Small Business Information

10 Ways to Start a Business on a Budget

If you've been thinking about starting a business, but are held back due to cash-flow issues, there are plenty of ways you can get your plans off the ground. Though your vision may be to own a big store, restaurant, warehouse, or office, consider starting on a smaller scale.

Every business must start somewhere. In fact, the founder of Kinkos started with one copy machine and some spiral notebooks for sale in a tiny rented space near a college. With a little ingenuity and some perseverance, you can make your business dreams come true. Here are ten ideas to get you started:

1. Start part-time and reinvest the profits into your ultimate business goal. If you really want to make your business dreams come true, carve some extra time out of your day by skipping the evening news and bad sitcoms.

2. Offer to speak a local school, adult learning center, or business. Give a killer presentation then pitch your products or services when it's over. These are called back of the room sales. Another bonus-many of the schools will even pay you to give a presentation.

3. Get your product on QVC-it's not impossible! Many small businesses got their big breaks through television shopping channels. Check out

4. Sell your products at flea markets, farmer's markets, or consignment shops. Think outside the box and start pounding the pavement.

5. Go door to door. Leave your fliers with your neighbors. Your brochures don't have to be expensive, just aim for professional and unique. Since color copies are expensive, print in black ink on pastel paper. Design your brochure with a program like Microsoft Publisher.

6. Host an in-home party like Tupperware, Mary Kay, and Pampered Chef. Start with your friends and family and get them to spread the word while you build experience.

7. Launch a website. It's easier than ever to get a website up and running and the startup costs are minimal. Your own website will open all kinds of doors. You can start your own newsletter or e-zine, online forum, and sales center. Paypal even offers free shopping cart set-up.

8. Sell on auction sites. EBay, Yahoo!, Amazon, and UBid all offer online sales. The added advantage of selling on auction sites is the exposure it can bring for your business. Millions of people visit these sites each day and even if they don't buy your product the first time around, they will get familiar with your business name and may come back later to close the deal.

9. Place classified ads. Check out for listings in most big cities. There are categories to suit virtually any kind of business.

10. Rent space in a commercial location. Independent retail stores, coffee shops, car washes, and even restaurants could be willing to strike a deal for shelf, office or floor space. Talk to the owner and explain your situation. Many caterers rent kitchen space from churches and community centers. Retail stores will often be willing to rent out a shelf or corner for product sales, and offices often have empty space that the owners will gladly fill for a fair fee. Put an agreement in writing and specify a length of time that works for both of you.

Stephanie Chandler is the author of "The Business Startup Checklist and Planning Guide: Seize Your Entrepreneurial Dreams!" and founder of, a directory of resources for entrepreneurs. Subscribe to the newsletter for hot tips and small business tools by sending an e-mail to

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