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Self-employed business ideas you can start for under $100

Published on
October 25, 2022
There are innovative self-employed business ideas under $100 you can start today. Read this article to discover what they are and learn more.
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Self-employed business ideas you can start for under $100

As the fourth quarter approaches, economic uncertainty has intensified. Running a small business, leaving a stable job, and going solo can be terrifying. The movement of goods and services has become easier, but inflation has affected supply and demand. To curtail volatility, policymakers have done their best to stabilize the market. It appears to have paid off, as inflation has gone into a temporary lull. 

Meanwhile, the business sector and the labor market have continued to evolve. Entrepreneurs and employees have flocked to the internet, driving the volume of online transactions. They have continued to cope with the new normal economic trend and digital transformation. They have adapted to the upbeat as the cashless society’s dreams have begun to materialize. Indeed, the world of freelance and e-commerce has boomed as more customers have entered the market. 

With that in mind, you may find it enticing to leave the hassle of your nine-to-five job. You may also wish to do business or work in the comfort of your cozy room. That way, you don’t have to appear in a three-piece suit. More importantly, no one is going to boss you around anymore. Your business, your job, your rules. 

Even so, it may be scary for a newbie like you. Your unfamiliarity with your desired work or business landscape may prevent you from taking the first step. However, as Mr. Brian Tracy has said, everything in this world is learnable, and what others have learned, you can learn as well. You may work on your goals despite financial constraints. This article will provide you with great business ideas you can start even with a limited budget.  

Small businesses and self-employment before and amidst the pandemic 

Over the past decade, small businesses have been the backbone of economic development. Many entrepreneurs have entered the market while recovering from the Great Recession. It has become more stable and was geared toward sustained rebound and growth. Moreover, the business landscape has evolved amid digital transformation, and it paved the way for massive business opportunities as waves of customers came. 

In 2019, there were 30.7 million businesses, employing 47% of US employees. The credit should not go to businesses with brick-and-mortar stores alone. Even those without a physical presence provided revenue streams. There were over one million online businesses as e-commerce further hyped up.

Online shops continued to power up amid the giants, such as Amazon and eBay. They further intensified as social media became a powerful tool for doing business. In turn, more online transactions and online jobs came as well. It is no wonder that the number of freelancers in the US reached 57 million in the same year.

When the pandemic struck in 2020, small businesses felt its scourge. Many businesses had to close because of the restrictions. Yet, the story was different for online business owners and freelancers. The pandemic fears forced many businesses to do remote work setups. Online and cashless transactions became more of a staple than cash and card transactions.

In the US alone, cash transactions dropped from 51% to 22% in 2020. Moreover, limited business transactions shifted the attention of many entrepreneurs. Many small businesses went to the internet. The percentage of online sales to global retail sales jumped from 14% to 18% in just a year.

Likewise, the labor market underwent a drastic change. Recruitment became a challenge, especially for those who could not maintain remote work. This scenario further highlighted the appeal of freelance jobs in the US.

The thought of not having to return to the office or meet office deadlines was enticing. With that, the number of freelancers leaped to 59 million in only a year. The number of full-time and part-time freelancers rose to 36% and 48%, respectively. Employees left their jobs to become freelancers as the industry expanded. 

The US economy today 

The US economy went through a downward spiral in 2020. To cope with the gloomy economic activity, the federal government set the interest rates to almost zero, which led to more borrowing, spending, and investments, helping in its recovery. Some industries benefited from this move, especially the real estate and capital markets. In the last year, the rebound became faster as restrictions eased.

However, the US economy has been hammered once again. From the Omicron scare to the geopolitical unrest in Europe, it has endured a series of drawbacks. However, what policymakers must watch out for is the sustained increase in prices.

As the fourth quarter has approached, the economic trend remains uncertain. For instance, inflation was at an all-time high of 9.1% in July. Although it appears to have gone into an autumn lull at 8.3%, it is still higher than the ten-year average. It may be attributed to pent-up demand across industries.

Given that Russia is a primary energy provider, the ongoing war has added more pressure. Aside from that, the Black Sea is an important passage for imports and exports across the globe.

Note that port congestion has been a problem for the last two years. It is recovering, but it remains slow, and the blockage in Eastern Europe does not help. It’s no surprise that the shortage of goods and services is still high. Moreover, inventory levels are low, which has increased prices.

To stabilize the economy, the federal government has continued to implement a series of interest rate hikes. In September, the federal government raised the funds rate by another 0.75 basis points, which led to an estimated interest rate of 4.6% in the next twelve months.

Note that the federal government projected interest rates to reach 3.4% earlier this year. Therefore, economic stability is a tough challenge that may hurt borrowers and lenders. Investment securities also don’t jive with it since inflation lowers their valuation.

This may discourage many startups, but inflation is mostly from pent-up demand. It is also an indication of a rebound as the purchasing power of consumers increases.

Of course, business owners must be more cautious, especially those with borrowed capital. You may have inadequate capital, but you may not have to borrow. You may even put up your own business with less than $100 in capital and cushion inflationary pressures.

However, it’s important to know the type of business you want to start and the current market landscape. Doing so will help you maneuver your business with ease and prudence. 

Small businesses and freelance jobs today 

Despite the reopening of borders, things will never be the same again. The sudden change in the market trend has accelerated and intensified in the last two years, and nothing can stop it, as the business model adapts to digital transformation.

Today, small businesses and freelance jobs are everywhere on the internet. Amazon and eBay remain giants, but eCommerce dwarfs continue to increase.

Furthermore, the bulk of organic growth marketing strategies are now online. From word of mouth, establishing a business image has shifted to social media, which is now a vital tool to reach a wider audience and convert them to leads.

In fact, 93% of marketers depend on social media to increase customer awareness. Given all these aspects, the eCommerce market has expanded, with $5.7 trillion in revenue. The influx of small online businesses, mostly startups, has increased at a blazingly fast speed. 

Moreover, business owners understand the essence of getting a business website. As of this year, there are 32.5 million small businesses in the US. In a recent survey, 71% of small business owners said that they already have an official website.

There is no distinction between online businesses and brick-and-mortar stores. The thing is, whatever the business type is, going online should be a part of every business plan.

The same pattern is visible in the labor market as it’s shifting to the internet. The Great Resignation ensues despite the easing of restrictions and reopening of businesses.

In the last two years, employees have embraced the idea of working from their own homes. It has provided them with a great deal of convenience, and until now, its appeal has not faltered.

In a recent survey of 25,000 Americans, 35% expressed a preference for remote work setups. Therefore, it’s not surprising that freelance jobs have become more enticing in the US. As of this year, there are already 70.4 million freelancers.    

Number of freelancers
Data taken from DemandSage

The pros and cons of establishing your own business or becoming self-employed

Pros

  • You have full control of your schedule.
  • Most online businesses and freelance jobs are home-based and does not need brick-and-mortar stores.
  • It does not require huge capital and labor.

Cons

  • You may still have to work or attend to your clients on weekends.
  • The competition is high and dynamic, which makes it tough to maintain customer loyalty.
  • Income may not be as certain and stable as when you have a full-time job.

Things to consider before starting a small business and becoming a freelancer

Putting up a small business and becoming a freelancer are similar in many ways. You are your own boss, and you set your own hours. There is no deadline to meet except when you have a client. However, as a newcomer, you must know how to adapt to the market landscape. Here are the things to consider before you start your own business.

Basic information

Aside from a business plan, your business needs a business name and a domain name. A social media account and an email address are necessary if you go online, and having an official website is a plus.

Laws

Before you start, you must remember that each state has different laws and tax systems. Familiarizing yourself with such laws will help you determine the requirements and startup costs. With regards to law and taxes, consider those applicable to your business. Assess the tax, application fees, and annual fees.

Some states do not impose personal and corporate income taxes. But, you must know that these states may or may not levy franchise taxes in place of income tax. It may be an advantage for small businesses when their revenue is lower than the taxable value, whereby you’ll pay lower or even zero taxes.

Economy

The US economy remains volatile. Being aware of the trend will allow you to cushion the adverse impact. If you do not have enough capital and sponsorships, you must watch out for the interest rates. Higher interest rates mean a higher cost of borrowing, which should give you a clue on how to stabilize your cash flow.

Moreover, watch out for the unemployment rate and average wage per state. If you are a business owner, you will know the cost of labor and how to attract excellent employees. If you are a freelancer going solo, you may set a competitive pay for your job.

You will also have a clue about the labor market conditions before leaving your full-time job. This is an important decision to make in a still uncertain market.

Demographics 

Studying the demographics of an area will help you identify your target market. You will know the products and services they need, which can lead to business opportunities. You’ll also know what type of business and marketing strategies will capture them.

Demographics extend to the jobs and business of your potential clients as well. Understanding this aspect may give you an edge over your competitors.

Competition 

After you analyze the customers, you must check the level of competition. This aspect makes your marketing strategies more vital. It’ll help you determine how tough and risky it is to penetrate the market.

Understanding the customer demographics and competitors should always work hand in hand. This will make creativity valuable to your new business ideas and resources.

Business ideas you can start for under $100

Formulating lucrative business ideas is easy, quick, and automatic today. However, turning them into reality may be challenging because of your finances.

Fortunately, some small business ideas don’t require huge capital. You can capitalize on your skill set and effort as more opportunities enter the market. Here are some low-cost business ventures you can establish even with a limited budget.

Social media consultant 

Social media is now a vital tool for brand awareness. Out of the top six social media platforms, Facebook comprises  29% of marketers. Meanwhile, TikTok gets the top spot for the highest increase in viewers and daily usage at 18%.

The result promises less money, time, and energy spent on marketing strategies compared to other digital marketing jobs. However, many business owners are not well-versed in social media content marketing. Therefore, you can offer your expertise as a social media consultant to plan social media marketing.

Online store 

E-commerce continues to enjoy popularity as more people flock to the internet. Recent statistics show that 90% of internet users purchase goods and services online. Currently, online sales comprise almost 20% of the total retail sales. It may comprise 24% of the total sales in the next few years.

Projections show that 95% of purchases will be on the internet. Indeed, an online store appears to be a lucrative business today. Since you can manage it online, it requires a smaller amount of capital.

If you have extra space in your own home, you might not have to worry about buying or leasing a storage space. Moreover, you also don’t have to worry about interior design since your store is online.

Personal trainer 

The importance of being fit and healthy has been highlighted in the last two years. However, this doesn’t refer only to strenuous activities, as mental health care is extremely important to our well-being. Therefore, aside from exercise and gym tips, yoga and meditation are quite popular.

Event planner 

A lot of plans have indeed been postponed amid the restrictions. Today, important events, such as weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, and corporate parties, are taking place. Therefore, event planning and catering businesses are receiving the bulk of bookings.

Content writer 

You can even capitalize on your passion for writing to have a side hustle. As more companies go online, writers and bloggers are now in demand, with many websites offering writing projects.

You may also look for clients and write for them to promote their goods and services. However, you must be ready for the tight competition in the pool of writers. In the US alone, 82% of freelancers do freelance writing.

The good thing is that there is an increasing demand for content writers. The average income of freelance writers in the US is about $32. Moreover, there are expert writers in every subject matter. You can even create your page to post your blogs–food, travel, and finance blogs, to name a few.

Editor 

If there is a writer, then there must be an editor. If a writer has a keen eye for creativity and pattern, an editor has a keen eye for improving a craft. Editing and copywriting are also in high demand, making them excellent self-employed business ideas.

Web designer 

In a recent survey, 71% of small business owners said they already had an official website. Among those who do not have a website yet, over 50% of them plan to have their own this year. The number of businesses may further increase once the economy becomes stable.

As more businesses go online, the need for web designers will also increase. Note that many business owners are not well-versed in coding and designing. Therefore, you can leverage your technical knowledge and WordPress expertise.

Travel planner 

The pandemic restrictions have forced many people to stay home and avoid traveling. As fears ebb, the pent-up demand for travel remains hyped. Estimates show that the majority of American travelers plan to do revenge travel.

Over 50% of Americans plan to travel more this autumn than the previous autumn. To be more specific, 56% of Americans plan to have autumn trips for at least four nights. The other 33% goes to those who want to go on vacation for five nights or more. Therefore, being a travel planner or a tour guide can be lucrative.

You can help travelers with transportation and accommodation bookings. You can do it from home with your computer and a calendar. 

travel duration in Autumn
Data taken from Travel Pulse

Online dating consultant

There are various dating websites and apps to meet new people and even find your one true love. Despite this, it is hard for many to find their perfect match. That is where your interpersonal and communication skills should enter the scene. You can assist your clients in finding a date via online consultation at your most convenient time.

Graphic designer 

Graphic designers also enjoy a sharp uptrend in their demand. If you want to learn more about it, you can watch video tutorials or listen to podcasts. You can apply your talent and learnings to create social media banners and logos.

Online SEO consultant 

As businesses create their websites, web designers and writers are in demand. However, it’s not always easy since it may still take up a lot of time to get more viewers and leads. Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, consultants help websites improve their search rankings.

Virtual assistant 

Being organized with a sharp memory may provide you with another revenue stream. Your expertise in MS Office, especially Word and Excel, is a plus. You can start and assist others by becoming a virtual assistant. Managing schedules and answering phone calls and emails are part of your job.

Life coach 

The pandemic has been challenging and disheartening for many people, which is why more and more people are looking for other things to do to refocus their energy. Losing weight and improving well-being can be done by a life coach. But, improving mental health and self-esteem can be more helpful.‍

Statistics show that 13% hire a life coach to improve self-esteem and confidence. Furthermore, 99% of clients have positive remarks, ranging from satisfied to very satisfied. Yet, the number of life coaches only increases by 7% per year. This demonstrates lower competition in an expanding market and can offer more opportunities.

Cleaning services 

Maybe you have more time and energy to spare. If you do, you may want to put up a cleaning service business online. You will only cover the costs of advertising and cleaning materials.

Tips to make your business stay afloat

The market is still volatile, making businesses vulnerable to economic fluctuations. Prices are still high while supply chain disruptions remain a challenge. Nevertheless, you can protect your business in a stormy market environment. Here are some of the things you can do to make your business durable.

Value productivity 

In the internet world, almost everything is fast-paced, which is why you must be flexible to cope with market changes. You must be swift to go along with the trend and keep up with your peers. As a starter, your productivity and quality of work will help you find more clients.

You can streamline processes by investing in the right tools amid digital transformation. Take care of your employees to have happy customers. If you go solo, take care of yourself and manage your goals to avoid stress and burnout. Remember that working smart is better than working hard.

Keep track of your finances 

Maintaining stable cash levels will help you sustain your business. Check your margins to know if you are generating enough revenue to cover costs and expenses. Doing so will help you avoid borrowing or going bankrupt. Prioritize liquidity, rather than expanding or increasing your capacity, as cash is king to remain liquid.

Watch out for economic changes 

We already discussed the US economy in the previous sections. Your business must have a flexible pricing system amid inflationary pressures, which gives you an edge over your peers, whereby you can offer the same products and services at an ideal price. Moreover, beware of interest rate hikes, especially if you have borrowings.

Keep in touch with your clients 

Getting feedback from your clients through emails, personal messages, and surveys is useful. It can make them feel that you have a genuine concern for them. It may establish and deepen your rapport with them and get their loyalty. 

Increase online presence 

Like your clients, you must also increase your online presence. Digital marketing and cashless transactions are more common and optimized processes.

Reach out to doola to reach your business goals

The business landscape and labor market are evolving, so you must learn to adapt to the trend. Yet, entrepreneurship may not always be easy for beginners like you, given the tight competition. It may also be risky if you don’t learn to maneuver your business.

Fortunately, there are new opportunities to enjoy as more customers enter the market. You can start achieving your business goals even with limited capital. You just have to work on yourself and show what separates you from your peers.

Moreover, there are experts you can speak to so that you can understand everything as a new entrepreneur. If you wish to know the ropes better, you may reach out and seek assistance from doola. We have reliable experts to help you with all business aspects. We can provide the knowledge you need to run your business. 

If you wish to get in-depth advice about forming a small business or having a side hustle, feel free to reach out and seek assistance from doola. We have reliable business experts to provide the assistance you need.

‍FAQs on self-employment and online businesses

How large is the online business or ecommerce market? 

The eCommerce market is worth $5.2 trillion, comprising about 20% of the total retail sales. 

How tight is the competition in the freelance market in the US?

With over 70 million freelancers, the freelance market has tight competition.

Do online or internet businesses pay sales tax? 

Except in Alaska, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire, and Oregon, online businesses pay internet sales tax.

Doola's website is for general information purposes only and doesn't provide official law or tax advice. For tax or legal advice we are happy to connect you to a professional in our network! Please see our terms and privacy policy. Thank you and please don't hesitate to reach out with any questions.
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Arjun Mahadevan
CEO and Co-Founder
Co-founder at doola, previous Product Manager at Dropbox, and an alum of the Wharton School of Business. He’s personally processed over 100 applications and spoken to 500 customers.

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