List of 33 business startup idea under $1,000 or little money + Free Guide

Author: Small Business Editors

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (155 votes, average: 3.97 out of 5)

Most people won’t start a business because of lack of start up funds. But you can. A lot of people find it too risky to cope with a big initial investment. But you don’t need a big one. Luckily, there are now so many available and possible idea to successfully start a business. Below are a few categories for different types of business which require an initial investment of less than $1,000.

Guide to low cost small business ideas

Home base business ideas

Products ideas

Personal services ideas

Arts and crafts ideas

Professional services ideas

Consulting services ideas

Franchises ideas

When you look for ideas to start a small business the most important is to start with something you already like and are at least a little good at it.

This will improve your chances to persevere, get clients and make money.

Start looking around what other people charge for similar services, then do a few test with different prices to see how much you can charge. Can you charge more to have it done quicker or better?

You may find you could easily charge $20-30 per hour. Not too bad if you do something you like and are good at.

You can start all the projects below on a part-time basis. This mean you can still work at your existing job, or keep looking for one, while working on getting your new or extra income.

Home based business ideas

The first good news is these days you can start and run almost any business from home. Big or small, whichever the type of business, the internet allows you to run almost any kind of business from your own home. This drastically reduce your need for funding to start your business.

Which business ideas can be done from home?

Every single one below can be be started and ran from your home successfully. Browse the list below to get ideas of your own and maybe find one that perfectly fit your goal.

Products Ideas

The number of possibilities for product ideas is almost limitless. Anything you can make yourself can be sold. If you have talent talent, are handy, or a good eye, and like to make things, you can probably sell them yourself.

We’ve a short list of ideas below but really the sky is the limit for what you can do.

Home-based Sales

Selling products from a nationwide company like Avon or Mary Kay while using your home as an office plus your friends, family and neighbors  as customers can be an easy and effective way to become an entrepreneur and earn an new income.

It’s often only around $10 to sign up with one of these companies and benefit from a marketing and distribution network. They usually pay by commission, so the more revenues you generate, the more income you get.

Candle Maker

Yes, we know candles. Just wait… This activity can be perceived as a form of art from which you can earn some revenues by selling your products in fairs and in local stores. It doesn’t require much space and once you get some experience with the right technique it gets much more time efficient.

You can make a simple candle cheaply and sell them for a little profit. And you can make more sophisticated and specialized candles selling for a premium at the right location a better profit. It all depend on your taste, the places where you can sell them and your clientele.

Growing vegetables, microgreens

Growing vegetables or micro-greens required you have land (less is needed for micro-greens) but even a small parcel can bring you a very decent income.

Some market gardeners can to local farmers market, some to neighbors through prepaid baskets or boxes of vegetables by families, some to local restaurants and some use all these methods.

You don’t either need to live in the countryside to start growing vegetables. If you have a decent size backward you can start your growing there. Then you can use some neighbors yard in exchange of some free vegetables.

Ready meals

You like to cook and are a good one? Then preparing ready meals and selling them is a good way to earn extra revenues.

This can be selling meals for a while week or only one meal at the time.  The key will be to figuring what is your market (what type of meals,  and how many days you’ll prepare meals).

Your clientele can be any busy people and families around you (busy workers, single people who don’t like to cook, elderly who can’t cook?). Start by finding out who can be your clients, where they are.

Find a way to talk to them and find their needs. Then you can propose them a solution of ready meals.

Furniture design

You like furniture and design? Then maybe designing furniture will be your thing.  Selling designs is a high end  activity if you sell to manufacturers. Buy you could also make it a little bit easier if you sell your design to smaller specialised woodworking company (for example).

You can also sell or advertise your design online to consumers, making a brand for yourself. Which will make it easier for consumers to buy them or ask small companies to use your designs.

Furniture maker

There are some iconic furnitures types and models that never go out of style. Some other are more in demand and come at a higher price (mid century anyone?).

You can start quickly if you already the basic tools. But naturally, once you start to make some sales you may want to invest in more high end tools to make your work easier and faster.

T-Shirt designer/seller

Making original, funny, thoughtful or specialized designs can be easy these day with online (free) tools. You can sell the design to existing online t-shirt fabrication store or sell custom designs to groups and special events. In the later case you can also have the shirts made with your design which can make you charge a small premium for a full service.

What’s next? See our guide to starting a small business

Personal Services Ideas

Roommate Service

Renting out a spare room in your house or apartment can be an easy way to earn a steady income. It can also be an effective way to earn experience as a landlord if you ever decide to expand your activities.

Dog walking

This service can go well with other services like watering plants, gardens or picking up mail. Walking dogs services is most common in bigger cities or big apartment buildings.

Bicycle repairs

In some part of the country this may be a seasonal service. The few tools are cheap to get and it’s easy to learn to repair a bicycle (try a local bike club or YouTube videos). Word of mouth works great but don’t forget putting flyers or business cards at local stores. Set up shop in a parking lot or in your driveway on weekends and you’ll see people come by.

Phone Answering Service

Some companies hire people to answer their phones on their behalf after business hours. This can be done from your home and doesn’t require any specific education, but an experience in customer service is often desirable.

Ice Sculpting

Usually practiced in winter, in regions where there’s snow, ice sculpting is a form of art which require a certain training and some experience. Once you get good at it, you can earn a high revenue for performing live at events.

Blade-Sharpening Service

This business requires a certain skill and some equipment, but it’s a service which is often scarce which makes it a highly profitable activity after the initial investment is repaid.

Laundry/Ironing Service

A lot of people are living at a fast pace and don’t even find the time to do their own laundry. This creates a business opportunity which requires access to a washer and a dryer or to a laundromat. It’s a low cost service that can also be expanded to businesses.

Cleaning boats

Another seasonal service in most part of the country but it’s an easy one to start and find potential clients. Walk about or drive around the neighborhood and you’ll see who have boat: talk about easy market research. Going to a marina is another easy way to approach clients, even better offer your service directly to the marina owner.

Magician Service

This requires a specific training and experience which some can be acquired for free by watching videos on the Internet. Some pubs and restaurants like to offer a night featuring a magician to their customers. This activity can also feature at private events.

Makeup Artist

Depending on your experience and specific training, being a makeup artist can be a low profit business or a very profitable one. You have to start at the bottom to get to the top, an offering this service at a low price to start can help you get the experience and reputation to earn more revenue.

Event Planning Service

A lot of people and companies don’t have the skills or the time to plan and set up the events they would like to organize. They would be much more inclined to hiring a resourceful person to do it for them. By starting with a small operation it’s easy to get some experience and establish your reputation as a good event planner. The company hiring you will pretty much cover all of your expenses.

Life or career coach

If you want to be a certified life coach you’ll need to follow and pass one the few possible certification organisations.  With a certification in hand it’ll be much easier to market yourself and charge more for your service.

Career coach can also get a certification from different organisations.

Once you have your certification it’s now time to think about who you want to serve and what type of problem you want to help solve. With this in hand you can then decide who you’ll sell your service: directly to people or through their employers?

Yoga teacher

It’ll help if you already know and like yoga. Because it’ll also help you if you take a class to become an instructor. Once your class is done you can register to be a yoga instructor.

You can offer your service at existing yoga schools, directly to people, in some enterprises, at community organisation. Wherever you offer your service it’ll help if they have a place where you can provide your yoga classes.

Music teacher

You can offer to teach any music instrument directly to the public or on some online site specialised online learning. They market their site and it helps you with skipping most of your marketing.  They take care of payment but naturally they take a fee for their service.

Once you have a few clients, better yet local clients, you can offer your teachings directly to your students (making a little more per class).

Childcare: from nanny to daycare

Being a nanny is easy; you need to have a good reputation, be good and patient with kids, then once you have a few clients they’ll tell their friends about your good service.

A daycare is a step or two above. You’ll need a space and in most states get a license and apply a few standards. But as you can take care of more kids you can make more.

Tutor: all different grades and subjects

Most kids struggle with a subject at some point. Sometime school is not enough to help the kid and that where tutoring come in.

There are already many sites offering every possible tutoring service, subject and grades. From teaching english to foreign kids, to helping local kids with math, science  or grammar, to helping college student with more specialized classes.

Tutors can make an interesting extra income if they know a subject in dept and are good at explaining it.

Cleaning, housekeeping

This service, just like the 2 next ones are easier to sell in neighborhoods where you’ll find either too busy families, people who can do them because of physical limitations, and simply people who don’t like to do them. In all cases your clients need to be able to pay for the service.

Laundry service

This can be done at the client’s home or yours. It usually involve also a folding clothes once washed. You can also offer a premium service to take care of dry cleaning (at a dry cleaner) and dewrinkling clothes at the client’s locations.

Carpet cleaning

Yes, you usually need a machine but unless you’ve enough clients to be worth buying one, you can start by renting one. Try to do a few in a day to make it worth the rental.

You can also offer some of the previous services and following one to complement your income and offering full fledge services.

Window cleaning

This may not be for everyone as some residential houses have 2 floors and need a ladder to clean all windows. But in many cases many home and apartments have easily accessible windows, making them easy to clean.

Taller buildings usually pay a specialized company to clean windows from the exterior but tenant and owners may want to pay you to clean their windows inside.

Pool cleaning

Great first job for teenagers. It’s also a good complement for people offering a lawn care service.

Naturally, some neighborhoods and cities have more pools than others so this may not work everywhere in the country.

Interior decorator

Personal chef, caterer, cook/baker
Personal shopper
Car repairs
Auto detailing
Bicycle repair/storage
Makeup artist
Personal trainer
Senior services (cleaning, errands, laundry, other types of help, family advice)
Tour guide
Travel planner
Home inspector
Home staging, packing, moving helperHome repairs/restoration
Tech support, mobile repairsDoor to door delivery

Cleaning chimneys

Starting out is simple, ask someone already doing it if he/she need a hand, then learn the technique, what you need to do and look for over a few days or weeks. Basic tools are not too expensive and you can even add an inspection service after a while when you have some more money to invest into a camera.

Plant Watering Service

This service can be offered to businesses or to large households where the people living in them don’t want to do it themselves. It requires minimal equipment and you can easily reach a high revenue for a few hours worth of work.

Earn money driving: Uber, Lyft and Postmates

Got a 4 doors car, proof of car insurance, not afraid to have a background check done, are over 21, have a driver licence, and a couple of hours a day or in a week to spare and have a smart phone?

-> Uber Driver

Then enjoy flexible driving day(s) and time of day with Uber to earn extra money. Uber also partner with some gas station to provide drivers with rebates at the pump.

You get paid every week for each drive + tips.

Uber drivers are in demands everywhere even more in places like Boston, New Jersey, Miami, Los Angeles, Chicago, Denver, Portland, San Diego. Orange County, Phoenix, Las Vegas, Philadelphia, Houston, Atlanta, Dallas, Orlando, Oklahoma City, New York city, Austin, UpState New York and New York’s suburbs.

-> Lyft Driver

The “other”, and GROWING, car ride service. Lyft is growing in all states and metropolitan areas, it has the same requirement as Uber plus provide extra insurance on top of your existing one.

You get paid every week per drive + tips. Lyft drivers are in high demands everywhere!

-> Postmate’s Driver

Driving and delivering meals and groceries for Postmate let you keep 100% of the delivery fees and tip.
You can have weekly deposit or immediate cash-out.

Shopping Service

A service for which the demand is growing, personal shopping can seem like a easy task, but it requires the skill to know exactly what your customers want.

Dog Walking Service

It’s often hard for dog owners to fulfill their animal’s exercises needs. Offering this service in your neighborhood can lead to an impressive demand. You don’t need any equipment to start this business, you only need a good pair of shoes and a love for animals.

Pet Grooming Service

This business requires some specialized equipment and at minimum a room, which can mean using a spare one in your house. Although there’s a moderate initial investment in material associated with this business, your revenues are mostly profits once that investment is repaid.

Toy Cleaning Service

Parenting is very demanding and all parents want what’s best for their children. That’s why some of them, which do not have the time to do so, may be interested in paying to have someone clean their children’s toys. An investment in non-toxic cleaning products and some cleaning tools is required.

Freelance Photography

Technology is making it easy for anyone to start their own freelance photography business. All you need is a good camera and a computer to be able to offer a moment capturing service at people’s events. You can also spontaneously show up at events, take pictures, and give people your business card with a link to your website where they can later buy the pictures you took.

Bicycle Tours

In cities where there’s a lot of tourism, bicycle tour businesses are booming. Get a share of it by starting your own bicycle tours and show tourists your view of your city. For tourist who often have a limited amount of time Bicycles are a fast, easy, healthy and environmentally friendly way to get around and see a lot.

Bed and Breakfast

Starting a Bed & Breakfast is a way of turning your property into a business asset. It’s easy to advertise on the Internet and with your local tourist information center. A lot of travellers will prefer a more personal lodging experience.

Party Entertaining Service

This is a broad business where you can showcase your own skills or the talents of hired employees. Not all organizers will want the same entertainment. Some will prefer a band over a DJ and others a stand up comic over dancers or acrobats. There are a lot of possibilities, but the more variety you can offer, the more business you’re likely to get.

Home Maintenance

Keeping a clean and organised household is harder than it sounds. Some people do it naturally while others lack the skills or the time do it themselves. If you’re part of the first group, you could offer this service in your neighborhood and earn some extra cash.

Home Repair Service

All you need is a toolbox and some handyman skills to be able to help people in your community while earning some money. Placing adds in local papers or in strategic spots, like a supermarket or a community center, will often give surprising results. Once you build a good reputation, your customers will most likely do your advertising for you by telling the people around them.

Educational Tutoring Service

Helping people, whether they’re young or old, acquire the knowledge you already have is rewarding and can be a very profitable activity. You can advertise easily by telling the people around you and by putting up flyers at schools, your local library, or at community centers.

Mystery Shopper

This activity requires a certain marketing experience and knowledge to be able to fulfill your customer’s needs. A mystery shopper is someone that presents themselves as a customer in a business to test it’s employees respect of customer service guidelines and procedures.

Athletic Recruiter/Scout

If you have an experience in a certain sport, you could turn your knowledge into a business opportunity. You need to be able to spot talent and know a network of people that want this talent in their team or representing their institution. Your revenues are often performance based commissions.

Childbirth Instructor

Some certifications and a very good knowledge of childbirth are needed to help you gain the confidence of your customers. Helping couples or single mothers prepare for giving birth can be a highly rewarding activity while giving you good revenues.

Event Promoter

Some event organizers will prefer focusing on planing and setting up events and leave the task of convincing people to attend to someone else. That’s where you can step in if you have marketing and promotional skills. Your operating expenses like printing flyers and posters can be charged to your customers who will often offer a performance based remuneration.

Reminder Service

It might not seem like it, but a lot of people have trouble organizing themselves in order to remember important dates or appointments and would be willing to pay for a service that reminds them. This business requires a phone and a computer with access to Internet to be able to communicate with your customers.

What’s next? See our guide to starting a small business

Arts and Crafts Ideas

The only limit for crafts products to sale is your imagination. You can do 2-3 different styles and show them around to see which ones are liked most. Does someone want to buy you one? If so you’re on the right track. Do a few more and bring them to locations where they could be sold or post their pictures online.

Antiques sales/refurbishing/flipping
Clothes designer, alteration service
Jewelry maker, designer: necklace, bracelets, rings
Picture frames, Pottery, Magnets, Coasters, Clocks
Photographer: commercial, weddings, families/schools, Stock photography
Specialty animal food, collars
Specialty candles
Pillow covers
Plant nursery

Jewelry Designer

Basic jewelry design is easy and doesn’t cost much if you’re using cheap materials. It’s revenue can also be a launch platform to get specific training and equipment to be able to make higher quality products and sell them at a higher price.

Professional Services Ideas

Freelance Bookkeeping

With a basic training, recording data and verifying the financial status of companies can be an effective way to earn revenue.

Financial reporting
HR/Employees management/training
Assistant/Virtual assistant
Digital Design: logos, commercial material, etc.
Web designer
Marketing: Campaign planning/execution, Public relations, Social media management, Email marketing
Online advertising management
Software or app developer
IT and Tech support, mobile repairs
Office cleaner
Commercial plants maintenance
Office coffee delivery
Property manager

Freelance Editing and Writing

Whether you’re a seasoned writer or a beginner a lot of publishers are looking to acquire good content. If you have your way with words, there are a lot of business opportunities to create written content for online websites or traditional small business.

What’s next? See our guide to starting a small business

Consulting Services Ideas

When you have lots of experience and knowledge about something there are 3 main ways to turn your expertise into an income.

1- You can teach your expertise.
2- You can write about what your expertise and sell it (ex: a book or ebook).
3- You can offer consulting to other people and companies about your expertise.

Consulting simply mean you advise for a fee. This fee can be in the low end to the very end based on yoru expertise and its value. Starting a consulting business requires little funds as long as you can demonstrate your expertise, people and companies will pay for your advices.

Franchises Business Ideas

Buying a franchise usually get you a solid plan which greatly increase your chances of success. Because the franchisor already have a few or many successes with its franchises the proof of concept is usually considered done. All you need is to find the right location to market then you only have to invest your time and follow the franchisor’s plan.

Franchise are traditionally stores but there are now many services business offered as franchises. The popular services with franchises are cruise planner, fitness class, carpet cleaning, office cleaning services, windshield repairs, pest control, home inspectors, property management, soccer programs, travel planning. Find low cost franchise opportunities.


When you look for an idea to start a business the important is to start with something you are at the very least a little good at. This will help you provide a good service, and increase your repeat clients. What’s the market for your idea? Competition is a good sign: it mean there’s a market for your idea and people are ready to buy.

This list above is not exhaustive, it’s there to give you idea of what could work for you. We’re certain you are resourceful to come up with your own idea to start a small business.

You may also be interested in the following articles:
– 14 ways to increase your income.
Startup mistakes to avoid.