‘3 businesses you can start today for $0’

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In 2009, I got laid off from my full-time job. Finding work during a recession was difficult, so I took on freelance gigs and worked on my music blog side hustle.

That changed everything. Today, I work just five hours a week and make about $160,000 a month running my blog and business coaching company.

One of the most gratifying parts of my job is teaching people how to use simple online tools and turn their skills into profitable side hustles.

Here are three types of businesses you can start today for $0:

1. Consulting business

Is there something your friends always ask you for help on? One of my clients teaches people how to fix motorcycles at home. Another makes recordings of English word pronunciations for native Japanese speakers.

The key is to reach out to your existing network: “I’m offering one-on-one coaching slots for [X group of people] who struggle with [Y concerns] and want to achieve [Z outcomes].”

Then set aside time to meet with clients via phone or a video call. Discuss their pain points and coach them on how to move forward.

Over time, you’ll develop a curriculum based on the problems you see most often. Grow your customer base by asking clients for referrals. Post customer testimonies on social media and on your website.

2. Professional service

Whether it’s graphic design or video editing, plenty of websites make it easy to promote your professional services. On Fiverr or UpWork, for example, you can create a profile, list your services, and get discovered. 

Some tips:

  • To stand out, be specific in what you can offer. For example, a long-form YouTube essay video editor might have less competition than a general video editor.
  • Write a customized proposal for each job posting. Don’t say “To Whom It May Concern” or write like you’re applying to a traditional job. Explain how your skills and experiences can help solve their problems.
  • Ask questions about the project at the end of your proposal. This shows you’re already thinking ahead and gives the other person a clear reason to follow up. More dialogue means more opportunities to win them over and land the job.

Email former clients, employers and friends, too. Tell them what services you provide and that you’d like to offer them a friends and family discount.

Here’s a sample email script:

Hey [Name],

If you already haven’t heard, I’ve started a new business offering [X type of service] to [Y ideal type of client]. You came to mind as someone I’d love to work with.

Are you currently looking for help with [Z type of problem you solve]? If so, I’d love to jump on a call and hear what you’re trying to accomplish in the next year to see if I can help you achieve those goals.

I’d be happy to offer you some introductory prices. Let me know if you’re interested!


[Your name]

3. Creator business

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