1. Money
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

Business Ideas on a Budget

10 Legitimate Businesses You Can Start for Under $20

By

The new design for the twenty dollar bill is held by a man October 9, 2003 in New York City
Chris Hondros/Staff/Getty Images News
Whether you're starting a business on the side while still employed elsewhere, a student or homemaker looking for extra income, or unemployed and trying to figure out what to do, there are plenty of opportunities for you to start up a side business inexpensively. It's unlikely any of these will make you a living in the first few months, but they all have the potential to grow into full-time businesses. We'll take a look at 10 such opportunities and, most importantly, tell you what to do with the $20!

1. Webpreneur

It's what everyone who's ever surfed the Web dreams of-just stick a web site up there and watch the cash roll in! Well, that just doesn't happen overnight, but the fact of the matter is it's really not very hard to do. To do it right, start by picking a subject matter you know a lot about. Then get a domain and create a web site. It doesn't even matter what technology you use-just be totally anal-retentive about it looking good and provide plenty of original content. Now find some appropriate affiliate programs-that's where your revenues are going to come from. Next, learn everything you can about search engine marketing and promote the heck out of your site. Last of all, set aside time every week to put new content on the site, delete dead links, and other maintenance. Now do this three or four times, and you've chosen your topics well, you might actually have some decent income from it.

Spend the $20 on: $8 or less for a domain (see our Online Business Guide's list of cheap domain name registrars) and $12 for a year of hosting (search for "$1 hosting").

2. Consultant

Getting into consulting is relatively simple. All you have to do is know how to do something better than most people do, and be able to either teach people how to do it or be willing to do it for them. Networking is the key to success in this business, so start by making a list of everyone you know and giving them all a call.

Spend the $20 on: $14 on a box of clean-edge laser or inkjet business cards and $6 buying your first prospect a cup of coffee one morning.

3. Housesitter / Petsitter

Particularly since 9/11, people feel an increased need for security, and housesitting gives them some reassurance while they're out of town. This one's great because it basically requires no particular skills, just trustworthiness and reliability. Be sure to have personal references available, and you'll also need reliable transportation. If you're an animal lover, petsitting is an easy add-on.

Spend the $20 on: $2 on flyers to put up on bulletin boards, and the rest on classified ads in your local neighborhood paper (not a big city-wide one).

4. Professional Organizer


People these days are simply overwhelmed by their "stuff". While there is an ever-growing trend of people wanting to simplify their lives, most of us haven't done it yet. It's not that people really have no clue how to get organized, it just keeps moving to the bottom of the stack, both figuratively and literally. There's a prime opportunity for people to come in at a reasonable rate and get houses organized. And while there is a National Association of Professional Organizers that you can join when you're ready, mostly it takes common sense, organizational skills, and a familiarity with what can be had at your local office supply and The Container Store.

Spend the $20 on: Classified ads.

5. Avon Independent Sales Representative


Cosmetics is a virtually recession-proof business, because it's an inexpensive way for people to feel good about themselves. Avon is the largest consumer direct sales company in the world, with annual sales of nearly $6 billion. In business for well over 100 years, they have both a highly reputable product line and one of the few highly reputable multi-level marketing structures (in fact, they invented it). They also offer fashion and wellness products in addition to their beauty products. And while they bill themselves as "The Company for Women", a fairly substantial number of men have actually been very successful as Avon reps. The secret to making a living at it rather than just a little extra spending money? Build your downline-just like with any other network marketing or direct selling business.

Spend the $20 on: $10 signup fee, and $10 on brochures and a few samples.

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.