Starting a business can seem like a mountain of tasks. But the amount of time, money, and risk involved depends on the business idea you are pursuing.
Contrary to popular belief, there are actually many ways to start a business that allows you to focus less on logistics, startup costs, and more on getting started.
These low-investment small business ideas are a great entry point for beginners, entrepreneurs, or anyone with a busy schedule, allowing you to choose a side business without having to give up anything else.
You still need to have a solid idea, build a brand, put in a marketing effort, and provide great customer service. But you can circumvent many traditional upfront costs, such as initial inventory, storage, and retail space.
Here are some low-investment small business ideas that you can start today.
Best Low Investment Small Business Ideas You Can Start on The Side
Partnership with dropshipper
Buy, store, collect, pack and ship inventory. Inventory management can be a huge undertaking when you are running a business.
Dropshipping is a fulfillment model in which third-party supplier stores and ships inventory to customers on your behalf. You just need to make sales and order to your supplier; You do not need to handle the products yourself.
You can organize the products of one or more suppliers in your online store under a theme that focuses on a specific niche, such as equipment for yoga enthusiasts or water bowls for dog owners. When a customer buys a product from you, the order is sent to your supplier, who places it on your behalf. However, you are still responsible for your own marketing and customer service.
There are local and overseas suppliers you can work with, as long as you can establish a relationship of trust with them; the untrusted supplier will have a bad image of your brand.
Dropshipping is a low-investment way to test product-market relevance and start a business before investing in your original products. Just be sure to always order a sample for yourself to make sure your supplier is trustworthy and the quality of the products is right for sale to your customers.
Design and sell print on demand t-shirts
Another dropshipping model, Print-on-Demand puts inventory, shipping, and fulfillment in the hands of a third-party vendor. But unlike the dropshipping idea above, the focus here is on customizing these products with your own designs to create something original.
T-shirts, hats, phone cases, hoodies, skirts, bags, and more have become paintings for your creativity. You can think of smart developer logos or references that resonate with cat owners - if there are passion and pride within a community, there is a potential business you can start.
Even if you're not a designer, you can find a designer to work with using freelance sites like Fiverr, Upwork, Dribble, or 99Designs.
With many print-on-demand services, you pay per product, so the base unit price will be more expensive than if you ordered it in bulk. But the advantage is that if a specific t-shirt design hasn't been sold, you haven't paid for the item yet (the design only if you outsource it).
You can also use t-shirt mockup templates so you don't need to spend money on an entire photoshoot for each new design.
Launch your own book
A book is just another type of product when you think about it. And as such, you can create one to meet specific market demand.
Cookbooks, Comics, Picture Books, Poetry Books, Picture Books, Coffee Table Books, Novels - If you have the knowledge or creativity, there are a variety of original books that you can bring to market.
Print-on-demand publishing is a relatively safe way to test the situation and start self-publishing, while also giving you control over the quality and appearance of your book.
Lulu Xpress and Blurb are popular platforms for this purpose, allowing you to create, order, and distribute your own books as physical and digital products.
While you can order one book at a time, costs naturally decrease when Wholesale purchases. You may consider pre-selling or crowdfunding your book idea to ensure there is an order and to secure a certain number of customers for the bulk order.
Launching your own book can be a great way to monetize a blog if you have a blog or are looking to start a blog.
Create digital products or courses
Digital products like music, courses, and templates are exclusive to this list of ideas. Unlike other products, they are not tangible products. There are no recurring manufacturing or shipping costs to worry about, so your margins can remain high.
The trick is in knowing what makes a good digital product. What is useful enough that people are willing to pay to download it?
The answers range from original instrument beats to stored images that can be licensed to other content creators, to information products and templates that help people improve their skills in a specific field.
If you have talent that can be digitized, you may consider bundling it into a new revenue stream.
Sell printed-on-demand posters, greeting cards, and prints
If you're artistically inclined or camera-savvy, you can use a print-on-demand business model to allow others to own a portion of your work. Just make sure you have the rights to the content you want to print unless you are using public domain assets that you can freely monetize.
If you've already gained a following online, let's say you're a cartoonist or an urban photographer, then you're particularly well-positioned to test this business idea.
Depending on the printer you work with, you can turn your business into products like framed posters or wall paintings, and even greeting cards. There are tons of digital templates and form generators like Place, that you can use to showcase your products without having to print all the items and run your own photoshoots.
Start a charitable business
Starting a nonprofit organization is not the only path you can take to help fund a better world.
Having a mission in line with the business, and allocating part of the profits to a cause, gives social entrepreneurs a unique way to put their company in the market while addressing the issues that matter most to them.
In fact, 89% of consumers surveyed said they would likely switch to a new brand with similar products and prices if it was related to a good cause.
While many social businesses offer their original products, you can also take any of the small business ideas listed above and partner with a non-profit organization, or implement that social good with your own hands, as long as you are transparent about how they operate.
As part of your marketing, you can share the impact your customers have in supporting your business, such as a blog post covering your business in the community or a real-time impact calculator on your website.
The Give & Grow Shopify app makes it easy to partner with charitable organizations and integrate their mission into your business. You can set it up to donate a specific amount or a percentage of sales, or have your customers add a donation at checkout.
Sell a service
With a service-based business, "time" is your greatest value and investment. You only have a limited number of hours in your day. However, this makes it easier for you to get up and work if you have the necessary skills.
Writers, designers, developers, photographers, household cleaners, fitness trainers, and more can build a business around their skills.
They can also expand their business using any of the other ideas mentioned above to create additional sources of income by "productizing" their services through physical or digital goods.
A photographer can, for example, serve a local event while selling prints online through their Instagram account. The copywriter can sell copywriting swipe files for high converting sales copy. Combining your service-based business with physical products can give you another source of income that is not directly related to your time.
You can also offer your services through an independent marketplace like Upwork to increase your chances of being discovered by people who need your skills.
Create an online fashion boutique
If you love fashion and share your sense of style online, you may consider creating your own online fashion boutique. You also don't need to become a stylist; you can simply organize items from other sellers in your online store (using the dropshipping template we discussed earlier).
Sell handcrafted and homemade products
If you are a manufacturer, whether you use DIY soaps, candles, sauces, or ceramics, you are in a unique position to find a business idea online, as developing and purchasing products is literally in your hands.
Unlike many of the other ideas on this list, you'll need to think about shipping and inventory management, but you can start small per order or with a small batch until you start to achieve consistent sales.
Just be aware of the regulations in your product category, especially for anything customers eat, breathe, or put on their skin.
Grow an audience that you can earn income from in a number of ways.
In today's connected world, the ability to capture and hold the attention of others is a bonus. It's a process that many companies are willing to pay for, and many content creators can turn it into multi-revenue streams.
Whether you choose to grow your followers on YouTube, Instagram, or a blog (a perfect mix of different channels), you have many avenues to monetize your audience:
- Do sponsored posts on behalf of brands
- Be an affiliate
- Sell physical or digital products (through any of the ideas on this list)
- A combination of the above (not mutually exclusive)
Taking an audience-first approach to starting a business means you're playing long-term (it can take months to think about it). But you don't need millions of followers to do this: Instagrammer Kat Gaskin, for example, has successfully launched a $ 10,000 product with just 3,000 followers.
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