If you want more cash, consider starting a part-time business. Almost everyone has the skills and time needed to launch a business thats capable of generating an extra $500 to $1,000 per month. With a part-time business, the smart strategy is to get it up and running within a week or two for no more than a few hundred dollars. How to do it... LOW-COST BUSINESS IDEAS Identify skills that you already possess that could be turned into a service-oriented business. Possibilities... Tutoring. Tutor students or help high school students prepare for their SATs or ACTs. Teachers, former teachers, professors and those with degrees from prestigious universities are particularly likely to attract clients. Auto care/repair. If youre good with cars, offer auto-maintenance and basic repair services. Computer. Provide tech support to individuals or small businesses. Set up computer networks, solve problems, optimize computer performance or create and manage Web sites. Foreign language. If youre fluent in a foreign language, tutor those who want to learn it or students struggling with their foreign language classes. Handyman. Home maintenance and repair services always are in demand. Music/acting. Tight budgets are forcing many public schools to cut back on music and theater programs, creating openings for private tutors. Photography. Offer portrait or wedding photography services. Sewing/alterations. Alterations are on the rise as people choose to repair, not replace, clothing. Sports. Help promising young athletes hone their abilities. Those who played a sport professionally or for a prestigious college program are most likely to attract clients. Woodworking. High-quality handcrafted wooden bowls and other carved kitchen items can fetch attractive prices in boutiques and at arts and crafts fairs. If you do not have a particular skill that is likely to be in demand, there are service businesses that do not require extensive training or skills (though experience is, of course, helpful). Possibilities include... In-home elder care Child care/day care Lawn and garden care Carpooling/driving services Pet walking/pet sitting Housesitting Housecleaning BUSINESSES TO AVOID Certain businesses are best avoided by people seeking to earn extra cash with little risk... Retail stores. Retailing typically requires an expensive inventory, long hours, employees and leased commercial property. Retailers must compete with Internet sellers and massive chains. Franchises. Profitable franchises charge big up-front franchise fees that part-time business people typically cannot afford. "New idea" businesses. It takes lots of time and marketing dollars to convince consumers to spend their money on something that theyve never spent it on before. The failure rate for such businesses is very high. More than 485,000 applications for US patents were filed in 2008 -- only a few of these will be successful. It is better to offer a service that people already understand. SETTING PRICES Contact companies that provide similar services in your region, and inquire about their rates without mentioning that you intend to enter the same business. Avoid the inclination to undercut the competitions prices. Offering the lowest price for a service creates the impression that your services are less valuable. It is better to charge comparable prices and explain why your services are superior. Examples: Establish that your qualifications are more extensive... or offer a money-back guarantee. Exception: Offer lower prices to customers who sign up for extended service packages. Locking customers into long-term arrangements can help beginning businesses build reliable cash flow. It also is a way to make your service seem like a bargain without creating the impression that it is low quality. Example: Someone starting a part-time car-maintenance business could offer a discount package to customers who sign up for a full-year auto-maintenance program. MARKETING YOUR BUSINESS The most cost-effective marketing tool is word of mouth... Visit local businesses that offer related but not overlapping services. Tell the owners or managers of these businesses what your business does. Ask if you can post a flyer in their windows or leave a stack of flyers on the counter. Examples: Someone starting a house-sitting or lawn-care business could contact real estate agents. Consider sharing a storefront location. Ask area businesses that are in some way related to your intended field if they have extra space that they are willing to sublet to you. This can be much cheaper than renting your own space, and youll have an inside track on that existing businesss customers. Example: Someone starting a sewing and alterations business could sublet space at a dry cleaner. Contact organizations that work with your intended customer base. Example: If you intend to provide tutoring or music lessons to kids, contact local schools and youth clubs. Volunteer your services to local nonprofits. Its a good way to make contacts and show off your skills. Offer satisfied customers a discount on their next purchase if they refer someone who also becomes a customer. TAXES, LICENSES AND INSURANCE Dont worry about taxes at first. New businesses typically have 90 days from the date they start taking in money to get tax payments squared away. Its best not to get bogged down in such details sooner than necessary, but do ask your accountant if you need to charge tax on any of your goods and/or services. Dont worry about hiring a lawyer or incorporating your business until your business is up and running. A few details do need to be sorted out before your business gets going... Contact your town or county offices to find out if you need any licenses or permits. Set up a separate checking account for business expenses and receipts. Ask your insurance agent about professional liability insurance, particularly if your business involves anything that could cause injury or trigger a lawsuit. Contact your auto insurance provider if you plan to use your personal vehicle for business. Your existing policy is unlikely to cover business use. Bottom Line/Personal interviewed Loral Langemeier, CEO of Live Out Loud, Inc., a coaching and seminar company with offices in Nevada and California . She regularly appears on the Dr. Phil show as a money expert and is author of many books on finance, including the bestseller The Millionaire Maker (McGraw-Hill) and, most recently, Put More Cash in Your Pocket (Harper). www.liveoutloud.com.