30 Best Low-Cost Small Business Ideas To Start On The Side

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What is a good business to start in 2024? Here, you’ll find the perfect low-cost small business ideas you can start on the side from home and turn into money!

Love this? Check out 15 Best Low-Cost Business Ideas With High Profit!

If you are here, it’s because you are looking for small business ideas with low start-up costs that you can start from the comfort of your own home

And I’m here to help you.

Let me start with a question:

Where do you see yourself in five years?

A better version of the question might be, what do you dream of? Is it the freedom to travel? To work less and spend more time with your family? To make more money, or maybe save more? Maybe you dream of being your own boss?

Guess what? In an increasingly connected digital world, it has never been more possible to realize these dreams.

And if you are thinking “But I’m not an entrepreneur, I wouldn’t even know where to start”.

Good news, that’s exactly why I’m here!

Three years ago, I was exactly where you are. Looking for business ideas I could start in my spare time. Googling “How do I start with a business idea while I’m working full-time?”. Dreaming of an online business that could give me the freedom to work less while earning more and on my own terms.

I started this blog as a side business while working in the corporate world at the end of 2017.

I now earn over six figures a year and quit my job at the end of 2019 to do what I love.

This is how powerful creating a small business can be if you know how to combine passion, skills, and planning.

Whether you see yourself as a freelancer running a successful lifestyle business or you’re just looking for side business ideas to make a little extra cash, I’ve got you covered!

Below are the 30 best small business ideas you can start from home right now, for little to no money!

And always remember what Peter Drucker said:

The best way to predict the future is to create it.

So, let’s get creating.

30 Best Small Business Ideas To Start Today

For most of these small business ideas, all you’ll need is a laptop and access to an internet connection. Plus, a big drive to learn, work hard, and experiment.

And remember: what really makes the difference is action

At some point, you just need to stop reading and start doing.

One step at a time.

1. Freelance writing

Freelance writer working on her low-cost business idea on a laptop in the sun outside

There is a certain romanticism to freelance writing. Picture Hunter S. Thompson sitting at a typewriter, smoking from his Cruella Deville cigarette holder.

But these days, freelance writing is so much more than that. Whether as a side hustle or full-time, it is, quite simply, one of the best small business ideas out there.

Don’t believe me?

Check out Alex, who started freelance writing in 2015 when she was just out of college. In just 3 years, she was bringing in over $100k a year. She now consistently makes over $300,000 per year!

But where do you start?

First, ask yourself what type of writing you would like to do.

Feature writing

You could be writing feature articles for online magazines or newspapers. Ideally, you want to specialize in a field and become an expert. Think about real estate, nutrition, health, digital marketing.

But don’t niche down too soon. Start by creating a portfolio of articles on different topics, and practice your writing as much as you can. Publish your posts on Medium, Reddit, or Quora, to get feedback and figure out what you are good at.

Once you have a solid grasp of what you want to write about, look for jobs on writing websites like Flexjobs or small gigs on Upwork and Fiverr.


If you don’t mind writing for someone else and letting them take credit for your work, ghostwriting can be something to consider.

As a ghostwriter, you will be creating articles, blog posts, books, or other materials for someone else who then puts their name on it.

A great place to start is looking for gigs on the Pro Blogger job board.


There is an incredible demand for written content online. Think about it: every business out there needs content for their website, emails, and sale pages. 

As a copywriter, you will produce creative content to help businesses engage clients and market their goods. You’ll basically need to be able to sell boring products like hotcakes!

Copywriting can be an extremely lucrative business to be in. An experienced copywriter can charge over $200 per hour.

Want to know more about starting a freelance writing business? Check out my in-depth guide: How to Become a Freelance Writer.

2. Start a blog

Flat lay of a desk with pen, clips, plants and black letters saying: Start a blog

Ok, so maybe I’m biased, but the absolute best way to become a freelance writer is one not mentioned above.

It’s simple. If you want to turn a love for writing into a profitable business, start a blog!

You are, of course, reading my blog right now, and for that, I thank you. Back in 2017, I launched Gathering Dreams with no prior experience, nothing to draw upon except big dreams and hard work.

And guess what?

Today, I am the humble proprietor of a six-figure blog that receives over 600,000 page views every month!

Believe me, if I can do it, so can you!

I know what you’re thinking.

When you write for a magazine, a business, or an individual, obviously, they pay you. But what about a blog? How do you actually make money blogging?

The secret is two little words – affiliate marketing.

In short, affiliate marketing is when you earn a commission for recommending products or services to your readers. Businesses will pay you, the affiliate, every time your recommendation leads to a sale.

Does this really work?

Well, after only four months of blogging, I was making over $1,200/month from affiliate marketing alone.

But there are plenty of other ways to monetize your blog, depending on the stage of your blog and the approach you want to take:

  • Advertising
  • Selling physical products
  • Selling digital products
  • Get paid to sponsor products or services
  • Hosting webinars

Want to know more about starting a blog? Check out my in-depth blogging guide, in which I share all the steps you need to take to start a successful blog that makes money.

Build a niche website

What’s the difference with a blog, I hear you ask?

Well, in principle, there is no difference. They are both a type of websites with articles about specific topics. But niche websites are normally targeting a much more specific set of keywords.

The aim is to nail down exactly what you want to sell and create high-quality content around those products or affiliate offers by going after profitable keywords.

So what does this mean in simple terms? Succulents And Sunshine is a gardening blog. But its niche is succulents. It focuses on a smaller segment of the gardening niche.

Niche websites normally create content optimized for Google, and once they are set up, they can provide a great source of passive income.

If you are interested in building a niche website, check out Income School YouTube Channel! They have some incredible free content to help you get started.

3. Freelance proofreading and editing

Woman sitting on the floor with a laptop on her laps

So, you like the idea of working with words but not necessarily the thought of creating them all?

Quick! What is your opinion on the Oxford comma?

If the mere consideration of this question makes your blood boil, then you may make an excellent freelance editor or proofreader.

  • Editors work with writers throughout the writing process, checking their work for spelling, grammar, and sentence structure (potential editors will see where I stand on the Oxford comma from this sentence). Editors can even comment on storylines or characters, helping with the foundational development of the work.
  • Proofreaders, on the other hand, give a piece of writing the final once-over to ensure it’s free of errors, standing as the last line of defense before a piece goes to market. It’s kind of exciting if you think about it, being the only thing standing between the writer and disaster.

In short, writers want to pay you to correct their mistakes. And they pay well.

Just look at Nikki from Precise and Be Smarter Now.

As a struggling single mother of two looking for home business ideas with a low start-up cost, she turned to provide freelance proofreading and editing services to businesses, writers, and students.  Nikki now makes $4,000-6,000 every month!

Ready to get started? Learn how to become a proofreader then check out my definitive guide to the best online proofreading jobs. Or check out this incredible free training that will have you earning money as a proofreader in 30 days!

4. Accounting and bookkeeping

Woman with a calculator working on bookkeeping and tax preparation business

Perhaps it is not words that you love. For all you number crunchers and excel fanatics out there, I see you!

Tax preparation is one of the most lucrative small business ideas you can start.


Every small company out there needs to keep track of expenses, invoicing, and payrolls.

And as a freelance bookkeeper, you will take care of that. You will help with recording sales, filing receipts, and paying their bills.

Here is the best news: you don’t need any specific qualifications to become a bookkeeper. Yes, if you are good with numbers, you can start a freelance bookkeeping business today!

In fact, there are many freelance bookkeeping jobs listed right now on marketplaces like Flexjobs.

For inspiration, check out Jenna’s story.

Jenna left her corporate career to have more flexibility. After taking a course to brush up on her skills, she set out as a freelance bookkeeper.

These days, Jenna works with 15 clients and is on track to make $75,000 in her second year while working from home and looking after her 2 kids.

How can you be like Jenna? Start by checking out my guide: How to Become a Bookkeeper from Home. Then look for the best online bookkeeping jobs here.

Tax Preparation

If you’re a numbers wiz looking for side business ideas, consider freelance tax preparation for more seasonal work. Normally, you’ll be helping individuals to prepare their tax returns as it’s less complicated than businesses.

It’s not hard to get started – of the just under 725,000 tax preparers in the US, some 600,000-700,000 are non-credentialed.

Just look for tax training resources at your local community college or low-cost courses at national tax preparation firms like H & R Block, Liberty Tax Service, and Jackson Hewitt Tax Services.

Then get an IRS Preparer Tax Identification Number, and you’re good to go! 

5. Virtual assistant

Virtual assistant hand on laptop and coffee in other hand

With so many people working from home, the virtual assistant industry is now one of the top five fastest-growing industries in the US.

It’s been said that a virtual assistant does everything a regular assistant does except bringing their employer coffee. You will be working remotely and carry out all types of tasks for your clients.

As a virtual assistant, you may be responsible for:

  • Booking appointments
  • Making travel arrangements
  • Data entry
  • Website Management
  • Content Production
  • Customer Service

If this small business idea intrigues you, check out my comprehensive breakdown to find out how to become a virtual assistant with no experience.

Then start looking for jobs on websites like Flexjobs.

Need motivation?

Look at Abbey, who started a virtual assistant business just after having her first baby and managed to get enough clients to be fully booked in just one month.

Want to learn more? Head on over to Abbey’s page here, where she’s giving you access to an incredible free training video to help you get started. 

6. Transcriptionist

Transcriptionist working at her laptop

Are you good at typing? How many words can you type in a minute?

If the answer is a lot, then you may want to move transcriptionist to the top of your list of low-cost business ideas.

Simply, a transcriptionist is someone who listens to audio, both recorded and live, and converts it to a written format.

There are many opportunities for freelance transcriptionists to start earning money by transcribing business meetings, court hearings, web conferences, seminars, and more.

Go to watch a speech on TED Talks, and you will find a transcript below the video. The same can be said for many podcasts. This was done by a transcriptionist.

Does this sound interesting?

Megan decided to start her own transcriptionist business, and within a month, she found her first client. She is now able to work independently and sleep through the night without worrying about her job.

Sounds like something you want to explore? 

Check out my guide to how to become a transcriptionist with no experience and the best online transcription jobs for beginners. Then check out Transcribe Anywhere’s free workshop to jumpstart your business.

7. Graphic designer

Graphic designer studio with desk: one of my favorite low-cost small business ideas

Are you a visual type of person?

Did you know that over 20% of small businesses in the US hire freelance graphic designers?

In fact, the logo design industry alone is worth over $3 billion.

In other words, there is a huge market out there for your artistic talents.

A booming graphic design industry is your chance to help businesses and influencers develop their brand while doing it from the comfort of home or anywhere around the world!

I, for one, love the story of Joana Galvão, which was featured in Business Insider.

At 22, fresh out of college and straight into the corporate world, she, like many of us, dreamed of a more flexible, exciting lifestyle. So, she decided to start her own graphic design business, hoping to cover her salary with something where she could be her own boss.

Within the first ten months, she’d made $100,000!

As a freelance graphic designer, you may work on:

  • Logo design
  • Infographics
  • Brochures and Posters
  • Product packaging
  • Web Design
  • Social Media content

But how can you get started?

Once you have learned basic skills on software like Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, or Visme, you can create a small portfolio of your works.

Then pitch your skills to small businesses, or look for jobs online on websites like 99designs, Flexjobs, or Fiverr.

Or think about creating your own work of art (like quotes and prints) and sell it on websites like Etsy.

This course on Udemy about how to Become a Professional Graphic Designer will help you to break into the world of graphic design.

8. Social media manager

Social media manager working with her laptop and phone in her hand

Do you love spending endless hours on TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter?

How about getting paid for that?

Many small businesses and startups rely heavily on social media to find new customers and build their brands. And they are often on the lookout for social media experts to help them creating content and engaging with their followers.

As a social media manager, your job will be looking after brands’ social channels. You will monitor, moderate, and respond to audience comments. Plus, you’ll need a creative eye to design posts and share images online.

Remember, social media is all about communication. And you’ll need to be able to use a different voice for each brand you work for. You need to convert fans into customers and make them fall in love with the products or services you are promoting.

If this is something that interests you, consider investing in a course like this one to learn exactly how to grow a following on any platform and find clients in no time.

9. Start an online store

Woman writing on a postal box before sending a parcel for her small online business

Over 2 billion people bought something online in 2021.

Yes, the eCommerce industry is booming, now exceeding an astonishing $8 trillion in yearly sales worldwide.

Want in on the action?

Then you want to start an online store.

And you can start one without up-front investment. Yes, really!

The secret is dropshipping.


Here’s how it works: You list a product in your online store, take orders from customers, then send the orders to a third-party vendor, the drop shipper, who creates the product and ships it to the customer.

That’s right, you make sales without spending any money on inventory!

Who would have thought starting an online store could be one of the best low investment business ideas out there?

All you have to do is setting up your store on an eCommerce platform like Shopify to get started. And if you don’t know what to sell, check the 25 Most Profitable Things To Sell Online Right Now!

Need help with the technical details of setting up your store? No worries! You don’t need to know it all. You can find eCommerce experts on Fiverr.

Print on demand

But it gets better.

Within dropshipping, there is a popular sub-category known as print-on-demand. There, drop shippers will print your design on any number of products, from shirts to mugs and beyond.

Printify, for one, has over 200 products awaiting your customization!

Print-on-demand is where artists and photographers can monetize their work, where it is even possible to start your own clothing line.

Just look at Lindsey Ferris. She lost the corporate event production business she ran for over a decade when the pandemic hit. Locked down at home, she decided to start a print-on-demand store selling customized merchandise called FerrisBuilt.

Only a few months after she did, Meghan Markle was spotted wearing one of her shirts.

Want to know more? Take a look at Shopify’s guide: Print on Demand: A Low-Risk Way to Sell Custom T-Shirts, Books, and More.

10. Running ads campaigns

Laptop on a desk

It is all well and good to start an online store or launch a blog, but it’s all for nothing unless your site reaches its intended audience.

Businesses know this, which is why they now spend over $600 billion per year on digital marketing globally, attempting to get their message in front of customers.

With such a huge pie, why not grab yourself a slice by running these campaigns for them?

This might include:

  • Pay Per Click (PPC) Advertising
  • Email Marketing
  • Web Content
  • Social Media Content

Facebook Ads

It has to be said: for digital marketers, Facebook is the place to be.

Consider, there are over 200 million small businesses on Facebook worldwide. Yet, an average branded post will only reach 2.6% of a business’s fans.

This is why many millions of businesses turn to Facebook Ads to enhance their reach. Except, a full 58% of those who do say they don’t think, or don’t know if, their Facebook marketing initiatives are effective.

The lesson: become a master with Facebook Ads, and businesses will pay a premium for your services.

You can earn an average of over $50,000 a year managing ads to start, but top Facebook Ads managers out there can earn over $300,000.

How do you start? First, check out Facebook’s guide on how to create a Facebook Ad. Then, learn how to run a Facebook Ads marketing campaign by watching this free training here.

Google Ads

Yes, Facebook allows the best targeting for small business campaigns. But Google is still one of the best advertising options out there.

Google is the most used search engine, receiving nearly 100,000 searches per second, over 8 billion per day! You create ads and show them only to people searching the internet for a specific relevant product or service. This is what makes these types of ads so powerful.

How can you start a small business that manages Google Ads campaigns? 

You need to become a master in keyword research and catchy headlines for your ads. And the best way to do that is to become Google Adwords certified. It’s free, and you need to pass two Google assessments.

You can then start looking for clients locally or online.

The average rate for the top AdWords freelancers is approximately $90 an hour. And if you decide to run a small ads agency, it’s common to get paid $100 to $200 an hour.

Want to start a Google Ads agency? Start by checking out the free Google Ads Academy

11. SEO specialist

Laptop with screen looking at google analytics

Another angle for businesses and bloggers to get their site in front of the intended audience is Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

Yes, we’ve all heard of it, but what exactly is SEO?

Most simply, it means understanding keywords in order to show up higher in organic Google search results.

Of course, SEO is ever-changing. That’s actually good news since it means many people and businesses will pay top dollar for SEO specialists that can help them to stay on top of the game.

Just look at former aspiring writer Leslie Gilmour, who, in her words, “tore up my latest attempt to write a novel and dumped it in the bin” and got into the SEO game.

Her company, Cube Digital, now brings in some $25,000 per month and has been growing by 50% each year since it was started in 2015.

The secret to getting started?

Learn how search engines like google work. Get to know the best SEO tools out there, like Ahrefs. Then create your own SEO-friendly website. If you can’t do it for yourself, how can potential clients believe you can do it for them? In the SEO game, your website is your portfolio.

From there, start selling your services on marketplaces like Fiverr.

Ready to become a specialist? Start by reading Google’s guide to How Google Search works and their Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Starter Guide.

12. Web Developer

Web developer Laptop with code

When the Wizard of Oz nervously shouted, “pay no attention to the man behind that curtain,” did you think to yourself? What’s wrong with working behind the scenes?

Maybe you don’t want to start an online store or, for that matter, a blog, but wouldn’t mind helping somebody else create theirs.

Good news! Businesses, entrepreneurs, and influencers are desperate right now for help setting up and administering their websites.

If you know how to write code and speak the language of HTML, you may want to become a web developer.

A web developer is someone who builds and maintains a website at its most fundamental level, developing applications and functionality.

It is no longer possible to operate a competitive business without a website, meaning those who don’t’ have one need help to build one. Moreover, even those who were ahead of the curve and created a website long ago are becoming desperate for updates.

In other words, for those with the technical skills, the time is now to cash in on one of the best small business ideas from home in the game.

For those who don’t have the skills, there are numerous courses to get you started at places like The Web Developer Bootcamp course on Udemy and Codecademy.

And for those who do? Start looking for web design or web development gigs on Upwork now!

Tip: In such a rapidly changing industry, techniques being used 5-10 years ago are already outdated. That means the advantage of experience is lessened, and room for the rapid growth of newcomers appears.

Jump on top of the latest technology trend or specialization, and you may find yourself as an industry leader in no time.

13. Sell your own books

Pile of books

Did you know: more than 700 million print books were sold in the US last year?

Incredibly, American adults spend an average of $110 per person on books per year.

It looks like the much-ballyhooed death of the bookstore was overstated. In fact, whereas large, in-person bookstores have been in decline, the number of small and specialty stores has actually been growing.

Yes, you can make money by selling your own books online!

I will tell you the dirty secret. There has been a death, but it is not of the bookstore; it’s of the traditional publishing model.

Not only is the process of getting published by a big publishing house arduous, but the profits are minuscule, and the support is non-existent. 

The answer is self-publishing.

Fiction books and non-fiction books

Just look at Adam Nevill.

An author for 20 years with 19 traditionally published books to his name, including one, The Ritual, which was adapted into a Netflix movie, Adam recently abandoned the big publishers to start self-publishing.

He did it because he wanted greater control of how his books were packaged and marketed and because he wanted more of the profits.

But I’m not a published author of 19 books, you may be thinking.

Maybe not. But remember, Fifty Shades of Grey was originally self-published, the work of an inexperienced author who had hashed out the idea of writing Twilight fan fiction.

To date, Fifty Shades has sold well over 100 million copies worldwide and has been turned into a movie.

Ready to self-publish your percolating idea? Check out 50+ Publishing Resources You Should Know About.

Low-content self-publishing

For all the non-writers out there, did you know that you can make money selling books with nothing in them?

No, really.

It’s called low-content, or no-content, publishing.

Think of journals and diaries, their creamy white, empty pages; picture daily planners and coloring books, books of crossword puzzles and games; think even of the lined paper used by students or the composition paper used by musicians.

Yes, people make big money selling these.

People like Ron Cubbon.

A 51-year-old Brit living his best life in Thailand, Ron makes nearly $4,000 per month from the 2000 or so low- and no-content books he sells online.

As he said himself, “I couldn’t believe that people would spend $6.99 on a hundred-paged blank paperback, but they do.”

Check out his secrets here.

14. Create digital products

Man with coffee in his hands and an open laptop working on online products

Often selling books online means selling eBooks. Yet, eBooks represent only one of many digital products you could sell in your online store.

Expand your thinking! Just some of the digital products you could sell in your store include:

  • Digital Assets: including social media graphics, icons, infographics, or fonts.
  • Templates: for websites, PowerPoint, resumés, even sewing or knitting patterns.
  • Audio content: like sound effects, text-to-audio conversions, or voiceovers.
  • Printables: meal planners, organization planners, or budget templates. 

Need more? Check out my guide to the best digital products to sell or the 50 Profitable Digital Products to Sell on Etsy. Then read Shopify’s breakdown on How to Create and Sell Digital Products: A Roadmap With 6 Ideas to Get You Started.

Like dropshipping, digital products require no investment in inventory, making selling digital products in your online store one of the top low-cost business ideas.

Need proof?

By now, many have heard the story of Cinnamon and Jason.

When Cinnamon started hand-making clothing for her daughter’s dolls, she found they became the envy of the neighborhood. So, she and her husband started selling the patterns for doll clothing online.

They now run the world’s largest marketplace for doll clothing patterns at Pixie Faire, making over $50,000 per month!

Have a great digital product idea but not sure how to turn it into something you can sell online? Get a professional freelancer on Fiverr to construct it for you.

15. Online courses

Young woman with her laptop and headphones teaching online

Of course, we have to mention the most booming digital product niche of all.

The e-learning industry is expected to triple between 2022-2030.

This must be why Forbes proclaimed, “there has never been a better opportunity to join the growing industry of e-learning,” calling it “a huge opportunity for entrepreneurs to start creating their own online courses.”

Think about it: people spend big money at universities and colleges to get educated; companies send employees to expensive courses to expand their knowledge; in an information age, people go online to become experts in their hobbies.

Create your own course

Do you have a particular skill or a specific knowledge that others don’t?

Sure, you do.

Create and sell an online course teaching people about it!

Popular online course categories include:

  • Cooking
  • Marketing
  • Languages
  • Photography
  • Technology
  • Finance
  • Personal Development
  • Music
  • Software

How do you sell your online course?

While it is certainly possible to create your course on platforms like Teachable and sell it directly through your online store, try selling it through specific course marketplaces like Udemy to reach those who are already looking.

Still not sold?

Consider the story of Joseph Michael, a father who taught himself how to use the writing software Scrivener while living paycheck-to-paycheck. Having gained this knowledge and desperate for “an extra $400 or $500 per month,” he created a course to teach others how to use the software.

It made $25,000 in an afternoon.

Need the nitty-gritty? Have a look at this free online training from Teachable to help you launch your online course in no time.

Teach online

And if you don’t want to create your own course yet, but you simply enjoy teaching, how about teaching online to kids?

Online teaching is changing the way kids learn at school and from home.

And you can benefit from this revolution. All you need is an internet connection and a laptop, and you can start your own small teaching business today.

If you pick the right classes to teach, you could make over $10,000 a month teaching online, as Jade does.

And you don’t need to be a traditionally qualified teacher.

Places like Outschool let you teach any sort of subject: you can teach classical subjects like English and math, or fun classes like cooking, acting or singing.

Teachers on Outschool earn an average of $35 per teaching hour.

Listing classed is free. You will have total control over the listed price and decide how many participants can take each class. Outschool will take 30% of your earnings for their support services. Once your class starts, you will receive payment via PayPal.

Sign up for Outschool here, and start thinking about your first class!

16. Photographer

woman working on her photography business

A love of photography can be the foundation of a successful lifestyle business.

Ever been to a wedding? There was probably a photographer there snapping pictures…and getting paid for it!

But it’s not just weddings; every day, photographers are hired to shoot a variety of personal occasions and corporate events, while many others shoot portraits out of a studio. (My favorite might be the rise of the pet photography niche).

Further, modern businesses still need photographs for promotional material, for their website, for social media.

First of all, decide what niche you want to work in and what photographer you want to become:

Wedding photographer

The best way to start is to take pictures at a friend’s wedding to build your portfolio. Start an Instagram account, network with other wedding vendors like florists or wedding planners. Then submit your photos to websites and magazines that specialize in weddings to build a name.

Portrait photographer

Build a portfolio by finding people happy to model for you. Then post your portfolio on websites like Upwork or Thumbtack to find your first paid gig.

Food photographer

If you are passionate about snapping food, you can start by taking photographs of your own recipes. You can then open an Instagram account and/or your own website to showcase your mouthwatering pictures. Network with food companies and other influencers. And check out Nicha’s post to see how she transformed her hobby for food photography into a full-time career.

Destination photographer

Did you know that plenty of tourists and locals are looking for photographers to capture magical moments in their favorite locations? You can post your example pictures on websites like Localgrapher, ShootMyTravel, or Flytographer to find clients interested in using your skills in top locations near you.

Stock photographer

You can sell your photographs online through stock photo websites like Shutterstock, iStock, and BigStock. This is an unbelievable way to make a passive income with little effort and a favorite among low-investment small business ideas for photographers.

And remember, these are just some of the niches you can work in. There is no limit to what you can photograph.

Is becoming a photographer the best small business idea for you? Take the first steps with my in-depth guide to selling photos online.

Tip: The best photographs are not always taken with the best equipment; it’s the eye and ability of the photographer that matters. That said, if you are concerned about having the right equipment, consider contacting your local photography store and asking about renting some gear to get started.

17. Sell crafted goods on Etsy

Woman knitting on the floor

Are you a person who likes to make things from scratch? A master crafter? The queen of the print screen? 

Ok, you get the point.

Good news! There is a thriving online marketplace where you can sell pretty much any handcrafted product you can imagine.

Here is the secret: for all things handcrafted and handmade, check out Etsy!

According to The Week, it’s the place bringing “intimacy and individualism back to commerce.” Not to be rude, but with over 60 million active shoppers, that’s a lot of individuals to be intimate with.

The best part? It’s so easy to get started. Simply head to Etsy, create an account, and then click ‘Open Your Etsy Shop’ from the navigation menu.

What I’m saying is, if you have a great handmade product, you could start selling today!

Take motivation from the amazing Alicia Shaffer, who started an Etsy shop on a whim in 2011, selling bohemian-inspired fashion accessories.

By 2015, Three Bird Nest, as she called her store, was earning $1 million per year, and Business Insider was calling Alicia “Etsy’s richest seller.”

Ready to get started? Check out my guide to how to sell on Etsy and make money.

Not sure what to sell? Check out my list of the 15 best things to sell of Etsy, and then, learn how to create a brilliant product from my friend Chloe.

18. Flipping items

What other home business ideas with a low start-up cost can you start? I’m so glad you asked…

Who among us hasn’t imagined at one point or another being on a show like Flea Market Flippers or Storage Wars?

Ah, to be a modern-day treasure hunter.

Stop dreaming; you can do it and make money too!

Here’s how:

  1. Open a seller account on Amazon, eBay, or start an online store.
  2. Buy goods.
  3. Sell the goods for more than you bought them for.

It really is that simple. How do you think Walmart makes its money?

But Walmart has access to global supply chains, you may be thinking, how am I supposed to get stuff cheap enough to make a profit?

To start, become a flea market flipper – go to flea markets and thrift stores, garage and estate sales, storage locker sell-offs. Hunt for those hidden treasures, those unique items that buyers will pay premium prices for.

Check out this guide to the 30 Best Things to Sell to Make Money and the best apps on which to sell them.

Go further and one-up Walmart by prowling their special and limited-time discount offerings, buying in bulk, then reselling at full price.

That’s what Ryan Grant decided to do after quitting his accounting job to start flipping full-time and resell on Amazon. His business now employs ten people and makes millions of dollars in revenue each year.

But what if you don’t have the money to just start buying things that may or may not sell?

No worries! Watch this free Flipping Workshop – you will learn if flipping for profit is the perfect fit for you and 3 insider tips to actually make a profit!

And then learn how to turn $1 into $100 in just one week with the $1 Flip Club.

Pro Tip: try ‘fashion flipping’: buying clothes (new or used) and reselling them online.

19. Podcasting

Desk with laptop and podcasting microphone

Alright, time to step out from behind the curtain.

Start a podcast, you may be thinking, isn’t everyone doing that? Where is there room for me?

The answer: everyone is not enough.

Over 120 million people listen to podcasts each month in the US alone. And yet, there are less than 500,000 active podcasts in the entire world.

The people are demanding more!

Better yet, the seminal Podcast Discovery Survey showed that whether new listeners have heard of you or not is the least important factor when they consider whether to listen to your podcast.

And here is the best news, you don’t need a lot of technical know-how or even a lot of money to start a podcast. In fact, many have started a podcast with little more than an iPhone and a dream.

Start by downloading one of the free apps which facilitate podcast recording.

Then, upload your finished product to Apple Play, Spotify, and Google Play for free!

It’s true! Podcasting can be among the best low investment business ideas.

Check out Shopify’s guide to starting a successful podcast for under $100.

Still not confident? There are many freelancers who can help you get your podcast off the ground on Fiverr.

Pro Tip: A microphone is one of the best investments aspiring podcasters can make. Don’t worry, there are many podcast-quality mics for $50 or less.

20. Start a YouTube channel

YouTuber filming herself on her phone

“How can a four-year-old be raking in more than the UK prime minister earns?” asked the Financial Times.

They were talking about Gaby, a child YouTube star reportedly making between $3,000 and $50,000 per day through her channel.

Yes, starting a YouTube channel is so simple a child can do it.

… ok, so I doubt Gaby is literally running her channel. Still, the point stands; YouTube is one of the best platforms to make money today.

So how do you get started?

Good news! All you need to start your YouTube channel is a Gmail account. Simply head over to YouTube and sign in, then click on your profile icon in the top right corner and choose ‘create a channel.’

From there, customize your channel with a profile picture and description, and don’t forget to include links to your website and social media accounts (although you don’t need them to get started).

You can then start producing content!

But what type of content?

Some of the most popular YouTube channel ideas today:

  • Food
  • Fitness
  • Beauty
  • Fashion
  • DIY and How-To
  • Personal Finance
  • Travel
  • Making Money Online
  • Gaming
  • Product Reviews

Here, you might be thinking, launching a YouTube channel sounds fun and all, but how do I actually make money from it? I’m looking for side business ideas, not a new hobby.

For the answer, check out my comprehensive breakdown of how YouTubers really make money.

Tip: Only 9% of small businesses in the US are actively using YouTube. If you are planning on starting an online store, consider launching a complimentary YouTube channel. You could provide how-tos for what you are selling or show that product in action and stand out from the crowd

21. Online coaching

Woman talking online with a laptop while working on her coaching business

Across the world and across vocations and life experiences, people are looking for guidance in reaching their goals. You can help them as an online coach!

For me, this is the most appealing aspect of becoming an online coach: the chance to help someone realize their dreams, to help shape someone else’s success.

Just look at Michael Knouse.

He found solace in “simply serving others” after struggles in his relationship and the grueling climb up the corporate ladder. He now makes over $200,000 per year as a coach and runs a successful blog titled Outsmart the Hustle.

What could I coach people in?

Try asking yourself: where have I already helped someone in their life? Who turns to me for help, and for what?

Some of the most popular coaching categories right now:

  • Life Coaching
  • Business
  • Parenting
  • Financial
  • Relationship
  • Speaking
  • Health and Wellness
  • Career
  • Spiritual

But where does someone just start finding clients?

First, tap into your existing networks – think friends, family, colleagues, and social media contacts.

Once you’ve established yourself, go further, and create a website. Fill it with testimonials from satisfied clients and promote it through social media to expand your reach!

Ready to get started? Check out: The Ultimate Guide to Starting Your Online Coaching Business.

22. Food business

Photographer taking food pictures for his small business

For some, small business ideas are about freedom – the freedom to escape to the corporate world, to work whenever and wherever you want. For others, it’s about a side hustle, a little extra cash in your pocket.

But there are some for whom small business ideas are about following their passion, turning work into play, and love into work.

The question is: what is your passion?

If the answer is ‘food,’ then you can turn this passion into a profitable side business, or more!

How, you might be wondering, your mouth watering, visions of sugarplums dancing in your head.


Do you make homemade jam or a cake that friends and family can’t get enough of? Guess what, specialty items like these are in high demand in digital marketplaces.

Are you an incredible cook? Good news, many families will pay top dollar for a personal chef or for ready meals.

Perhaps you’re an artist in the kitchen? Try cake decorating!

Are you an expert with an encyclopedia of tried and tested recipes? Start a food blog!

Maybe you’re a health expert? Become a meal planner or nutrition coach!

Love teaching others? Think about starting online cooking classes on platforms like Teachable.

The possibilities are endless! Just considering them all is making me hungry.

Concerned about how well your home skills will translate on the big stage?

Just remember, the great Martha Stewart started her business cooking out of her kitchen at home.

23. Start a pet business

Dog in stylish living room

Calling all pet lovers.

My gosh, they’re so cute, aren’t they? No wonder we love them so much.

In fact, nearly three-quarters of US households have at least one pet.

That’s 89.7 million dogs and 94.2 million cats. Put another way, there is essentially the same number of dogs and cats in the US as there are working-age adults.

No wonder Americans spend over $120 billion on their pets every year.

So how can pet lovers cash in on their passion?

To get started, create a profile on a pet service network like Rover.com, which will connect you with potential customers in your area. Or, get out there and pound the pavement! Try dropping flyers and business cards at pet stores, vet clinics, or pet grooming businesses.

  • Alternatively, you could sell pet toys, portraits, treats, and apparel through your online store. It’s undeniable that people love expressing their personality through their pets and the products they buy for them (and yes, some businesses are currently successfully selling outfits and costumes for pets).

Need more ideas? Check out: 50 Unusual Pet Businesses to Start.

And if you are looking for inspiration, simply look at this headline – “Dog Walker makes a million dollars doing what she loves.”

24. Drive for Uber or Lyft

Uber driver on the wheel with sat nav

I get it. Not everyone wants to work online.

Shall we venture into the physical world and see what small business ideas it provides?

Are you the type of person that likes to interact with all sorts of different people from different backgrounds and walks of life? In many ways, the Uber/Lyft driver is the modern bartender, listening to people’s stories, their hopes and dreams, and insecurities for 15 minutes at a time.

Sounds up your alley? Here’s how you get started:

First, check that you meet the minimum driver requirements and that you have an eligible vehicle. In most states, all you need is a valid driver’s license and an insured 4-door vehicle less than 15-years-old. 

What if I don’t have an eligible vehicle?

Don’t fret! Both Uber and Lyft have partnerships with car rental companies that allow you to rent and drive at a discounted rate.

Once you’ve confirmed you’ve met the requirements, simply download the Uber or Lyft app and get driving! Many drivers are getting fares less than a week after they sign up.

And the best part is, you can then drive as much or as little as you like!

Insider Tip: take it to the next level and use Uber or Lyft as a vehicle (pun intended) for your retail business

Check out Gavin Escobar, the Uber driver Forbes called “The Uberpreneur.”

After immigrating to the US from the Philippines to start a jewelry business, he began driving for Uber to help make ends meet. Then it hit him. Why not combine the two?

These days his vehicle acts as his mobile showroom, subtly laced with brochures and live examples of his products. Last year, Gavin made over $250,000 – $36,000 driving for Uber and the rest from jewelry.

Get started with Uber and Lyft today.

25. Start a mobile notary business

Woman adding notary stamp on documents

Maybe you like the idea of a small business that gets you out of the house and on the road, but the thought of Uber is too much.

You might want to look at becoming a mobile notary public, one of the best-kept secrets out there.

Consider, forms and legal documents are being created and signed every day of the week. These are wills and trusts, power of attorney forms, forms for car titles and home loans, medical forms, even forms for your kids to play sports at school.

It is a veritable avalanche!

A notary public is someone who impartially witnesses the signing of such documents in order to make sure signatories are who they say they are and that they’re aware of what they’re singing.

Sounds easy, right?

It is!

And guess what? There are not even any specific experience or education requirements. In fact, in most states, there are no requirements at all to become a notary public (while some do require a training course or exam).

The best part is the average signing free for about an hour of a notary’s time is $100!

Do the math. A couple of signings per week are enough for a tidy little side hustle. Try four signings per day, five days a week, and you’ve just made over $100,000 in a year!

Ready to get started? Check out this detailed guide from the American Association of Notaries.

Pro Tip: Want to find those looking for notaries fast? Try signing up for an online notary directory like Notary Stars or Notary Rotary, which will connect you to customers in your area.

26. Fitness

Fitness instructor jumping on pavement

Do you love the idea of helping people live healthier and happier lives?

You could become a personal trainer or yoga instructor, two jobs increasingly done through digital means.

Look at Rachel Brathen, aka Yoga Girl, who launched the online wellness hub oneOeight.com in 2015, which she describes as “like a Netflix for yoga.”

These days, Rachel is a New York Times best-selling author with over 2 million Instagram followers, running a bona fide yoga empire from Aruba, where she lives with her husband and young child.

If that’s not for you, what about starting a fitness blog or creating and selling an online fitness course.

Check out Jessica Castaneda. While seven months pregnant with her first son, she decided she had to get away from the 11-hour days at a desk job she hated, most especially so she could stay home with her baby when he was born. So, she started Easy Living Today, a blog to help other moms with fitness and mental health.

She now has a second son and a successful home business, making six figures every year!

You could even launch a YouTube fitness channel, which are growing in popularity as more and more trainers post training videos and programs.

Just ask Maddie Lymburner, who became “YouTube’s premier pandemic fitness guru” by uploading her unique workout videos during lockdown. In February, she gained 100,000 subscribers, in April, over a million. She now has over 7 million subscribers and growing!

27. Travel planner

Travel planner working on the beach with her laptop

Freed from a years-long pandemic, the travel bug has bitten hard.

If you’re into the travel lifestyle, then now is the time to start your travel planning lifestyle business!

So how do you become a travel planner?

Start by becoming familiar with travel deal sites like Hotwire and Travelocity. Theirs are the deals you will combine into packages, which you can then sell to customers. Think about creating customized bundles for things like romantic getaways, family vacations, or corporate retreats. The only limit is your own creativity!

From there, you can sell your packages through online travel marketplaces like Expedia, TripAdvisor, and GetYourGuide.

You might even connect with a host agency, which can provide you with valuable tools and connections for getting started.

Sound complicated? Start with this comprehensive breakdown of how to become a travel planner from home.

And don’t worry; you don’t have to go it alone. There are many training courses available to boost your knowledge fast.

28. Cleaning

Woman cleaning rug with a hoover

I know. Most people don’t like to clean.

But then again, most people don’t get paid to do it.

The fact is, a cleaning service is one of the best small business ideas out there. 

It is not uncommon for someone starting out or doing a little cleaning on the side to make $20-50/hour.

Commercial cleaners, who handle factories, warehouses, and retail spaces, can make even more!

Want a real-life example? Just look at Ron Holt.

Back in the mid-2000s, Holt was a scientist working as the director of a lab in Birmingham, Alabama. He decided to quit this prestigious position to launch a cleaning company called Two Maids & A Mop.

These days, the company has 55 locations and employs over 500 people, bringing in over $10 million per year. Ron Holt, no longer a scientist, is a millionaire many times over.

So how do you get your first cleaning customers?

Start by joining local Facebook community groups and promoting your services.

Go further and join a lead generation website like HomeYou.com, which connects cleaners and customers all over the world!

Specialized cleaning businesses include:

  • Power washing
  • Carpet cleaning, industrial carpet cleaning
  • Window cleaning
  • Event cleanup
  • Move in/out cleaning

Ready to roll up your sleeves? Check out the Complete Guide to starting a cleaning business.

Pro Tip: Think about targeting an underserved niche market in your community.

29. Junk removal service

Junk in a rubbish dump

Have you ever noticed junk laying around your neighborhood?

It could be that someone is moving out and leaving furniture on the curb, it could be a construction site laden with debris or a small business with garbage stacked behind it.

If you haven’t noticed before, you will now.

It’s everywhere.

Homeowners, construction companies, small businesses, warehouses, even hospitals all produce junk. And guess what? They would often like to pay someone to take it away.

This is where you come in.

So how do you get started?

Test the waters in your area by putting a junk removal ad on free sites like Craigslist. For the more brave among us, you may even want to visit locations that seem to be producing a lot of junk in person and ask them if they need it removed.

Go further and create your junk removal website. Here, the key is to use Search Engine Optimization to move your site up the search results list. The goal is to be first when someone in your area searches “junk removal near me.”

Don’t think that junk removal can be lucrative?

Brian Scudamore begs to differ.

Back in the late-80s, Scudamore was looking for a side hustle to pick up some extra cash while going to college. So, he took his last thousand dollars out of the bank, spending $700 on a truck and $300 on promotional materials for his new junk removal business, which he called ‘The Rubbish Boys Disposal Service.’

It did so well, he soon dropped out of college to run the business full time.

These days, the business is known as 1-800-GOT-JUNK, a multinational company making $1 million in sales every day. You may have seen Scudamore featured on Oprah, Dr. Phil, and Undercover Boss.

Want to know the secrets? Check out the Ultimate Guide to starting a junk removal business.

Tip: Consider exploiting seasonal junk removal as a profitable side business. Think about construction season or when college students are moving in and out of their temporary accommodations.

30. Event planner

Wedding planner writing a wedding plan

Ask yourself, are you the one who plans family vacations, road trips, and nights out with friends?

Guess what? This is an in-demand professional skill.

Consider, the special events industry has grown monumentally in the past decade, with spending cresting over $500 billion worldwide annually.

Just think of some of the many events that need planning:

  • Weddings
  • Birthdays
  • Business Conferences
  • Corporate Seminars
  • Product Launches
  • Civic Events

The best part might be that event planning works as well part-time as it does full-time.

Part-time event planners doing a few events a year can easily make $5,000-$10,000, while full-timers can make $75,000-$200,000 or even more.

How much more?

Ask Alicia Schiro, who ditched a well-paying job in the corporate world, to start Aced It Events in 2016. Taking on only the projects that truly excited her, the company now makes over $1 million per year.

Ready to get started? Check out: How to Start an Event Planning Business from Home, and download the free guide to 10 Event Trends.

So there you have it – The 30 best small business ideas you can start from home!

You are now ready to start a side hustle, a lifestyle business, or even something more!

Just remember, “Choose a job you love, and you will never work a day in your life.”

Apparently, Confucius said that.

He’s not wrong, is he?

And I learned that the hard way. It took me over 15 years in the corporate world, doing something I wasn’t passionate about, to find the courage to start my own small business and then quit!

And I now look forward to spending time working every day having a strong passion for what I do. 

So, what are you waiting for? Pick your favorite small business idea and get started!

If you have any questions, add a comment below or email me. I reply to every comment and every single email!

And if you know someone thinking about starting a small business that might need a little help, please do not hesitate to share this with them!

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  1. The Shimmering You - Rianna says:

    Love the idea of starting an online business as well as the digital products business. Thank you for sharing this information.

  2. Glory Alphonsus says:

    I dont know the one to choose but was helpful

  3. Isaac Shumba says:

    Thank you so much for mouth full of great economic ideas. Am still reading through these 30 dreams and chose where to start very soon.

  4. office space dc says:

    Hello, I adore your website! I tend to agree with this as I am a lead generation specialist for an outsourcing company.

    1. Sara @ Gathering Dreams says:

      Thank you so much for your kind words! It’s great to hear that our website resonates with professionals in the lead generation industry like yourself. We’re always looking to provide valuable insights and resources to help businesses succeed in this area. If you ever have any suggestions or feedback, please don’t hesitate to reach out. Thanks again for your support!