15 Best Low-Cost Startup Ideas

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Many aspiring entrepreneurs believe that they can’t start a business until they have substantial startup capital. What most don’t know yet is, you can build a successful startup with absolutely no money. We’ve compiled the 15 best low-cost startup ideas so you can avoid high overhead costs and startup costs — without sacrificing growth potential and profitability. Read on to learn how these startup ideas can turn into a successful, lucrative business.

Recommended: Check out our full list of the best startup ideas and our guide on how to start a startup.

Top 15 Low-Cost Startup Ideas

1. Social Media Consulting

Social media is one of the most powerful tools available to businesses today. With 54% of social browsers using social media to research products, a great social media marketing strategy is essential for businesses of every size. Social media consulting is a fast-growing industry with potential for generating high profits depending on your skill level. Harnessing your branding abilities to represent the personality of your brand is essential to a great social media consulting startup. Not to mention, the best part of this startup idea is that it costs practically nothing to start.

2. Web Design

Web design startups focus solely on creating an aesthetically pleasing, well-branded website for businesses and individuals. If you have the skills to accomplish this already, you can start and operate this business with only a little money for marketing. With a litany of web design services available, your startup needs to stand out from the competition. The best way to create a unique web design startup is to establish a trademark design style and learn advanced design techniques that will take your finished web designs to the next level.

3. Blogging

Starting a blog not only offers you a space to share your passions with a like-minded community but it is an opportunity to monetize your interests without needing a large initial investment. While there is no end to the type of blogging that is possible, most require the same basic necessities: writing skills, photography proficiency, and an eye for the aesthetic. The most successful blogs started by appealing to a target audience, so before you start writing, identify the areas you are most passionate about, and work from there.

4. Freelance Writing

To be a freelance writer you need writing skills, a computer, and access to the internet — that’s it. If you already have those three things, becoming a freelance writer will cost you nothing except the time it takes to secure jobs and build your portfolio. With writers of every type in demand and a competitive market, it’s beneficial to identify three types of writing you excel at (for example, copywriting, content writing, or technical writing) and then strengthen your skills to offer clients the best service possible.

5. Online Coach

Help customers reach their personal and professional goals by creating an online coaching startup. The beauty of an online coaching startup is that there are limitless possibilities for the type of coaching you can do and it costs virtually nothing to start. Whatever your specialty is, there are most likely people looking for help in that area — you just need to find them using marketing strategies that appeal to your target audience. The goal is simply to give customers the tools and support they need to reach the important milestones using your interpersonal skills and expertise.

6. Digital Marketing

Digital marketing is a powerful and necessary marketing tool for businesses of every size. So it is great news that providing this service requires little money to start and has high-profit potential. To stand out in this competitive market, give prospective clients a reason to choose your startup by fine-tuning your networking skills, finding your niche, and doing your research to ensure you are on top of the most effective strategies to help your specific client base. Success in this field is dependent on results clients can see, so be prepared to reassess your strategies to ensure your business can provide substantial growth for its clients.

7. Handcrafted Products

Consider turning your hobby into a low-cost startup by selling crafts, products, or other items you make by hand. The benefit of this startup idea is not only that you get to turn your favorite pastime into a business but that it costs only the price of materials to get started. To excel in a market loaded with talented creators, do your research about up-and-coming trends to put your startup at the forefront and develop products that appeal to a popular market.

8. Pet Business

Pet parents want the best for their furry companions which means starting a pet business can often result in high profit and low startup or ongoing costs. For example, independent pet-sitting business owners report making up to $57,000 a year with little overhead. More good news, pet services can be anything from grooming to dog-walking depending on the space you have available and your skill set. The biggest challenge when starting a pet service startup is marketing to build trust with pet owners that will choose you to take care of their furry family members.

See our interview with the founder of pet tech startup PupPod!

Recommended: Check out our full list of Startup Ideas for Animal Lovers.

9. Business Consulting

Business consulting is a startup best suited to those who have knowledge and experience in their field as well as stellar organizational and networking skills. Developing these skills pays off though. Business consultants make an average of $100 an hour for their services, and the overhead costs are virtually zero. To give your startup a competitive edge, find your niche right away. Defining your specialty will not only make you a better consultant — it will attract a targeted market of customers that trust you have a firm grasp on what it takes to be successful in your industry.

10. YouTube Channel

Every day, millions of people visit YouTube to watch, learn, and listen. The good news, you can get in on the action by starting a YouTube channel of your own with little to no money. The best part of starting your own YouTube channel is you need very little outside of a niche, engaging personality, and a way to make/edit videos (which can be upgraded over time — so don’t splurge on the best stuff right away). Once you’ve grown your subscriber count, you can start raking in the money from advertisements.

11. Social Media Influencer

Creating content that is engaging and marketable while maintaining a rapport with brands, followers, and other influencers is key to being a successful social media influencer. Fortunately, all you need to get started is a smartphone, a knack for visual marketing, and an engaging personality. Since this industry is saturated with aspiring influencers already, you’ll need to focus your efforts on creating a distinct, appealing brand that will result in rapid growth.

12. Podcasting

With 104 million Americans listening to podcasts monthly, this market has exponential room for startups to flourish. Podcasting requires a niche topic, a charismatic host, and a market that will tune in regularly and fortunately for entrepreneurs on a budget — very little money to get started. With more and more podcasters popping up every day, the time to plant your flag as an expert in your field of interest is now. All you need to do is get some recording equipment and get to work.

13. Online Courses

All an online course startup requires is a strong skill set, background, and knowledge base to draw from, as well as strong interpersonal skills, to get started. This startup costs virtually zero dollars to get going and has tremendous growth potential. Whether it’s teaching crochet techniques or the basics of social media marketing, there is no end to the possibilities in this industry as long as you have interested students. Make it your own by developing a curriculum that is unique to you with assignments and objectives that will keep your students engaged.

Recommended: Check out our full list of Startup Ideas for Education Entrepreneurs.

14. Dropshipping

If you like the idea of an ecommerce startup but don’t have the space to commit to storing products, dropshipping could be the perfect, low-cost startup idea for you. Dropshipping startups simply take customer’s orders online, but instead of filling orders themselves, they are sent to a third-party retailer for fulfillment. Save yourself the hassle of inventory management and high overhead costs; this startup consists only of customer experience management, marketing, and curating items.

15. Virtual Assistant

virtual assistant startup is a great business idea for organized, task-oriented individuals looking for a startup idea that costs nothing to create. If this sounds like you, it is easy to get started by utilizing sites that can help you find work you’re interested in. Get a competitive edge by diversifying your skill set to make yourself eligible for a litany of job opportunities.

Form Your Startup

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