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Franchise 500

The 6 Cheapest Franchises on the Entrepreneur Franchise 500 List

Six inexpensive franchises you can buy for less than $5,000.
Entrepreneur Staff
Associate Editor, Contributed Content
5 min read

Starting a business isn't cheap. You have to worry about all sorts of costs, from finding a location and hiring employees to more mundane things like buying supplies and paying bills. If you're looking to start a fast-food restaurant like McDonald's, you may need more than seven figures just to get started. If you want to own your own hotel, you could need $30 million.

But, not every business comes with such a heavy price tag. Not every franchise has the same requirements to be successful.

These six companies offer local, home-based franchises you can take advantage of to get started and make bank. 

Start the slideshow to read about the six most affordable franchises from the Entrepreneur Franchise 500, or click here to see the full list of our available franchises.

The 6 Cheapest Franchises on the Entrepreneur Franchise 500 List

Cruise Planners

Cruise Planners franchisees work as home-based travel agents, selling full-service travel packages as well as cruises, travel insurance and car rentals. The company's low cost has helped it grow massively over the past decade, going from 766 U.S. franchises in 2008 to 2,565 units in 2017.

Cruise Planners is currently ranked 60th on the Entrepreneur Franchise 500.

  • CEO: Michelle Fee
  • Business headquarters: Coral Springs, Fla.
  • Franchising since: 1999
  • Initial investment: $2,295 to $23,367
  • Initial franchise fee: $695 to $10,995
  • New units in 2017: 132 units (5.4 percent)
  • Training: Ongoing training on the job, 42 hours in the classroom
  • Marketing support: Co-op advertising, ad templates, national media, regional advertising, social media, SEO, website development, email marketing

Related: The 5 Best Pizza Franchises You Can Start Today

The 6 Cheapest Franchises on the Entrepreneur Franchise 500 List

Buildingstars

Buildingstars is a commercial cleaning company founded in 1994, and at a minimum investment of just $2,245, it's very affordable. That $2,000 investment will make you what Buildingstars calls a "technician," or someone who runs a part-time cleaning business while keeping the flexibility to work another job. So, if you're just taking the first steps toward entrepreneurship, Buildingstars (ranked 199th on the Entrepreneur Franchise 500) might be right for you.

  • CEO: Chris Blase
  • Business headquarters: Maryland Heights, Mo.
  • Franchising since: 2000
  • Initial investment: $2,245 to $53,200
  • Initial franchise fee: $995 to $46,995
  • New units in 2017: 53 units (7.8 percent)
  • Training: 1 to 5 hours on the job, 3 to 16 hours in the classroom

Related: The Top 10 Best Franchises to Open in 2019

The 6 Cheapest Franchises on the Entrepreneur Franchise 500 List

Dream Vacations

Dream Vacations is ranked 101 on the Entrepreneur Franchise 500. That means it's ahead in the rankings of major brands like InterContinental Hotels and Resorts. Speaking of which, an InterContinental Hotel can sell for as much as $102.9 million -- over 31,000 times more than a Dream Vacations.

  • CEO: Brad Tolkin
  • Business headquarters: Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
  • Franchising since: 1992
  • Initial investment: $3,245 to $21,850
  • Initial franchise fee: $495 to $9,800
  • New units in 2017: 29 units (2.7 percent)
  • Training: 45 hours in the classroom
  • Marketing support: Co-op advertising, ad templates, national media, regional advertising, social media, website development, email marketing, loyalty program/app
The 6 Cheapest Franchises on the Entrepreneur Franchise 500 List

Stratus Building Solutions

Stratus Building Solutions (No. 42 on the Franchise 500) is a cleaning service for commercial buildings like office buildings, shopping centers and more.

Like many of the companies on this list, Stratus has two different types of franchises available: unit and regional master. A regional master office oversees several smaller units, hence the big difference in possible investment cost. However, you can start a Stratus unit franchise with a net worth of as little as $5,000.

  • CEO: Afshin Cangarlu
  • Business headquarters: North Hollywood, Calif.
  • Franchising since: 2006
  • Initial investment: $4,350 to $72,850
  • Initial franchise fee: $3,600 to $61,200
  • New units in 2017: 91 units (7.4 percent)
  • Training: 6.5 hours on the job, 11.5 hours in the classroom
  • Marketing support: Ad templates, national media, regional advertising, social media, SEO, website development, email marketing
  • Related: Krispy Kreme Vs. Dunkin' Donuts: Which Is the Better Franchise Investment for You?
The 6 Cheapest Franchises on the Entrepreneur Franchise 500 List

Jazzercise

Jazzercise is ranked 94 on the Entrepreneur Franchise 500. The female-focused fitness franchise was founded in 1969 and started franchising in 1982 -- longer than any other entrance on this list. However, the company is still growing in units -- 2017 represented a 10 year high with over 9,000 locations.

  • CEO: Judi Sheppard Missett
  • Business headquarters: Carlsbad, Calif.
  • Franchising since: 1982
  • Initial investment: $2,405 to $17,155
  • Initial franchise fee: $1,250
  • New units in 2017: 199 units (2.2 percent)
  • Training: Ongoing, self-directed training on the job
  • Marketing support: Co-op advertising, ad templates, regional advertising, social media, SEO, website development, email marketing
The 6 Cheapest Franchises on the Entrepreneur Franchise 500 List

Jan-Pro

At No. 39 on the Entrepreneur Franchise 500 list, Jan-Pro is the highest-ranked franchise in this slideshow. The commercial cleaning company is also one of the most expensive entries here -- though that isn't saying a whole lot, considering the initial franchise fee can go for as little as $2,520 and the initial investment can be less than $4,000. 

If you like to clean and you could use a little extra income, a Jan-Pro unit franchise might make sense for you.

  • CEO: Eddie Curry
  • Business headquarters: Alpharetta, Ga.
  • Franchising since: 1992
  • Initial investment: $4,170 to $54,700
  • Initial franchise fee: $2,520 to $44,000
  • New units in 2017: 262 units (3.2 percent)
  • Training: 4 hours on the job, 15 hours in the classroom
  • Marketing support: National media

Related: 24 Top-Ranked, Affordable Franchises You Can Buy for $25,000 or Less

  • The 6 Cheapest Franchises on the Entrepreneur Franchise 500 List
  • Cruise Planners
  • Buildingstars
  • Dream Vacations
  • Stratus Building Solutions
  • Jazzercise
  • Jan-Pro
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