8 Cheapest Small Business Ideas

Linda D. Garrow

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Starting your own small business can have many benefits, from increased flexibility to higher earning potential. However, starting a business can be expensive. Without access to large amounts of capital, it can be difficult to get your business off the ground.

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Fortunately, there are many businesses you can start very cheaply these days thanks to the internet and modern technology. In fact, some of the cheapest small business ideas require little to no money to get started. Here are several to explore.

Sustainability Consultant

Sustainability consultant is a job that may not have existed even a few years ago. Today, though, with more and more businesses evaluating their environmental footprints, there is a lot of work to be done to help them be more green.

“Eco-friendly solutions are often extremely expensive, even for the biggest companies, and firms of all sizes are seeking expert advice,” says Levon L. Galstyan, a certified public accountant at Oak View Law Group. Galstyan says knowledge and skills are more important than a specialized degree, which would cost thousands.

Tour Guide

Are you personable and live in an area with a thriving tourism industry? If so, being a tour guide might be a natural choice for starting a small business.

Although a business as a tour guide is something you can’t do entirely online, you don’t necessarily need a physical office. As a result, your overhead can remain quite low. If your city is known for something in particular, such as coffee shops or cathedrals, you can specialize in giving tours of those.

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Professional Organizer

Have you ever felt stressed because your home is just not organized, and worse, you just don’t have time to make it more orderly? If so, you aren’t alone. There’s no shortage of people who wish their homes were more organized, but they either don’t know how to organize, or they simply don’t have the time. As a result, you can step in and act as a consultant who organizes people’s homes.

You don’t need much equipment for this one either. Perhaps a vacuum and some cleaning tools, but mostly you just have to know how to organize. There are courses that teach advanced cleaning techniques, but that might be something you consider after you’ve made a bit of money.

Social Media Consultant

These days, you almost can’t have a successful business without a strong social media presence. Even if you can, most businesses would benefit from being well-known online. That will only be more apparent if mediums such as the metaverse can live up to their full potential.

However, many businesses are not well-versed in social media strategy. If you can learn the skills needed to successfully promote a business online, you have a viable business yourself. Startup costs are very minimal as all you need is the relevant skills and internet.

Podcast Host

Do you love to talk? Better yet, have you ever been told you have a “radio voice?” If so, being a podcast host can be the right business for you. It’s not the easiest job, and you will likely need a large audience to make real money from sponsorships. However, you won’t have to spend much money to get started.

For instance, you can purchase a USB microphone that plugs directly into your laptop for less than $100, and you’ll still get much better sound than you would by using your laptop’s built-in microphone. You can always upgrade later if you want better sound.

Virtual Event Planner

Event planning is something that is always in demand, and that is even more true as in-person events have ramped up once again. However, you don’t necessarily have to physically be at the venue where the event will take place. Instead, this service can be done remotely.

“The massive increase in corporate events and virtual tools for holding meetings will keep this industry growing at a high rate of 23 percent per year,” Galstyan says. “You’ll be in charge of organizing virtual conferences, networking events, and instructional sessions for companies worldwide as a virtual event planner.”

Remote Travel Agent

Travel is another thing people love to do that was put on hold due to the pandemic. However, 85% of businesses are conducting business travel as of April 2022, compared to just 65% in January, according to the U.S. Travel Association. While personal travel is seeing some pressure due to higher gas prices, that situation is likely not a permanent one.

And of course, planning trips can be done remotely with minimal startup costs. All you need is the knowledge about how to research trips. You can even put spreadsheets together to track hotels and airlines. These are things most people won’t have in place, and they’ll be willing to pay you money to save them some time.

Professional Reviewer

Although it might seem like reviewing products and services would have high startup costs, in many cases, it doesn’t. That’s because companies will provide their products and services to reviewers at no cost as a way to increase exposure and awareness of them.

“The value of positive ratings has not gone unnoticed by businesses of all sizes,” Galstyan says, adding that you can get paid for written or line reviews. “Plus, you get paid to try new things, read new novels, taste fresh food, try new skincare products, experiment with new technologies, etc.”

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About the Author

Bob Haegele is a personal finance writer who specializes in topics such as investing, banking, credit cards, and real estate. His work has been featured on The Ladders, The Good Men Project, and Small Biz Daily. He also co-runs Modest Money and is a dog sitter and walker.

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