Three ideas: Zero capital start-ups

1. Dog walking

While walking dozens of baying hounds might not sound like the most appealing way to make a million, just think of all the pooches stuck in houses all over cities up and down Britain waiting to stretch their legs while their owners slog it out at the office. Now multiply that by £8 a dog, five times a week. Sound more attractive now?

A survey by the National Association of Registered Petsitters (NARP) found demand for dog walkers rose by almost 60% last year. While dog walking may not have the scope to make your fortune, you can earn a respectable living out of it: one Philadelphia-based business grossed $655,000 (£378,000) last year.

To bring in customers (and cash), try different packages: offering to brush or feed the dog while the owner is away will bump up your profit margins, and you could even offer a boarding service for when the owners are away on business.

It's not all big brown eyes and waggly tails, though, the industry is heavily regulated. The law states you are responsible for keeping the dog under control - if a dog in your care attacks another dog, it's your fault. As such, NARP recommends dog walkers get Public Liability Insurance. Brush up on your doggy law on The Kennel Club's website.

2. eBay

We've all heard the stories of people who go from humble beginnings to Kings of eBay overnight because they sold their grandma's jewellery collection online, but if your grandparents' jewels constitute a couple of tin rings and a pair of Pat Butcher earrings, try approaching it from more of a businesslike point of view and set up a distribution chain: make a deal with a supplier which allows you to pay once the product has sold.

More than 1.3m people make a full-time living out of the site, and with 45% of internet users visiting eBay at least once a month and more than 17 million items live at any  given time, that's a lot of scope to grow your business.

To get the most out of eBay, stick to your area of expertise and make sure you include as much detail as possible in your listing. When was the product made? What are the make and model numbers? Because buyers can't see the object, it's crucial to be specific - and always make sure you include a photograph.

Take SEO into consideration as well: if you're selling second-hand clothes or furniture, the words 'retro' or 'vintage' will see you included in search results far more often than just 'an ugly green dress'.

Check out eBay's Business Centre for more information on starting an eBay business.

3. Event planning

As start-ups go, this has to have the most scope for sheer, unadulterated fun - and as long as you ask your clients to pay up front, it's the perfect business if you don't have much starting capital.

Because the market is fairly saturated, it's a good idea to choose a niche or specialisations - whether that's weddings, corporate events, children's birthday parties or even festivals. This will help you to identify your target market and, crucially, how and where you will direct your marketing.

Remember, to be an event planner, you have to be great with people, and an expert at negotiation - your client will want you to negotiate the best price for everything. Building up good relationships with florists, venue owners and caterers will be a huge advantage for you, allowing you to get deals where others can't.

If party planning sounds like a creative option, remember you may be required to manage hefty budgets and long guest lists, so an organised mind is essential. It's de rigeur for the planner to attend all the parties they plan to ensure everything runs smoothly - but you need to stay professional, so leave the actual partying until the end of the night.

See How to become an event planner for detailed advice and guidance on becoming the ultimate party planner.

Smarta Business Builder

To help you on your business journey, we've created Smarta Business Builder, the complete online tools package for growing your business. Website BuilderBusiness PlansAccounting SoftwareLegal Documents and Email - all in one place - from just £20 per month with no contract! Try it out today.

We use cookies to create the most secure and effective website possible for our customers. Full details can be found here