Nancy Collamer, a coach and speaker based in Old Greenwich, Connecticut. She is author of Second-Act Careers: 50+ Ways to Profit from Your Passions During Semi-Retirement and founder of MyLifestyleCareer.com.
Bottom Line/Personal: A lot of people want to start their own business, they have dreams of it, but they don’t necessarily have deep pockets. So what are some businesses that somebody could start for even $1,000 or less?
Nancy Collamer: You know, in today’s world, thanks in large part to technology and the fact that so many people already have home-based offices set up, it really is becoming much more doable to start a business under $1,000.
The first group of businesses that I think we should talk about are what I call the expert-based businesses. This would be everything from being a consultant to becoming a teacher, writing a book, writing articles, speaking. You could also do some coaching or create your own classes. Any type of business that is built around your expertise.
Bottom Line: Kind of the classic freelance jobs.
Collamer: Yeah. Because the product is you, and there’s very little inventory involved with that. So that would be the first group of businesses.
Bottom Line: And the easy step also – again, if somebody has left their job, either voluntarily or involuntarily, and they’re not sure necessarily of a significant career change, this is the easy place to evolve into.
Bottom Line: Even if it’s just as an interim while you’re starting another business.
Collamer: Yeah. It’s interesting, because a lot of people start doing those types of businesses with the idea that it is an interim step, and then all of a sudden, one project leads to the next, and before they know it, they’re actually in business when they didn’t really expect to do that.
The next group of businesses would be what I call the caretaking businesses. We’re living in a time when there are so many people who have more money than they have time available. Two-career couples. You have people – the elderly, which is a growing population – who need help with everything from dog walking to, if you’re talking about someone who’s elderly, checking in on them and reporting back maybe to the son or daughter who lives miles and miles away. People who are doing things, simple things like tutoring, those types of services.
Again, you can start them with very little inventory. Oftentimes what people want is someone who is going to be reliable, who has a strong work ethic, and who’s going to show up when they say that they will. And then you can get those other jobs by referrals, so you don’t even have to spend that much on marketing. So that’s a great group of jobs.
Bottom Line: Okay.
Collamer: Another group, and certainly this is a growing category, are the online marketplaces. In the old days, if you wanted to have a store, you needed a brick-and-mortar store. Now, if you’re someone – let’s say you’re a crafter and you make beautiful baby blankets or knit gorgeous sweaters; you can use a site like Etsy, which is a craft marketplace, to sell your products.
And you can do all of that online. Again, a great way to test out the market, see what sells. If it takes off, then you can grow it, and maybe at some point consider brick-and-mortar.
Bottom Line: A business like that, though, for some of the online business, the startup is low, but they might have some marketing expenses associated with it because somebody still has to be able to find you online. You might need to get a little education on how to promote that business online.
Collamer: Right, yeah. And those types of businesses, like the crafting type businesses, there are a lot of people who do some of the business online and then they may sell their goods at a local crafts show or to some local boutiques and that type of thing. So your opportunities to sort of mix and match where you’re selling things have really grown and expanded in these days.
And the fourth category – and again, a very much growing category – is the whole area of entrepreneurial support services, because we’re living in a time when more people are starting their own businesses. A lot of them are solopreneur businesses, so it’s just one person, and that one person can’t do everything themselves. So they’re hiring out the bookkeeping or the social media or the graphic design to freelance service providers.
Again, I think particularly for people over 50 who are coming out of the corporate world, think about the expertise that you have that might be very beneficial to entrepreneurs out there, and you really might be able to develop that into quite a profitable business.
Bottom Line: And how about even – and this kind of relates back to #1, which was consulting – for some of these new startup entrepreneurships, where they’re being started by young people who need what I call faculty advisors.
Bottom Line: Bringing the wisdom and the age and the structure to these idea machines to help them run the business of the business while they’re dreaming.
Collamer: Right, yeah. I think there’s tremendous opportunity. People just need to think outside the box in terms of their skills. You’re not just a job title. Think about the skills and experiences that you’ve had that could be put to good use in a lot of different ways.
Bottom Line: Great. Thanks, Nancy Collamer.
Collamer: You’re welcome.