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HomeBusinessBusiness OpportunitiesWays To Make Money From: Shoestring Start-Ups

Ways To Make Money From: Shoestring Start-Ups

Shoestring Start-Ups

YOU’RE LOOKING FOR a way to earn regular cash but you don’t have much to invest. So what’s the solution?

Take a look at these 20 ‘shoestring start-ups’. Each of these exciting, in-demand and profitable businesses can be started with and investment of less than $1,000:

  1. Property preparation

Every time a rented property is vacated someone must clean, paint and repair the place before it is suitable for another tenant.

This is something you could do, armed with a strong hoover, a range of cleaning solutions, paint and brushes, and a toolbox. Other items, such as carpet cleaners and paint strippers, could be hired.

Offer this service to landlords and property agents you’ll find them listed in the phone book.

  1. Absentee home seller service

Selling a house can be easier if you’re still living there. You can turn up the heating, put out fresh flowers and have some fresh coffee on the brew to seduce buyers.

Trouble is, many owners have to move out of the area before they can sell, while others can’t spare the time to show people around, so the property ends up fetching far less than the asking price. An empty house is unappealing to a prospective buyer, and a dark, cold one is even worse – the amenities will have been disconnected if the owner has moved out.

The absentee home seller’s service is the answer here – someone to do all the jobs the owner isn’t around to do, but which don’t fall under the remit of estate agent.

So each time someone comes to view the property you are on hand to turn on the heating, open the windows, show people around while emphasizing the property’s good points (which representatives of the estate agent don’t tend to do, surprisingly) and make the place look attractive and appealing. You could also clear out left-behind furniture, oddments and rubbish, and even add a lick of paint here and there.

Without this service the owner may be forced to accept a price ten per lower than expected (eg. $54,000 for a house worth $60,000). With it, however, they can easily achieve well above the asking price. Your fee of three percent of the house price, plus expenses, is therefore more than reasonable (you’d charge $1800 for overseeing the sale of a $60,000 property, for example).

Advertising in the property section of local newspapers is the obvious way to get custom from house vendors. You could also try calling on properties recently placed on the market, or dropping your business card / leaflet through the letterbox.

Another possibility is to work in partnership with estate agents. Get them to recommend your service to their customers in return for a commission on your fee.

As well as costing virtually nothing to start, this service fulfils a need which isn’t currently catered for.

  1. Rentable property agent

Finding somewhere to live can be a hassle, especially to someone moving from outside the area. In any town or city there are always plenty of properties available, but the problem is finding the right one. There will be umpteen estate agents to contact, property small ads to check, and shop windows with ‘To Rent’ cards in to look at. Following up these sources is time consuming, inconvenient and expensive, meaning there is a real need for a service providing a ‘one stop shop’ for people seeking rented accommodation.

This is another easy, low-cost start-up. Your job will be to gather together all the available information on properties to rent in your town / area on a weekly basis. So put yourself on estate agents’ mailing lists, read the local property press, keep an eye on the ads in shop windows, and keep this up-to-date information in a file.

When clients contact you, ask for their details where they want to live, number of people, and the amount they’re prepared to pay – and compile a list of suitable properties (a word processor or computer database will useful here). The list could, of course, be posted to the client.

Charge a finder’s fee of 50 pence per property on the list ($5 minimum charge). Clients will pay readily because you’re saving them the bother of finding all the estate agents’ numbers, ringing around, and looking in lots of shop windows and newspapers, plus the time and expense of making lot of property-finding trips.

This service has obvious potential in any town or city, especially student towns. Advertise in the main newspapers as well as the business and student press, and put up posters and signs to promote your enterprise.

  1. Child/school matching service

Finding a suitable school for their offspring can be a headache for parents. Various factors must be weighed up: its proximity to home, its academic record, its size, its religious values, and whether it caters sufficiently for the child’s talents, whether it be sport, music, engineering, or whatever else.

There is thus a need for a service which matches children to local schools, which is an excellent opportunity for any PC owner with database software. You could print out a report giving, say, the three most suitable schools, listing not only the relevant factual details (contact details, list of staff members, academic records and overall strengths) but also your opinion, which is based on your knowledge of the client, the area, and its schools.

A fee of $25 could be charged for this. Earn extra income by helping with application forms, providing introductions, and assisting with pupils who can’t pass the entrance exam.

  1. Freelance photographer

Anyone with an artistic eye and a good camera can turn amateur picture taking into a professional photographic business.

There are numerous ways to make money. Taking family portraits and photographing weddings, sports teams and school group photos is the bread and butter work. Publishing is also a huge market, with newspapers and magazines crying out for usable images.

Then there’s the corporate market, taking pictures for promotional materials and web sites. Impress client once and your reputation will spread.

  1. Small firm promo person

The problem with many small, often one-person, business is that they’re good at making something but can’t be bothered to go out and sell it.

You can help them achieve their full potential and make money too, by offering your services as a promotional person. By targeting big retail buyers and making use of company exhibitions and in-store demonstrations, you can secure very large orders for you client. You’ll be charging them a commission, so the bigger the order the more you’ll earn.

Try to work for firms selling similar products. That way you can use the same contacts and marketing methods, achieving maximum sales for minimum effort.

  1. Company administration

Again, small company bosses would rather not have to bother with annoying paperwork and accounts. So why not contact them and offer your services as a freelance administrator?

You could, for example, type and send letters, take phone calls, send faxes, do photocopying, pay bills, and do the accounts and so on, working either from home or on the firm’s premises. Charge $10-$20 an hour for your services.

While each client might only want you for a handful of hours a week, work for a few and you’ll have what amounts to a full time enterprise that pays fantastically well.

  1. Local ads magazine

This is a particularly lucrative home publishing opportunity. Small to medium sized local businesses often rely on advertising in the local papers for custom, but the response can be patchy. So call these firms, taking their numbers from ads in the paper, and say you can offer them a one-eight-page ad in your new magazine for $25. They’ll jump at the chance, because it will be far cheaper than advertising in the local paper and far more cost-effective. You could either photocopy their sales leaflet, or recreate it using DTP / word processing equipment.

Fill 12 pages and you’ll earn $2,400 in revenue. Make the publication readable by filling the remaining pages with local news, comment and /or interviews with local firms, and put a snappy headline (and perhaps a picture) on the front. When you’ve produced a master copy, get a few thousand copies printed / photocopied and distribute them to shops, houses, libraries, community centres and other public places.

Making the magazine free of charge will attract more readers and hence more advertisers. Fulfil your advertising quota and you’ll earn at least $1,500 per issue – that’s $18,000 a year if you produce a new one every month. As your readership increases you’ll be able to increase your advertising rates and profits by 100, 200, maybe even 300 percent or more.

  1. Bouncy castles

Setting up a bouncy castle at boot sales, fairs, festivals and other events is an amazingly good earner. You can take $200 in a day at a moderately full event, even allowing for the site fees. Kids love bouncy castles, so you’re bound to have a steady stream of customers throughout the day, each paying $1 per half hour. Do two functions in a weekend and you can earn over $400.

While you can still make a profit with a hired castle, it’s best to buy your own, the full cost new, including the blowers, is about $2,000, and you’ll also need a trailer to transport it. But you can earn that back in a month or so. Secondhand castles, on the other hand, start at around $500.

Bouncy castles can be obtained from: Gaz Inflatables, 0116028907714; Bargain Bouncers, 0116 253 2762; Southern Inflatables, 01428 751158; Designer Bounce, 0800 289 1474.

  1. Used car broker service

In conversation you often hear friends, colleagues and relatives saying they’re after a new car, either for themselves or another member of the family.

If you’re someone who ‘knows about cars you can make money as a car sales agent, earning a commission by sourcing cars for people who can’t spare the time / effort to look, or who simply don’t know what they’re looking for.

Offer to find your client a vehicle that suits their needs and budget. You can then scan the private ads, dealers and auctions, before buying the car and delivering it to your client, taking ten percent of the purchase price for your trouble.

This idea can be turned around to earn extra profit approach dealers / private sellers offering to find them a buyer, in return for a sales commission.

  1. Mini market

Here’s a simple way of making regular cash from unwanted household goods and items bought from boot sales. At weekends, set up a table outside your house with the goods placed upon it. This will attract the attention of passersby, who are guaranteed to buy if they spot a bargain.

Keep your stock replenished with items bought from car boot / jumble sales, and develop a knack for knowing what will sell. You should be able to earn $100 every Saturday – more if you live on a busy street.

  1. Utility service marketer

The deregulation of the electricity, gas and telephone markets has created openings for freelancers to sell the services of new utility companies.

Typically, you approach households to demonstrate how much they can save their household bills. If they’re interested, you sign them up with the new supplier, who pays you a wage and / or sales commission. Contact gas / electricity / phone companies for details.

One alternative is to work on an independent basis. Approach households offering to cut their bills by finding them the most cost-effective supplier, and charge them a fee based on the amount you help them save.

  1. Media space booking agent

A media space booking agent is someone who looks after the advertising needs of small companies. But why will firms use you? Why can’t they book their own ads?

Your major selling point is that you can save your client money on promotional costs by recommending the most effective publications to advertise in, and by getting them the best possible advertising rates. Build up a file of information by sending off for media packs (listing advertising rates, readership profile and circulation figures) from a range of publications.

The real clincher is this: all publications have a copy deadline a few days before they go to print. At this stage they often have gaps they are desperate to fill. That’s where you come in. By acquainting yourself with various publications’ copy dates you can call at the last moment and book ads for your clients at massively reduced rates.

No qualifications are required for this business, although knowledge of advertising sales will give you extra credibility with clients. The main quality required is the savvy to get the best deal possible.

  1. Web site designer

If a firm is going to make the most of being on the Internet they’ll need an attractive, well designed website. So there are opportunities for anyone who can design and set one up.

This involves far more than fancy graphics – as well as the overall look and layout of the site you’ll need to consider how best to pass on the information it contains.

While it’s a job for professional, creativity and graphic skills are far more important than academic ability, and there is plenty of helpful software available. Taking a short course is the best way to gain the necessary ability – ask your careers office or further education college for information.

  1. Internet marketing consultant

There’s no point having and expensive website if no one ever gets to see it, which is why there’s money to be made as an Internet marketing consultant.

This is a job for experienced ‘net surfer and commands premium fees. Your job will be to register your client’s site with multiple search engines to increase traffic, arrange reciprocal links with related sites, and generally conduct the best internet marketing offensive the client can afford.

  1. Personal computer consultant

Everyone knows that computers make life easier in all sorts of ways, providing both entertainment and education too. Many people, however, still find PCs intimidating.

Patient, computer literate types can make money by combining training with a service supplying new and used PCs. That way the customer gets a PC and they know how to use it.

This is a service you can pitch at the public in general, although OAPs and students are the main groups to aim for. Target social clubs, community groups and student unions, using posters, seminars, handouts and newspaper ads to get your message across.

  1. Business computer consultant

All companies that use computers rely on outside assistance for advice on buying hardware and software, and on computer networking and Internet access.

This is a lucrative opportunity for any computer expert. Cultivate a professional image by using a quality logo, business card, letterhead, and other promotional literature.

  1. Paralegal service

Much of a solicitor’s work these days is framed out to paralegals. These are freelancers who aren’t qualified to be a solicitor, but who deal with tasks such as debt collecting, process serving and some administrative tasks.

The quickest way to become a paralegal is to take a short course, such as the one offered by Paralegals UK (Tel: 0171 476 8908). Previous experience or qualifications aren’t necessary.

A newly qualified paralegal can expect to earn upwards of $12,000 a year, although a specialized task such as process serving commands higher rates of $16.50 an hour.

  1. In-store demonstrator

When a new product is launched, their makers often find that the best way to get shoppers to buy it is to have an in-store demonstration. Make up, kitchenware and food products are commonly demonstrated in supermarkets and department stores, and free samples are often handed out.

This type of work is easy to find – contact the personnel manager or marketing department of large local retailers and manufacturers offering your services on a freelance basis. Work may be intermittent at first, but stick at it. Do a good job, find a few regular clients and you’ll set up a useful income stream.

  1. CV writer

In today’s competitive employment market it’s vital for any job applicant to have a professionally –written CV. In cases where applicants have similar experience / qualifications, the quality of their CVs may be deciding factor, which is why CV writing services have become big business.

This is something you can set up if you have a computer with word processing / DTP software and a printer. You’ll need to know how to put together and effective CV – your local library will have books on the subject.

You must ask each client about the jobs they are applying for, their career history, what qualifications, training and experience they have, their personal details (name, address etc.) and their spare time interests. Charge anywhere between $10 and $25 for a master version plus five photocopies. Charge extra for alterations and additional copies.

To promote this service, leave cards in shop windows, and on notice boards in public areas (libraries, offices, canteens, colleges and careers / job centres). Get a listing in the phone book and use classified ads in the local paper to bring in customers.

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