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23 Businesses You Can Start on a Budget

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Many people dream of starting their own business and now can do so on a low budget. Businesses with low upfront costs are easy to pursue, particularly if you have the skills to do so.

Richard Branson said, “Entrepreneurship is about turning what excites you in life into capital so that you can do more of it and move forward with it.”

Some jobs start small, and you can do them alone. This is called micropreneurship. A micropreneur or microbusiness operates on a very small scale or with no more than five employees. These business professionals usually work with little up-front costs but require discipline to work and market themselves.

Of course, you don’t have to work alone. You may prefer to start your business small with a partner or you may have hopes of having a staff one day and growing your business large.

Regardless of whether you start alone or with a partner, you should develop a good business plan. Writing a plan will help you focus and establish your objectives and help you prioritize what is most important. As your business grows large, you may need funding. Most financial institutions will require a business plan before lending money. Your business plan will change over time and as your business grows.

Starting a service-based business can be cheaper than a product-based business. 

Here are some ideas about some businesses you can start on a budget today:

1.    Business Freelancer or Consultant

Many freelancers have good business experience and want to work for themselves such as virtual assistants, transcribers, accountants, or human resource pros. You can market yourself easily online by creating a website and joining different freelance websites such as Upwork or Fiverr. Clients can leave feedback on these sites which helps you get more work.

2.    Writer or Editor

Do you enjoy writing or editing? You can join the freelance sites stated above. Also, you can market your content writing services online or on your own website or social media. You only need a good computer, a reliable internet connection, and creative ideas to market yourself.

3.    Event Planning

Do you have friends or family that ask for your help to plan their parties or events? When you do these events for others, take pictures and create a portfolio to market your services. Ask for recommendations as well. Once you start small and do good work, you will start getting others to recommend you. 

4.    Home Services

Do you enjoy dogs? You could market your dog walking or pet sitting services online or around your area. You can sign up on sites like Rover to offer your services. Another good job would be a home organizer. Many people need help organizing their home or files.

5.    Commercial Services

Another profession that is low on start-up costs and would be easy to build into a larger business is a janitorial service. This profession is easy to start and grow. Many homes and businesses want a reliable cleaning service. Another good service business is landscaping. This can be offered as a home or a commercial service as well. You can start by mowing lawns and move up to a more professional landscaper as your equipment and knowledge grows. 

These jobs are easy to get via word-of-mouth, especially if you are professional, reliable, and trustworthy.

6.    Creative Seller

Do you paint or like to do crafts? There is a market for creative goods such as jewelry or pottery. You can sell these on sites like Etsy, your own website, and at craft fairs.

7.    Skilled Laborer 

Do you have handyman skills? If you can fix things easily, you can market yourself as a handyman and put yourself on lists like Angie’s List. The better reviews you get, the more work you will get. Other types of skilled jobs to consider are small engine repair, computer repair, moving services, and window cleaning. Another idea is to offer bicycle repair or storage services. Bicycle races occur all year long so there is a need for people who can repair bikes. Also, you can offer storage services for those who don’t have a place to store their bikes.

8.    Online Seller

You can sell goods online like eBay or Amazon. You can also work with companies to dropship items as well. Do you like flea markets? Shop garage sales to get more items to sell on eBay, Amazon, or other sites.

9.    Direct Sales

If you have a favorite product like MaryKay, Pampered Chef, or Young Living, consider becoming a seller for them. You usually have an initial investment of the seller package. However, when you host parties online or at your home, you will make money and get large discounts on more products.

10. Personal Services

You could offer personal concierge services to business professionals which is like a personal assistant. Also, you could drive for Uber or Lyft. Another special service would be a personal trainer. You could work with a gym as a trainer or start your own business and join gyms where your clients join.

11. Graphic Designer or Photographer

If you went to school for graphic design or photography, there are many business needs for these services. Graphic designers can market themselves online. They can also send sample packets of their work to local and small public relations or advertising agencies that are always looking for graphic designers. Usually, small businesses don’t have an inhouse graphic designer.

12. Tutor

Do you excel in math or know computer software well? You can offer tutoring courses for kids who need help. You can also teach music lessons, computer lessons for software, or language classes such as English, Spanish, etc.

13. Hairstylist or Massage Therapist

If you are skilled at massage therapy or a licensed hairstylist, you could offer services where you go to someone’s home. Some salons also offer space rentals which you can rent.

14. Personal Product Seller

If you make your own lotions or soaps, consider selling these at craft shows, online, or your local farmer’s markets. You can even offer some gift basket ideas.

15. Computer Pro

If you have knowledge in smart software (or app) development or know how to put together a website, you can make money helping small and large businesses with their needs. Some people conduct workshops teaching others how to learn Excel, QuickBooks, or photoshop. You can schedule small workshops or private lessons. You can even schedule these online using different online providers like Zoom. 

16. Home Companion or Nanny

There are over 47 million people who are over the age of 65. Consider offering services to older people who can’t do things for themselves. They may need light cooking, shopping, cleaning, or just someone to sit with them. If you like children, consider becoming a nanny. Some positions even offer live-in opportunities. 

17. Auto Detailer

If you like washing and detailing cars or boats, you could offer these services. You could offer mobile services where you buy the equipment and go to their location where all they would have to provide is a water outlet to hook up your hose.

18. Delivery Driver

Because of many business professionals or elderly people, consider offering delivery services for food or groceries. You can even customize per individual, offer personal shopping services, or help them with meal planning. 

19. Blogger or Vlogger

You can make money by writing blogs or creating vlogs. If you are entertaining and charismatic, consider trying to vlog or start your own YouTube channel.

20. Event Planning

Do you like to throw parties or events? Consider marketing yourself to businesses or individuals who are too busy to plan. Coordinating an event can be difficult and tricky, but if you are an experienced party planner, you may enjoy this field.

21. Personal Chef, Caterer, or Baker

Whether you went to cooking school or taught yourself, consider becoming a personal chef to professionals or catering events or parties. Do you bake cookies or with sourdough? Test your products on your friends and family. Then, consider starting your own baking business in or out of your home. 

22. Social Media Consultant

Many small businesses have to take care of their own social media marketing. Many times, they may prefer to hire a contract employee for a few hours a week to schedule posts for them on their social media pages. Furthermore, they may even want you to develop a social media calendar, schedule the posts, and update their social media pages as needed. You can help them determine the best tactics for their small business. 

23. Translator

Are you fluent in another language? Some companies are now needing translators to hire for contract when they hire non-English speakers in the U.S. This includes sign language. The employment of interpreters and translators is projected to grow 24% from 2020 to 2030. About 10,400 openings for interpreters and translators are projected each year. 

Final Thoughts

Think about turning your hobby or your passion into your own business. There is a website called Care.comwhere you can find jobs such as childcare, senior care, tutoring, housekeeping, daycare, and pet care jobs or services.

Once you grow and hire employees, you should consider creating systems and automating your workflow by using a mobile time clock app. This will allow you to create work schedules for your employees and assign employees to a specific worksite. In addition, your employees can clock in and out using their phone, saving you time and money.

If you want to start your own business, find a way to make it happen. Whatever direction you choose, ensure you properly plan, budget, and research the best methods to make your business succeed.

Author: Kimberley Kay Travis

Kim Travis, co-owner of Travis and Adams Consulting Group, has over 20 years’ experience in human resources and leadership roles. She has specialized knowledge in employment law, employee relations, recruiting, management consulting, leadership development, manufacturing safety programs, and writing business articles and blogs.