You can start from home to keep costs low and bootstrap your way into a multi-employee office in time.
Toby Woodward has been in the flooring business for twenty-five years. He tells Construction News, “I started my business with $50 and a box of business cards.” His company, Aladdin Floors, started out doing just installation in order to avoid the need to invest in inventory.
Again, the lesson is clear: Look for the low-cost entry point and parlay revenues into expanding the business.
Again, think of the low-cost entry point to keep your startup costs under $100. You can clean houses with all of the supplies and equipment you already use for cleaning your own home and then invest profits into specialized equipment for other clients.
Carrie H Johnson was divorced and living in a low-income housing when she started a cleaning business with friends, she explains on her website. She built it into a multimillion-dollar business with 165 employees.
Flea Market Vending
Flea markets are alive and well in many places around the country, and you can locate the ones closest to you with an online guide.
To start on a budget, find a market that lets you pay for space by the day (often less than $20). While you’re there, look around for a low-cost niche you can invest your profit into.
What profit? That’s what you made by selling everything in your house that you otherwise would have given away or dumped at a rummage sale.
Anyone can start on eBay for less than $100.
Start by selling things around the house that you no longer need. With the money you raise, you can look for a niche. For example, some vendors hit rummage sales and thrift stores for cheap goods they can resell.
Others buy in bulk from places like Liquidation.com and then sell items individually on eBay.
If you can read and follow the directions of an online soap-making tutorial, you can gain some basic knowledge of the soap making craft. It involves relatively few materials and tools. To make soap you mix various forms of oil with lye and scents. A basic mold for 12 bars can be bought on Amazon for under $10.
Of course, you can’t compete with mass-manufactured soaps, so you’ll want to make specialty products. Finding a new scent or creative approach to packaging and marketing will help. You can sell to friends initially, or invest in a booth at a flea market or craft show.
What’s the potential? Anne-Marie Faiola turned her soap making hobby into a multimillion-dollar business.
If you own a car you have what you need to start delivering groceries. While Webvan and others have failed to make grocery delivery work on a large scale, there is a market for small timers, as evidenced by the many shopping services that are online now.
To make delivery affordable for the customer and efficient enough for you to make a decent profit, you may have to service a very limited area. You might start by approaching elderly residents in a housing complex, promising delivery just two days per week in order to process as many orders as you can at once.
To keep payment processing simple, get a PayPal card reader, which attaches to your smartphone. PayPal takes just 2.7 percent of each swipe, with no hidden fees.
An errand service can be a natural business to tie into grocery delivery, or vice versa. Once again, if you already have a car you’re ready to get started. People often need someone to check on their dog at home, or run to the store if they are homebound.
To start with almost no cost, and to get a feel for what kind of work the business might involve, sign up with TaskRabbit.com, an online platform that connects people who need errands done with those willing to do them for an agreed-upon price. This eliminates the need to spend money on marketing yourself (at least at first).
You might discover a particular niche that suits you and is profitable. For example, if you get a lot of calls to bring pets to vet appointments, you might reposition yourself as a pet taxi service.
You can learn how to mix any one of thousands of drinks with a free online cocktail guide, but to get hired as a freelance bartender it helps to have real experience. That doesn’t have to require a job though. You might volunteer to tend bar for charity events — a good way to get experience and market yourself to potential paying clients.
Entrepreneur.com reports the startup costs of freelance bartending at “under $2,000.” But you can keep it under $100 if you start with clients who have the necessary equipment or by bartending for parties where expectations are minimal. Entrepreneur.com says you can make “up to $300 per day when you tally up your wages and tips.”
The next step is hiring help at $10 per hour and billing clients $25 per hour for them.
This is one of those businesses you probably wouldn’t get into without previous experience. On the other hand, you can get an idea of skills needed online from the television personality and dog whisperer, Cesar Milan. There are also many dog training tutorials on YouTube. A stint at a local pet store might help too, and you’ll at least make minimum wage while you get your education and experience.
You can start the business at home to keep costs low. Pet owners can bring their dogs there as well as anyplace else. To build your reputation offer, to train the dogs of friends for free or at a discount, and be sure to get testimonials to put on your (eventual) website.
What makes drop shipping so attractive is exactly what lands it on this list; there are no big startup costs or expensive investments in inventory. You can sell products online, collect payment, pay suppliers, and let them send out the products — even using your company logo if you like.
There are many drop-ship product suppliers online. Some provide a variety of products, or, if you’re going to specialize in one product or product line, you can locate a manufacturer that drop-ships. Just do your research and be sure you’ve found a reputable company.
A website is one way to make sales, although not the only way. You can also sell on auction sites like eBay.com.
Social Media Management
Businesses need help managing their social media presence.
In particular, they need to tweet on Twitter and post on Facebook in order to raise awareness of their companies and promote their products. You may already know how to use these and many other social media platforms.
Learn a little more with online tutorials on how to become a social media consultant. Then contact everyone you know to see if they need this valuable service. Scaling up will require hiring others at some point, so you can focus on getting new clients.
Startup cost? Zero.
If you have a phone, a computer, and Internet access, you can be a virtual assistant (VA). This is one of the hot new businesses you can start for less than $100
The work can be very different with each client, but may include preparing reports, researching, editing, social media management, appointment-setting and many other services.
On her website, VA Amy Andrews says “I can tell you from personal experience, it’s a real work-at-home opportunity and something many people could do.”
Of course, to make it into more than a decent freelance income, your goal will have to be to hire others at some point.
Scrap Metal Recycling
A search of your garage and shed might be all you need to start a scrap metal recycling business. It’s one of those businesses you can start for less than $100.
Copper and aluminum are the most valuable of the common metals, and almost every community has one or more scrap metal buyers. Once you’ve made your first sale, start looking for new supplies.
You can find all the advice you need in an online scrap metal discussion forum. How big can you grow a business like this? Stephen Greer went to Hong Kong with almost nothing after college and built a scrap metal recycling business worth $250 million, according to his book, ” Starting from Scrap: An Entrepreneurial Success Story.”
Okay, so you know enough about a subject to advise others, but you don’t have the money to properly launch a consulting business. Start anyhow!
Spend $10 for business cards from a low-cost provider. Put up a website for $60 for the first year with a domain and website hosting package.
Once you have a few customers who value your knowledge more than a fancy presentation, you can spend some of your profits to build a more professional organization.
If you’re artistically inclined, designing logos is a relatively simple business to start. You can service the high-end, doing very unique logos, or provide low-cost designs that start from templates and are modified to suit the client.
One of the easiest ways to get started is on Fiverr.com. A look at the stats for the logo designers there shows the size of the market. The top rated logo designer has over 6,000 customer reviews.
Fiverr.com takes a dollar of each $5 sale, so you might wonder how sellers make money. It’s all about the extra services. Many of the logo designers there keep it really simple for a basic sale (add a company name to a template), but offer extra services that can add $100 or more to an order.
Find that first sale with little or no capital investment and then use the profit to expand. That’s how you start a business for less than $100.
Do you have a low-cost startup story to share? Are you aware of other businesses you can start for less than $100?
Related reading: 51 Great Business Ideas
Photos via Shutterstock
More in: Develop an Idea
If you have a specialized skill set and expertise in an emerging area (internet marketing is one example) there are opportunities aplenty to start your own business.
Having a specialized skill set can help, especially in some businesses, but even without many skills it’s worth trying something when the risk is so low. My wife and I knew nothing about putting websites online, but grew our internet publishing business to six figures within a few years, starting with less than $100.
Do you have a kindle or e-book to share how you build your business from the beginning to now and some of the mistakes you did that we can learn from.
This means that anyone can go into business as long as he or she has the passion for it. Money is rarely an issue.
I think you should include web design business as well. If you know how to design websites you can start your business for less than 100$.
Thanks Frank; Watch for that one in a follow-up post with 25 more under-$100 businesses (coming soon).
The used books business is A LOT tougher than was made to seem here. Not for the faint of heart, the weak of back or the impatient.
You’re right Bob — Many of these are tougher than they seem from these short descriptions. On the other hand, the financial risk is pretty low for all of them.
Here in Australia you will need a “responsible service of alcohol” certificate, this may just blow your $100 budget but not by much. The others look like they would meet the under $100 startup benchmark. So to anyone complaining that they can’t afford to start their own business they have no excuse. However, the amount of TIME that needs to be invested in running a business is substantial.
Thanks Oak, and I agree that many of these are for when you have a lot more time than money. We put in a lot of time (at least initially) starting our internet publishing business. In fact, you can often substitute time for money in many ways when starting.
Aquarium maintenance service is also good one if you know about fish and aquariums.
It can be started for basically less than $100
A good offshoot to starting a house cleaning service is home and office organizing. It’s not as competitive and commoditized. A super cheap / beginner home organizer starts at $25/hr, but $35-$50/hr is pretty standard. Even higher if you have a specialty (hoarders, ADD/ADHD, etc), are certified, have YEARS of experience and/or are based in a large metro area. You do not have to be certified, however. Starting as a house cleaner will definitely give you an inroad (as there is more demand in terms of volume and helps with regular cash flow). That’s how I started and eventually phased the cleaning out. Offering pre-paid discounted packages (with a contract) and taking deposits from 1st time clients helps to keep problems away.
Hi Luna – I am interested in learning more about a home organizer startup and am wondering where to get certified. Can you email me to let me know…… thanks very much.
I have my own cleaning business but finding it hard with so many cleaners out there can you give me some advise
I would love to learn more about becoming an hone organizer. Kindly send info.
Thank you all for this knowledge and wisdom! Mr. Steve Hillman, I’ll be looking you up on Twitter Sir. I’m open to building business relationships with anyone. My Twitter handle is @tlb79thereal…
Blogging can potentially be a profitable home-based business, but you need to pick a niche that’s not already saturated with competitors. After you’ve figured out how to generate enough Web traffic to your blog — either through SEO, content marketing, or other means — the next hurdle is to find just the right products, services, and/or ads that your readership will respond to. In my experience, it’s often a matter of trial and error before you find the winning combination of strategies.
am joy and i realy need someone help me start a business my email is j_____ please help
What is your product or service you will provide?
Public speaking is another way to go. If you have expertise in a subject(s) you can sell that expertise. Getting paid speaking engagements is the hard part.
Hello Nicholas I would very much like to learn about public speaking sir. I believe every human has the same abilities as gods but we just don’t know yet. I want to give people facts to why i said so and share some ideas that could help change someone’s life no matter where they’re from. Please teach me sir My Facebook name is Tony Mengot and twitter ID: @tonymengot1
You can set up an eBay business and sell for others on consignment without spending a cent. There are plenty of people and businesses who find it hard to make the time to sell their unwanted items or simply do not have time. An eBay trading assistant does all the hard work and as a fee you earn commission on sales.
do you know how to contact those who are in need of an eBay trading assistant? I have been unemployed for the past 4 years and recently my father passed away. SOMETHING HAS TO GIVE QUICK!!! I am 42 years old and have one child in college and another at home. I cannot believe I am in this place financially, as I have worked my entire life until I lost my lat job. I cannot find one. Love your post and advice. Thanks.
I’m not sure why you brought up the things you did. Your son in college has nothing to do with your present situation. Your dad passing shouldn’t mean anything in your success and survival. Your child at home is your singular issue. 4 years unemployed is impossible unless you’re living on an island. You worked your entire life? That’s like 20 years or so only, you quite possibly have another 40+ years left. You’re the one who is going to have to decide that the excuses are over and you need to either apply to jobs or start a business. Or enjoy the time with your child at home while on public assistance. But stay sharp and be ready! YOU ARE AN AMAZING WOMAN WHO IS CAPABLE OF ANYTHING YOU PUT YOUR MIND TO!
Well Wade a backhanded compliment is a scared man’s way of releasing his own insecurities and self doubt . That’s without sounding like a complete narcarcist . Many people endure personal problems that you will never understand. On top of you being indoctrinated into our work until you are of an age that by that time you have retired you won’t want or have expirenced anything that you wanted to do when you wanted or we’re capable of doing at least. Life is a lot more than work for all the best years of your life to retire with enough money to buy a good recliner,tv,cable ,intranet ,food,forget insurance because who would want a broken system to aid in keeping you alive by stealing your hard earned life savings letting you be a spectator wishing you did what you wanted as a young person and not believed in medicoraty that was shoved down your throat your whole life initaly accepting it all as just the way things are. Follow your dreams don’t purposely cause harm to anyone,always replace your fears with love and remember we are all the same just going through different scenarios that we eventually expirenced so don’t ever call the kettle black and a spectator is truly a dying animal
Phida Cajuste Koljonen
Good Thursday morning Cara,
If you a FB you can post something like I can help you declauter and sell things you don’t need in your house or office for a small service fee & you can send flyers to your neighborhood and let your friends and family know.
Contact companies that you’ve purchased from before. Many of them say that they are in America, but have a two week shipping time. Many of us don’t have a problem buying from China but for those that do, having a “branch” in America and helping them word their emails as though their first language is English could be something.
You may have to stock some product, but you don’t know how much room it would take until you ask.
It’s looking for a job on the “grey market”
My biggest successes have come from those blind leaps of faith. I I can do it, so can you.
Let us know how well you do.
Hello im intrested in the sales consignment job.
My goal is to create a website. This questions is for Steve. Did you have to worry about a domain name when you created your website? Any recommendation on creating a website?
Fantastic insight Steve! As someone pointed out above, with so many options to start for such little money, most people really have no excuse. Some of the online related businesses are ones I intend to try just for the fun of it.
Thank you! Awesome Ideas
Very interesting list of businesses you have here and very helpful for many people looking at something new.
I’ve heard of people starting businesses with $1,000 or more but I did not know you can start a business with a $100.00 only. I might start doing logo designs seem like something that I can do plus I just got my dslr camera so I can take pictures to make logos.
My goal is to start a low cost business in my area by specializing in personalization of products however there are many online businesses and local ones that corner the market. I am able to make posters by drawing designs and basic images however this business charges a lot for creating them will cause me to lose money when the competitor’s fees are $40.00 for a small poster and $100.00 for a billboard. I discovered crafts, sewing, and redesigning products process is my strenght however weakness is having time to create these items in bulk in a timely manner.I think a business coach may be able to help me decide what avenue to take to narrow down goals owning a business before acheiving a Business and Marketing Degree in July 2017.
Please stop telling people they can start making logos, and certainly stop telling the people that do want to get into design to go to Fiverr. This is incredibly insulting to professional designers, and it is devaluing the profession and our work.
Any moron can open a graphics program and push some pixels around, but that doesn’t make them a designer. The tool does not come with the knowledge. The fundamental skills that are required to do a good job take years to hone. This isn’t something you start and are good at over night. And if it takes years of work to get good at, and hours or days of work to arrive at a good product you should not be selling it for $5.
Then don’t sell YOUR product or skills for $5. Other people, your competitors, are allowed to do whatever they want. If someone makes a product and markets it for $5, while you make a product that YOU consider to be much more valued and market it for $100, the consumer still has the power of deciding what they would rather spend their money on. I’ve worked in the culinary industry for 10+ years and the saying I’ve always heard is that if you can’t handle the heat, then get out of the kitchen. Anyone can tell you if something tastes good or bad, but that doesn’t mean they can create high quality meals like I can. That being said…
There will always be someone who will do what you can do for cheaper. There will always be someone who does what you can do better than you can, at some point or another. The idea is that you can create a product, or market yourself, with the backing of an idea or concept that makes you stand out form the rest. People will buy what works as a general rule. We look for solutions. However if you have something that people can get behind, a reason as to why they should use you for a service or buy your product, then you can market yourself for whatever you want and people will be much more obliged to pay premium prices.
Don’t let your ego misguide you in to thinking that the industry you’re in defines your value.
Well said, the nerve at insulted designer how can you tell someone what kind of advice to give especially when there trying to help others legally find different avenues to generate income. People are allowed to give good ideas a try it’s basically like your saying they shouldn’t because you are someone else may be insulted. I’m pretty sure the people in this world who are wealthy didn’t get there worrying about if they may or may not insult someone.
I’m a author and have had several book covers done by very talented cover “designers.”
There are those that are cant afford big time designers and I for one like to give talented people a chance. I paid much more than $5. It also encourages these talented people to advance in their career.
Awesome article. The points you mentioned in your article were amazing. Simple and helpful tips.
I think this is terrific. I know that one of the biggest reasons people fail to make it work with starting a business online is the lack of knowledge of how to get started, or the lack of knowledge of how to market their business online with real proven techniques that drive traffic, and provide new and real leads for new membership or product sales. I have found that starting a business online can be the best option from an overhead standpoint, and definitely is the best bet as far as leveraging your exposure. i came across a tremendous opportunity that provides excellent support and a true one step approach to setting up your own profitable business that can, and will generate amazing profits with the right attention and effort to insure it’s success.
Would like to hear more about the opportunity you came across, Thanks!!
Could you, please, be more explicit about how to start a business online and example of opportunities available outhere?
Just, at least some hints.
That’s me your describing. I would love to start my own online business I know what I want to sell, I’ve researched the market but have no idea where to start Ok I know about eBay but what I want is my own web site and have no idea how to make one I’m hopeless using IT ,, I must be lower then a moron because I can’t open a graphics design site
Mom of Special Needs
My 8 yr old daughter was diagnosed with Apraxia of speech, Regulation Disorder of Sensory Processing, ADHD and possible Autism. I want to open a small local shop that offers the tools needed to help children like her or even children with learning disabilities. It would sell weighted blankets, learning games and activities and so on. Some would be made by hand, others bought and sold in shop. Is this do able? There are no shops around it’s all online. Thoughts please.
I would LOVE to hear if you have made any headway with this! I am an RBT, so super curious! 🙂
This is good idea can you share it with me
please send me email my email is ([email protected])
Starting your own business is a good thing but getting it to run and become profitable can difficult and challenging. I have a mobile app in both Googlestore and Itunes, and am struggling to get downloads as I have not done enough marketing. Its a services marketplace app which will actually be competing with big and established names. I do not know how to market and promote the app, would need professional help and appreciate any advice.
If there are big names out there who already offer the same app as you, you are out of luck. The best hope is to be first to market with a new idea. If your app has any uniqur features, especially if you have some form of copyright protrction or patent, the that feature to the big guys amd perhaps they will add it to their app and pay you for the idea.
I would love to learn more about the app
I would like to start a baking business out of my home, how can i get this started?
I’ve looked into this myself when I have had time and still researching when I have time but thought I would share what I’ve learned so far. The requirements for selling food/baked goods vary from state to state, where I live most edible items that are being sold need to be first baked/cooked in a professional kitchen. The key is to search requirements for selling baked goods in (your state).
Am a student and I really need fund to start a business. Need some one help or advice
Someone who actually knows
I think you dont really have a clue about most of these businesses you claim you can start for less than 100 dollars. For one most of these businesses require some sort of degree or cetifacation or contractors license to perform for instance house painting you absolutely have to have a contractor license to perform and a special endorsement to even mess with anything built before 1978 because of lead paint do this with out one and you could be facing up to $40,000 in fines so not only do you have to pay for the license which is 250 for a regular license but you have to take an accredited course first and test which is 100 plus then you have to be bonded and insured which is a hell of alot more than 100 dollars oh and your tools and equipment your going to need let’s not forget about that and materials too because most people dont pay till your done with the job and there even more business you claim you can start for less than 100 that all require the same thing you should really stop lying to people oh also you have to register your business with the state that’s about 400 so yep just thought you should know.
Someone, thanks for your comment. For the most part these ideas do not require a degree or certification.
Yes, in some areas you might need a license. But that is not universally true. In many places there are no licensing requirements. Of course, one should always check.
So do keep in mind that requirements vary widely, and one must not assume that requirements in one area apply to everyone everywhere. This information is generally accurate and correct, and is intended to be an idea starter for entrepreneurs.
How do you start a flooring business for 50 dollars. When a jamb saw cost 179. It is just one of many tools you need to purchase in order to do flooring correctly.
Dog training should not be on here. The cost of a facility alone will put you well out of the 100.00 range. Also you should be a certified dog trainer with years of showing experience before you start offering to train dogs for others. People look for a trainer that is very experienced and can take their dog from puppy up through trick or agility.
Thanks Steve. I second the tutoring idea. I teach online workshops that show people how to start their own tutoring companies, which is a business that can bring in thousands of dollars per month. Starting a tutoring company can definitely be accomplished with less than $100. I did it with just $10
I am interested in starting a tutoring business. Please give me ideas to get started
If you plan to start a tax preparation business, make sure you research requirements in your state. For example, in Oregon, you can’t sign returns unless you are registered with the state which requires credentials. There is also absolutely no way you’ll learn everything you need to know in one tax season. Not a good business move for just anyone.
You could have told her to think of reasons WHY SHE CAN, rather than criticize her the way you did. I think you may have discouraged her more than anything else.
We are all here to support each other.
Not sure if it was true when this was made but you certainly do need a painting license in Florida. I know as a painting contractor with a painting license.
Thanks for sharing. This blog is literally has some good ideas for start a business.Thanks for sharing 🙂
A good job is done by the admin here
It’s really very inspiring. It turns out that you can make money online in quite different ways. Everyone has to find his own subject on which to know and make money.
Thanks, Steve for this article, so enlightening.
I have found a handful of ideas of business I can start with $100 or less. I am particularly interested in the ClickBank E-Products idea since it’s closely related to my area of expertise, very glad I found this article.
Thanks once more.
Really informative and helpful tips! Thanks For Sharing and Keep Up the Good Work.
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Snabbt - Blog on Autopilot
Hello Steve, This article is informative but you just missed mentioning your own business.
I consider content writing or blog writing services is also kind of a business that can be started from less than $100.
All you need is a domain name, hosting, and a team of good writers.
Blog writing is like growing vegetables. You can’t sew your seeds and pick them the same day thus it needs consistency with patience to grow a blog.
Most of the newbies quit posting soon after they see no results quickly.
We started this back in 2020 and have served many individual blog owners who started with us and are now enjoying their piece of blogging cake.
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