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10 Best Small-Business Ideas With Low Overhead Costs


Starting a business can be a multimillionaire-dollar proposition that requires rounds of massive fundraising and the issuance of stock to investors. But there are plenty of types of small businesses that entrepreneurs can begin with little-to-no funding, and few ongoing expenses as well. The key is to understand the type of business you’re running and know where you can get customers before you even start.


  • Average blogger pay: $0 to start, up to $37,000 per year on average

Blogging is perhaps one of the easiest businesses to begin on your own, as all you have to do is start writing. Of course, the reality of turning a blogging hobby into a bona fide business is a bit more complicated, but in terms of barriers to entry, there are effectively none. To become a successful blogger, however, you’ll have to set up an attractive website, market it to new users, and, of course, be proficient at writing and knowledgeable of your topic. In terms of cost, however, starting a blogging business is one of the most affordable options you can find. Although many bloggers don’t earn much, highly popular ones can earn in the six digits.

Private Chef

  • Average personal chef salary: $93,388

It might not cost much money to start a business as a private chef, but it does take serious skills. However, if you’ve been trained in the industry and either find yourself out of work or simply want to go out on your own, you can generate a lucrative salary without spending a dime on anything other than marketing. Private chefs are often hired on a word-of-mouth basis, so developing a presence in the industry is usually a good first step before starting your own business.

At-Home Bookkeeper

  • Average at-home bookkeeper pay: $28/hour, or about $58,536 per year

If you’re proficient at bookkeeping, you have the skills to start a successful business without ever leaving your home. Every company needs to keep accurate books, and many businesses outsource this work rather than paying for expensive in-house support. With the right software, a good computer and a solid internet connection, you can be up and working with minimal expense. 

Etsy Creator

  • Average craft and fine artist pay: $23.62 per hour, or about $49,120 per year

If you’re a creative tradesperson, sites like Etsy and Ebay offer exposure to huge markets that you could not access before the age of the internet. While Ebay is a more diverse site with a larger audience, Etsy is a more niche marketplace that primarily highlights individual, creative, vintage or handmade products. But you can tap Etsy and other online sites to sell products you manufacture at home on your own, with little-to-no startup costs.


  • Average salary of a consultant: $94,000 per year, though this can vary wildly

The term “consultant” covers a broad range of disciplines, but if you’ve got specialized knowledge about a particular field or business, companies likely want to talk to you. From the comfort of your own home, with nothing more than a smartphone and/or a computer, you can offer your advice to businesses around the globe, often for a hefty annual fee.

Design Services

  • Average salary of an interior designer: $51,825

A wide range of design services are best done using computer software. If you’re a designer, this means you can easily work from home using the computer you likely already own. You may want to invest in some design software, particularly if you are an interior designer or plan to present graphic images to your clients, but beyond this, your startup costs are low. The real challenge in being a successful work-from-home designer is the ability to build a reputation in the industry, as that is the key to developing new clients.

Tutor/Music Teacher

  • Average earnings of a tutor or private teacher: $48 per hour, can vary widely between $20 and $100

Once you’ve acquired the skills and talents to be a tutor or a music teacher, your ongoing costs should be quite low. Typically, students will bring their own computers or musical instruments to lessons, which you can even hold at your own house if you want to keep travel costs down. You’ll likely want to get some business cards and do some marketing, but beyond the cost of acquiring students, you shouldn’t expect to pay too much to start this type of business.

Personal Trainer

  • Average salary of a personal trainer: $63,673, can vary widely

If you’re into fitness, starting your own personal training business could be a win-win situation for you. Not only will you enjoy the satisfaction of helping your clients to keep active, but you’ll also be paid for conducting your own personal workouts as well. Unlike some of the other businesses on this list, becoming a personal trainer can carry some higher startup costs, as you’ll likely have to purchase some equipment, rent out a training space and acquire various certifications. But your costs will still be much lower than those for manufacturing or production companies, which require facilities, inventory, raw materials and extensive staffing.


  • Average pay for a notary: $56,000

If you want to do business as a notary, you’ll have to meet some legal requirements before you can start. For example, you’ll need to be trained, licensed, bonded, insured and fingerprinted, and you’ll have to invest in a notary seal. But beyond the few hundred dollars or so that are usually required, the only additional costs are typically marketing and transportation. Notary pay varies based on the number of clients you can reach and the state in which you reside, but it can be quite lucrative for a relatively small investment.

Wedding Planning Services

  • Average salary of a wedding planner: $41,653

When couples are planning a wedding, the sky is often the limit when it comes to how much they’re willing to spend. If you have a knack for providing all the services a couple might want at a less-than-expected price, you might have the skills to run your own wedding planning company. Relationships with venues, distributors and suppliers are the key to success in this business, but in terms of startup costs as an entrepreneur, you may only need a phone, a computer and a vehicle, assets you likely already have.

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