Starting a business doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. In fact, it’s never been easier to turn a business idea into reality on a limited budget.
These four low-capital startup ideas are basically pay-as-you-go enterprises. Several appear on Sean Stonefield’s list of 20 businesses you can start tomorrow, and for good reason—in addition to their light asset requirements, they’re relatively easy to get off the ground.
“My first computer repair business, started while I was still going to school full time” recalls George Otte, a Miami-based entrepreneur who owns and operates several businesses under the Otte Polo umbrella. “I got my first clients through connections I’d made at a previous job, and my most valuable asset was my knowledge and experience.”
Within three years, Otte counted more than 100 clients in the Miami area. He eventually took the business nationwide—not bad for a college student’s first stab at entrepreneurship. And he continues to use the skills he learned during his first foray into business. No matter how humble your startup idea, it’s likely to leave you with business lessons that last a lifetime.
- Graphic Design
All you need to launch your own graphic design business is a home office, an above-average technology suite that includes a top-tier graphics program and a powerful CPU, and an endlessly creative mind. That’s it. Once you get into the nitty-gritty, you’ll need to stake out a niche and begin prospecting for clients. Fortunately, in an ever more entrepreneurial environment with ever lower barriers to entry, the demand for top-tier logo and website designers far outstrips the supply.
If you have an accounting degree and a CPA license, you can start an accounting business for surprisingly little. All you need to get started is a home office, a professional accounting suite, and a public presence that includes a website, business cards, and professional association memberships. The tough part is making a name for yourself in a relatively crowded marketplace. One relatively easy entry point is tax preparation; virtually everyone prepares their taxes each year, and many aren’t comfortable using automated software programs to do so.
- Financial Planning or Advising
Like accounting, financial planning or advising requires a college degree and a professional certification (CFP or CFA). Beyond that, the barriers to entry are quite low. Many independent financial planners and advisers work out of home offices and use Skype or similar technologies to virtually “meet” with clients around the country.
This is a lucrative business, especially for planners and advisers who deal with high-net-worth clients, as retainer fees are generally calculated as a percentage of clients’ assets under management or total net worth. If you’re successful, the potential to scale is clear: all you need to do to duplicate yourself is hire credentialed associates.
- Computer Programming
Many talented computer programmers lack formal computer science degrees. They’re self-taught. If you’re willing to spend a few months availing yourself of free or low-cost developer courses and learning the ins and outs of advanced computer programming, you can follow this path too. As you go, you can take on increasingly complex projects, assembling a repertoire that enhances your reputation and builds on itself.
Dream It, Then Do It
Not sure you’re cut out for the gigs on this list? No problem. There are literally dozens of suitable business concepts for ambitious people with limited funds and boundless imaginations. And, if you’re fortunate enough to grow your low-capital business idea into a sustainable, thriving enterprise, you’ll soon have the funds (or at least the credit rating) to realize the full extent of your vision. Dream it—then do it.
Are you thinking about starting your own business on a limited budget? How are you preparing?