Starting a business doesn’t mean you have to spend your life’s savings. Technology makes it easier to start a business with a small amount of capital, or to raise the money you need without having to get a loan. Low cost business ideas, like the ones featured in this article, might inspire your next venture.
Having an online presence is necessary for any business owner. So, make sure your business plan includes creating a professional website. We recommend using Bluehost for reliable web hosting service to make sure your website is always online. They also offer domain registration and a business email address, all for just $2.95 per month. Check out Bluehost hosting plans.
Low Cost Business Ideas to Try in 2019
The idea of investing a great deal of time and money on a new business can be overwhelming, especially for first time entrepreneurs. However, there are a number of business ideas that will require $1,000 or less to start and still hold great potential for growth.
To help get you started, we asked business professionals and searched popular blogs and websites to create a list of possible business ventures that you can easily start even on a budget.
Here are 20 low cost business ideas to help you ease into a business owner role:
Estimated investment: $1 to $100. For this business, you only need $1 and a passion for hunting down rare books that are deep within small book shops going on sale. Be sure to improve your knowledge of the trade, how to identify classics, and also connect with individuals with similar tastes. Having the right connections can get you information on where to find potential priceless pieces.
Estimated investment: $10 to $100. Website addresses can be bought and sold similar to other commodities, and there are people who generate serious income this way. You can buy them for as little as $10 per year for each. Visit domain registrars and search for a domain name you like, or you can ask the owner of the domain name if they are willing to sell. Make sure you choose ones that offer value or have built quality backlinks and traffic to its name, then evaluate the price. Business names, geographic names, generic names, and popular names are easy to sell, so keep an eye on those and grab them as soon as they are available.
Estimated investment: $100. What’s great about growing and selling herbs for a business is that you don’t need a large garden or open space to start. Seeds only cost 25 cents a pack, and you can sometimes get them from fresh herbs that you purchase for yourself. You can set it up with small pots or create a DIY wall garden with some wood and a few wires. This helps to minimize your startup cost. You can sell them by the pot or place them in small packages for retail. Sell them in your local farmers market or create your own Facebook page. If you want to develop your own logo or brand, you can always hire freelancers to do the job.
Estimated investment: $0 to $200. Like many home-based business ideas nowadays, a house-sitting business requires little investment. There are some classes you might want to consider taking, such as animal training and fire safety in order to set yourself above competitors. Having your own business card printed will also help market your business. You will want to build your clientele by starting with one and asking for referrals, and having a business card will make the strategy more effective.
Estimated investment: $200. Since those who become personal shoppers begin this business out of their love for fashion, there’s not much investment required other than for marketing. Creating a website to build your portfolio and printing out your business card will take up most of the initial cost. You can also hire freelancers to design your logo and website.
6. Flip Refurbished Furniture
Estimated investment: $200. Most of your investment will go to buying materials and tools. If you’re proactive looking for old furniture, you might be able to get your hands on it for practically nothing. With some paint, varnish, and a bit of repair, these items can fetch a few hundred dollars. Hobbyists can earn $100 a week, while there are serious “furniture flippers” who can earn up to $10,000 a month with the right item. The key factor for a successful flip is knowing where to source old furniture.
Estimated investment: $10 to $200. If you’re someone who loves writing, and you’re a complete whiz when it comes to grammar, consider starting up your own proofreading business. The startup cost is relatively low because it’s already possible to launch your service from the comfort of your own home, doing away with storefront cost. All you need is your computer and a stable internet connection to make sure you’re always available to communicate with your clients. Information is also readily available online should you find yourself in need of help on any proofreading issue.
8. Bake & Sell Cupcakes
Estimated investment: $0 to $500. Anyone who thinks of starting their own cupcake business is most likely someone who’s been baking cupcakes as a hobby. This means they will likely have most of what the equipment and materials they need to start a home-based cupcake business beforehand. The startup cost involved would be just how many ingredients you want to store. You can create your own website or sell your cupcakes on Facebook and other social media platforms.
9. Become a Tutor With a Niche
Estimated investment: $0 to $500. There’s no question that tutors can earn substantially as they build their reputation. But one good point to consider that can boost your income from private teaching is to find a niche. In this article, Matt shared how his choice to become an ACT tutor allowed him to earn $2,000 monthly six months into starting his business. The per-session fee is higher and because the test is offered the year-round, there is no downtime when it comes to demand. The startup investment involved is minimal and will mostly involve the cost to maintain a website and to procure teaching materials for your students.
10. Offer Bookkeeping Services
Michael Kern, CPA, Founder & CEO, Talent Financial
Estimated investment: $0 to $500. “Bookkeeping is one of the easiest and most profitable business ventures a person can start. Not only does every single business need bookkeeping services, but you can do it remotely from anywhere,” said Talent Financial founder Michael Kern. “It only requires a small amount of knowledge to begin providing value to your clients. QuickBooks has a quick and easy certification class called QuickBooks ProAdvisor that will teach you everything you need to know, and the best part is it’s free. Once you are a ProAdvisor, you will be able to post your bookkeeping business on the QuickBooks registry for all businesses to see. The hardest part is getting your first client, but once you can jump that hurdle, the snowball effect begins.”
11. Start an Elderly Employment Service
Mike Nesselbeck, Founder, Business Idea Insight
Estimated investment: $500. “Elderly employment is a growing concern among the senior community as they want to work, and the population of this demographic is expanding significantly around the world,” said Mike Nesselbeck. “This idea solves the problem elderly people face when trying to find part-time employment in their retirement years. To begin, you’d need to gather a list of local companies in the area that are looking for senior employees, as well as what type of employees they need. Then you could set up trips to senior care facilities where there are qualified workers who want to be involved. If someone is interested, you could arrange an interview and collect a fee from the employer if the person was hired, acting as a hiring agency that specializes in senior employment.”
12. Become a Photographer
Nooria Khan, Content Marketing Executive, GigWorker
Estimated investment: $500. “Nowadays, every other person who has a phone with a good camera can become a photographer. You just need an eye to take awesome pictures,” said Nooria Khan of GigWorker. “You can get started with a photography business just by having a good camera or DSLR for around $500 and a lens or two. Even if you have a good smartphone camera, it can still be a good tool to take decent pictures. You can easily get these accessories and maybe set up a YouTube channel or social media business account on Instagram to showcase your work.”
13. Create Your Own Jewelry
Estimated investment: $500. With online shops like Etsy, it has become easier for craft jewelry makers to market and sell their pieces online. Aside from being creative, there are a number of things that go into successfully starting your own craft jewelry business. But the most important point would be to know who you are selling to. Who’s your target audience? This will determine the best digital marketing plan that will get you the most visibility and potential sales.
Estimated investment: $500. You can start your own pet sitting or dog walking service with less than $500 as an investment. This includes licenses, website, marketing, classes, insurance, supplies, and even pet sitting software that you can try out for free. The right marketing strategies, like using a referral program and knowing how to manage your expenses, can easily make this business a lucrative venture. To pet lovers, this opportunity to enjoy the company they keep while earning money is hard to ignore.
Estimated investment: Under $500. This is especially popular for seniors and those trying to monitor their food intake. Most of the time, the reason for one’s failure to stick to their diet is the lack of time to purchase ingredients to prepare their meals. This is where healthy meals to go comes in. If you already have your own car, your investment will mostly focus on marketing, certification, and purchasing ingredients. You can also have your own website and print business cards you can include in every delivery. Your website can display your menu and even provide an option for online payment for your customers’ convenience.
Estimated investment: $400 to $600. A fitness trainer requires certification, but that’s all that’s needed to start a business as a personal or group fitness instructor. You should have your own business card printed and eventually consider creating your own website. Marketing can also be done by creating YouTube videos of exercise routines. You can also expand your field by learning all about nutrition and getting a nutritionist certification to complement your fitness expertise.
Estimated investment: $800. Grocery shopping for seniors, busy parents, and even students is becoming popular. Anyone can start earning money driving their own car or bike. Startup costs will involve printed materials, a mobile phone, registration with a local delivery network (if any), and equipment for hauling larger bags. Grocery delivery can earn you as much as a $1,000 weekly according to this article. Consider accepting add-on services that combine grocery shopping with other errands that seniors and busy parents might not have time to do on their own.
Neva Paule, Supervising Editor, Fit Small Business
Estimated investment: $930. “Small scale cleaning service businesses are popping up all over the country, and this is not unusual. The industry is expected to generate as much as $46 billion by 2020, so there is a huge potential for growth. You can either start from scratch or apply for a franchise to make it easier for you to handle the initial cost and startup tasks. Even if you hire experts to help you run your house cleaning business, it’s also a good idea to learn the skills so you’re always aware of how your business is performing.”
Estimated investment: Less than $1,000. Thanks to our fast-paced lifestyle, subscription boxes are gaining popularity as a means of providing a personal touch to ready-made gifts. Crate Joy’s article provides an itemized description of how much it would cost to set up your own subscription box. You have the option to do away with the initial launch service and the custom boxes, bringing your initial investment down to around $700. Make sure you identify your target market and do the necessary research to help build a solid brand.
20. Become a Themed Local Tour Guide
Estimated investment: $1,000. Local walking tours are becoming very popular nowadays, what with more and more people trying to achieve work-life balance. Local tours provide a new experience at a fraction of the cost of out-of-town vacations. You can start this business from home, where most of the cost will include licensing, certification, marketing, and website setup. If your town is known for something in particular, you can create a themed walking tour that will allow tourists to explore history, food, drinks, and local activities they won’t find anywhere else. Network with your local leaders and other businesses for partnerships and discounts to offer your clients.
Tips for Starting a Low Cost Business
To ensure your new business is a success, you’ll need patience and dedication to learn the key factors that will help sustain your venture through the first crucial years. Start your new business right by finding the right tools even on a budget.
Here are 10 expert tips on how to turn your low cost business ideas into a successful brand:
1. Leverage Your Creativity
Matthias Alleckna, Energy Industry Analyst, EnergyRates.ca
There is a world of opportunities when you open a low cost business. Sometimes that one hidden talent you have could make you the next powerful CEO. People love custom or handmade things. For example, if you have an artistic talent such as drawing or designing prints, you could sell mugs, collages, notebooks, and anything else that you think could be decorated with your creations. If you want something less creative and more operational, why not use your writing skills to edit and revise other people’s copy?
Jillian Ilao, Review Editor, Fit Small Business
People are always on their smartphones surfing the web and searching for solutions to everyday problems. So for any business to stay competitive, they need to develop a strong online presence, beginning with a professional and reliable website. We recommend Bluehost for your professional web hosting needs. It also offers domain registration and a business email address for just $2.95 per month. Click here for Bluehost hosting plans.
3. Be Cautious, But Not Too Cautious
Folarin Debellotte, Owner, Ankara & Lace
If you have a business idea, do proper research but don’t let your analysis paralyze you. At some point, you have to jump right in and grind to make it work. There are always resources available if you know where to look. For example, if you are creative and thinking of designing something unique like an African head scarf, don’t be afraid to work with companies that specialize in supplying bright colored, beautiful African fabric so you can turn your passion into a business. They can help with everything from sourcing authentic fabric to business registration, as well as your online shop for a nominal fee as your startup cost.
4. Make Use of Your Unique Skills
Ollie Smith, CEO, ExpertSure
I am acutely aware of how lucrative low cost business ideas can become, and all it takes is your unique skill. For example, if you are fluent in a second language, why not set up a translation service? There is plenty of online and offline work available in this area, with a growing percentage of providers working from home. With a relatively low setup cost, you can easily establish your own independent service by marketing yourself to businesses, schools, hospitals, courtrooms, and conference rooms.
Maggie Aland, Marketing & Review Editor, Fit Small Business
Technology is the key in making businesses virtual, and because of this, retail selling online has never been easier. Drop shipping allows you to start your own online retail business at a fraction of the cost. Merchandise is delivered directly from the manufacturer to your buyer, which means huge savings on shipping and cost to stock inventory. Use Shopify for a quick and easy way to create an online store with beautiful, responsive themes for your drop shipping business. Choose from the many Shopify drop shipping apps like Oberlo to help you curate and add products automatically to your store. Try Shopify for free.
6. Offer Something Unique to Your Customers
In order to stand out, your small business should possess something unique. It should be able to offer a product or service that makes it different from other competitors in its niche. This should be part of your initial plan, your selling point, and the very thing that will make you confident about your new business. Start by combining your strengths and skills to develop a way to answer the everyday problems of your target customers.
7. Develop a Business Plan
No matter how small, a business needs to begin with a business plan. This helps to clarify your ideas, identify and solve problems about your venture, get much needed feedback from experts, and serve as documentation of the tasks you’ve set to complete your vision. There are online available tools and guides that will help you create a detailed plan, so take the time to do your research and complete this step before you do anything else.
8. Provide Excellent Customer Service
Your small business doesn’t have to skimp on customer service. In an economy where customer experience and feedback is key to promoting your brand, it’s important that you take time to provide excellent customer support. Make sure you get an opportunity to collect your customer’s email address. This will allow you to request feedback, offer them discounts on future deals, as well as connect with them on social media.
Gavin Graham, Editor, Fit Small Business
Once you have your own business website, you can begin developing a digital marketing strategy to help your business stand out. Most successful businesses online run a blog on their website, as it helps to build their brand credibility and improve their chances to rank better in search engine results pages. WordPress is the professional blogger’s platform of choice, with easy-to-use features that let even beginners create their own blog in minutes. You can find quick guides through simple Google searches if you encounter issues designing your blog. Used with Bluehost, it gives you an easy, one-click WordPress installation.
There are many ways to market your small business, and working on a budget only means you need to be smart when choosing your strategy. Not all marketing plans need to be expensive. You can make use of free online tools and social networks to start getting the word out on your new venture. You can also rely on printed materials like business cards to offer special discounts and deals to get referrals.
Being able to fund a business idea is important when planning your startup, but working with a small budget shouldn’t mean that your venture is less viable. A sound business plan and growth strategy will give our list of low cost business ideas the potential for success that everyone wants.
You can start a business on a budget and still get yourself a professional website. We recommend using Bluehost for reliable web hosting service to make sure your website is always online. They also offer domain registration and a business email address, all for just $2.95 per month. Check out Bluehost hosting plans.
Got your own low cost business ideas worth sharing? Let us know in the comments.