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16 Best Small Business Ideas You Can Start With Little Money [2024]

Rosie Greaves

The internet opens up a wealth of opportunities for entrepreneurial-minded people all over the world. So it's hardly surprising that thousands of new small businesses are registered each year. With dedication, research, and passion, anyone can turn their small business ideas into a reality.

So, if you’re stuck in the nine-to-five grind, your daydream of becoming self-employed is only a few short decision away. Do you long to choose your own schedule, work from anywhere, and/or a career based on your passions?

If so, good news. This fantasy doesn’t have to remain in your head. Even if you don’t have much in starting funds, there are tons of online small business ideas you can launch to transform that dream into a reality.

So, to provide you with some inspiration, we’ve listed the best businesses to start, with little money. 

Let's dive in! eCommerce is a booming market and online market places like Temu which cheap and affordable as compared to others

1. Dropshipping

eCommerce is a booming market that might seem impossible to crack. After all, don’t you need warehouses and manufacturers to create and sell products? 

Not anymore! 

You can run an online store or Online Market Place without ever touching inventory. And with the right dropshipping platform, without having to screen for suppliers. This is where dropshipping comes in. 

What is Dropshipping?

Dropshipping is a three-step business model in which; your customer makes an order, and the order is sent directly to the dropshipping supplier, who then ships it to your customer. 

The dropshipping supplier uses their own warehouse, and you simply worry about marketing and getting the sale. The dropshipping supplier manages the rest. Take a look at the diagram below on how dropshipping streamlines the eCommerce process. 

Of course, the success of any dropshipping business hinges on the quality of your products and suppliers. That's why using a service like Spocket is imperative. 

They vet all their dropshipping suppliers, so you can rest easy knowing you're doing business with reliable suppliers. Best of all, you have access to Dropshipping suppliers from the USA and globally to find unique products with fast shipping. 

So, dow do you start a dropshipping business? You'll need an online store and your own domain name. If you're new to web design and online selling, we recommend using an online store builder to save time. These may be more costly, but it saves you time and effort so you can focus on your eCommerce business. To further enhance your online business and secure a strong customer retention rate, consider integrating applications for loyalty programs, customer reviews, and upselling opportunities. 

2. Start a Blog

Kickstarting a blog is a low-cost and easy business to start out there. You can start anytime, anywhere, and it is a fantastic platform for exploring your passion and voice.

First off, decide on a niche to center your blog content around. Make sure its something you’re passionate about and have initial experience with. Once you have a solid idea, you just need a website builder (one that supports a blog), and a domain name. We recommend Wordpress.com. You can test their service for free, and with their Premium plan, you can run your whole website for only $8 a month. Beyond this, you'll need to purchase a domain name. But don’t fret - .com domains are available around $10-$15 a year. If you don't already have a domain name, GoDaddy is a great place to find one.  

How do you monetize a blog?

There are a few ways you can make money blogging. But one of the more popular methods is affiliate marketing. This is where you advertise and link to another business's product or service in your posts and receive a commission each time you make a sale via your affiliate link. 

Take a look at this lifestyle blog example below, with relevant content on something you care about, you can grow your blog into a successful small business, or use it to create a platform or following for your small business idea as well. 

3. Create and Sell an Online Course

Are you an expert in a topic that excites you? If so, why not make this passion profitable by teaching what you love?

Many professionals branch into creating online courses at some point in their careers. Not only is this a fun project to undertake, but it's also a cheap business model with the potential to be incredibly lucrative. 

Once you've created a class, you can sell it over and over. You don’t have to actively teach the course more than once. 

There's a growing demand for eLearning, across a variety of topics. A few of the more notable categories include:

  • Design, art, and photography
  • IT and software or game development
  • Business skills 
  • Digital marketing 
  • Writing
  • Music
  • Professional skills 

You can use platforms like skillshare to sell courses on something you’re particularly good at. IF you think you’re not good at anything, think again. You can even brush up your own skills and add your own flair to the courses you create. Take a look at these watercolor courses:

You can even create a course on tidying up, and being more crafty and sustainable:

small business ideas: create an online course

So, how do you start selling courses online?

You can publish your content via a marketplace like Udemy or use an online school builder like Thinkific to write and host your content as well, depending on which platform you see fit. Both avenues have their advantages and disadvantages. 

eLearning marketplaces enable you to get started for next to nothing, as, usually, you don’t need to invest any money upfront. However, they often take a cut of your profits.

Whereas, course builders like Thinkific or Teachable allow you to create courses and sell them through your own website. As such, you can keep all the revenue. Typically, online course builders charge a monthly or yearly subscription fee, which usually starts from around $30 a month (depending on your chosen platform). 

Some also offer free programs that enable you to test their core features and/or sell a small number of courses hosted on one of their subdomains.

4. Sell Your Graphic Design Services Online

If you're skilled in graphic design or drawing in general, start pitching your skills to small business owners. After all, branding and design services are often needed when a startup first enters the market. 

To establish a professional online presence, you should publish an online portfolio. So, as with starting a blog, your initial costs will center on purchasing a domain name, web hosting, and a website builder. A small cost for starting a small business idea.

Interestingly, some website builders are better than others for creating portfolio websites. Some of them include Squarespace, Weebly, and Wix. Each of these offers affordable payment plans for beginners and handle web hosting for you.


Once you have your graphic design services and offers figured out, you can pitch to businesses directly. So, a good sense of marketing and networking is necessary to succeed in this line of work. 

Also, keep in mind, if you don't already have the software you need to create professional-looking graphics, you'll have to purchase that too. For instance, you may wish to subscribe to Adobe's Creative Suite, InDesign, Adobe Illustrator, and Adobe Photoshop. These are just a few examples of programs that may come in handy.  

But, you can use free and affordable tools like Canva to do this on a smaller scale as well. 

5. Freelance Illustration

Offering illustration services isn't too different from becoming a freelance graphic designer, as you'll need to make similar investments to get going. I.e., your website and software. 

However, as a freelance illustrator, of course, your work focuses on a different field. 

On top of working with clients to create illustrations, logos or mascots, you can also sell your work via art community platforms like Deviantart or Society6.  

Or if you're feeling really creative, try selling prints of your illustrations, greeting cards, stencils, etc., on artsy online marketplaces like Etsy. 

If you’re so bold, you can take your unique, one of a kind illustrations and put them on a T-shirt. This way you can sell them as a dropshipping business. The possibilities are endless!

6. Start a Podcast

In 2019, over 88 million people in the US listened to podcasts. This versatile audio experience has become a popular backdrop while people work, drive, complete household chores - or whatever else!

There's no shortage of podcast genres out there, so you can use this medium to delve into near-on any passion or interest.

If you want to pursue this business venture, you'll need to sign up for podcast hosting. This service stores your audio files and distributes them to all the major podcasting networks- iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn, Spotify, etc. Podcast hosting costs, on average, $10-$15 per month.

Of course, to produce excellent quality podcasts, you'll also need to invest in some equipment (if you haven’t already). This should include a good quality headset microphone, which you can get for around $50. 

How do you make money podcasting? You can try to attract sponsorship, i.e., companies that pay you to advertise their products/services on your podcast. Or, like blogging, you can sell affiliate products and earn a commission. Alternatively, if you have your own products/services to sell, you can go ahead a promote them on your podcast. 

7. Become an Instagram Influencer

Have you been complimented on your magnetic looks and personality before? If so, you might have what it takes to become a successful Instagram influencer.

Instagram has revolutionized photo content. In fact, 200 million Instagram users visit at least one business account a day. So it's no wonder, we're seeing a surge in companies looking to popular Instagram influencers to promote their brands. 

In fact, with the new Instagram shops, you can sell directly to your Instagram followers! Dropshipping and being an Instagram influencer rolled into one. 

To make it as an Instagram influencer, you’ll need to decide on your niche, and stick to it. 

This can be anything from tech to beauty, fitness to health. Decide on an industry you're passionate about, as this will radiate through your content. 

To amass a following, you need to post consistently and you need to have phenomenal content. Once you have a loyal audience, brands and affiliate marketers may contact you to collaborate. 

If you’re a passionate cook, why not start a food account with your own unique twist? Imagine an Instagram account with easy recipes of only 5 ingredients. The options are limitless, let your creativity fly!

Best of all, it's entirely free to get started! 

You just need a smartphone that enables you to snap high-quality photos. At most, you might want to invest in a tool to help you schedule and publish your posts to optimize your outreach. 

8. Pet Sitting/ Pet Grooming Business

People will always love their pets. Shedding and long claws, however, are not always the easiest parts to love about your cuddly best friend. 

If you have experience with household pets and don’t mind making the small investment in the grooming tools, you’ve got yourself a small business idea that pays in both love and money. 

You can create your own website or list yourself as a local business on yelp so people in your area can find you and purchase your services. It’s easy, and it helps build loyalty in your area for pet grooming. If people are happy with your work, you can bet that they’ll tell their friends about it. Be the go-to groomer in your area!

If you’ve got a fenced in backyard and some extra space, you can kick it up a notch and offer a pet sitting service as well. Both are a fantastic option for starting a small business with little to no investment. 

9. Freelance Content Writing

Over 91% of B2B marketers use content marketing to reach their customers. This is true for 60% of B2C marketers too. As such, freelance content writers can make decent money online, with little prior investment. 

If you boast respectable writing chops and can craft engaging stories and articles, launching a freelance writing business could be your calling. 

For experienced freelancers, between writing website copy, blog posts, and email newsletters, you can potentially earn within $1000 and $5000 a week

If you don't have a portfolio of clips, head to websites and blogs in your niche, and start looking for guest blogging opportunities. Kickstart your search by Googling guest posting in your niche, and tons of results will come up. Once you have a few published works, you'll be in a better position to send pitches to businesses, publications, and apply for freelance writing contracts on job boards like ProBlogger

10. Sell Your Photography

Since we’re all equipped with a smartphone, The quality of our photos improves year by year. With different filters and tools, photography is not only everyone’s hobby, but it can be a small business idea too. 

Being a photographer is an easy business to start and as simple as capturing the beauty in everyday moments. You don’t need to be a traveler or have a lavish lifestyle. All you need is a good camera or a high pixel smartphone, and a simple understanding of photography principles, like the rule of thirds depicted below. 

Thanks to the internet, there are tons of ways to sell your photography and unique perspective. You can use Shutterstock, Unsplash, or photography communities like 500px or Pixieset to get a free portfolio set up and start selling immediately. All of those amazing photos that are sitting in your camera roll? An instant gold mine. 

11. Market Your Unused Space on Airbnb

Airbnb provides an excellent opportunity for homeowners to make an extra income by monetizing their unused space. Just list your property/room on Airbnb, and people will pay you to stay. Simple, right?  

To be a good Airbnb host, check any rent control measures in your area. It's also wise to make yourself available for contact during your guest's stay, just in case they need your help. 

You can enhance your guest's experience as much as you want. For instance, some hosts offer food packages and tours. How much effort you invest is up to you!

On average, Airbnb hosts can make $924 a month. But, of course, this depends on your location, demand, and the kind of space and experience you're offering. 

12. Become a YouTuber or Video Editor

Anyone that likes spending time on YouTube might have already thought about the kind of channel they might create. YouTubers can potentially make thousands of dollars vlogging about their passions and getting sponsorship deals. Popular niches include travel, food, lifestyle, reviews, fitness, etc.

If you can amass a sizeable following with unique content and perspective, you can make good money on video ads as well. The average YouTuber makes $3 to $5 per every 1000 views. So, you can quickly see how this could scale into a healthy income. 

Another rising industry is the need for video editing knowledge and expertise. Editing video and creating captivating clips is now an in-demand skill. If you have good knowledge of this or are willing to learn, it’s a small business idea that you don’t want to miss out on. 

Some initial costs include downloading and paying for the video editing software, which can range from $9 to $52 a month. A small price to pay for a great small business idea!

Get yourself posted on popular sites like Fiverr and Upwork to get a client base, before creating your own website and portfolio for your small business. 

13. Freelance Translation

If you possess expert knowledge of another language, you can easily turn this into an online business. Translators are in constant demand, but good quality translators are difficult to find. 

Flexjobs lists thousands of jobs for translators. With a little searching, you'll also find other websites with vacancies. These often allow you to pick flexible hours and do as much or as little work as you like. An instant small business idea that you’ve had in you all along, all with little initial costs. 

14. Online Tutoring

Tutoring is as profitable online as it is offline. Expert tutors can easily make between $20 and $30 an hour. 

Start by deciding which subjects you might be able to teach, and at which level you can instruct students. The more qualified you are and the more credentials you present, the easier it is to find potential tutees.

If you speak English or another language fluently, you can even tutor international students on learning how to speak English. This is easily accessible with the internet and a laptop. 

You can offer tutoring sessions via video conferencing platforms like Skype, Google Hangouts, Zoom, or Appear.in. The most challenging part of this business is marketing your services. But, not to fear, there are plenty of tutoring job boards you can use to establish yourself.

15. Website Flipping

Flipping websites is an exciting new opportunity for anyone with experience in digital marketing and website design. If website design is right up your ally, this may be the perfect small business opportunity. 


The core principle is this:

You buy a website that needs some improvement. Then you go ahead and enhance its worth by elevating the:

  • Quality of its design and content
  • Improving its SEO
  • Boosting its inbound marketing 

Then you can sell the improved website for a profit. To get started, you can buy existing online stores via Shopify’s marketplace Exchange.

16. Become a Tour Guide or Travel photographer

Do you live in (or near) a town or city with historical significance, neat districts, and quirky sights? If you know a desirable location well enough, you could start your own online tour guide business in no time. 

Spruce up your tours as much as you want to provide extra entertainment value. To secure your first customers, be sure to market yourself on social media, and create a website to promote your services. 

Make it easy for tourists to find details about the kinds of tours you offer, where you'll take them, how long the trip is, prices, etc. 

If you’re not into history or want to take your tour guide business to the next level, why not offer travel photography to your services? Solo travelers or Influencers are always looking for help with taking breathtaking photos of their travels. Who better than a tour guide front the city with an eye for photography? 

Start a Small Business Today with Next-to-no Financial Investment

We hope these business ideas provide an insight into just a few of the many online entrepreneurial opportunities out there. It doesn’t take much money to start a business. With research, skill, and continuous dedication, anyone can become their own boss.

If you're interested in launching your own dropshipping business, why not try Spocket for free? It's a great way to get your feet wet in the eCommerce game without spending any money!

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Rosie Greaves

Rosie Greaves is a professional content strategist specializing in all things digital marketing, B2B, and lifestyle. In addition to Spocket, you can find her published on Reader's Digest, E-commerce Platforms, and Judicious Inc. Check out her website Blog with Rosie for more information.

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