startup-small-businessThe prospect of owning and operating your own small business is one that, for many people, is the defining feature of the American Dream. Being your own boss, setting your own hours, benefiting directly from the fruits of your own labor — it’s easy to see why so much appeals about the idea. Of course, wanting to start your own business and being able to do so are distinctly different prospects.

Whether it’s a shortage of funds, a lack of particular expertise, or the demands of the job you’re currently in, taking the plunge to become a small-business owner can feel out of reach. However, depending on what you’d like to do and how hard you’re willing to work at it, there are some small business opportunities almost anyone can undertake. Regardless of your current financial situation and know-how, here are four small businesses you could start today.

1. Online Marketer

If you have access to an Internet connection and a computer of some kind, setting yourself up as an online marketer is something you could undertake immediately, depending on your knowledge of marketing and your ability to put up a simple website. While Adsense, banner ads, and other types of online marketing can generate some income, developing a relationship with a reputable performance based affiliate network is more lucrative and more satisfying work.

Known as CPA, or “cost per action,” marketing, this form of online marketing works according to a very simple format: You develop links on behalf of a brand or company, and when someone clicks on those links and completes a predetermined action — be it filling out a form, buying something, getting a quote, etc. — you get paid. Once you have a relationship with a network, you can find offers, and set about promoting them.

2. Personal Concierge

Almost everyone needs help with something these days, and if you’re willing to function as a for-hire personal concierge, you can capitalize on those needs. From picking up dry cleaning and grocery shopping to running to the post office and taking the dog to the vet, running errands is something many busy professionals would love to outsource. So, why not be the outsource? Put up a simple website via WordPress describing your services and listing your hourly rate. Then, develop a social media presence, and place a Craigslist ad. Especially if you have a car, live in a decently populated area, and enjoy a relatively open schedule, your phone and email could start blowing up before the end of the first day.

3. Graffiti Removal

graffiti-removal-businessGraffiti — not to be confused with Street Art — is a nuisance for many business owners in many urban areas. If you live in such a place, then starting a graffiti removal business might be a successful venture from day one — especially if you’re unafraid of chemicals or the prospect of wielding a sandblaster or power washer. While a website or Facebook page will also be helpful in this endeavor, personal contact may serve you best. Print up some cheap business cards, head downtown (or to whatever locations seem to suffer the most from graffiti), and present yourself in person to owners and managers whose businesses would benefit from your services.

4. Drop-Shipping

Drop-shipping is something of a misleading title, because, if you become a drop-shipper, you actually never have to deal with shipping anything at all. That’s the beauty of being a drop-shipper: You sell a product online, collect the payment from the customer, pay the supplier who has the product, and they ship it to the person who purchased it from you. No inventory required. No large startup fees or business costs.

All you need to do is find a supplier or manufacturer willing to drop-ship what they make, list it on eBay or Amazon, and wait for someone to make a purchase. Then, turn around and order it from your supplier, making sure to put your customer’s shipping information in. Just be sure to list your products at a price that covers all your costs — shipping, taxes, listing fees, etc. — and then some, so you can make a profit.

Starting your own small business doesn’t have to be an arduous and lengthy process. As these four examples show, there are some ways of being your own boss that you could undertake in as little as a day.

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