Like many service businesses, a moving business is in many ways a great business for first time entrepreneurs.
You can start a moving service with no money and no experience. You can start small, even part time and if you want to, you can grow it into a very large business.
You may be wondering – how can I start this business if I don’t own a truck? It’s very simple – you just go and rent one for each job. This has lots of advantages. You can match the size of the truck to the job you are doing. And you don’t have to pay the overhead for the truck when you are not using it.
What about experience? You really don’t need experience. Just move the items very carefully. And don’t take on any job that might feel unsafe or over your head – such as moving a grand piano down 5 flights of stairs!
How do you know how much to charge? You really should charge by the hour, not the job and you should also include your travel time.
If you charge by the job you will likely end up undercharging when the job takes longer than expected. Also if you charge by the job, you will have to very carefully estimate the time involved. You also might want to consider offering packing services.
I know a fellow in Boston who started his moving business doing his first moves with just himself and one friend. Today he has 20 locations in major cities coast-to-coast where he offers local moves. And he also offers long distance moves and packing and storage services. He has over one hundred trucks and almost one thousand employees. How did he become so successful?
First he started with a good, solid business idea. But more importantly, he made his business unique. He made his business stand out from the competition in a positive way. He aimed his business at people who were willing to pay a little more for top level service and built his entire business model around this concept.
This gave him a huge advantage over his competitors, allowing him to more easily attract customers and charge higher prices. This process of making your business unique is called “differentiation.” It is a very important part of building any successful business. Even a home-based one-person business needs to be differentiated from competitors.
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I remember my Great Aunt Betty created and sold a variety of interesting craft items. For a while, she sold them through a small shop beside her house. She also sold them to a few retailers. For example, I remember her taking her handmade basket-type pocketbooks to be sold at Bonwit Teller’s, once one of Boston’s most prestigious women’s stores.
Today, the Internet has dramatically expanded the opportunity and ease with which one can break into the craft business. With websites like Etsy.com, you can not only find a place to sell your goods but also get an idea of what other people are making money on.
This is a particularly cool business because you can start as small as you want, working as few hours as you like. Yet, if you create something that catches on, you could build a global brand – the upside is unlimited!
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Social Media Specialist
Even tiny local businesses want marketing exposure on social media. But many business owners don’t know how to use social media or they don’t want to bother to put in the effort to do it themselves. So you can help them out and make some good money at it.
You can write and post messages for these businesses on Facebook or Twitter or other social media. Generally your customers will want posts about their business to be posted regularly. This provides a great business opportunity for you because you will be able to earn an ongoing steady income stream while providing a valuable service to your customers.
It’s not hard to become a social media specialist for local businesses. If you are active on social media yourself, you already have what it takes. If you’ve never even been on social media you can learn just about everything you need to know in a single day – the digital marketing courses on BusinessTown are a great place to start.
You can run this as a very simple part time business. But you can also turn it into a bigger business by adding more clients and providing more services.
For example you could also offer your clients help in creating and placing ads or paid posts on the social media channels. As the social media platforms become increasingly competitive it is harder to make an impact with free posts and hence paid posts/ads are playing an increasingly important role.
To get going, take on one client or two – perhaps starting with a friend’s small business. Give them a great offer with the understanding that they will provide you with a reference that will help you land additional customers.
Having a solid understanding of digital marketing is mandatory in this day and age. Especially if you are interested in becoming an entrepreneur.
On BusinessTown, you can learn how to build a great online presence for your business. In the course The Ultimate Guide to Digital Marketing, I will teach you everything you need to know from setting up your website to ranking on Google and running ads.
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Chef for Hire/Catering
The son of one of my friends began a chef for hire business when he was just 12 years old and grew it until he entered college. He started out with serving basic foods to his parents’ friends, growing his menu, as well as his customer list, over time.
So I suggest you follow the approach of my friend’s son. Begin by offering a small list of your very best foods. Make them awesome and make your customers happy. It’s important because this business is especially dependent upon building repeat customers and getting word of mouth publicity.
As you are first getting started you may be able to get your clients to provide all the plates, dishes, utensils and even the cooking ware. But eventually you’ll likely want to provide some items yourself.
Since people are most often looking for a chef for hire for weekend events when they are entertaining friends, you may very well be able to start and run this business while keeping your day job.
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There are all kinds of different coaching services that you could potentially provide – all of which are in high demand and may be quite lucrative.
Among the most popular types of personal coaches are personal trainers – who guide people through their workout routines.
You could also be a personal coach for your favorite sport. For instance, a friend in Boston who coaches young soccer players has one client alone who pays him almost $50,000 per year to train his son!
I personally know several entrepreneurs that are seeing coaches to help them see the bigger picture, stay motivated, and improve their overall business strategy and direction. Other business coaches are more specialized such as those offering help in areas such as finance, marketing, sales or communication skills.
You could be a public speaking coach! Instead of making the speeches and presentations yourself, you are coaching the presenters.
You can build your skills in your field by reading up on it, signing up for some coaching yourself, or taking a course. The key here is to specialize and talk up your skills.
You can quickly make really good money cleaning houses. And if you serve your clients well, you can build your service to the point where you’ll need to hire helpers and turn it into a significant business.
Sure cleaning is hard, repetitive work. But most people don’t want to do it. So that’s why you can make good money at it. The demand is giant. You can potentially grow your cleaning business forever.
Costs are very low to start a cleaning business. The single most expensive item may be the vacuum. After that all you’ll need will be simple items like buckets, sponges, mops, duster and cleaning agents. You don’t even need a car. One house cleaner I used came to my apartment on the subway.
One of the keys to having a successful cleaning business is making sure that you keep up your cleaning energy and enthusiasm every time you show up. My experience is that many cleaners do a great job the first two or three visits then their work deteriorates.
On the other hand if you do a great job every time you will be surprised how easy it is to get referrals and quickly build your business through word of mouth.
To get started you can advertise on places like Craigslist. You can distribute flyers to homes and on car windshields. And put up notices on bulletin boards. These are inexpensive yet very effective marketing techniques called guerilla marketing.
Want to learn how to promote your business with no money? In my course Start-a-Business 101 included in BusinessTown, I will show you my 50 favorite guerilla marketing ideas and how to use them to attract customers on a shoestring.
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eBay Selling Service
I love my model trains and often I’ll buy model train items on eBay. More frequently than not, I’m making purchases from people who are professional eBay sellers, not the owners of the merchandise.
eBay sellers work on a commission basis or a flat fee. They don’t own the inventory. So they don’t have the risk of getting stuck with unwanted items. So it’s a great low-risk way to make steady money.
You can get started just by selling some of your own items that you no longer have a use for. After that you can reach out and get items to sell from your family and friends.
A completely different way to use eBay is to approach it as a trader. So in this case you do own the inventory, trying to buy it low and sell it high.
The key to making money as a trader on eBay is to develop expertise in a narrow niche. Start slowly and really get to know what sells and what doesn’t and at what price before you build up a big inventory. Don’t rush it.
But if you build your eBay trading business carefully, you can do very well with it over time. I have a friend whose son was able to pay for his entire college tuition with the money he made trading on eBay during his high school years.
I really like the lawn service business. Sure it may involve some hard work but it pays well. Furthermore it’s really flexible.
You can start small by just cutting a few yards in your neighborhood. All you need is a lawn mower to get started – you don’t need a fancy truck. Then over time you can grow in business by adding more customers.
Gradually you can add more and more services such as hedging, weeding, fertilizing, Spring and Fall yard clean up and more.
As you add both clients and services, you can really expand your business into a significant enterprise.
Initially, you’ll have to do some marketing to get customers. Maybe distribute flyers, try some online advertising, put notices on bulletin boards and even consider knocking on some doors to sell your services. However as you build your customer base you will get more and more customers by word of mouth.
Personal Computer Training
Today everything is online and on computers. But amazingly, plenty of people still don’t even have any clue how to use a personal computer.
That’s where you can help!
There are a couple different routes you can go with this idea.
You could offer PC training to employees at smaller to mid- sized companies whose employees need basic training and are too small to have their own IT departments.
Or you could offer classes to individuals. Older people may be a good niche to focus on for example.
Of course you’ll need to be computer savvy yourself. But if you are offering lessons in fairly basic skills you don’t need to be a total computer whiz. You will also need to be patient. People who are seeking others to help them learn computer skills will not always be the fastest learners.
This is a really fun business that lends itself to starting part time in your home with possibility of significant growth.
I have seen several people start a jewelry business out of their home and develop it into a full time business – and in one case a large enterprise employing dozens of people and with a global sales reach.
Today there are all kinds of outlets for selling the jewelry you make. You can sell your jewelry to local stores for example. Usually this will be on a consignment basis – meaning they won’t actually pay you until they sell the jewelry to the end customer.
You can also sell your jewelry at local craft fairs. And of course you can sell it online at places like Etsy or through your own online store.
To turn your jewelry making into a business I suggest you develop a unique and highly distinguished look, and develop collections of related jewelry items that can be displayed and marketed together.
On BusinessTown you will meet Holly Christensen. Holly has started her own successful jewelry business: Dune Jewelry. She will tell tell you all about her journey and how she grew her business from scratch.
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An import/export business can be a lot of fun and a great excuse to do some really fun traveling abroad. Or alternatively, you could just source your products on the Internet and run the business entirely from the comfort of sitting on your couch! For example, there are websites such as Alibaba that a lot of people use to source products.
I’ve seen people start import/export businesses small and grow them into much larger enterprises. One of my friends started importing goods into the US from Latin America while still in college. He grew the business to the point where he was totally filling up the cargo holds on some commercial airline routes.
One of the keys to this business is to focus narrowly. Get to know the goods in a particular category and/or region really well. Find out what sells, what you can easily source and what you can make good money on. Don’t try to sell everything you run across. And start small until you find out what you most easily move.
Once you have found your products you need to decide how to sell them. You’ve got a lot of options. You can sell them through established websites such as Amazon. You can set up your own website. Or you can wholesale them to retailers. You may want to try a variety of options.
This is the kind of business that will likely take some trial and error to really figure out what works. So invest slowly in product inventory as you start. But once you discover what is really selling you could have an extremely successful business.
Apartment Preparation Service
Every time an apartment unit turns over, there is work that needs to be done. Sometimes it might just be extensive cleaning. But usually there is some additional work such as filling in nail holes in the walls, painting, and minor repairs.
Landlords usually contract out this kind of work to an apartment preparation service. If you are handy, have some basic skills and aren’t afraid of a little bit of work, you can make some good money in this business.
To land clients go out and target small to middle sized apartment complexes. Large enough to contract out the work. But small enough not to have their own staff.
You can start by approaching potential clients with marketing such as online advertising. Consider direct mailing or distributing flyers. And consider making a sales pitch via email and/or phone. Finally, be prepared to make a personalized sales presentation.
It may take some sales effort to land clients for this business, but it’s worth it. You can make really good money running this business. And if you keep your clients happy, you will be able to build a highly valuable business that you can eventually sell for even more money.
The big opportunity for freelance writing today is in content marketing. Businesses of all types are looking to add information to their websites that will help attract, inform, educate and build trust with their audience.
For example, a business that retails office interiors may pay for articles on the trends in office design, the best spaces for worker productivity and much more..
Many people who write content marketing for specific businesses do not have operating experience in that industry. Instead they rely on guidance from their clients and by doing some investigative research on their own.
To get started in content marketing, review the many content marketing courses on BusinessTown, polish up your writing skills and start contacting potential clients. Over time, you can build up your expertise, such as how to maximize SEO (search engine optimization) for your articles.
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Carpet installation is another business with huge and endless demand. Apartments, private homes, and businesses all need to have carpet installed.
It’s just tricky enough that people don’t want to do it themselves – but you can learn how to do it and do it well very quickly.
If you’re just getting started, consider carpeting a room in your house or apartment and use it as a brochure. Put up a website and include pictures and videos of your work. Once you’ve done your first few jobs, ask customers for referrals and prominently post them too.
You’ll need a few basic tools for installation but nothing fancy. Eventually you’ll want a truck to transport carpets. But until your pace of work picks up, you may first want to just rent trucks or even try hauling carpet on the top of your car.
To land customers you may want to approach local flooring stores and see if you can do installation for their customers.
You can also get listed on the handy person type of websites like Angi. And you can put up ads on places like Craigslist.
SEO – search engine optimization – is hot! And it’s no wonder! Businesses of all sizes want SEO to get to the top of search engine results. Getting to the top of search engine results means free promotion for a business and who doesn’t want that?
You can learn about the basics of search optimization very quickly. For example, for a local business it’s relatively easy to rank well for most keywords.
But for a business that is trying to rank nationally or internationally for highly sought after keywords, it can be very tricky – and constantly changing.
So with a little bit of basic learning about SEO, you could help local businesses improve their search engine rankings. However it will take a more thorough understanding of SEO to help companies rank for highly sought keywords.
You can learn a lot about SEO in the courses at BusinessTown. In fact, even if you are not going to provide SEO services, it is valuable to understand the basics of SEO so that you can make your own business website show up in search engine results.
If you do decide to turn SEO into a business, start by building a website and carefully optimizing it for SEO. Then as you are getting started, I’d suggest you target small local businesses. Small enough that they are willing to hire a person who is new to the SEO game, but big enough that they are willing to pay for SEO.
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Dog walking may sound like a small time idea. But let me tell you, it’s an excellent example of a very simple business that you can be hugely successful with if you take it seriously and apply good business practices.
Plenty of people have started by walking a few dogs and then built their businesses into highly lucrative full time enterprises. Many people have expanded so much that they needed to hire additional dog walkers.
Some people have even sold their dog walking businesses for $500,000 or more. How can they sell a dog walking business for so much money? Because with every new customer you find and make happy you are building value into your business.
I have also seen some dog walkers expand their business by offering additional services. Some also offer dog sitting. Some will board dogs overnight. Others will offer dog training.
To get started, you can post flyers at the local pet store, pass out flyers at the neighborhood dog park and put ads on places like Craigslist and Facebook.
You can start this business very simply by walking a few dogs. But if you are serious about expanding it and making it into a solid money-making enterprise, then run it like a business. Learn the basics of how to run a business, come up with a short business plan and learn the best ways to market your service.
Yes, house painting is another business I tried on a summer vacation from college. I had no experience whatsoever. I had never painted a house – even my own house.
But it was easy to learn. The key I learned was the “prep.” Specifically sanding off the old loose paint so that the new paint would adhere well and look better.
The bidding was a little tricky. But you soon learn not to get over eager and underbid just to get the job. It’s amazing how some painters will bid 3, 4 or even 5 times as much as other painters.
My business was profitable from the first job. I think one of my keys to success was that I made it clear to my clients that I didn’t have a lot of experience so that I was able to keep their expectations in check.
This is an example of a business that you can start with absolutely zero money. For example, after I lined up my first house painting job, I got an advance from the customer, which I used to purchase all of my paint and other supplies.
House painting is easy to break into and can produce a very nice income. The downsides are that painting can get a little boring at times. Also when it’s raining you can’t do outside painting.
Want to hear more about my previous ventures? On BusinessTown, I will share with you everything I have learned from starting more than dozen businesses.
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Tutoring is a great way to make money! And you don’t need to be a genius or great at every subject. You just need to know a little bit more than your students.
So for example to teach first grade math, you don’t need to know calculus. You just need to know first grade math really well. Can you say 2 + 2 = 4! Excellent! You can do this.
Oh and one more thing – you need patience for tutoring! That I think might rule me and my short attention span out!
With tutoring you can charge high hourly rates. You can set your own schedule.
And today, you don’t have to just focus on your local market. You can offer tutoring almost anywhere via the Internet.
Like many businesses on this list one of the keys to success is specialization. Even if you can tutor in many subjects, you will often find it easier to attract clients if you are known for a particular subject area.
People still need a resume – and it’s really important when you are job hunting.
Yet most people can not put together a good resume and that’s where you come in.
Too many people just focus on listing their past jobs and education on their resume. Big mistake! Instead they need to emphasize what they accomplished. What they can do really well! What sets them apart!
Keeping this in mind and if you are an even half decent writer, then you can write excellent resumes.
Another thing to keep in mind is to be sure to include the relevant keywords that hiring managers are most likely to be searching for. Including a list of skills for example, is an easy way to do this.
To promote your resume writing, list yourself on websites like Fiver. I have heard of one person who in a period of several years built his resume writing business into a multi million dollar business.
This is still one more business on this list that you can start part-time, with virtually no money, master very quickly and potentially grow into a significant business.
I know a lot about resumes because the book publishing company I founded, Adams Media Corporation, was a leading publisher of resumes.
There is a huge endless demand for getting rid of junk! We’ve all got it! In our attics, garages and basements. Then you’ve also got people who are moving and need to get rid of stuff right now. Plus there’s natural debris such as fallen tree parts, weeds, leaves and more.
Most town and city trash services won’t carry away the larger items or loads so that’s where you come in. Check to see if your state or town requires a license for junk removal. In any event, it’s a pretty easy business to get going with.
You don’t need to go buy a fancy truck to get started. I’d recommend you start out with a cheap used truck or perhaps initially just with a trailer. Heck as you test the market for your first few jobs you could even rent a truck or a trailer.
You’ll want to find some places to get rid of the junk you pick up. Some of it you may even be able to turn into cash such as at a junkyard, a scrap metal dealer or a recycling center.
Promote your service on local bulletin boards, put up ads on places like Craigslist. I’d talk up “Fall and Spring Cleaning Time” in your promotional messages. And I’m sure that over time you’ll be able to develop both good repeat business and referrals from happy customers.
By Bob Adams, Harvard MBA, serial entrepreneur, and founder of BusinessTown. Bob has started dozens of successful businesses, including one he launched with $1500 and sold for $40 million.
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