You don’t need much money to start a business. In fact, with just $100 you can start a number of service businesses from pet sitting to tutoring.
Online businesses including virtual assistant services and eBay sales are also possibilities. You could even start a car parts or lawn care business for less than $100
In fact, there are even some million-dollar companies that started with less than this.
With that simple idea in mind, get out that $100 bill again and take a look at 25 more businesses for less than $100 you can start today . . .
Sure a studio would be nice for offering your yoga instruction, but as long as you know your stuff and have some space at home, you can start there. If you’re actively doing yoga, you probably already have a few extra floor mats, or you can ask clients to bring their own.
You can advertise on bulletin boards and purchase a small number of business cards to start. A free website at WordPress.com will keep marketing costs really low.
There is another way to offer your services, and you never have to meet a single client. You can put yoga instruction videos on YouTube and monetize them. Be aware that you need a lot of viewers to make any money though. This can be a stand-alone business or you can use your videos as a way to generate clients for live instruction.
Mobile Auto Detailing
Entrepreneur.com lumps mobile auto detailing into the “under $2,000” category for start-up costs, but you may be able to keep it to under $100. If you already have a canister vacuum cleaner and basic cleaning supplies, you need only a few additional tools and cleaners to start. Going to the client’s home or place of business to do the work keeps overhead low too.
CarsDirect.com says the average detailing job runs between $60 and $90, and up to $190 for premium service. Some auto detailers contract with used car dealers to clean incoming cars at a low rate, as long as they can do several cars at a time to make it time-efficient.
Most states have special laws regulating home-produced foods that are sold, or, more often, exempting them from many regulations until production volume reaches a certain level. You can Google “cottage food law” plus the name of your state to see what the rules are where you live.
The foods you can bake and sell are almost endless, but cookies are a popular choice. Missy Chase Lapine found her niche by sneaking healthy ingredients into cookies made for kids. Her book, “The Sneaky Chef,” became a bestseller, and according to the Huffington Post, her books and baking have her on track to make millions of dollars. Her initial investment: $39.
It isn’t easy to make money with a blog, but it also doesn’t cost much to try. A domain name can be had for $12, and basic hosting starts as low as $5 per month. Install any of the many free WordPress themes and you’re up and running.
There are many examples of bloggers who make over $100,000 annually by sharing quality content on topics ranging from personal finance to celebrity babies, writes Holly Reisem Hanna in The Work At Home Woman. Once you have built a following and an income, you can start hiring others to do the writing and editing. At that point, it might be time to start your next blog.
Publishing Kindle eBooks
What does it cost to self-publish a book on Amazon’s Kindle platform? Zero. What’s the potential from doing so? One example is Joe Konrath. His Kindle books made $100,000 in three weeks, and that was after traditional publishers had rejected them.
What else can you do with a free Kindle publisher account? You can also publish other people’s books. Learn to format these eBooks (it isn’t difficult) and friends with unpublished manuscripts will be thrilled to have you sell their books online. It’s up to you to negotiate how much of the 35 to 70 percent royalty you share with your author/clients.
Taking care of people’s homes while they’re gone can range from easy water-the-plants-daily gigs to caretaking for an extensive ranch property. And the pay can range from nothing but free accommodations to a full-time salary. In general, house sitting as a business is a low-pay service.
It is, however, inexpensive to start. There are numerous online platforms that connect you with clients, like House Sitters America or Nomador. Some offer a free limited membership, while you pay $30 to $50 annually to advertise your services on others.
For bigger profits, focus on areas where homes need seasonal caretaking, but not necessarily someone to live in them. For example, there are tens of thousands of empty homes in southern Florida from May through November, and there are empty cabins and second homes in resort areas of the north during the winter. Doing twice-weekly care-taking tasks for a few dozen of these could make for a decent business.
It used to be that if you wanted to sell hand-crafted birdhouses or Christmas wreaths you had to find a good craft show and pay hundreds of dollars to rent a spot. Online platforms like Etsy.com have changed that forever. You can open an account and set up a “shop” for free. For $0.20 you can list an item for sale for 4 months, and if it sells, you pay a fee of 3.5 percent of the sales price.
It isn’t clear how many Etsy.com shops make a living for their owners, but the potential is there. Alicia Shaffer tells the Mirror she makes almost $1 million annually with her shop, but she also has a crew of fifteen others making the craft clothing that she sells — not a bad goal to aim for.
If you can paint a wall, fix a toilet, build a fence, and have a decent set of tools, you can probably be a handyman. To start without investing much in marketing, sign up with a referral service like Home Advisor Pro. These are often free to join and take a fee only when they’ve sent a paying client to you.
According to Angie’s List the average rate for a handyman is $74 per hour. You might have to charge less than that to start or depending on the competition where you’re located.
In some states you have to be licensed to sell your services as a handyman, so check the rules before you start.
Have an idea or two for new apps? Start an app development company. You can learn the skills needed from a free app tutorial and even find free software online. According to Wired.com, you can make a top-selling app with $99 and a few hours of work using templates and recycled code.
If you really know nothing at all about coding, and aren’t willing to learn, there are 38,000 mobile developers on Elance.com who are ready to do the work for you. The catch there is that, even with $4-per-hour coders in the Philippines you’re likely to spend more than $100 to get started.
A quick look through the handmade jewelry on Etsy.com shows the potential for selling unique creations. One $89 wooden watch has over 500 favorable customer reviews!
While you might eventually invest hundreds or even thousands of dollars in tools and materials, you can start more simply. For example, try this: Buy interesting-looking foreign coins for 25 cents each at a coin shop and drill a hole in each. Put them on craft string and you’ve just made unique pendants.
Jewelry Making Classes
Some jewelry makers supplement their income by teaching others how to make their own earrings, bracelets and pendants. This can be a stand-alone business too, and can even be started at home. You can also offer free classes at craft stores (they benefit from the sales of supplies), and hand out cards to students who want your more-advanced classes.
Another way to offer classes is using an online platform like Udemy.com. If you’re already making jewelry and you have a video camera, you’re ready to start.
Garage Cleaning Service
Most people who have a garage need it cleaned … right now. You can offer your services at an hourly rate, but customers typically prefer to know the cost upfront, so consider offering to work for a set rate based on the size of the garage. If you aren’t making a decent profit for your time, raise the rate on the next job.
A quick look at the website of any company that does garage cleanup shows that added services might be where the profits are. Most offer extras like hauling junk away, as well as cleaning basements and attics.
Computer Setup and Help
People need help setting up and using their computers. To make your service affordable and still make a decent profit, find ways to make efficient use of your time. For example, perhaps target retirement communities where you can schedule several clients in one day in one place.
The Geek Squad charges $99 to set up a computer on-site. Charging a bit less than that might make for an easier sale. But aim to eventually set your prices at a rate that allows you to hire employees, which is the only way to grow your business beyond a certain level
If you like to work out and help others get in shape, a personal training business may be a natural for you. The easiest way to start is at a gym. Becomingatrainer.com says the arrangements can vary, and may start with “floor time,” for which you’ll receive as little as $8 to $15 per hour. But with commissions, they say, “On average full time personal trainers make about $50,000/year with potential to make upwards of $130,000/year.”
To grow your business, set aside some of that money. Then you’ll have to decide whether to start a gym or market your services to clients who have their own home equipment. The latter business model keeps costs lower, of course.
If you don’t have the experience to start a pet grooming business, let your competition pay you to get some. Find a job at a big box pet store. Just be sure you don’t have to sign a non-compete contract. Once you know what you’re doing, you can offer services from your home or go to clients’ homes.
Here’s what Angie’s List says about pet grooming prices:
“Pet groomers typically charge extra for additional services such as teeth cleaning, flea treatments and nail clipping. On average, expect to pay between $30 and $50 for standard grooming, and closer to $100 for additional services.”
There are no licensing requirements to be a life coach, so if you know your stuff you can start helping clients today. But it is a good idea to get certified, which can be accomplished through a number of online organizations for as little as a few hundred dollars (just Google “life coach certification”). Start without it if you want to keep this under $100.
A Forbes article suggests there are thousands of life coaches making six figures. To reach that level, it helps if you offer life-and-sales training and target large companies that need multiple staff members trained.
There are a number of ways to start small with used furniture sales. In fact, you can start with a single purchase of a nice table at a rummage sale. Sell it for a profit in a furniture consignment store or with a free Craigslist ad. Parlay that into the next two purchases and build from there.
Pay no more than a third of the expected sale price. This is especially important if you’re going to put your finds in consignment shops, since they’ll typically take a 40 to 50 percent commission.
Selling at you own rummage sales (if you have a good location) makes for higher profit margins. An inexpensive flea market space might be the next step. Once you’ve made money and proven your ability to find inventory, you can consider moving into a traditional retail space.
Some people hate putting together a resume. They may not even know how easy it is to use a free online resume builder. You can help them out — maybe even using that free software. Of course the real value you offer is making the resume compelling, so pay attention to the results your clients get, and refine your approach as necessary.
According to CostHelper.com, “Professionally written resumes range from about $80 to $349.” Adding “full-service packages,” (with thankyou letters and such) can run as high as $699, and salary-negotiation coaching can add thousands of dollars.
Senior Companion Service
Many seniors prefer to stay in their own homes, but still want companionship, as well as help with tasks like light housekeeping and meal preparation. This is work almost any caring person can do. Unless you have the necessary certifications and licensing, you cannot add health or medical care to your services.
Caring.com suggests that the rates for “elder companions” top out around $25 per hour, and can be as low as $10 per hour. In other words, this business has limited potential for expansion and profits from hiring employees. But it can cost close to nothing to start.
Of course, at some point you could get the certifications and licensing necessary to get into the more lucrative home health care field.
Some large boats are cleaned while in the water. To start with a minimum of equipment and materials, you don’t want that work. You want to offer your services to owners whose boats are sitting in driveways, yards, or storage facilities.
Use products like Bio-Kleen and other environmentally-friendly cleaners. Doing so might cost a bit more, but it can be an important part of your marketing strategy — and start you out on the right side of the trend.
There is a lot of money in cleaning boats, especially if you expand into other areas. According to the Washington Post, entrepreneur Jim Garland started with boats and cars and eventually moved on to an aircraft cleaning business that grosses $3.5 million per year.
Another option for low cost startup is as a website designer, Provided you have experience and the necessary tools. But even if you don’t have the html chops to create a site from scratch, you can still create sites using WordPress themes that you tweak a bit. Clients will love the appearance and the fact that their site uses the platform used by 48 of Technorati’s top 100 blogs.
Online surveys and reports suggest that the fee for building a website is often thousands of dollars, but varies widely. A simple site (three or four pages) can be built using WordPress in a day or two, so you could offer packages for much less than that to get started.
It’s not easy to figure out QuickBooks. Small business owners need help learning how to use this supposedly simple accounting software. If you know QuickBooks inside and out (or are willing to learn) you can make decent money providing that training.
The only service endorsed by Intuit (QuickBooks’ maker) charges $499 for a basic training course. You can set your rate higher or lower depending on whether you offer one-on-one training or teach several students at once.
You can offer your service directly to small businesses, but another option is to create a video course to teach people online. One QuickBooks course on Udemy.com has 2,974 students enrolled. Classes on this popular educational platform can sell for as little as $49 or as much as $399, depending on what’s offered.
Event planning runs the gamut from putting together birthday parties to arranging large corporate events involving dozens of display booths and/or vendors. Servicing the big clients is more profitable, of course, but small events make for an easier and less expensive way to get into the industry. For example, you might plan a wedding for a friend for a small fee, as a way to get a good testimonial and start building your reputation.
CostHelper.com says, “Hourly consultations with an event planner typically cost $40-$250 per hour.” Set fees for events range widely according to the size and complexity of the job.
In some states (Florida, for example), you don’t need a license to do basic bookkeeping (but you generally do need one to do audits or provide legal opinions). So, if you know your numbers you can start approaching small businesses to offer your services.
You may need a fair amount of software and other tools to offer full service, but if you already do some form of bookkeeping for your own business, you might already have what you need.
What should you charge? CostHelper.com says, “Hourly rates for an outside bookkeeping service run $20-$50 an hour, depending on complexity and location.” It’s also common to have a minimum fee of $100 to $150 per month.
If you’re fluent in more than one language, you can start a translation business for just about nothing, and do so from home. You can find clients by signing up with an online freelance site or directory. And, of course, call anyone you know who might refer business to you.
Proz.com has a page with average rates charged for translations, as reported by their freelance translators. For example, it shows that the average rate for German to English translation is $.012 per word, or $36.84 per hour.
As with many of the possibilities on this list, to move from owning a job (freelancing) to owning a business (which can keep growing) you’ll need to hire employees at some point.
For inspiration and specific ideas, do this little experiment: Google search terms (in quotations) like “started with $50,” “business was started with just,” or “I started my business with,” and look through the results. The latter search (at the moment) has as the first result a Forbes article titled, “How I Started My Business With $1.” Digging around in this way reveals many more ideas for businesses that can be started for under $100.
Do you have a low-cost start-up story to share, or any businesses for less than $100 you can start to add to this?
Yoga Instructor Photo via Shutterstock