To Be Rich Be Lazy: How to Start an Online Business with No Time, No Money and No Skills, Linh Hoang, 2011, Kindle e-book
Here is an easy way to start an online business that really does not require any money upfront, or items to sell. The magic word is: outsourcing.
The "usual" way to start a business is to set up a bricks and mortar storefront, but there are all sorts of upfront expenses. The business owner has to think about rent, utilities, purchasing items to sell, state and federal business taxes, paying employees a decent wage, providing benefits like health insurance, all the way down to free coffee in the break room. Starting an e-commerce site, like through eBay or etsy, is less costly, but there is still the possibility of being stuck with boxes and boxes of items to sell, before the site gets popular. All you need to start an outsourcing site is a computer with a reliable Internet connection.
Consider becoming one of those individuals who brings together business owners who need help with the less-important parts of their company, and those who are willing to do the work, even if they live overseas. Whether you are a business owner who needs help, or a budding outsourcing entrepreneur, visit some of the major outsourcing sites, like odesk or elance. Check out some of the available jobs, and profiles of some of the workers. Get an idea of the rates being charged; if you price yourself too high or too low, you may get no response.
If you start your own outsourcing site, it may take some work to get workers to become your "employees" (for lack of a better term) and to believe that you will pay them on time. This gives you a chance to use your sales and persuasion skills. Another question to consider is how much you will charge the client as your fee. For example, say that a job is worth $100. How much will you add on as your fee; 25%; 50%; maybe even 100%?
This book is short, less than 100 pages, and it is full of information and very easy to read. It is recommended for everyone; business owners who need help, would-be entrepreneurs, and those who want to make some extra money doing things like data entry, computer programming or web design.