10 Small Businesses You Can Start With Less Than $1,000

© Patrick Brassat/shutterstock
© Patrick Brassat/shutterstock

Starting a small business doesn’t have to cost a fortune, even if it can potentially earn thousands in revenue. Here are 10 businesses, online and traditional, that require less than $1,000 to start and even less to run.


  • Start-up costs: $0 to $700
  • Tools and equipment: laptop, high-speed Internet, word processor

Private tutors are in demand through all education levels, subjects, and ages. Students preparing for college entrance exams, second-language learners, and children struggling with reading comprehension are just a few of the types of clients private tutors work with, and parents, adult learners, and college students are willing to pay upward of $50 an hour for the help. Luckily, most of the equipment needed to begin a tutoring business includes regular household items, such as a working computer and high-speed Internet. Private tutors also need reference books, such as a dictionary, thesaurus, or style guide. All of the necessary materials, including a computer, can be bought for less than $1,000. There are no special credentials or licenses required to begin tutoring services; a thorough knowledge of a field and basic tutoring skills are all that’s needed.


  • Start-up costs: depends on the state and existing credentials
  • Tools and equipment: reliable transportation, website, working cellphone

Most anyone with solid, reliable transportation and experience caring for people with disabilities or the elderly could start a lucrative in-home companionship business. In-home companions provide nonmedical services and care to those needing help with daily activities. An in-home care business can be started with $1,000 or less, with initial costs potentially earned back in a month or two. Depending on the location and credentials, in-home companions can earn $9 to $30 an hour. CPR, First Aid, or defibrillator certification provides clients and their primary caretakers with a sense of security and can boost an in-home companion’s marketability. The American Red Cross, community colleges, and other training centers offer these courses, which can cost less than $100. In addition to the suggested certifications, licensure may be required, depending on the state. All in all, certifications, licensure, and marketing efforts can total less than $1,000.


  • Start-up costs: $0 to $700
  • Tools and equipment: fitness apparel, transportation, certification, liability insurance

Personal fitness trainers work with a wide range of clients, from people battling obesity to prospective brides and grooms getting ready for their wedding. Personal trainers are in high demand, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts this field will continue to grow through at least 2022. Technically speaking, there are no major requirements to start a personal fitness business, although having a certification, such as an ACE Personal Trainer Certification from the American Council on Exercise, could increase a noncertified trainer’s client base and hourly rate. The ACE’s standard personal fitness trainer course starts at $599, which includes materials. With some personal trainers charging up to $100 an hour, they could earn in one day what they spend on start-up costs. Other than a certification, personal trainers will need appropriate fitness apparel and reliable transportation. Some trainers opt to have liability insurance, which covers some or all of the costs of at-fault injuries.


  • Start-up costs: $0 to $1,000
  • Tools and equipment: computer, camera, website/online portfolio, business license, tax license

Thankfully, expert photographers attest that a good picture is the result of skill, not an expensive camera. Several photographers have won awards for photos taken with a smartphone. But a basic DSLR, or digital single-lens reflex, camera is the type of camera that will most likely be needed to capture money-making moments, and eBay carries top-brand DSLR cameras for less than $500.

A used camera will be even cheaper and still get the job done, leaving money for the necessary lenses to fit the camera body as well as for photography courses. Many photographers take advantage of free social media websites to showcase their work, including Facebook and Instagram, or make their own sites with free services such as WordPress.

Specialty photographers sell their pictures online, at art fairs, or at flea markets. Stock photographs are gaining popularity as online businesses and ecommerce continues to expand. The website Stock Photo Secrets lists the latest photography trends in stock photography. Depending on the home state, a professional photographer may be required to have a sales tax license and a business license.


  • Start-up costs: $0 to $700
  • Tools and equipment: laptop, recording device, translation software

Initial costs for independent translator businesses are low, especially for those fluent in two or more languages and who don’t need additional training. The basic equipment to start professional translation services are just a computer and word processor to type documents, a recording device (these days, that’s often a smartphone), and software that speeds up the most repetitive parts of the job. With an increase in competition from software, it helps for translators to have a specialty, such as in the health fields, and certification. Several agencies offer certification, including the American Translators Association. That might cost $300, but in 2012, the average translator earned nearly $48,000 a year.


  • Start-up costs: $20 to $100
  • Tools and equipment: high-speed Internet access, laptop, jewelry kit, online store

Unique or custom jewelry is a top-trending and top-selling item online. Etsy, an online marketplace for unconventional products, lists jewelry as one of its most sold items, and it is just one of several, along with Shopify, Storenvy, and Bigcartel, where people can capitalize on their creativity. Artisans should research which ecommerce system will work best for their needs; for instance, at Etsy, probably the best-known name for starting an online boutique, there are no start-up costs, but the site charges to post an item, collects a percentage of the final sale, and has limitations on the number and styles of listings.


  • Start-up costs: $0 to $500
  • Tools and equipment: computer, marketing experience, writing skills, search engine optimization knowledge

Social media marketing strategists use their knowledge of social media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter, to increase companies’ presence and revenue. With the proper knowledge and technical savvy, social media experts can build a client base and make money without having to spend too much. In fact, web-savvy people can start a social media marketing consultancy with minimal equipment. With a computer and reliable Internet access, the only other thing needed is skill: marketing experience, writing skills, search engine optimization knowledge, and a knack for social media.

Once equipped, an entrepreneur can begin reaching out to potential clients, including family, friends, and businesses with a low social media or Internet presence.


  • Start-up costs: cost of software, website, cost to print fliers
  • Tools and equipment: a word processor, such as Microsoft Word, additional proofreading software

Becoming a professional proofreader doesn’t require a lot in equipment or start-up costs. For people with an eye for detail, knowledge of one or more style guides, and the ability to withstand looking at the same document for long periods, professional proofreading can be rewarding and profitable. There are, however, more people seeking proofreading gigs than there are gigs. To gain an advantage over the competition, a proofreader should likely spend most of their start-up costs on marketing efforts, including, if free options aren’t robust enough, paying a designer to create a website showcasing a professional portfolio. Print and display fliers may also be necessary — and even ad space in a newspaper.


  • Start up costs: $20 to $1,000
  • Tools and equipment: varies according to the project, but can include a drill, saw, tape, paint, levels, measuring tape

The great thing about starting a small furniture repurposing business is the relatively cheap initial costs. Most of the furniture, including chairs, end tables, and dressers, can be found near trash bins, on side streets, or in thrift stores. Family and friends are also good suppliers, as they may have unwanted furniture they are willing to sell cheap or give away.Home improvement and arts and crafts stores sell most of the tools needed to give old, dilapidated furniture a new look. A drill, tape, paint, paint brushes, sanding sheets, and other resources won’t total more than $1,000 for a first repurposing job. Hosting a weekly yard sale, creating an online shop, or setting up at a local flea market can help make hundreds or thousands of dollars off repurposed furniture.


  • Start-up costs: $500 to $1,000
  • Tools and equipment: varies according to the project, but can include a sewing machine, serger, measuring tape, ruler, and professional scissors.

Small-scale tailors don’t need a large space to mend or design clothes, and new tailors can create a small, functional office space within their own homes. What tailors don’t spend in retail space, they will spend on equipment, as professional-grade tools are required for quality work. High-quality sewing machines range in price from $200 to upward of $1,000. For basic sewing projects, a machine in the $200 to $500 range will suffice. If a market is saturated with tailors, newcomers need additional skills that set them apart. Specializing in wedding dresses, children’s clothes, or costumes can keep a new tailor ahead of the game in clients and revenue. Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores, Michaels, Creativebug and several other craft stores offer free or cheap courses on arts, crafts, and sewing.

Written by Tahirah Blanding of Cheapism

(Source: Cheapism)

3 thoughts on “10 Small Businesses You Can Start With Less Than $1,000

  1. Thoughtful piece – I loved the specifics – Does someone know if my business could possibly find a fillable 2014 Acord 25 version to fill out ?


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