Five Businesses You Can Start for Next to Nothing

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The best time to begin your own business is when you don't need the money. Most people don't look for a second income until they are faced with a financial crisis, which means their options are limited. Since they need money right away, they are forced to take a job that pays a salary, as opposed to starting a business that they enjoy but that may not generate income right away.

Another reason people are reluctant to start their own businesses is the often quoted statistic that 90% of businesses fail. The problem is that there doesn't seem to be any research backing up this number. In fact, research from the Small Business Administration indicates that two-thirds of new employer establishments survive at least two years, and 44% survive at least four years.

Furthermore, the way the statement is worded is quite misleading. Saying that businesses "fail" gives the impression that they couldn't make money to survive, but the reasons that business close vary widely. Statistics show it is often due to poor management or financing problems. However, businesses can also close due to lack of interest, the size of the workload, or simply that the owner found a better opportunity.

If you are doing something you enjoy, your chances of success are much higher.

If you are going to make one move this year to try and improve your personal finances beyond the well-established basics (creating a budget, paying down credit card debt, contributing to retirement accounts, etc), it should be to begin your own business.

While starting a small business can certainly be costly, there are plenty of low-risk opportunities that don't cost anything but your time. Here are some you might consider:

Blogging: You may have heard that A-List bloggers can make more than six figures a year, but what is not widely publicized is that there are a lot of part-time bloggers that make five figure incomes as a side business.

It's possible to begin a blog for absolutely nothing at places like Blogger.com and it costs less than $20 to begin if you want to buy your own domain and host your own blog. All you need to have is a subject that you love writing about, which you can do on a consistent basis, and take the time to learn how to monetize it.

Dog Walker: If you enjoy going on walks or walk for exercise, you can turn this activity into a profitable business as with virtually no start-up costs. This is an especially easy job to create in cities and in places where many families have two working parents (and thus no time to walk the dog). It's simply a matter of getting the word out and building a clientele.

Any Job People Hate To Do Themselves: Take a few minutes to think of all the jobs that people hate to do themselves and you should come up with a large list of possible small businesses. If you like to clean, there are plenty of people out there who would love to pay you to clean their house. If you don't mind washing windows, you should have plenty of business in no time. All these jobs, and many more like them, can be started with little or no money.

Tutoring: If you have a skill that others would like to learn, tutoring or teaching classes can be an excellent way to build an extra income. Whether it is math, music or a foreign language, there are a lot of subjects and skills that people are willing to pay to learn.

eBay(EBAY): There are tens of thousands of people who make their living off of eBay and many more who supplement their incomes by selling on eBay part time. Start up costs are low, since most people already have the equipment needed to list auctions. And if you begin by selling stuff around your house that you no longer need, that will help offset costs. It will take time and a good eye to learn what items you can sell profitably, but if your interests lie in this area, there is plenty of opportunity to make a decent second income.

The key to all of these businesses is that it takes time and effort to establish them. You will not generate a lot of money from day one and it can take quite awhile before some of them start to pay even a little bit. Therefore it is best to begin them on a part-time basis in your spare time while you establish them.

If you are willing to put in the time to learn, work hard and not give up, you can find that a side business can bring in a decent second income, and even a full-time income, after a few years. Side businesses can also bring with them a lot of tax benefits, especially if you work from home.

So take the time to figure out ways to leverage the things that you enjoy into a small business that you can run in your spare time. If you start off slowly and build consistently, you may find that starting a small business is one of the best financial moves you ever made.

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