So, you're one of the 41 percent of "nonessential" government employees on furlough during the shutdown. With no end in sight, you might be thinking now is the perfect time to start planning that business you've always dreamed of starting. Want a business you can get off the ground quickly? Here are 10 easy-to-start business ideas, from low-tech to high, that you can launch before you get called back to work. And who knows — if your startup takes off, you may not ever have to go back!
Being on leave means you've probably found yourself with a ton of free time. If you have a knack for knitting, jewelry making or creating other small crafts, you can use that time to create an online shop and sell your goods to the public. Sites like Etsy are a safe place to start, since you can use their existing platform to start selling instantly. If you're good at Web design, consider customizing your storefront by creating your own site.
Jams & preserves maker
There are few foods that are easier to hand-make and package in large quantities than jam. Access to a steady supply of high-quality fruits and mason jars is all you need to go into the jam-making business. First, spend a little time experimenting with jam recipes and build up a repertoire. Then create branded labels and sell your goods at local fairs, farmers markets and events. You can even start an online business and ship directly to customers. Almanac.com has some tips for making the perfect preserves.
Use your furlough to finally finish that novel you've been working on. You might not make the New York Times bestseller list, but with e-readers more and more commonplace, self-publication is becoming a reality for many writers who wouldn't otherwise get picked up by publishing companies. With the right marketing tools, you could successfully publish your own book on anything from cooking and weight loss to real estate.
While your non-government neighbors continue to head to the office, you could make easy money taking care of their yard work for them, especially now that fall is here. Landscaping companies will cut the grass, but they don't necessarily do the stuff that most homeowners don't have time to do themselves, such as weeding, planting and leaf raking. With little more than work gloves and a ladder, you could be in business in no time.
If you're proficient in a highly specialized software (or have the spare time to learn it), you can get paid to pass your knowledge on to amateurs and professionals looking to expand their skill sets. Technical manuals are available for programs like QuickBooks and Final Cut Pro, but these are often expensive and difficult for the average user to get through. Schedule small group workshops or private sessions, and charge by the hour for a full tutorial of the program.
If you love writing customer reviews on sites like Amazon, stop doing it for free. Word-of-mouth advertising is still a huge lead generator for many companies, and a lot of them are willing to share a portion of their profit with persuasive individuals that will promote their products to the public. If you have an existing personal website with a large following, this might be easier to accomplish (PR reps are always seeking out brand advocates they can send free samples to). Smart Passive Income breaks down three types of affiliate marketing and explains which one is most profitable.
Here's another opportunity to market to your busy (read: still working) friends and family. A personal concierge helps time-strapped clients get things done — whether it's paying bills, picking up the kids, or doing the grocery shopping. A recent study by the International Concierge and Lifestyle Management Association shows that new low-cost startup concierge businesses are turning profits at a quick rate. Fifty-one percent of the survey’s respondents said they invested $5,000 or less to start, and nearly a quarter of them realized a profit in the first year.
Virtual consignment store
Love browsing yard sales and thrift stores? You can open up a consignment shop and resell your vintage clothing finds. Brand yourself by setting up an independent website as your virtual storefront, but use a managed service like Google Checkout to handle transactions. High-resolution images and catchy copy for your products will make you stand out in the sea of Internet users trying to sell their used items. ICLabs put this startup idea on their list of tech industry trends for 2013.
Smartphone & tablet repair
Ever wanted to tinker with a broken smartphone but didn't have time to learn how to fix them? Now's your chance to finally watch those YouTube tutorials and go into the device repair business. It seems that everyone knows someone who's been ripped off in getting their cracked screen fixed: In fact, on average, it costs almost as much to repair a tablet as it does to buy a new one. If you're capable of servicing and fixing this kind of technology, there's a big demand for reasonably priced repair jobs, especially if you're willing to make house calls.
You may think freelancing isn't really a business, but with so many companies looking for freelance or contract employees of all sorts, it's not hard to imagine that you could build a whole company around providing freelance services of one sort or another. Hourly rates start at $30 an hour and stretch into the hundreds. Check out the listings on sites like Elance and Freelancer.com and get started on a project today.
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