The most successful companies start with a good business idea, and for merchants with limited access to capital, the best business ideas often involve a minimal initial investment and low startup costs.
Successful small business ideas are those you can launch without worrying about large upfront and overhead costs. Here are some of the most popular low-cost business ideas with high profit potential.
Low-cost business ideas with high profit potential
- Launch an online store
- Offer online tutoring services
- Participate in affiliate marketing
- Launch a marketing consulting business
- Sell branded merchandise
- Become a personal trainer
- Produce online courses
- Start a dog-walking or pet-sitting business
- Perform social media management services
- Become an event planner
- Create a car wash business
- Start a photography business
- Offer freelance writing services
There are plenty of low-cost business ideas you can explore. Here are some of the most popular low-cost small business ideas that have the potential to earn high profit margins:
Launch an online store
Start an online business using an ecommerce platform like Shopify, which gives small business owners the power to create and manage their own online store. Ecommerce platforms typically offer customizable themes, secure payment gateways, and comprehensive reports about inventory and customer behavior.
Start by writing out a list of online business ideas that suit your strengths as an entrepreneur. Create a product or service that fills a need in the marketplace, and write a detailed business plan for your new company. Determine your target audience, define your brand, and develop marketing materials. With time and dedication, you can turn a minimal initial investment into a thriving online business.
Offer online tutoring services
Another low-cost business idea to consider is providing tutoring services in your area of expertise. You can focus on teaching subjects like English, math, and science, or more specialized skills like computer programming or video editing.
Consider starting a test prep business that prepares clients for standardized tests like the ACT or SAT. Entrepreneurs with a solid understanding of a particular subject matter can earn money by sharing that knowledge with others.
Participate in affiliate marketing
Another low-cost business idea that can generate income is an affiliate marketing business. Affiliate marketing is promoting another company’s product, service, or brand using an affiliate link that earns you money every time someone clicks on it. Affiliate links leverage your network to encourage actions like buying a product, signing up for a newsletter, starting a free trial, or downloading an app.
Start affiliate marketing by joining an affiliate program that connects you with companies willing to pay for affiliate partners. Explore the Shopify App Store for affiliate marketing apps. Although affiliate marketing can be an inconsistent source of income, you can earn more money by leveraging a solid social media following.
Launch a marketing consulting business
If you have a knack for understanding and developing digital marketing strategies, consider starting a consulting business to make money from your skills. You could focus your consulting business on various marketing strategies, including search engine optimization, email marketing, and social media marketing.
Start by offering your services to local businesses in your area, and build a solid résumé and reputation over time. Launch your own website that features your résumé and allows potential clients to contact you directly.
Sell branded merchandise
Sell merchandise like t-shirts, water bottles, USB drives, and other items that feature your unique brand. This is a good option for graphic designers, social media influencers, and artists who have a preexisting audience and a clear brand vision.
For example, on an episode of Shopify Masters, entrepreneur Gourmet Délice speaks about how important selling merchandise through Shopify has been for Bonsound, the record label he co-founded. “There are only 24 hours in a day, and if your mind is only on the business side, then it's tough to create,” Gourmet says. Selling merch on Shopify has helped bands supplement the money they bring in from shows, and record sales with minimal time and startup costs.
To start selling merchandise, design your products and create mockups. Find a print-on-demand service like Printful or Printify that produces items on demand. A print-on-demand model allows you to offer a wide range of products without investing in a large amount of inventory upfront.
Become a personal trainer
If you are passionate about health and wellness, consider starting a personal training business. Personal trainers evaluate their clients’ fitness needs, develop specialized fitness routines, and keep them accountable. Although it can take time to build a solid client base, you can launch a personal trainer service with minimal upfront costs.
Before advertising your services, check for any personal training certificates necessary to start a business in your area, and seek out the appropriate insurance for this type of business.
Produce online courses
Another option for starting your own business is to produce and sell online courses. If you have a knowledge base on a particular subject, consider launching an online course business. You can create an online course in various formats, including written, audio, and video. Online course businesses require an initial investment of time and energy to create the necessary material but can become a valuable form of passive income.
Start a dog-walking or pet-sitting business
If you have a natural connection to animals, start your own dog-walking business or pet-sitting business. These low-cost businesses require no upfront investment in supplies or formal training. Start by offering your services to people in your network and grow your business as you gain positive referrals.
Perform social media management services
Start a social media management company focused on helping clients with their social media accounts. Social media marketing is a growing industry, with one report estimating that global social media ad spending will surpass $260 billion by 2028.
If you have a knack for creating social media content, consider contacting local businesses and offering to help with their social media presence.
Become an event planner
Launch an event planning business that specializes in sourcing venues, crafting schedules, coordinating catering services, and arranging entertainment for clients. Event planning can focus on weddings, birthday parties, conferences, or corporate events.
Running an event planning business can be stressful and time-consuming, but if you have a skill for organization, it can become a profitable business without overhead costs or expensive business licenses.
Create a car wash business
Another potentially profitable business idea is a car washing service. Launching a car wash business requires a minimal investment in cleaning equipment and a good lead-generation strategy to attract new customers.
Start a photography business
If you have a knack for taking pictures, turn your hobby into a low-cost business. Launch your own website to feature your portfolio and commission your services to paying clients.
Offer freelance writing services
Another creative business idea that requires no initial startup costs is freelance writing. Freelance writers create content for paying clients who need original material that aligns with their search engine optimization and content strategies.
You can create blogs, emails, advertisements, press releases, website copy, and product descriptions. If you enjoy creative writing, you could also offer ghostwriting services to clients who want to bring their book ideas to life.
Low-cost business ideas with high profit FAQ
What is the cheapest and most profitable business to start?
There are lots of low-cost business ideas that have high profit potential, including affiliate marketing, tutoring services, and launching an online business through an ecommerce platform like Shopify.
What business is the easiest to make money?
There are plenty of business ideas that allow merchants to earn money with minimal upfront investment, including cleaning services, pet sitting, and freelance writing.
What is the best business to start with $1,000?
Examples of business ideas that can be started with as little as $1,000 include photography services, social media management services, and tutoring services.