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20 Business Ideas You Can Start With Less Than $10,000 Want to be your own boss? Here are some low-cost business ideas to help you achieve your dream.

By Entrepreneur Staff

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Many of us dream of starting our own business, but sometimes a lack of funding or inspiration can get in the way. To help push aside those roadblocks, we've assembled proven low-cost business ideas that entrepreneurial-minded people have successfully launched -- both side and full-time hustles. See if any of these spark inspiration, then get to work!

Related: Want a Brilliant Business Idea? Wash the Dishes

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Business idea: Ride-sharing driver

Driving on your own time sounds like a great way to make extra money, and it can be, but be under no illusions: it is hard work. According to Nerd Wallet, "To make an annual income of $50,000, the average Uber driver needs to provide 60.21 rides each week, while those working for Lyft need to give 83.76 rides a week, and Sidecar drivers would have had to provide 72.03 rides in a week." Here are some of costs that come with this gig, as outlined by The Street:

• Gasoline
• Car maintenance and repair
• Parking
• Car payments
• Auto insurance
• Employer FICA contribution, aka the Self-Employment Tax (approximately 10% of income)
• Health insurance
• Retirement contributions
• Personal liability insurance

Bottom line? It can be a great way to make money, but success and your margins will depend greatly on location and your ability to keep yourself highly caffeinated.

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Business idea: Virtual assistant

To become a successful Virtual Assistant, all you really need to know is how to get things done. Horkey Handbook, a site dedicated to educating and connecting virtual assistants, lists these categories as areas that many companies, as well as individuals, look for extra help: customer support, website design, calendar management and travel arrangements, keyword research, bookkeeping, data entry, video and photo editing, and much more. How do you get started? Horkey Handbook (which also offers courses to get you started) offers this breakdown:

1. Choose your business structure.

2. Decide which services you'll offer your clients.

3. Decide on your pricing structure.

4. Launch your website and create your online presence.

5. Start pitching and networking.

6. Build relationships.

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Business idea: Daycare owner

According to GOBankingRates, if you have a home that meets all safety and zoning requirements, you can start a child care business for as little as $1,000, which you will need to obtain a license, proper insurance and your supplies. Depending on how many children you take in, newcomers can expect $1,000—$5,000 in monthly revenue.

Related: How to Hire the Right People for Your Child-Care Business

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Business idea: Real estate agent

While licensing requirements and associated costs can vary from state to state, an initial investment in the low thousands can put you on a path to massive earnings. Sure you won't start off on the level of the realtors you see on shows like Million Dollar Listing, but here's the thing, neither did they! Speaking to Entrepreneur, Josh Altman, one of the stars of Bravo's Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles, explained, "At the beginning of your career, you have to take whatever listing or client comes your way." But if you build off of one sale to the next, and if you have the drive that Altman and his brother have, you could end up with a business that sells on average $1 million of real estate a day.

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Business idea: Lawn care

Love being outside and getting exercise? A lawn care business will give you both of those things, and could grow you plenty of green with a small initial investment, says GOBankingRates. Depending on the size of your operation (are you a one-person band?) all you need is the equipment, a trailer to lug it around and any necessary insurance. An initial investment of $1,000 can yield a business that pulls in close to $5,000 a month.

Related: 5 Success Tips for Your Lawn Care Business

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Business idea: Direct mail

Direct mail is a form of marketing that involves mailing promotional material -- think flyers, advertisements, coupons and special offers. Town Money Saver is a monthly direct-mail advertising flyer distributed to homes and businesses. A franchise can be started for as low as $5,700. Check out this, and other opportunities on the Entrepreneur Franchise 500.

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Business idea: Photographer and videographer

There are a ton of ways to turn your photography hobby into an income generator: shooting for websites or publications, selling usage rights of your images, shooting events and teaching classes. In this field, equipment can be expensive, but there are great rental options like the peer-to-peer platform Sharegrid that can help get you started with minimal costs. And if you do own equipment? That same site can become a passive income generator for days you don't need your stuff.

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Business idea: Dog walker and pet sitter

An ideal business idea for anyone who is home-based and looking for a way to make some bucks while getting in some steps on their Fitbit. The only startup costs to anticipate are advertising, which can come in the way of free social media posts and cheap fliers hung up around your town. Other than that, all of really need is a love of animals, a healthy dose of energy and some baggies to collect your clients' dirty work!

Related: 9 Low-Cost Business Ideas for Animal Lovers

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Business idea: Personal trainer

Are you a gym rat? Put your knowledge and muscles to work! Becoming a certified personal trainer can range in cost from $400 to a few thousand dollars, depending on where you live, and you'll also need funds for advertising and liability insurance. In an article that appeared on Entrepreneur, John Romanelli, founder of the fitness website No Bad Reps, explained that personal training has the potential to generate revenue of $6,000 per month.

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Business idea: Commercial cleaning

Starting an outpost of the Buildingstars Int'l. Inc. commercial cleaning franchise can cost as low as $2,245. The operation also offers in-house financing to help cover the franchise fee, startup costs, equipment and accounts receivable services. Learn more about this opportunity and other by checking out the Entrepreneur Franchise 500.

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Business idea: Business services

Medium-sized businesses and large corporations need help with business documents, forms, promotional products, printing and other services. With an initial investment of approximately $5,000, you can own a Proforma franchise, which helps clients "select the best business forms, promotional products, multimedia and e-commerce solutions for their advertising and business needs," according to their listing on Entrepreneur's Franchise 500 list.

Related: The Top 7 Legal Documents for Every Startup

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Business idea: Personal shopper

Love to buy gifts? This might be the perfect business for you. The clientele for this industry ranges from wealthy business people who are pressed for time to corporations that hire personal shoppers to buy gifts for customers, prospects, partners, investors, employees, and executives. To get started (for under $2,000), we recommend using this handy resource: Start Your Own Personal Concierge Service: Your Step-By-Step Guide to Success.

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Business idea: Children’s party planner

The children's birthday party business is a multiple-million dollar industry. If you are a parent, you already know that on average Americans spend about $500 per shindig. If you think you have the personality and patience to command a room full of sugar-infuse kids, this could be a great business for you. There are two main ways to run a children's party service: 1. Operating a mobile service that throws a party at clients' locations and 2. Hosting parties from a rented space or reserved park. The book Start Your Own Kid-Focused Business offers the ins and outs of getting your own business off the ground, focusing on everything from insurance costs to food and beverages to throwing a great party that kids (and their parents) will never forget. Depending on the scope of the party, rates are usually in the $20 per guest zone, with higher rates for more specialized parties.

Related: 5 Reasons Why Kids Make Amazing Entrepreneurs

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Business idea: Home-based bakery

Between allergy concerns and the desire to have something that blows guests' minds, specialty cakes, cupcakes and cookies are in high demand. If you have a love for baking and a decent oven, you can start your own operation right out of your kitchen. Or rent a commercial kitchen space if you are looking to go bigger. But with a minimal investment in advertising and ingredients (ingredient costs are only about 15 to 20 percent of the retail sale price in the specialty baking industry) you can expect to start pulling in some decent dough.

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Business idea: Music lessons

Here's a concept that should be music to your ears: your music skills can earn to $50—$75 an hour. You can have lessons in your clients' homes, or in your own space, depending on your setup. Word of mouth, fliers and social media postings are a great way to drum up business. It is also suggested that you try to connect with local music schools, where you can make valuable connections and work as a subcontractor while you get your own biz rocking and rolling.

Related: 10 Essential Tips For a Long and Lucrative Music Career

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Business idea: Copywriting

If you have a way with words, there's a lot more you can do than delight your friends with entertaining social media posts and texts. Namely, make some money. All you need is a computer and some contacts to get you going. In his article 7 Steps to Becoming a Professional Copywriter, Han-Gwon Lung, co-founder of Tailored Ink, suggests this simple test to see if this is really the career for you: "Go to the nearest corner store, grab of bag of chips and read the copy on the back. Then make it better." He continues, "Or find an easy assignment you can do for free. If you have a friend or family member who needs help with a slogan, email or website, help him out. Look for unpaid internship opportunities. Take work for pennies on the dollar. The point isn't to make money yet -- it's to see if you like the work."

Related: Getting and Managing Clients as a Freelance Writer

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Business idea: Vintage clothes dealer

Flipping houses takes a lot of initial investment. But flipping vintage clothes? Not so much. You don't need a ton of money, just a good eye and some passion. If weekends find you scouring flea markets and second-hand stores for discarded luxury gems, you may want to consider turning that joy into profit as a side hustle. Skills with stain removing and sewing are obviously a huge help in converted dusty old handbags to vintage treasures. Depending on your level of financial and time investment, you can open up your dream brick and mortar shop, or go strictly online selling your finds on sites like eBay and Thredup.

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Business idea: Nonmedical home care

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, by 2035, there will be 78.0 million people 65 years and older compared to 76.7 million under the age of 18. For the first time in U.S. history, older people will outnumber children. As America ages, and more and more of its residents need assistance, and you don't need a medical degree to become part of this growing industry. Nonmedical home-care givers provide companionship, meal preparation, medication reminders, housekeeping duties and run errands, among many other vital tasks. If you have the personality for this type of work which is equal parts physical and emotional, you may want to consider working as a contractor for an established business or start your own using Start Your Own Senior Services Business as your guide.

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Business idea: Social media consultant

Small business owners who are amazing at making cupcakes might not be so amazing at taking pictures and writing cute captions. Or navigating the changing algorithms of Facebook and Instagram. That's where you come in. If you basically live online, things come second-nature to you that don't come second nature to others -- and those people know that they help. To market yourself as a social media guru, you need to first show that you can get results. Build an amazing online and social media presence for yourself, then expand to helping out non-profit groups and friends. Create word of mouth and soon enough, busy bakers, harried restaurant owners and the like will be banging on your virtual door to help them break through the noise and grab customers. Besides utilizing what you already know, there are a ton of free courses and webinars you can take to pick up some new tricks.

Related: How I Got 13,000 Instagram Followers in One Month

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Business idea: Medical claims billing

As described in the book Start Your Own Medical Claims Billing Service, going into business helping doctors and medical service providers with billing is a growing business. The startup costs are minimal, as it is something that can done from your kitchen table. You'll need a reliable phone, computer and appropriate software, which can vary radically in price depending on which medical claims billing package you buy and from whom. This is an area to which you should devote a great deal of research, according to the authors of the book. "You're going to be virtually married to your program, spending hours of quality time with it and you want to be sure you and your software are a match made in microprocessing heaven," they write. Costs can range between $500 and $5,000, depending on whether you're purchasing just the billing software or making a bigger jump to owning the business itself.

Related: Top 5 Medical Business Innovations

Entrepreneur Staff

Entrepreneur Staff


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