I owe a lot to the invention of the Internet. It has provided me with a way to work from home. I’m a freelance writer—a job that has been around for a long time. But technology has provided me with a chance to take that job online, finding a wider variety of gigs, and connecting with clients quickly and easily all over the world.
Old jobs made new aren’t the only careers that can be found thanks to the Internet, though. There are actually jobs that didn’t exist before the Internet. The Internet has changed some of the ways we do business and communicate with others.
But working online is only scratching the surface of ways you can start a business with little or no money. Let’s look at some of the benefits of starting a business, along with some low-cost business ideas to get you started.
Benefits to Starting a Business
Economic troubles, combined with recent leaps in technology, have provided unprecedented opportunities for entrepreneurs to step out on their own.
The idea of owning a business is a powerful one. When you own a business, you have greater control over your income, and the ability to boost your earning power in accordance with your business acumen.
The good news is you don’t have to make the leap from your day job immediately. You can take the opportunity to start a side-hustle that can help you earn extra money on the side, in addition to your regular day-job income.
Some would-be entrepreneurs become discouraged, though, when they consider the costs of starting a business. It can cost tens of thousands of dollars to buy into a franchise, and you often need to have a million dollar net worth or greater to qualify for many franchises. If you want open a brick and mortar store, you need to be able to secure financing for premises, equipment, and other necessities. Even if you “only” lease your location, you still need to come up with funds.
The good news is that there are opportunities to make money with low-cost business ideas. Here are a few business ideas you can start on a shoestring:
11 Low-Cost Business Ideas You Can Start Today
Freelancing, is what I do. Whether you provide writing, graphic design, web development, or photography services, freelancing can be a great, low-cost business . . . if you have the requisite skills. With writing, all you need is a computer and a reliable Internet connection. A graphic designer or web developer can start out with the right software, along with the computer and Internet connection. With a good camera and editing software, a freelance photographer can start out.
Depending on what you already have, it’s possible to start a freelance business with no additional cost beyond what you’re already paying for your Internet connection and your hobby – especially if you start out using free web hosting for your business website. Even if you need to buy a few things, it’s possible to get started for anywhere from a few hundred dollars to less than $5,000.
Why not get paid for all that knowledge in your head? Offer your services as a consultant on a subject at which you are considered an expert. From gardening to statistics (my husband did this) to social media, your expert knowledge might be valuable to someone else.
It helps to have a website so that others can find you. The costs of buying a domain name, paying for hosting, and even buying a theme you can use aren’t usually very high. You can start a professional blog or other website less than a few hundred dollars. A professional design can be more expensive, but isn’t always required. It’s even possible to do it for no cost beyond what you pay for your home Internet service, depending on what services you use. Promote your services on social media and establish your expertise with a blog, and you can bring in consulting work.
Another option is to provide sitter services. Whether you are babysitting children, or providing services for the elderly, your care and companionship can be valuable. You can do fulfilling work and earn money at the same time. However, you do need to check into requirements from your state. There are states that limit how many children you can babysit, and you also need to look into caregiving requirements if you are involved in sitting for adults.
You can also offer your services for house-sitting. If you live in an area where people are gone for an extended period of time, consider providing house-sitting services. You can keep the house clean, watch for problems with water lines, keep up the yard, and provide other house-sitting services. You can start out using your own household cleaning equipment, and then buy other items later. It’s possible to start out for less than $3,000, even taking into account tools, cleaning supplies, and limited advertising.
4. Selling Handmade Items
If you are a crafty person, you can sell handmade items. From vinyl cutouts to crocheted items to woodworking to just about anything that you can make by hand, it’s possible to sell it and earn money. It is a little more expensive this way, since you have to pay for supplies. However, you can start small, buying a few supplies. As your items sell, you can order more supplies later. You can usually start selling for a low cost, since sites like Etsy, Amazon and eBay offer cost-efficient storefronts.
5. Selling Using a Drop-Ship E-Commerce Store
You can also start an e-commerce store through drop-shipping. Instead of carrying inventory, you arrange to have the vendor ship it to the customer. It’s fairly cost-efficient to set up such an e-commerce store, since you don’t have to buy the inventory up front; instead, you pay for what you have shipped to customers. The details of doing this are beyond the scope of this article, but here is good starting point to learn more about starting a niche store online.
Starting a blog is one way you can earn a decent side income, or even a nice living from the internet. Starting a blog is easier than most people think and can be a great way to establish yourself as an expert in your field. Though blogging isn’t always a way to get rich, it can provide you with a way to make money through advertising, selling your own products, or using your site as a portfolio and way to market your services to new customers.
7. Social Media Consultant
By now, you probably know that companies want to know how to reach potential customers through Facebook, Twitter and other social media channels. A social media consultant can help companies navigate those waters, setting up profiles, making posts, and coaching them in best practices.
8. SEO Consultant
Search engines are a big part of how we find information online. Being able to show up high in a customer’s search results is important to business owners, bloggers and others. There are things you can do to help you increase your search engine optimization, and a consultant can help. This group of entrepreneurs can give you ideas and direction for increasing traffic to a web site.
9. Online Teacher
My ex-husband taught online classes for one of Utah’s major universities. Indeed, the Internet has given rise to a whole segment of people who make a career of teaching online—and not just for online universities. Many major universities are adding online classes, and they need teachers to run them. You can also tutor others online, and earn money that way.
10. Web Host
People need a place to house their home on the Internet. You can be a web host, providing server space for others. You purchase your own server, or space on a server, and then others pay you to use the space. It does help to have some technical knowledge, since you may have to help with administration, code and security. Even if you aren’t actually the web host, you can make money through affiliate programs, sending others to a specific web host and earning a part of the sale.
11. Web Site Design and Development
You can also start a career as a web site designer and developer. Help others put together an attractive and user friendly web site, and develop it. You will need plenty of specific knowledge about design and development topics, but you can create a business out of providing these specialized services to those who need them.
Technology has provided a way to re-invent old jobs online, as well as bring opportunities to those who might not have had them before. Thanks to the Internet, it is easier than ever to start a business, and it is possible for you to look for or create your own niche, even if it’s just part-time.
What other low-cost business ideas can you think of? Leave a comment!