If you’re stuck in a dead-end job that provides no growth opportunities and that sucks the fun out of everything, you might be considering a change of scenery, i.e. a change of career. And you’re not alone. In fact, a 2013 study by the University of Phoenix found that 78% of 20-somethings were interested in changing careers, followed by 64% of working adults in their 30s, 54% in their 40s, 51% in their 50s, and only 26% of those aged 60 and over.
While you might not know what your next career move will be, you may know that you don’t want to work for someone else again and that you want to be your own boss. After all, that’s where all the money is. Unfortunately, however, starting your own business usually requires a substantial amount of capital, something that you don’t have.
But there’s no reason to worry: with just a little cash, you can start and grow your own business into the empire you’ve always dreamed of. And with these five low-cost business ideas, your dream of being your own boss is easier than ever.
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1. Tour Guide
If you live in a city that you absolutely love and enjoy taking family and friends to places they’d never find on their own, you might want to consider starting your own tour guide business. Startup costs are next to nothing, and you’ll easily be able to turn your passion into a profitable business.
Besides an expert knowledge of your city, its history, best-kept secrets, and hidden gems, local law may require you to be licensed. You can charge customers whatever you like depending on the tour’s length, type (is it a group or private tour?), and distance travelled, and you can broaden your services to include specialized tours like biking tours, hiking tours, and museum tours, just to name a few. You can even offer free, or pay-what-you-want, tours of your city’s main landmarks – this type of tour allows participants to tip guides however much they wish and has proven to be highly lucrative for many tour operators around the world.
2. Pet Sitter
As more and more pet owners prefer to leave their two, four, or eight-legged (and even legless) friends in the care of animal-loving professionals when they’re out of town, the pet sitting industry is unquestionably growing at a rapid rate. And while it is a highly competitive industry, you can still make a name for yourself, especially when no one else in your area provides the same service or if you provide your services for pets other than cats and dogs like exotic animals.
All you need is a love for animals (whether hairy or scaly), licensing, and bonding. Bonding, or honesty insurance, basically ensures your clients that you won’t make away with their belongings, and you might also want to consider liability insurance that will cover any accidents that affect a client’s pets or property.
3. Bed and Breakfast
Do you have a spare room with its own bathroom, and is private from the rest of your house? Do you live near tourist attractions like a famous museum or landmark? Then why not rent that room out to tourists and out-of-town business people? Let’s say that you rent it out for £100 a night – that’s £36,500 in potential annual revenue. You can even rent out a room in your country cottage to city dwellers in desperate need of a peaceful weekend.
The good thing about renting a room in your house is that no licensing is required, and you hardly need to invest any more money in the room (as it will, hopefully, already be furnished), meaning that the only expenses you’ll have are to keep the room maintained. The British Government also offers the Rent a Room scheme which is designed to encourage people to take in lodgers and earn a tax-free income up to £4,250. You don’t even have to be the property’s owner to participate in the scheme to rent out a room or an entire floor; you just need to ask for the landlord’s permission.
4. Home Cleaner
If you’re a real-life Monica Geller (and, therefore, a proud obsessive compulsive cleaner), then you’ll probably enjoy cleaning other people’s homes for a living. Depending on the kind of cleaning you do, you can charge £25 an hour which translates to £100 for just one cleaning job.
There are little to no startup costs for a home cleaning business; your only real expenses will be the cleaning equipment and products required to do your job – and if you really are like Monica, your sink cabinet will already look like a supermarket’s cleaning supplies aisle. Moreover, you’ll hardly need to spend any money on advertising or marketing materials because your customers will mostly come by word of mouth, but you could set up a Facebook page or even a free WordPress site to help things get rolling, especially in the beginning.
And why stop at homes? You can broaden your services to include offices and even restaurants.
5. Wedding Planner
Brides-to-be rarely ever have the time to juggle work and home life, let alone plan a wedding. It can be an exhausting and nerve-wracking process, and without the appropriate know-how, it can often lead them to crack under pressure – until a professional wedding planner swoops in to save the day. Whether it’s booking venues, dealing with caterers, ordering flowers, or scheduling dress rehearsals, a wedding planner is a bride’s best friend in the run-up to, and during, one of the biggest days of her life.
While there aren’t any entry requirements to become a wedding planner, most professionals do opt to take a course, whether online or at an accredited college, to obtain a certificate and, therefore, clients’ confidence. Also, other than course fees (which can cost under £500), your startup costs will be very little, and you’ll have the opportunity to go on to make over £25,000 a year. And you don’t really have to worry about job security, either: as long as weddings are legal, you’ll always have a job.
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Can you think of any other low-cost business ideas? Perhaps you’ve started your own small business in one of these fields and would like to share your tips and tricks with new business owners? Let us know in the comments section below, and don’t forget to share this article with family and friends who are looking to start their own business on a budget!