Low cost business ideas... debunked!

Have you seen all the ads for low cost business ideas online, in newspapers and magazines? Sorry to rain on their parade (or yours), but I disagree with their idea of what low-cost means.

Many of the brilliant ideas start off costing from $1,000 to $5,000 and up. While being realistic of what some start-up businesses can cost, they're not truly low cost, cheap or budget businesses.

This little disagreement about words or “semantics” may be nit-picking on my part. But if poverty-level, low to middle-income, unemployed or under-employed people are to be seated at the entrepreneurship “table”, there should be an honest discussion of businesses that really are affordable. Otherwise... why bother?

The other thing that should be addressed honestly is the time involved between having their brilliant idea and seeing a meaningful paycheck from it. Oh, and don't forget the hidden costs of doing business that are waiting around the next corner.

I don't want to discourage anyone from starting some kind of business of their own. The only true job security is by working for yourself. If you have a low cost business idea, (idea for a low cost business) go ahead and run with it.

Just be aware that some of the ideas you may hear about, are ones that you're not likely to be successful at soon.

For some 'honest-to-goodness' low cost business ideas, click here.

And for a larger list of small business ideas, click here.

These aren't all low cost business ideas. They're just ideas for businesses to get you thinking creatively. Maybe you'll find a gem for yourself on that list.

What's wrong with those low cost business ideas, anyway?

You'll need special skills for some of those businesses. If you don't have them already, you'll have to learn them, which can take anywhere from 6 months to 2 -3 years! Is vocational education ever cheap or low cost? No, I don't think so either.

Others, like medical billing, typing at home and stuffing envelopes, are likely to be outright scams and should be avoided.

I didn't include landscaping of any kind, or any contracting businesses on my list of low cost business ideas. Why? Because the licensing and insurance requirements make them expensive and slow businesses to start and make money at. They're not low-cost business ideas, unless you have an angle that I haven't thought about.

If you're a skilled trades-person that's unemployed or under-employed, it may be a great time to start your own business. But that's a topic for a different page. That's why my husband started his own plumbing company 25 years ago. He still owns it today!

I also removed baby, child or elder care from the low cost business idea list because of licensing and insurance requirements. Casual babysitting is a good way to generate some quick income.

But starting a legitimate business in this (or almost any) industry needs thought, planning and very good insurance! And you know that anytime you say “insurance” your business gets more expensive.

Network marketing is often touted as a way for J.Q. Public to make fast money in any economy. But it's rarely low-cost over the long haul. And it's anything but fast. Give it a try, but don't expect quick money to appear (for cheap) in your bank account.

The other thing missing from my list that's included on most of the others, is making money online with internet marketing.

SEO, pay-per-click, affiliate marketing are all legitimate ways to make money online. Any or all are pretty cheap to start doing if you have a computer & good internet connection.

There's a need for internet marketing done well. Lots of businesses need the web traffic you provide, and you get paid for your efforts.

But. (You knew there was a catch, right?) It's going to take most people quite awhile before the money becomes steady & significant. That's because there's a steep learning curve.

If you're thinking about starting your own business and need to do it on a budget, it will save you time and trouble later if you're aware of the problems you'll run into with some of these businesses.

So dream big... but keep your eyes open! Spend your time brainstorming truely low cost business ideas that you really can afford, and find one that's the perfect fit for you!

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