There’s a lot of talk that another round of stimulus checks is practically already in the mail, and although many of you may well go out and buy the latest PlayStation or upgrade your bathroom, a few of you may be thinking hard about other ways you can use that cash. For example, maybe you can start a business.
It is absolutely possible to start a small business with just $2,000 (or less), but you’ll need all your cunning, energy, and a little bit of luck to really make it a success.
Starting a $2,000 business: Things to consider
It’s easy for me to sit here and tell you that you can do this or that and send you on your way, but I thought to make this a far more valuable read, I should give you a little bit of small business advice. I’ve owned several small businesses and worked with dozens more in consulting or marketing capacities, and it seems like a little bit of preparatory knowledge would help a lot of people find success a whole lot faster.
So, before you choose a small business to pour your life and soul (and stimulus check) into, I want you to ask yourself some questions.
What are my current job skills?
It’s all well and good to just decide you want to be a wedding planner, but if you’ve never planned a wedding — or even thrown a party — you may find that you’re not in much demand. That’s why it’s so important to take a good look at your skills, both hard and soft, and any training you’ve received on or off the job.
Anybody can throw $2,000 into a business and watch it disappear into the inky black, but someone who has skills that give potential customers confidence in their ability to get the job done will stand a far better chance of succeeding.
Even businesses that don’t seem like they need a lot of skills, like running a vending machine route, require intense organization, basic business budgeting, and an understanding of how to meet the needs of customers in your market.
What tools and materials do I have on hand?
Your $2,000 is going to go a lot further if you can start with materials or tools you already have on hand, rather than having to invest a lot in equipment and supplies. A roofer who wants to go out on his own and start a handyman service is going to have to lay out a lot less in startup capital than someone outside of the trades because he’s already got a lot of the tools he’s going to need.
Starting a business with such a small amount of money means you’ve got to use that cash as smartly as you can. Don’t buy anything you don’t have to as you can almost certainly use the cash for other needs, like a little bit of marketing or a side order of business insurance.
Who do I know that can help me?
This is the kind of question that tends to bring out the best and worst in people. What you’re looking for isn’t free labor or people who will give you handouts, but those who may be able to help you get started by giving you a hand up. I know a few people who make custom birthday cakes as side jobs, but because of health regulations, they can’t legally do so from their homes.
So, what do they do? They call a friend who owns or runs a commercial kitchen and rent that space when the kitchen isn’t open. To meet other needs, maybe they borrow giant sheet pans to build gargantuan sheet cakes until they can afford to buy their own. The point is that it’s not a gimme. It’s not free labor. It’s a little push to success.
But, of course, you don’t have to have a friend who owns a kitchen to help your business grow. Instead, your super extroverted friend who bowls in a league every Wednesday might be willing to talk up your landscaping service, hand out cards to anybody he runs into who so much as dares to whisper the word “grass,” and generally help get the word out.
You’ll need all the help you can get when you’re starting any kind of business, but it goes doubly when you’ve got extremely limited capital.
Types of businesses you can start with $2,000
Not every sort of business will work on a shoestring budget, but if you’re looking for some ideas for businesses you can start with just $2,000 in your hand, I’ve made a short list of some pretty common ones people are interested in trying out.
Remember that the business landscape changes all the time and what works well today may not work well tomorrow, so it’s important that you do a little legwork and try to get a real feel for what your industry and market are like before jumping in.
There are a ton of different businesses that fall under the header of “service-based.” Think about the different individuals who help you get through your year, like tradespeople, dog walkers, party planners, interior decorators, or even the hot dog vendor on the corner near your office.
All of these service-based companies require very little cash outlay, provided you already have a lot of the tools you need (or are willing to rent until you can afford to buy).
As a service-based company, though, you’ll absolutely have to have something that differentiates you from the rest of the people in your industry until you’ve established your reputation. Since these are actual physical businesses that have the potential to grow quickly, I’d recommend registering your business right away.
Crafting or fabrication businesses
There’s a thriving market for new and innovative products, as well as cute and adorable ones. If you’re more of an “item person” than a “people person,” a small-scale fabrication business might be a better choice for you. This category can run the gamut from 3D printing adorable keychains to using your home woodshop to build custom cutting boards to more traditional crafts like crochet or macrame.
Although I would generally caution someone from turning a casual hobby into a job, there are times when it makes sense to take the leap. So, if that wood burner is begging for you to spend more time with it, or your sewing machine really misses you on the day-to-day, take a look at marketplaces where you might be able to peddle your wares.
You may be surprised to see that there’s nothing like what you can make already available to your future adoring fans.
Starting an online business these days seems like a great way to take a little bit of money and turn it into a lot of money pretty quickly. But unless you’re a programmer, keep in mind that you may have to invest significantly in technology to birth the idea you’ve got in your mind. But, that’s not the end of it as there are plenty of types of online shops that can be put together from almost nothing at all.
Print-on-demand has made it possible to offer a huge range of products without having to pay for merchandise upfront or have a place to store it. You simply act as the lead designer, creating whatever you think would be fabulous in categories like soft home goods, clothing, or wall decor, and use one of a number of popular platforms to spread the love.
With SMBs, the sky is still the limit
There is absolutely no end to the creativity of small business owners. You’re joining an incredible group of dynamic people who shape and change industries simply by doing what they do best. Some of them will even tell you that they started their companies with less than the $2,000 you’ve got in your hand, so if you have a business idea you want to try and you’re really committed to seeing it through, you might as well give it a try.