By Paul Reyes-Fournier
According to the Small Business Administration, there are nearly 30 million small businesses in the United States with more than half of them being in-home entrepreneurial companies with no employees. Because they have no or low overhead, they are the easiest to set up and have a tendency to be the most stable. If you’re looking into starting a business with low overhead, choosing the right one means matching resources to passion and expertise. Here are a few to consider.
This is a big umbrella that can include almost any entrepreneurial business outside of manufacturing. The Bureau of Labor Statistics tends to look at three main branches of consulting: business, marketing and healthcare. From an overhead perspective, most consultants need a phone, computer and a lot of knowledge. The rest of the costs revolve around your marketing and advertising needs. As your business grows, staying connected to your clients will become the biggest challenge, so you may want to consider acloud-based contact service that offers scalable plans to match your support needs. This way you are only paying for what you need.
You can look at this as a subcategory of consulting. These entrepreneurs have licensing requirements that are attached to the name. Most of these requirements include some level of education, ranging from 20 hours of online education to a graduate degree in the specialized field. On top of that, they almost always call for passing a test. Real estate agents, certified public accountants and mental health therapists all fall under the licensed professional moniker. Here the overhead includes whatever it will take to complete the education and testing plus paying the fees. The payoff for getting a license tends to be great since most pay well above the average national salary.
Being a professional freelancer is a bit different than a consultant in that the freelancer gets paid per unit delivered. For example, a freelance writer might get $100 for an article or a freelance graphic designer could draw down $500 for a header image. Once you are done with the job, you move on. These tend to be fast, one-time contracts that you can do in your pajamas from home. Right now, one in every three U.S. workers makes some portion of their income by freelancing, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports. The hardest part of this form of entrepreneurial business is maintaining a steady stream of clientele, so it’s important to utilize the freelance databases available.
The e-commerce site that offers hand crafted items has opened new opportunities for artists and the craft-minded. Creating and selling crafts falls under the category of manufacturing, which has a bit of an overhead component built in; the raw materials and equipment used to make the item needs to be factored in. This is known as a variable cost in that they only occur when product is being made. The other type of cost is fixed, meaning that you need to pay them even if you are not making any money. Generally, Etsy sellers have low fixed costs since the products can be made in the garage or kitchen. Etsy takes a percentage of each sale so make sure to add this to your variable costs.
Paul Reyes-Fournier has served as the chief financial officer for social service organizations, churches and schools. He created his own marketing firm, RF Media. Paul holds a BS in physics and an MBA.