If you are looking for a side gig or considering changing careers. Many people like the idea of starting a business, but they’re wary of the high start-up costs involved. Fortunately, the internet has made it possible to start a business with minimal initial outlay. So, here we’ll explore 15 low-cost business ideas to inspire budding entrepreneurs.
The Best Low-Cost Business Ideas
1. Start a Blog
One of the most interesting low-cost business ideas is to become a blogger. Starting a blog will allow you to be creative and make a difference while earning money at the same time. It’s incredibly flexible and can be worked around your other commitments.
You will need to put in some extra effort when you first start out, and you will not see an immediate income. However, you don’t need any technical skills, and you don’t even need to be an excellent writer.
Many of the best blogs have a natural, relaxed style that resonates with the site visitors. However, it is important that you choose a subject that you feel passionate about. If you’re struggling to write a blog about a topic that you’ve already become bored with, it will come through in your writing.
When you share your passion, knowledge, and expertise with the online community, it can be a very gratifying business. There is the potential to earn up to $50,000 a month or even more. Popular blogs attract sponsorships, collabs, and advertisers.
For step-by-step instructions, see How to Start a Blog.
2. Virtual Assistant
If you’re a highly organized person, you could create a business by providing virtual assistant services. Virtual assistants are responsible for dealing with emails, setting appointments, and organizing schedules. However, some clients may require you to deal with customer service issues or write content.
The great thing about being a virtual assistant is that the work is varied, and you can work for multiple clients. But, you’ll need to keep everything organized to avoid confusion.
You can start your business by working virtual assistant jobs on freelance platforms, but once you’ve developed a reputation, you could move your services on to a private website.
As a newbie, you can expect to earn $10 an hour or more, but as you develop experience and establish a solid reputation, you can command a far higher rate.
If you’re ready to get started, see our reviews of the best virtual assistant training.
If you're interested in making money from home, be sure to check out this free workshop from Kayla Sloan. She shows how to use the skills you already have to start making money as a VA.
3. Social Media Marketing
Most companies recognize the potential of social media to enhance their brand. However, while large corporations can afford to have a dedicated marketing department to handle their social media, most small to medium companies choose to outsource this task. This is where you can create a business opportunity as a social media marketing manager.
Managing company social media pages is similar to your personal profiles. You’ll need to post content, engage with followers, and answer questions. However, as a social media marketer, you can take this further by using Facebook ads, SEO strategies, and content marketing.
If you’re not confident about marketing strategies, there are courses online to help you learn more about online marketing and how social media plays an important role in promoting brands.
You can work on freelance platforms to find clients or approach businesses in your local area directly. You may notice that some of your favorite small stores are lacking a cohesive social media presence, and you can act as a marketing manager to help them.
4. Flea Market Flipping
If you enjoy spending your time at flea markets, yard sales, and thrift stores, you can use this inspiration for a low-cost business idea. People with a good eye for bargains can make great money flea market flipping.
Essentially, you’ll be finding items at low prices, cleaning them up, and then selling them for a profit. You can even specialize in particular areas, such as toys or household items.
Once you find items at good prices, you can resell them online through eBay or other selling apps. Top flippers are making up to $5,000 per week, but this requires enough money to buy the items and up to 15 hours a week.
Just be sure to consider all your costs and do your research before you start trading. You’ll not only need to cover your initial purchase price, but packaging materials, shipping costs, seller fees, transaction fees, etc. These need to be factored into your selling price, which also needs to be competitive.
To get started, see our list of the easiest things to flip for profit.
5. Freelance Writer
If you have a good understanding of grammar and solid writing skills, consider freelance writing as a low-cost business idea. Providing you have a reliable computer and internet connection, you don’t need to pay for anything else initially. Once you get started, there are some tools that can help you, but these can be easily covered with your writing profits.
Freelance writing has a high income potential, but it can be a little tricky for newbies. You’ll need to create a portfolio of your work and establish a good reputation within your chosen niche.
Fortunately, there are some great freelance platforms out there where you can connect with clients and some great freelance writing jobs for beginners. Upwork and Freelancer allow you to create a profile and bid for jobs. You can set your own rates and only bid for jobs that appeal to you.
As a beginner, it is possible to earn $10 or more per hour, but as you gain experience, it is possible to find clients willing to pay up to $100 or more per hour for your skills.
6. Freelance Designer
If you have graphic design talents, you could turn this into a low-cost business. Businesses, brands, and entrepreneurs need graphics for book covers, letterheads, logos, banner art, and more.
You will need access to software, but you can work through a freelance platform to develop your portfolio and reputation. For example, 99Designs, connects freelance graphic designers and people looking for high-quality work. There is a contest for each project, so you can bid according to your desired rate and abilities. The client then explores the options to choose the one best suited to their requirements.
The top designers on 99Designs are receiving hundreds of dollars per hour, but as a newbie, it is possible to earn up to $35 per hour.
To learn more, please read How to Make Money as a Web Designer.
If you’re a keen amateur photographer, you may have considered turning this into a business. However, when you consider studio fees and expensive equipment, you’ll quickly realize that becoming a high street photography company can be a very costly enterprise.
Fortunately, you don’t need to lose hope, as you can use your photography skills into a business by selling photographs online.
While larger businesses have the resources to pay a photographer to create custom work for their marketing, many rely on stock images. These are used for blogs, websites, and other marketing material. This is where you can develop a lucrative online business.
Platforms such as Shutterstock pay contributors 15 to 40 percent for image licensing. So, you can earn $0.25 to $0.40 for each image. While this may seem like a very small sum, this is for each license.
So, if you have hundreds of photographs listed that are being downloaded a few times a day, you can quickly develop an impressive income.
8. Start a YouTube Channel
YouTube is a massive platform, and even with the recent changes to the YouTube rules, there are many creators earning a massive income. The great thing about starting a YouTube channel is that you can make content on practically any topic. While there are restrictions listed in the terms of service, whether you enjoy cooking, unboxing, playing games or fitness, you’ll find a niche.
YouTube has made numerous millionaires, and you can still develop a decent income if you can get high viewing and subscription numbers. You can also make money through affiliate programs, sponsorships, and collabs.
Producing regular content can be a challenge, but these days, you can make high-quality videos just using a smartphone. So, you can get started quite quickly with relatively few costs. Popular creators are regularly making thousands of dollars per month, so you could upgrade to better equipment later.
9. Start a Podcast
A podcast is an audio version of blogging. They have become very popular in recent years as people enjoy listening to a podcast on the go. You can start a podcast on practically any topic, but you will need to choose a niche where you will find listeners. You can also combine a blog and podcast to boost your audience figures.
Podcasting is also a natural fit for affiliate marketers. You can interview guests and promote your own products and services. Popular podcasters also attract sponsorship deals.
There are lots of podcast hosting companies, with many offering a free or very low-cost subscription. However, as your audience numbers start to grow, you may need to upgrade to a more substantial package.
10. Trash Cleaning Business
If you prefer the idea of being away from a computer, consider starting a trash cleaning business. Trash cleaning can be big business; businesses need litter pickup, and parking lots at offices and retail stores need to be regularly cleaned. Many property managers and owners prefer to outsource this work rather than having full-time employees.
You don’t need any experience or specific skills to start this business; anyone can pick up trash. Additionally, aside from a computer, printer, and phone, you only need a broom, litter collection equipment, and access to a vehicle.
You can also start your trash cleaning business as a side gig around your full-time job. You can then scale your business.
If you’re unsure about getting started, Cleanlots is an excellent course offered by Brian Winch to help you. This program explains everything you need to know about to get started with a trash cleaning business. Brian’s program is based on decades of experience operating a cleaning business.
11. Self-Published Author
If you feel that you’ve always had at least one good book in you, consider becoming a self-published author. The Amazon Kindle Publishing platform makes it simple for budding authors to allow their books to reach a wide audience.
This platform is free to use, and you can just upload your book and cover to the publishing dashboard. You can select which Amazon sites where you would like your book to be listed. You can set your own book price, appear on the bestseller lists for your categories, and participates in promotions.
Amazon takes a commission for each book sale. You’ll receive 70% if you list your book for $2.99 to $9.99, but only 35% if your book is priced outside this range.
You will promote your books to reach your target audience. However, the more books you sell, the more prominently you’ll feature in the Amazon search results.
Becoming a self-published author on Kindle has the potential to generate a business making thousands of dollars per month.
This course from bestselling author Jonathan LaPoma will show you the exact steps to follow to have success as a self-published author and sell your books and eBooks through Amazon's Kindle Direct Program. Get free access for two months!
12. Dog Walker / Pet Sitter
If you love animals, another low-cost business idea is to become a dog walker and/or pet sitter. Fortunately, there are platforms around that can make this even easier. A good example of this is Rover. This platform has been around for a decade and is available in over 10,000 cities throughout the USA.
Rover allows you to set your own pricing and hours for your dog walking services. Rover takes a commission from earnings, and the app is competitive. So, be aware that if you set a sky-high rate, you’re not likely to get many customers.
The Rover app has a user-friendly interface that allows you to manage your clients. It is possible to earn up to $25 per hour. You can also complete Rover cards to reassure the pet owners about how their furry friend is being cared for.
To get started, please read How to Become a Pet Sitter.
If you have a skill set from your career, you could start a new business as a freelance consultant. Consultants can earn $100 or more per hour, depending on your industry, niche, and experience.
To establish a successful consultancy, you’ll need to network within your industry. Fortunately, you can do this online, through online communities and social media platforms, specifically LinkedIn. As you engage with other professionals, you can solicit referrals for your consultancy services.
You can start offering your consultancy services on a freelance marketplace or setting up your own website. Obviously, setting up a website will incur some costs, but these are generally minimal expenses, such as hosting and domain names.
The great thing about becoming a consultant is that you can start small around your day job and then scale your business into a full-time gig.
If you have a good head for numbers and figures, you could start a business offering bookkeeping services.
A bookkeeper is responsible for taking down transactions, producing financial reports, and helping companies to prepare their accounts. Often you can work from home with just a few meetings at the company’s premises.
If you have no formal bookkeeping experience, you can take an online course to give you confidence and improve your credibility.
Once you have some experience and positive reviews from clients, you can create an independent agency, working with clients in your local area.
To get started, please read How to Become a Bookkeeper.
15. Voiceover Artist
If you’re always getting compliments on your speaking voice, you could set up a business offering voiceover artist services. Voiceover artists are in great demand for narrating audiobooks, commercials, and other projects. There is the potential to earn as much as $40 per hour. However, your rate will depend on the project your working on and your experience.
One of the most popular platforms to find voiceover work is Voices.com. This platform is an impressive community of voice artists. There is a job board with new postings every day. You can sign up as a guest on Voices.com for free, but a premium membership will make it easier to secure work.
As you can see, there are some fantastic opportunities to set up low-cost business ideas. These days, setting up a new business does not require massive start-up costs and eyewatering overheads. Most of the opportunities we’ve listed above require very little more than a computer, phone, and internet access.
While there are opportunities to upgrade, this is usually once you’ve started to see some earnings. So, you don’t have to worry about these increased expenses until you’re up and running.
The great thing about most of these low-cost business ideas is that you can start them around your day job or other commitments, building them up in your own time to a level you can comfortably manage. This gives the opportunity to have a fantastic side gig or full-time business, whichever you prefer.