It doesn’t need to be expensive to start a business. There are plenty of industries and types of startups that require very little upfront. If you only have a small amount to spend or just want to turn a profit quickly, here are a few business ideas you can start for under $1,000.
Yes, many business and consumer services can be offered with very little upfront cost. Even some product-based businesses don’t require much capital. Most successful business owners that start with under $1,000 do so with online business ideas, like VA services, affiliate marketing sites, or dropshipping businesses.
If you’re looking for small business ideas that don’t require much upfront capital, here are several options to consider.
Affiliate marketers earn income by posting advertising and affiliate links on their own websites. Each time someone clicks through one of these links and makes a purchase, the site owner gets a small commission. There are tons of business niche examples within this field. You can share anything from clothing and decor products to software and services for a business-to-business market. You just need a website or active social media accounts and relationships with brands that offer affiliate programs.
Many companies hire SEO businesses to improve their visibility on search engines like Google. This is generally a fully online business. So you just need a website and some expertise to get started. It may also help if you have existing experience in this area and contacts with other business professionals. Otherwise, you may need to invest in some online advertising to get your first clients.
A catering business doesn’t require a physical location. So this is one of the main food service options that you can start without a huge upfront cost. To start your own catering business, you’ll need some cooking supplies and enough extra to purchase ingredients. Then you can use the earnings from each job to grow.
If you’re interested in starting a social media business, offer your services online to brands that interest you. This really just requires a smartphone, computer, and internet connection. You may also benefit from a website and maybe some online or social media ads, depending on your existing contacts.
Airport shuttles and executive transportation companies provide transportation services to and from the airport or other local spots. If you already have a quality vehicle, this business requires next to nothing to get started. You may spend your initial money on a website, booking app, or local advertising.
A landscaping service is a perfect option for those who love spending time outside. You just need some basic lawn care tools and transportation to get started. Most people interested in this type of business already have at least a lawnmower and a truck. Then you can use the profits from your initial jobs to invest in larger machinery, if necessary.
You can start a business delivering food with just a mode of transportation and a way for people to contact you. This may include a website, an app, or even just a phone number. Some delivery businesses focus on carryout from restaurants, while others offer groceries or general errand services. So you can choose a niche within this area.
If you’re looking for art business ideas that are cheap to start, consider selling prints of your work online. You can offer digital files for sale on your own website or on marketplaces like Etsy. You don’t even need a space for inventory or printing if you stick with digital files. But it also doesn’t cost much to offer physical prints of your work.
As an event photographer, you travel to clients for their weddings or special occasions and then provide them with digital photos. There are some nice cameras available used for under this price. Then you can upgrade or purchase additional lenses once you’ve shot a few events and made some extra cash.
It doesn’t cost much to offer basic repair services to local homeowners. If you already have some simple tools, you can use your startup funds to advertise locally or set up a website. However, many handyman businesses and local service providers simply use local marketplace or review sites to increase their visibility.
People moving to new homes are generally willing to pay for services that make the experience easier. If you already have a truck, you can offer full-service moving to local residents. If not, start by helping them pack or store items and then invest in other options like truck rental services as you get the extra funds.
Starting a personal training business really just requires access to gym space. You can even welcome clients to your home or offer personal training online. There are lots of fitness business resources available online. So you can research your favorite exercises and even get certified to offer specific types of services or classes.
Subscription box businesses send out curated selections of products each month. Many of these are small. So you shouldn’t need a ton of inventory to get started. And you can run this type of business from home, as long as you have enough room to sort items and get products ready for shipping.
Those are just a few examples of business ideas you can start for under $1,000. There are several more industries you can enter and serve potential clients with little to no money. If you’re still looking, here are even more options to consider.
A business consultant can start working with clients virtually. So all you need is a computer, an internet connection, and some business expertise to offer. You can even specialize in a specific area, like helping startups with the formation or providing input on marketing materials. Most business customers are happy to connect with consultants via email or video chat. And there are also other consulting business ideas that may include digital marketing consultants or those specializing in a specific industry.
To start a cleaning business, you really just need some basic supplies and a way to get to each job. This is a classic steady-income business, as long as you can gain clients who are willing to work with you on an ongoing basis. There are also specialized services in this industry. For example, you may offer options like carpet cleaning or providing professional disinfecting services to offices or medical facilities.
If you’re looking for beauty business ideas, a home-based or mobile hair salon can be inexpensive to start. You just need basic hair tools and maybe a website. Many stylists offer on-site services for special events like weddings, so you don’t need a physical location. Other beauty business suggestions may include on-site makeup or nail businesses.
Just about any business in the online handmade marketplace can be started without a ton of upfront cash. For a jewelry shop, you just need a few basic supplies and materials, like wires, clasps, and beads, to get started. You can also build your own website or rely on marketplaces like Etsy to keep costs low.
A coffee shop certainly costs more than $1,000 to start. But you can offer basic options from a mobile cart. You just need a coffee maker or dispenser, some cups, and a place to store them. You may also need a vendor’s license to sell products in busy commercial districts. This type of business often does well around office buildings or areas with lots of foot traffic.
If you have a book idea in mind, consider writing and self-publishing using online resources like Amazon. It mostly just requires your time to get your ideas into a digital document. Then you may invest in an editing service or rely on trusted friends and advisors to hone your work and get it ready for readers.
If you love baking, you can start a baking business without a dedicated storefront. You may need a permit and inspection for a home kitchen. But then all it takes is some basic ingredients and baking gear to get started. And you can sell anything from bread to cookies directly to local bakeries or even offer them online.
With some basic app development skills, you can build your own mobile or desktop applications and earn income from sales or in-app purchases. These require very few resources to get started, as long as you already have a computer and access to development software or programs. Alternatively, you may offer app development services to other businesses. In these cases, you’d charge a fee for the development of the app upfront.
There are dating sites for nearly every niche and interest group. All you need is a website and/or app to get started. Then you can charge users a fee to sign up or use the platform. Or you may earn income through other avenues like online ads. This same concept can apply to many other niche websites that people are willing to pay to use. For example, you could offer a membership site for business owners to connect or a mentorship community for youth in your community.
There aren’t a ton of automotive business ideas that you can start without significant startup costs. But a detailing business just requires some basic cleaning supplies. Then you can travel to your clients to provide services. Some local advertising or a website may also be beneficial. Over time, you can scale this business by hiring employees and expanding your service area. Or you may invest in a physical location with a full-service car wash.
Home organizing is a huge area of interest right now. If you have strong organizational skills, consider offering these services to others in your community. Just start your own website and advertise online or take out an ad in your local classified section. You may even offer additional services or niche down to a specialty like office organization services or hoarder cleanouts.
All you need to start your own influencer social media business is your own accounts and a consistent posting schedule. Over time, with enough interaction, you can start to build relationships with brands and post sponsored content to your audience. There are even agencies and marketplaces that connect brands and influencers. Many influencers also brand out with additional revenue streams like their own product lines or affiliate income. However, this isn’t an overnight business idea; it often takes years to start earning income this way.
There are many profitable industries and successful business owners that have started with under $1,000. Your most profitable business idea may vary depending on your interests and expertise. However, online businesses like consultants, social media managers, and influencers tend to turn large profits quickly. And service businesses like photographers and auto detailers can be quite profitable as well.
The cheapest and easiest businesses to start are generally those where a process or marketplace is already available to connect you with customers once you have a product or service to sell. For example, you can start a virtual assistant business and use online job sites to connect with clients. Or you may make a handmade product and sell it on online marketplaces.
The local businesses that tend to be the least expensive to start are generally those that offer services and can be run from home. For example, you may offer local moving services, handyman repairs, or even landscaping services.