When people talk about starting a business, one of the first concerns is that it will involve a lot of capital to get started. But it doesn’t have to be that way: some businesses can be started with very little investment. As Arthur Ashe, the athlete once said: “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” Here are fifteen ideas for low-capital startups to get you thinking in the right direction.
Social Media Consultant
With the massive growth in social media membership and use, a business opportunity has been born. Social media is no longer used simply for chatting or uploading photos: it has become a powerful tool for campaigning and advertising. To get started as a consultant, all you need is a solid understanding of social media and a client. Look for politicians, businesses, non-profits and other organisations – or even another entrepreneur like yourself – and manage their social media accounts for pay.
People will always need to eat, no matter what the economy does. Starting a catering business will cost you a little money for equipment (and maybe training), but the investment is small. This is a business you can run locally, starting with a single customer and expanding as your client list grows.
One of mankind’s basic needs is clothing. And one of the basic needs of clothing is repairs. By learning how to mend clothes properly, you can start a small business. From there, you can move on to making alterations, or even designing and creating your own clothing. Who knows… you could end up as a fashion designer!
A basic understanding of computers is an essential of modern life, especially since the majority of employers expect all their staff to be computer literate. Start your own training business to educate people in computer use, assuming you have the required knowledge. If you’re really good, you can fix their problems as well.
You may already have a camera, but is it earning you any money? You can convert a hobby into a money-making idea by offering photographic services for events, or by taking photos and selling them online. It’s a tough business, to be honest, but it’s a good way to earn if you have an eye for a great picture!
People who move house do not always have the time or expertise to redecorate. That’s where you come in, as an interior decorator. If you’re not very good at DIY, you don’t have to do the work yourself – you can sell consultancy services based around your artistic abilities, become a feng shui expert, or just act as the middleman and manage third-party decorators. And don’t limit yourself to homeowners: all those local ceremonies and parties take place in venues that need decorating, too!
This is one business idea that needs very little investment. It also gives you freedom that few other jobs can offer. Whether it is writing, photography, editing, web design or something else, there are people in need of your services. The competition’s tough, but the market is enormous.
Everyone needs to wash their clothes, but not everyone has the time to do it. With very little starting capital – enough to buy a washing machine, a dryer and an iron, if you don’t already own them – you can set up a home laundry service. Add a vehicle and you’re on your way to making extra money for home collection and delivery!
There are dozens of places online where you can pick up all sorts of goods at cheap prices: jewellery, clothes, DVDs, toys, video games… just about anything you can imagine is available at a discount, somewhere. Invest a little capital in buying low, then sell at a higher price and make a profit. Rinse and repeat, slowly growing your inventory for more revenue.
The website has become an essential part of modern business, but many people still do not know how to set one up, let alone change a design. There’s a learning curve to this business, which will cost you time or money, unless you already have the skills. As soon as you’re competent, you can start helping local businesses create an online presence, then move on to bigger clients in the global market.
If you own a vehicle, or have access to one, you can set up as a local delivery service. It doesn’t matter what you transport, as long as it’s legal! You can carry all sorts of small deliveries for local businesses, run a courier service for urgent messages, offer yourself as a pet ambulance to take people’s furry friends to the vet, or even set up as a taxi. Bear in mind that some of those options will need special licenses to be legal.
Barber or Hairdresser
This is one business that requires time and money to set up, but which has no “down” season. It can be done anytime, anywhere. The secret to success in this business is being good at what you do. Provide your customers with a quality service and you will see them come back regularly, and even bring more clients.
With no formal training and very little equipment required, this is one of the easiest businesses to start. All you really need is a source of water, some sponges or cloths, and a strong arm! Start by offering to wash cars for people in your neighbourhood, then expand as word of your services spreads. You can even split the work with friends and other entrepreneurs when there’s too much for one person: unskilled labour is not hard to find.
The video games industry is as big as Hollywood, but not everyone has a console or computer at home. There are people who will pay to access their favourite games, both online and off. With a little investment, you can set up a gaming centre and begin making money.
Livestock farming does not necessarily mean keeping a thousand head of cattle: it can be done on a small, medium or large scale. Depending on your investment and what scale you want to aim for, do careful market research before getting started. You could raise half a dozen or hundreds of animals. You could opt for chickens, ducks, goats, turkeys or something else. This one’s a long-term investment with a lot of hard work to succeed, but it offers a real change from an office job!