It’s not that hard to make money when you already have it, but making the first steps of an investor’s career can be tricky. Knowing the game is essential, and this short overview of available options will give you a quick jump start.

Opportunities are always abundant in a free market, if you only know how to recognize them. Smart people with a talent for spotting a profitable deal from afar can always take find a way to make a living, but how much they can earn is largely dictated by their budgets. Some investment options, including many of the most lucrative ones, are far out of reach of a small investor. To put it simply, you can’t play with the big boys if you can’t pay the entry fee to sit at their table.

Of course, this obstacle can be bypassed with a flexible mindset that leads to smart strategic decisions. It doesn’t matter whether you have $500 or $5.000, if you are disciplined and proactive you can multiply your wealth. It might be necessary to be a little unconventional and explore some overlooked business models, but in the long-run such an approach can be justified if the projection turns out to be correct and brings back significant returns.

Here is a partial list of ideas that could provide some inspiration for people looking to start building serious capital from limited funds on their disposal:

Target unknown companies with big potential

Small investors often have to jump at some chances that banks and trusts wouldn’t even bother with. Since blue-chip stocks are probably out of your range when you just are starting out, it might be a good idea to try looking for diamonds in the rough. Naturally, supporting unproven startups without any track record is an inherently risky endeavor, and most of such acquisitions will probably fizzle before long. However, all it takes is one great find that explodes to the scene and you could be on your way to the big leagues, with astronomical returns on a modest starting sum. It’s really a game of hit and miss, and your winning percentage is what will decide whether you will thrive in the market or tail off after a brief period. In order to maximize success, it is smart to diversify your holdings and bet on multiple companies from different industries, limiting the sums at stake in each one.

Pool your money with co-investors

One way to overcome the shortage of funds is to align forces with a few like-minded individuals who have similarly limited assets. When all the resources are pooled together, it becomes possible to target larger projects that promise more generous returns and gain bulk discounts for larger purchases. Ideally, your partners should come from the circle of friends you know well and trust fully, but this may not always be practical. In recent years, there are quite a few crowdfunding initiatives like Kickstarter or GoFundMe on the internet that anyone can join and assume a small piece of financial responsibility for the results of the supported project. Other schemes exist that allow for partial ownership of real estate, business enterprises or  movable property, thus empowering entry level investors to get their hands on premium assets with as little as $5000 in cash. It’s a classic case of strength in numbers – and this strategy has been just as stunningly effective in the world of finance as it has in military matters since ancient times.

Digital lending platforms

Specialized online communities are also being formed around the idea of small-scale borrowing between members, excluding the big banks from the chain. In this investment format, you could participate in a group that collectively gives out a personal or business loan, and pick up your share of a guaranteed sum that you agreed on in advance, usually with a 5-10% gain. While your original investment can’t lose value in this scenario, it can be difficult to estimate the realistic risks associated with collecting the debt, and just a single defaulted loan can eliminate your gains and push you back to square one. However, peer-to-peer method of funding is likely to be further refined in the near future, and it would be wise to keep a wakeful eye for up and coming platforms of this type. Lending Club and Prosper are some of the leading names on the crowd-lending scene at the moment, but new competitors could arise at any moment, help establish higher security standards and push yields upwards.

Investment funds

One of the most dramatic disadvantages that small players have to face is the lack of in-depth information about the companies that offer stock for purchase, as well as the necessary resources to follow daily fluctuation of prices. Even a very talented investor would have a difficult time matching the effectiveness of a full-time broker that has access to huge databases and various analytic tools. That’s why trusting your money to a professional institution that invests on your behalf can be a winning move more often than not. There are various types of funds that specialize in this type of service, including exchange-traded funds (ETFs) that come with very low fees, index funds that follow major stock market indicators, and other varieties. You only need around $500 to get started with one of those funds, allowing even working people and families to play the stock market without having to learn how to navigate its dangers.

Retirement plans

An obvious way to save money for the future is to invest a little bit every month into a retirement plan, gradually building a secure reserve for the old age. It is probably one of the safest moves for a small-time investor, although the downside of this method is that it limits your ability to reinvest. Choosing the most appropriate plan is also a big challenge, since exact conditions could differ greatly depending on your place of residence and employer. Standard 401k plans are a viable option, while the U.S. treasury recently introduced a very favorable myRA plan that has no minimum monthly limit allows you to save as you go. That means you can adopt a flexible savings pattern and set aside more when your revenues are high, and spare just a few dollars on a lean month.

Artworks and collectibles

You don’t have to be filthy rich to buy paintings or antique cars, provided you stay away from the million dollar pieces and shop in the value department. If you start digging through lower rungs of the market, you are likely to run into a large number of underappreciated items for just $100-300 that could net you a hefty profit if you resell them immediately at the right place. It is also possible to speculatively collect artworks and rare objects that could gain value in the future, although this action ties up the precious resources for too long without clear guarantees. In some instances, it might even be possible to negotiate some favorable product swaps or delayed payments if the current owners are desperate to sell, opening additional space to ensure profits. The marketplace for collector items is huge and wide-open, with the only true limitation being your ability to discern between legitimate goldmines and low-end works that have no commercial value.

Follow the lead of top brokers – but carefully

As was previously mentioned, knowledge translates directly into profits and beginners typically can’t develop the type of insight and instinct that veteran brokers display. However, it is possible to pick the brains of top professionals by reading industry blogs and publications, hoping to catch a trend as it develops. Social networks allow you to follow the most accomplished investment gurus or even ask them for advice directly. To make things more difficult, top of the market often moves differently than the bottom, but at least some wisdom can be imparted in this way. Well-timed tips on hot industries and fast-rising companies can be quite useful, but it’s important to remember that risk-reward ratios acceptable to deep-pocketed Wall Street institutions are far more threatening to someone putting his hard-earned savings on the line. Therefore, additional caution is recommended here.

Final considerations

If you are resourceful and persistent, small budget won’t slow you down too much. What truly matters is to make every dollar you have work toward your future, switching between various types of investments when the situation calls for it. With various digital tools at your disposal, it is easier than ever to discover good business possibilities and make the most out of them. Investing just $50 per month, which amounts to just $1.67 per day, is enough to get the ball rolling and start accumulating more financial resources that you can reinvest for further profit. Making money is a habit, and as you practice it more you will naturally start getting better at it, recognizing the most successful strategies and expanding them while avoiding critical mistakes that could set you back.