25 Brilliant Small Business Ideas
Once upon a time, if you wanted to start your own business, you had to grovel to your bank manager, have something extraordinary to sell and then try to persuade real people to buy it.
That was before email, the internet, CRM software, marketing automation, social media and all the other modern technology that now dominates our lives.
Today, all you need for a successful and cheap small business is a decent idea and an internet connection.
So, what are the best small business ideas with low investment?
1. Bookkeeping services
If you fancy running a small business from home and you’re good with numbers, how about bookkeeping services? You don’t even need to be qualified. Check out some free-to-use accountancy packages such as cloud-based Wave Accounting or open-source GnuCash.
2. Virtual assistant
Perhaps not the most glamorous of assignments, but quite lucrative. Get your clients through sites such as Upwork. Choose clients, rates, and the hours that work for you.
3. Social media consultant
Know your way around Facebook and Instagram? Twitter and Google can offer you complete professional courses with recognised certifications. The expansion is almost limitless.
4. Marketing affiliate
Fancy bringing in money for doing absolutely nothing? That’s kind of how affiliate marketing works. You earn commission by promoting somebody else’s products and services. For this to work, you’ll need a blog or website with good visitor statistics. That’s the tricky part.
5. Product tester and professional reviewer
Small businesses and startups are always on the lookout for test-drivers who can review their products and entice others to buy them. Get started by placing a profile on freelancing websites or get in touch directly with businesses. Offer to become an ‘influencer’ by leaving a review in exchange for money. Alternatively, build a website or blog and review products there.
6. Secretarial services
Pretty similar to being a virtual assistant, remote secretarial services require you to book meetings, organise calendars, reply to emails, assemble presentations and answer phone calls. If you’re well-organised with excellent communication skills and reasonably self-driven, this could be the opportunity for you.
7. eBay affiliate
This job is a bit like our old friend the marketing affiliate, except that you’ll need to work hard to get your money. You’ll be selling other people’s stuff on eBay and taking a commission.
In theory, great. In practice, there are plenty of scammers out there, and you could be responsible if a customer doesn’t receive their item. Make sure to keep your payments in your e-wallet until you’re sure the customer has got their parcel.
8. App developer
OK, so a little bit of technical knowledge required here, but this is the market of the future. New apps come out every day, and you won’t need to invest much money to get started. Create your app (in the garden or on the beach if you like), come up with a decent marketing strategy and you’ll be coining it in.
9. Business plan designer
A what? Yes, you can be paid to design business plans. There are plenty of people out there with great ideas but no clue how to present their concepts on paper in a way that appeals to potential investors. This profession could be a great option if you’ve owned your own business or have an MBA-type qualification.
10. Freelance copywriter
Every organisation needs words and you could be the one to provide them. If you can write and know how to present a sales pitch, you could charge a high rate while working at the coffee shop, the garden or even the beach. Get started with a website and online portfolio. No portfolio? Create one by working for free then showcasing your work.
11. Blogger and vlogger
Ever heard of Zoella and Fleur de Force? They’ve made millions blogging and vlogging (making videos) about beauty. You don’t need to write or talk about beauty. Pick something that interests you – sport, crochet, app development – promote your site on social media, then make cash through selling advertising space and reviewing products.
12. CV writer
Everybody wants a new job, don’t they? They won’t get one without a professionally written CV. If you can write well and have a good sense of what employers are looking for, you could earn good money preparing candidates’ CVs. Get started with a well-optimised website or promote yourself on social media.
13. Website flipper
People flip properties all the time, and you can do the same with online domains. Buy an existing website, improve it and sell it. You don’t even need development skills – you can farm that bit out. The key skill is in identifying websites with the right potential.
Fluent en français? Or in español? If foreign languages are your thing, translation is one of the easiest ways to make a buck or three online. You’ll have virtually no start-up costs, and you could make £50,000 a year or more.
15. Photography sales
Professional photographer or just a keen and competent snapper? You can profit from your pictures on photo-selling websites. To get started, you’ll need a digital SLR camera (at least 8 megapixels) and a computer. Establish yourself on GettyImages.com and Flickr.com, then flaunt your watermarked images on your website.
16. Meal planner
Health and nutrition are big news right now, and plenty of people want to improve their diet. But many of them don’t have a clue what they should be eating, much less how to prepare it. With your interest in cooking and nutrition, this is where you come in.
Meal planners create lists of ingredients and step-by-step recipes. You’ll also explain the nutritional value of your meals and — crucially — spell out how much money your clients could save by eating healthily.
17. E-commerce store
Your product is great, but you can’t afford an actual shop and staff. Welcome to e-commerce. Set yourself up online and enjoy endless marketing opportunities. Sell all over the planet 24/7, easily set up new promotions, cross-sell using social media and create marketing campaigns on Google.
18. Video producer
Today, everybody wants to be a YouTube celebrity. But very few of them have the skills to create high-quality video. If you can shoot, edit and upload professional videos, there are several tag-on markets open to you, including vlog editing, music videos, adverts and voiceovers.
19. Sustainability consultant
The pressure is on for businesses to do their bit for the planet. All kinds of organisations are looking to bring in greener practices, most of which cost an arm and a leg. With your ideas for a sustainable future, you’ll act as an advisor on how to alter business processes to be more eco-friendly without breaking the bank.
20. Travel planner
Many people have more disposable income than ever. They’re increasingly using it to travel. That should be easy these days with the numerous booking platforms available online. However, with flights, hotels, car rentals, activities and much more to compare, it can all be a little overwhelming.
If you’re well-organised, with an eye for a bargain, you could make a living as a travel planner to people who are cash-rich and time-poor. Just add a little surcharge for your expertise.
21. Dog walker
People with dogs and full-time jobs can’t get home to walk their pets during the day. That’s where you come in. You can charge up to £10 for a walk of up to an hour. But pick up several animals at once, and you’ve got the basis of a nice hourly rate a few times a day. You can supplement it with extra services such as training, grooming and dog-sitting. Make sure you invest in plenty of poo bags.
22. Home tutoring
Marvellous at mathematics, fluent in French or incredible at English? Maybe you’ve been a teacher but would like the flexibility to work from home and be around your family. You could tutor adults and children at your home or theirs and enjoy the setup costs of next to nothing. Note that you’ll need a current Disclosure and Barring Service check for working with minors.
23. IT trainer
The older generation hasn’t been brought up from birth with computers and the internet. But these silver surfers are as keen as anyone else to get the most out of their laptops and PCs.
If you know your way around basic software and hardware, you could set yourself up as a mobile IT trainer. Most folk won’t stretch you much beyond setting up the PC and learning how to send an email and use an internet browser.
24. Property manager
Here’s one that you can do in the sunny South of France with your feet up. Many Brits now have second homes or holiday homes, often in France or Spain. They can’t be there all the time, so those homes need looking after and preparing for guests. Grass needs to be cut, niggles need to be fixed, and you could be the one to do it. All while changing your lifestyle for the better.
25. Life coaching
Entrepreneurs are increasingly looking to mentorship through coaches to get them off the ground or onto the next level. If you’ve been successful in business or sport, or you’re a qualified psychologist, you can pass on your skills and expertise as a life coach. Set yourself up from home with little financial investment beyond a computer and you’re good to go.
Feeling inspired now? Most of these small-business ideas need very little in the way of startup costs beyond a decent computer, which you might already have. So get ready to change your job, change your thinking and change your life.