35 Low-Cost Business Ideas You Can Start with $1,000 or Less
Owning a business can give you flexible hours and unlimited growth potential. You can start a business in your free time and build it gradually until it becomes a full-time career. The most important question to ask before starting a business is do you need a lot of money to start one? That depends on…
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Owning a business can give you flexible hours and unlimited growth potential.
You can start a business in your free time and build it gradually until it becomes a full-time career. The most important question to ask before starting a business is do you need a lot of money to start one?
That depends on the business, but you can unleash your creativity and start a business with very little money. Is there any business you can start with $1,000?
There are hundreds of options, below we cover 35 diverse ideas to get you started.
If you love cooking, a catering business can be a cost-effective business to start. Since you don’t need a physical location or storefront for the catering business, you can cook from your kitchen (if it meets professional sanitation standards) or rent space at a commercial kitchen.
While you’ll need to invest in basic ingredients and supplies, you can purchase fresh food once you receive orders. This reduces the upfront cost to under $1,000.
Consider approaching local businesses, the Chamber of Commerce, or wedding and event venues to build a customer base.
Food Delivery Services
If you’ve already got a car, motorcycle, or even a bike, you could start a food delivery service and become a business owner. While you could work for food delivery apps, you can also contract with local restaurants and grocery stores to offer exclusive service.
Setup costs could include a website, a phone number (with Whatsapp), and maybe an app. The website cost shouldn’t be more than $200, and you could even use your existing phone line.
App development is more costly but could be done later when your earnings grow and you want to expand the business.
Mobile Coffee Cart
While a coffee shop costs over $1,000 for setup, a mobile coffee shop can be a fun way to break into the local coffee culture. Ideally, you’ll need a van, a food cart, or even a cart that you can pull by bike, but these can cost between $2,000 and $8,000 plus.
To get started for less, consider setting up a table or booth at local farmers’ markets, near office buildings, beaches, or shopping areas with lots of foot traffic.
You’ll need a vendor’s license in many areas, but that is not expensive. Other startup costs are also minimal. You’ll need a good-quality coffee maker or dispenser, to-go cups, and some storage space (like plastic bins).
A wholesale bakery can be a profitable endeavor you can start from home. You may need to get a permit or inspection for your home kitchen, or you could rent a local commercial kitchen by the hour.
You’ll then need the ingredients and some nice packaging (like cardboard boxes or bags) to pack the goods, but the total cost should be well under $1,000.
You could sell bread, cakes, cookies, and pastries directly to customers as well as bakeries, supermarkets, farmer’s markets, and online. You could also offer free local home delivery service on orders above a certain value (like $25).
A landscaping business depends on your creativity and does not need a storefront. If you love gardening and spending time outside, this can be a business you can start with $1,000 or less.
You’ll need to invest in a lawn mower and a truck, but if you already have those, some other basic gardening tools are your only upfront costs.
You’ll need buckets, hoses, shovels, pruners, and a weed-wacker. You could invest some funds in advertising or approach neighbors and local businesses to book your first jobs.
As your business grows, some of the income could be invested in additional equipment or machinery.
Starting a cleaning business only requires cleaning supplies. Most people already own a vacuum cleaner and mops, so your main costs will include cleaning products, buckets, sponges, and gloves; making this a business you can start with $1,000 or less.
Consider offering specialized services like carpet cleaning or office disinfection services. You can buy a good-quality carpet cleaner for about $500.
You could advertise green or eco-friendly cleaning services and use natural products or homemade cleaning supplies.
A handyman business is another business you can start with $1,000 if you’re skilled at fixing things. You’ll need a few basic tools, including power tools that you may already have.
You’ll also want to make a website and have a business phone number. Consider investing up to $500 in advertising online or in local newspapers to build a client base. Learn more about starting a handyman business here.
Online Jewelry Shop
If you love making or curating jewelry, an online jewelry shop is a business you can start with $1,000 or less. You’ll need a website and to set up a seller account on platforms like Amazon, eBay, or Etsy.
Beyond that, your upfront costs will include material or inventory costs to make jewelry. Plan to spend up to $700 on materials and inventory, but you could even start with $100.
An eCommerce reseller is like a boutique online. You’ll offer curated or unique goods, excellent prices, or both! You can start this business with $1,000 assuming the goods you choose aren’t high-cost items.
You can buy items you think are unique or beautiful and sell them on eBay or Amazon. You can also consider purchasing goods from other eBay sellers (usually in other countries) and have them directly shipped to your clients.
This reduces your upfront cost even further.
Online Print Shop
There are many opportunities to sell your artwork online. An online print shop is one business you can start with $1,000 or less for the artistically inclined.
You can sell digital files on your website, as well as on online marketplaces like Etsy. Some sites that allow you to upload your photos or artwork and sell them online, including 500px and Alamy.
Alternately, you can print and ship others’ artwork or photos nationwide.
Startup costs to sell your own prints will be art supplies or a camera (if you don’t already have one) and website costs. Assuming you already have art to sell, the startup cost could be $100 for the website and some amount for advertising (if you choose to place social media ads).
To sell others’ prints, you’ll need a high-quality printer and packing materials.
To start a dropshipping business, you’ll need some storage space.
This could be your garage, a rented storage unit, or warehouse space. As the business grows, you may need heavy machinery to help you move the inventory.
But initially, you won’t have inventory costs, so you can easily start with less than $1,000 as your main cost will be storage space. In dropshipping, shipping costs are covered by clients.
Makeup Artist and/or Hair Stylist
An at-home hair salon or a mobile beauty salon where you travel to clients’ homes can be a low-cost business. You’ll need high-quality makeup and/or hairstyling equipment, such as scissors, various brushes, a hair dryer, a spray bottle, and hair products.
You can source additional products, like hair dye, based on the client’s requirements, keeping upfront costs well under $1,000.
If you’re interested in fashion and have a good sense of style, you could start a side hustle or full-time business with minimal startup cost.
You’ll need a website, business cards, and a business phone number. You may want to invest some startup funds in online advertising or offer your services first to friends and family to get positive reviews and ask them to recommend to other potential clients.
If you’ve already got a good-quality car or van, you could offer an airport shuttle service and start the business with less than $1,000.
You’ll want to set up a website as well as a booking app and start advertising in local newspapers, trade platforms, and online.
To get started, ask friends and family to spread the word, and contact local businesses to offer shuttle services.
Packing and Moving Business
Packing and moving is a dreaded task for many people. This business requires less than $1,000 to get started.
You can provide boxes and packing tape, which can be purchased with your first job booking. Initially, you’ll need a website and some advertising or listing on local job search or trade sites.
Mobile Auto Detailing Service
If you’re passionate about cars, an auto detailing service requires minimal startup costs. You’ll need basic cleaning supplies specifically for automobiles, including a powerful vacuum and finishing products to improve the vehicle’s shine.
Then, you can set up a website, invest in local advertising, and offer to travel to the client’s location. This business can be grown by adding a physical car wash venue.
Virtual assistants work from home. You’ll need a computer or tablet that you can work on comfortably and a strong internet connection.
To start booking clients, you can list your services on Upwork, Everhour, Fiverr, and Hubstaff. While having a website is not essential, adding a personalized website and investing in advertising, if you have the funds, can grow your business.
If you have a website that gets traffic, you can post advertising and affiliate links from affiliate marketers’ networks or even Amazon. Each time someone clicks on a link or makes a purchase, you’ll get paid an affiliate commission.
You can also earn affiliate income through active social media accounts with as little as 5,000 followers. This business does not require any startup cost and ongoing costs are minimal.
You can work as a copywriter or a content writer for less than $1,000. You’ll only need to make a portfolio on your website or one of the many free websites that allow you to post content.
You’ll want to advertise your services online or on sites like Upwork and Fiverr. You can also contact local businesses with the portfolio of your work.
Many companies hire SEO specialists to improve their organic search ranking. If you have expertise in SEO, you could start this business for less than $1,000.
You’ll need a website and a subscription to an SEO tool like Moz or SEMRush. You can leverage your business contacts and network or advertise online to get started.
Social Media Coordinator
A social media coordinator helps brands to build their social media presence.
Your startup costs are minimal if you’ve already got a smartphone, computer, and internet connection. You can create a website and invest in social media advertising or local advertising to build a client base, keeping the initial startup costs well under $1,000.
If you have coding or developer experience, you could build mobile and desktop applications for clients.
You could also build your apps and earn income from in-app purchases or subscription costs. If you already have a computer and development software, upfront costs are minimal.
For developing apps, you’ll charge an upfront cost to clients that you can use to purchase any additional software necessary.
Social Media Influencer
If you love using social media and have built a following, you could be a social media influencer.
You’ll need to start working with brands or local businesses to advertise for a commission. To become a social media influencer, you may need to invest in subscriptions to apps like Canva or Tailwind, but you won’t need more than $400 to get started. If you don’t have a smartphone, you could get one for around $1,000.
However, you don’t need a smartphone of your own to become a social media influencer.
Senior Home Care Aid
A senior home care aid will help seniors with basic tasks like grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, bathing, and more. If you have the qualification of a nurse or physical therapist, you can offer additional care services.
For this business, you can start with a simple website and some advertising in local newspapers and online. You can also contact local doctors’ offices to advertise your services to patients.
Childcare is an increasingly lucrative business that requires minimum startup costs. If you watch children in clients’ homes, your only startup cost will be for a website and some advertising.
You can also post flyers at childcare centers, schools, and recreation centers to build a client base.
Business Consulting Services
If you’ve got business experience and a track record to prove it, you can offer business consulting in diverse areas, from accounting to marketing to sustainability.
You’ll need a website that explains your credentials and experience. For the remainder of the $1,000 startup cost, you can advertise online or contact local businesses to build a client base.
Wedding planners can work from home or meet clients at event venues. As a wedding planner, you’ll need to invest in a website, online advertising, and create a portfolio.
Beyond that, you can curate idea scrapbooks through Pinterest, wedding magazines, and decor magazines to keep the cost below $1,000.
As a photographer, you can photograph clients at home and on special occasions like graduations, weddings, and anniversaries.
You can purchase a good quality camera for $500 to $700 and upgrade lenses or additional equipment after you book clients.
You’ll want to set up a website to highlight your photos. You can advertise on social media and in local newspapers or on your own social media account.
If you’re an artist, you have a business opportunity to sell your painting at art fairs, art galleries, and online. The only startup costs are art supplies, a website, and entry fees at art fairs.
This is a business you can start with $1,000 and build into a full-time career.
Like painters, other artisans who work with wood, clay, or other mediums can build a business for only the cost of supplies.
You’ll want to set up a website and consider listing your work on Etsy and at art fairs. While making a full-time income as an artisan can be difficult, you can start the business and grow it over time.
Personal Fitness Training
If you’re passionate about fitness, you can start a business as a personal trainer from home. You can work out of a local gym or visit clients at home or local recreation spaces like parks.
You can also offer online training from home. Get a certification to increase your income and credibility.
Your startup cost will include the setting up of a website and a modest advertising budget to attract clients.
If you love to write, you can self-publish a book on Amazon for less than $1,000.
To launch your writing career, you’ll need to get the book professionally edited and formatted and then use self-publishing software to publish the book as an ebook or even in softcover and hardcover formats.
Dog walking businesses don’t require any specialized certifications. If you love animals, you can launch a dog walking service in your area for less than $1,000.
You can invest in a website and some online advertising and post flyers at supermarkets or other local bulletin boards. To further build clientele, consider taking a booth at a local farmer’s market or fair to meet locals and explain your business model.
If you love teaching and learning, working as a tutor can be a business opportunity you can start online or in person. Tutors can make $10 to $100 per hour or more. The startup cost is minimal for a tutoring business.
If you already have a computer and internet connection, you’ll only need to invest in a website and some textbooks or workbooks on the subjects you plan to teach.
You could advertise online or join existing online networks where people can hire tutors by the subject.
If you’re fluent in more than one language, offering translation services is a business you can start with $1,000 or less. You’ll need professional attire and a website.
You can list your services online on platforms like Upwork and Fiverr, as well as with local businesses. You may need to invest some funds in advertising and spread the word through your professional network.
How to Start a Business in 8 Steps
Starting a business is relatively simple, but a clear plan and structure can increase the chances of success. Here are a few points that you’ll want to consider:
Step 1: Write a Business Plan
Consider projected income, break-even point, client base, and total costs in your business plan.
A good business plan will include your business’s vision and mission, an executive summary of what you’ll do, a company description, market analysis, organizational structure, and financial projects.
If you’re starting on your own, this can be simple initially. You may want to include the cost of an accountant to help manage business funds.
You could open your business as a sole proprietorship (you’ll work as an individual), partnership, LLC, or corporation.
Consider a business structure that allows for company growth, ease of management, and legal protection.
Step 3: Register Your Business
Depending on the structure, you may have to register your business with the IRS and get an Employer Identification Number (EIN).
Register your business with the local Chamber of Commerce to build awareness and network with other local professionals. Of course, you’ll need to plan to pay taxes for your business.
Step 4: Get the Necessary Licenses and Permits
Depending on your field, you may need licenses or permits. In food service, you may need to get your kitchen inspected. For other careers, obtaining certifications and permits can help build business authority.
Depending on local rules, you may need a local permit to operate in a public area, such as for a coffee cart.
Step 5: Open a Business Bank Account
To simplify accounting, you’ll want to open a bank account for your business.
You’ll need an EIN to open a business bank account. If you’re a sole proprietor, you can also open a separate personal checking account for your business, although business bank accounts come with perks and liability protection that personal bank accounts don’t offer.
If you only need $1,000 to start your business, you may have the funding in savings.
If not, you could take out a business or personal loan or borrow funds from a friend or family member.
Step 7: Get Business Insurance
Business insurance can protect you in case of property damage, lawsuits, loss of income, and other losses, depending on the plan. Even for a simple business, a basic business insurance plan can offer protection and peace of mind.
Step 8: Market and Advertise Your Business
Consider online marketing as well as local advertising depending on your business and available budget.
Become a Business Owner Even With a Small Budget
From the careers above, it’s clear that you can become a business owner with as little as a few hundred dollars in startup costs. By leveraging your creativity and talent, you could start earning extra income and build a full-time career.
Don’t let a small budget stop you—many of these businesses can grow to generate six figures or more over time.
Yes, you can start a business with $1,000 or less. The 35 options above are starting ideas.
What is the best business entity for a $1,000 business?
The best business entity for a $1,000 business is an LLC.
What small business makes the most money?
Many small businesses make money, including the 35 ideas listed here.
How do I find unique business ideas?
You can find unique business ideas by combining your interests, talents, and passion with standard business models. For example, you could open a sustainable business consulting service, an organic bakery, or an eco-friendly cleaning service.
Good business names combine the service offered with a catchy phrase or play of words. You’ll want something simple that people can remember easily and a website with the business name in the URL.
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