Feb 1, 2017

30 Businesses that you can start for less than the cost of an iPhone

Once in a while, I get invited to talk about entrepreneurship to college students and youth groups. I generally talk about the economy of Nepal, the high unemployment rates, the need for youth to embrace entrepreneurship, and some myths and realities surrounding entrepreneurship. Most of the time, after the talk, the students come up to me and say, "I am inspired. I had always wanted to do something on my own. But the problem is I don't have money and my parents won't give me the capital I need to start my business." And a little while later, those same students can be seen talking on their shiny smartphones, most of the time, an iPhone. I have been annoyed, disappointed, and sad at times to see them not realizing the fact that if you truly want to be an entrepreneur, you don't need a truckload of money. Even the greatest of the businesses that we see around started small. Then, I proceed on to tell them a number of businesses that they could have started for the cost of that iPhone. Similarly, I have noticed several threads in the Entrepreneurs for Nepal group on Facebook asking about business ideas that can be started with a small amount of money. Therefore, I decided to list down a few businesses that were started with a small or no investment. I also asked around my entrepreneur friends to know how much they invested initially while starting their businesses. 

I have managed to come up with 30 business ideas that can be started for less than the cost of an iPhone (around 1 Lakh Nepalese Rupees). They are applicable in the context of Nepal. I think some of them are applicable elsewhere as well. If I have missed any idea or underestimated the cost of a particular, please let me know by commenting below. I will add the good ideas that I receive from you. I hope this will be useful for aspiring entrepreneurs of Nepal and abroad.

Here are the ideas in no particular order:

1. Audio-Visual Company 
I can confirm that this idea works because I have done it. With my two friends, I started Onion Films Nepal in 2011 with practically no capital. We utilized Govinda's photography and videography skills Bibhu's hard work and my communication skills and network to start the company. We drew on the support of our friends and families to organize a workshop on movie-making for young people and used the saved money to organize more workshops. Later on, we used the saved money to formally start the company and used the network of our graduates to get clients.

If you have good photography and videography skills and an interest in visual media, this is the idea for you!

2. Translation and Research Agency
This idea works too. Nikunja Bhandari and I came up with the idea of starting a translation agency when we observed the increasing demand for good translators and content developers, especially in the non-profit sector. We used our networks to find our first client who gave us the assignment of translating their brochure. Working for a few more organizations, we saved enough money to formally register the company which we named Nepal Language and Research Solutions.

If you have good language skills and good research experience, this is the idea for you.

3. Online Shopping
Online shopping sites are increasing exponentially in Nepal and I think the market is yet to be saturated. I know a few people who have been making a good deal of money by opening a Facebook page, hunting for cheapest prices and selling them through the page. If you can cater to niche markets there is still a good enough market for yet another online business. 

4. Rabbit Farming
Photo Credit: Jessica Reeder
As Ujjwal Chapagain of The Himalayan Rabbit Farm points out, rabbit farming can be started on a
small scale for as little as Rs. 50,000. By the way, he is also very happy to help you out if you are interested in this.

5. Website Design and Development
Have good website designing and programming skills? Just make a website, offer to make websites for free or low cost for a few clients, make a portfolio and off you go!

6. Graphic Designing 
Either there is a shortage of good graphic designers or I am looking at the wrong place, If you have good graphic design skills, you can just start designing stuff, put up your portfolio and seek out clients. As organizations are getting more and more brand conscious and thousands of businesses are being started every day, the need for graphic designing is only going to increase.

7. Social Media Management
If you love hanging out in the social media networks and are good at handling them, why not start managing social media profiles of organizations and celebrities?

8. Event Management
We used to conduct a workshop on entrepreneurship at Samriddhi Foundation, event management was one of the most popular business ideas among our graduates. And most of them are successful and running till date.

9. Mo:mo Pasal
Nepalese insatiable desire for quality Mo: Mo is ever increasing and there is a growing demand for shops serving authentic momos. If you have a knack for making authentic, mouth-watering momos, this may be what you are looking for. There is also quite a space for experimentation and discovery of new momo varieties.


10. Beekeeping
Rent a piece of land in the outskirts of Kathmandu Valley or outside the valley, build a few hives and off you go! Various entrepreneurship-related programmes of donor agencies in Nepal have also been providing support to beekeeping. If you have any questions on how to start, Anil Parajuli might be able to help you.


Photo Credit: Nepal Mountain News
11. Mushroom Farming
Gone are the days when mushrooms were only collected in the wild, mushroom farming is growing leaps and bounds these days. Although the capital requirement is not high and the rate of return is good, you will need to have a good technical knowledge of the farming techniques. Don't worry, though. You can get the knowledge easily and on your own. Saroj Karki might be able to answer your questions if you have any, Here is an example of successful mushroom farming that was started for little money.

12. YouTube Channel
If you have any specific skills such as cooking, programming, writing, playing a musical instrument, foreign languages that other people might find interesting, then you can start a YouTube channel, post original and helpful content and start making money from ads.

Photo Credit: Homegrown.co.in
13. Secondhand Bookshop
An online, as well as a physical secondhand bookshop would be a great idea to start with less capital.
There is a demand for the secondhand course as well as non-course books, especially the novels. There are a few such shops in Jamal and Putalisadak and there are lots of street booksellers in front of  NAC building in Sundhara. If you could establish that has as many books but with the more welcoming environment, I am sure people will flock to your shop.

14. Tuition Center
The majority of my friends got their first salary by providing tuition classes. If you are good at and love teaching, you can start a tuition center, provide good services, and expand. You can also combine this idea with the idea of YouTube Channel and provide a few classes for free through YouTube and attract students to your classes.

Photo Credit: TNAU Agritech Portal
15. Poultry Farming
Poultry farming is booming in Nepal. It is estimated that around 3.5 percent of the GDP is contributed by this sector and around 65 billion rupees has already been invested. Because of this boom, Nepal has become self-sufficient in poultry products. For you as an aspiring poultry farmer, what this means is that most of the support mechanism that you will need are in place already. All you need is to start! Check out this video to get an idea on how to start.

16. Homestay Tourism
If you come from a beautiful village and have a house that has a great view, you could start homestay tourism. Just renovate your house, add a few facilities the tourists will like and you are good to go. It will definitely help if you can convince your neighbors in the village to do the same. Saurav Dhakal might be able to help you on this.

17.  Rooftop Farming
On the other hand, if you are an urbanite and have a house in Kathmandu, you could start a rooftop farming of organic vegetables and selected fruits. With the growing concerns of the use of pesticide in commercially farmed vegetables and fruits, people are seeking organic and healthier vegetables and fruits. Why not start a rooftop farming and maybe help your neighbors to do the same? If you need expert's assistance, these guys can help. 

18. Vegetable Farming
As mentioned earlier, the demand for organic and pesticide free vegetables is growing. Therefore,
you can start a full-fledged vegetable farming as well. You can rent a land in the outskirts of Kathmandu or a district just outside the valley and start growing vegetables that are in demand in the valley.

19. Lunch Box 
With more and more people entering the formal workforce and lifestyle getting busier, the demand for services that deliver lunch to the offices is increasing. If you are good at cooking, you can start delivering lunches to offices. You can start this from home initially and expand later on.

20. Delivery Business
By the way, lunch boxes are not the only thing that you can deliver. Businesses delivering all sorts of goods or helping people and offices shift places is also increasing. You can hire a vehicle, coordinate the delivery or shifting process and build a business doing that.

21. Travel and Tours Company
There are tons of travel and tours companies catering to international tourists. Therefore, I don't think
it makes sense to establish another one of similar nature. However, there is a market for domestic tourists too, especially the college students. You can start a company specializing on conducting educational, industrial, and recreational tours for colleges and universities.

22. Meat Shop
With the growing income of Nepalese, the meat consumption is on the rise. It is estimated that Kathmandu Valley alone consumes 20 million rupees worth of meat daily. And it is increasing rapidly. If you can ensure good hygiene and quality in your shop, I am sure your business will grow steadily.

23. Vegetable Shop
As discussed above, the demand for organic and healthy vegetables is growing day by day. Although there are countless vegetables shops and vendors, if you could ensure that your vegetables are organic and free of pesticides, there is a business opportunity. By the way, you could also add the service of home delivery of the vegetables.

24. Online News Portal
As you must have noticed, online news portals are spreading like an epidemic these days in Nepal. Easy to set up and compete, online news portal could be your thing if you are a student of journalism or media or if you have already been working for a media house but want to start something on your own. I think, now it's time for specific online news portals as there are too many general news portals already. By the way, I have compiled a list of 20 most popular news portals of Nepal here. 

25. Photography Services
From wedding photography to product photography, demand for photography services is on the rise. The growth of e-commerce sites, as well as online news portals, has fueled the demand. I think, its the best time to take up photography and harnessing your visual communications skills.

26. Music Lessons
If you are good at playing an instrument or creating music, you can offer your lessons for a fee. By
Photo Credit: Andrew Yee
the way, there is a growing demand for Nepali music composition for movies and documentaries, even for short videos. Many times our clients have asked us to put a Nepali music on the soundtrack of the videos we were making for them. It was quite difficult to find original compositions, though.

27. Street Food Stall
If you have good cooking skills, you could take them to the street in a food stall. From Pani Puri, Shyabhale, Momo to Burger, you could sell any food items on a mobile stall these days. And guess what, many of these street food vendors are making more money than office employees in any sector. Maybe you can come up with newer food items to sell on the street!

28. Selling Organic Food Produce
If your family or your neighbors in your village have been growing organic food products, you could collect from all of them and sell them in the cities or through online. You can learn from Green Growth started by Saurav Dhakal.

29. Marketing and Research
If you have a BBA/MBA degree or a good research experience, you can start a marketing and research firm. Start with small clients who are looking for cheaper options, provide them a great service, and use their recommendations to climb higher. You can also come up with a great informative/entertaining product to build your brand like Facts Nepal did with its daily infographics.

30. Bag Manufacturing
Have you ever come across Shivakoti Bags? It is one of the rapidly growing brands of Nepal. The business was started by two Shivakoti brothers with a capital of around NRs. 50,000 (~500 USD) around one and a half decade ago. Now, their annual transaction is over 4 Crore Nepalese rupees. You could do this too!

That's all from me! Please add your ideas by commenting below!