5 Low-Cost Business Ideas You Can Start Today

Starting a business can be a daunting experience, fraught with complexity and risk. There are all sorts of things to consider, such as whether you have the necessary experience and business acumen. You’ll also need to think about the legal implications and figure out if there’s sufficient funding in place to ensure your new venture is a success. And if your new business does get off the ground, what tools would you need to ensure that it continues to succeed. For example, if your new business requires Field Service Management software that can help you manage inventory or work orders and appointments as it can help your business run a little smoother.

While there are plenty of resources available to guide you as you begin this journey, the funding issue can be the most difficult to resolve. Fortunately, there are ways you can get started in business without spending a fortune.

Here are a few ideas for businesses you could establish on a shoestring.

Dog walking

We’re a nation of dog lovers but also a nation of increasingly busy people, with more responsibilities at work and at home than ever. While most folk want to spend as much time as they can with their dog, sometimes it’s necessary to call in some outside help.

If you’re an animal lover and have some experience handling dogs, you could earn up to 10 per dog for a 30-60 minute walk as a professional dog walker.

You don’t need any training or qualifications to get started but it may help as you build your client base if you have some training in animal first aid and animal care.

There are a number of laws and regulations that relate to dogs that you should become acquainted with, for example those around walking dogs in rural areas and the number of dogs you can walk at any one time.

Public liability insurance is an absolute must and there are a handful of insurers who have policies designed specifically for the professional dog walker.

Many dog walkers operating in cities don’t need to use a vehicle, but if you’re operating in a rural or semi-rural area you’ll need a vehicle that’s suitable to carry animals, and that will probably be your most significant expense.

Cleaning company

Starting a cleaning company can be one of the least expensive ways to establish yourself in business. If you focus on domestic cleaning you just need some basic equipment and a couple clients to get started.

As with dog walking, training or qualifications aren’t necessary, but one prerequisite is that you’re enthusiastic about cleaning or – at the very least – you don’t hate it. If you can’t handle the idea of cleaning someone else’s toilet then move on, this one isn’t for you!

Your first customers could be family, friends or other acquaintances. Get the word out that you’re offering cleaning services and once you’ve bagged your first client, be sure to do a great job. There’s a good chance word of mouth recommendations will do the rest.

Buy cleaning supplies in bulk to save money but don’t always go for the cheapest option – domestic customers can be quite fussy about fragrance and the cheapest cleaning products are often the least pleasant smelling. Your unique selling point (USP) could be to only use natural products, ideal for customers with pets, family members with allergies and those who care about the environment.

For more insight on setting up a cleaning business take a look at this informative guide by The Cleaning Collective.

Ironing service

Ironing can be quite therapeutic – my grandmother used to enjoy it so much she’d iron my grandfather’s socks. If you’ve worked your way through your own laundry bag of clean washing, how about starting again on somebody else’s while getting paid for the privilege?

Your customers could drop off their ironing at your location or you may wish to offer a collect and return service.

The great thing about running an ironing business is that as your skills improve and it becomes second nature, you may find that you can multitask. Doing your day job while getting caught up with the soaps is probably some peoples’ idea of living the dream.

In terms of financial investment, a good quality iron and ironing board is a must. Neither need to be terribly expensive but as your client base grows you may wish to upgrade. Commercial steam irons can cost upwards of 1000 but can be worth the investment if you’ll be spending all day ironing.

eBay business

Becoming an eBay entrepreneur may be more challenging now than ever, but there are still opportunities to make a substantial profit on eBay if you do your research. The trick is to figure out what sells and then source these items from an online wholesaler like Abound at favourable prices. It’s important to take into account potential eBay and payment processing fees, but if you do your maths right you can use this model to run a profitable business.

Investment should be low – eBay charges a fee to sellers who run a shop, but you’re only looking at 25/pm to get started. Be careful not to buy too much stock until you become more adept at researching niche items, as most eBay businesses fail in their infancy due to people buying stock they can’t shift.

Customer service is absolutely key on eBay – good communication, fast delivery and well packaged items are a must. People are reluctant to do business with sellers who have poor feedback or no history on the platform, but if you look after your customers you’ll soon be able to build up a formidable profile. Do your utmost to placate disappointed buyers as bad feedback can sink an eBay business.


The elderly often find it difficult to maintain their gardens. Many people have beautiful gardens but don’t have time to enjoy them, not least because they have to use their downtime to do the gardening. Whatever the reason for somebody needing a gardener, could you be the one to help out?

Tasks you can expect to complete including weeding, pruning, mowing, lawncare, planting and various other garden maintenance activities. You’ll need to be relatively fit and prepared to work outside in sometimes difficult conditions.

It’s possible to study horticulture and having a relevant qualification would surely be beneficial, but most basic gardening tasks can be carried out by anyone with a rudimentary understanding of the difference between plants and weeds. Some experience wouldn’t go amiss when it comes to more advanced tasks, such as fertilising the lawn, as it’s surprisingly easy to turn the entire thing yellow if you don’t know what you’re doing.

Investment in equipment will be necessary – for example, a petrol mower and heavy-duty strimmer – but some customers will be happy for you to use their garden tools If you are looking for a more serious approach, consider buying a tree service franchise.”

Some general advice

Make sure the tax authorities are aware that you’re now self-employed, as you’ll have to begin filing returns. You’re on a low budget so you’ll be keeping your own books by recording income and expenses in a spreadsheet, or if you can spare the funds you may wish to invest in online accounting software.

Most of the business ideas above depend on a local client base. Leaflets can be printed cheaply and delivered when you have a spare hour or two, and Facebook Ads are a perfect way to target people based on their demographic profile and geographic location. Setting up a Facebook business page and other social media profiles will allow you to engage directly with prospective customers.

The key to success is to focus on customer satisfaction – a high quality service will sell itself, and there’s no marketing strategy so effective as your own customers advocating on your behalf!