People who would love to enjoy the freedom of working from home often feel like entrepreneurship is out of reach because they lack significant capital to invest in a business. Luckily, there are plenty of home based businesses with no start up costs that can be used to help you achieve your dream of a more flexible working environment. In fact, since you don’t have to pay for the cost of maintaining a separate physical location for your business, finding a home based business like this is easier than you might expect.
Deciding What Type of Business to Start
Businesses can be grouped into two different categories: those that sell a service and those that sell a product. Each business type has its own unique advantages and disadvantages. Deciding which type of business best fits your needs is the first step in becoming a successful entrepreneur.
Generally, most home based businesses with no start-up costs will be service businesses. If you have skills in an area such as accounting, graphic design, computer programming, or copywriting, starting a home based business should be a fairly simple process. If you lack a college degree or expertise in a particular professional area, however, you will need to be creative when coming up with a business idea. Parents are constantly in search of good daycare providers, making this an excellent business for anyone who loves working with children. Cleaning, landscaping, and pet care services are also in demand, particularly if you live in a community with a high percentage of elderly residents who may have trouble maintaining their homes. If you’re known for your sense of style and willing to commit to a marketing effort to find enough clients, a business as a personal shopper may even be an option to consider.
The primary challenge associated with starting a work at home business which sells a product is building up your inventory. When looking for businesses with no start up costs, drop shipping is typically the best option for someone interested in selling a particular product. Drop shipping, a technique in which the business owner transfers orders to wholesalers that are responsible for shipping goods directly to the customer, can be a good way to maintain a positive cash flow with no upfront inventory purchase. Some direct sales opportunities, such as Avon, also require no inventory. However, you’ll need to research carefully to make sure the commissions on the products you sell will be enough to provide you with a sufficient monthly income.
Gathering the Resources You Need
Once you’ve decided what type of company you wish to start, look around you to find what items you own that can be put to work running your business. If you have a computer and a desk, for example, you’ve already got most of the equipment you need to run a freelance writing business. Similarly, parents with young children still living at home will find that they already have many of the toys and other supplies necessary to start an in-home daycare.
When you need professional assistance starting your work at home business and you don’t have a lot of money to spend, bartering can be an excellent strategy. Even though bartering isn’t as common today as it once was, many people will be willing to consider the idea if you frame your proposal as a mutually beneficial business relationship. If you’re an accountant in need of a Web site, offer your bookkeeping advice to a local computer programmer in exchange for his or her services. If you need fliers for your daycare business, see if you can find a graphic designer who would be willing to swap for some free childcare. Joining your local Chamber of Commerce is a great way to begin networking with professionals in your area if you’re having trouble finding people with the skills you need.
Friends and family can also be a good source of help. Enthusiasm is contagious, so let your loved ones see how passionate you are about making your dream of entrepreneurship a reality. Give them ways they can be useful without being too intrusive on their free time, such as proofreading your business plan or helping you conduct the necessary market research by evaluating similar businesses in your community. If you have children, don’t forget to ask them to help with the more mundane tasks of operating your business. Even elementary school children can help put fliers in mail boxes, address envelopes, or file papers in alphabetical order.
If you have a business idea that requires more capital than you have available at the moment, see if there is a smaller project you can take on to help you earn the cash you need for your ultimate goal. For example, if you’d like to begin selling handmade jewelry or one-of-a-kind quilts at local craft shows, you’ll need money to purchase supplies for your projects. However, taking custom orders from people in search of personalized gifts can be a great way to build interest in your business until you have enough cash to get started. When looking for home based businesses with no start up costs, this type of creative thinking is an essential ingredient for success.
As you work through the process of starting your own business, you’ll probably run into obstacles you didn’t anticipate. The U.S. Small Business Administration is a wonderful resource for cash-strapped entrepreneurs. This government agency was established in 1953 to provide assistance to small business owners in an effort to boost the economy. Your local SBA office can help with everything from writing a business plan to applying for your first business loan. The SCORE Association (Service Corps of Retired Executives), a nonprofit group made of 11,500 volunteer business counselors, also works closely with the SBA to provide free assistance for people who are interested in starting their own businesses.
A Word of Caution
Although credit cards and home equity loans may seem like a tempting source of capital for starting a home based business, you’ll want to think twice before choosing to go this route. It’s true that some entrepreneurs do max out their cards and not regret the decision, but there are also many who end up pushed into bankruptcy when their business venture fails. Risking your family’s financial future is not a decision that should be made lightly, especially if there are other strategies you can use to get your business off the ground.