exams. Likewise, each sporting pre-season is a chance to ‘wax on, wax off’ a would-be champion.
Like the rest of the list, coaching boils down to having specific skills or knowledge you can sell as a service. It’s not enough to have a knack for, say, cricket or maths. And remember, you’re not only there to improve their skills, but to foster passion and curiosity. That’s how you keep them coming back.
The bottom line in building a business without cash is having skills or knowledge you can confidently sell. If you’re struggling to get your foot in the door, start by helping family and friends and expand from there.
To learn more about starting your own business, check out these resources.