On a Shoestring

You don't need millions to get your dream off the ground.

All the hullaballoo about venture capitalists and angel investors slinging money at high-tech companies can be discouraging for prospective entrepreneurs who don't have access to deep pockets. Is it really still possible in today's market to start a viable business on a shoestring?

Of course you can! Priscilla Y. Huff, iVillage.com's former resident expert on homebased business and author of several books, including 101 Best Home-Based Businesses for Women (Prima Publishing), says, "I talk to women every day who have started out on a shoestring and are now running all types of successful businesses."

Despite the general impression given by the media, most start-up businesses today are not multimillion-dollar, fast-track tech companies piloted by Silicon Valley 25-year-olds. According to the Department of Labor, approximately 898,000 new businesses with 500 or fewer employees were launched last year. Only 2 percent of those were high-tech ventures.

There is really no better time for people with big dreams and tiny savings accounts to start businesses. Affordable technology, easier access to free and low-cost information about entrepreneurship and (of course) the Internet have made it possible for almost anyone to start a business with almost any amount of money.

We've compiled information on the five hottest categories of low-cost start-ups and caught up with those entrepreneurs who actually made the leap with limited start-up capital. Now, set some money aside to launch your new business-and don't be surprised if you have a few dollars to spare.

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This article was originally published in the August 2000 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: On a Shoestring.

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