Starting a business can be daunting. You may require capital, premises and staff. However, many businesses started at home with low start-up costs.
Being a solopreneur is often the easiest way to start a small business. But many who have started as a one-man show have grown their businesses into something bigger.
1. Do something you love
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If you’re wondering what type of small business to start, often the best thing is to identify what your passions are. Do you enjoy making jewellery, sewing, pottery, gardening, painting, working with animals, or have a keen eye for photography or a love for antiques?
Taking a passion and turning it into a business is one of the best reasons to start a business. Businesses that are driven by passion and enjoyment are the ones that stand a good chance of succeeding. Customers are more inclined to buy from someone who is excited about their product or service.
2. Identify a gap in the market
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Lere Mgayiya lives in South Africa. He always felt the pull towards an entrepreneurial life. With some money he won in a TV competition for budding entrepreneurs, he started a business which, unfortunately, failed. Having lost the money from the competition and being viewed as a failure by friends and family, Lere hit rock bottom.
One day, sitting in a market square, he observed someone who was shining people’s shoes, when he had a lightbulb moment. He realised that this type of venture would be best suited at an airport.
With a mere R1,500 (± $140) borrowed from his mother, and after selling his television, radio and fridge for another R10,000 (± $940), he ordered two wooden chairs from a carpenter. After waiting a year for approval from the airport, he finally launched his shoe-shining business.
Today, Lere has a branch in five of South Africa’s airports and employs around 44 staff.
That’s an amazing story and has a few lessons to teach us:
- Business ideas and opportunities are everywhere; you just need to identify them and then have dogged determination to make it work.
- Failing is part of the entrepreneurial journey. What is important is to try again.
- It is possible to start a business with little or no money. This story certainly shows that where there’s a will, there’s a way!
3. Become a consultant or an independent contractor
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Are you a marketing guru, PR whiz, genius accountant or have experience in management consulting? Why work for someone else? Put your skills to use as a consultant or independent contractor.
Consultants are paid very good rates to impart their advice, knowledge and expertise. In most cases, they are paid to analyse a situation, identify problems and recommend solutions. They do not do the work itself.
Even fashionistas can make a business out of their love for fashion by becoming an image consultant.
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Many writers, graphic designers, web designers and techies are going out on their own. When companies downsize and cut staff, they often turn to freelancers.
Freelancing has become a growing trend and an increasingly popular way of earning a living over the past few years. Statistics estimate that forty percent of the US workforce will consist of freelancers, part-time workers and contractors by 2020.
Freelancing is one of those business options with a low start-up cost. A computer, an Internet connection, a cellphone, a desk and some stationery is all you need, and you’re good to go!
5. Start an online business
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For those who love the digital world, the Internet has opened up a plethora of ways to make money, and again, start-up costs are low – a computer, an internet connection and a website are all you need.
Online businesses include some of the following:
- Selling a service such as coaching. Evan Marc Katz makes a full-time living as a dating coach and does most of it remotely. Pooja Lohana offers life coaching and, for her international clients, simply conducts sessions over Skype.
- Creating an online course.
- Writing e-books (fiction or non-fiction). Both can be self-published and sold online.
- Selling goods online through platforms such as eBay, Amazon and Etsy.
- Creating a unique or useful product and selling it on your website.
- Designing apps.
All of the above options require a ton of work. Don’t be fooled by the many false claims out there that you can make a quick buck overnight. You can make plenty of money online, but you need to be smart about it. You also need to watch out for Internet scams. It’s a sad fact that most online businesses tank, mostly because the wannabe online entrepreneur bought into the false idea that making money online is easy and went about it the wrong way.
The key behind almost every successful online business is offering a service or product that helps others, fulfils a need or solves a problem.
Do your homework on how to build a successful online business before you take the plunge. If executed properly, an online business can be very lucrative and can create some passive income.