If you’re like most would-be entrepreneurs, you’ve probably thought about starting a business for years. It’s a secret dream of yours that you haven’t let yourself realize for several reasons—the most pressing of which is probably funding. “I need a lot of money to get started,” you probably say to yourself every time the thought crosses your mind.
You may be surprised at how little capital you need to start your first business. Granted, it may not be your dream business, but who’s to say you can’t fund that dream with a startup venture? There are tons of low-investment business ideas you can explore with a small budget—many low-cost startups require less than $1,000. Keep reading to see your options.
7 Low-Cost Business Ideas
1. Bookkeeping Services
If you’re good with numbers and know basic accounting practices, you can help businesses with simple bookkeeping. Not every small business owner needs a full-fledged accountant; many often just want to keep their books in order while focusing on more high-value duties. So there’s no need for an accounting degree or in-depth experience.
As part of your bookkeeping services, you can maintain a business’ accounting software, create financial statements, produce balance sheets, and process payroll.
2. Digital Marketing Services
Marketing is a constantly evolving field, which means traditional education is often not required to offer digital marketing services. The main goals business owners are looking to reach with a marketer is the ability to help build their brand and sell their products. If you can prove your ability to accomplish these goals, that’s all most business owners will require to hire you.
There are plenty of affordable online courses that can help you gain or supplement the knowledge needed to be a successful marketer. Some courses even offer certifications. For example, you may seek out courses around search engine optimization (SEO), paid advertising or pay per click (PPC), email marketing, or conversion rate optimization (CRO).
Want to sell physical items but don’t have the patience or money to deal with inventory? Then, try dropshipping, which doesn’t require you to hold any inventory—in fact, you may never see the products yourself beyond the initial test purchase. With dropshipping, you focus on marketing and sales, while third-party suppliers store and ship the inventory to customers for you.
Dropshipping is incredibly easy to start, has low overhead, and requires minimal commitment. Just keep in mind that the tradeoff is typically low profit margins. First, you decide on what you want to sell. Try choosing a niche, such as pet toys or audio equipment. Then, market and sell the products, pass the order on to the supplier, and have them fulfill it. Lastly, handle any customer service issues related to the order.
4. Blogging & Vlogging
Blogging has been around since the internet blew up, but it took a while to become a lucrative venture to explore. If you have knowledge or a passion for a particular topic—and it resonates with enough people—you can monetize that passion by producing written content about it. As you grow your readership, you can take advantage of monetization options such as offering advertising space on your website.
Vlogging is similar, except the content you produce is video. With the extreme popularity of social media platforms like Instagram and video-sharing services like YouTube, vlogging has gained prominence as a viable business. Vlogging may require a larger initial investment than blogging—a high-quality camera and video-editing software at a minimum. However, there’s a greater potential upside, including the ability to secure video sponsors and offer exclusive content on membership platforms like Patreon.
5. Digital Products
Selling information has always been a viable business—consider higher education, trade schools, and training programs. The internet has opened the doors to the everyday person to do the same in the form of digital products. You can sell your own digital courses, programs, and the like.
But it’s not as simple as telling people you have information to sell. Unlike colleges, which have an already-built reputation and perception of trust, you’ll have to do some legwork to convince people your knowledge and talents are worth buying. Not to mention you’ll have to be selling insights people feel are worth purchasing in the first place.
6. Homemade Goods
If you’ve got the talent to create your own physical products—jewelry, candles, pottery, and so on—you can easily start a business from your living room or garage. Of course, this requires an investment in materials, but you can start small and use the make-to-order model in the beginning. This way, you can take the money from the sale to purchase the materials. Since you’re making unique pieces, there’s a better chance people will be willing to wait the time it takes for you to finish. You may choose to sell your wares on platforms such as Etsy or Pinterest or offer them on your own business website.
7. Meal Prepping
You may be surprised at how many people that either hate or don’t have the time to cook are willing to pay someone else to do it for them. For example, flight attendants who are always on the go and away from home often find it challenging to cook consistently. They may turn to a meal prep service to not only have homecooked meals but also healthy ones.
If you’ve got cooking skills and can abide by nutritional requests, you can easily start a meal prepping business. And the investment is low since you can charge clients in advance for gathering the ingredients and making the food for pickup (or delivery if you choose to offer that).