13 low investment business ideas and how to start one

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 8 July 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Starting your own small business can be a great way to become self-employed or to start generating a second income. While new businesses often require significant investment, there are businesses that you can start with only a small investment. Understanding your options can help you find a low investment business that appeals to you and that you can quickly start. In this article, we explore low investment business ideas and how to start one of your own.

What is a low investment business?

A low investment business is a small business that only requires a small financial investment. These types of businesses let you focus on starting to operate right away, rather than on logistics and start-up costs. While low capital businesses still require effort and perseverance to be successful, the initial investment is smaller than with some other types of businesses. There are a wide variety of businesses that you can start with a few resources. This can be particularly beneficial if you're starting a business because you need a second source of income.

Why start a low capital business?

Starting a low capital business can be a useful idea if you're between different jobs or want to boost your income. It allows you to start generating revenue even if you have little to invest in the business upfront. Starting your own business can also give you an opportunity to do work that you're passionate about.

As your business grows, it might be possible to make it your main source of income. Running a business like this also allows you to work in a self-employed capacity and to work remotely. Many entrepreneurs value the freedom and flexibility that this offers. It also makes running a small business a convenient option for many people who have other commitments, like students or parents.

Related: 6 high-paying second jobs you can have as a side hustle

13 ideas for low investment businesses

There is a wide range of businesses that you can start with a small investment. The right choice for you depends on your strengths and interests, plus how much time you can commit to running your business. These are some popular choices for businesses you can start with a small investment:

1. Home tutor

If you're skilled in a particular subject and are passionate about sharing your knowledge, you might enjoy working as a home tutor. This choice might be particularly popular with current or former teachers. It's helpful to have some understanding of the national curriculum for the subject you plan to teach.

It's also helpful to decide whether you plan to teach online or in person, either at your home or in the homes of your students. You can then advertise your tutoring services. You also incur travel costs if you choose to travel to students' homes. In most circumstances, you can start a home tutoring business with little to no investment.

2. Dog walking

Starting a dog walking business might appeal to you if you're passionate about animals and enjoy spending time outdoors. To get started, make sure you have the appropriate insurance and invest in flyers or online advertisements to promote your services. Once you build up your client base, you can often recover your investment quite quickly because you can charge considerable rates as a dog walker.

Related: How much do dog walkers make? (plus how to earn more)

3. Cleaning

Cleaning services are often in demand for both residential and commercial sites. Small cleaning businesses often specialise in cleaning one type of premises. Those who work alone often specialise in cleaning residential properties. Your initial investment in this type of business is likely to cover essential cleaning supplies and some marketing. Cleaning is usually a local business, so door-to-door flyers can be an effective approach. You might also choose to make a larger investment in transport so you can cover a wider service area or travel with more supplies.

4. Sell print-on-demand products

If you're creative, you might start a print-on-demand business. You can advertise your designs and customers can choose to have them printed onto posters, greetings cards, prints and other merchandise. This can be a good option if you already have an online following for your creative work. There are a variety of different printers you can work with, and it's only necessary to pay for printing when a customer places an order. This means you only need to pay web hosting costs upfront to start this type of business.

5. Sell handcrafted products

Another idea that might appeal to creative people is to sell handcrafted products. Anything you make by hand can fit into this category, such as greeting cards, handmade soap, handmade candles or knitted items. You might already have the items you want to sell or you might wish to invest in the materials and tools to produce your stock. You could sell these products using an existing sales platform or might also decide to invest in web hosting.

6. Start an online vintage clothing store

If you're interested in fashion, you might enjoy running an online vintage clothing store. Doing this requires you to source good quality vintage clothing, but it's often possible to do this with little investment. Depending on the size of your inventory, you might also need somewhere to store the clothing, either at home or at a storage facility.

7. Start a dropshipping business

A dropshipping business is often one of the quickest and cheapest ways to start your own business. You can create an online store that appeals to a particular niche, and a third party supplier is responsible for storing and shipping the inventory. You're responsible for marketing and customer service, so it's important to establish a positive relationship with a reliable supplier. Dropshipping can help you test the market before expanding your business, meaning it can be a good way to start your own small company.

8. Mobile hair and beauty services

Mobile hair and beauty services can be a convenient business to open with few resources. Being mobile eliminates having to pay for salon space because you normally provide the service in other people's homes. You need the appropriate qualifications to operate one of these businesses. Your investment mainly covers marketing, equipment and might include some travel. You can decide for yourself on the distance you're willing to travel with this type of business.

Related: How to become a hairdresser (with duties and certifications)

9. Work as a freelancer

If you have a special skill like copywriting or graphic design, you might be able to start a business as a freelancer. There are various online platforms where you can advertise your services. Depending on the nature of your service, you might only need your existing IT equipment to get started. You might also choose to invest in marketing your services. Freelance work is a low-cost way to start a business using skills and experience that you already have.

10. Virtual assistant

If you're an experienced administrator, you might start a virtual assistant business. Virtual assistants provide a range of administrative services, like research, data entry and ordering equipment for their clients. There are specialist platforms online where you can advertise your services, or you might be able to join an agency for virtual assistants. This is another business that involves little investment because you already have the necessary skills.

Related: Types of administrative assistant CV skills (plus examples)

11. Equipment rental

If you have high-quality tools for a particular niche, for example, professional cleaning or construction equipment, you could start a business by renting the equipment to other businesses. Renting equipment is sometimes more cost-effective than buying new equipment. Rental companies can charge relatively high rates, meaning you get a good return on investment. Other than marketing, you might already have all of the equipment you require to rent or might choose to invest in more. If you're renting equipment, it's usually your responsibility to maintain it, so it's worth considering the costs associated with this.

12. Buy a franchise

Buying a franchise means buying into a business concept that's already successful. You also often receive support from the original business owners, which can increase your chances of success. Franchises require an upfront investment that can vary significantly. It's possible to find a wide range of franchise opportunities that you can start with a small investment. You can choose a franchise that appeals to your interests.

13. Start a catering business

A catering business might be a good choice if you're passionate about cooking and food. You need the relevant licenses and hygiene certificates for this business but can often work from home. This means your initial investment covers marketing plus any equipment and ingredients you require to get started. You can start a catering business in almost any cuisine or by catering to specific dietary needs, like a plant-based diet.

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