If you’re looking to venture into the business world but are strapped for cash, don’t worry – plenty of low-investment business ideas can help you get your feet wet in entrepreneurship with minimal risk. Whether you’re hoping to make a full-time career out of it or want some extra side income on the weekends, this blog post has got you covered!
Here I will provide different strategies for starting up a successful low-investment business — from virtual assistant and freelancer to becoming an influencer and e-publishing —feel free to mix and match according to your individual interests, skillset and desired amount of income.
Best Low-Investment Business Ideas to Start in 2023
If you are considering starting your own business but don't want to break the bank in the process, rest assured that plenty of low-investment business ideas are out there.
1. Online Affiliate Marketing
An affiliate marketer makes money promoting a brand or person’s product/service using the internet. The most common way this is done is to have your own website promoting products to your visitors.
This is a low-investment business idea because the cost of setting up and running your website can be accomplished for less than $100 in your first year of business.
You’ll likely need to invest more money into tools and education to create a successful business around online affiliate marketing; however, these costs can be less than $1000 in your first year, which is still incredibly low for a new business.
Your job as an affiliate marketer would consist of creating content for your website (it can be a personal blog!), attracting visitors to your site, and then making money from visitors who consume your content. That’s the general idea of how a website makes money.
Starting a website is easy. You can have your website up and running in less than 24 hours. The difficult part is building your business from the ground up. Expect to spend many hours learning and trying new ideas as you get the hang of it.
Most bloggers and affiliate marketers don’t make much money in the first six months; however, after 1 – to 2 years, it’s reasonable to make a full-time income online if you dedicate yourself to making your online venture work!
2. Virtual Assistant
A virtual assistant is a term used to describe anyone who helps another person/business complete their business tasks online.
This is an incredibly low-investment business idea because your monetary investment costs can be zero. Most of your investment costs will be your time and effort to find work as a virtual assistant.
You can virtually assist practically any business. Many businesses (big and small) outsource tasks to virtual assistants to complete. The best part of being a virtual assistant is that you perform all your work online – which means you can work from home!
Here is some example of what a travel blogger can pay a virtual assistant to do:
- Creating travel pins for her Pinterest board
- Writing travel content for her blog or other websites
- Creating travel imagery to use on her blog posts
- Answering emails and other business inquiries
- Promoting her blog on social media or search engines
Some virtual assistants work from home full-time. It can be challenging to get enough work to make a full-time income initially; however, it’s absolutely doable as you gain experience in what you do and how you promote yourself.
To find work as a virtual assistant, you can:
- Look for jobs at online marketplaces like upwork.com
- Reach out to businesses inquiring about working for them
- Enroll in the mini-course, Jumpstart Your Virtual Assistant Business (In 4 Quick Steps).
Reaching out to businesses will likely yield better results in terms of pay.
A freelancer performs work for a person/business on a one-time basis (usually). For example, a company can hire a freelance web designer to fix a few coding issues their website is facing.
A freelancer typically works on a per-job basis. You get a job, and you are done after it’s completed. It’s slightly different than a virtual assistant, where the latter is typically characterized by a longer-term partnership (though these lines are getting more and more similar today).
To start a freelance business, you first want to identify what types of skills you have and how you can help others.
The next step is the most difficult one: get your name out there so people who require your skills can find you and hire you. Free online job websites like Craigslist and marketplaces like upwork.com are common places to advertise yourself.
Also, proactively reaching out to businesses that may need someone with your skills is also a great way to find work. If you have a useful skill, you can bet someone out there needs it – and will be more than happy to pay you for your time.
4. Professional Photographer
Photography is a very in-demand skill that continues to grow as businesses require more and more content for their websites, social media accounts, and promotions. On top of that, regular people also need images for their weddings, anniversaries, family portraits, and more.
If you are new to photography and want to turn this into a business, your learning curve will be steeper, and your investment costs will be higher. However, if you already own a camera and have some shooting experience, you can likely begin making money immediately.
You can buy a high-grade camera and a few useful lenses for $5000 or less. You may also need a few accessories like lights and tripods. This is certainly an investment of your money; however, you can make these costs back quickly – within the first few months if you market yourself well.
I’ve always found that finding work in artsy-related jobs like photography is more about learning how to promote yourself and networking with the right people rather than having amazing skills. A photography business is a good start in a small town where everyone knows you.
Having excellent skills is terrific and will separate you from the rest. However, what’s even more important is how discoverable you are.
One popular way to network is through Instagram. Find accounts that you want to photograph for. Follow them and begin engaging with their content so they become familiar with you. Do this with 100-200 accounts. After a few months, you should definitely have a minimum of a few people businesses who would want to hire you.
As you build your portfolio and gain experience, you can charge more money, get more jobs, and perhaps go full-time! Many wedding photographers and event photographers make $100,000 yearly.
5. Social Media Influencer
A social media influencer has a following online and “influences” others by sharing their thoughts, lifestyle, products they are using, etc. An “influencer” makes money by promoting a brand’s products or services. This is how most social media influencers earn income today.
The general idea of how influencing work is that you create content and gain followers, and you continue the process until you can be paid for promoting things. You generally don’t need to spend much money to start. Your costs will depend on which platform you use and what your niche is.
For example, if you want to get paid to travel as a Youtube travel influencer, you’ll need to spend money traveling to create content – which can be expensive.
Alternatively, suppose you wanted to be a keto diet influencer on Instagram. In that case, your feed could consist of health quotes and photos of food you’re eating – which would be an extremely low-cost social media business.
Getting started on social media is incredibly easy. Building a following to a level where you get paid is challenging and requires a lot of time and work.
However, if you enjoy social media, it’s a great place to begin building your brand and business. Hundreds of millions of people have created a sustainable businesses on social media.
6. Online Course Creator
Creating courses online is one of the most rewarding business ideas with low investment and high profit. There are many ways to create courses; however, the general idea is to build a useful course on a subject people want to learn and sell it to as many people as possible.
Creating courses is typically not something a first-time online business owner starts their venture with because it’s challenging to succeed with it right off the bat. Many people and business owners start their online careers with a blog or social media account like Youtube and transition to creating online courses to generate more business revenue.
Creating courses can be one of the best business ideas with low investment and high profit. For the most part, if you create courses on learning platforms like Skillshare, your costs can be quite low – just a few thousand dollars or less.
Creating courses, you host on your website will likely cost considerably more because you’ll be responsible for all the upfront costs, including promoting your product.
Creating courses may be the right online business move for you if you are very experienced and knowledgeable about a specific topic! Explore your options on where to host your course and how you want to promote it.
7. Music Teacher
A music teacher teaches anything related to music to students, with an instrument being the most common form of music teaching.
Teaching music is an incredibly practical way to earn a full-time or extra income. This is because you are already knowledgeable about how to use your musical instrument, and teaching it can make you a lot of money quickly.
For example, a piano music teacher can invite students to her home for music lessons. If the music teacher is quality, she can easily ask for $50 – $100 for an hour of lesson. You can see that giving one on one private lessons to a few students per day can earn you a full-time income.
Making money as a music teacher will come down to advertising and promoting your service. There are a lot of students who want to learn musical instruments! Promoting yourself online on free websites is a great way to begin looking for students to teach.
8. Social Media Manager
A social media manager manages all (or some) social media accounts a business owns. This is a great way to earn income because you only need a computer to perform your duties and can work from anywhere in the world.
Your job duties will vary, but the idea is that you will help the business promote its products/services through social media. You will be posting photos (and perhaps taking them, too), writing captions, making videos, answering comments and questions, etc.
Social media managers get paid a wide variety of money. Your pay will come down to how much work you are required to complete and how experienced you are.
It’s very reasonable to expect $1000 – $2000 per month for managing one business social media account. If you manage a few businesses, it would likely be the equivalent of working 30-40 hours per week and will likely earn you a wage you can live off!
9. Website Content Writer
A writer is among the highest in-demand business ideas with low investment and high profit. Business, especially the hundreds of millions of online websites, needs daily fresh content, and many hire content writers to create it.
If you see content written on a website, especially a big well-known site, chances are it hired writers to write for them.
Writers of all skill levels are needed online. There are plenty of people who require low-quality content writers as well. However, you’ll want to be at least average at writing for the best-paying jobs. The higher your skill level, the better.
You can get paid $50 – $100 (or more) for writing an article for a website. If the site is an established business and you’re knowledgeable and a good writer, expecting more than $100 per article you write is very reasonable.
Finding writing jobs is quite easy. The fastest way is to perform a quick Google search for “writing jobs.” You’ll see pages and pages of results and opportunities. Many of these jobs typically don’t pay too well or require you to bid on jobs – however, you can usually get started making money quickly this way.
Finding great writing jobs that pay well is harder and requires you to do more work. You must ensure competent writing skills and knowledge of the subject matter. I recommend reaching out to many blogs and websites to look for career/freelance opportunities.
10. Dog Walking Business
Making a living as a dog walker is an excellent low-cost business idea — not only can you hurtle down the road with an adoring pack of pooches while getting paid, but you’re doing something to benefit both the owners and their four-legged friends. You don’t need expertise or office space; just build up your reputation in the area, so people know that you are reliable and professional in pet care.
Because this means building relationships with pet owners over time, you may want to specialize in certain services like midday walks for busy professionals or puppy playdates for young dogs waiting for their humans to come home from work.
Besides providing a valuable service (and plenty of tail-wagging, thanks!), starting a dog walking business is relatively simple and straightforward. Just get those leashes ready for a wag-filled good time!
11. Landscaping Business
Starting a landscaping business is a great way to get into the business without investing in expensive materials and equipment. With the right tools, you can create beautiful gardens and lawns for your customers that will last for years.
You'll need basic landscaping equipment such as mowers, trimmers, edging tools, wheelbarrows, marketing skills, and strong customer service. Even with just a few clients and low overhead costs, you can easily profit from the growing landscaping industry.
So go ahead and explore this small business idea: With smart planning, hard work and creativity, you could live in your garden of success!
12. Personal Chef
A very profitable business idea is to become a personal chef. Imagine using your cooking skills to make money and help others satisfy their needs. Whether it’s preparing healthy meals, taking orders for special occasions or providing meal delivery services, there are many options you can focus on.
With very few initial investments and proper marketing of your services, you could be up and running as a personal chef in no time. And while the startup costs may be low compared to other businesses, you have the potential to make excellent money with very few hours of work!
13. Online Fashion Botique
Starting your own online fashion boutique is a great way to break into the online business world without a significant initial investment. With online marketplaces like Etsy, eBay and Shopify, creating a digital storefront and selling items with limited investment upfront is easier.
You can combine an eye for style with marketing know-how, curating an offer of fashionable clothing and accessories that attracts customers online. Whether you're sourcing designs from existing brands or developing your own line, online fashion boutiques allow you to refine and grow your business according to changing trends in the industry
14. Event Planning Business
If you have great organization skills, great creativity and great people skills, then an event-planning business might be a good business idea for you! With this type of business, the sky is the limit. You can specialize in anything from weddings to corporate retreats or baby showers.
Taking great care of clients and delivering stunning results will make your event-planning business successful. You'll also need to know how to market yourself and manage your finances to make sure your venture is profitable and that all parties involved in your events go away satisfied. If you focus on providing great service and ensuring all your details are taken care of, you should be able to make to create a lucrative business out of it!
Frequently Asked Questions
What business can you do with $500?
With just $500, you can start a surprisingly wide range of businesses. Whether you want to pursue a passion project or make money from the get-go is totally up to you. If you want to run your own freelance services (think copywriting, design, or even tutoring), the only costs will come from marketing and website expenses.
If you're looking for something more hands-on, pet sitting and dog walking services require minimal startup funds. You'll need basic supplies like leashes and poop bags, but these are inexpensive items relative to other business investments. From photography businesses to reseller shops, there are plenty of entrepreneurial opportunities that require virtually no upfront cost!
What business can I start under 5k?
If you have a few thousand dollars to invest in starting a business, there are many creative and low-cost options to make the most of your resources. For example, look into catering services or selling prepackaged meals if you have a food business.
If you're more interested in creating something tangible, consider handmade jewelry and artisan crafts that are easy to produce from home with limited materials. For a modest initial investment, you can also start an online business, such as web design, website maintenance services, or content writing. You can get your business off the ground with ingenuity, creativity, and dedication without spending too much money upfront.
Many small business ideas with low investment and high profit can work well and generate a full-time income. The difficult part is spending the time required to make it work long-term.
I recommend choosing a profitable business idea that you enjoy – because you want to be able to stick with it.
The low-investment business ideas I mentioned in this article are all (generally) low-cost business ideas to get into. The real cost is your time and effort in building your business. These ideas are great if you are trying to build a business on a budget!
Need more business ideas? Learn how to start a bookkeeping business with no experience.