Starting a business can be a daunting endeavor, especially if you’re a first-timer with limited resources.
Whatever concept you have in mind for your business, its success depends on taking risks, investing money in the right places, and your focus and dedication to your business’ success.
Before you start thinking about risk and money and hard work, however, you need to have an idea. But what if the perfect business idea has alluded you to this point or you don’t have a ton of cash to invest in your concept?
The good news is that there are tons of great small business ideas that require low investment. Ideas for those who want to start a smaller startup but have a limited budget.
Throughout this article, I’ll lay out a few creative concepts you can consider for launching a business – without breaking the bank.
Keep in mind, whatever concept you choose has to be trustworthy and add value to your target audience. One thing you can do to help build credibility is to create social profiles for your business and publish content regularly to add transparency.
This also plays into the low-cost concept, as social media is a great, free method of promoting your business. For example, make sure you create profiles on popular (and relevant) channels for your business on sites like, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn to boost the engagement it gets. This way, clients, collaborators and future employees can find you.
Now, let’s get started looking at some business ideas requiring limited investment that are perfect for bootstrappers, beginners, or any person aspiring to start a business who has an already busy schedule.
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What are some business ideas that have a low startup cost?
Fortunately, there are no shortage of options for low-investment businesses ideas . Let’s look at a few of the most popular.
Partner with a dropshipper
If you are running a business where you sell physical products, you’ll need to account for the cost of shipping and storage for your products. The cost of doing this can really add up.
Dropshipping can help you eliminate the need to manage and store inventory as well as spend a ton of money on packaging and shipping. Dropshipping is essentially a fulfilment model where a third-party supplier stores and also ships inventory to customers on your behalf.
Your only responsibility here is promoting and selling the products. You’ll never have to deal with the physical products. Basically, you’ll just need to set up a website, create the relationship with the dropshipper, and start selling.
Design & sell print on demand t-shirts
Print-on-demand is another business concept that puts inventory, fulfilment, and also shipping in the hands of a third-party supplier. This concept involves selling personalized, customized t-shirts, so you have no need to pile up inventory of pre-printed apparel in a warehouse.
There are companies you can work with that will do the printing and store the clothing for you, then ship it to the customer. You just have to again do the promotion and make the sales.
Launch your own book
Not only does writing and selling a book earn you money, it’s also a great way to grow your personal brand, which leads to the ability to sell further products and services. Why not opt for a business concept that not only serves to earn you money but where each sale also serves as a promotion of you?
You can rely on your creativity and knowledge to create a book that offers value to readers in some way. And the good news is that this is an opportunity that applies to everyone. Whatever your expertise or passion, there’s a type of book for you.
Think about poetry books, business and marketing books, comic books, cookbooks, picture books, coffee table books, history books, fiction books, photo books, novels, and more.
Even if you aren’t the best writer around but you have a great concept, you can work with a ghostwriter or an editor to help you get your text in shape. You can release books based on print-on-demand publishing which is a safe way to self-publish the book with the highest quality and not incur unnecessary upfront costs.
Create digital courses or products
Digital products are great because they don’t come with any inventory cost. It’s really more about the intellectual property. Digital products like courses, music, templates, designs and other types of content are great ways to kick off a low-cost business.
You will need to make sure you have a proper license as well as register any trademarks or copyrights to ensure your digital content remains YOUR digital content.
You’ll also need to be a solid creator. This is a great idea for technologically adept people, graphic designers, writers, and those with a solid knowledge base on a particular topic to create a digital course.
Start a charitable business
Starting a non-profit that benefits others can be a great business concept. You can raise a lot of the funds necessary to launch the business through donations, which reduces the investment necessary to launch your business.
You will, however, need to keep serious track of your expenditures as well as make sure to follow any guidelines set forth to ensure your non-profit stays on the right side of the law.
If you are passionate about helping others and you want to become a social entrepreneur this is a great direction to take.
Sell a service
When it comes to the service-based business, rather than inventory, your biggest investment will be your time (and the time of any staff you hire as your business grows).
For example, if you are skilled in a particular niche (marketing strategy, let’s say), you can offer consulting services to businesses who might benefit.
Keep in mind that you only have a limited number of hours in a day, and you need some of those hours for your personal life to create work-life balance, you need to make sure you understand your time limits if you take this route.
Additional service-based business options include a fitness trainer, house cleaner, designer, writer, photographer, or website developer – to name just a few.
Start an affiliate marketing business
With affiliate marketing, you’re essentially a salesperson selling products for other companies. This can come in the form of software products, event promotions, retail products and more.
Basically, you sign up for affiliate programs for different companies. Then you promote their products via social media, your blog, email and other methods to earn sales. People will click on a specially crafted link that sends them back to the company’s website that hosts the affiliate program, and each time someone clicks and makes a purchase, you earn a percentage.
Companies will often provide their affiliates with tons of great resources like promotional messages, banners, downloads and more to help you sell more products. When you benefit, they benefit. There are also tons of great tools both online and off that can help you with your affiliate business.
Sell homemade and handcrafted goods
If you’re a crafty person, consider making handcrafted DIY products like candles, soaps, pottery, clothing, sauces or party favors. You can then sell your products online. You can create a website, or you can even use a platform like Etsy to sell your products to avoid the overhead of hosting a website.
All of these small business ideas will require limited investment, but they all require a plan. Make sure you go into your low-investment business concept with a business plan.
Determine how much money you’ll need to get your business off the ground, and make sure to reserve funds for emergencies and other expenses.
Plan for how you’ll handle all aspects of your business. Customer service, returns, tracking sales, accounting and other necessary activities. If you fail to plan, you’ll plan to fail as they say.
What other low-investment business ideas do you have? We’d love to read about the in the comments below!
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