The goals of any business are to provide stakeholder value and generate profits. However, some business ideas (particularly those in industries with high entry barriers) may take a long time to achieve such objectives. As a result, it may be prudent to choose a business idea that requires little to no upfront investments. In this short guide, we have prepared five accessible business ideas in different industries. Highlighting that following a zero-investment business strategy is not just wishful thinking and you could quit your 9 to 5.
1. Selling Customised Clothing
At the first glance, selling clothing seems like a cost-intensive idea requiring business owners to accept inventory storage and management costs, logistics expenses and customer management costs. However, with the emergence of sites such as Threadless or RedBubble, all of these expenses can be simply outsourced to an external provider. All you need to do to receive profits is create a free account, upload several topical and unique designs, and manage your payout system.
You might think that coming up with new print designs would require you to be especially creative or be highly familiar with digital art. However, you can always use print or font templates to create quick mock-ups related to topical events such as the Christmas holidays. You won’t even be required to invest in purchasing software for producing digital art. While suites such as Photoshop are undoubtedly powerful and widespread, there exist free open source alternatives such as Krita and GIMP. Moreover, both of these tools come with easy-to-use help services and extensive digital documentation.
2. Writing Books
Until recently, writing and publishing books was considered a highly cost-intensive business for creative people with endless patience and tolerance for unusual working hours. With the emergence of websites such as Blurb, however, the rules of the game have changed significantly. In essence, Blurb works exactly like Threadless but for books. You delegate all the publishing and logistics costs to Blurb; all that is required is for you to upload a cool book design. Incidentally, you might not even have to write anything as Blurb can publish books consisting exclusively of visual imagery.
Using Blurb or similar websites does not necessarily require you to have a super-creative mindset. For example, if you dabble in photography, you may decide to publish a book of reference images for artists consisting of photos of different objects in different lighting setups. Depending on your interests, this may require some investments in the equipment or software required to create content for Blurb. Nonetheless, you should be able to quickly recoup these expenses and turn a solid profit within the first year of your business operations.
3. Sell Handcrafted Products
Continuing our theme of outsourcing logistics costs and sales management expenses to third-party providers, you may choose to use platforms such as Etsy to sell handmade goods. Sure, producing something handmade requires at least some sort of investment into raw materials such as paper, clay or cloth. However, these costs are minuscule compared to what you would be required to pay if you choose to keep all business activities (including logistics and inventory management) in-house rather than outsource them to external partners.
Of course, using Etsy or similar platforms reduces your profit margins. Nonetheless, such marketplaces offer several advantages going beyond purely financial considerations. Etsy, for example, includes a formal system for resolving buyer-vendor disputes, significantly decreasing the significance of reputational risks that face small-scale businesses. Furthermore, third-party marketplaces are easily integrated into nearly every widespread payment system on the planet, simplifying accounting and financial management. Outsourcing control over your operations may be a counterintuitive solution but it’s working great for Etsy’s multi-million user base.
Livestreaming has been slowly but surely becoming a highly lucrative industry for those who can pull it off. The recent leaks from Twitch, one of the world-leading providers of livestreaming services, indicated that popular streamers were able to earn upwards of $4 million a year. If this sounds appealing, livestreaming is definitely something to consider.
While livestreaming requires few upfront investments (e.g., procuring a high-quality microphone or a web camera), it’s definitely not an easy job. When livestreaming, you’re required to produce high-quality content at all times without a lot of opportunities for breaks. Think of it as hosting a talk show for several hours straight. Sounds exhausting? Sure, but if you’re an extrovert and you’re an expert in your chosen field (which may range from video games to social sciences), becoming a live streamer may just be a thing for you.
5. Becoming a DIY Worker
Compared to other options on our list, becoming a DIY worker (or a handyman) can seem like the odd one out. However, the home repairs and improvement industry has been growing steadily in value within the past few years; presently the size of this market is approximately equal to $450 billion. If you’re not averse to manual labour, entering this sector might just be the thing to secure your long-term financial prospects.
In terms of up-front investments, you may be required to procure high-quality tools and equipment. Nonetheless, this issue can be resolved by turning to the second-hard market. Handyman tools typically have extremely long lives so even second-hand equipment may last upwards to 15-20 years. Before the rise of online education, the only way to attain DYI worker skills was to attain the relevant trade schools. As of right now, however, you can turn to online course aggregators that host highly informative video lessons for a fraction of the cost of traditional in-person education.
Starting a business post-pandemic may seem a bit scary. But if you play your cards right, you may create a highly profitable business with little financial risks. Creating your own business can also lead to attaining financial freedom and providing a great remedy to any anxieties related to money. We hope that the above list has demonstrated that you can effectively maximise profits while still being able to rely on an effective financial safety net.