The Hustle

How to start a business with less than $1,000, according to two certified hustlers

How to start a business with less than $1,000
How to start a business with less than $1,000

There's no shortage of ways to make money online.

As a reporter at CNBC Make It, I've covered some of the most incredible — including a 28-year-old whose company has made millions buying things at Walmart and reselling them on Amazon and a musician who makes six figures playing with guitars five hours a day.

Yet, with each new story, I found myself wondering, can it really be so easy? Can someone with no prior experience actually start a successful business with a little time and even less money?

That's what I am determined to find out.

Operating with a budget of under $1,000, I will create a side hustle. The goal is to minimize effort but bring in revenue almost immediately. All profits at the end of the venture will be donated to charity.

While CNBC Make It reporter Zack Guzman has reported on side hustles, he himself had never launched one.

To get some advice, I spoke with Dom Detore, star of CNBC's, "Staten Island Hustle," a New Jersey contractor and serial entrepreneur who started at 18 — he flipped a Brooklyn pizzeria for $75,000.

"What you need to understand if you want to do any hustle, start any business [is] one, you have to surround yourself with good people. You don't necessarily have to be the smartest guy in the room, but you gotta align yourself with them," Detore says.

"What I do is I'll research and I'll find out who the people in that field are, and then hopefully I'll come up with someone that I know or have a mutual friend."

Entrepreneur and star of CNBC's "Staten Island Hustle" Dom Detore doesn't just run a construction company that secures nine-figure deals. He also runs a plethora of side hustles.

To that end, I brought on a mentor who had experience launching something with next to nothing. Trevor Chapman, a guy who turned $200 into over $1 million in sales in just 92 days by selling random things online, teaches his own online business class to novices like me to prove that getting an idea off the ground doesn't have to be complicated.

The process is daunting, but all businesses have to start somewhere. Chapman reminds me that Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon with its $690 billion market cap, is really just a guy selling other people's stuff too.

"The richest man on the planet is an affiliate marketer. Amazon is an ecosystem for e-commerce," points out Chapman. "So that is reinforcement that you're on the right path. It's just a matter of walking down far enough."

Trevor Chapman sold a portfolio of his e-commerce companies, including, a site he says he launched with just $200. The total deal was worth over $10 million.
Trevor Chapman |

Bezos started with an idea — to sell books online. That's where I would begin.

"Here's the foundation of getting started online: Sell products that you would buy — you specifically," Chapman tells me. "Price them at price points that you would pay. And target yourself.

"If you scratch your own itch, you'll scratch others itch just like you."

I, like many, have recently become enamored with bitcoin and the blockchain technology behind cryptocurrencies.

"What about apparel for crypto enthusiasts?" I ask.

Chapman explained why it could work — because the idea has a niche focus with a specific audience in mind.

Trevor Chapman gives CNBC's Zack Guzman advice on launching a side hustle with as few resources as possible.
CNBC | Zack Guzman

"When you give someone the opportunity to reinforce their identity, now you've got a customer," Chapman says.

"They buy and they share content when it reinforces who they are. We all want to tell everyone who we are, so crypto apparel does that," he tells me.

"It all comes down to creating a design that people that love crypto will wear," he adds.

That by itself seemed like another daunting task, but at least it's focused, which becomes a key element in avoiding feeling overwhelmed or paralyzed from the onset.

Chapman also warns against the "perfection trap," where you tweak everything to the point of abandoning an idea all together.

After all, your chances of success even with a minimum viable product are higher than with nothing at all.

"Dial back what you plan on building so that it's not 100 percent it's just like 75, 80 percent," he says. "Launch [and] inertia will take care of the rest."

And Dom Detore has one more piece of advice for me too: "The only way that hustle is going to work is if you believe it's real and you make it real."

Now, to make that happen...

Follow the progress on our side hustle here. Next week: We reveal how to set up an online business with as little effort as possible.

—Video by CNBC's Zack Guzman

Watch new episodes of "Staten Island Hustle," Wednesdays at 10P ET/PT on CNBC.

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Win any negotiation with these tips from a Staten Island general contractor
Win any negotiation with these tips from a Staten Island general contractor