Starting a Business Doesn't Have to Take Long or Cost a Lot

man holding $100 bill
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Want to start a business but have limited -- very limited -- funds to get things going? Like $100? Here are some easy ideas.

Coaching, Training, Web Design and More

Sandra Baptist, founder, and president of the International Association of Women Accountants in Business, says the best professions to go into right now are coaching, consulting, web design, training, human resources consulting, financial strategist, even reviewing sites or blogging for a fee, if you have writing skills.

"You can use your existing skills to get your business off the ground in a few days or less," she notes. "I would use the $100 to get a domain name and a hosting account, preferably on a month-by-month basis for now) and get a Wordpress template. Simply posting valuable content every day and using free tools like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn will drive traffic to your site. Getting out and networking, free speaking opportunities, and joint ventures should be enough to get you started until you start making money. Getting some business cards from Vistaprint is a great networking resource for those managing their budget. I started my coaching business, for accountants and CPAs with less than $100 using these techniques."

2. Internet Affiliate Marketing

Jake Moore, an online affiliate marketer, says, "Online affiliate marketing can be started for $20 or less and maintain for less than $10 per month. The first step is to pick a product. Do not sell an information product. You will never earn free search engine traffic in crowded markets. Pick a real product or service that you use and like. What's a great book you've read? What GPS do you use? What is a service that is provided on a national basis? Look around your house for products in your life then get online and search for the specific product. Chances are one of the sites listing it is a retail store with an affiliate program. Sign up for their program. Now go to and get a domain name that has your product in the title. Your domain could be, .net, or .org. Make sure you Google coupon to get a discount on your domain purchase.

"Once you have a domain set up get a host. There are a lot of discount domains for less than $10 a month. Make sure your domain is pointing to your host. Download Wordpress. In 30 minutes you will have your website set up. Now write about your product. Write a post about features, one about how you use it, one with a picture of you and the product, one with tips on how to use it, one comparing it to others like it, and include your affiliate link to them also. Once the page is written let people know about it. Write a simple press release about your site or product and put it on blog and Google "widgets" and see who is talking about your industry in a blog and write comments for them. Join a forum about widgets and include a link to your site in your signature. Write an article about widgets and list it on and other major article directories. Add your site to stumbleupon, reddit, and other major social bookmarking sites.

"In a few months, you will be rising toward the top of google for blue widgets and will get people coming to your site who are looking for the widgets. When that is done rinse and repeat with a new product. You can use the same host and just need a new domain name so each additional site costs a yearly $7.50 or so. This is exactly what I have done with and many other sites. In the first week, I earn small amounts of search engine traffic and it grows from there, but the absolute key is to pick a boring everyday product. You won't have much competition for it."

Garage Sale Guru

A "Garage Sale Guru" is great side business an individual can start in these troublesome economic times, says Jonathon Papsin, CEO of Tag Sell It Inc., a virtual garage sale website, and author of "The Ultimate Garage Sale Guide," a how-to book for organizing a successful and profitable garage sale."Someone who is very conceptual in having strong organizational skills and experienced in minimizing clutter and coordinating simple events such as a yard sale. Anyone can market themselves for free these days on Twitter, Facebook or MySpace, and this gig could easily be started with less than $100. The guru can charge a commission based on a percentage of the profits of the sale, and perhaps a flat fee for their time. Letters of reference are also free, and a great way to promote yourself on a free blog that anyone can set up these days.

Landscaping and Holiday Decorating

Carmin Wharton, the founder of, advises that a good first step to entrepreneurship is getting up off the couch. Some examples:

  • "If you have lawn equipment that is sitting idle in your garage and you notice yards in your neighborhood that could use attention, leave the homeowner or renter a note introducing yourself as their neighbor and the fact that your rates are lower than those of professional landscapers. You already have the equipment so all you need is gas and business cards would be great - get 250 free business cards at
  • "During the holiday season, if you are a great baker, take out those cake pans and let your family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers (if you are fortunate to be working) know that you will be selling cakes and pies for the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday season. Use your computer to print price lists. In addition to getting business cards, you can get magnet signs to place on your car for under $20 at If you live alone, take someone with you to deliver the goodies and figure the gas price for delivery into your costs.
  • "Have you been complimented in the past for the way you decorate your home during the Christmas holidays? People are busy, so offer to hang lights and decorate peoples' yards for them. Again, all you need are business cards to pass out. You can also purchase a cheap yard sign from Decorate your yard early and post on the sign Let Us Decorate Your Yard for the Holidays.'
  • "Do you love to write and research? Do you own a computer and have Internet access? Post flyers at your local community college and universities offering to type term/research papers. Place an inexpensive ad in the college and university newspaper. Depending on how the buildings are arranged on campus, you may or may not need permission to post flyers. On most major university campuses, the bulletin boards are open and free for posting. Make sure you create a flyer with tear strips at the bottom so interested students can tear your phone number off. Precaution: meet prospective customers somewhere on campus or at a coffee shop. Never reveal where you live."