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10 Businesses You Can Start For $500 Or Less!

Carol Denbow

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Long time statistics have shown that 9 out of 10 new businesses fail in their first year. Lack of planning and financial ruin is one of the most common causes. Starting small is a way to insure minimal risk in new business. The founder of Dell computers was a college dropout on a shoe-string budget who started his business out of his garage. One in three computers sold today is a Dell.

The following is a list of just some of the businesses you can start for $500 or less.

  1. Housekeeping - Requirements/ household cleaners, mop, broom, vacuum, towels, bucket, business cards - approximate cost $150. Molly Maids is a multi-million dollar business started with a broom, a mop, and quality and reliable service. I can guarantee you that the CEO of Molly Maids doesn't clean houses any longer.

  2. Gardening or landscaping - Requirements/ mower, edger, blower, rake, shovel, clippers, business cards - approximate cost $450. Some education won't hurt you here, but even without it, how much money did you make mowing the neighbors yard when you were young?

  3. Internet sales - Requirements/ computer - approximate cost $500. It's likely you already have a computer at home so this just might be the cheapest and easiest business to start. It has been estimated that by the year 2020, nearly all retail purchases will be done over the World Wide Web. Getting on the bandwagon now may set you up for a prosperous internet business in the near future. Look into working with “drop ship" companies to avoid up front expense and storage fees.

  4. Mobile food service - Requirements/ business cards - approximate cost $30. With a half hour lunch break, employees at many companies have little time to leave work and order lunch. Providing a morning menu for lunchtime delivery can be helpful to these people and provide a good source of income for you. Your job? Call in the order, pick it up, and deliver it; for a fee of course. Delivering 15 lunches to one company at $3 to $5 profit apiece can add up quick. Or how about a hot dog cart at special events?

  5. Pool service - Requirements/ pool cleaning supplies, start-up chemicals, brush, net, hose, business cards - Approximate cost $400. States with warmer climates have many homes with swimming pools needing weekly care. Service to numerous homes in the same area can net you a small fortune. Business cards on the door or mailbox lets the homeowner know you are available. It may take some time to get a solid clientele, but be patient; established pool service routes can be very valuable if and when you decide to call it quits.

  6. Consulting service - Requirements/ know-how, business cards - Approximate cost $30. What do you know that might be of monetary value to others? Sell your smarts!

  7. Delivery service - Requirements/ the car, scooter, or bicycle you may already have/ business cards - Approximate cost $30. A great business within large city limits. Corporations, small businesses, restaurants, etc. may be in need of delivery services. Whether it is paper documents, payrolls, food, or other items, delivery services can be a steady and profitable business.

  8. Painter - Requirements/ brushes, rollers, edger's, towels, tarps, business cards - Approximate cost $200. Visit local hardware stores to let them know you are available for work and will purchase paint through their stores. Their referrals may keep you busy for months at a time.

  9. Handyman - Requirements/ basic tools, business cards - Approximate cost $500. Depending on they type of jobs you acquire in this business, a contractors license may eventually be required. Check with your local and state government offices to determine at what point you will need one.

  10. Daycare - Requirements/ toys, educational materials, bedding, a safe and clean home, love - Approximate cost $300. This business requires patience and child care experience. If you care for more than three children at one time, it's likely you will be required to be licensed. Check with your local and state government offices for restrictions and requirements.

Most of these business start-up ideas will require an additional two items you likely already have; an automobile and a telephone. But otherwise, they are super simple and easy to start new businesses suitable for nearly anyone wanting to become self-employed.

The key to having a successful business is to do what you would enjoy doing anyway. Make a list of the things you like to do and follow that with an extended list of ways to make money in a related business. Be creative with your business idea, there are many more options available for you than you probably realize!

Learn more about starting a business at

Carol Denbow is a business start-up expert and the author of several on-line publications and books including “Are You Ready to Be Your Own Boss?" a 144 page, easy-to-read and comprehend business start-up book. See more about Carol and starting a business at


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