Many people dream of quitting the 9-to-5 grind to start their own business. Success as an entrepreneur can mean a life of financial independence and freedom. But with all the added responsibilities of having to juggle kids and family, paying household bills, and not to mention the massive start-up costs involved, many are left dreaming from the sidelines.
I’m not going to pretend that starting a business is easy or cheap, but there are cost-effective measures to jumpstarting a small business without breaking the bank. Here are three small business ideas you can start right now.
1. In-home tutoring business.
If you’re passionate about education and love to be around kids, why not start a tutoring service in your community. There are plenty of parents looking for knowledgeable and affordable tutors to teach their children after school.
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In fact, one of the first businesses I started was a math tutoring company in New York City. In addition to inspiring young kids to learn math and science, I was able to help struggling college grads pay off their student debts with good paying tutoring jobs. If you’re looking to make a real positive impact in your community, then this is definitely a great business to start.
When beginning a tutoring business, you should try to recruit tutors at your local university campuses. To gain new customers, you can leave fliers outlining your tutoring services at nearby libraries, preschools, doctor offices, public schools and any other family-oriented places you can find. Make sure to also attend local school events and network with community leaders to build your reputation.
2. Ecommerce retail store.
Retail sales for ecommerce have been growing steadily year-by-year, while traditional retail has faltered. In a recent article by the Wall Street Journal, online retailers were found to be the overall drivers for retail sales for more than a year, while traditional department store sales declined.
So what does this mean for entrepreneurs? It means the playing field is leveling out, and there is a growing opportunity for small online niche brands to break into the competitive retail scene. As a manager at a digital marketing agency, I’ve seen a considerable amount of capital poring into new ecommerce startups.
It’s now easier than ever to import products from overseas and sell them online. Ever heard of Alibaba or Aliexpress? If you haven’t, they are the largest wholesale marketplaces on the internet. You can order custom goods securely on your computer and have them shipped free from China straight to your doorstep. Wish, one of the latest retail startups, is using a similar business model, but in the mobile commerce arena.
With the vast number of unique items available, you can virtually start any online retail business selling smartphone accessories, handbags, fashion jewelry shoes, clothing apparel -- the list goes on.
3. Maid cleaning service.
This was actually a business I was interested in starting, but I eventually backed out after too many cleaning startups began raising overvalued evaluations. I hate to sound like Donald Trump here, but the market for cleaning services is huge.
Yes, the margins in this sector are razor thin, and the field is filled with plenty of competition to go around. However, the demand for cleaning services is still high and cash flows are relatively consistent. Think about it for a minute. Both households and businesses are in constant need of weekly cleaning services, and that can translate into generous customer-retention rates.
Although most of the current venture startups in this market are racing to become the next “Uber of Cleaning,” there are still opportunities for local cleaning businesses to carve out a small slice in this overwhelming market. Believe it or not, small businesses do have surprising advantages over well-financed startups. Call it a story of David and Goliath.
To jumpstart a local cleaning business, it’s important to recruit only experienced cleaning staff. Most freelance cleaning maids are hard-working immigrants who would be more than happy to join a company for a modest and consistent paycheck.
Although competition for cleaning services is stiff, there are still ways to advertise on a low budget. To gain customer traction, target middle-class to wealthy residential neighborhoods in your local area and leave your discount fliers on every doorstep.
A second source of strategic revenue is to provide small businesses with cleaning services. Doctor offices, salons, preschools and tutoring centers are all examples of local businesses that can benefit from such a service. If you manage to sign a commercial building, then you’ve hit the jackpot. The most effective method to gain new business clients is by cold calling. Simply call a neighborhood business -- preferably right before closing time -- and ask if they might be interested in outsourcing their cleaning services to your company.
As you continually gain new customers, you will slowly receive referrals and, before you know it, your small business will be booming.