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The Best Low-Cost Business Ideas When You're on a Tight Budget

Shane Barker
Shane Barker

Consider these low-cost business ideas if you want to start a business but are short on funds.

It could be a brilliant idea to dabble in entrepreneurship in your free time. It not only creates a potential long-term income stream but also fills your time with something you enjoy. More people are starting their own businesses. In fact, many popular corporations such as Apple and Lamborghini are the results of part-time endeavors from home.

Fortunately, it is easier to start your own business without spending much nowadays. There are plenty of businesses you can start with little or limited resources.

Have you ever thought of being your own boss, and having control over the work you do? If so, you consider entrepreneurship as a career option.

Here are 12 low-cost businesses that you can start with a limited budget.

1. Creating chatbots

Creating chatbots can be great if you wish to start a business with limited or no funds. Chatbots put companies right at the heart of the action – in messenger and chat apps like Slack and Facebook Messenger. This way, prospects and customers get all the information they're looking for in the most convenient places.

Consumers love seamless integration – all the more reason for chatbot usage to increase. People love a program that communicates with them to complete their actions, such as operating other apps.

Chatbots are not only in but have reached a point where every company needs one. They have become a way for companies to improve their customer service and marketing efforts – consumers can get help 24/7 with a chatbot. The best part is that you can start creating chatbots quickly and easily without having much coding knowledge.

2. Marketing services

Providing marketing services requires a certain level of knowledge and skill in marketing. You could help businesses with their advertising campaigns, social media marketing efforts and digital marketing campaigns.

You could also help them plan events, product launches and more. Before you start a marketing service agency, it's important that you clearly define what services you can provide and what type of businesses you'll cater to.

3. Content marketing

Content marketing, as the name suggests, entails producing and distributing consistent, relevant and valuable content. Content marketing, it is done right, can do wonders for businesses in the long run. If you wish to be a successful content marketer, you need to

  • Provide quality content
  • Create content around relevant topics
  • Optimize content for search engine optimization and readers
  • Consistently create and promote content

Although it's easy to confuse it with other digital marketing services, content marketing focuses on long-term results. If you're considering launching a content marketing startup, make sure you have enough time and capital without expecting an initial return on investment. The initial payout of launching a content marketing business ranges from very little to nothing.

4. Affiliate marketing

Affiliate marketing involves earning commissions by promoting other companies (and their products and/or services). You can choose from a variety of affiliate offers you wish to promote. Each affiliate program provides you with a payout for every sale or lead you generate.

In simple terms, you choose a brand's product and service and promote it. Every sale or lead generated as a result of your promotional efforts helps get you paid. You can run affiliate offers via email lists you have created, a blog that you run or social media. Having your own website or blog and being well-versed in the methods of attracting visitors to your site will help you launch your affiliate marketing business easily.

5. Website development

If you have an eye for design and are familiar with coding languages such as Python, Ruby or CSS, you could start a web design business from your home.

Web development is a highly lucrative career, and demand is always increasing – in fact, demand for web developers is projected to grow 13% between 2018 and 2028. 

You'll need a portfolio to show to prospective clients. You could start by taking on small business clients and designing websites for local businesses.

You'll need to be able to create websites with a structure that's easy to navigate and that are mobile responsive. According to BigCommerce, you should also know how to choose themes and templates that properly represent the brand.

6. App development

App development is another industry you can venture into on a small budget. There are two ways you can go about this: You can either build apps that you market yourself or build apps for other businesses. If you choose the first option, you'll have to offer it for free and run ads on the app or have people pay for the app.

There are several tools you can use to build apps. GameSalad is available for free if you run ads in your app. The paid version does not have ads, and you can add in-app purchases. Appy Pie is another option. Like GameSalad, this tool is available for free in exchange for ads in your app.

7. Virtual assistant

A virtual assistant provides administrative or support services to a business from a remote location. They are just like an in-house assistant and have the same job responsibilities.  

Responsibilities vary from client to client. As you don't need to physically relocate to where the business is based, you can start immediately – all you need is internet access, a computer, and access to the software and tools the business uses so you can perform your job effectively. 

8. E-commerce store

This is a great low-cost business idea for someone who has a product to sell but does not want to invest in a brick-and-mortar physical store. You can avoid all the risk and investment that goes into building a physical store (or renting one) by launching an e-commerce store. 

If you have a product to sell and nowhere to sell it, consider launching your own e-commerce store. There are numerous e-commerce tools that can help you build and launch a website in no time. 

Even buying a custom domain name does not cost much and can be done in minutes.

9. Real estate

Every day, thousands of people search for real estate listings to buy or rent properties. One low-cost business idea is to become a real estate broker. The job entails showing properties for sale or rent; you earn a commission when a property is sold or rented out. 

You need a network of contacts who can inform you about soon-to-be or new property listings in your area. You can then post ads about the properties on real estate websites and show clients the properties. Placing ads on property listing websites is usually free; your main expense is travel costs, which is small compared to what you will earn as a commission. 

10. Dog walking

Do you love dogs and can't get enough of these furry little creatures? This may be a great business for you. 

A lot of working people need someone to walk their dogs while they are away from home. To get this type of job, you can either search for it in job directories or offer your services as a dog walker in a variety of directories. Yes, it's as simple as that. No investment is needed, and in addition to making some money, you can have loads of fun. 

11. Cleaning business

A cleaning business is another low-cost opportunity you can take advantage of. You can clean businesses that have daily cleaning needs (e.g., emptying garbage cans, cleaning the bathrooms, etc.), partner with hotels that hire cleaning staff, or you can also work with private customers to clean their homes. 

You'll need to purchase cleaning supplies, but you may be able to negotiate with clients that clients provide the needed cleaning supplies. 

12. Tutoring business

If you are well-versed in particular subjects and have a knack for teaching, tutoring can be a great business. Becoming a tutor does not necessarily entail traveling to an office or a coaching center. You can always go to students' homes and tutor them or meet them somewhere else, such as a coffee shop. 

Another option is to tutor online, which is becoming popular. All you need is a computer with a camera, an internet connection, and you're good to go. 

With the above business ideas, you can easily maintain your current job while you launch your new business. The internet has created endless possibilities. Enhancing your current skills or learning new ones can help you start your own business. 

Shane Barker
Shane Barker,
business.com Writer
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Shane Barker is a digital marketing consultant that specializes in sales funnels, targeted traffic and website conversions. He has consulted with Fortune 500 companies, Influencers with digital products, and a number of A-List celebrities.