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11 Cheap Businesses to Start

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If money is running short and you are trying to find ways to start a business of your own from the ground up, this article is for you. We break down 11 business ideas that don’t need you to invest thousands in capital to start.

#1 Start a freelance writing business

A freelance writing business has very low startup costs, a low barrier to entry, and no ceiling to the amount of money you can earn. Your income from a freelance writing business will depend on the type of writing you’re carrying out. 

A generalist web writer will earn less than a specialist writer who has significant experience in a particular field or niche while a copywriter who produces sales letters, PPC ads, and other forms of sales copy will generally make more than a generalist blogger. 

There is no limit to how much you can earn or how much you can grow as a freelance writer. Once you narrow down on a specialty, you can even create a company of your own and head other writers that you hire to take care of client work. 

For example, LawRank, an SEO company for lawyers, specializes in creating content for law companies, which allows them to position themselves as the best options for lawyers in the U.S.

If you decide to start a freelance business of your own, you could create a membership site using MemberPress that has a membership portal that only your clients can access. This portal will let them request new content, access customer support, and select what service they would like to order.

#2 Become a pet sitter

Being a pet sitter means you’ll likely be looking after a variety of animals for different clients. Not only will pet sitting test your skills with animals, but it will also test your skills in meeting client demands, pricing your services, and much more. 


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According to professional pet sitter Melissa Smith, those looking to become pet sitters should be prepared to care for several different pets within a 24-hour period, be prepared for some last-minute calls, juggle specialist pet requirements such as dietary and medication needs and also respect client privacy. After all, your clients aren’t just trusting you with the care of their pets. They’re also allowing you into their homes and private lives. 

Fun facts:

  • Pet sitters in the U.S. make about $17 per visit, sometimes doing up to 14 visits in one day.
  • Pets are a lot more comfortable in their own home environments. Pet sitters help to keep pets in their familiar surroundings, which helps to reduce stress and anxiety in the animal. 

#3 Offer dog walking services 

With 89.7 million dogs being owned in the U.S. alone (as of 2017), there’s certainly no shortage of dogs to walk for aspiring dog walkers. There are no formal qualifications or licenses needed to become a dog walker, but you will need insurance and a criminal background check, so make sure you check out the local requirements in your area.

Before you start advertising, it’s also worth researching the hourly rate for a dog walker in your area and checking to see if you can find any stats about the number of dogs in the area you want to cover and what your competition is charging. By doing this, you’ll have some understanding of what to charge and how many dogs you can potentially walk.

Fun facts:

#4 Become a virtual assistant 

From social media management to email marketing (make sure you use a robust SMTP server if you start managing emails for clients!), there are a lot of different services a virtual assistant (VA) can offer. To set up your business, you’ll first have to decide what services you’re offering and figure out your pricing and your business structure. You’ll then need to conduct some research into the steps you need to take to register a business in your area.

As a VA, you’ll usually enjoy great perks such as flexibility in location, setting your own hours, being your own boss, and much more. To be successful as a VA, you’ll need to get comfortable with pitching potential clients, building business relationships, using multiple digital tools, and learning new skills. A good digital marketing course could help you learn a few tricks of the trade.

#5 Lawn care

A lawn care business can be fairly lucrative if carried out in the right season. To start, you need a method of promotion (business card, leaflet, website) and a lawnmower. You may also need to register your business, depending on your location, but other than that, you can get started right away. 

One of the major benefits of starting a lawn care business is the potential for repeat word-of-mouth business. Since someone’s lawn/garden is so visual, there’s a strong likelihood of referral business coming your way if you can do a good job and make your clients’ lawns look good.

Fun facts:

#6 Start an Etsy business

If you’re skilled at arts and crafts, you can sell various items on Etsy, such as homemade goods, vintage items, and much more. You’ll need to carry out thorough market research to determine whether there is market interest in the products you’re looking to sell. You can start doing this by checking out similar products to what you’re looking to sell and examining the problem your product solves and who your ideal buyer is. 

Over on Etsy’s blog, you’ll find some great tips on different products you can start making for your own use or to sell. 

Fun facts:

#7 Start a maintenance business

A maintenance business is a straightforward business to start, particularly if you have a trade or a practical skill. Start by taking inventory of what skills you already have to offer (this could include mechanic skills, carpentry, plumbing, and more). Once you’ve done this, you can decide on the services you’re going to offer, the demographics of your prospective customers, and how you will market your business. 

Fun facts:

#8 Become an Uber driver

One of the most popular businesses/side businesses to start over the past few years has been to become an Uber driver. By driving Uber, you can set your own hours and turn it into a lucrative side or full-time income. To become an Uber driver, you’ll need to ensure it’s legal in your area. You’ll need to have a driving license, pass a background check, and have at least one year of driving experience. You can find what you need to know about becoming an Uber driver on its website. 

Fun facts:

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#9 Offer house sitting services

Setting up a house-sitting business doesn’t require a lot of capital but can be quite profitable, particularly if you know your target demographics. Many homeowners hire house sitters when they’re going to be away for an extended period of time, so keep this in mind when you’re looking at different target markets. 

Fun facts:

#10 Become an online tutor 

Online tutoring is about offering a specific service or area of expertise to a specific target market. If you have expertise in a particular academic field, a language or certain teaching qualifications, you can market your tutoring services. For example, if you have experience with higher education (post-high school), you could earn a pretty good amount as a tutor to college kids while working from home.

Fun facts:

#11 Event planning  

Our final suggestion is a little bit more of a wild card. An event planning business can be as cheap or expensive as you make it. Start by thinking about the type of events you want to plan, any prior existing industry experience you have, and even any qualifications you might be able to take to boost your knowledge. For more tips on getting started, check out this guide on How to Start Your Event Planning Business by Capterra.

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Key takeaways

There are a ton of different businesses you can start that won’t break the bank. The type of business you start will depend on the lifestyle you want, your income goals, and how much time you want to dedicate toward it. Think of these things and what your goals are, and the perfect business for you will be one step closer.


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The content of this website is for informational purposes only and does not represent investment advice, or an offer or solicitation to buy or sell any security, investment, or product. Investors are encouraged to do their own due diligence, and, if necessary, consult professional advising before making any investment decisions. Investing involves a high degree of risk, and financial losses may occur.


Freya is a personal finance nerd and founder of CollectingCents - a website that teaches readers how to better manage their finances. She is a quoted contributor in several online publications including Business Insider, Fox Business, Yahoo Finance, the Huffington Post, BankRate, and GoBankingRates.

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