Top 20 small business ideas with little to no capital investment

Working for others is simple. You don’t have to worry about what’s been going on in the market or risk your investment. The best part is that you get your payment every month, even, when the company for which you are working has zero profit.

Just work some extra hours and you’ll earn more money in the name of “part-time”.

Would it not be better if you could control your own destiny and get more return in dollars for the same time and work?

Opening your own business might sound intimidating. It is difficult to devote your time and money for something that has no guarantee of success, isn’t it? How about I tell you, there are some business ideas which require a small or zero investment.

If you plan correctly and have accurate knowledge, you can not only start, manage, or run your limited capital business but even earn from it. Here are 20 amazing small business ideas.

1. Personal Shopper


How much of a Shopaholic are you? What’s better than getting to turn your passion into profit by becoming a personal shopper? You can offer your services to elderly people who cannot go out to shop in the store.

Elderly people are in a constant need for groceries, household stuff, and their personal items which you will shop for them and deliver safely. Busy parents might also use your service to buy stuff for their kids such as school supplies, clothes, and gifts.

Just ask your clients to provide you with a list of items they need, shop, bring back the stuff and ask for your payment.

  • Startup expense: Startup costs of a personal shopper can be minimal. There’s a little need for an initial investment or expensive equipment. The biggest expense can be the method of transportation. A low-mileage, efficiently running a car is recommended.

  • Skill requirement: The kind of business you have to know about various kinds of brands and be familiar with places to shop. It is also important to work within the price range of clients. The success of a personal shopper depends upon the relationship they have with retailers and wholesalers.
  • Recurring expenses: Transportation costs to visit different shops and taxes.
  • Average income: $33,000 per year

2. Event Planner

Love organizing meetings and throwing parties? Here is your chance to become an event planner. Individuals and businesses conduct various events.

These events can be for parades, fairs, weddings, birthdays, reunions, anniversaries, conferences, graduations, meetings, product launches, fashion shows, political rallies, civic events, or memorials. Many individuals or businesses lack the time or expertise to plan events.

Hence, they hire people to give the event the attention it requires.

Here is what you need to do in order to become an event planner.

  • Conduct research
  • Create an event design
  • Find a site
  • Arrange for décor, entertainment, and food
  • Plan transportation to and from the occasion
  • Send invitations
  • Arrange necessary rooms for attendees
  • Coordinate the actions of event personnel
  • Supervise at the site
  • Conduct evaluations of the event
  • Startup expense: The startup expense of an event planning service will depend on the cost of living in the area of your business. If you work from home, you will have lower costs than renting an office space.
  • Skill requirement: For becoming an event planner, you have to be creative and come up with different ideas and themes. It is also important for an event planner to be a good communicator to make sure all vendors have a common understanding of the overall event schedule.
  • Recurring expenses: Office rent and taxes.
  • Average income: $44,425 per year

3. Home-Based Food

Do you get countless compliments on your cheesecake or find yourself getting a lot of requests from your friends and family to be their personal cook for various occasions? If yes, a home-based foodservice business just might be the one for you.

Here are the steps to start a home-based food service business.

  • Decide what kind of food you want to sell. You might want to focus on niche markets such as meal delivery for new moms, catering for weddings, or baked items.
  • Write a business plan that specifies your business.
  • Set up your business. Protect your personal assets such as your home, create a business entity such as a Limited Liability Company.
  • Purchase food making supplies and equipment.
  • Market your business.

Startup expense: The startup capital of a home-based food business is minimal. Just buy some ingredients, an oven, a microwave, utensils, various kitchen tools and you are good to go. You might want to consider creating your own website for reaching a wide range of customers.

Skill requirement: Apart from being good in the kitchen, you should be able to satisfy your costumers with the services you provide. It is very important to keep close connections with your customers.

Recurring expenses: Recurring expenses can be the purchase of ingredients, maintenance of kitchen tools, and purchase of the latest kitchen equipment to work with.

Average income: $38,884 per year

4. Home Day Care

Aren’t babies just too cute? If you are someone who loves spending your time with kids, consider running a babysitting service from your home. With more parents working, offering a home daycare can be an awesome way to start a business.

For starting the business, you will need a large home. You can use your kitchen, living room, bedrooms, and basements for childcare nap and meal areas.

After that, decide your operating hours by researching the market’s needs and select the appropriate age group. Plan the activities that will keep the children engaged and interested such as songs, games, and storytelling.

  • Startup expense: The startup capital is usually medium for a home daycare as it requires a big home and the play stuff for kids.
  • Skill requirement: There are various training programs available for skill development of people who are willing to start a home daycare. There are different courses online that will help you understand child psychology.
  • Recurring expenses: Recurring expenses can be the purchase of goods from suppliers for sale. Also, rent and taxes need to be paid timely.
  • Average income:  $52,655 per year

5. Yard Work

Become a yard specialist. Landscapers do the work of cutting grass, but what they don’t necessarily do are the things house owners do not have time to do.

Work in people’s yard and provide them services like leaf raking, weeding, snow shoveling, planting, or removing holiday decorations. Just buy yourself a ladder and a pair of work gloves and you are good to go.

  • Startup expense: To start this business, you will have to spend on the purchase of various yard tools and equipment.
  • Skill requirement: Not much skill is required. Basic knowledge of working in a yard will do the work.
  • Recurring expenses: Repair and maintenance of yard equipment.
  • Average income: $33,000 per year

6. Dog Trainer

If you love dogs, are trustworthy, organized, and reliable, there is already available work for you. There are people who love their dogs too much but don’t have the time and the understanding to be able to train them.

If you are really serious about becoming a dog trainer, get a degree in animal behavior. If not too much, opt for a training program for a few months. If nothing works for you, do your research on dogs and get acquainted with them.

The more you spend time with those furry friends, the more you will be able to handle them.

  • Startup expense: The startup cost of a dog trainer is minimal as more than studying and getting a course, dog training is more about being able to handle the animal better. You’ll require some dog toys and a leash.
  • Skill requirement: The skills and insights necessary to train dogs as well as safely train people to handle their dogs.
  • Recurring expenses: Training programs if required.
  • Average income: $31,030 per year

7. Travels and Tours

Why not become a Travels and Tours agent? You can set up an online business for advertising air tickets, boat tickets, and even bus tickets. For this business, all you need is a credit card, an internet line, and a website.

Your business will help the customers to go to different places by selling tickets online. Travel and tourism are surely an enjoyable and worthwhile business.

Starting with a good business plan will help you succeed in this exciting field. Check out an example business plan for an international travel agency.

  • Startup expense: If you set up a shop for your travel and tourism business, your startup expense will be medium as you will require different furniture and a place to rent. If not, your startup capital will be minimized as you will only require a website to serve your costumers.
  • Skill requirement: Skills required for becoming a travel and tourism agent is knowledgeable of various places and transportation. A travel and tourism agent should also be good in communication and management. They should also have a basic on operating a website.
  • Recurring expenses: Rent for the shop.
  • Average income: $36,648 per year

8. Computer Maintenance

If you have a tech background and are a constant user of new tools, why not earn some cash exploiting your computer skills? With the advancement of technology, almost everybody now uses laptops, tablets, and smartphones.

For those “hard to use” gadgets, provide services such as desktop cleanups, printer hookups, software installation, and downloads.

  • Startup expense: To start this business, you need to purchase a computer, a laser printer, or an inkjet, screwdrivers, computer cleaning supplies, diagnostic software. The startup cost lies between $2000-$10. You might also need training in computer repair.
  • Skill requirement: Knowledge of upgrading, securing, backing up the computer.
  • Recurring expenses: Repair and maintenance of equipment and tools required.
  • Average income: $33,000 per year

9. Makeup artist

Can’t go a day without makeup? Show off your makeup skills by becoming a makeup artist. For becoming a makeup artist, you need to develop your makeup skills. For that, try different looks for yourself and your friends.

Try working on different faces and familiarize yourself with a variety of looks. Go on researching a different kind of celebrity, traditional, every day, night out, and festival makeup.

For doing that, go through fashion blogs, watch films, read magazines, go to plays, and pay attention to the different styles of makeup looks and ever-changing makeup trends.

  • Startup expense: The startup expense to open a beauty salon is medium as you will need to spend on leasehold improvements and various salon equipment.
  • Skill requirement: Professional makeup skill
  • Recurring expenses: Rent, taxes, and purchase of new beauty products.
  • Average income: $30,000 per year

10. Online Business

You don’t have a place to start your business? You don’t need the capital to license or open up a storefront if you start an online business.

Set up your website, get in touch with some suppliers, and learn about companies that do the work of shipping. Like any business, you’ll need an excellent product and a solid marketing plan.

Learn about how to set up a business online at How to start a business online

  • Startup expense: Startup expense of online business will differ on the nature of the business. If it is a retail online store, the cost of starting a business will be medium as it requires various stocks of goods, whereas, the business of an educational website requires the help of teachers and experts.
  • Skill requirement: An online business owner should be able to create and manage a website. It is important for an online business owner to be capable of handling their customers.
  • Recurring expenses: Various website development tools, purchase of the stocks of goods, and others.
  • Average income: $44,425 per year

11. Upcycling Service

If you are a person who likes craft too much try turning unwanted items into recycled projects. Whether undeniably wasteful things or the items you don’t use anymore, every house is full of clutter.

Take your old kitchen fork and turn it into a locket, use your childhood jeans to make yourself a cool purse or cut off the top of your old sock to make your puppy a nice sweater. Use your creativity and step yourself in the game.

The first thing to do is to fill up your garage with sufficient “trash” that could be recycled and then, use your imagination.

  • Startup expense: The startup expense of an upcycling service is minimal as it requires basic craft supplies and old recyclable belongings.
  • Skill requirement: For an upcycling service, you should be creative and be good with art and craft.
  • Recurring expenses: The time and again purchase of craft supplies
  • Average income: $20,000 per year

12. Errand Service

The growth of industrialization has made people busier than ever. With the hurdle of working long hours and handling responsibilities, there’s so much left undone.

Many people are in a need for a service that helps them running errands such as paying the phone bill, internet bill, dropping dry cleaning off, taking sacks of leaves to the compost center, taking mail to the post office, filling car fuel, etc.

You can start your own errand service with nothing but trustworthy transportation and a cell phone. You can also open up your business online by setting up your website and put up all your information there.

If you’d rather work for with the land clients, create a brochure elaborating the services you provide and pin it down to community bulletin boards or hand it to random people walking down the street. For errand service, customer satisfaction is most important.

  • Startup expense: You do not need much of startup capital to start this business as it doesn’t need much of an investment or the purchase of long-term assets.
  • Skill requirement: To run an errand service business, you must be good at time management and should be organized. It is essential to be able to keep account of the errands performed.
  • Recurring expenses: Transportation and communication charges
  • Average income: $39,600 per year

13. House Cleaning Service

If you don’t mind doing household chores, you should start giving house cleaning services. Whether busy or not, people are always looking for some sort of domestic assistance. Cleaning people roughly make $40 every hour.

House cleaning business provides cleaning services to individuals and businesses. This service can be started with a minimum investment. It only requires a bunch of cleaning supplies that can be purchased for cheap.

You can ask your friends and family to look for people wanting this kind of service or promote yourself by distributing pamphlets.

  • Startup expense: The startup expense of a house cleaning service owner will depend upon the scale of the business. If you are planning to hire workers and open an office, your startup expense will be medium. If not, you will only require a few cleaning equipments.
  • Skill requirement: A basic cleaning of the house.
  • Recurring expenses: The repurchase of Cleaning products and tools.
  • Average income: $17,000 per year

14. Energy Efficient Consultant

Everyone is always looking for ways to minimize their expenses as much as they can. Be it house owners or businesses, everybody is trying to figure out the ways to lessen their energy expenses.

To become an energy efficiency consultant, you must have lots of knowledge and expertise. As the price of gas and energy is skyrocketing every day, people are in constant search of renewable energy efficiency policies.

Do your research on utilities and construction and then suggest people and companies on how to install small meters, better insulate, reduce water usage, etc.

  • Startup expense: The startup expense of an energy-efficient consultant is very low or zero.
  • Skill requirement: For becoming an energy efficiency consultant, you have to be calculative. It is extremely important to be able to handle money efficiently and conduct research to minimize wastage.
  • Recurring expenses: Not much of a recurring expense will occur in this type of business.
  • Average income: $44,000 per year

15. Virtual Assistant

A laptop and a decent website are all you need to become a virtual assistant. If you’ve been doing administrative work, but you want to take control of your work, this might just be the perfect work idea for you.

A virtual assistant does the work of running errands of managers or business owners such as paying bills, answering emails, or following up with customers or invoicing customers.

All these things can be done sitting at your home.

  • Startup expense: The startup expense of a virtual assistant is very low or nil as it doesn’t require any investment. The only thing you will be spending money is on your phone and internet bill.
  • Skill requirement: For becoming a virtual assistant, you have to be good at writing, communicating, and have a basis in administrative work.
  • Recurring expenses: Communication and internet charges.
  • Average income: $35,000 per year

16. Translator

For many businesses, the hiring of translators can be vastly unreasonable. The translator is required in an organization so as to interact with foreign language speaking customers.

As the US becomes progressively multilingual, everyone from engineers to banks finds themselves in the need of foreign language speakers in order to communicate with employees and customers.

If you are someone capable of speaking a foreign language, get organized, and come up with an awesome marketing plan to find yourself getting more work than you can handle.

  • Startup expense: The startup expense of a translator is very low or nil.
  • Skill requirement: For becoming a translator, you have to have a good catch on the foreign language you are working on.
  • Recurring expenses: Not much of a recurring expense will occur in this type of business.
  • Average income:$40,797 per year

17. Social Media Consultant

If you are someone who spends all their time online and social media comes naturally to you, what’s better than becoming a social media consultant? Social media is a major advertisement and listening tool for different businesses.

You can help businesses to incorporate social media into their other advertising campaign. If a business is fruitful in attracting its customers via social media, it takes no much time for it to become successful.

Here are the steps to take in order to become a social media consultant.

  • Look for a friend or a family member who needs help in getting started with Social Media to practice helping people with social media.
  • Find a friend or a family member with business and explain the benefits of having a business account in social media.
  • Map out a path to success with social media by trying out different social media techniques and finding the one that works for you.
  • Communicate with the customers have them interested. Don’t be afraid to answer questions asked or ask questions.
  • Track the amount of time spent by keeping a journal and write about the interactions made by customers.
  • Set up a dashboard.
  • Do this for about three more businesses.
  • After you become successful, create your own website or blog and write about what you’re doing and how.
  • Learn about other social media consultants and allow your ideas to grow.
  • Startup expense: The startup expense of a social media consultant is minimal as it only requires a laptop and an internet connection.
  • Skill requirement: For becoming a social media planner, you will have to be good at the use of social media for business and personal use.
  • Recurring expenses: Internet bill
  • Average income: $44,000 per year

18. Writer

Use your imagination and come up with characters and a story to become a writer. If you are someone who has a good catch in grammar, syntax, punctuation, and spelling, try writing your own stuff.

Blogging is a good way to start. You can write about various things such as fashion, makeup, health, business, technology, science, etc. If you come up with a completed book, publishing it might cost you some cash.

However, if it becomes a success, you might just live a life full of luxuries.

  • Startup expense: The startup expense of a writer can be minimal. Writing blogs can be done from home with zero investment. If you decide to publish your work, it requires a certain sum of money.
  • Skill requirement: For becoming a writer, you have to be good in literature, grammar, and vocabulary. You also have to be intelligent, creative and a good observer of things.
  • Recurring expenses: Internet bill
  • Average income: For a blogger, the average income ranges from $19,000 to $79,000. If you become a writer, your average salary will be $47,467.

19. Videographer

You can use an expensive DSLR camera or just your HD quality pocket video camera to create documentaries, short films, Vlogs, or tutorials.

To become a videographer, you have to know about the operation of the camera you are using, decide the content that you will be working on, select an appropriate location, look for props you will be needing and find people who are willing to be in your footage.

You will also need to learn about various kinds of video editing tools that are readily available in the app store on your iPhone. If you can, find a client who would buy this footage from you and distributes it directly to them.

If not, upload your video to YouTube.

  • Startup expense: The expenses will include a decent DSLR camera or a phone with an HD rear camera. You might also need to pay for the actors you include in your footage.
  • Skill requirement: For becoming a videographer, you should be able to use the camera, should come up with stories to share and things to show to your audience.
  • Recurring expenses: Payment to actors, camera repair and maintenance, transportation to the appropriate location.
  • Average income: $66,690 per year

20. Travel Guide

Now, what’s better than to earn a living by just visiting various places and interacting with different people? The first thing you need to do is create a website and upload original photos and travel documentaries to earn people’s trust.

Promote yourself as an expert by learning about the histories of various places and doing research on different locations to travel.

You can also write your own tour guidebook and sell it as an e-book or print on demand.

  • Startup expense: $3,000 for a laptop and two brochures.
  • Skill requirement: The skill of a travel guide can be developed through various software programs. A travel guide should be someone who is easy to communicate. He/she must be polite and have a cheerful personality.
  • Recurring expenses: Transportation charges
  • Average income: $34,382 per year

    In a nutshell, starting a business is not as complicated as you’re making it out to be. With the help of the above-mentioned business ideas, a little investment, and a lot of determination, you are guaranteed to be the next very big thing in the business world.

21. Dropshipping

Dropshipping is one of the most popular business models out there. Unlike traditional stores, you do not need to store all the merchandise and worry about it when it sells.

In dropshipping the manufacturer stores their product and as and when you make a sale they will ship it out on your behalf.

This literally makes is it a no loss. All you need to start a drop shipping business is a website where people can purchase or send an inquiry about the product

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