50 Home Business Ideas with Low Startup Costs

Money won’t be a big problem.

Reviewed by Chris Leitch

Low-Cost Business Ideas

The 2022–2023 Global Entrepreneurship Monitor report has shown that 19.2% of US adults are in the early stages of entrepreneurship. It also showed that the most common motivators for starting a business were “to make a difference in the world” and “to build great wealth or very high income”.

Whether you want to bring about change through tutoring younger generations, or just want to start selling your homemade kimchi for additional income, starting a business need neither be overly complicated nor expensive.

In this article, we’ll look at 50 business ideas with low startup costs that you could begin from inside your own home, and discuss what things you should consider before choosing “the one”.

How to choose your next business idea

Sometimes, having too many options can be more of a hindrance than a blessing. Maybe you’re good at making arts and crafts, teaching and writing. To narrow your ideas down and select the one that’s most likely to work in the long term, consider the following five points:

1. Your interests

You already have a day job that’s capable of boring you to tears. For your side hustle to be successful, your heart will need to be in it! The last thing you need is a second job you can’t really stand — especially if your goal is to be able to pursue it full time a few years down the line.

So, consider what sort of topic can get you talking and talking with complete disregard to the passage of time; is it management, IT, sports or something else?

2. Your existing skills

Being passionate about something doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll be able to make a profitable business out of it. At least, not out of it alone. Your existing skills, be they abilities that seem inherent to you or ones that you have acquired over the years, will play a big role in determining whether your business idea will succeed.

3. How much time you have

The term “small businesses” might be a tad misleading. Starting one is no small feat: in most cases, it will require an initial budget which you’ll need to save up for, as well as research, consistency, commitment and persevering through mistakes. It’s best to overestimate how long it will take to set up and run rather than underestimate it and then struggle to keep up.

4. The competition

Chances are that if you see a really good business opportunity somewhere, others will have seen it, too. A GOBankingRates study showed that, in 2022, 42% of the US population considered starting a business that year. That’s 143 million people who had an idea they believed was unique and viable.

So, you’ll want to make sure you bring something different to the table. Analyze your competitors, see what they’re up to, get inspiration from the stuff that works, and then add your own personal touch to it.

5. Local and state laws

For many professions, licensure and certification can vary greatly from state to state. In addition, if you’re planning to register your business rather than go down the self-employed route, registration fees and procedures can also vary.

Therefore, before you start working on your business plan and investing in equipment, make sure you go over these laws and are aware of what you’ll need to make your vision a reality.

50 best low-cost business ideas

In need of some inspiration? Here is a list of 50 business ideas you can start at home with low operating and overhead costs.

1. Tutoring


Tutoring is a very popular low-cost business idea, especially for those who plan on doing it online.

According to the Cambridge International Global Education Census, the most popular subjects with students around the world include math, physics, biology, history and English. If you can teach any of these, you’re bound to find people in your area or online who’ll want to learn.

2. Translation

Do you speak more than one language? If you answered “sí”, “oui”, “sim” or a different-sounding affirmative, then why not build a business off your linguistic skills? All you’ll need is a computer, a profile on a work marketplace like Fiverr or Upwork, and some good networking skills to attract your first clients.

3. Crafts selling

According to a survey by LendingTree, 59% of all US citizens picked up a new hobby during the COVID-19 pandemic. Nearly half of them (48%) also reported having earned money by turning said hobby into a side hustle! So, if you recently got into candle-making, sculpting, embroidery or wood carving, why not start selling your creations on a marketplace like Etsy or IndieMade?

4. Copyediting

Do you self-identify as a proud member of the grammar police? If poor writing in advertisements, social media posts, website content and other mediums irritates you, consider opening your own copyediting business. It won’t take much more than a laptop to get started.

5. Online course creation

Let’s say you have exceptional knowledge in a subject, but due to time restrictions, tutoring isn’t an option for you. You can always create online courses in your spare time and start promoting them on platforms like Coursera or Udemy. All you need is a bit of creativity, a decent microphone and a webcam.

6. Pet sitting

Pet Sitter

Maybe you love animals but your landlord doesn’t. Why not get paid to live in other people’s homes with their pets?

Besides cuddling puppies and kittens, as a pet sitter, you’ll often need to administer medication, clean out litterboxes and even transport fur babies to the vet when needed.

7. Landscaping

A small business idea for green-fingered peeps! If you enjoy working with plants and have a creative mind, you could start maintaining (or even designing!) gardens in your area for a fee.

Having a garden of your own will give you a head start, as you’ll likely already own some tools, such as a lawn mower, hedge trimmer and leaf blower.

8. Dog walking

If you got into the dog walking business, you’d have a job that helps you stay in good shape —both mentally and physically! For starters, as a dog walker, you would be around puppers all day, which, according to the American Heart Association, can reduce stress, anxiety and depression. At the same time, you’d be getting more steps in, which is great for your overall health, too.

9. Cooking

If you’ve always dreamed about becoming a personal chef but can’t think of where to get started, you can begin by experimenting with a cottage foods side hustle. These foods include breads, snacks, preserved goods and condiments, for which many states don’t require a specific permit.

So, familiarize yourself with the regulations that are in place in your area and start creating!

10. Thrift store flipping

If you’ve not heard of thrift store flippers before, they’re basically people who go searching for second-hand and vintage items that can be resold at a decent markup on platforms like Facebook Marketplace or eBay.

11. Graphic design

Graphic Designer

In a world where shopping, learning, socializing and being entertained largely take place online, graphic designers are in high demand. Brands have no choice but to rely on these creative folk for eye-catching logos and content, lest they should perish.

All you’ll need to get started is a graphics tablet, a portfolio and some personal branding for yourself.

12. Social media marketing

Most brands today, big or small, have a presence on social media. It’s one of the best ways to reach new audiences and stay connected with existing ones. If you’re active on social media yourself and know a thing or two about trends, ads management and best practices, why not offer to manage other people’s social channels?

13. Photography

If you’ve got a professional camera and some image editing knowledge, you could start shooting portraits of individuals, couples, families or even pets! For more professional results, you’d need a tripod, a backdrop and some lighting equipment, but these can be bought second hand to keep the cost down.

14. Content writing

Do you love to write? Whether your strong suit is finance or romantic fan fiction, there’s bound to be a company or publication out there that’s interested in your writing. Put together a strong portfolio or create a blog of your own, and write away!

15. Bookkeeping

If you have a diploma or degree in accounting, business or a related subject, you could lend out a hand to small businesses in your area. Your duties will include keeping track of their financial transactions, including revenue, purchases, payroll and expenses.

16. Virtual assistant services

Virtual Assistant

In recent years, more and more companies have been seeking out the help of virtual assistants. These self-employed workers often schedule appointments, manage emails, make phone calls and arrange meetings or trips on behalf of their clients.

17. Airbnb hosting

If you own a house or an apartment (or a treehouse, garden igloo, converted airplane or another structure that can safely double as a home), why not turn it into a guesthouse for travelers? Some people have made a fortune using the platform — take Jamie Inlow, for example, who earns six figures managing Airbnb listings.

18. Car washing

If you live in a house with a little bit of space outside it and have a love for cars or motorcycles, you could consider opening your own car wash! You’d need a few things first, of course: a legal permit, a pressure washer, cleaning solutions, and towels. Taking out liability insurance wouldn’t hurt either.

19. Baking

Sugar, spice and everything nice! If baking brings you joy, you should consider starting a baked goods side hustle. As mentioned earlier, home baked goods fall under the cottage foods category, for which different regulations apply compared to commercially prepared items. Find out what applies in your area, and your lemon-glazed blueberry muffins could become a local sensation in no time!

20. Babysitting

Childminding can be fun and rewarding, albeit challenging. And, if you can get mega-rich clients like 34-year-old Gloria Richards, you could start earning upwards of $100 an hour and accompanying billionaires’ heirs on travels all around the world.

Even if you started reading this section thinking “I don’t really like kids”, Gloria’s story might have caused you to reconsider.

21. Clothes repairing

Clothes Repairing

In today’s busy world, it’s easier to discard worn garments than make the time to track down a tailor or seamstress who can fix them. But when everyone’s doing it, it ends up becoming needlessly wasteful. The US Environmental Protection Agency estimates that upwards of 11,000 tons of textiles are landfilled each year.

So, if you’re a bit of a sewing wiz, why not help reduce this number a little?

22. Electronics repairing

According to Statista, 50 million tons of electronic waste are generated every year around the world. With many people looking to reduce their environmental impact, maximize the life of their electronics and save money in the process, you could start offering repairs if you’ve got a talent for it.

23. Tattooing

If you’ve got artistic flair yet don’t aspire to go down the “starving artist” road, working as a tattoo artist could enable you to start earning through your craft. Depending on where you live, you may need to complete an apprenticeship, practicing on things like oranges, bananas and synthetic skin before you hold a needle anywhere near a human being!

24. Jewelry making

This is another great small business idea for artistic individuals. If you have a knack for handcrafting jewelry, why not create your very own brand? You won’t need a big budget to get started, beyond buying tools like drills, soldering irons, hammers and pliers.

25. Fitness coaching

If you feel like the term “gym rat” describes you, you should consider coaching others on their fitness journeys. Check out potential certifications you could get, create professional social media profiles, and start coaching people online or in outdoor spaces, like parks!

26. TEFL instruction

English Teacher

If you don’t know already, TEFL stands for teaching English as a foreign language. Although you’ll need to attend courses and get certification for it, becoming a TEFL instructor can be an excellent decision: it can allow you to relocate for work, as you’ll be able to teach just about anywhere in the world!

27. Data entry services

As the name suggests, data entry involves entering (or transferring) data from a paper format into a digital one, such as to a computer file or database system.

All you need to get started is great attention to detail, proficiency in word-processing tools and spreadsheets such as MS Word and Excel, and fast typing skills.

28. Consulting

If you’ve worked for a few years, have a great network of connections and are ready to unlock another income stream, then consulting could be right for you.

Depending on your expertise, you could become a legal, environmental, financial or social media consultant — literally any topic that another freelancer or business might need your advice on.

29. Affiliate marketing

If you have your own successful blog or a large following on a social media platform, consider collaborating with different brands to help them promote their products online. To begin, start posting your own reviews of products and tagging the makers in your posts, and spend time networking with people who work for those brands.

30. Website design

Do you ever visit websites with outdated designs that make you cringe? Because we can’t be the only ones.

Not only do poor designs make navigation difficult, but they also undermine a company’s credibility. So, do the internet and your local SMEs a favor: use your creativity to put together functional, stunning websites!

31. Nutrition services


If you know a thing or two about nutrition, you could start taking on clients and selling your own meal plans — even online! This way, you’d be making a positive impact on people’s wellbeing and quality of life.

Just be sure to check out the requirements that apply in your area regarding nutritionists and dieticians.

32. Event planning

If you’re the organized, creative type who enjoys a good problem-solving challenge, event planning might be right up your alley. You’ll be called to plan weddings, fundraisers, corporate get togethers, workshops — all types of events that can leave a lasting impact on their guests.

33. Life coaching

“Life is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you're going to get,” said Forrest Gump, quoting his mother in the 1994 movie. And it’s true: life throws all sorts of things our way, and sometimes we need help making changes and navigating it all.

If you feel like helping others would be meaningful for you, consider becoming a life coach.

34. Career coaching

Not everyone has a dream career to pursue. Even when they do, people still sometimes change their mind down the line. This, of course, can create confusion, frustration and the sense of feeling trapped.

If you’ve been there and done that yourself, emerging wiser in the process, or simply know that your calling in life is to help others, why not get a career coach certification?

35. Recruiting services

Although experience in HR can help, it’s not a requirement to become a successful recruiter. Instead, you can draw from your experience and skill set in any industry — whether that’s IT, hospitality, marketing or something else — and help business owners hire the best talent out there.

36. Tour guiding

Tour Guide

Maybe you like a bit of history, a bit of socializing and a bit of traveling. Becoming a tour guide will allow you to combine all three together, helping visitors see various areas with a brand-new pair of eyes.

37. Website development

According to Forbes, as of 2023:

  • 71% of businesses have a website
  • 28% of business is conducted online
  • A new website is created every three seconds

With this in mind, if you’re good with HTML, JavaScript or CSS, why not help business owners set up a website to promote their product or service?

38. Animation services

Forbes reports that video content on social media generates far more engagement than static image posts do. That’s because it helps the viewer retain a lot more of the information being conveyed.

Knowing this, more and more brands and freelancers are choosing the video format to promote their products or services. If you know how to animate, therefore, you’re in luck: your skills are highly sought after!

39. Personal shopping

As a personal shopper, you’ll be accompanying others on their shopping outings or doing their shopping on their behalf. Besides spending a lot of time in stores and malls, you might also be tasked with financial planning and making informed suggestions.

40. Personal styling

You’ll need a strong social media presence for this one, as well as a portfolio and the right connections. But if you can make personal styling work for you, you could have a job that pays you to experiment, meet interesting personalities and be creative!

41. Podcast editing


Doesn’t it seem like every other person you meet has their own podcast? With so many aspiring and existing conversationalists out there, you could easily start offering professional podcast editing, if you’re good with programs like Audacity or Adobe Audition.

42. Videography

Since video content outperforms static images on social media, many brands are turning to skilled videographers to produce their promotional content. Besides working with brands, as a videographer, you could also be taking on projects ranging from wedding videos to drone shots of real estate.

43. Drop shipping

Drop shipping allows you to operate an online store without having to invest tons of money purchasing inventory. Instead, you select your niche (such as yoga equipment or neckties for dogs) and then act as a middleman between your customers and the company that makes and ships the product.

44. Massage therapy

More and more jobs these days require people to spend a large chunk of their day sitting down. This can lead to weakened muscles, poor posture, and aches and pains. So, if you’re flirting with the idea of becoming a massage therapist, know you’ll face no shortage of customers.

45. Contractor services

Contractor services will continue to be in demand for as long as there are residential or commercial buildings. If you’re good at working with your hands, be it fixing leaky pipes, painting walls or installing floorboards, consider offering up your handyman services.

46. Yoga instruction

Yoga Instructor

According to the American Osteopathic Association, yoga can improve circulatory health, protect against injuries and strengthen muscles. If you’ve got a bit of room in your house and are interested in completing a yoga instruction certification course, this could be the right home business idea for you.

47. Cleaning services

Deep cleaning videos on YouTube are capable of amassing hundreds of thousands of views. People just find them interesting (for reasons we can’t understand)! So, if you wanted to offer cleaning services to homes or businesses in your area, why not combine it with producing satisfying cleaning videos and becoming a YouTube sensation?

48. Pet grooming

To get started with pet grooming, you’ll need some professional scissors and clippers, shampoos and conditioners, and pet dryers. Although you’ll need a budget for that, with 48 million pet dogs and 31 million pet cats around the US, pet grooming can pay off!

49. Swimming instruction

If there’s a public pool near your house or, even better, a beach, consider getting a swimming instructor certification and teaching people how to stay safe in the water.

The more time you spend outside, the better your overall health will be too, according to the Harvard School of Public Health.

50. App development

Do you have a degree in software engineering or computer science? Or, perhaps, you have recently learned how to code in your free time? If the answer is yes, then you could start offering your know-how to businesses that require an app being made.


Okay — so that was a lot of information and ideas. If you’re feeling a little perplexed, don’t worry: below we’ve answered the most frequently asked questions regarding starting your own business.

Q: Do I need to create a business plan?

Although your instinct might be to associate business plans with larger enterprises, even a freelancer can benefit from them. In simple terms, a business plan helps you identify and lay out your goals for the next few years, functioning as a roadmap with milestones to help you stay on track.

Q: What licenses and permits do I need?

Depending on where you live and the nature of the business you’re looking to set up, different licensing and permitting regulations will apply. The US Chamber of Commerce is a good place to start to find out more information. Aside from that, you’ll also need to think about:

  • Zoning, which concerns the physical location of businesses
  • Sales and use tax permits
  • Employer Identification Number, should you ever employ one or more people

Q: How do I market my product or service?

The first step to successfully marketing a product or service is to define your target consumers. You can’t reach the right people if you don’t first identify them!

Then, you’ll want to create a strong personal brand, striking social media content and online ads — all the while emphasizing your unique value proposition.

Final thoughts

Although there is no one-size-fits-all guide to launching your own business successfully, researching your niche, developing your unique value proposition, and working consistently and methodically can definitely pay off.

Before you begin, make sure to bounce ideas off your friends, consider what you enjoy doing, and identify the reasons why you’re setting out to do it. The clearer your vision becomes in your head, the easier it will be to come up with and stick to a course of action that will lead you to success.

So, there we have it: 50 businesses to start in your own home with little to no startup cost! Do you have any more ideas to add to the list? Let us know in the comments section below.

Originally published on June 13, 2018.