Business Ideas – Make Money with No Money

The following is a list of several small side incomes you can make without much startup capital (or none at all). High school students, broke college students or anyone looking to score a little extra cash can take this advice. This list goes contrary to the saying “It takes money to make money”. I feel there are tons of ways to make money, but people never pursue them because they seem “menial” or “not worth their time”. Well here are a few things you can do to make quick cash without a formal business plan, investors or anything of the sort.

1.) Sell Water. That’s right. Buy a 24-pack of bottled water, ice it, then sell on a hot day. Your $3.00 investment has turned a $21 profit in a small amount of time. This may seem like something only a bum would do, but trust me, you will learn more from this experience than in any marketing class. Water can be substituted with soft drinks, hot coco etc.
Easy Factor Rating: *****
**Tried this experiment on 4-03-2005

2.) Mow Lawns. If you don’t have a lawnmower, borrow one. Go around a neighborhood offering your service. This business works particularly well for younger kids. Live in a cold area? They substitute lawn mowing with snow shovelling. You can ALWAYS get people to pay for this by lowering your price. Surprise people by offering to shovel a driveway for $3 if you are having trouble finding business. Some money is better than none, and you get plenty of excersize!
Easy Factor Rating: *****

3.) Powerwashing. Rent, buy or borrow a simple power washer and clean driveways and houses. Driveways will take 30-40 minutes depending on size. The real goldmine here is cleaning houses. This job will fetch over $100 and requires only a telescoping ladder and a bit more risk. For younger kids, their 30-40 minutes spent power washing a driveway will fetch about $20-$30. The trick here is to start off one house at a low price, then pitch to the surrounding houses showing off how clean their neighbors driveway is. Getting a company to hire you is even better. Gas stations, property management companies all need power washing services, but this may require some heavier duty equipment. Power washing can be done on any lazy Saturday afternoon where you are doing nothing better. Take before/after pictures and show off your work during your door-to-door sales pitch.
Easy Factor Rating: ****

4.) Accounting. Know accounting? Then become a part-time book keeper for a small business. These part timers get anywhere from $14 to $22 an hour for their services. Accounting CAN be self-taught, but a class is recommended. I know two accountants who make very nice livings working out of their garage. I see ads in the paper looking for part time book keepers all the time. You can educate yourself or hone your knowledge for free with books from the library.
Easy Factor Rating: *

5.) Get a job. Duh. If you feel totally inadequate to take a little risk and make money for yourself, or you need a more steady income, just get a small job. Even though I make enough money on the side, I still hold a job for the added income. If you are not picky about your job and just need some quick income, work at a coffee house, or in fast food etc. Get a job as a janitor, helping hand etc. These areas are always looking for non full time employees. You can get hired very quickly if you apply to those types of positions. Jobs are great, but you must obey the orders of others, often perform duties you may dislike and revolve around someone else’s schedule. The other ideas on the list give you more freedom to wheel and deal as you please.
Easy Factor Rating: *****

6.) Computer Cleanup. If you are decently computer savvy, charge a small fee for cleaning up slow running computers. My old 800Mhz Dell desktop can still outperform most personal computers that are four times as fast because I keep in squeaky clean of viruses, spyware, adware etc. Go door to door asking “Is your computer annoyingly slow? Got crap popping up on your screen all the time? Well I can help you solve that problem in 20 minutes.” I figure you will get quite a few people who would pay $10 – $20 (Or way more!) for your few minutes of service. Simply install all Windows Updates on their computer, install Google Pop-Up Blocker, download and run the new Microsoft Anti-Spyware program and BAM….more efficient computer. I do this for friends all the time, and they can never thank me enough for saving them the frustration of a brand new computer that runs painfully slow because of spyware. I see a huge market for this service. This is a GREAT way for a computer savvy student to make some quick ca$h. Total costs for software = $0.00. Every program I mentioned was 100% free. Who says it takes money to make money??
East Factor Rating: ****

Of course these are only a select few ways to generate small amounts of cash. These ideas will most likely not get you rich, but making cash is better than sitting around and being idle! Also, the experience you gain from trying out these ideas is more valuable than anything learned sitting in a classroom.

Now go out there and make some !!!

Blog posted on: March 19, 2005

73 comments on “Business Ideas – Make Money with No Money

  1. savvy saver

    Those are some great ideas. I really like the powerwashing, only I’d be very careful when powerwashing someone’s house. If it is not vinyl siding, you run the risk of powerwashing the paint right off of it. I have a stucco house, and it’s much better to clean it with just a garden hose and a tiny bit of pressure.

    If you want to do dirty work, but get paid really, really well, clean gutters. Everyone hates doing it, and I know a lot of people would pay quite a bit if someone else would do it (I know I would!). Make sure you have elbow-length gloves and a couple buckets….

    erin
    http://frugalgirl.blogspot.com

    Reply
  2. Cap

    the computer cleanup/update is good idea. I’m fairly certain local computer shops offer it for high labor cost.. I do it for friends/family all the time, but im not going to ask them for money heh. i suppose there is the door to door route in asking people. unfortunately solitication like that around my area is heavily frowned upon.

    Reply
  3. Neville

    Frugal Girl,
    I’ve never EVER seen someone in my area clean their gutters! I hear people complain about cleaning their gutters all the time, but I have no experience with it. My area has mostly 2-storied houses, and there are restrictions on the types of trees you can have on your property. These trees are genenerally not tall enough to deposit mass amounts of junk into the gutters, luckily!

    Cap,
    When I wrote the computer cleanup idea, I was thinking “Damn, I should actually do this.” I, like you, do this for my friends gratis on a regular basis, and even THEY offer to pay. Perhaps you could make tiny flyers and leave them on doors for exposure instead of soliciting door to door.

    Reply
  4. Neville

    Christian,

    I did a little research on trackbacks, and I’m not particularly impressed by the concept. So no trackbacks for now.

    And to respond to the post on your page:
    I realize you cannot setup shop anywhere and sell, but there are places you can. A certain intersection nearby my apartment in Austin allows anyone to do whatever they want, which unfortunately opens the door for bums.

    Also, a lot of these ideas are better for younger kids. How harsh can cops be on a kid selling bottled water?? Well, maybe in Cali the LAPD will Rodney King the kid!…but in most places they would just get a small warning.

    Reply
  5. Smarty

    Great ideas. I used to fix computers for a small fee but I hate traveling, so I stopped. I do it more often for friends and relatives which I don’t charge.

    Reply
  6. Anonymous

    Paint curbs… that right. paint curbs. make a few hundred flyers, pass them out on mail boxes (its legal to tape them to the box). put on the flyer that if they want their address painted on their curb to put the flyer in the window. the next day or two go around the area again, if they have a flyer in their window, paint the address on their curb. then charge 15 bucks. you will get about 5 percent of ur flyers, so, 500 flyers means 25 jobs, 375 bucks. spend a day passin out flyers, and a day or two painting curbs, thats 1500 a month. get number templates and reflective paint like is used for road lines. should be able to get them from a car parts store.

    Reply
    1. Pennyroll

      I’ve done the address painting business, in fact when I lost my job, it’s what paid the mortgage for a while. There’s a few ways to market it, I like your, way but I don’t like when people paint the address then ask for a “donation”, just seems unprofessional.

      I sold it a bit differently, I wrote about how I went about it here: http://www.pennyroll.com/2009/01/the-address-business/

      My best hour was 90 buck, I was only held back by how fast I could paint them.

      Reply
  7. gilbert

    I have seen some interesting ideas for businesses. I was thinking of setting up a business for turning albums into audio files and cassettes as well also short dvd’s could be turned into avi files. I’ve done the dvd to avi, but the others i have not done.

    Reply
  8. Anonymous

    yea, you have some great idea’s . I espiacally like the bottled water one because if your a kid about under 14 years of age . you set your price to a dollar a bottle but most incomers will probably through out 2 bucks or MORE!!!!!!

    Reply
  9. Anonymous

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  10. Anonymous

    1) Clean windows. I used to pay a guy 15 bucks every time he’d clean the big plate glass windows on my Laundromat. He came by once a month. He simply dropped the bill thru the mail slot in the back room and I’d pay. Nice. Most retail businesses need really good clear windows. The often get mucked up by little hands. Equipment: a bucket, a squeegee and a long pole.

    2) door-2-door flyers. Again for my Laundromat I advertised to the local area only. I usually got 2 – 3 teens to help with walking the neighborhood. Door hangers only, nothing in the mail box (illegal w/o postage). Could get a team of younger kids to work for you and hit up all the local businesses. This could be a fund raiser for a local kid’s sports team.

    Reply
  11. USuggest

    USuggest.com allow the bloggers to make some extra money through recommended products directly from within their blogs, and hopefully directing their readers to online retailers. As such, the respective blogger would receive a commission from any sales generated through referrals!

    Reply
  12. Anonymous

    Hello Neville! I really enjoyed reading your site! You’ve made a lot of money!

    I’m trying to make money myself. I was wondering if you do link exchanges?

    please let me know!

    kumiko
    xo

    Reply
  13. Anonymous

    Struggling COLLEGE stew-DENT?! WANNA MAKE about $60-200/ hour?? all it takes is a startup of $80- and a little motivation…the dude who suggested painting curbs has a good idea, butt he’s only selling 25 outta 500 houses with he’s lamo flyer methodology- LOSE THE FLYERS DUDE!! work on your sales pitch- go door to door asking for donations for your college tuition-err whatever, and go to a NICE neighborhood (without backlights) and say the average donation is $20-$25- I’ve gotten as much as $50 on a curb- butt only in the richey nieghborhoods…wear a COLLEGE t-shirt,be prepared to tell em’your major- and show em’ a college ID- you can go by yourself, or have a friend follow behind you painting- as you sell- DONT HALFASS it!! you’ll build a bad rep for curbside address painters EVERYWHERE!!—>> I dont normally train competition, butt if you not in RENO and what more info—> email me drbargen@yahoo.com

    Reply
  14. S-J123

    Hi,
    Im only 15 and wonder if you could give me a great tip on how to do business online.
    I cannot use ebay because i do not have access to a 18+ credit card. This is the same for adsense i think because i dont think i can use my credit card for that.
    Is there a way to make a bit of spending money £50 – £100 a week online or using a computer programme.
    Thank you, Adam
    E-mail me on S-J_69@hotmail.com
    P.s I live in England

    Reply
  15. Business idea

    Hey, I am a native German speaker and have another idea. The Germans have problems with English grammer (like me ;.)). Why dont you offer proof reading and ghost writing for zeh Germans? Or anyone else?

    Reply
  16. luis

    Great post!

    If the economics don’t work, recycling efforts won’t either.
    http://LivePaths.com blogs about innovative entrepreneurs that make money selling recycled items, provide green services or help us reduce our dependency on non renewable resources. These include some very cool Green online ventures, great new technologies, startups and investments opportunities.

    Reply
  17. Anonymous

    Heres a good one that worked for me. Invest about $140.00 in some good hydroponic pot. That would equal a half ounce(14 grams). Sell each gram for $20.00. Thats Double your profit. Then, move up to an ounce for $260.00 and keep moving up. Pretty soon you will be getting quarter pounds for about $7.00 a gram and making $13 dollars off each gram.

    Best business if you ask me. I’m a CEO of a bank now so I left that business behind me, but hey, you gotta start somewhere!!

    Make that money baby

    Reply
  18. Anonymous

    these are all great no doubt. but they all TAKE MONEY TO MAKE MONEY. I was looking for a blog where they gave me info on how to make money with no absolutely -NO- MONEY$$$$
    NICE TRY

    Reply
  19. Tim Bennett

    I love some of these ideas. I teach the concept of how to make money without money here in Manila and I love using the simple ideas to get students started such as buying and selling water on a hot day. So simple but proves supply and demand theory.

    If you get a chance please take a look at my site at Millionaire Anonymous

    Thanks so much and keep up the great job.

    Tim

    Reply
  20. MDustin

    I think eventually if you want to take your business to the next level you are going to have to spend money. “Spend money to make money”. Now this doesn’t mean you should run out and secure a business loan..at least not yet but I do think there are other ways you can invest your time and money (if any) in more profitable ways. For example real estate. Most people think real estate is just for Rich people but as Rick Vazquez shows in “The Pizza Delivery Millionaire” Anyone, no matter what your background has the potential to become financially free. So make the most of your time and invest in something tried and true.

    Reply
  21. Anonymous

    I got a beter way to make $ fast sell your moms cloths and your dads golf clubs they will be mad but u dont have to hardly work at all and you make 100% profit.

    Reply
  22. Anonymous

    well i like all ideas that u had given. but these ideas will not work in all contries.. for eg contry which i live.India

    Reply
  23. Anonymous

    This is a good site that i have been looking for, for a long time,i say well done onece again to you please keep it on.I will work towards this to make money.Thanks,
    Emmanuel.

    Reply
  24. Node

    Great. I like all the idea on how to make money with little money. Do you know they are some training company use this idea and selling 3 days and 2 night program just to make money with min or no money.

    Have you think about collecting old shoes for free. I believe every house have some old shoes to throw away. Simply collecting it and sent it to reslcly company. you make pretty good deal with 25kg or 34 shoes. Require some place to organise and plan for pick up.

    Reply
  25. Dustin

    I actually found your blog by researching the water idea. I know here in Atlanta on the way to a Braves game (from parking to stadium) you can expect to pay $5 for a bottle of water. I am seriously considering trying this out, but I don't plan to compete with the established "vendors" outside the baseball stadium.

    Reply
  26. Pingback: Bottled Water Experiment - Neville's Financial Blog

  27. Ryan DeLeon

    Good ideas, I made some cash buying things at garage sales and reselling them on craigslist. People always get deals at garage sales, and they pay more on craigslist.

    Reply
  28. Helen

    The computer clean-up is a great idea, there are no doubt loads of people out there in need of this service, so why not use your skills and make some money as the same time?

    Reply
  29. Jacob

    I have heard of a few ideas before and have even tried some in my younger days. I personally like the lawn mowing idea. Simply print off a few ads on your home computer and walk around the block popping them in each letter box. Im not sure about elsewhere but I know their is alot of money to be made in australia here people will pay between 50-70 bucks a pop for lawn mowing and with the hot weather they grass grows fast and its not long before they call you back. This also involves little maitaince expences you pretty much only have to pay for a jerry can of fuel and a few mower parts now and again. Great Post

    Reply
  30. Robin

    Here’s a simple idea. Borrow (or buy) a bucket and sponge and a couple of bottles of car shampoo (and a shammy cloth). Then go door to door to ask if people want their cars washing. If you spend about 30 minutes on each car, and charge 3 to 4 dollars (pounds for us in the UK) you can be on to a simple income.
    If you get too many reponses then take bookings for different days or evenings in the week.
    Make it more fun (and quicker) by inviting a good friend along and splitting the profits.
    You use the customer’s water, but your initial investment is really low cost for re-useable assets (shampoo will need replacing though).

    Just remember to do a good job on the hubcaps! You may get a regular repeat customer.

    Reply
  31. The Finance Boffin

    When everything else fails write a book – “How to earn a million dollars!” :)

    These are great idea for kids to learn. I learnt a lot about sales and marketing while selling hot dogs and popcorn as a kid.

    Reply
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  33. Kevin Timothy

    I truly agree with you on the accounting aspect. I never thought that I would ever be interested in it until I “forced” myself to to take it in college. Turned out I love accounting! So much helpful things you’ll learn that you can apply to your home businesses. Recommendation for anyone.

    Reply
  34. CJ

    Neville, not to bust your chops too much, I like you somewhat, but if your so damn good at copy writing and writing copy is so damn lucrative, wouldn’t you simply advise people to buy your course for 69 bucks and make decent change instead of FN around with shit like this? Just a thought.

    Reply
  35. CJ

    By the way, no offense. I’ll probably purchase your Kopy course just to see if its good. If it is Ill let you know, if its not….ill let you know :).

    Reply
  36. Mark

    Great page. The cold water bottle idea is great and the car cleaning and gutter cleaning ideas are good too.
    I am doing a project at the moment using only $31 and turning it into $1 million!!!! check it out at http://www.facebook.com/31into1million
    So far i have sold soft drink at work, buy a slab, sell individually. I kept buying more and selling more until I reached over $400 then I bought an exercise bike, then hired it out on gumtree for $39 a month! Now I have 2 bikes that i hire out. I want to reach the $1000 mark by xmas time…. so i found this page! Thanks for the ideas :)

    Reply
  37. Lee

    Hi
    Some people may look at this list and wrinkle up their nose at it and say they are beneath me but you list has only just touched on the subject. There are so many different ways of making a bit of money to get you back on the right track to success. When you start with nothing a small step is all that is needed to get going.

    Great stuff thanks lee

    Reply
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  47. Alex

    Some good ideas there. Here in the UK there isn’t really an option of selling water, but things like lawn mowing are always a possibility, that is so long as one is comfortable speaking to a lot of strangers at their door steps. Another tactic for this is to create your own postcard-size adverts for services like lawn mowing, dog walking and alike.

    I think it’s poignant to mention how society has altered in recent decades, and although people are friendly and often willing to hire someone to do some jobs for them it’s also true that handyman work has gone out of fashion over decades gone by, and wealthier people especially prefer to put their trust in a official business with a company logo etc.

    But as money making ideas you just need to find a few people who are glad to let you do work for them regularly, making a small but sustainable income on a monthly bases, and so build rapport with neighbours and locals.

    Reply
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