Startup Biz Ideas Under $2000


Personal Shopper:

**Startup Costs: Under $2,000

Home Based: Can be operated from home.

Part Time: Can be operated part-time.

Franchises Available? No

Online Operation? No

Business Overview

If you love to shop, this is the opportunity for you. Earn great money and have fun by starting a personal shopping service assisting people who are too busy to shop, who don’t like to shop, or who can’t get out to do their own shopping. Lots of busy and well-heeled people hire personal shoppers to select gifts for any number of special occasions, including birthdays, births, weddings, Christmas, and anniversaries. And it’s not just new products they’re after: personal shoppers are also hired by interior designers and collectors to rummage through flea markets, consignment shops, antique dealers, and garage sales for collectibles, art, books, antiques, and funky home and office decor. Corporations hire personal shoppers to purchase the perfect gifts for customers, prospects, business partners, investors, employees, and executives, as well as to purchase products for gift bag giveaways at special events, ceremonies, and seminars. Seniors and other people who may find it difficult to get around, or who can’t get out of their homes, hire personal shoppers to purchase groceries, clothing, and other home and personal products. Best of all, no experience is required to get started. If you love to shop, are creative, and don’t mind networking with business owners, corporate executives, and people from all walks of life, you’re qualified to become a personal shopper.

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Network Marketing

Startup Costs: Under $2,000

Home Based: Can be operated from home.

Part Time: Can be operated part-time.

Franchises Available? No

Online Operation? Yes

Business Overview

Network marketing is one of the hottest retail industries out there. It functions on the idea that you sell products to people who in turn sell to other people who sell to other people . . . and so on. Network marketing programs feature a minimal upfront investment–usually a few hundred dollars or less for the purchase of a product sample kit–which gives you the opportunity to sell the product line directly to family, friends and other contacts. Most network programs also ask that you recruit other sales reps–those same family members, friends and acquaintances. These sales rep recruits constitute your ‘downline,’ and their sales generate income for you. Then whoever they recruit becomes part of their downline as well as yours, generating income for them as well as for you. So the more people you bring on board, the better your income potential. If you’re a sales-savvy type who can convince others of the beauty of this plan and keep them selling sales memberships (as well as products), you can earn a substantial amount of money. And you’ve got lots of network marketing plans to choose from. The most popular sell health supplements and beauty aids, but you can go with everything from long-distance phone services to fine art prints. The advantages to this business are that start-up costs are minimal, hours are flexible, you can start part-time, and you can work from home. About the only thing you need in this business is a sense of salesmanship. If you’ve got a background in sales, you’re ahead of the game, but if not, you can still succeed. Just make sure you believe in the products and the company you’re working with. Honest enthusiasm goes a long way toward convincing others to buy.

The Market

Your customers will be anybody and everybody you know or meet. Most network marketers start off soliciting friends and family. If there are others working for the same company in your area, they may have organized weekly meetings at which salespeople and prospects gather to cheer each other on and sign up new members. If so, make it a point to attend with your own prospects. It’s harder for people to decline your invitation to join in a room full of other enthusiastic newbies. In this business, it’s important to keep your distributors selling. Don’t sell them a membership and ignore them, or they’re liable to drop down their link in the chain. Talk to them often about how they’re doing. Go with them on sales calls to offer moral support and enthusiasm and help sign up prospects. Many network marketers sell via the party plan. It’s easy and it’s fun. Have a host or hostess invite friends to sample your products. You sell products, sign people up, and the party-giver gets a free gift or a discount on her purchases.

Needed Equipment

You don’t need any special tools or equipment, except for a phone to keep in touch with your distributors, parent company and prospects, and a car to go out and sign people up and attend the weekly pep-talk meetings that are a feature of this business.

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Children’s Party Planning

**Startup Costs: Under $2,000

Home Based: Can be operated from home.

Part Time: Can be operated part-time.

Franchises Available? Yes

Online Operation? No

Business Overview

Today’s moms and dads want to give their kids memorable parties just like they had, but with a two-income household, it’s difficult to find the time to plan and organize all this stuff. And even moms or dads who don’t work often feel that a really creative party is beyond their capabilities. But if you’re creative, then you can be the life of the gala with a children’s party planning business. You’ll plan the theme, provide costumes (unless guests arrive wearing their own), décor, food, favors and other assorted goodies, entertainment, and clean up afterward so parents can enjoy the festivities instead of running themselves ragged. And you can do more than birthday parties–go all out with Halloween, Christmas, Chanukah, end-of-school and end-of-summer parties–whatever you can dream up and sell. The advantages to this business are that your startup costs are low, it’s creative and it’s always fun–heck, you get to go to birthday parties every working day! Besides that all-important creativity, you’ll need the organizational skills to pull everything together and do it smoothly so that everyone has fun. You should also know what kids like today so that you can plan parties around the cartoon character or hit movie of the hour. And you’ll need to be a people person who can make sure that no shy child gets left out of the fun and no sensitive parent gets miffed at being left out the picture.

The Market

Your customers will be parents and kids who just wanna have fun. Send brochures to moms and dads in your area. Write fun, informative articles for local newspapers. Place ads in the Yellow Pages and in local publications. Network among the kiddie set and post fliers (with the owners’ permission) at dance and karate studios and other children’s hang-outs. Donate a party to the lucky winner of a charity auction–always good publicity–and give free parties to friends who’ll spread the word. Be sure to take pictures for your portfolio.

Needed Equipment

All you really need is a planning book and a telephone. If you specialize in a certain type of party, like dress-up tea parties or wild animal parties, you’ll want to lay in a stock of costumes and makeup for guests to put on.

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A Woman to Watch: Lindsay Avner


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Ever had a conversation with someone who just blows you away? I had that experience chatting with Lindsay Avner, Founder and Executive Director of Bright Pink. Avner is a vibrant woman with a remarkably inspiring story. She has an extremely strong family history of both breast and ovarian cancer. At the age of 23, Avner made the controversial decision to undergo a preventative mastectomy, making her the youngest woman in the country to have the procedure.

Going through this, Avner became acutely aware of the limited resources available to inform young women about their risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer, and what they can do to prevent the diseases. Since then, Avner and the team at Bright Pink have focused on the education, early detection, and prevention of breast and ovarian cancer for young women.

What inspired you to start Bright Pink?

Both my grandmother and great grandmother died a week apart from breast cancer before I was born, at ages 39 and 58. There were 11 other women from both my mom’s maternal and paternal sides of the family, including my mother, with signs of these diseases. To say I have a family history is quite an understatement.

I was very involved with Susan G. Komen for the Cure and Research for the Cure growing up, but I never thought I would have to deal with what it meant for my own health at such a young age. When I was 22, genetic testing revealed that I tested positive for the BRCA1 gene mutation. What this meant is that, if the average woman has a one in eight lifetime risk of developing breast cancer (about a 12% risk), I had up to an 87% risk of developing the disease. If the average woman has a 1% chance of developing ovarian cancer, I had a 54% risk myself.

Originally, I enrolled in several high-risk screening programs including MRIs, mammograms, and clinical breast exams. In the end, I came to the decision that I didn’t just want to look for cancer. I decided to have a preventative mastectomy when I was 23.

At that time, there weren’t any resources focused on my situation: a young woman who didn’t actually have cancer, but had a very high risk for developing the disease. Going through that experience really prompted me to ask myself, “What can I do to fill this niche in the cancer community?”

So what is your goal with Bright Pink?

Our focus is two-fold: education and support. Our goal is to help young women understand their own risk for developing breast and ovarian cancer, to inform them of strategies they can put in place in their 20s and 30s to be proactive with their breast and ovarian health.

We also support those who are high-risk and are going through difficult things like genetic testing, surgery, or losing a parent to cancer. When I started Bright Pink in 2007, it became clear very quickly that there were other women out there with situations similar to mine, who had always wanted to do something to be proactive about their breast and ovarian health. We’re there for them.

Could you describe a few indicators of being at high risk for breast and ovarian cancer?

The list is extensive, but family history is very powerful. There are certain indicators that are a good sign it would make sense for you to talk to a genetic counselor:

  • If there are two different types of breast cancer on one side of your family
  • If there is anyone in your family who has tested positive for the BRCA1 mutation
  • If someone in your family has had cancer in both of her breasts

What are the most common misconceptions about breast and ovarian cancer?

This could be an article in itself. But a few key ones:

  • Women think that unless their mother or maternal grandmother have had breast cancer, they’re not at high risk. Since we get half of our genes from our mother and half from our father, it is just as important to look at the family history of cancer on the father’s side as well.
  • Many women think that when they get their routine Pap smear, they’re being tested for ovarian cancer. In fact, a Pap smear only tests for cervical cancer.
  • There are very different takes on birth control pills. Birth control can actually reduce a woman’s risk for developing ovarian cancer, the deadliest gynecologic disease, up to 50%; but, though it hasn’t been proven, there’s been concern that it increases the risk of breast cancer. While it’s a personal decision, in some cases it might make sense to increase the risk of developing a treatable disease such as breast cancer in order to reduce the risk for such a hard to detect and deadly disease as ovarian cancer by such a significant amount.
  • Another common misconception is that young women don’t get breast cancer. Statistically, it is rare. It’s rare even if you’re at high risk, but it does happen—there are many examples of young women who are diagnosed. And if it happens to you, the statistics really don’t matter.
  • Lastly, there’s a misconception that breast cancer only presents itself in a lump. Breast cancer can present itself in any sort of change. Something as little as a rash can be an indication. Most of the time, the symptoms that indicate breast cancer are not cancer. So, if you ever find something that’s an abnormality, don’t freak out.

Many women have the same perspective you had regarding their breast and ovarian health–they have some awareness but don’t think about its real impact on their own lives. What advice do you have for those women?

It’s a whole lot easier to make decisions about your health when you’re not in crisis mode. If you think of your seven closest friends, statistically, it’s likely that one of you will develop breast cancer in your lifetime. That’s a pretty high statistic. And the moment someone is diagnosed, the plethora of life changing questions and decisions she’s forced to make is tremendous.

What’s beautiful about the work that we do is that the women we support have a chance to ask the hard questions and find out difficult information, and they have time to process it. They can then educate themselves, make sure the women in their lives are educated, and find ways to be proactive about their health.

Most young professionals are busy–it’s difficult to keep track of everything, let alone a disease for which you haven’t been diagnosed as high risk. What can women do now to be proactive regarding their breast and ovarian health?

There are so many things young women can do to take control of their breast and ovarian health.

  • Know your family history. Family holidays and gatherings are such a great opportunity to find out. Ask about who has had cancer and how old they were when they were diagnosed. Bring that information to a medical professional. That information can tell you a lot about your own risk.
  • Find an OB/GYN that you trust, feel comfortable with, who is really going to listen to you. I cannot tell you how many people have a problem and have had their doctor dismiss it. It’s important that you’re not afraid to get a second or even a third opinion.
  • Get in the habit of checking your breasts regularly, whether it means once a month, once every two months or every other week. The key is knowing what is normal for you. If you notice something that’s abnormal, take a piece of paper and draw a picture of two circles and mark where the abnormality was and date it. Check it three weeks to a month later. If it’s still there, if it changed, or got worse, that’s something you definitely want to get checked out.
  • Sign up for Bright Pink’s “Underwire Alerts” program by texting the word “PINK” to the number 59277. You’ll be sent a monthly text message reminder to be proactive about your breast heath. We send out funny messages like “Your boyfriend is not the only one who should feel you up.”

How can we get involved in what Bright Pink is doing?

Our website is our main hub for all of our resources. We create programs based on real needs. One program we’re particularly proud of is called “Pink Pals,” which is a one-on-one peer support initiative that pairs young women going through tough breast and ovarian cancer issues with mentors of similar demographics who have already gone through it before.

We have 13 chapters across the country, so anyone living near any of our chapters can get involved there. We need volunteers to help spearhead fun events, get the word out about the organization at community events, and create training modules for young women and medical professionals.

To learn more about Bright Pink, educate yourself about breast and ovarian health, and get involved, visit


Career Profile: Sales

Category : CAREER

Every company has a salesperson, and the profession spans every industry.  From a large corporation to a sole proprietorship, salesmanship is necessary to grow companies.

There are two kinds of sales jobs, no matter the industry: inside sales and outside sales. Inside sales usually consists of making calls from an office or working with incoming clients that call in or come to a retail location; the job may also include putting together price comparisons and doing webinars on products.  Outside sales require being out in front of potential clients, face-to-face.  The purpose of outside sales is to build relationships and create a trust between the potential client and the salesperson or company.  A motto that this particular sales person lives by is: People will do business with those they know, like and trust. The goal of outside sales is to get the potential client to know, like and trust you so that they will buy from you.

While some jobs are strictly inside or outside sales, many positions are a hybrid of both.

What is the best thing about your role?
The best thing about my role is that I can determine how much money I am going to make.  I was talking to a girlfriend recently who does Public Relations.  She was complaining about the long hours she is working right now.  Since she is in a salaried position, the extra hours don’t translate into any more money.  In sales, the more hours you put in, the more money you are typically going to make.  Sales people can often be some of the highest-paid employees in organizations.

And the worst thing?
Rejection!  Let’s face it: no one likes to deal with rejection.  Being in sales requires constantly dealing with rejection.  Not only that, but some people are downright mean.  Good sales people make a lot of calls, which raises the chances that you will inadvertently catch someone on a bad day or in a stressful moment.  Since this is the worst part of the job it is essential to have thick skin if you are going into sales.

What is the work environment like?
Anyone who knows sales knows the common term “ABC,” which stands for Always Be Closing.  There is always pressure to meet certain goals and close deals.  Because of the constant pressure, it takes a person with a certain drive and resilience to really do well in sales.  At the same time, the environment can be a lot of fun since you are working on building relationships.  In outside sales, I deal with a lot of schmoozing.  I am always out to lunch, dinners, or drinks with my clients.  It is a lot of fun, but someone with a family or kids might not see it that way.  Many of my clients have become close friends; however, at the end of the day, it’s still important to close the deal.

What does a typical day look like?
Sales is a numbers game.  The more people you come into contact with, the more you are going to sell.  Even if a person has no sales skills, if you make contact with a certain amount of people you will, by default, make some sales.  That means the typical day entails making contact with as many potential clients as possible.  For sales people who work retail, this includes approaching as many people in the store as possible and asking if they need anything.  For salespeople who work inside sales, this involves getting on the phone and touching base with as many potential clients as possible.  For outside salespeople, the focus is being in front of as many people as possible to pitch a product.

Depending on the kind of sales and the level of the salesperson, there may be research and follow-up as part of the daily job as well.  For example, I used to work for a pharmaceutical company that was selling to orthopedic doctors.  I would have to first research who and where the orthopedic doctors were.  Once I called on them, follow up would include doing price comparisons, order counts and trainings.

These days, I sell title insurance instead.  I have built my business to a certain level that I have been able to hire people to help me with the research and follow up.  This enables me to focus on the most important aspect of my job, which is reaching out to as many people as possible in a given day.

Is there anything else someone considering this profession should consider?
Consider how self-driven you are.  Many sales positions do not include micromanagement – so if you are not self-motivated, you will not do well.  Sales positions always have a high turnover, because people come in with the idea that the job will be glamorous and they can set their own hours.  When it comes down to it, the really driven and successful people in sales end up working well over 40 hour work weeks.  Right now I probably work 60+ hours per week.  That said, for the right personality, sales is absolutely worth it.

Career Profile: Philanthropy and Development

Category : CAREER

The field of philanthropy has experienced an upsurge in innovation. With the rise of the “Giving Pledge” and an increased number of wealthy individuals and corporations committed to social responsibility and “giving back,” the world of philanthropy is ripe for progress.  The field is also in need of intelligent and strategic individuals to incite further social progress in the arts, media, social services, the environment and healthcare.

We caught up with one development professional who works at a grant-making foundations and a nonprofit service firm.  She is responsible for researching potential funders and grantees, as well as, analyzing their current fiscal situation—giving feedback on quarterly outcomes and developing new metrics to showcase to funders and stakeholders.  Development professionals are expected to have excellent written and oral communications skills to write convincing proposals and to network with future funders and board members.

What is the best thing about your role?

Hands down, the best part about working in philanthropy is the knowledge that you are making an incredible different in the world. Every day is definitely a tear-jerker for me. Additionally, you get to interact with movers and shakers in a field developing new, bold and promising approaches to solving the world’s problems.

Much of my job involves creating people profiles for my supervisors before they head to meetings with funders and potential corporate partners. It helps the Development managers know how to pitch to each funder.  It’s fascinating to see different career trajectories and build individual project pitches for each funder. Additionally, in particularly slow months, we get to develop our own projects, create new metrics to showcase our programs’ successes and work with other departments to get a better idea of how to represent ourselves to the funding community. If you enjoy solving problems and thinking creatively, development is definitely a meaningful way to use your skills

And the worst thing?

You have to be a great loser. Since the nonprofit sector relies heavily on corporate and Foundation funding to build up and expand programs, development professionals have a lot riding on their shoulders. Lost funding opportunities are more common now than ever due to the recession, so it is important to build up confidence, always think to the next opportunity and not dwell on missed chances.

Secondly, there is little opportunity for teamwork as a development professional. Most nonprofits are strapped for cash and can only afford one to two development staff members at most, so a lot of work is divided between a very small pool of individuals. Depending on where you work, you might have the opportunity to work in other departments and work on team-based projects, but aside from those engagements, development is a solo effort.

What is the work environment like?

Work environments vary depending on whom you work with, but in most offices, development professionals are constantly busy going to meetings with funders, writing proposals for future funding and drafting reports to update funders on former sponsorships. In most cases everyone is incredibly passionate about the organization’s goals and works tirelessly to help nonprofits build their infrastructure and serve their communities.

If you have a passion or an outside interest, you can likely bring it into your own work. Most nonprofits are so resource-stretched that they need all the help they can get, and you will often get the opportunity–at your own volition–to work in another department and develop your skills in another area. For example, I recently began working with the marketing and communications team due to a personal interest in media and public relations.  Many nonprofits are on the small side, so lack of a tricky bureaucracy makes it easy to weave in and out of projects and gain more experience.

What does a typical day look like?

Workdays consist of a lot of writing, spreadsheets, databases, a few phone calls and the occasional webinar. During slower months, we clean up the databases and work on crunching numbers from surveys and program evaluations for future brochures and proposals. It’s very common to eat lunch at your desk while uploading pages to the database and building funder profiles. With all that writing and computer work, it helps to get out of the office once in a while; luckily, you will have the opportunity to attend your organization’s program events, go to financial and grant-writing trainings in the area and attend conferences and networking events.

Is there anything else someone considering this profession should consider?

If you are interested in entering the philanthropic sphere, try interning at nonprofit or foundation while an undergraduate or in grad school. Not on that track? Try doing some pro bono work for a nonprofit whose mission excites you. Nonprofits are more and more receptive to individuals with private-sector experience in strategy management, accounting and consulting. If you’re passionate about environmental justice, search for an organization in your area and see if they need skilled volunteers. Not only will you be following your passion, but it might lead to a future employment opportunity.