In this post, I share 28 low cost business ideas with high-profit potential that can set you on the path of entrepreneurial success without breaking the bank.
Whether you’re looking to turn a hobby into a revenue stream or capitalize on a gap in the market, you’ll find many side hustle ideas that can grow into a full-time income.
All these ideas can be started from your home with an initial investment of less than $100.
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Blogging is a form of online content creation where you publish written posts on a specific topic.
It’s a low cost business idea with high profit, ideal for those with a flair for writing and the discipline to produce content regularly.
Setting up a blog is cheap 一 You only need a web hosting plan, which begins at $2.99 per month, and a domain name that costs about $8 annually.
The best part about blogging is that there is no barrier to entry. Anyone can start blogging regardless of background or expertise.
However, to turn blogging into a full-time income, you must focus on a niche or a sub-niche like parenting, finance, or home improvement.
Once your blog gets around 10,000 organic views per month, you can monetize your blog through:
- Partnering with ad networks to display ads.
- Collaborating with brands to feature their products for a fee.
- Earning commissions by promoting products with programs like Amazon Associates.
- Selling ebooks, courses, or templates.
However, success in blogging doesn’t happen overnight. It usually takes several months to start earning and often doesn’t turn profitable until the second or third year.
Most bloggers, including me, started blogging while maintaining full-time jobs to reduce financial pressure. If you want to generate income quickly from a low cost business idea, start selling goods or services online.
Dropshipping is a retail fulfillment method where a store doesn’t hold products in stock. Instead, when an order comes in, the order is sent to the supplier, who then ships the goods directly to the customer.
It’s the cheapest way to get into online selling as you buy products on demand with no minimum order quantity.
Here’s how dropshipping works:
- A customer buys a product you list on your website.
- You forward the order details to your supplier who stocks the product.
- The supplier packs and ships the item to your customer.
- You keep the difference between the supplier fees, including product and shipping costs, and what you charge the customer.
You can start a dropshipping store for less than $3 using a free open source shopping cart like WooCommerce.
My 9 and 11-year-old kids launched their own dropshipping store selling entrepreneurship-themed tees for only $2.95. You can check out their shop over at KidInCharge.com.
For more information about how to get started dropshipping, check out these guides:
- The Top 13 Dropshipping Suppliers
- Best Dropshipping Products To Sell Online
- How To Make Money Dropshipping
Affiliate marketing is a business model where companies pay a commission to individuals for driving traffic or sales to their products and services.
It’s a flexible and scalable way to make passive income online without investing in product inventory.
Here’s how affiliate marketing works:
- You share an affiliate link on your blog or social media.
- Someone clicks the link and purchases a product.
- Their actions are tracked via cookies.
- You earn a commission for each sale made through your link.
Commission rates vary by company and product, ranging from 1% to 50% or more. For example, Amazon’s affiliate program offers 1% to 10%, while tech and hosting companies offer around 20%.
The best part is most affiliate programs are free to join, although some might have requirements based on your website traffic.
Keep in mind that companies often alter their affiliate program terms to reduce payouts as they become popular.
To mitigate this risk, diversify your income streams and use affiliate marketing only as a stepping stone to other methods.
Online courses are educational programs delivered over the internet, allowing individuals to access and learn from course materials remotely.
It’s highly profitable because the production of digital courses is minimal beyond the initial investment of time. And you don’t have to be an expert with high qualifications.
There’s a market for nearly every skill or topic — from a bakery class to home organization — because people want to learn diverse perspectives and teaching styles.
You only need a strong interest or a higher level of understanding than the average on a certain topic.
To succeed, focus on reaching the right audience. Understand that starting without a large following will require effort and time to establish your brand and attract an audience.
You can use platforms like Teachable and Kajabi to sell your courses or build your own website.
Amazon FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon) is a service that allows Amazon sellers to store, pack, and ship their products through Amazon’s fulfillment centers.
In addition, Amazon takes care of customer service, including returns and refunds.
Another advantage of selling on Amazon FBA is that your items become eligible for Prime two-day shipping, which can boost your sales by 25% to 40%.
The only drawback is that Amazon FBA seller fees are high and tend to increase yearly.
Before launching, gather product reviews by participating in Amazon reviewer sites like Rebaid and Vipon.
For more insights and strategies, watch my “How to Sell on Amazon FBA” video tutorial.
Social Media Influencer
A social media influencer is a person who has established credibility and an audience on social platforms, and can persuade others by virtue of their authenticity and reach.
Brands often collaborate with influencers to access their audiences, with many increasing their influencer marketing budgets in 2023.
The best part about being a social media influencer is you don’t need any upfront invesmtent — just a camera and audio equipment to produce content.
With a following of over 10,000, you could earn $250 to $500 daily from sponsored posts and affiliate marketing.
However, unlike blogging, content virality on platforms like Instagram only lasts for 48 hours. This means you’ll need to create and post content every day, sometimes multiple times a day.
To succeed as an influencer, find your niche and post messages on a social media channel that matches your target audience.
For example, if you’re a health coach for women, focus on Instagram and Pinterest.
Podcasting is the creation and distribution of audio or video content for download or streaming online.
It allows you to showcase your expertise and grow your network with minimal upfront cost using platforms like Buzzsprout and Podbean.
You can make money through sponsored content, affiliate marketing, advertisements, subscription fees, and merchandise sales.
However, like blogging, podcasting takes months, sometimes years, to get sponsorships. Although podcasts are popular now, their reach is significantly smaller than social media platforms.
Here’s a pro tip: Record video of your podcast sessions and share clips on TikTok and YouTube. This way, you can drive traffic to your podcasts and build an audience on social media, potentially opening up additional revenue streams.
IT support involves helping users with various IT-related issues, such as resolving hardware and software problems and troubleshooting network connectivity issues.
Considering how much we rely on tech, IT support is a solid business idea for those with tech skills.
You can tackle simple tasks like installing programs and complex challenges like overseeing major system migrations.
You can also offer a mobile IT support business if you’re patient with less tech savvy clients. Customers always prefer a hands-on approach as opposed to waiting on hold for technical support.
IT support businesses have low startup costs since all you need is your knowledge, time, and transportation. Most of what you earn will be profit.
eBay is an online marketplace where individuals and businesses buy and sell a wide variety of new and pre-owned goods through an auction or a “Buy Now” format.
eBay is user-friendly and showcases your listings to millions of shoppers. Starting is free and can be highly profitable if you can spot profitable products to sell.
Popular items on eBay include electronics, collectibles, sneakers, luxury goods, sports equipment, and Disney merchandise.
You can start by monetizing items you no longer need. Alternatively, scan thrift stores, garage sales, and clearance aisles for products that are in demand but also offer enough margin for profit.
To boost your chances of success, use eBay’s Terapeak tool. It gives insights into valuable metrics like sell-through rate and unsold product inventory.
Test Prep Business
A test prep business offers specialized courses, tutoring, and study materials for improving students’ scores on standardized exams.
Preparing students for test taking is a step beyond general tutoring, focusing on key tests such as the SAT, ACT, and GRE.
If you’re in the educational field and have a passion for teaching, a test prep business is one of the best low cost business ideas that’s in high demand.
Rates for test prep tutors vary, with some earning $30 to $125 per hour based on the exam type and location.
Consider joining tutoring platforms such as TutaPoint, TutorMe, and Preply to find clients. Don’t forget to request testimonials from satisfied students and their parents, which will help you establish credibility.
A health coach is a certified professional who improves their clients’ overall health and well-being.
If you’re passionate about health and fitness and have a background as a physical therapist or personal trainer, becoming a health coach could be a profitable, low cost business idea for you.
You can start by packing basic workout gear like weights, bands, and yoga mats and offer personalized sessions at the client’s place.
Although the initial costs are low to set up a health coaching service, you need a strong online presence for marketing.
If you’re new to health coaching, consider getting certified through a reputable organization like the American Council on Exercise (ACE), which can boost your credibility and knowledge.
In addition, creating and selling digital products such as courses, ebooks, or worksheets can generate passive income. This can reduce your reliance on one-to-one sessions and help to scale your business.
Social Media Manager
A social media manager implements an organization’s social media strategy and content across various platforms.
Small business owners often recognize the need for social media marketing but lack the time or know-how to do it well.
If you’re skilled at using social media and engaging people online, starting a social media management business may be a great fit for you.
All you need is your laptop, smartphone, and a small following on social media profiles to showcase your expertise.
The demand for this expertise is expected to grow by 11% by 2030, with average profits of around 25%, marking it as a lucrative venture.
Dog walking is side hustle where you take dogs outdoors and provide them with exercise, mental stimulation, and bathroom breaks.
It’s not only a way to stay active but also offers good earning potential, especially if you walk multiple dogs.
You can find clients on online marketplace sites like Rover and Wag or by simply asking your neighbors and friends.
For those who find dog walking demanding, pet sitting is an excellent alternative, with a higher charge for caring for unique pets such as birds or reptiles due to their specialized care needs.
Candle making is combining a wick with wax to create candles for sale.
Because candles are consumable, there’s a steady demand, ensuring a cycle of repeat customers. They’re not only inexpensive to make but can also be conveniently produced at home.
You only need basic supplies — wax, wicks, molds, and fragrance oils—to start making candles in your kitchen.
As you refine your candle-making skills, you can diversify your offerings with unique colors, scents, and shapes.
Ebook Author On Amazon
Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing(KDP) is a program that allows writers to self-publish digital books on Amazon.
If you have a talent for writing, KDP enables you to publish on any subject without a traditional publisher. You can earn up to 70% royalties based on sales and the buyer’s location.
All you need to do is research, write, and use social media for promotion to earn passive income.
Use tools like BookBolt, Canva, KeywordTool.io, and Publisher Rocket for design, research, and formatting.
An SEO (search engine optimization) consultant helps improve a website’s visibility within search engine results.
The demand for SEO services has increased, with the market projected to reach $222.4 billion by 2030, growing at a steady 17.6% rate.
To enter this field, you must have solid SEO knowledge. For those lacking it, work with a marketing firm or obtain SEO certifications from platforms like HubSpot, Ahrefs, or Google.
Solo SEO consultants typically charge $80 to $150 per hour, potentially earning $150,000 to $300,000 annually when working full-time.
Redbubble is an online marketplace that enables independent designers to sell their artwork on various products.
Here’s how it works:
- You upload your artwork on Redbubble.
- Redbubble displays your artwork on items like t-shirts, mugs, and bags on their site.
- A customer buys a product with your design.
- Redbubble prints and ships the product.
- You keep the difference between your selling price and the product costs, which is typically around 8% to 15%.
If you’re creative, then selling your own designs is a lucrative side hustle you can run from home without incurring overhead costs.
Simply provide your designs, and print on demand companies like Redbubble and Society6 handle the rest.
House painting is a low cost business idea with a low barrier to entry. You don’t need specialized training or certifications, just essential equipment such as ladders and brushes.
As the business grows, you can reinvest the profits into advanced gear like dripless caulk guns and hand maskers for efficiency.
If you’re artistic, you can also specialize in niche services like mural painting or contemporary techniques that can command higher rates.
Profit margins for general house painting hover between 15% and 30%, and potentially more for specialized mural work.
Cleaning Service Business
A cleaning business offers commercial or residential cleaning services.
You can launch a cleaning business from your home with just $100. Basic cleaning tools like vacuums, brooms, mops, and cleaning supplies are usually sufficient to begin.
The best part about a cleaning business is that it’s scalable and has a high customer retention rate.
To attract customers, share before and after photos of your work on social media. You can also create demonstration videos on YouTube, as cleaning content is highly popular. This way, you can generate some YouTube ad revenue.
A handyman is skilled at various repair tasks, typically keeping buildings, shops, or equipment around the home in good repair.
Finding a reliable and qualified handyman is a common challenge for homeowners, contributing to the steady demand in the US market. In response, handyman wages have increased by 11% over the last five years.
The best part is that the revenue in handyman services is primarily profit, as charges typically cover labor and materials.
Before starting, check local regulations, as licensing requirements vary by state. For example, you need a license for projects valued up to $10,000 in Alaska.
A life coach is a wellness professional who helps people improve their lives, whether personal, professional, or otherwise.
If you’re the go-to person in your circle for guidance, life coaching could be a low cost business idea with high profit margins for you.
Life coaches typically earn $500 to $2000 monthly per client, with low overhead — especially if you conduct sessions at clients’ homes or online.
The main hurdle with starting a life coaching business is establishing credibility. To build trust, get certified from an accredited program.
I also recommend specializing in a specific niche such as relationships, careers, and family.
Event management involves planning and executing client gatherings, meetings, or celebrations.
If you’re good at planning and multitasking, event planning could be a smart, low cost business idea.
Event management is inexpensive because clients usually pay for the venue and supplies, and you don’t need costly equipment or special licenses.
All you need are good connections with local businesses and people who might hire you.
If you’ve worked in hospitality, tourism, or food service, you might already have contacts to tap into. You can still succeed without this background, but it might take longer to build up your clientele and income.
Pressure Washing Business
Pressure washing is using high-pressure water to clean surfaces by removing dirt.
Starting a pressure washing service is ideal for those who enjoy active, outdoor work and are looking for a low cost business idea.
The initial investment is typically the pressure washer itself and safety gear. Beyond that, setting up a website is your primary expense.
Profit margins in pressure washing can be significant, sometimes up to 50%.
To expand your customer base, you can create cleaning content on YouTube.
For example, SB Pressure Washing, which has nearly 350,000 subscribers, features videos of transforming driveways, sidewalks, and walkways.
A childcare business is a commercial location that provides care for groups of children.
The pandemic highlighted the critical need for childcare, with nearly 20% of working adults exiting the workforce due to a lack of such services. Although the schools are back in session, the demand remains strong.
Startup costs for services like daycare or nanny businesses are relatively low, particularly when based from your home. In this setup, a significant share of the revenue contributes directly to your salary, with business expenses often overlapping household costs.
While home-based daycare providers may face fewer regulatory hurdles than commercial childcare centers, you should check your state’s legal requirements for operating a childcare business.
Car Wash Business
Car washing is cleaning and maintaining vehicles, typically through automated or manual washing processes.
If you don’t have the space to set up an automatic car wash business, you can offer mobile services to clean cars in customers’ driveways.
People with high-end vehicles will pay a premium for the convenience of a car wash that comes to them, reducing your need to invest in a physical site.
To acquire your initial customer base, you can advertise in local Facebook groups or distribute flyers and business cards in your community.
A home organizer helps people rearrange rooms, manage large estates, or declutter living spaces.
This is a high-profit, low cost business idea, particularly suited for metropolitan areas.
If you excel at organizing, begin by offering closet, cabinet, and kitchen organization services on platforms like TaskRabbit or Craigslist.
The best part about being a home organizer is you don’t need any certifications, which means if you’ve got the organizational skills, you can get started right away. Plus, the pay can be substantial.
For example, Tova Weinstock earns $150 an hour for closet organizing and helping with moving.
Car Wrapping Business
Car wrapping is applying a vinyl covering over a car to change its look or protect the original paint from damage.
Luxury car owners use it to shield their vehicle’s paint or to add designs like racing stripes easily. Some companies use it to turn their cars into mobile advertisements.
The range of clients is what makes car wrapping a solid business choice. You can boost your profits by offering extra services like ceramic coating or car detailing.
However, learning how to wrap a car requires practice. The good thing is that the tools are affordable, and you can gain clients quickly by showcasing your work on social media.
Which Low Cost Business Ideas Should You Choose?
All the ideas listed in this post can be started from the comfort of your home or within your community.
Most ideas offer scalability, like Amazon FBA and selling on eBay.
However, service-oriented ventures like life coaching require more effort to expand, as growth depends on your time or your ability to hire staff.
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Steve Chou is a highly recognized influencer in the ecommerce space and has taught thousands of students how to effectively sell physical products online over at ProfitableOnlineStore.com.
His blog, MyWifeQuitHerJob.com, has been featured in Forbes, Inc, The New York Times, Entrepreneur and MSNBC.
He's also a contributing author for BigCommerce, Klaviyo, ManyChat, Printful, Privy, CXL, Ecommerce Fuel, GlockApps, Privy, Social Media Examiner, Web Designer Depot, Sumo and other leading business publications.
In addition, he runs a popular ecommerce podcast, My Wife Quit Her Job, which is a top 25 marketing show on all of Apple Podcasts.
To stay up to date with all of the latest ecommerce trends, Steve runs a 7 figure ecommerce store, BumblebeeLinens.com, with his wife and puts on an annual ecommerce conference called The Sellers Summit.
Steve carries both a bachelors and a masters degree in electrical engineering from Stanford University. Despite majoring in electrical engineering, he spent a good portion of his graduate education studying entrepreneurship and the mechanics of running small businesses.