The dream of many is to be their own bosses, work a few hours per week, and have the chance to spend the rest of the day doing the things they are passionate about. But as the say goes “work hard and you will become rich.”
It is true that working hard is a good start, but do you want to work hard all your life just to reap the benefits when you’re too old? Although working hard is the prerequisite, working smart is the enhancer that can bring you to the desired success.
- Ideas are overrated, yet they still matter to get started!
- Ideas need to be tested in the real world, quickly!
- Many ideas will fail a few will become successful, those who do will become your cash cows
- Welcome to the entrepreneurial age
- Anyone can become an entrepreneur
- You need a few heuristics to be a successful businessman
- 26 business ideas to get started with no (or little) money down
- 1. Affiliate Marketing
- 2. Infoproducts
- 3. Email marketing
- 4. Google AdSense
- 5. Consulting
- 6. Branded stories
- 7. Paid reviews
- 8. Banner Ads
- 9. Sponsored Blog Posts
- 10. Members Only Content
- 11. Paid Business Directory
- 12. Become a Coach
- 13. Accept Donations
- 14. Charge For ‘Premium’ Content
- 15. Sell Your Blog
- 16. Build your SaaS
- 17. Speaking Gigs
- 18. Create & Sell Your Product
- 19. Write Tutorials & Guides
- 20. Live Workshops
- 21. Find Sponsors For An Event
- 22. Generate ‘leads’ for other companies
- 23. Create a job board
- 24. Advertise pages
- 25. Host paid webinars
- 26. Writing Gigs
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Ideas are overrated, yet they still matter to get started!
The past has been built over ideas. Ideas have changed the world; ideas are the foundation of business. Is this really true? In part, it is, although we like to believe that great ideas change the world and that those who can conceive them will thrive, this is half of the story.
We, humans, are hard-wired to have business ideas, as Thomas Edison used to say, “I pull ideas out of the air.” Therefore creativity is far from being something special but rather something common to all human beings. This means that you too can have smart ideas and test them!
Ideas need to be tested in the real world, quickly!
What makes the difference between an idea, which succeeds, and one, which does not, is the willingness to test that idea in the real world, therefore to transition from theory to reality. Elon Musk had the desire to test ideas that seemed to make sense in theory but that are very hard to prove in the real world. This is where execution becomes the key.
Many ideas will fail a few will become successful, those who do will become your cash cows
As the story goes Thomas Edison before discovering one of his greatest inventions had to try and fail 10,000. Whether or not the story is real, the point is that business ideas are worth not much if there aren’t people willing to test them out while being ready to fail many times before that idea may work.
History has shown us that many times great inventions come out of serendipity rather than a preconceived plan. In most cases, though you need an idea and a very actionable plan!
Welcome to the entrepreneurial age
We all assume that history goes from ebb and flow and in part this is true. In ancient history, Greeks were the fathers of our western civilization. Yet Hellenism (the diffusion of the Greek civilization) happened thanks to Macedonians, a small, barbarian population, located North of Greece.
Indeed, while Greeks lived in Theory-land for many centuries, Macedonians and in particular Alexander the Great in just a few decades spread the Hellenism culture throughout the ancient world. Alexander the Great was one of the primary examples in history of people with the entrepreneurial mindset.
Anyone can become an entrepreneur
If I asked you, “what is the best way to go from A to B?” You would mock me by thinking how trivial this question is. After pausing for few instants, you would answer without hesitation “of course through a straight-line.” Although many of us get the concept in Theory-land few of us to apply this concept in reality.
This is due to our domain dependency. In short, we seem to be able to grasp a concept theoretically, but then we seem not to be able to bring this concept to the real world. With no surprise, many academics may have an incredible expertise of their subject, but no clue of how that subject applies in the real world.
Therefore, the point here is that you can start at this moment to be an entrepreneur if you have the willingness to do so. I know what is the first objection you are going to move is, “Hey man, all you are saying here is very cool, but how am I supposed to start a business if I have no money?”
You need a few heuristics to be a successful businessman
Robert Allen in his book “Nothing Down” tells us how to start a real estate business with no money down. On the other hand, Robert Kiyosaki also tells us what the principles to follow to become real estate investors are.
Few principles are important when starting as a real estate beginner investor. Three of those principles are:
- You have to buy your real estate at a 30% discount (at least)
- You are not buying it for yourself
- A property is an investment just if it has positive cash flows
As for the first point, anyone would agree with that. But how can you find a property, which is selling at a 30% discount? One of the most basic principles, which amateur investors seem not to grasp is that you have to make a deal when you buy rather than when you sell.
In other words, most amateurs make the mistake of buying properties and hoping them to increase in value over time. Indeed, you do not have to accept the price set by the seller as given, but rather to challenge that price.
Good real estate deals are available at any time. Therefore, do not get emotional if you are losing what it seems at first to be a good deal. Sure enough, you will find an even better deal moving forward.
How to find good deals? You have to find a motivated seller, someone who is trying to cash out, and that would accept 30% to 50% less on the property. Although occasional, those cases are fewer extra-ordinaries that you might think.
Here we go to our second point, which is “you are not buying the house for yourself.” Too often when buying a prospective property buyer get also attached to it, and they end up living in the property rather than treating it as an investment. Thus, once you buy the property, rent it. The property is a tool to become financially free. Let the property work for you rather than you sacrificing your life for the property.
The third and crucial point that few seem to understand is that “the property is not an investment unless it generates future cash flows for you.” In other words, assuming you buy an apartment for $150,000 and get a mortgage for the full amount; assuming a monthly rate of $1,000 you want to rent the place out for at least $1,200. In short, the rent has to cover for the monthly mortgage rate plus all the other expenses, so that eventually will have a positive cash flow.
Those are very simple heuristics. If you follow them religiously you can make it too!
26 business ideas to get started with no (or little) money down
In this article, we’ll see 26 business ideas to build a profitable small business online. The objective is to give you a list of easy to implement ideas that with a low financial investment can work out.
It’s important to remark that to build an online business, initially, it is critical to put the so-called sweat equity.
1. Affiliate Marketing
For instance, Patt Flynn made $51,877.40 of affiliate earnings in September 2017. It is worth exploring the list of affiliations that smartpassiveincome.com shows on its reports to see what kind of affiliate links might work for you too:
Info products are also a great way to monetize as they allow you to get a 100% cut of the revenues you make. Imagine you’ve produced an ebook or online course that sells anywhere from $20 up to $399.
A few dozens of customers are enough to make you the passive income you need to do what you like and live a good life. Of course, easier said than done.
3. Email marketing
When I speak to some of my clients they often ask, is email marketing still a valid way to make money?
The question comes from the fact that we all hear stories of AI and machine learning and tend to think that email marketing is too old school as a monetization strategy.
In reality, this is wrong! There are companies like AppSumo and digital marketers, like Tim Ferris and many others that still make a consistent amount of money through an extensive email list.
4. Google AdSense
I’ve never suggested AdSense as a valid monetization strategy unless you have such a large website that this strategy becomes profitable. If you have a small blog, Google AdSense won’t pay the bills.
Also, I honestly don’t like my users see banners all over the pages of my site when instead I can keep my content clean and more focused on user experience rather than make a few dollars with – at times – spammy banners.
This is a viable alternative for anyone, from small to large WordPress websites. This is a strategy I’m testing as of the time of this writing. Of course, if you offer consultancy, this needs to be in line with the editorial strategy of your blog.
If you’re a food blogger, you can’t sell yourself as a business consultant, but rather as a food consultant. The only limitation of this strategy is that if your blog grows fast, then you won’t be able to get all the projects that come in.
However, if you wish to build a consultancy boutique and hire other people to help you out this might scale. If instead, you wish to keep a solo business this strategy will work only as long as you’re able to work on the projects that come in through the blog.
6. Branded stories
Many see sponsored content, not as a viable way to monetize a blog. I don’t think this is the case. If you offer value to your users, you can still offer content that is relevant, and that makes you money.
Let’s say a company pays you to talk about their startup. If what the startup does is truly interesting; if you have an honest interest and you know your audience would like that story, then this might be a great way to monetize.
Branded stories if your blog has qualified traffic can make you good money for minimum work.
7. Paid reviews
Like branded stories, the people from your audience are looking for tools and services that can help them grow their online business.
You can get paid by companies that offer those tools or services to post a paid review. Once again, this model works – I believe – only if you’re honest with yourself and your audience.
In short, I’d ask the following questions: do I use this service to grow my business? Do I find it valuable? Would my audience find it helpful too? If you answer yes to those questions then why not do it.
But don’t accept just the first person that knocks on your door. I’ve been receiving several offers in the past year to do paid reviews, but I didn’t do it because I either wasn’t using their tool, service or I didn’t think that would have been valuable to my audience.
8. Banner Ads
It’s tough to make money in an era where people developed a high degree banner blindness. However, if you have a large website, with consistent traffic this also might be a viable option.
9. Sponsored Blog Posts
Just like branded stories or paid reviews, sponsored blog posts might work well as a monetization strategy.
Of course, you have to make clear what represents a sponsored content, and I believe you must do it only if you find relevant the sponsored content.
Otherwise, you risk undermining the trust your audience has for you. Plus, if you don’t believe in something this will be clear from your writing.
In short, a lack of belief in the product/service = bad writing = no conversion.
10. Members Only Content
If you have a small audience that follows you with determination why not make some part of your content only accessible to members?
11. Paid Business Directory
If you have a directory website that has gained substantial traffic, you can have areas of the site which are paid. Take for instance the listing of the 100 most popular business blogs.
You could ask those business blogs if they wish to pay a monthly fee to have an honest review of their blog.
Once again, this model works if you take the time to do proper research and you add value to your audience. Creating a listing only won’t add any value neither for the business listed nor for your audience.
12. Become a Coach
If you often write about self-growth and leadership, then you might be the right person to candidate yourself as a coach. Many people need a person that keeps them accountable.
Be it the creation of a blog, a diet or just professional growth, if you’re good at setting up objectives and keep people accountable, then becoming a coach might be a good monetization strategy.
Of course, do it because you’re passionate about helping others. Otherwise, this will reflect in your service, and you will not last long.
13. Accept Donations
Yes, that’s right. You only need a PayPal donation button to become a millionaire! As you might imagine, I’ve been cynic here.
However, adding the donation button won’t cost you any work, and it still gives people the option to thank you for what you do with a small donation. Why not try this out?
14. Charge For ‘Premium’ Content
Let’s say you’ve written a five thousand words tutorial on how to build an SEO strategy from scratch. Rather than make it accessible entirely, you could offer a sneak preview and ask your audience to pay to have the whole tutorial.
If you’ve spent time doing your research, people might pay for it.
15. Sell Your Blog
Well, if you got bored to write about the same topic, yet your blog is successful. Why not sell it? Some people make a living just by flipping websites.
16. Build your SaaS
If you’re building an online business, chances are you don’t want to set up a complicated business, that requires much work and responsibility.
That applies to a SaaS (Software as a Service). While this can be very profitable. It also requires a lot of work regarding the development and support of your customer base.
If you’re trying to have more freedom, this might not be for you.
17. Speaking Gigs
Many like to influence other people’s lives through speaking. If you’re one of them then why not start asking to get paid for a speaking gig?
The first time you might get only the reimbursement of the expenses, the second time a bit more than that.
The third, you’ll have a business.
18. Create & Sell Your Product
This is by far one of the most profitable monetization strategies. However, this is might also be the hardest to achieve.
Building your product means investing thousands of dollars in developing it.
Thus, it only makes sense if you have enough people willing to pay for it. One way to understand whether that is viable is to check whether people would be willing to finance your project? How?
With crowdfunding, for instance.
19. Write Tutorials & Guides
You don’t have to be a world-class expert to write a tutorial or a guide to a topic. Let’s say you’ve matured a competence that makes you in the top percentile of people in that industry you can sell your capability through tutorials and guides!
20. Live Workshops
People like live workshops. So if you’re recognized locally why not bring your audience off-line for a live seminar? This is a good monetization strategy to connect for real with your audience while making money
21. Find Sponsors For An Event
If you’ve been blogging for a while and you have a loyal, local audience. Why not host your event? Finding sponsors that can help you organize it might be easier than you think!
22. Generate ‘leads’ for other companies
For companies that sell certain services (think real estate, insurance or car dealerships) a lead might be worth also thousand of the dollar.
If you write about topics that are in the right context for those services why not help them find new leads, while you get a fixed rate for each lead you find for them?
23. Create a job board
Do you write about professional growth or how to freelance? Why not have your job board? Headhunters and companies offer great rewards for finding valid candidates to fill their vacancies.
24. Advertise pages
If you have a few, very popular pages. You can make those available to third parties to sell their services. The agreement will be on that specific page. In this way, you can experiment and offer a good ROI to the business that will use that page to have more leads.
25. Host paid webinars
Let’s say you’ve attended a webinar from another blogger that helped you get better at writing. You paid for that webinar.
Why not ask that person to host his webinar on your blog? He’ll get new customers, and you’ll get a cut of the revenues. In the end, your audience will also learn something new
26. Writing Gigs
Your blog is your professional portfolio. If people like what you write, why not have a CTA to offer a writing gig? If you don’t have a full-time job, this might be a great freelancing opportunity!
If you need business ideas for your next online venture you might want to check this out:
How to get started with your business:
- What Is a Business Model? 26 Successful Types of Business Models You Need to Know
- What Is The Best Business Model For A Small Business?
- What Is a Business Model Canvas? Business Model Canvas Explained
- Business Model Tools for Small Businesses and Startups
- What Is a Value Proposition? Value Proposition Canvas Explained
- What Is a Lean Startup Canvas? Lean Startup Canvas Explained
- What Is the Minimum Viable Product? Why Use the Exceptional Viable Product Instead
- How To Build A Business Model Based On The Market Leader Weakness
- The Marketing Lessons Learned from Rand Fishkin