The 27 Best Low-Cost Business Ideas (for 2023)

  • Brandon Boushy by Brandon Boushy
  • 6 months ago
  • Blog
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male business owners showing the tools and equipments

Are you looking for business ideas that don’t require a lot of money? We’ve found 27 low-cost small business ideas to inspire entrepreneurs. We’ll help you find the cheapest business to start based on your needs.

You might have to skimp on some of the best practices, like getting an LLC or business insurance, to get started faster, but with online business ideas and home-based business ideas, that isn’t an issue. These business opportunities will help you find something to start earning income quickly.

What Kind of Business Should I Start?

man in an orange shirt resting his hand on the chin

When you want to start a business with little money, the most important thing to consider is the cost of starting and sustaining the business. To determine the cheapest business to open, consider these factors: 

  1. The equipment and the supplies you buy raise the cost.
  2. Renting office space increases the cost. Many home business ideas are also good businesses to start with little money.
  3. Traveling to job sites means you have additional costs like commercial insurance, general liability insurance, mileage, and travel time.
  4. Most people won’t pay for learning.
  5. Some businesses you can start without starting an LLC and getting tax IDs.

What is the Cheapest Easiest Business to Start?

A house cleaning business can be started with the supplies in your own home. Plus, you should already know how to do most of the tasks. That’s what makes a cleaning business the cheapest small business to start.

#1. House Cleaning Business

Average Annual Revenue: $77K
Average Profit Margins: 10.8%
Startup Cost: $300-$5K
Time To Revenue: 3+ months
Annual Market Growth Rate: 2.4%
Best for: Self-motivated, independent, and detail-oriented entrepreneurs

House cleaning is an easy start up business and can be grown into a lucrative business very quickly. What makes house cleaning such a good business idea is that it’s very versatile and has consistently high demand. You can also add on services like carpet cleaning, move-out cleaning, or AirBnB cleaning to expand your revenue streams. 

If you’re interested in starting your own business cleaning houses, the UpFlip 7-Figure Cleaning Business Blueprint will give you all the knowledge and resources you need. It’s taught by Chris Mondragon, who started Queen Bee Cleaning Services with $5,000 and has grown it to a revenue of $120,000 a month (see our interview with Chris).

House Cleaning Business Pros:

  • Can start from home as a solo entrepreneur
  • Revenue is scalable as you grow your cleaning team
  • Low startup and overhead costs
  • Consistently high demand  

House Cleaning Business Cons:

  • Work can be stressful and physically demanding 
  • Schedule is determined by when customers need cleaning

We’ll provide more easy to start up business ideas throughout this article.

What Business Can I Do with $100?

man thinking of small capital business ideas

If you’re looking for good business ideas that you can start for $100 or less, consider some of these great business ideas.

  • Social Media Marketing
  • Open an Online Store
  • Affiliate Marketing

All of these you can start with a computer which puts them on the shortlist for cheapest small business to start.

#2. Digital Marketing/Social Media Marketing

Average Annual Revenue: $817K
Average Profit Margins: 6.9%
Startup Costs: $100-$10K
Time To Revenue: 1-6 months
Annual Market Growth Rate: 1.3%
Best for: Social media experts, writers, and content creators, people with search engine optimization (SEO) expertise

Check out our interview with Jason on how he managed to build a social media marketing agency as a side hustle before it quickly grew into the six-that afigure business it is today.

Social media marketing is one of the best ways to engage with customers online, but many business owners don’t have the time or skills to do it right. A social media consultant helps other businesses get the most value from their social media accounts, either by giving advice or by creating social media posts and other online content that will attract their target customers. 

A social media or digital marketing consulting business is the best low-cost start-up business idea for those with an established online presence. That said, if you don’t already have this proof of your skills, it can be difficult to build trust and get those crucial first clients. 

This blog post has more tips on how to start a social media marketing business if you think you’d thrive as a social media consultant.

Eric Berman started his digital marketing agency, Brandetize, in 2001, and it now makes an average revenue of $400,000 every month (hear UpFlip’s interview with Eric).

Digital Marketing Pros:

  • Minimal upfront costs
  • Leverage your marketing skills for your own small business
  • High profit potential
  • Earnings per client increase as your reputation grows  

Digital Marketing Cons: 

  • Can be difficult to attract clients when you first start
  • Need to stay on top of trends and shifts in the industry

#3. Open an Online Store

Average Annual Revenue: $60K-$120K
Average Profit Margins: 5-15%
Startup Cost: $100-$10K
Time To Revenue: 30-90 days
Annual Market Growth Rate: -9.3%
Best for: Thrifters, collectors, hobbyists, and craftsmen

Opening an online store is among the most popular online business ideas because of its low barrier to entry. This is one of the best small business ideas for crafters, graphic designers, makers, and inventors, who can design and make their own products to sell online. 

That’s what Vlad Kiksenko did when he started TagPup, and his company making custom dog collars has become the #1 pet products store on Etsy (hear Vlad’s tips to start an Etsy shop in the interview below).

You don’t have to make your own products to open an eCommerce store, either. Online reselling can also be a low-cost business, especially if you buy from thrift shops and garage sales. 

Mike Wilson makes up to $35,000 every month reselling on eBay, and he started off with just $1,000 worth of inventory (Mike shares his story in this podcast interview).

Online Store Pros:

  • Easy to start and run from home
  • Can make an income from hobbies you already enjoy
  • Work where and when you want to
  • Low-cost business to both start and run

Online Store Cons: 

  • Can be difficult to attract customers, especially in crowded niches
  • Will need to store, manage, and ship the items you’re selling 

#4. Affiliate Marketing

laptop surrounded by marketing icons

Average Annual Revenue: $60K-$160K
Average Profit Margins: 8%
Startup Cost: $100-$2K
Time To Revenue: 1-3 months
Annual Market Growth Rate: 10.5%
Best for: Bloggers, YouTubers, those with a large social media presence

Instead of selling their own products, affiliate marketers promote products or services on behalf of other businesses. They make money on a commission basis each time a customer buys through them. It’s among the best low-cost business ideas for people with a big online following, especially those who already create popular content like a well-read blog or frequently watched YouTube channel. 

The flip side of this is that it can be difficult to make a living with affiliate marketing if you don’t have a way to promote products or services to a lot of people. 

For those who do have marketing skills or a big online presence, affiliate marketing can be very profitable. Matt Diggity used his SEO skills to grow his business to $400,000 a month in revenue (hear his story and tips in this podcast interview).

Affiliate Marketing Pros:

  • Can be a mostly passive income source
  • Can choose a niche that matches your interests
  • Great way to monetize an existing online presence
  • No inventory or space requirements

Affiliate Marketing Cons: 

  • Can be difficult to earn trust from visitors
  • Need a large online presence or strong marketing skills to be successful

What Business Can I Start with $500 Dollars?

Many businesses on this list you can start with less than $500, but you may have some challenges starting a landscaping business, pressure washing business, photography business, or vending machine business with such low cost. Keep reading for more cheap startup businesses.

3 Low-Cost Business Ideas with High Profit Potential

man thinking of low cost business ideas with lightbulb and money

What is the cheapest, most profitable business? That depends somewhat on the skills and interests you bring to the table, but there are some low-cost businesses that anyone can grow into a highly lucrative venture. Here are three low-cost businesses to start that have a revenue potential of $100,000 a year or more.

#5. Lawn Care Business/Landscaping Business

Average Annual Revenue: $272,790
Average Profit Margins: 8.7%
Startup Costs: $2K-$10K
Time To Revenue: 1-3 months
Annual Market Growth Rate: 8.1%
Best for: Designers, gardeners, people who like physical work and working outside

The lawn care industry is valued at more than $100 billion annually. Add in the low startup costs, and that makes a landscape or lawn care company a very accessible and profitable business idea. 

Have a look at how Nick Reed started his lawn care business from scratch, allowing him to bring in $200K in revenue while at the young age of 22.

All you need to start a business is some basic equipment and a way to connect with customers, which you can do for free through social media channels. 

The landscaping business is a highly scalable low-cost business idea, whether you just grow a team in your first location or expand through franchising, like Mike Andes did with Augusta Lawn Care (hear his podcast interview).

UpFlip has an entire YouTube playlist of interviews with lawn care business owners if you want more insights. 

Lawn Care Business Pros:

  • Low startup costs
  • High profitability and scalability 
  • Straightforward business model 
  • Great for people who like working outdoors

Lawn Care Business Cons: 

  • Can be a physically demanding job
  • Need to store and transport heavy equipment

#6. Dropshipping Business

professional female dropshipper with tablet and

Average Annual Revenue: $36K-$50K
Average Profit Margins: 5%
Startup Cost: $150-$500
Time To Revenue: 1-3 months
Annual Market Growth Rate: 25%
Best for: Those with marketing and eCommerce skills

For those looking for an online small business idea you can start with just a few hundred dollars, dropshipping is ideal. You only need an internet connection to get started, and overhead costs are lower than other online stores because you don’t need to handle inventory. 

The most successful dropshipping business owners tend to also be great marketers. People who lack social media or marketing expertise can still excel, though they will likely need to budget for higher advertising costs to see the same profit returns. 

Just how much can you make as a dropshipper? Heather Johnson’s print-on-demand dropshipping store makes an average of $15,000 a month, and she started it with just $30 (hear how Heather grew her business in this podcast interview).

Dropshipping Pros:

  • Easy business to start with little money
  • High profit potential
  • Flexible work hours and potential for passive income
  • Can be started and run from home  

Dropshipping Cons: 

  • No control over the product or delivery
  • Need strong marketing skills to attract customers

#7. Pressure Washing Business

Average Annual Revenue: $64K
Average Profit Margins: 8.8%
Startup Cost: $200-$5K
Time To Revenue: 3+ months
Annual Market Growth Rate: 0.9%
Best for: Those that like to work outdoors, those that enjoy working with their hands, using machines and tools

If you’re looking for the best cheap business to start today, pressure washing should be on your list. All you need is a high-quality machine and you can start taking jobs. 

Just have a look at how Chase Lille, an 18-year-old who is now the proud owner of a lucrative pressure washing business.

What makes pressure washing so profitable is that there are lots of niches you can fit into, from driveway cleaning to windows, roofs, and gutters. You can also take on commercial jobs for other local businesses, not just private homes.

Most pressure washing businesses are one-person operations, which makes the high profit potential even more impressive. You can check out this blog post for more info on how to get started or watch one of the video interviews we’ve done with successful pressure washing business owners to decide if this is your best next business idea.

Start with this video featuring Ryan Woods:

Then take a look at these other great interviews:

If you want to learn more, check out this podcast episode where we talk to Stephen Rogers, owner of NW Softwash, about how he started and grew his pressure washing business. 

Stephen was only 19 when he started the business in 2019, and within the first year had enough employees he could get “off the truck” and focus on strategic growth. Today NW Softwash brings in a revenue of $120K/month. Listen to his interview below:

Pressure Washing Pros:

  • Straightforward business model that anyone can start
  • Easy to run as a solo entrepreneur
  • Low startup costs and overhead
  • No specialized skill sets required

Pressure Washing Cons:

  • Requires manual labor, sometimes in unpleasant conditions
  • Need to store, maintain, and transport heavy equipment

Top 10 Small Business Ideas from Home That Are Cheap to Start

#8. Vending Business

Average Annual Revenue: $182,100
Average Profit Margins: 4.3%
Startup Cost: $2K-$10K
Time To Revenue: 3+ months
Annual Market Growth Rate: 0.5%
Best for: Those that like to tinker with machines, mechanics, and those that enjoy driving

Vending is both a low-cost business idea and a great option if you want scheduling flexibility, or to run your own business from home. It’s flexible enough it can be started as a side hustle, which is what Benjamin Smith did when he started Friendship Vending Company (hear how he started in
this interview).

Of course, if you do have more money to invest, you can grow your new business faster. Adam Hill bought an existing route for $120,000 and grew it to $50,000 a month in revenue working just 20 hours a month. He shared his insights in an UpFlip blog post and is the instructor of the Vending Bootcamp, which gives other entrepreneurs the knowledge they need to start a business in vending and grow it to its full potential. 

A vending machine business is a great choice for entrepreneurs who want full control over their work-life balance. In this episode we talk to Adam Hill, owner of Hill Vending, to hear his advice on how to start a vending machine business.

Vending Business Pros:

  • Lower time commitment than other small business ideas
  • Easy to grow revenue by adding more machines
  • Low costs (both startup costs and ongoing)
  • Don’t need extensive marketing experience or other specialized skills

Vending Business Cons: 

  • Can be difficult to find clients if your market is already saturated 
  • Need many machines in good locations to see a high profit

#9. Online Courses

woman with computer and headphones looking at online courses

Average Annual Revenue: $30K-$50K
Average Profit Margins: 13.10%
Startup Cost: $100-$1K
Time To Revenue: 1-6 months
Annual Market Growth Rate: 8.5%
Best for: Teachers, professors and educators, those who love to share skills or teach.

Creating online courses lets you make a living sharing your skills and knowledge. And you don’t need to be an expert in anything to excel. Jacques Hopkins played piano as a hobby before he started Piano in 21 Days, and he’s grown that course into a $40,000 a month business (hear how Jacques did it in
this interview).

There are many online teaching platforms where you can sell online courses without needing any technical skills or even having your own website (though setting that up can help you reach more students faster). The most popular include Kajabi, Udemy, and Teachable, all of which come with a built-in potential audience and marketing automation tools to help you build your audience. 

Online Course Pros:

  • Very low startup costs
  • No technical knowledge required 
  • Low ongoing time investment once the course is live

Online Course Cons: 

  • High upfront time investment before you start making revenue 
  • Can be competitive and difficult to attract students to a new course

#10. Delivery Services

Average Annual Revenue: $131K
Average Profit Margins: 3.6%
Startup Cost: $100-$9.5K
Time To Revenue: 3+ months
Annual Market Growth Rate: 6.7%
Best for: Drivers, those that like to socialize

Many people today have more on their plate than they have hours in the day. With a delivery business, you can profit from people’s need for convenience by going grocery shopping, picking up restaurant orders, or delivering other day-to-day needs for free. If you have a large vehicle like a truck or van, you can add hard-to-transport furnishings and other items to the list of things you can deliver. 

This is also an excellent way to collaborate with other local businesses by delivering their products to customers. That’s what Adam Haber did when he started Trellus, and they’ve now made more than 35,000 deliveries (hear how Adam got started in this interview).

Delivery Business Pros:

  • Low-cost business to start and run
  • Can be run easily from home
  • No need for inventory, equipment, or specialized skills

Delivery Business Cons: 

  • Need a fast and reliable form of transportation
  • Work hours are determined by when people need items delivered

#11. Mobile Detailing

Average Annual Revenue: $73,100
Average Profit Margins: 16.1%
Startup Cost: $500-$5K
Time To Revenue: 3+ months
Annual Market Growth Rate: 1.0%
Best for: Car enthusiasts, detail-oriented entrepreneurs and those that enjoy working with their hands

A detailing business is the best business idea for car enthusiasts, though anyone who’s good at cleaning can make a high revenue in this industry. Making it a mobile detailing business is convenient for customers and cuts down on upfront costs since you won’t need a commercial garage–you clean customers’ cars at their home or workplace. 

See how Alan, owner of GoDetail, started with just $500 to make some extra money before the business evolved into a profitable business that makes over $900K per year in revenue with 60% profit margins.

Another entrepreneur, Isaiah Barhoum started Big’s Mobile Detailing with just $500 and he’s now bringing in more than $30,000 a month (find out how he did it in this YouTube interview).

He’s sharing his strategies for scaling a mobile detailing business on this podcast episode.

Mobile Detailing Pros:

  • Can be run out of your home since it’s mobile
  • No specialized skills or knowledge required
  • High demand 
  • High profit potential that’s scalable if you grow your team

Mobile Detailing Cons: 

  • Work can be physically demanding or tedious
  • Often work on weekends or evenings when customer cars aren’t being used 

#12. Software or App Development

Software developer with laptop and extra monitor

Average Annual Revenue: $400K-$1M+
Average Profit Margins: 14.5%
Startup Cost: $100-$50K, depending on size and scope
Time To Revenue: 3 months to 2 years
Annual Market Growth Rate: 3.1%
Best for: Programmers, developers, and software engineers

For those who understand programming languages and the basics of software design, creating and selling your own app or software program is one of the top low-cost business ideas. Pace Ellsworth shared how he built his company, App-to-Exit, to $45,000 a month in revenue in a
podcast interview, if you’re looking for more insights.

Software Development Pros:

  • Potentially low time investment once the app is launched
  • Can be started and run from home
  • Revenue potential increases the more programs or apps you release

Software Development Cons: 

  • High time investment before you see a return
  • Requires programming and developer skills

#13. Handyman Business

Average Annual Revenue: $204,700
Average Profit Margins: 5.4%
Startup Costs: $500-$5K
Time To Revenue: 3+ months
Annual Market Growth Rate: 0.7%
Best for: Fixers and repair experts, entrepreneurs who like working with their hands

From clogged gutters to dripping sinks to squeaky or sticky hinges, there are lots of little tasks around the average home, and not everyone has the time or skills to take care of them. If you’re good at fixing things and have some basic tools, a handyman business can be among the most successful small business ideas. Hear how North Seattle Handyman makes $1,000 a day in
this YouTube interview

Handyman Business Pros:

  • Tools you’ll need are affordable and easy to transport
  • Easy to start and run from your home  
  • Can run as a one-person business or scale by building a team

Handyman Business Cons: 

  • Often involves physical work and manual labor
  • Work hours can be long and unusual

#14. Web Design

website building business screenshot

Average Annual Revenue: $239K+
Average Profit Margins: 5.3%
Startup Cost: $100-$1K
Time To Revenue: 1-3 months
Annual Market Growth Rate: 1.4%
Best for: Designers, programmers, or anyone with website building skills

These days, every small business needs a website. Designing these sites is among the best low-cost business ideas for entrepreneurs with graphic design or web development experience. You don’t even need these skills if you’re experienced with WordPress or a similar website building platform, though it’ll definitely be a value-add for customers if you can design custom graphics, layouts, or other features for their sites. 

Web Design Pros:

  • Easy to start and run from home
  • Work at your own pace when you want to
  • Lots of customer demand
  • Free online learning resources to expand your skills and value

Web Design Cons: 

  • Will need a portfolio of sites or online reputation to acquire clients
  • Online trends and technology change quickly 

#15. Mobile Photography

Average Annual Revenue: $44K
Average Profit Margins: 7.3%
Startup Cost: $5K-$15K
Time To Revenue: 3+ months
Annual Market Growth Rate: 0.3%
Best for: Photographers, artists, designers and those that like to socialize

A mobile photography business isn’t the absolute cheapest business to start up, but the upfront costs are significantly lower than opening a brick-and-mortar studio. Most of those initial costs are equipment, so if you already have a high-quality camera you won’t need to spend much to grow a business around it. 

Photography is among the best local business ideas because there are so many niches where you can differentiate yourself. From wedding and event photography to family portraits to working with real estate agents or other small business owners, there’s a wide variety of work available. Mile High Productions turned their love of photography into a $35,000 a month business. Find out how in this YouTube interview

Check out our interview with a wedding photographer that makes $2 million per year.

Mobile Photography Pros:

  • Wide variety of work available
  • Can be a solo business or scaled with a team
  • Get to meet a lot of people and help them make memories or grow a business
  • Turn your artistic passion into a career

Mobile Photography Cons: 

  • Professional photography equipment can be costly 
  • Less control over when you work than other home businesses

#16. Data Entry

data tables and graphs displayed on monitor

Average Annual Revenue: $35K-$50K
Average Profit Margins: 10.5%
Startup Cost: $100-$200
Time To Revenue: 1-3 months
Annual Market Growth Rate: 1.9%
Best for: Detail-oriented people, those with administrative, clerical, or similar experience

Most business owners have a lot of data they need to keep track of, but what they don’t have is time to record and analyze it. Instead, they turn to data entry professionals. Data entry may not be the most glamorous or exciting career, but if you’re a fast typer with a sharp eye for detail, you can make a consistent living doing it.

Data Entry Pros:

  • Easy work
  • Pay depends on accuracy and typing speed

Data Entry Cons: 

  • Most data entry is automated
  • Most people don’t type faster than 40 words per minute

#17. Virtual Assistant Business

man looking at on laptop

Average Annual Revenue: $35K-$50K
Average Profit Margins: 10.5%
Startup Costs: $100-$200
Time To Revenue: 1-3 months
Annual Market Growth Rate: 1.9%
Best for: Outgoing and social entrepreneurs; those with strong scheduling, time management, and problem-solving skills

Data entry and VA businesses are in the same NAICS code so business owners will see similar profit margins. Being a virtual assistant is a simple business idea that just about anyone can do. 

Virtual assistants handle clerical tasks for clients, like answering emails, managing social media accounts, scheduling meetings, and other day-to-day things. You can start a VA business quickly for free just by signing up for a freelance platform like Upwork, Fiverr, or 24/7 Virtual Assistant.  

Virtual Assistant Pros:

  • Most work is fairly easy
  • Low barrier of entry
  • Highly skilled VAs are invaluable

Virtual Assistant Cons:

  • Language barriers
  • Effectiveness of Standard Operating Procedures

10 Unique Business Ideas You Can Start with No Money

The absolute cheapest way to start a business is if you don’t have to pay anything at all. That might seem like a pipe dream, but the truth is there are lots of businesses you can start completely free. If you’re looking for the best business to start with no money, the options below are a great place to start. 

#18. Pet Sitting or Dog Walking Business

american pet products screenshot with dog

Average Annual Revenue: $34,380
Average Profit Margins: 16%
Startup Costs: $500-$5K
Time To Revenue: 3+ months
Annual Market Growth Rate: 1.7%
Best for: Pet owners, animal lovers, those who like working outdoors

Two-thirds of U.S. households owned at least one pet in 2023. That means millions of dogs, cats, birds, and other animals that need to be cared for, even when the owners are traveling, at work, or otherwise unavailable to do so. This consistent demand is what makes a pet sitting or dog walking business a great option for entrepreneurs who love being around animals.

While some exotic pets have complicated care requirements, you don’t need any special skills to take care of a dog or cat–and if you do know how to care for birds, horses, reptiles, tropical fish, and other unique pets, those can add even more value to your services. 

The best part is, customers want you to come to where their pets are, and they’ll provide all the supplies you’ll need. All you need to do to start is connect with customers. Having your own website can help, and you can also find people who need dog walkers or pet sitters on marketplaces like:

  • Rover – The largest network of pet owners looking for pet sitting and care
  • – Marketplace for child and pet care services
  • Wag! – Platform that connects pet owners with dog walkers and sitters

Dog Walker Pros:

  • Easy to find work
  • Work with pets

Dog Walker Cons: 

  • Low pay
  • Low barrier to entry
  • Live animals suffer if you no-show

#19. Personal Training Business

Average Annual Revenue: $16,867
Average Profit Margins: 10.9%
Startup Costs: $500-$5K
Time To Revenue: 1-6 months
Annual Market Growth Rate: 0.6%
Best for: Fitness buffs, exercise experts, people who excel at motivating others

A personal trainer works with individuals one-on-one to help them lose weight, get healthier, or prepare for athletic events and competitions. The main things you need to become a personal trainer are an ability to motivate people and experience with exercise. For athletes and gym rats, it’s the best business to start with little money. 

You don’t need to open your own gym to be a personal trainer. You can start off working with people in their homes, reserve space in a community center, or even teach classes online and work with clients via Zoom.

Personal Trainer Pros:

  • Get paid to help others stay healthy
  • You control your hours

Personal Trainer Cons: 

  • People flake on exercise commitments
  • May need expertise in treatment of certain physical conditions

#20. Personal Concierge Business

personal assistant holding bell

Average Annual Revenue: $31,400
Average Profit Margins: 1.9%
Startup Cost: $100-$1K
Time To Revenue: 3+ months
Annual Market Growth Rate: 10.5%
Best for: Those that like to socialize, plan or organize for others

A personal concierge helps busy people make plans and accomplish tasks they don’t have time to think about. People might ask a personal concierge to plan a trip, make dinner reservations, schedule home repair or maintenance, do their grocery shopping, or a host of other small tasks.

You don’t need any specialized training to become a personal concierge. Instead, you’ll need skills like time management, communication, problem solving, and strong organization. Having a lot of knowledge about your local area can be helpful, too.

Concierging Pros:

  • Help people get perks
  • Great networking opportunities
  • Tips

Concierging Cons: 

  • You have to be nice even on bad days
  • Sometimes people are rude

#21. Tutoring Business

Average Annual Revenue: $18,170
Average Profit Margins: 13.10%
Startup Cost: $100-$1K
Time To Revenue: 1-3 months
Annual Market Growth Rate: 8.5%
Best for: Teachers, educators, professors and tutors

Did you do well on tests in school? Any subjects where you’re particularly skilled or have niche, in-depth knowledge? Then tutoring is among the best small business ideas you can start with a minimal upfront investment. 

Unlike school teachers, tutors don’t need to be certified or licensed to work with students (though having this kind of credential can help build trust with potential students). The main things you’ll need are patience, empathy, and strong communication skills, along with knowledge in the subjects you teach.

One great way for tutors to find new students is to go through one of the internet’s many online teaching platforms. Here are some of the most popular:

  • Skooli – For tutors who have a Bachelor’s degree or teaching certification in math, English, science, or business
  • Wyzant – Platform to connect students with both in-person and online tutoring services
  • eTutorWorld – Tutoring and test prep for K-12 students
  • TutorMe – Fully-remote 1:1 tutoring 

Tutor Pros:

  • Help people learn
  • Work with people who are trying to improve

Tutor Cons: 

  • Some people are forced to go to tutoring
  • Seasonality

#22. Event Planning Business

event planner with tablet at wedding

Average Annual Revenue: $34,380
Average Profit Margins: 12.2%
Startup Costs: $500-$5K
Time To Revenue: 3+ months
Annual Market Growth Rate: 1%
Best for: Strong networkers, great party planners, outgoing and social entrepreneurs

Event planners organize large and important events. These could be celebrations like weddings and other personal milestones or professional events like conferences. If you’re an excellent networker, love problem solving, and are highly organized and detail-oriented, an event planning business can be both lucrative and rewarding. 

Event Planner Pros:

  • Can be a lucrative service business
  • Quick pace
  • A smoothly-run event brings a lot of satisfaction

Event Planner Cons: 

  • Hectic
  • Planners need to make friends with Murphy’s Law

#23. Professional Organizer

Average Annual Revenue: $168,360
Average Profit Margins: 10.6%
Startup Cost: $1K-$100K
Time To Revenue: 1-3 months
Annual Market Growth Rate: 1.2%
Best for: Those that like to organize, clean and declutter, those who like to socialize and help people

If you love bringing order to chaos, you’ll thrive as a professional organizer. Organizers go to clients’ homes, so while you’ll need a reliable form of transportation, you won’t need an office space outside your home. Creating your own website or posting success stories on YouTube, Instagram, or Pinterest can help you show your skills and build your client list. 

Organizing Business Pros:

  • People appreciate the new space
  • Combines creativity and construction

Organizing Business  Cons: 

  • Some homes are horribly messy
  • Limited demographics can afford the service

#24. Personal Chef

home private chef with money

Average Annual Revenue: $129K
Average Profit Margins: 51.7%
Startup Costs: $500-$5K
Time To Revenue: 1-6 months
Annual Market Growth Rate: 0.9%
Best for: Cooks, chefs, bakers, and other culinary experts

This is one of the top business ideas with low upfront costs for chefs, line cooks, and other food service workers who want to start their own venture. Personal chefs cook with the client’s equipment and ingredients, reducing expenses compared to a food truck or restaurant.

The downside is you usually don’t get as much creative freedom over what you’re cooking, but for many that trade-off is worth it for lower costs and fewer hours. You can also add revenue streams like online cooking classes or event catering if you want to grow your brand as a chef.

In-Home Chef Pros:

  • Pay is better than many restaurants
  • Less chaotic work environment than most restaurants
  • More freedom of menu

In-Home Chef Cons: 

  • Schedule keeps you away from friends and family dinner events
  • Target demographic limited to top 5% of households

#25. Freelance Writing

Average Annual Revenue: $712K
Average Profit Margins: 14.6%
Startup Cost: $100-$200
Time To Revenue: 1 month to 3 years
Annual Market Growth Rate: -1.5%
Best for: Creative entrepreneurs with strong communication skills

A freelance writer can produce all kinds of content. You can be a ghostwriter who writes novels, memoirs, and other book-length works, or write articles for newspapers and magazines. Another option for a freelance writer is to create blog posts, marketing copy, and other text for businesses. 

Whatever your interests or writing style, you can find freelance writing jobs that fit it. The Write Life has a list of job boards and other resources that you can explore to see what kind of work is out there. 

Writer Pros:

  • Great alternative for antisocial people who have teacher-like nature
  • Low startup costs
  • Easy to get into
  • Great money

Writer Cons: 

  • Learning SEO can be challenging for many
  • Clients don’t know what they want (good ones do)
  • AI is impacting demand, efficiency, and pricing

#26. Translation Service

female translator surrounded by many languages

Average Annual Revenue: $75K-$200K
Average Profit Margins: 12.4%
Startup Cost: $100-$200
Time To Revenue: 1-3 months
Annual Market Growth Rate: 1.2%
Best for: People who speak more than one language

For those fluent in more than one language, translation is among the best businesses with low startup costs you can start. The most in-demand languages to translate to and from English are Arabic, French, German, Japanese, Mandarin, and Spanish, and you can see even higher revenue if you’re fluent in three or more languages. 

Translator Pros:

  • High demand
  • Specialized skill set increases job security
  • Needed at all levels of government and business

Translator Cons: 

  • Mostly in-person due to software like Google translate
  • Pay varies based on the type of organization
  • Technology may replace the need for translators

#27. Nanny or Babysitting Business

Average Annual Revenue: $143,110
Average Profit Margins: 0.9%
Startup Cost: $0-$1K
Time To Revenue: 1-3 months
Annual Market Growth Rate: 51.7%
Best for: Those that enjoy childcare and like children

There’s a reason so many teenagers make money babysitting: it’s cheap to get started and lots of people need the service. Many parents today look for sitters through online marketplaces that verify the background and experience of the sitters on their site. Some of the most popular platforms include
Sittercity, UrbanSitter, and Helpr. Just register with one or more of those platforms and you can start your babysitting or nanny business. 

Babysitter Pros:

  • Great entry-level position
  • Kids are hilarious
  • Long-term gigs can be highly profitable

Babysitter Cons:

  • Kids can be super sneaky
  • You’re taking care of the most important thing in your clients’ lives
  • Always have to be on your best behavior

Which Business Idea Do You Like For Your Own Business?

If you’re looking to start a business with little to no upfront investment, we’ve given you plenty of ideas. There are gigs that require no experience, ones you can expand to a team endeavor, and even those to which you can devote just a few hours a week and still make a pretty nice profit.

Did one of the above ideas resonate with you? 

What’s your next step? (We suggest you learn how to write a business plan).

Join The Discussion

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4 thoughts on “The 27 Best Low-Cost Business Ideas (for 2023)”

  • Ngcebo Mazobuke

    This small business ideas change the I think post more guys

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  • Brooke Angela Aydon

    Girlfriend and I are tossing around ideas about OK a business together and we are both also have hard-working partners her partner owns a big truck. Some of the ideas were landscaping fence building with previous experience and great I have a Lotta family members who owe and started up their own business from scratch, and I am greatly inspired by the same preferences. Pet sitting pet walking. Snow brought bird house, chair, home, cooked meals, companionship, gardening, a business, but not only employees. Men faces multiple barriers to employment or females also. Another idea was consignment, clothing, dumb, runs lawn care. We have a full-time young male employee who has experience working with construction and we have a female full-time experience and care taking care of the elderly rides to appointments and companionship, meal prep and grocery shopping as well as transportation.


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