Starting a business may seem daunting, if you imagine having a big office, a lot of employees, tons of products in stock… but there are actually many businesses you can start with zero or little money. Here are a few ideas
If you have a computer, you are good to go with web design, translations, proof reading, copy writing, and a lot more. You just need to create a nice profile on the main freelancing platforms, like Elance, Odesk or even Fiverr, and reply to job offers. I would also recommend that you go around and network with your friends and neighbors who are not as computer friendly as you may be, and ask directly if they can use someone to create a flyer or a new web page for their business. Competition can be tough online, while it is a bit easier if people know you.
Man with a van
There is a guy in my town who goes by “the man with a van”. He would do any kind of removals, drive old people to medical appointments, help you get rid of bulky furniture, move house, and much more.
All you need is a big vehicle, and van insurance from Insure 4 A Day or similar companies if you need extra cover, or if you are going to rent out the van to someone else and not be driving yourself.
But that is another business idea altogether, I go over renting your car or vehicle to other people in that post.
Start a guest house
This is my newest project to generate some extra income. It is perfect if your kids have moved out or if for some reason, you have more room than you really need. We only have two spare rooms at the moment, but as we travel a lot, we also rent our room while we are away. For Christmas, we have rented the whole place to a family of tourists, and we are going diving in Belize! The great majority of the holiday expense being covered by our temporary tenants.
The hospitality business is pretty demanding. When I am on site and people are renting the other two rooms, I have to make sure everyone is comfortable, check out when they want to eat, prepare the food, go shopping for groceries before they come, organize the cleaner’s shift around the guests, and so on. At night, when you want to be in bed with a book, you still have to go check if the guests turned off the lights or closed the gate, so while you may have some down time, you are not really done with your day until everyone is in bed.
However, hospitality is a nice business, it helps you meet people and it brings life to your house. You can do it short term and rent to tourists, or find longer guests, like foreign students coming for 3-6 months or workers on a temporary assignment out of town.
There is even a tax incentive to rent a room in your house, part or the income is tax free!