What bootstrapped businesses have the lowest barrier to entry?

This related to my other recent question but a little more specifically focused.

What types of bootstrapped businesses have the lowest barrier to entry for an individual that, let’s say, has an internet connection, is relatively tech saavy (not a developer), and speaks English?

Building a SaaS app, for example, has a pretty high barrier to entry because you have to be a pretty experienced developer (or have money to hire one).

I reckon info products, ( particularly info courses ) could probably be whipped up relatively easily without much technical knowledge. Then there’s subscription box businesses, which have a few platforms (www.subbly.co) / (www.cratejoy.com) - that people can use without needing much technical knowledge. More of a marketing task than anything.

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As a tech savvy bootstrapping non developer, I would have thought offering a productised service, such as building and maintaining wordpress or shopify websites, seo, adwords etc, would be a good place to start. It’s relatively easy fon non technical people to build sites using wordpress, shopify or one of the many site builders out there.

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Well, I’d say a lemonade stand, but you probably won’t make money from that :slightly_smiling:.

The problem that comes to mind is if it has a low barrier to entry, what’s to stop someone from outdoing or price gouging you?

Do you have an area of expertise that you could leverage that others find relatively difficult?

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I agree with both of you. Something that involves using your current knowledge or expertise and doesn’t require a build (other than a basic website).

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Thanks guys - appreciate the feedback.

@deckchair hadn’t seen subbly before - that’s cool thanks!

@Kevin yeah good point. I’m leaning towards maybe some kind of ecommerce management as a productized service.

@nathanlippi funny that you should say lemonade stand as I’ve been thinking a lot about ecommerce as a business model :slight_smile: Not sure if you’ve ever seen this site but it’s amazing: http://www.abetterlemonadestand.com/

Yes good point about barrier to entry. I’m trying to think of a business model that could be taught to people that aren’t necessarily super highly skilled. So it probably wouldn’t be the best business model in terms of being super high profit margin and defensible, but maybe something that could still provide a decent living for people.

@kalenjordan: Ahhh, I see, now.

Some random thoughts:

  • A lot of platforms are built to allow non-automatable labor to match up with people who need that labor. Some examples:
    – Matching tutors with students
    – Matching drivers with cars
    – Mobile apps that allow someone else to do odd tasks for you (TaskRabbit?)

All the above are examples of two-sided marketplaces.

  • A guy I was talking to a while ago has a business where people pay him to pick up compostable material and then bring compost back; pickups are done via bicycle to be eco-friendly. The bicycle pickup, is, of course, unskilled.
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I think re-framing the question as follows might lead to an interesting answer

Question: What are the best types of businesses that a tech savy english speaking individual with a good internet connection should go after, such that he needs to put in very little upfront investment in terms of capital or time and what would be the best way to go about it.

Constraints used for choosing a business/market to go after:

  1. Customers who can be easily found and marketed to online - check whether there is a forum, facebook group etc specific to this market niche
  2. No physical interaction for location independence - i.e. low touch sales - no enterprise sales

What to Focus on specifically:
Let’s look at what constitutes a successful business

  1. Ideation and Idea Validation
  2. Product Design Development
  3. Product Marketing
  4. Product Support

A boostrapped entrepreneur needs to do all the steps above in order to have a successful online business. For our tech savy individual, this would be quite overwhelming. I suggest he only pick one of these tasks, the one that is the cause of most bootstrapped business failures and also that requires the least amount of upfront investment - marketing.

Marketing-first stair-step approach
He can start by selecting a target market that he is passionate about and is a profitable market. He can then start building an audience by creating content and aquiring email addresses. His journey can take the following steps - where he goes from one level of success to another.

Level 1: Build a blog/website focussed around a specific niche and monetize using adsense. Revenue from ads.
Level 2: Spend time researching products in that niche and start promoting them for the companies. Revenue from affiliate sales.
Level 3: Create an info-product (or outsource content creation) for the target market that addresses pain points for the customers. Revenue from ebooks (and other media)
Level 4: Create software (or outsource development) to solve those pain points. Revenue from software sales (hopefully SaaS)

I think tech-savy non developers have a HUGE advantage over developers (me included), in that they do not find comfort in developing a product. There is a huge benefit to approaching this from a marketing-first mindset.


Wow! I love the way you framed this! And I think the types of businesses you identified are right on. They might be businesses that most of us on this forum might not be super interested in (as we tend to be developers I’d imagine), but they could be great opportunities for certain types of people.

  • What do you friends ask you for help with regularly?
  • What are you good at that your friends don’t ask you for help with?
  • What business owners are you friends with, acquainted to, or related to?
  • Who’s in a position to pay you for your help?
  • What audiences are you a part of? e.g. “I go to lemonade stand owner meet-ups.” “I attended $SCHOOL”

If you answer those questions for yourself and post them here, you may be sitting on something without realizing it.