20 Low Cost Businesses to Start for Less Than $100

low cost businesses to start

You don’t need a ton of cash to start a business. In fact, there are many small business ideas you can get off the ground for under $100. Here, we give you some options for starting a low-cost business this year. They are also excellent passive income ideas for solopreneurs who want to build a business without much upfront investment.

Low-Cost Business Ideas to Start for Less Than $100

If you’re looking for a small business idea you can start with $100 or less, there are several industries and niches to consider. Here are the top local and online business ideas that you can start for under $100.

1. Dog Walking Business

Walking dogs for pet owners in your community is a simple business idea that requires very little upfront. You might post signs or take out a classified ad to let people know about your services. But many of these businesses also grow through word of mouth or free online marketplaces.

2. Online Course Creator

There are online courses for just about everything, from business topics to online cooking classes. You can either set up your own website or use online teaching platforms to make your offerings available to students. Then either shoot video content or make text lessons and workbook pages available to students who sign up.

3. Social Media Marketing Service

Social media accounts are generally free, and you can charge a fee to help businesses or influencers grow their presence on these platforms. All you need is a phone or computer and an internet connection to run a social media business. And most people already have those covered. However, it is important to also have some experience and knowledge surrounding social media marketing.

4. SEO Service

Search engine optimization is another major focus for lots of businesses. This involves adding keywords and other features to websites that make them more easily found via an online search. If you have experience in this area, simply connect with relevant business owners online to share about your services. You shouldn’t need any expensive equipment to get started as a new SEO business. And this is a business that can easily be run remotely.

5. Mobile Detailing Service

If you enjoy working with cars, this next business idea may be for you. Help drivers in your area keep their vehicles clean with a mobile detailing service. You just need a few simple cleaning supplies like cloth, squeegees, and automotive cleaning solutions to get started. And you can travel directly to your clients to perform services, eliminating the need for a physical location.

6. House Sitting

House sitting simply involves staying at or looking in on a client’s house while they’re away. This may be an especially relevant business idea for those in areas where lots of people leave for the summer or winter. However, people go on vacation anywhere. And you can even make more money by adding on extra services like pet sitting.

7. Errand Service

Run errands like grocery shopping or dry cleaning pickup for busy people in your community in exchange for cash. This should be straightforward enough, and shouldn’t require any equipment or upfront purchases. The only thing you may need is reliable transportation. But a car isn’t required if you live in a walkable area or a city with public transportation options.

8. House Cleaning Business

To start a house cleaning business, you just need some basic cleaning supplies and a way to advertise your services. Some businesses in this niche take out classified ads or post signs around town. But if you already have some existing connections, you may simply grow your business through word of mouth.

9. Personal Training Business

A personal trainer works one-on-one with clients to improve their fitness. You may create tailored workout plans for each person, or specialize in a particular type of workout like weightlifting. Many personal trainers work out of a home gym. So you may simply use weights or a workout mat to get started. Others partner with local gyms to provide the space and equipment each client needs.

10. Landscaping Business

For a landscaping business, you just need a lawn mower and some basic maintenance tools, which most homeowners should already have. If you don’t have these supplies, this business may cost a bit more than $100 to start. But you can always start small and add additional services as you earn enough funds to cover new equipment purchases.

More Great Ideas for Businesses to Start with Only $100

Often, online business ideas are perfect for those who don’t want to invest a lot of money into a new business. These ideas cost less than $100 to get off the ground.

11. Online Store

There are tons of products you can sell online that don’t cost much at first. For example, you may offer low-cost products like t-shirts or mugs. So you can just purchase limited inventory and pay for a website and shipping supplies.

Alternatively, many entrepreneurs start their eCommerce journeys on marketplace sites like eBay or Amazon. Then you can migrate to your own website once you earn enough to cover those costs.

12. Freelance Writing

As a freelance writer, you offer your services to businesses and publications on a contractual basis. You can decide what assignments to take, but the companies you write for should handle most of the back-end tasks and expenses involved in launching a website or publication.

This is a good business idea for those with some writing skills who just want to earn some extra cash on the weekends or in addition to other projects.

13. Virtual Assistant Business

A virtual assistant may handle a variety of tasks for business owners, from inbox management to scheduling to social media posting. All you need for this business is a computer and an internet connection. And there are tons of online job boards where you can advertise your services and connect with clients looking for help. Many of them are free to use.

14. Handmade Business

Handmade business opportunities vary widely depending on what you plan to sell. However, many of them can integrate free or low-cost supplies, making them inexpensive to start. For example, you may start a jewelry shop that integrates recycled materials found around your own home.

Then all you need to purchase is some basic craft supplies and shipping materials. Online marketplaces like Etsy let you sell to people around the world for almost nothing upfront. There are also in-person craft fairs and flea markets that you can enter to sell your products. However, some may come with a small fee.

15. Event Planning Business

As an event planner, you can help people in your community iron out the details for their events. For example, you may coordinate with vendors for a wedding or design and market business conferences.

Your operations can largely be handled online or over the phone, so this is one of many home business ideas that doesn’t cost much to get started. There are tons of free calendars, spreadsheet apps, and budget calculators you can use to manage your operations without spending much upfront.

16. Consulting

Consulting is one of the best small business ideas for those with some expertise who don’t want to spend a ton of money to get started. Think of an area where you have plenty of knowledge or experience and consider how you can help others who are navigating that process.

For example, a seasoned entrepreneur may offer business or marketing consulting services. However, there are also those who specialize in personal topics, like a life coach or online dating consultants.

Once you carve out a niche, you just need a website that outlines your services, a way to communicate with clients, and potentially some methods for advertising your offerings.

17. Dropshipping Business

A dropshipping business model is an eCommerce shop where you don’t actually handle your own inventory. Instead, you work with a fulfillment center to store and ship your products. Depending on what you sell and the provider you choose, this method may cost more than $100.

But for those with low-cost items, you can definitely add this business idea to your list. There are even dropshipping providers that connect users with a wide array of products based on their budget and interests. So you may simply start small and then scale over time as you begin earning an income from your business.

18. Bookkeeping Service

If you have some financial expertise, start a bookkeeping service where you manage finances for other business owners. This generally just requires a computer and some financial software or spreadsheets. There are paid versions available.

But you can also use free tools to keep secure financial records. And this business model allows you to create ongoing relationships with clients to maintain a steady income over time.

19. Translation Service

If you speak and/or write in more than one language, consider offering your services as a translator. You may work on a contractual basis with other companies or individuals, translating for special events, audio content, and even books.

You shouldn’t need much if any, equipment to get started. So this business idea may simply require advertising or marketing your services to interested parties online or in your local community.

20. Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketers are bloggers and online content creators who share affiliate links with their audiences. When someone purchases something through an affiliate link, the person who shared it earns a small commission from each sale.

You can build an entire business around affiliate marketing, or just use it as an additional revenue stream for a blog or influencer business. This is potentially the best business idea for those who want to build a passive income without a lot of upfront costs.

All you need is a website or some popular social accounts and relationships with companies that run affiliate programs. Many of these programs are free to sign up, as long as you meet the audience requirements and have enough influence in the areas that are relevant to each company.

Strategies for Launching a Successful Low-Cost Business

Leverage Digital Tools

In today’s digital age, numerous online tools and resources can help streamline your business operations. Utilizing free or low-cost digital tools for tasks like scheduling, invoicing, project management, and customer relationship management can save time and increase efficiency.

Focus on Building a Strong Online Presence

Having a strong online presence is crucial, especially for businesses that operate primarily online. Invest time in building a professional-looking website, optimizing it for search engines, and being active on social media platforms relevant to your target audience.

Utilize Free Marketing Techniques

Word-of-mouth, social media marketing, content marketing, and email newsletters are powerful, cost-effective ways to market your business. Regularly creating and sharing valuable content can help attract and retain customers.

Offer Exceptional Customer Service

Excellent customer service can set your business apart from competitors. Be responsive to customer inquiries and feedback, and strive to exceed customer expectations. Happy customers are more likely to return and refer others to your business.

Keep Operating Costs Low

Continuously look for ways to keep your operating costs low without compromising the quality of your products or services. This may include negotiating better rates with suppliers, optimizing your processes, or using cost-effective marketing strategies.

Network and Collaborate

Networking with other business owners and professionals can open doors to new opportunities, such as partnerships, collaborations, or referrals. Attend industry events, join online forums, and participate in community activities to expand your network.

Stay Adaptable and Open to Learning

The business landscape is constantly evolving, so staying adaptable and open to new ideas and strategies is crucial. Keep learning about your industry, market trends, and business management to continually improve your business.

Set Realistic Goals and Monitor Progress

Set clear, achievable goals for your business and regularly monitor your progress towards these goals. This will help you stay on track and make informed decisions about your business’s growth and direction.

Can You Start Your Own Business for Less Than $100?

Yes, it is possible to start a business for less than $100, as long as you don’t need a physical location, lots of equipment, or expensive inventory. Many online businesses that offer services or digital products require little to no upfront investment. For example, a low-cost business idea may be consulting or offering virtual assistant services.

What Is the Cheapest Business to Start?

There are many business ideas with low startup costs, but a few can be started for next to nothing. Look for business ideas where you can offer a service using an online platform that is free to join. For example, you may advertise VA services on an online marketplace or offer social media management using free social accounts to connect with potential clients.

What Is the Most Profitable Business Idea to Start with Low Capital?

The exact profitability of each business idea varies widely. However, those who offer a professional service like business consulting or marketing support can generally charge more for services than those offering simple help with errands or data entry. And these business ideas also come with low overhead costs, as long as you have the experience and connections to get started.

What Is the Easiest Low-Cost Business to Start?

There are many easy low-cost business ideas that you can start right away. A full list is included above, but a few examples include an errand service, VA business, and a handmade shop.


The notion that starting a business requires a vast amount of capital is rapidly becoming outdated, as there are numerous low-cost business ideas that can be initiated with less than $100. These ideas are not only cost-effective but also open up the realm of passive income possibilities for solopreneurs who seek financial independence without a substantial initial financial commitment.

The resounding answer to the question, “Can You Start Your Own Business for Less Than $100?” is a definitive yes. It is entirely feasible to initiate a business venture with limited financial resources, provided the venture does not necessitate a physical location, substantial equipment, or costly inventory.

A multitude of online businesses that offer services or digital products can be set up with minimal upfront expenditure.

The contemporary entrepreneurial landscape is increasingly shaped by digitalization, making it easier than ever to establish businesses that require little to no initial investment. Examples include consulting services, virtual assistant roles, and various digital marketing endeavors.

To further illustrate the wealth of opportunities available, we’ve outlined a diverse range of low-cost business ideas that can be launched for under $100:

  1. Dog Walking Business: A simple venture that entails walking dogs for pet owners in your community, with minimal upfront expenses for marketing and supplies.
  2. Online Course Creator: Offering online courses on various subjects, which can be easily facilitated through online teaching platforms with a minimal initial investment.
  3. Social Media Marketing Service: Leveraging your social media expertise to help businesses and influencers enhance their online presence, with the primary requirements being a computer and internet connection.
  4. SEO Service: Assisting businesses in optimizing their websites for search engines, a business that can be initiated remotely with no need for expensive equipment.
  5. Mobile Detailing Service: Catering to car owners by providing mobile car detailing services, requiring only basic cleaning supplies and no physical location.
  6. House Sitting: Offering house-sitting services, which can be particularly relevant in areas where people frequently travel, and can be expanded to include pet sitting for additional income.
  7. Errand Service: Running errands for busy individuals, such as grocery shopping or dry cleaning pickup, with transportation being the primary requirement.
  8. House Cleaning Business: Offering cleaning services to households, with minimal costs associated with cleaning supplies and marketing.
  9. Personal Training Business: Providing one-on-one fitness training services, which can be initiated with basic workout equipment or by partnering with local gyms.
  10. Landscaping Business: Offering lawn care and landscaping services, with minimal equipment requirements like a lawn mower and basic maintenance tools.
Business IdeaDescriptionKey Features
Dog Walking BusinessWalk dogs for pet owners in your community, requiring minimal expenses for marketing and supplies.Low upfront costs, community-based.
Online Course CreatorOffer online courses on various subjects, facilitated through online teaching platforms with a minimal initial investment.Leveraging expertise, scalable online.
Social Media MarketingUse social media expertise to enhance online presence for businesses and influencers, requiring only a computer and internet connection.Digital skills, remote work potential.
SEO ServiceAssist businesses in optimizing their websites for search engines, a remote business with no need for expensive equipment.Remote work, high demand for SEO services.
Mobile Detailing ServiceProvide mobile car detailing services to car owners, requiring basic cleaning supplies and no physical location.Mobile, minimal equipment needed.
House SittingOffer house-sitting services, particularly relevant in areas with frequent travelers, and expand to include pet sitting for additional income.Flexibility, adaptability to local needs.
Errand ServiceRun errands for busy individuals, such as grocery shopping or dry cleaning pickup, with transportation as the primary requirement.Local service, meeting daily needs.
House Cleaning BusinessProvide cleaning services to households, with minimal costs associated with cleaning supplies and marketing.Steady demand, scalable with referrals.
Personal Training BusinessOffer one-on-one fitness training services, initiated with basic workout equipment or by partnering with local gyms.Fitness expertise, adaptable to locations.
Landscaping BusinessProvide lawn care and landscaping services, with minimal equipment requirements like a lawn mower and basic maintenance tools.Seasonal work, opportunities for growth.

Additionally, we’ve explored various online business ideas that can be initiated with less than $100, such as starting an online store, freelance writing, virtual assistant roles, handmade businesses, event planning, consulting, dropshipping, bookkeeping services, translation services, and affiliate marketing.

In terms of affordability, the most cost-effective businesses typically leverage online platforms that offer free access, enabling entrepreneurs to minimize initial expenses.

Offering professional services, such as business consulting or marketing support, often provides a pathway to higher profitability, as clients are willing to pay for expertise and specialized knowledge.

Moreover, these service-based businesses come with minimal overhead costs, provided that the entrepreneur possesses the necessary skills and industry connections.


Image: Envato Elements

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Annie Pilon Annie Pilon is a Senior Staff Writer for Small Business Trends, covering entrepreneur profiles, interviews, feature stories, community news and in-depth, expert-based guides. When she’s not writing she can be found exploring all that her home state of Michigan has to offer.

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