9 low-cost business ideas that make money
1. Start a dropshipping business
Buy stock, store it, pick it, pack it, ship it. Managing inventory is a big commitment when you’re running a business.
Dropshipping is an easy business to start and the first of our good business ideas. Dropshipping is a fulfillment model where a third-party supplier stores and ships products to customers on your behalf. It’s one of the best businesses to start because it’s low overhead, hands-off, and scalable.
You don’t need to handle any products yourself—you just need to make the sales and pass orders on to your supplier (local or overseas). In fact, it’s one of the quickest and cheapest businesses to start.
You can choose products to sell and advertise. Place them on a selling site and away you go. Although, you do not need to worry about holding stock or delivering; you are responsible for advertising and customer service.
Make sure you always order a sample for yourself to make sure your supplier is reliable and that the quality of the products is fit for selling to your customers.
2. Print-on-demand products
Another dropshipping model, print on demand puts inventory, shipping, and fulfillment in the hands of a third-party supplier. But unlike the dropshipping idea above, here the idea is on customizing products with your own designs to create something original.
T-shirts, hats, phone cases, hoodies, skirts, tote bags, and more become canvases for your creativity. You can think up witty slogans for developers or references that resonate with cat owners etc
With print-on-demand services, you usually pay per product, so the base price per unit is more expensive than if you were to order in bulk. But the advantage is that if a certain t-shirt design doesn’t sell, you haven’t actually paid for the item yet (only the design, if you outsourced it).
Again it is prudent to get samples from your suppliers to check the quality
Sell print-on-demand posters, greeting cards, and prints
If you’re artistically inclined or know your way around a camera, you can dropship using a print-on-demand business model to let others physically own a piece of your work. Remember to make sure you own the rights to your work.
Depending on the print company you work with, you can turn your work into products such as framed wall art, posters, or even greeting cards. There are plenty of digital templates and mockup generators like Placeit you can use to show your products.
3. Write a book
Cookbooks, picture books, comic books, poetry books, photo books, coffee table books, novels, and even ebooks—if you’ve got the knowledge or creativity, there are a variety of original books you can bring to the market. The options are endless—that’s why it’s one of the best businesses to start.
Print-on-demand publishing is a relatively safe way to test the waters and get started with self-publishing. It also gives you control over the quality and layout of your book.
Costs will be cheaper if you buy the book in bulk but you can purchase them individually. Consider crowdfunding or pre-selling your book idea to ensure there’s demand, and guarantee a certain number of sales so you can feel confident making a bulk order.
4. Create digital products or online courses
Digital products like music, courses, and templates are a little different from the other business ideas here.
Unlike the others, they’re not tangible. There aren’t recurring costs to worry about, so your margins can remain high, making it another great business start-up idea.
5. Sell a service
Offering services isn’t passive, but it can certainly be a lucrative way to gain self-employment. With services-based small business ideas, “time” is your inventory and your biggest investment. You’ve only got a limited supply of hours in your day. However, that makes it easier to get up and running if you’ve got skills that are in demand.
Writers, graphic designers, virtual assistants, SEO consultants, cleaning service providers, dog walkers, real estate professionals, and more can build a business around their skills.
It’s one of the best business opportunities because it can be expanded easily.
You can also offer your services through a freelance marketplace like Upwork to increase your chances of getting discovered by the people who need your skills.
6. Get an audience
- Becoming an influencer
- Sponsored posts on behalf of brands
- Selling physical or digital products (via any of the ideas on this list)
- A combination of the above (they’re not mutually exclusive)
Taking an audience-first approach to your small business idea means you’re playing the long game (it might be months until you’ve figured it out).
7. Start a charitable business
Having a mission to go along with a business, and setting aside some profit for a cause, gives social entrepreneurs a unique way to position their company in the market while addressing the issues they care about most. You could support this by blogging about how the money is used.
This could work for any of the business models outlined in this list.
8. Online boutique/shop
If you love fashion, you can consider creating your own online fashion shop. You don't have to design your own items you can incorporate other's products. Search for product sourcing apps and take it from there.
If you’re a maker—whether you DIY soap, candles, sauces, or pottery—you’re in a unique position to find an online business idea, because product development and procurement are literally in your hands.
Here you will have to think about shipping etc You can sell your items on sites like Etsy, Ebay, Amazon, or Shopify
Look out for any regulations in your product category, especially for anything customers will eat, inhale, or put on their skin.
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