Starting a business doesn’t have to be expensive — in fact, low startup cost business ideas are everywhere.
Just last week, Nate and Alysha Jackson explained how they started their Amazon retail arbitrage business with just $100 — and had since grown to over $1 million in total sales.
Inspired by their story, along with a couple of threads in the Side Hustle Nation Facebook group that asked for some real-life low startup cost business ideas, I put together this episode.
Stick around to hear how several Side Hustle Nation members got their business off the ground on the cheap. In most cases, you don’t need outside capital to get started.
Instead, my hope is you’ll use these stories as inspiration to start lean and start now.
1. Selling Printables on Etsy
Julie Berninger’s low startup cost side hustle is selling printables for bachelorette parties on Etsy. Julie started her Etsy shop The Swag Elephant a few years ago, and has steadily built up her business.
Her bestselling product is a bachelorette party scavenger hunt that can be taken on bar crawls.
This is a checklist with fun activities to complete by the bachelorette party throughout the night.
Julie sells these scavenger hunts for $7 each and said people really like them. The best part is, she can upload files like these once, and sell them over and over again. When someone places an order, Etsy automatically delivers the files — passive income.
She designs the printables on her computer, mostly using free tools like Canva, then uploads them to her Etsy store. People can then download and print them without Julie having to do anything more than answer the odd question here and there.
Some individual designs have earned over $1,700. (Which took Julie less than two hours to make!)
Julie said if you want to start this side hustle, you can expect to make a couple of hundred dollars a month with just a few hours of work.
Etsy charges just $0.20 to list each new product, so there’s hardly any startup costs and it’s very low risk.
Related: Julie’s Etsy Printables Course
2. Reselling on eBay
Chris Baker and his brother started reselling stuff on eBay with just $250 in startup capital to find inventory.
Essentially, they travel around finding thrift stores, yard sales, or anywhere they can find a good deal on an item to list on eBay and sell for a profit.
Chris currently has two eBay stores:
- 4 Star Games – He and his brother are very familiar with video games, so they started out with a niche they know well.
- The Mountain City Closet Co – Branching out of video games, they started this store to sell their other items.
In their first month, they more than doubled their initial investment.
At the time of recording, Chris is a week into month two and said he’s already grossed $1,000. So, he looks set to hit $4,000 in month two.
Chris said this is a low-cost start-up anyone can do. You don’t even need any capital to get started, you can just start listing items around your home.
A couple of key things he said to pay attention too when listing items:
- Take a lot of photos and make them as nice as you can.
- Look at the sold listings on eBay to get a good idea of what’s selling and for how much.
Related: Free flipping training.
Related: $100k a year flipping random stuff
3. Marketing Service
Julian Pletts of Blueprint-social.co.uk has more than a decade of experience working in the media. He wanted to start a business to help small businesses in the northwest of England engage with a large audience on social media.
His goal was to help small businesses tell compelling stories online and grow their brand online, with a specialized range of services normally reserved for larger audience businesses with huge budgets.
He’s managed to do this and got his business off the ground for just £282, which is around $350.
For this, he was able:
- launch his website in just two weeks
- pick up some second-hand filming equipment
- file all the necessary paperwork to register his business
Julian said he started his business after reading two very completing books;
- The E Myth, by Michael E. Gerber – How to work ON your business, and not just IN it.
- Company of One, by Paul Jarvis – Focus on customer service first and foremost.
“For me, my philosophy is about being lean and relying on my abilities and skills that I honed in my day job,” Julian told me.
Company of One also taught Julian to consider his MVP, which means his Minimum Viable Profit.
This helped Julian net his first client before his website was even live. He did hit a bump in the road when the pandemic hit, that business was forced to close its doors.
But Julian turned this into a positive too. He carried on working with them for free, and that goodwill landed him a second client.
That second client started bringing in some revenue, and Julian started another side hustle linked to their business. He’s now working as a fitness boot camp instructor for them part-time.
Julian said that by intentionally keeping his overheads low and running a lean operation made all of this possible. It’s also meant he turned a profit almost immediately, and he’s not far off his revenue goal.
4. Land Flipping
Victor Reynolds is a land investor. He buys vacant land parcels and sells them for a profit.
He’s been doing this full-time for a while now and said he got started after hearing about land flipping on The Side Hustle Show.
Victor bought a course to learn the ropes. Then he literally started mailing out some offers to people who owned property in Nevada.
He said he spent around $100 putting together his mail run. He had some replies from people who had inherited the land, weren’t using their land, lived out of state, and some reasons why they wanted to sell up.
From that original mail run, Victor ended up purchasing some property for just $100 and ended up selling it for $2,000. He also purchased one for $400, and later sold that for $4,000.
A lot of Victor’s buyers pay him in installments. This keeps the cash flowing in each month, and he’s safeguarded by the fact that if they stop paying he gets to keep the land.
Related: Get The Land Geek’s $97 Launch Kit free.
5. Career Blog
Andrei Smith turned a pain point in his day job into an online side hustle.
Andrei was hiring automotive call center employees at his day job and having difficulty finding resources he could use to train them.
So, he started his own website and started producing his own automotive sales training products. He now has a range of books, audiobooks, courses, a Facebook group, and also provides 1-on-1 training.
It was a win-win because while he was creating content for his own business, he was also creating the content he needed to train his employees.
Andrei was able to get his business off the ground with just $100. He purchased a domain name, hosting, a theme, and used some free resources to learn how to create his products.
Related: My free guide on how to start a website.
Creating Blog Content
To create blog content, he would come up with an idea, such as “what to wear at a car sales job.” He would then do some Google searches to see what content is doing well. Andrei then used keyword research to find out what people are searching for related to that topic.
For example, for that topic, he found out people are actually searching, “car salesman dress code.” So, he created a targeted blog post around those keywords.
After writing more than 100,000 words of blog content over a few months, he compiled all his best articles into a book. Andrei now sells that book on his site for $40.
He then produced a second book based on the feedback he received for his first book. He also started a Facebook group, an email list, and kept flowing into the next idea.
Right now, Andrei’s books and audiobooks are bringing in a few hundred bucks a month with just a couple hours worth of work.
6. Handcrafted Jewelry
Rhonda Newsome is a self-taught metalsmith who started making jewelry and other crafty items with an investment of around $200.
She started watching YouTube videos to learn the techniques she needed to master for this money-making hobby. Then she bought all the basic tools she needed and started making jewelry. It wasn’t long before Rhonda started going to craft shows with her mother.
On the first day of the first craft show she went to, Rhonda made around $250. On the second day, she made $400.
Rhonda has since made up to $1,000 a day from craft shows and continues to go to them to sell her items.
She’s also started other side hustles. Rhonda now sells soaps made from vegan ingredients, which she said is doing well. Being a big advocate of hemp, she’s also started infusing honey, olive oil, and CBD oil, and makes flavored teas and coffee.
Rhonda said she started suffering from burnout a couple of years ago. So she pivoted to putting on workshops and teaching small classes the skills she’s learned. These classes have been a success, and Rhonda charges $40-$50 per class.
Even during the pandemic, she said business has been good, mostly due to word-of-mouth, and she’s making around $700 per week.
Looking for Other Low Startup Cost Business Ideas?
Check out our big list of side hustle ideas for more inspiration!
Low Startup Cost Links and Resources from this Episode
- GoldCityVentures.com | Julie’s course on selling printables
- The Swag Elephant – Julie’s Etsy Shop
- Drop Shipping and Digital Products on Etsy
- Flea Market Flippers free training
- Rob the Flea Market Flipper on The Side Hustle Show
- The E-Myth
- Company of One
- Paul Jarvis on The Side Hustle Show
- Roberto Chavez on The Side Hustle Show (land flipping)
- Get The Land Geek’s $97 Launch Kit for free
- Sky and Earth Studio
- Todd Tresidder on The Side Hustle Show
- The Leverage Equation
- Skillshare – Get two months of unlimited access to 25,000+ Skillshare courses free!
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