Book Review
of "101 Small Business Ideas for Under $5,000"

101 Small Business Ideas for Under $5,000 by Corey Sandler and Janice Keefe provides some basic advice on getting a business started and list 101 basic businesses one can start with under $5,000 in beginning capital.

The book’s first four chapters cover business insurance and risk management, legalities and taxes, pricing, and financing. There is some good beginning information here, but you will probably need to consult additional sources once you have chosen your business.

Each business idea is listed with icons (identified in the “How to Use this Book” section) and covers the category of the business (service, product, trade, creative or virtual), challenges, skills, complexity and the estimated capital required to start the business. You may find it frustrating to have to keep looking up the icons, but they are simple and you can always bookmark the page with the icon descriptions.

The 101 list begins in chapter 5 with businesses based on “Home Services (Exterior). Examples are Landscape Designer, Deck Construction, Snow Removal, and the like—things that people often hire others to do.

The business descriptions follow a basic format. Here’s an example: One of the more creative businesses in this section is “Children’s Outdoor Playset Installer”. The descriptions begin with the “icons”. This one has 7 icons: it’s a service business, it’s seasonal, there are liabilities, you need technical skills, you need tools, it requires permits and/or licensing, and it costs between $0 and $3,000 in capital. Next is the job description, a brief overview of the work one would do while operating this business. Then, they describe the need for this business. This helps you with business research and can give some ideas as to marketing your business. The challenges section discusses some of the issues you might have difficulty with – like irregular land, permits & applications, the particular liabilities involved if someone gets injured, etc. The “know the territory” section describes some things you may not be aware of (for this business, playground equipment has come a long way from the simple backyard swingset). Next is a “How to get Started Section” which gives basic information on business research and beginning marketing tips. “Up Front Expenses” lists some tools and equipment you’ll need. “How Much to Charge” reminds you to charge a fee that includes all your expenses—purchase, assembly, delivery, etc. And the final section is “Legal and Insurance Issues” which point you back to the beginning of the book to read legal, accounting and insurance information.

The businesses described in this book range from housecleaning to auto detailing, party planner to computer buying consultant, billing service to yard sale organizer. Most are easily one-person businesses and many you can start part-time while working at a job.

If you are looking for a book to generate ideas and give you some basic information on these particular businesses, this book will help. It provides good overviews of the 101 businesses they include and there are probably many ideas here you could turn into a business but haven’t thought about.

You will probably need to do additional research on any business you choose, but this book is a good starting point.

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