14 Sep 2018

10 Business Ideas with Low Investment

More than ever, people are feeling the entrepreneurial ‘urge’ – and there are unprecedented opportunities for people to create businesses from their spare room or kitchen table.

52% of businesses registered in the UK are ran from the owners’ home (that’s 2.75 million of them!)

Many of these businesses require minimal up-front investment, which decreases their level of risk – and means there’s arguably never been a better time to start up a startup!

Of course, anything that’s worth doing comes with its share of challenges and difficulties. Starting any business requires a huge amount of discipline, sacrifice and hard work.

But if you’re willing to commit those things – and don’t have a huge amount of capital to invest to get up and running – this article’s for you. Here are 10 business ideas with low investment that you can start yourself:

1. Print on Demand Merchandise

Custom merchandise is a huge business opportunity. Customising products like t-shirts, hoodies, towels, phone cases and magnets with your own designs and slogans is a great way to tap into various audiences and interests that already exist.

Print-on-demand is different from traditional merchandising. Traditionally, you’d have to source products, order up-front and risk being stuck with leftover merchandise. With print-on-demand, your products are simply printed when your customers order them.

You can sell these products in your own online store:

Print-on-demand gives you flexibility to test out different designs on different products, without losing anything (except any design costs and promotional budget you spend promoting these products).

On top of that, the whole operation is easy and quick. You’ll find that most print-on-demand apps (like Kite.ly) will plugin to most major eCommerce platforms (like Shopify and BigCommerce), and you can be up and running in no time! Of course, the hard work lies in connecting these products with your audience – which is as rewarding and lucrative (yay!) as it is challenging and difficult (boo!)

For extra inspiration check out these Print-on-Demand success stories, and to get started, check out our free comprehensive guide, “The Complete Guide to Launching a Successful Custom Merchandise Startup”

2. Drop-shipping

Drop-shipping is a retail fulfillment method that doesn’t require you to hold any stock. As an alternative, the items are purchased from a third party, which then ships directly to your customer. In other words – you never see or handle the product, but you do see the benefits!

You get to skip a lot of steps in the process such as:

  • Managing and paying for a warehouse
  • Packing and shipping orders
  • Tracking inventory
  • Handling returns
  • Managing stock levels.

Many successful drop-shipping businesses are ran from people’s homes, and expenses are low, especially when you’re just starting out.

As you grow, expenses may increase, but that’s to be expected and they’ll most likely still be lower than traditional retail business outgoings.

22-33% of online retailers have adopted dropshipping as their primary business model – but

because dropshipping is so easy to do, the market has become increasingly crowded.d

So do your research; pick a product that has enough demand, with plenty of available suppliers – and check out your competition to see who else is operating in your niche.

Using Shopify and Oberlo is a good place to begin, for ease of use and setup. Oberlo has a range of products to choose from, all of which are available for dropshipping. The fact that these products are so readily available and easy to get started with, does, again, increase the crowdedness and competitiveness of the market. But if you’re looking for a solid foundation from which to start, this is definitely worth exploring.

3. Become an Influencer!

Now we don’t want to go all inspirational quote on you, but in this day and age it’s easier than ever to use your passion to make some money!

Hubspot describes an influencer as:

“Influencers are ordinary people who have earned a substantial loyal following because of their expertise and transparency. Unlike celebrities actively endorse products on their social media accounts, influencers achieved their fame because of the valuable information they share with their followers.”

Another crucial part of the definition of ‘influencers’ is that they exert influence on the purchasing decisions of those people who make up their audience. They offer unrivalled credibility, authenticity, and…well, influence!

The good news is that influencers are present in most industries and certainly on every social media platform.

Whether it’s blogging, vlogging, gaming, food, fashion, sports – or you’re just really funny on social media – there’s a place for you.

So create that content, do what you love and share your personality with an audience – everyone has to start somewhere.

75% of marketers allocate money from their budget to influencer marketing to some extent, so the demand is there! It’s worth taking a chance and allocating some of your spare time each week to focus on kickstarting your influencing.

It’s hard to find the most successful influencer in the UK, because what is it measured on? Net worth? Social media followers? YouTube subscribers? Their record breaking moments? How much press coverage they get?

But it just proves how much leverage there is for influencers- that it simply can’t be measured.

Here’s an example of a self made influencer ‘absolutely killing the game’ (FYI that’s something influencers say!)

Joe Wicks (@TheBodyCoach)

Now you wouldn’t be blamed for thinking ‘Joe Wicks isn’t an influencer, he’s famous?’ But that’s exactly what he is, and how he began his journey.

Now he’s a fully-fledged celebrity- but he didn’t just fall out of the sky, he built his following by becoming an Instagram sensation.

He combined his expertise in health and fitness, with a new diet concept, a catchy catchphrase and short, punchy videos! Then followers came in their masses!

Joe describes his following growing:

“I did it in my own style and it stood out. It just grew gradually; a couple of thousand a week, then 5,000 a month. I went on [Channel 4 show] Sunday Brunch and I got 20,000 new followers within an hour. A couple of magazine articles helped. It was all organic, just from consistent posting.” (PR Week)

Wicks now cashes in a massive £12 million a year, has released 5 books and has brand deals with Uncle Bens and Lucy Bee.

4. Freelancing

Let’s talk about skills. If you’ve got them – there’s a chance other people will pay for them! Freelancing is an interesting option for people looking to build a business around what they already do well.

Writing and design work are common ways to earn money on a freelance basis, and there are sites dedicated to helping you do so.

Peopleperhour is like social media but for freelancers, post your qualifications, work experience and availability and let the jobs come to you! (Although, be aware that a lot of people massively underprice their work to win projects – make sure you’re comfortable with the price you’re charging, and that you’re fairly compensated for your time.)

Before you start freelancing it’s a good idea to set some goals. For example how much work can you fit into a week? How much would you ideally like to earn a month from doing so? That way you can structure your time and workload to match your goals.

There are so many things out there that can help you in your quest to be a freelance work machine! One of those things is apps, in particular:

Boomerang will help you to stay on top of all your correspondences and you can schedule in emails, which is helpful if you’re in contact with lots of different clients.

Wunderlist is a fantastic planning app to help you to stay on top of your workload. You can also set reminders and collaborate with other people, all using the one app.

Benefits of freelancing include: being able to work from home, you can do it alongside your main job and gaining valuable, new work experience.

5. Courses/Learning

Online learning isn’t just a resource for your own self-development – if you have skills, knowledge or expertise, you can provide an elearning service yourself. This is a great way to help other people while building a residual revenue stream that works 24/7 for you.

5.8 million people are enrolled in online courses, so demand is high! With a competitive job market and the increasing cost of further education, online course are appealing to people as an accessible, cost effective and convenient way to develop their skills.

Everybody has their own specialities and the best way to learn is from other people, so – whatever your area of expertise – there’s something other people can learn from you!

Whether that’s what you do for a living or something you have experience in, you could create an online course for other people to use.

This could be to help them learn a new skill or a tutorial to help people understand a certain process.

Websites like teachable are a platform for you to easily create your course, package it up and create a website for it. Take a look through the most popular courses on teachable and similar sites – how is knowledge packaged? How are courses structured? Isolate your subject area, and then start breaking it down into chapters and modules. You’ll soon have the skeleton of a highly valuable online course.

Creating the content is likely to take longer, as it should – after all, the main gauge of success for your course will be how much value it adds to your learners. You can write the content yourself (we recommend using Grammarly, a free Chrome extension that helps improve your writing.) You might also want to include video content in your course; probably the easiest way to do this is by using software like Wistia Soapbox, a phenomenally simple video creation tool that allows you to film yourself, or record your screen, right within your browser.

The elearning market has been predicted to be worth $230 billion by 2023, so now is the time to take your cut!

6. Services

Turn the jobs you hate into a revenue stream! Cleaning, ironing, dog walking, house sitting are always jobs that other people are trying to pass off to someone else.

So take advantage of that demand, and provide those services yourself!

While it may sound like an old school, offline business model, there’s lots of ways to market and grow a service business online.

Using Facebook, for example, you can target people by their location and interests, so you can find people in your area who might need particular services in a couple of clicks!

First of all, you need to create a business page – if you don’t know how to do this, follow the steps here.

You then need to create yourself an ‘audience’ on Facebook Ads – these are the people you’ll be marketing to. You can create saved audiences, custom audiences, and lookalike audiences.

Saved Audiences allow you to target by interests, location, age, gender, used devices and income level etc.

You can create saved audiences both in the campaign setup phrase or in the audience manager – this is the easiest type of audience to set up and a great way to target people who may be interested in your services.

Choose and fill out your choices in the form, choosing as many or few as you want.

Custom Audiences are more specific. Here, you can target users based on their engagement with a website, fan page, or app. These may be less useful at the start of your business, since, even if you do have a website up and running, you probably don’t have a great deal of traffic. Finally, Lookalike Audiences let you reach the people who are similar to your custom audiences.

It may seem a little complicated, but once you have cracked it, your business will reap the benefits from your effort.

Alongside Facebook targeting, make sure to use appropriate hashtags when posting, so when people search those terms, you pop straight up on the results!

You can also use the site Task Rabbit to get yourself started off – you can advertise your services to people in your local area, and they can contact you really easily.

7. Virtual assistant

A virtual assistant may not sound very glamorous, but if you’ve worked in an office before, this may be the freedom you’ve always been looking for!

Most virtual assistants are contract or freelance workers who do their jobs from home. But what differentiates a virtual assistant to the more common freelancer is they concentrate on administrative tasks similar to those of an executive assistant or secretary.

You need to be prepared to be your own boss, manage your time, get yourself motivated and stay focussed.

Skills that people want in virtual assistants include data entry, making phone calls, email correspondence, scheduling appointments, bookkeeping, accounting, internet research, copywriting, editing and marketing.

Sign up for resources to help you find jobs that are posted for virtual assistants such as UpWork, they have a huge amount of clients looking for virtual Assistants and it’s a great place to start!

For more information or advice on becoming a virtual assistant, check out The VA Handbook by Joanne Munros.

8. Voiceover work

Got a unique voice or a passion for acting? Voiceover work could be for you!

This could be the most expensive to start of all the business ideas on here, but once you’ve got a set up, what you reap could be amazing.

To even be on the radar for voiceover work, you’re going to need a demo! To have a good voice over work demo, it’s going to need to be varied, try to get a range of samples in. We are talking about commercial, radio, audiobooks, and instructional etc.

Then you’re going to need a home studio, you can start small and upgrade as time goes on, to begin you’ll need:

  • A quiet space
  • Soundproofing
  • Microphone
  • Mixer
  • Firewire cable
  • Computer
  • Recording software

**Remember that soundproofing the space that you record in will be just as important as your equipment! You may think you’re surrounded by silence, but your ears work very differently to a microphone, which will pick up everything!!**

For recommendations on the best microphones for voiceover artists check out Pro Tools blog What is the Voiceover Microphone Everyone Should Own?

Once you have you your setup and have a great demo, you’ve got to get yourself out there!

Start by looking on sites especially looking for talent, for example, Backstage has listings for a variety of voiceover work.

For some extra leverage, try your local radio stations, hospital radio or upload snippets to your social media. These opportunities can be a ‘foot in the door’ leading to more opportunities in future.

9. Homemade Crafts

Homemade crafts aren’t just for kids and teachers; we’re talking about more than just paper mache and pasta necklaces!

The popularity of sites like Etsy and notonthehighstreet have catapulted homemade items into mammoth success.

For example, ‘quirky gifts’ is a keyword that is searched on search engines 90,500 times a month – creating a valuable opportunity.

You can set up on Etsy and notonthehighstreet for a small listing and transaction fee and quickly be on your way to earning money.

An important thing to get right when it comes to this business idea, is how you present your goods! So beautiful photographs and quirky product descriptions are the way to go. To learn how to setup your photos to sell more products, read our blog Building a Product Photography Setup to Sell More Merch.

Get your friends and family to post about your items to spread the word organically, or if you’re feeling extra ambitious send some samples to local bloggers or influencers and ask them to review.

10. Baking & Confectionery Business From Home

Running a business from home has never been easier, you can set up a business purely from your social media channels.

Remember when your Grandma taught you how to bake a cake? It’s going to come in handy now!

A trend that has become increasingly popular is baking and confectionery sold via Facebook and Instagram.

In a lot of ways running a cake or confectionery business from home is like managing the daily and duties and task of a actual busy bakery. It will be hard work, time consuming and there will be an element of trial and error at first!

Chances are you’ll have basic baking equipment at home already, but to run a business with multiple orders, it’s going to need a bit of an upgrade!

The good news is, most budget stores stock a wide array of baking equipment and supplies, so it’s not going to break the bank. They key is to be prepared, so buy ingredients in bulk (you don’t want to be half way through a cake and run out of flour!) and utilize online stores such as Cake Stuff and eBay for your packaging.

Developing an online presence is key to getting started, people shop with their eyes, so a beautiful newsfeed is a necessity, post EVERYTHING that you bake, make cakes that are trendy and get those clickbait likes!

It’s recommended that you give yourself 1-3 months of creating and sharing high quality content, and then hopefully you’ll see results.

You don’t have to pay for ads on social media, but if you’ve got the budget, then why not? To learn more on how to do this read our ebook (ebook link)

**Extra tip**

Your business will very much rely on being visible to the people local to you, so it’s a good idea to donate cakes to charity raffles or local events to get your name out there.


With all of the business ideas above, you’ve got to remember the old saying-it’s a marathon not a sprint!

It may seem daunting at first to get going with the business ideas above, but by doing so, you’re giving yourself a newfound level of freedom while doing something that could feed your passions.

The internet has made it possible for you to brush up on skillsets or even learn new ones- thus giving you the opportunity to start a business easily and cheaply.

So what are you waiting for?

To learn more, check out our comprehensive guide, ‘A Complete Guide to Launching a Successful Custom Merch Startup’. This guide gives you a specific, step-by-step roadmap to launching your own business right now 🙂

Use the Kite Shopify Merch plugin to set up a low investment business selling print on demand merchandise

eCommerce Merch Plugin