Best Small Business Ideas That Require Little To No Startup Costs

Written by Melanie

August 24, 2020

best small business ideas

Finding the best small business ideas to start is easier said than done. Not many people will tell you this, but not all small businesses are created equal.

A good business idea for you could be extremely different from someone else’s. The secret lies in finding that perfect balance between what you enjoy doing, what you are good at, and what can make you money.

This is part of what the Japanese concept of ‘ikigai‘, or ‘the reason for being’, is.

While you might think that you have been looking for the best business ideas to make money with, what you have actually been searching for is the inspiration to come up with your own business idea and start making money from it.

This is exactly what this article will try to help you achieve. The best small business ideas listed here are only meant to get your brain juices flowing. Use them as a starting point for your own journey to financial freedom.

What small business should I start?

There is no right or wrong answer to this question. Everyone is different, which means your situation and experiences are different from everyone else’s.

Draw upon these to find that unique business idea that will make you stand out. What are you good at? What are you passionate about? These are some of the things that will guide you.

Above all else, try to make sure that your business idea solves your potential customers’ problems. Your niche market, or your niche, is what defines your customers.

A niche market is a small part of a larger market that has unique demands and preferences.

For example, ‘sports’ is a large market, but people who are looking for quality golf balls are a niche market. If you want to learn more about niche markets, a few great examples of them, how they work, and how to choose the best ones, you can check out our dedicated post on that subject here.

What are the most successful small businesses?

Here is a list of some of the most succesful small business models today;

  • B2B (Busines to Business) Services like marketing, bookkeeping, tax preparation, and consulting
  • Mobile businesses and businesses that can be run remotely
  • Real estate businesses, although this is dependent on where you live or where you intend to set up your business
  • Child oriented businesses in tech, healthcare, and entertainment
  • Virtual Reality businesses in gaming, team building, and remote training
  • “Sharing” business models like ride-sharing and home rental sharing. Sharing businesses in fashion, home improvement, and personal wellness niches are also doing really well
  • Personal services in pet care, health and fitness, and general wellness

What businesses have low startup costs?

Generally speaking, internet-based businesses have some of the lowest start-up costs. You can start many of them from scratch at almost zero cost, and even do them part-time while also working a 9-5 job or run them remotely from anywhere in the world.

This list of the best small business ideas will focus on businesses that require little to no startup costs. They are easy to set up and easy to run so that anyone can get started with them and make money.

If you would like to start your own online business, check out our guide on how to start a successful online business.

It includes a step by step guide that you can use to start your online business from scratch, along with a list of some of the most profitable online business ideas that have low startup costs.

There are also many profitable home business ideas that cost very little to start. Many of them do not have to be done online, although having an online presence is always a good idea. Our guide on how to start a small business will help you get started with them.

List of the best small business ideas

Without further ado, here is our list of the best small business ideas you can start this year.

We have hand-picked some of the best business ideas to make money with to inspire you to get out there and launch your own small business.

Hopefully, this is your first step to true financial freedom!

1. Start a Blog

I talk about blogging a lot on this site. It is a gospel I preach because I know first hand how profitable it can be. This is hands down one of the best small business ideas you can start today, which is why it has made the top of this list.

The best part is that starting a blog today is easier than ever. All you have to do is first decide what your blog will be about. This is your niche. Need help choosing a profitable niche? No problem! Here is everything you need to know about niches as well as how to pick a niche in 6 easy steps.

Next, you are going to have to choose a great domain name. We show you how to pick a great domain name here.

The next step is to grab yourself some quality hosting. I have a detailed guide on how to do this here, but if you want the short and sweet version of it, I highly recommend getting your hosting from:

These are the three official WordPress recommended hosts, so you can be sure that you’ll be getting a high-quality service.

Once you have a domain name and a host, you have an active blog! The next step is to make it pretty with a WordPress theme (check out Divi. It’s what I use on this site!) and finally start publishing your content.

You can then start monetizing your blog immediately through affiliate marketing, ads, sponsorships, and so on. Check out my ultimate guide on how to monetize your blog!

If done right, blogging can be a very profitable home business venture. If you have no idea where to start, I have written a detailed step by step guide that complete beginners can use to get started with blogging.

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It goes into a lot of detail on everything you need to know to help you set up your blog from scratch and start making money from it.

So if you are ready to take the leap of faith and get your blog up and running today, check out my free guide on how to start a blog and make money in 7 simple steps.

2. Freelance writing

I have been a freelance writer for several years now, so this is a business that I know quite a bit about if I do say so myself.

Freelance writing is one of the best small business ideas because there is a never-ending demand for quality content online. If you are passionate about writing, and if you can see yourself creating website copy for individuals and businesses, this might be the perfect fit for you.

Neon Writer is a good starting point if you want to start your journey as a freelance writer. All you have to do is sign up, select a project, write and submit, then get paid for your work.

If you have your own blog, it is also a great place to get high-quality content for cheap. Be sure to also get Grammarly to make your content clear, easy to read, and grammatically correct.

Be sure to also check out my ultimate guide to freelance writing for a step by step guide on how to do freelance writing the right way.

It includes little-known tips and tricks that have worked well for me, as well as the best practices when it comes to finding high-paying freelance writing jobs online. And the best part? It’s absolutely free!

3. Make money as an Instacart Shopper

This is a business idea that you can do either part-time when you just want to make a little quick cash or full-time. Instacart is a wonderful platform that a lot of people use to shop for groceries and everyday essentials and have them delivered to their front doors.

As an Instacart shopper, your job will be making these deliveries. You’ll shop for other people and deliver the shopping to their front doors.

It is a great hassle-free way of starting your own small business especially if you have limited initial capital to invest.

Plus, if you already enjoy shopping, this is a great way to get paid to do what you love!

Sounds like something you’d love to try out? You can sign up to be an Instacart Shopper here to get started.

4. Affiliate marketing

Affiliate marketing is a business model that allows you to promote someone else’s products or services and earn a commission whenever you make a sale.

You do not need a website to become an affiliate marketer (although it helps if you have one).

In most cases, affiliate marketing is a business that you can start with zero initial investment. All you need is an affiliate link and voila! You’re good to go.

The way it works is simple: your job is to get your unique affiliate link in front of as many eyeballs as possible. When someone clicks on your link and makes a purchase, the sale is credited to you and you earn your commission.

Many people use their social media accounts or Youtube channels for this.

Need pointers on what some of the best affiliate programs for beginners are? No problem! Here are 136 beginner-friendly affiliate programs that you can sign up for and get started with today!

5. Start a proofreading business

If you enjoy reading, and if you have a good eye for grammar, this is a great small business opportunity for you. Proofreading pays a decent hourly wage, ranging from $10-25 for beginners and $35-95 for professionals. It is also in high demand, so you can be sure to get a steady stream of work once you get good at it.

If you are a complete beginner, I highly recommend getting an assistant tool like Grammarly. It’ll make spotting those grammar mistakes a lot easier, improving your quality of work, and netting you higher-paying clients in the process.

If you want to get a head start in your proofreading business, or if you simply don’t know where to start, I highly recommend taking the Proofread Anywhere course by Caitlyn Pyle. It’s a bit pricey, but it is totally worth it.

6. Start a T-shirt selling business

T-shirts are some of the most popular products online. If you have an eye for good design, this might be just the business for you.

Sites like Teespring allow you to sell t-shirts with your own unique designs. All you have to do is come up with the designs and they’ll take care of the rest: no printing, shipping, or delivery and returns headaches for you!

If you are not design-inclined but still want to start a t-shirt selling business, you can outsource the hard work to professional designers on 99designs and DesignCrowd.

It is a great way to get high-quality designs for cheap, which you can then use to print your own t-shirts for your business or market them online on Teespring.

7. Do online surveys

No best small business ideas list is complete without mentioning taking online surveys as a way of making some extra cash. Surveys are great because they offer a quick and easy way of making money online.

All you have to do is spend a few minutes of your day answering simple questions and you get paid.

That said, online surveys pay very little. The best workaround for this is to sign up for multiple survey sites at the same time.

You can start with Swagbucks and Survey Junkie, both of which are very beginner-friendly. If you have to choose just one, though, I highly recommend Survey Junkie because it pays in cash.

SURVEY SITEPAYMENT METHODMINIMUM AMNT TO CASH OUTBONUS FOR SIGNING UP
MyPointsGift cards$3Claim your $10 Amazon Gift Card or $10 Visa Gift Card
Survey JunkiePayPal or eGift cards$10Sign Up to claim 100 points from Survey Junkie
SwagbucksPayPal or Gift Cards$5 for PayPal and $1 for gift cards;Claim your 300 free SBs

8. Start a Fiverr freelancing business

Another potentially highly profitable small business that you can do today is starting a Fiverr freelancing business.

Fiverr is the world’s largest freelancer marketplace. You can monetize almost any skill or talent on the site.

In fact, if you can think about anything you are willing to do, chances are there is someone out there who will pay you good money to do it.

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There are people who get paid to write brand names on their bodies, people who get paid to dance, people who get paid to put on costumes and say things, people who get paid to take pictures with babies, and people who get paid to review weird products.

The sky is the limit, really.

Read about my experience as a Fiverr buyer here. I also offer exclusive tips on how to get more sales as a Fiverr seller in this post.

9. Become a graphic designer

If you are a creative person with an eye for good design, 99designs and DesignCrowd might be the perfect platforms for you.

They are a lot like Fiverr, except they specialize in graphic design.

You can build an entire design business out of these platforms either by outsourcing your design work to other designes on these two platforms for cheap, or working on clients’ jobs on the platform and getting paid.

If you choose to outsource, you can look for clients who want design work done then pay someone from 99designs or DesignCrowd to do the work for you. You pay the person who does the design work and keep the remaining amount.

For example, you get a client who wants a website created. You then get someone from 99designs or DesignCrowd to create the website for you. You then present the website to your client and get paid.

No skills required on your part.

The best part about these sites is that they are completely free to sign up.

10. Create an online course

For a lot of people, online courses are some of the best business ideas to make money with.

This is because they can become a great source of passive income: all you have to do is put in the work once creating the course and marketing it, then it will take over and start minting you cash while you sleep.

If you are an expert on a particular field/subject, you can create a course on that subject, sell your course and make money.

The online course you create can be about almost anything. You can turn a skill you have, your profession, your hobby, or something you researched online into a course.

You can create your course on a platform like Thinkific or MemberVault. These are the best platforms to create, host, share, sell, and interact with your students.

11. Become a social media manager

People spend a lot of time on social media these days. Companies have noticed this and are now advertising on social media platforms more than ever before.

Digital marketing ad spending beat TV ad spending back in 2017, and by the end of this year, spending on TV ads will have dropped below 33%.

What does this mean for you? Well, for one thing, if you want to become a social media manager, you are going to have an ever-increasing portfolio of clients.

If you already spend a lot of your time on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, it is also a great way to get paid for doing what you already do for free.

You can get your social media management jobs from sites like Fiverr, Flexjobs, Indeed and ProBlogger.

You may also want to invest in tools like:

Tailwind for post scheduling (You can use my link to get $15 credit for yourself)

Grammarly for your content creation

Aweber, LeadPages, or GetResponse for email marketing.

12. Be a Pinterest manager

If you are Pinterest savvy, then you know that it is one of the best tools for driving traffic to websites.

This is why a lot of business owners are willing to invest a lot of money in a good Pinterest manager. This is where you come in.

Your job will be to drive traffic to your clients’ sites by creating quality Pinterest pins and promoting their content on the platform.

There are two great tools that I have found that will help make your job really easy: Use Canva to create beautiful Pinterest pins in a few clicks, then automate the scheduling and promotion process with Tailwind.

These two products will streamline your working process, allowing you to have lots of room for more clients (and more money!).

13. Become a virtual assistant

Virtual assistants have become highly sought after in recent years. They help companies and businesses run more efficiently by taking over simple tasks like that take up too much precious time.

Things like email management and filtering, database building, answering customer service emails, scheduling appointments, making travel arrangements, and calendar management can all be outsourced to virtual assistants.

You can find these jobs on platforms like Fiverr and Upwork.

14. Sell your stuff online

If you enjoy making stuff with your hands, for example, if you are an illustrating artist or if you make handmade goods and products, there are lots of eCommerce sites that you can use to showcase your wares and sell them.

Etsy and Sellfy are some of the best ones for this.

If you are the creative type, this is one of the best small business ideas for you. Plus, since you’ll be doing what you already love, it won’t feel like work at all. Ikigai, remember?

15. Start a YouTube channel

Everyone uses YouTube. You can start a YouTube channel focusing on practically anything you can think of.

As long as you make high-quality content, there’ll always be someone interested in watching what you put up. If your channel blows up, you can make millions in ad revenue, affiliate income, merch sales, and sponsorships.

Final Thoughts: What do you think about these small business ideas?

So there you have it; these are some of the best small business ideas you can start.

As you can see, I chose to focus on some of the easiest and cheapest to get started with.

I will be constantly adding to this list, so keep checking back. If you have some unique profitable home business ideas of your own, please share them with everyone in the comments below. I’ll be sure to update the list to include them!

At the end of the day, though, the list of the best small business ideas is almost endless. Whatever you decide to get started with, just be sure to not think of it as a get-rich-quick type thing.

A small business is still a business, and it needs hard work and dedication to grow. As long as you are willing to put in the work, you will definitely find success in whatever you do. Good luck!

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This post may contain affiliate links. This means I may receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you, when you make a purchase. Please, read my affiliate disclaimer for more details.

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