In an uncertain economy many people are looking for ways to supplement their income. Entrepreneurship is one way to take control of your financial situation, but it can be a scary proposition to go out on your own. There are many one-person businesses, called "non-employer businesses" by the U.S. Census Bureau, which can be profitable and don't take much time to start. These businesses, which consist of more than 20 million firms, earned $950 billion in 2010. Startup costs vary with each business. Some general expenses include a website, business cards and a business license. Here are some of the many business ideas that allow you to become your own boss without hiring a staff.

Estate Sale Promoter
Everyone likes a bargain, so it is no surprise that the garage and estate sale industry is booming. The job of a garage and estate sale promoter is to organize, operate and advertise sales for people that don't have the time or desire to do it themselves. For your services, you can receive 25-50% of the profits from the sale in addition to a flat fee. Startup costs should be less than $2,000 and include stickers, markers, signage, a digital camera and display tables. You might also need a permit and business license. With average earnings of about $500 a month, it will take about two months to break even. Most work will come in the spring, summer and early fall. One tip to increase profits is to hold neighborhood sales where various people in the area contribute items.

Apartment Preparation Service
You'll need to use a little elbow grease to be successful in this business. The job requires freshening up recently-vacated apartments with deep cleaning and light repair. Painting and cleaning supplies, including a vacuum cleaner, and basic tools are the minimum of what you need to get started. By purchasing items in bulk from wholesalers and shopping at discount stores the cost should be under $2,000. If you want to increase your marketability, consider purchasing a professional carpet cleaning machine which can cost anywhere from $700 to $3,800. Carpet cleaning machines can also be leased for $300 to $400 a month. The revenue range for this business is $30,000 to $50,000 a year, depending on the services offered. To maximize profits and efficiency, is it recommended that an apartment preparer find complexes that are close to his or her home and close to each other. Typical pricing structures for this service include a flat fee plus additional charges for premium services such as carpet cleaning.

Dog Walking
Even in a sluggish economy, people continue to spend money on their pets. A study from the American Pet Products Association found that Americans spent more than $50 billion on their pets in 2011 and this number is expected to rise to more than $52 billion in 2012. The study also shows that these expenditures have steadily increased from $17 billion in 1994. Collars, leashes, good walking shoes, bags for dog waste, dog toys and treats, and water containers are the main supplies you will need to jump start a dog walking business. These costs should be under $2,000. Dog walkers can also acquire special insurance to cover liabilities. Walks should be offered in half-hour and hour increments. The average charge is $10 to $15 for a half hour and $20 to $30 for a full hour. If you can walk multiple dogs at a time, your profits will increase. It can take upwards of six months to gain a client base and start making money. Many dog walkers add additional services to their business, such as grooming and dog sitting, to vary their revenue streams.

Food Truck
The food truck industry has been alive and well in big metro areas such as Los Angeles and New York for years. It has now caught on across the country with food truck fare going far beyond hot dogs and ice cream cones. The startup costs for this business include a truck, which can run $20,000 to $40,000 for a used vehicle and $75,000 to $100,000 for a new vehicle. Carts are less expensive at $2,000 for a used unit. Both carts and trucks must meet local health department regulations. Modifications can add thousands of additional dollars to startup costs. Kitchen supplies, insurance, permits, truck storage and parking are other things that need to be considered when preparing a startup budget. Social media marketing is huge in the food truck industry in terms of getting name recognition and letting customers know where you will be set up each day.

The Bottom Line
More and more Americans are starting businesses as a way to control their financial futures and enjoy the freedom of working for themselves. The market is ripe for those that want to start a one-person business.

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