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18 best businesses to start with little money

businesses to start with little money

Starting a business with little money doesn't have to be a blocker to profitability and success. With a strong business idea and the right tools, you can start a business without investing too much money upfront or investing into heaps of inventory.

Here are 18 business ideas to start with little money to help get your creative juices flowing. From eCommerce business ideas to service-focused businesses, there are a plethora of opportunities to break into the eCommerce business world.

18 of the best business ideas to start with little money

01. Start selling with dropshipping

In traditional retail models, manufacturing, acquiring, and warehousing inventory can cost a pretty penny—and that’s excluding the cost of packaging and shipping your products. 

Fortunately, dropshipping has revolutionized the game. Under this model, you can avoid typical startup costs by trusting a third-party supplier to create, package, and ship items directly to your customers.

Dropshipping offers a fast way to start an eCommerce business by providing access to thousands (if not millions) of ready-to-ship products. It’s also a low-cost way to test product-market fit and/or experiment with trending products.

Get started with Wix’s dropshipping solution today.

businesses to start with little money: dropshipping and wix

02. Print on demand

Print on demand (POD) works similarly to dropshipping; it’s another way to outsource fulfillment to a supplier and a great business to start with little money because of this. POD, however, allows you to create and sell unique products that feature your own designs.

Using POD, you could:

  • Start a t-shirt business featuring your own branded designs

  • Add cat photos to novelty socks

  • Create stickers for dog lovers

  • Sell merchandise with original artwork that you've created

Alternatively, you could hire and collaborate with freelance artists through sites like Fiverr, 99Designs or DeviantArt.

Once you're ready to sell, simply connect your online store to a platform like Modalyst, Printful or Printify. All of these POD companies integrate with Wix eCommerce, allowing you to easily list POD products for sale on your site and route orders to the right suppliers.

03. Sell on Amazon

Marketplaces like Amazon, eBay and Etsy already attract millions of shoppers. While it's essential to have your own fully branded store, a multichannel selling strategy allows you to reach a wider audience faster—and at a relatively low cost compared to traditional advertising or retailing.

Wix eCommerce makes this a business to start with little money worth exploring because you can automatically import existing product listings to marketplaces like Amazon. You can also manage all of your orders and inventory from one place, minimizing the amount of time needed to manage multiple sales channels.

That said, each channel has its quirks, so you'll want to be selective of where you sell. Take the time to understand buyers' values, motivations, and personalities to anticipate the types of products they're looking to find on each site.

04. Take your brick and mortar store online

If you run a brick-and-mortar business, you can expand your reach by selling online while avoiding a large increase in your business costs.

Case in point: Angel Gregorio, owner of The Spice Suite, took a leap of faith when she quit her day job to become a “full-time spice girl.” What started as a brick-and-mortar store (an interactive spice bar featuring spice blends from across the world) evolved into an online empire. With the help of Wix's eCommerce website templates and back-office tools, she was able to take her business online and sell spice boxes, which served as a core revenue stream during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As a result of a successful shift to a hybrid online model, The Spice Suite made over $2 million in sales, with their online store representing the most successful part of the business. If you've got a physical store and are looking to make more money without a huge investment, this is one way to do that.

In the same vein, eCommerce has been a welcome addition to several other businesses in the food and restaurant industry.

  • Catering company Cleverchefs shifted online by selling and delivering restaurant-standard food boxes to customers’ homes.

  • Single-malt whiskey retailer Bimber Distillery was able tap into a global market by offering ready-to-buy products, tour bookings, and other perks online.

Whether you’re looking to sell food boxes, clothes or car parts, eCommerce can be a wise business to start with little money.

05. Video creation

Create cooking videos, workout videos, kid-friendly content—whatever floats your boat. The revenue potential is massive if you're able to engage and nurture a loyal audience.

There are various ways to make money with digital video content. You could charge a monthly channel subscription that gives customers full access to exclusive content. Or, if you work with video hosting platforms like YouTube, you could monetize your content based on the number of viewers.

Another option: sell or rent your videos, allowing viewers to download your video or access it over a 24-48-hour cycle.

Whichever pricing model you pursue, consider offering some of your content for free to give customers an idea of your product and nudge them to make a purchase. Host live streaming or webinars with Zoom, Vimeo and YouTube that focus on building an engaged community.

06. Subscription boxes

eCommerce has seen a boom in the product subscription service industry, with big names like Netflix and Ipsy amassing large followings throughout the years. Part of the reason for that has been the fact that subscription boxes are a popular business to start with little money.

businesses to start with little money - subscription box

Within this sector, three types of subscription services have emerged:

  • Replenishment - Recurring purchases of frequently used items, like toilet paper, coffee beans, toothpaste, or razors

  • Curation - Boxes of themed items, like apparel, beauty, books, food, and wine

  • Access subscriptions - Discounts or premium member perks, typically in industries like food, beauty, and apparel

There are various ways that you can start a subscription box business. The most important step is to define a clear niche. It helps to pick a niche that you know well.

For example, do you already sell a product that you can turn into a subscription? Maybe you have a hobby like soap-making, hot sauce recipes, or homemade sanitizers with essential oils? Create a gift box of your products and set up tiered memberships for premium access.

07. Start an interior design business

An eye for design is a fantastic asset when it comes to home business ideas. Home decor company Kaekoo, for example, hit it big selling handcrafted textiles online. Part of their success can be attributed to:

  • Strong branding. Through their website, Kaekoo expresses their devotion to ethically sourced, handcrafted goods. Their products additionally use “ancestral techniques celebrated across generations.”

  • Purposeful and unique. “Each pillow is sewn with a custom leather tag with the name of the Pillow Lady design you chose,” writes Kaekoo on its site. “Just like your home, each of our pillow designs comes with its own story.”

  • Gift cards. Gifts cards are available for purchase through Kaekoo’s site, allowing customers to refer their friends to the brand. (Did you know: 69% of customers spend more than the value of their cards when redeeming them online, according to data from across 700,000+ Wix Stores.)

Make the most of this business to start with little money by selling home decor, whether it involves interior design, woodworking, macrame pieces, painting (see how to start a painting business), candle-making, indoor plants, or custom mason jars. Go the extra mile by sharing your home art, craft ideas and decorating tips on your shop to inspire customers as they look through your products.

best business to start with little money, interior design

08. Start a podcast

Podcast ad revenues are expected to reach closer to $3 billion by 2025. Outside of ads, you can use your podcasting platform to offer courses, publish premium content, or host events.

If this tickles your fancy as a business to start with little money, start by picking a topic that you personally find interesting. Look for ways to entertain, inform, and inspire using your topical expertise. Team up with friends, invite special guests, and/or work with influencers to add value and increase your exposure. You can also try volunteering on someone else's podcast before you launch your own to get a true sense of what it really takes.

businesses to start with little money - podcasts

You can record your podcast using audio hosting sites like SoundCloud or Libsyn. When you finish recording, use the Wix Podcast Player to showcase and stream podcasts from your site.

Once you have enough listeners, you can find sponsorship deals on sites like Ad Results Media, Adopter Media, or True Native Media. Pro tip: to give you revenue an additional boost, think of ways to complement your podcast brand with print-on-demand merchandise like branded tees, socks and other accessories.

09. Write a book

Have you always dreamed of writing your own book? Make this the year you finally get your book published. You can self-publish your own ebook and promote your book through your own online store or a marketplace like Amazon. This is a creative way to start a business with little money.

For inspiration, take a page from Ashley Antoinette, New York Times best-selling author and founder of Antoinette uses her website as a platform to promote her immensely popular Butterfly series, as well as her upcoming Book Lovers App. Her homepage features a countdown for the next book drop.

Unsure of what to write about?

  • Create a story out of real-life events

  • Repurpose your old blog posts as an ebook

  • Narrate an audiobook

Make sure to take advantage of Wix’s website templates that are specially designed for authors and publishers. Collect royalties by distributing your ebook or paperback through Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing.

10. Provide remote consultation services

Just as expanding online allows brick-and-mortar stores to reach larger audiences, shifting to an online model for consultation services enables you to reach a global customer base.

businesses with little money - remote consulting

There are multiple avenues you could take. For example, build and design websites for other folks who aren’t as familiar with Wix eCommerce or other site builders. Or, offer virtual tutorials and coaching sessions (see how to start a coaching business) to share best practices and tips with other business owners.

Do you work in the medical industry? If you’re a general physician, nutritionist, or therapist, you could provide consultations by phone or video. Start by setting up a website where patients can schedule and manage their meetings, then integrate your site with Zoom.

11. Sell second-hand or vintage goods

If you love rummaging and finding deals on vintage clothing or second-hand goods, then creating a business out of doing it for others may be the perfect business idea to start with little money.

best businesses to start with little money - sell vintage clothing

Begin by selecting a niche for your vintage store. Some examples include:

  • Clothing or goods from a particular decade

  • Vintage formalwear

  • A hip young adult vintage trend

  • Vintage home decor

It pays to focus on a value or style that you love. For example, Henny Penny Vintage, a spunky vintage shop, is committed to “giving fast fashion the middle finger” and promoting sustainable fashion through its store. Meanwhile, I Can Tell By The Moon Vintage sells more romantic, antique clothing and home decor.

Once you determine your niche, start sourcing, repairing, and reselling a few pieces to start. By keeping your initial inventory small, you can keep your costs low and spend time getting familiar with how to sell vintage clothing online.

12. Start a candle business

The candle industry is expected to reach $9.9 billion in annual revenue by 2028, according to Vantage Market Research. If you’re a craft lover or someone who already makes candles as a hobby, then the candle-making business could be your calling as a new business owner with limited startup capital.

Starting a candle business offers several unique advantages:

  • Low startup costs - You can find basic candle-making kits and supplies at your local craft store or online

  • Tons of free resources - You can find plenty of free tutorials, recipes, and walk-through videos online

  • Healthy profit margins - The average candle business can expect to sell their candles at a 25% to 50% markup

Of course, you’ll first want to master the craft of candle-making before putting your items up for sale. Test various aspects of your products, like smell, safety, and burn time. Decide whether you want to brand your candles as high-end, luxury candles or fun, playful scents offered at a more affordable price.

As an example, Coal and Canary focuses on creating “hand-poured luxury wood wick candles for every occasion – and for everyday…each candle is hand poured with the highest attention to detail and lovingly housed in a beautiful re-usable glass vessel.”

businesses to start with little money, candles

13. Sell handcrafted goods

If candles aren’t for you, there are a variety of other things to make and sell that work as business ideas to start with little money. You could sell knitted accessories or hand-painted art, to name a few.

Wix merchant, Sena Runa, made a business out of selling beautiful, paper-based artwork online. In addition to selling various framed art pieces, Sena Runa offers YouTube tutorials and downloadable templates for other aspiring artists.

As with any business, begin by choosing a niche and your target market. Then, select a primary platform for selling your products.

businesses to start with little money - crafts

For example, many crafters start by selling crafts online through a third-party marketplace such as Etsy, Amazon, or eBay. However, to retain complete control of your brand, costs, and your customer's shopping experience, it’s wisest to build an online shop to serve as your flagship location. You can always expand to marketplaces afterwards (e.g., Wix’s multichannel campaigns allow you to automatically upload your products to Amazon, eBay, and other channels).

14. Participate in affiliate marketing

Affiliate marketing is ideal as a business to start with little to no money.

As an affiliate marketer, you’ll be promoting another company’s product or service through your channel of choice. Be it a YouTube channel or social media, you can bring awareness to your brand partner’s products and, in return, earn a commission for every sale that you influence.

businesses to start with little money - affiliate marketing

Roughly 80% of brands offer an affiliate program, so finding one that complements your interests is certainly doable. To find a product to promote, start by checking your favorite brands and seeing if they offer affiliate programs. Another option is to check affiliate marketing networks like ClickBank, ShareASale and Affiliate Future, which offer thousands of affiliate opportunities.

Look for a program with a commission structure that you’re comfortable with. And, most importantly, find a product that you actually use and enjoy. Do not risk your credibility by promoting brands or products that you’ve never tried before.

"Once you decide to become an affiliate marketer, it's essential to focus on products you believe in. Your affinity for the product is crucial, and it's better to choose an unsaturated market with few players. Have you already chosen a competitive niche? Ensure there is profit potential that justifies your investment."
Guy Josipovich, Online Partnerships Manager at Wix

15. Monetize your blog

A blog is not only an outlet for creativity. It can also serve as a powerful money-making vehicle. But before being able to monetize your blog, you first need to understand the fundamentals of building a blog with high-quality content and an engaged audience.

Note: building a great blog takes time and a lot of TLC. Still, once you’ve created a solid foundation, you can explore the many ways to make money from your hard work.

Here are a few ways that bloggers are getting paid for their time:

  • Offer paid membership plans: Set aside some of your content exclusively for paid subscribers. With Wix, you can easily create a subscription plan and flag select posts for subscriber-only access.

  • Become a freelance blogger: Reach out to brands with active blogs and inquire about freelance writing opportunities. You can additionally search for freelance writing gigs on job boards or LinkedIn.

  • Make money from online ads: Display ads on your site using Google AdSense and collect revenue each time a user clicks an ad from your site. AdSense allows you to specify which types of ads are most relevant to your audience to increase their chances of clicking.

businesses to start with little money - blog

16. Sell shoes online

Do you consider yourself a sneakerhead? Or perhaps you simply have a stockpile of shoes collecting dust in your closet?

The shoe business could serve as a good side hustle, given that the average yearly shoe volume is expected to grow by 14% in 2023, according to Statista. Not to mention that you could get started in a variety of ways. Sell good-as-new shoes from your closet and local thrift store, or collect and resell trendy kicks. Advancements in print on demand and dropshipping even allow you to sell custom or branded shoes, without shooting up your startup costs.

List your shoes for sale through an online store that features your full collection of shoes. Supplement this with other sales channels, such as eBay, where 15 pairs of sneakers are sold every minute. There’s also StockX, GOAT, TheRealReal, and many other marketplaces—each with its own unique customer base that you can tap into.

businesses to start with little money - sell shoes

17. Sell books online

Do you love immersing yourself in the world of books? What if you could share that passion with others as an online bookseller? Interested? Consider exploring these business to start with little money for yourself.

Similar to selling shoes, you can start selling books online with very little upfront expenses. Sell books off your shelf, including old textbooks, popular classics, or children’s books. Online tools like BookScouter can help you estimate the value of your books.

Alternatively, source used books at second-hand stores, library book sales, estate sales, and flea markets. Or, source new books from book distributors, publishers, and local writers.

To maximize your chances of success, decide what kind of bookseller you want to be. Do you want to:

  • Specialize in a specific genre (i.e., comic books, graphic novels, biographies, etc.)

  • Sell used, rare, or vintage books

  • Focus on books pertaining to a particular topic (i.e., cooking, sewing, crafting, boating, remodeling, etc.)

  • Curate books for a specific audience (i.e., children, teachers, entrepreneurs)

  • Create a collection where each book has a history or story of its own (i.e., books owned/written by influential people, banned books, books written by women posing as men)

18. Home staging

If you possess a talent for interior design, a staging service could be your ideal professional pursuit when looking for a business to start with little money or investment. This idea involves transforming homes to enhance their appeal and create an inviting atmosphere for potential buyers. To get started with minimal initial investment, you can stage homes using the owner's existing furnishings and décor. Be resourceful and strategically decorate and arrange properties to avoid the need for extensive purchases. As you gain experience and connect with local realtors, you can gradually expand your inventory of furniture.

When you're first looking for clients, you'll need to rely heavily on networking. Attend your local realtors' association's events with business cards and make contacts wherever you can. Make sure to leverage online platforms and social media for cost-effective marketing, showcasing your skills to attract clients without a hefty advertising budget. Once you secure your first clients and develop a robust portfolio, you can showcase your designs on your home staging website. This gradual approach allows you to build credibility and visibility in the field.

Tips for starting a business with little money

If you're looking to start a business with little money, you'll want to make sure you do your research and set it up properly. Here are some steps to follow to do just that:

  • Choose your business idea: start by identifying your own passions and skills. Move onto researching market needs, assess any potential competition and consider low cost business ideas with growth potential.

  • Write a business plan: this can include your mission statement (the why behind your business), a definition of your target market (are you going to sell online by making an eCommerce website, or some other way?), your marketing plan and your marketing strategies, full details on how to fund your business.

  • Decide on the best business structure: you can choose from, Sole proprietorship, Limited liability company (LLC) or a Corporation, as just some examples.

  • Register your business: This means you'll need to obtain a business license, obtain an EIN number and open a business bank account.

  • Secure funding: when it comes to starting a business with little money some of the most popular and accessible funding options include, bootstrapping, Small Business Administration (SBA) loans and crowdfunding.

  • Promote your business: this means developing a strong brand identity, learning how to create a website and building out a strong social media presence. You'll need to plan and run marketing campaigns as well.

  • Hone your business management: Some best practices for effective business management include, keeping track of your finances, complying with all government regulations, collecting feedback from customers, amongst just a few. 

What are the best types of business ideas to start with little money?

There are many different types of businesses that can be started with little money. Here are a few examples:

  • Service-based businesses: These businesses provide services to customers, such as a dog walking business, house cleaning, or web design. Service-based businesses typically require little start-up capital, as you don't need to purchase much inventory or equipment (except for a good vacuum cleaner and cleaning supplies for the house cleaning business).

  • Freelance businesses: These businesses allow you to sell your skills and expertise to clients. Freelance businesses can be started with little money, as you don't need to purchase inventory or equipment. However, you may need to invest in marketing and advertising to find clients.

  • eCommerce businesses: These businesses sell products online. eCommerce businesses can be started with little money, as you can use a free website builder to set up your store. However, you may need to invest in marketing and advertising to drive traffic to your store.

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