Businesses You Can Start Fast With Little Or No Money in a Down Market

The best businesses to start, fast!, in a down market, with little or no money, are service-oriented businesses. In many instances, you only need a telephone (which most people have) and a good service business idea. It’s best to choose a service you are familiar with, or one that will take minimum preparation to get you up to competitive speed before starting your new business.

Many times, service businesses can be started using existing materials, supplies and equipment you already have around your home, so the cash outlay is little or nothing at all.

An example of one such needed service business, especially in a down market, is a resume writing business. Most people have searched for a job before and have had to prepare a resume to get their foot in the door, so they have some knowledge of how to put together a resume. With a little online research, you can be up to speed preparing entry-level resumes in no time at all.

If you decide to start a resume writing service, start a virtual one: online! You don’t need business cards because you will be advertising online. You’ll never meet your clients, and you can use your home computer. Niche your resume writing service by offering super low cost resumes because you will not print them out. Prepare the person’s resume using a set of questions devise (a special intake form) to gather information. When the resume is complete, send them the file via email. Tell the client they can either print out their new resume at home, or take it to a Kinko’s, library, or business services center for printing on resume weight paper. This way, you won’t have mailing costs, won’t need expensive, fancy paper, and won’t need an expensive printer. You can get started right away with no money and some Internet research.

Another service business that can be started fast, with little cash outlay, especially in this down real estate market, is a foreclosure cleanup business. This is a service business where you target realtors, investors and buyers of foreclosed properties. You can offer to help them either maintain the property until it sells or help get it in shape for the investor or home buyer after it has been purchased.

Foreclosure cleanup, a fast-growing new enterprise, according to Entrepreneur magazine, encompasses so many different types of services. You can offer everything from lawn mowing, to interior cleaning, to debris removal, painting, minor home repairs, and more. At bare minimum, you can offer simple foreclosure lawn care using the lawn mower and weed eater in your backyard. As your business grows, you can purchase more equipment and offer more services.

In the foreclosure cleanup business, you will need business cards starting out because you will be dealing with professionals face-to-face. But there’s no need to speed big money on fancy business cards. Go to websites like Vista Print and get quality free business cards (you only pay for postage!) so you are ready to start your business. Advertise by doing cold calling, stopping by realtor’s offices, setting up email campaigns, handing out fliers at realtor events, and the like. Do plan to do some research online via Internet search engines to learn more about the foreclosure cleanup business opportunity.

Remember, the key to any small business’ success is “stick-with-it-ness.” You don’t need a huge amount of cash to start a service business, and you don’t need to take a year to get a new service business up and running. You need perseverance. One mistake new small business owners make is sending out a few mailers and expecting the phone to start ringing off the hook immediately. Be realistic; don’t start a business and expect overnight success. Instead, plan your business, learn the ropes by doing necessary targeted research in your industry, and then start to market, market, market. Consistency in your marketing efforts, winning mind-share within your target market, is key. Tell everyone you meet about your new business, and simply stick with it using consistent marketing tactics. Then, watch your new business blossom into a fruitful, long-lasting enterprise.

If you’ve never started a business before, perform some basic business research at websites like (Small Business Administration) for invaluable start-up advice and shoestring marketing ideas.

Good luck!

Great Business Start-Up Ideas For Under $5000

In today’s economic environment, individuals with entrepreneurial mindsets are exploring new ideas for businesses that will not only survive in a recession, but will also thrive. The key to starting a new business is maximizing its resources while remaining lean in operations. Let’s face it: most people do not have $100,000 sitting in their pockets. So, how is it possible, then, to start a business with a minimal amount of capital? The good news is that there are literally hundreds of business concepts that can be created with less than $5,000 in start-up costs.

Businesses under $1,000

Yes, believe it or not, it is possible to start a business under $1,000. According to, there are 82 business categories that do not require more than $1,000 in start-up fees. For example, to become a Merchandise Demonstrator, start-up costs are estimated between $500 and $1,000. However, earnings can rest between $20,000 and $35,000 per year. This business requires a person who has garnered a network of business contacts to demonstrate products for one or more specific companies at trade shows and seminars. This business can be learned first by handing out samples at grocery stores, which typically pays up to $50 per day. By beginning here, the person has a launching point from which to establish relationships with larger corporations, with the ultimate goal of merchandising their products. Other examples of inexpensive businesses under $1,000 entail Lawn Care Services, Toy Cleaning and Repairing Services, Reminder Services, Professional Organizers, Motor Vehicle Transportation, and Roommate Referral Services.

Businesses between $1,000 and $5,000

The good news is that there are literally hundreds of business concepts that can be created with $5,000 or less. As reported by the aforementioned online source, 136 businesses cost between $1,000 and $5,000 in start-up fees. Most of these concepts only require a phone, desk, and a few other tools such as a list of established contacts and a passionate drive to build a steady pipeline. Some of the more interesting businesses that stood out include a Resume Service Provider, a Mobile Hair Salon, a Meeting Planner, a Mover, a Window Washing Service, a Vending Machine Owner, Flower and Tree Cutting and Trimming Services, and Speechwriting Services. Now, these are only eight of the 136 businesses listed, but are businesses that may appeal to a larger number of entrepreneurs, than the more concentrated, niche-targeted businesses such as an Adoption Search Service firm.

The antiquated notion that a business cannot be started without a large lump sum of money is no longer the reality. Many businesses today have flourished based off of lean operations and low start-up costs. Today’s world does not require every type of business to begin its first day in operations out of a 10-story office building with leather couches and a glitzy waiting room. Companies can start out of one’s home and see immediate results. Entrepreneurial expert Bonny Alpo, who has owned her own copywriting service since 2005, reports that the least expensive business concepts revolve around pet care, home care, and delivery and moving services.

There’s no excuse for not being able to start your own small business either as a full time effort or start off part-time until it grows. Contact Ethos Mentor ( for additional assistance and business coaching.

Business is Not a Game, But it is Like a Game

Chess is a great metaphor for business. Success in business and Chess are both determined by the strength of your strategy.

I used to believe that great chess players were good because they were able to strategize by thinking far into the future. I had heard from many people that it was important to think 10 or 15 moves ahead. The more I play the more I realize, that’s just not true. Chess master and coach Bruce Pandolfini argues that the best chess players look only as far into the future as they need to, and that usually means thinking just a few moves ahead. He teaches his students that thinking too far ahead is a waste of time because the information is uncertain and the situation is ambiguous. Chess, says Pandolfini, is about controlling the situation at hand. “You want to determine your own future. You certainly don’t want your opponent to determine it for you. For that, you need clarity, not clairvoyance.”

It is not too difficult to apply this kind of thinking to business. In fact, it makes perfect sense. Strategic thinking is necessary, but if we get too far away from what is happening right now in our business, we lose connection with the current situation. Our plans must be built in the moment but must, at the same time, keep in view the opportunities and threats that the future may bring.

Author Bob Rice has argued that business is like chess. He writes, however, that it is not the pieces that are most critical for the strategies, but the board itself. Specifically, he points to the spaces on the board and the patterns of control that chess masters and business leaders employ. Where chess masters seek to control angles, rows, colors, or even a particular space on the board for strategic advantage; business masters seek to control markets and opportunities. In his view, the pieces in chess are best represented by products in business and so, become secondary to the market.

Rice is on the right track, but in fact, a better analogy is available that strengthens his argument. The pieces in chess are the keys to gaining, holding, and maintaining positional advantage. In business this is not about products or services but rather is about the elements of the business that must each be developed and employed to create and maintain the business advantage in any market.

At Estrada Strategies we developed systems that make this whole business point of view possible. Using the board and each of the pieces of the chess set, we have built a business systems model that allows our clients to create and implement effective strategies to win in business. The board and each piece represent a different discipline of business. As you read through these brief descriptions, imagine how you can use these pieces to build your strategy for success.

Keep in mind that all the pieces on the chess board are related, and while some are more powerful than others, they depend on each other for survival. The Core Disciplines of Business have a similar structure. The most important aspect is often the most vulnerable and the seemingly insignificant has far more use and value than most people realize.


One indicator of chess mastery is how the player views the board. A novice player and those that are less skilled will often focus on just one spot or one piece. The chess master knows that chess is a game that requires the player to see the whole board at once, and not just the individual pieces as the play develops. So too in business, the business owner who can see the entire business and all its elements in relationship to one another has an advantage over the typical owner who finds herself focused on the one or two things that are most pressing or most visible at the moment.

The board defines the relationships of the pieces to one another. It is the context in which each move is made and the consequences are determined. The business owner or chess master who first learns to determine the course of these relational issues will be most likely to emerge from the contest intact and victorious. In the same way, the player who allows his opponent to define the relationship of the pieces to one another is headed for certain trouble if not a quick defeat. The CEO Rule is – Every Business Has A Culture. The CEO’s job is to define and build that culture.


The pawn, while seemingly dispensable, is the foundation of a chess team. A hole in the strategy for using your pawns, like a hole in your administrative systems, is a potential game losing weakness.


The knight, when maneuvered to the center of the board has control of eight points on the board at once. Information technology, like the knight, should be at the center of all business as a communications and tracking hub.


Every business must have a strategy that allows for swift action to take advantage of opportunities. As the Pawns and Knights move to remove obstacles or block attacks, the Bishops become powerful nd swift tools to move quickly and accomplish the growth the company needs.


The CEO Rule says, “Client Retention is Growth.” The rook represents the systems that will ensure the highest possible client retention. Like the Bishop, the Rook moves swiftly from end to end and from top to bottom covering the entire board. It is the perfect companion to the Bishop who has covered the same board from corner to corner so that every position is touched by the systems of growth and customer retention.


The queen has the power of both the rook and the bishop, which makes her the most powerful piece on the chess board. In business, when all disciplines are working together, operations should run like a well-oiled machine and never be in a position of vulnerability. If a strong operations plan is the last discipline standing after a big business hit, it is still possible to recover and win the game.


The king is the most important and the most vulnerable piece on the chessboard. He is completely dependent on the protection of the other pieces. There is absolutely no way a strong financial foundation can be constructed without the other disciplines firmly in place.

Here are some basic rules to help you get started on your quest for victory:

1. Never play the first move that comes into your head – keep that move in mind and then look for a better move – Good thinking is a matter of making comparisons.

2. Remember, Genuine victory takes time. If you win quickly in chess, it does not mean you are great, it means that your opponent was incompetent. Trying to win quickly means hoping that you face an incompetent opponent. We don’t teach people to base their business on hope. We teach them to learn how to control the elements of their business and so build for success.

3. Don’t fall into the trap of doing the usual. Playing chess at the highest levels can produce a sort of mechanical or “programmed” response kind of strategy. Opening with the same move, responding in exactly the same way to certain attacks, and so on. These players are playing by the rules, but they are also setting themselves up for defeat. If someone comes along with a new approach to the game or a new response to a particular move, the programmed player is unable to respond effectively. The most successful masters are those that can go beyond the rules to create new pathways to success.

4. Always keep your purpose in mind. Positional chess is a strategic approach that seeks to win by gaining a series of small advantages that in the end force the opponent to give up something of value or place the player in an unassailable position of strength. Positional chess teaches that we are responsible for our actions. Every move must have a purpose.

Business is like chess. If you want to succeed, define your objectives clearly, plan ahead to accomplish them, understand and use every tool and resource to its full potential, and know when to advance and when to retreat to ensure your long term success. Plan the strategy, then make your move.