Today, starting a business on a shoestring from the kitchen table is much easier than it was 30 years ago (and even as little as five years ago).
If you’re looking for a way to make a healthy side income or completely replace your current income stream, I can’t imagine anything that carries such low risk and such little investment as an online business.
And, once you get up and running, you can even manage things from your smartphone without being tied to the office—or kitchen table—at all.
One of my favorite examples of a startup on a shoestring is Kevin and Lisa Hickey’s story…
The Hickeys wanted to start an online business from home, but they didn’t have a lot of funds to play with. What they needed was an inexpensive product they could resell online for a big profit.
So, they began looking for a product they could buy from an overseas supplier and distribute as cheaply as possible. They finally hit on flags. American flags mostly.
Flags are easy to handle and ship. Plus, there was a surprising demand for them. The Hickeys came to the market around the time of 9/11, when there was a new rising trend in patriotic items.
They found a supplier of top-quality flags at huge discounts…and simply sold them online to patriotic Americans.
So…what sort of return did they get from this little bit of work from their basement?
Kevin and Lisa’s small operation grew into a $25 million company.
If the idea of starting your own online business seems overwhelming or you just don’t know where to start, take inspiration from the fact that Kevin and Lisa were once in your shoes.
And, remember, you want to focus on products that already have mass-market appeal. Often, it’s the most basic things (like flags) that become hot sellers.
To get you started thinking about the types of products you could sell for a tidy profit, here are some of the most popular product categories right now, along with some hot-selling products:
• Electronics—wireless headphones, iPhone chargers, memory cards;
• Office—laptop sleeves, calculators;
• Arts and crafts—scrapbooking accessories, buttons and beads, acrylic paints;
• Home—memory foam pillows, vegetable slicers, water filter pitchers, reusable coffee filters;
• Pets—grooming tools for cats and dogs, dental chew toys, scratching toys for cats;
• Jewelry—Celtic knot eternity bands, men’s tungsten wedding bands, body piercing jewelry sets, wire bangle bracelets;
• Sports/outdoor—kids’ lifejackets, compact battery lanterns, mirrored swimming goggles.
When you’re starting out, it’s best to think small and focus on one product. Once you get to know the marketplace, it’s easy to jump on trends, add new products, and diversify across different categories. You really can make it as big or as small as you like.
If you’d like to follow in the Hickeys’ footsteps, now is the time to get started. Import/export is still relatively untapped. But it won’t be long until more folks catch on to it.
When you can get started today with as little as $50, what do you have to lose?
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