Starting a business is a very tiresome process, especially since you have no idea what you’re doing.
Even more so, if you’re just starting out and don’t have enough of a backing to give you that initial push.
Before we start the list, we want to get across one point which we find incredibly valuable.
It’s not money invested that makes a business successful, it’s the time and effort put in, by the people who ARE the business.
Early on, you’re not going to have crazy money to throw around, so you will need to get creative and give it your all if you want to succeed.
Money just speeds things up; and if you have it, make sure to use it, but don’t expect to just throw money at problems and make them go away.
The goal here is that by the end of this article you’ll have at least a couple of business ideas that you can start and grow as well as some resources to make that happen.
With that said, here are 15 Businesses You can start for cheap or even free with examples of people who worked these models to success.
#1: Market a crazy idea and get people to back you up
No matter what business you’re going to start, you will need to be able to promote it and draw in customers. The better your product is, the easier it will be to market.
The interesting part is, that even if the product is not so incredible, you might still get those sales if your story is good enough and the customer sees value in the acquisition. People will pre-purchase your product even before there is one.
The first example that comes to mind is Cards Against Humanity, who are a massive success among one of the most competitive spaces: boardgames. They started out with an idea of a card game for horrible people, put it on kickstarter with the goal of raising 4000 dollars to print their first edition. People were interested and they raised more.2 years later they had generated 25 million dollars in revenue and to this day is one of the best selling cardgames out there.
How did this all happen? Through mastering the art of storytelling and marketing. They’ve managed to keep the spotlight on the product through innovative marketing campaigns like: selling people a box labeled bullshit for $6 dollars each, which literally contained bull poop or buying a piece of land at the border with Mexico so Trump can’t build his wall.
Btw: they made 180,000 dollars by selling the poop boxes, despite them making it clear to everyone that they will be delivered feces.
Pet rock is another incredible example we’ve touched upon on our channel, making over 15 million dollars in 6 months and selling off the rights for a cool amount in the end.
If you know how to tell a story, your life will be much easier.
#2: Create specific content for people on Patreon
People are willing to contribute to your efforts of creating quality content or putting in the work for them and delivering it in an easy to consume manner. No matter what your skill is, it’s enough to have 1000 loyal fans willing to pay you $5 a month in order for you to sustain yourself and pursue your craft.
This has proven to be an excellent alternative for people here on YouTube.
For example, here are 3 people who are doing well over half a million dollars from Patreon because their followers wish they keep doing what they’re doing.
PhillyD – Has been out go-to source on news for years now. The support from his followers allows him to remain independent and not be constraint by the rules of traditional news agencies.
Sam Harris – neuroscientist, philosopher and advocate for scientific progress in the detriment of religion has built quite a following supporting his talks and effort to spread his approach to these topics.
Lastly, one of our personal favorite channels here on YouTube: Kurgesagt – In a nutshell, makes incredibly cool animated videos on topics related to science, breaking down topics like, alien life, black holes and immortality in easy to follow formats.
If people think what you’re doing is valuable they will support it with their wallets.
#3: Build a Cosmetics Brand
We’re living through the gold age of cosmetic companies. It’s never been easier to start your own makeup brand. The competition might be fierce, but the reward is definitely still there.
One of the most notable people who went from nothing to multi-millionaire off makeup is Jeffree Star.
After a failed career in music, he took his remaining $4000 dollars and produced a small run of lip glosses which he sold of his YouTube channel. Once those were gone, he took the profits and did it again. 4 years later he’s making a killing.
Jeffree Star cosmetics is generating between 100 and 150 million dollars per year right now, and the growth trend is still there.
The goal here is to find a facility that can put together the product for you so you can focus your time on marketing it. It’s one of the most exciting business models of our age.
Kylie Jenner, leveraged her family fame and this model to become a billionaire of of Make-up products. We’ll go in detail about dropshipping and private label at #10 on this list.
#4: Course Building
No matter what you do, you’re likely to have some knowledge that would be valuable to someone else. Why not structure it so that other people can learn that specific skill? People would gladly pay for a solution to a problem or to acquire a new skill.
Online courses are the future of education, or at least a highly important part of that future. We ourselves, have learned more practical things from youtube videos and courses than we did from school.
There are plenty of platforms online that allow you to build and sell your own course. Take it a step further and you end up with an elearning company.
There are two examples that swiftly come to mind when we think about this space.
The first one is Lynda. Not sure how many of you are familiar with the platform, but it all started in the mid 90s when the founder, Lynda Weinman wanted a better way to teach her art students, so she started recording her lessons so she doesn’t have to do repetitive work.
As of 2013 she was doing over 100 million dollars in revenue and in late 2015 sold the company to LinkedIn for 1.5 Billion dollars. She jokingly said: “it was a 20-year overnight success”
A very similar story you can find in PluralSight, who earlier in 2018 went public with a valuation of 1.7 billion dollars.
We find this space so damn interesting that just a couple of months ago, we began the production of our first course on Meditation, from beginner to master, by flying to Bali, Indonesia to film and produce it. Will make an announcement once the final product is available.
#5: Start a blog and build an audience
This has been the model we’ve used to build our own company. It all starts with a domain name, then hosting and you’re off to the races.
Today, there are even free options to building this type of process, but if you’re serious about it, you can at least spend a few dollars on getting yourself a proper .com domain.
This is probably the first thing we recommend to people who are just starting out. Create a blog and build an audience. It’s the most valuable education you can get in your early days, because it will force you to learn so many useful skills, like how to brand, how to promote, how to be consistent in your message, how to drive traffic followed by, how to monetize and how to build business.
It all starts with the first step. Places like instagram & facebook also allow you to build on their platform, but in our experience, it’s always better for you to be the owner of your platform. Otherwise a small change in the algorithm, that is out of your control, can have dire consequences for your business.
We are in the midst of completely re-do-ing our website especially because of this. Sure YouTube is a great place for us, but we’ve grown to a point where your success can’t be reliant on a single platform that you don’t own yourself.
Now we can afford complex server infrastructure, but when we were starting out, we went for the cheapest option out there that got the job done.
If this is something you’re interested in, build your own blog with the folks at BlueHost for just 3 dollars per month. They even throw in the domain name for free. You’re 1 click away from having your own blog. Setting up your own website, is the foundation of everything you’ll do as a business person.
#6: Event or Holiday Planner
Ok, you have your website, but what exactly do you offer? Your website serves as a central point for people to find who you are and what you offer.
We live in a really busy world and people are outsourcing anything they can think of. Figure out what people are not willing to do themselves or simply can’t do that well and you have yourself a business.
We’ve identified 2 companies who basically do the same thing in different geographies which you can do in your own country if you want.
Yes Girls in the US and the Proposers in the UK. Basically, they create the perfect proposal for you. They figure out the restaurant, the flowers, the music in order to get that perfect moment.
Why we love what they’ve done is because they identified a problem: Men who are not the romantic type or do not have enough time on their hands to plan something like this. For a couple of hundred bucks you can have a professional take care of it for you. And they’re currently making a killing being fully booked for the following year, which means the demand is still there and it’s no wonder why. We’ve seen an uptick of services who arrange bachelor and bachelorette parties for the same reason: People don’t have time or the knowhow to put it together themselves.
Travel agencies are a thing of the past which got killed by the rise of the internet, but a new breed of service has made its way into the culture, that of private concierge services. Basically, someone will sit down or skype with you about what your dream holiday will look like and they figure out how to make it happen on your budget: from activities, to tickets, to hotels, you are simply outsourcing the hassle of sorting these things out to someone else.
The same model can be replicated numerous times across different needs and geographies. Have fun with figuring out how to make it work for yourself.
#7: Publish Your Own Book
If you have a story in you or an idea for a book that others might find worth the read, you’re one lucky individual. There’s never been a better time to get your new book in front of people.
For years, you had to secure an agent, an agency to take you in and backroll a press tour and an advertising campaign in order for people to hear about you.
These days, you just write it and post it online. Amazon has made if super easy for people to self-publish their own works.
Just write it and sell it as an ebook. You don’t even need to print anything.
A perfect example is writer E. L. James. Her books were turned down by multiple agencies for being mediocre in writing so she decided to self-publish them as ebooks and print on demand. The title is 50 shades of Grey. A couple of years later, her books are a world-wide phenomenon, with over 125 million copies sold and a series of movies earning over 1 billion dollars.
You have the tools to make it happen, it’s just a matter of putting in the work and standing out in the crowd.
#8: Tutor Kids
If you’re looking to make some money quickly, tutoring kids is probably your best bet. Parents are willing to spend extra in order to make sure their kids get a step ahead of the curve.
If you’re really young and the rest of the business ideas mentioned in this article are somewhat outside your reach, this is probably your best bet to get some cash coming your way. It’s all about being creative and figuring out what people are willing to pay for.
One of the most interesting things we found in this space is that Parents are now paying $20 per hour for Tutors to improve their Kids at Fortnite. Yep, you heard that right!
Culture is something really interesting that’s constantly shifting. With eSports being a massive trend in the past few years and universities even offering scholarships for esports players, tutoring your kid to play video games isn’t such an outrageous idea as it might seem.
Parents read headlines about Ninja earning half a million dollars per month from streaming and want their kids to explore alternative options, so they’re willing to throw a couple of hundred dollars that way to see what happens.
#9: Freelancing your skills
Freelancing is a great way to start acquiring some experience and eventually moving into creating a business out of it or securing a job you really love. Sometimes you can do both.
The most popular freelance options are: web design, writing, editing, programming and even crazy things just for fun.
There’s nothing like earning your first few bucks from a service you rendered to make you understand what needs to happen in order to grow this into an actual company. That’s how most advertising agencies start, with a couple of freelancers coming together and forming a business.
Freelancer and Upwork are currently the most popular platforms.
#10: Dropshipping on your own Online Store
Dropshipping is a beautiful thing, because you can make money without doing any of the heavy lifting.
So how does this work. We mentioned Kylie Jenner’s cosmetics empire earlier so we’ll go with that.
She found a supplier who takes care of everything, from production, to packaging, to delivery.
The next thing, her team set her up with an online store where they listed all her products. Her only job is to promote the website and said products. When an order comes it, it gets sent directly to the supplier who fulfills it on behalf of Kylie. Her company gets the money from the sale and at the end of the month pays a fraction of that amount to the supplier. Everything else is hers to keep.
That’s how you build a billion dollar company with only 14 people in your team. You outsource the rest.
What’s incredible is that you can create an online store in minutes and then use your social media accounts to promote it.
One of the most successful people in this space is Gretta van Riel who built 5 multi-million dollar business in 5 years using exactly this model. She’s the one who made SkinnyMe Tea a million dollar company in 6 months starting with only $24 in the bank. Her second business did 1 million dollars in 1 day when she launched.
#11: Airbnb Co-Host
We love Airbnb! We use it when we travel and we love the way the company is growing.
The main way to make money of of Airbnb is by renting your space, very much like a hotel would do. But there’s another approach to this.
Maintaining the approach we mentioned at #6 on this list, there are people who don’t have the time to do this and are looking to outsource it to someone else.
That’s where Co-Host come into play. You can actively rent other people’s places and retain a large portion of the amount. All you have to do is talk to guests and make sure their rental experience goes the way it should. The percentage is negotiable between the owner and the co-host, but it’s usually a 30% deal, which is really great considering you’re not putting anything down upfront as a co-host.
#12: Flipping Goods
Flipping means, buying something for cheap and reselling it for a higher price. This is one of the oldest models to make money and it’s still relevant today. It used to be baseball cards, now it’s sneakers.
You can do this with anything, as long as you understand the value of an item. It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about Supreme Bricks, Vintage Polos or RealEstate.
Some of you may know Sophia Amoruso, the founder of NastyGal.com. She started going to flea markets and buying second hand clothes for cheap and reselling them on eBay. Repeat that for a couple of years and she was doing over 300 million dollars in sales, before selling the company to Boohoo.
In one of our previous videos we mentioned a kid by the name of Benjamin Kicks who made millions by reselling hyped sneakers to celebrities while he was 16.
Both of them understood there’s a demand for a particular product that’s not widely accessible to everyone and they cashed in on that.
Just a quick mention: did you know there’s actually a business plan on their website on how to retire a millionaire by reselling supreme goods? Times are changing and those who are willing to put in the work will capitalize on it.
#13: Social Media Management
Every company out there, including us, is struggling to keep up with their social media presence. That’s where you come in. Take some of that bourdain off the shoulders of the company and get paid.
The most important thing is to deliver results for the company in question. Social media is not just about posting some pics so that there is some activity on your profile, it’s a branding strategy and a growth funnel.
Which means you actually need to know what the hell you’re doing before you look for work in this field. The good thing is that, gaining that knowledge is free. Simply create an instagram page and get it to 50,000 followers organically. That journey for 0 to 50,000 will teach you everything you need to know in order to find work in this space.
New platforms are popping up every couple of years, so it’s safe to say that there will always be work for those who know how to play on this field. Gary Vaynerchuk build a 100 million dollar company of of social media services for brands.
#14: Online and Offline Tech Support
Here’s an interesting realization. Most older people have no idea how to use technology. If you’ve ever visited your relatives, you’ve probably had to reset rooters, uninstall browser extensions and delete your father’s search history.
There’s a really high demand for people who can jump in and fix simple computer issues. While most service providers do offer some sort of call-center support, it’s not always tailored to your situation.
We’re so accustomed to googling solutions for our own problems, that we forget there’s a large portion of the population who has no idea how to do it. 63% of people over 60 prefer to receive tech support via telephone.
How weird it is to say “telephone” these days?!
IT services for the elderly has become a booming business sector because there a real demand for these services and a large section of the population who doesn’t have a nephew on hand to install Netflix for them.
#15: Start a consulting company
What’s all this consulting about? Basically a company or individual will hire you for your expertise in a particular field for a specific period of time.
It’s the same concept as before, but this time, companies are willing to pay you money in order to outsource some of their work onto you.
The clear advantage is that companies are higher ticket items with larger budgets to play around. While as a freelancer you were putting in the effort to find a single client for a couple of hundred dollars, this time, you’re putting in the same amount of work into securing a customer, only the payout is 100x that of a freelancer.
The industry typically has a low barrier to entry in terms of investment and manpower. You can start with just one person–yourself and once you start bringing in clients you can expand.
You can start a consulting business as a side gig and move into it full time once the money starts coming in.
A couple of examples are 2 high-school friends who at the age of 27 decided to create a consulting company called Vector Media in the IT space. They did 1.2 million in their first year.
Neil Patel made millions from SEO Optimization for clients to now running one of the biggest digital agencies in this space.
It’s all about getting really good at what you offer and then finding bigger and bigger ticket customers.
These are all super easy to start businesses that don’t need capital to start, or at least that much.