With a little creativity and effort, you can start a home-based business with no money upfront. All you'll need is a computer to get started. You can offer your services or sell items, such as your old clothes or handmade crafts. There are a variety of ways you can start a business and work as your own boss from the comfort of your home. You'll just need to find your niche, promote yourself and network with others.
There are a variety of businesses you can start from home without any start-up costs. You market yourself and skills, such as freelance writing, ghostwriting, editing, blogging, website design or photography. Create a free basic website or blog showcasing samples of your skills or links to your work. For example, WordPress.com offers both free websites and blogs. You open an account, choose a template and begin posting your content. Wordpress.com hosts your site or blog at no cost to you.
You can also make a Facebook page for your business. Invite friends and family members to "Like" your page and share it with their friends. Check Craigslist or sites like Upwork for potential job opportunities.
Sell Your Stuff
Start by selling items around your home on eBay. You can even create an eBay store. There are no upfront fees, but you'll be billed monthly for the store or charged per item you list and a percentage of the sale price of each item. EBay often runs free promotions for sellers, such as free listings for your first 20 items each month. Standard fees per listing start at around $0.30, as of September 2015, and the commission fees are around 10 percent. You can sell clothing, shoes, accessories, makeup, collectibles, housewares, books, electronics or equipment. Items can be new or used. There's no condition requirements, just be sure that you accurately photograph and describe the items you're selling.
You can ask friends or family members to donate items or even trade. Find out what sells well on various sites, and check out garage sales, thrift stores and consignment shops for cheap inventory. If you're an experienced seller, consider charging a commission to help other people list their items. People want to sell their items, but don't necessarily want to spend the time taking pictures and measurements. You could charge a flat fee or commission based on the sale prices of the items.
Create Handmade Items
If you're crafty, make handmade items to sell on Etsy. You can make dresses, tutus, bows, hats, scarves or jewelry. If you can't sew or knit, try embellishing items by adding rhinestones and glitter. Etsy allows you to sell handmade items and craft supplies, including extra ribbon or fabric you may have on hand. If you have graphic design experience, you can sell clip art or personalized invitations. Etsy bills a flat-rate insertion fee for items listed and a small percentage commission on your sale. At the time of publication, the insertion fee is $0.20 per item, and Etsy's commission is 3.5 percent. You'll also likely pay a small fee to accept and process payments from customers, through Etsy's Direct Checkout Service.
You can also sell your handmade items at craft shows and through social networks, like Facebook and Instagram.
If you are artsy, check out Fiverr for gigs as a logo designer, illustrator or offer to give clients thoughtful comments on their blog or tape yourself giving endorsements.
Become a Virtual Assistant
Virtual assistants provide services to companies and business throughout the country over the Internet. Some services virtual assistants provide include:
- desktop publishing
- audio/video/photo editing
- social media management
- data entry
You'll need to sign up with an online virtual assistant site, or create your own professional website highlighting your skills and services. Explain what you have to offer and how it works. Promote yourself on social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn,
You can also sign up for in-person or virtual work on websites such as TaskRabbit.com. Describe your areas of expertise and offer services such as home repair tasks, house cleaning, Ikea furniture-assembly, grocery shopping or remote administrative and other skills to paying customers.