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15 Business Ideas You Can Start With $500

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  • Post last modified:May 22, 2024
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Looking to become a business owner without risking your life’s savings? Sick of punching a clock and ready to pursue a passion project?

Don’t let a tiny budget hold you back from entrepreneurship.

You can plant the seeds for a profitable venture through these business ideas you can start with $500. This could blossom into your ticket to financial freedom. The world is brimming with go-getters who succeeded through an ultra-lean business approach.

Nearly 100% of all US businesses are small businesses. So, no matter how little you start, you will certainly be in good company. More so, the professional and business services industry, which is the industry mostly covered in this article, is the most in-demand industry today.

This guide spotlights 15 promising business ideas you can launch on a small budget. What more? You can achieve this using tools and resources you likely already can access.

Choosing a Low-Cost Business

The best low-cost business opportunities leverage accessible skills, resources, and tools. In this article, we highlight businesses that met the criteria after careful consideration.

You can begin most businesses highlighted here with a decent laptop and internet. These are investments many already have. Other tools and software range from free options to affordable subscriptions. They allow entrepreneurs to engage with customers without major overhead.

Platforms like WordPress and e-commerce solutions empower dropshippers and bloggers. Cloud-based productivity suites cover needs like writing, editing, translation, and virtual assistant services. All that freelancers need is skill, and using standard software.

Service-based businesses like pet sitting, event planning, and fitness coaching emphasize skills. Heavy equipment costs are lower in priority. Likewise, influencers and YouTubers can start with just a smartphone. They can leverage existing free social media channels before upgrading equipment.

The unifying factor is that each idea centers on marketable skills and passions. With diligence and the right tools, these diverse opportunities empower budding entrepreneurs.

You too can transform your talents into profitable businesses with very little capital.

Let’s dive into business ideas you can start with $500.

1. Virtual Tutor

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Setup Cost: $100-$300 for a decent laptop/computer, webcam, and good internet connection.

Tools/Materials Needed: Computer, internet connection, webcam, microphone, educational materials.

If you love explaining concepts then tutoring could be your ideal career choice. One of its main advantages is flexibility.

As your reputation and clientele grow, you can adjust the number of students you take on. Select a specific concentration, such as math, language, or music. Then advertise your services through social media, local community boards, and other platforms.

2. Dropshipper

Setup Cost: $50-$200 to build a basic e-commerce website, monthly fees for hosting/plugins.

Tools/Materials Needed: Computer, internet connection, access to dropshipping suppliers, and e-commerce platform (Shopify, WooCommerce, etc.)

This is another one of the business ideas you can start with $500. With dropshipping, you can start an online store with minimal initial investment.

There are some key factors for success. One is selecting profitable products, and another is investing in impactful marketing. Then you need to partner with dependable suppliers to fulfill customer orders.

To get started, conduct thorough research to identify lucrative niches. Once done, set up your online store and partner with reliable suppliers. The suppliers will handle order fulfillment straight to customers.

3. Freelance Writer

Setup Cost: $50-$200 for a basic laptop and internet connection.

Tools/Materials Needed: Computer, internet connection, Microsoft Office suite or Google Docs, Grammarly (optional)

For success as a freelance writer, several factors are critical. First, the ability to meet deadlines and produce high-quality content is essential. Second, effective self-marketing is crucial to attract clients. To showcase your writing abilities, consider building a portfolio of your best work

Use freelance platforms like Upwork or Fiverr to connect with potential clients. Also, pitching to clients and networking within writing communities will expand your reach. There are even writing contests that can help boost your potential.

4. Freelance Editor

Setup Cost: $50-$200 for a basic laptop and internet connection.

Tools/Materials Needed: Computer, internet connection, editing software.

To showcase your professional editing skills, curate a comprehensive portfolio of your work. Also, consider offering your editing services on reputable freelance platforms. There, you can connect with writers seeking skilled and reliable editing. This allows you to highlight your editing expertise. It also helps you to expand your network and reach a broader clientele.

5. Social Media Influencer

Setup Cost: $0-$500 for camera/video equipment, editing software (optional).

Tools/Materials Needed: Smartphone or camera, editing software, social media accounts.

To become a successful influencer is one of the business ideas you can start with $500. Start by identifying your niche. Then begin creating engaging content that resonates with your target audience.

The key is patience and dedication; building a large following takes time. Once you have a significant (not necessarily large) following, start collaborating with brands. This could happen through sponsored posts and affiliate marketing. Remember, the rewards can be huge for successful influencers.

6. DIY Craft Maker

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Setup Cost: $100-$500 for basic supplies (varies by craft).

Tools/Materials Needed: Crafting materials, packaging supplies, marketing materials.

For creative folks who love to craft unique items, this is a fantastic opportunity. The secret to success lies in identifying a specialized market for your crafts. Then you must preserve top-notch quality. You must also be able to capture captivating photos to showcase your creations.

To get started, develop distinctive craft products. Afterward, create a presence on platforms like Etsy or partake in regional craft fairs. Also, promote your crafts on social media platforms to reach a broader audience.

7. Airbnb Host

Setup Cost: $0-$500 for furnishing/prepping extra room or space.

Tools/Materials Needed: Spare room or property, basic furnishings, cleaning supplies.

Unlock the potential of your spare room or entire property with short-term rentals; this is one of the best business ideas you can start with $500.

Transform underutilized space into a source of more income. Consider investments in furniture, linens, and minor upgrades to enhance guest comfort. Factors like location, property type, and the hosting experience quality are crucial. They influence success via Airbnb.

Create a welcoming atmosphere, set competitive pricing, and craft compelling listings. Once the guests start coming in, provide excellent hospitality to earn positive reviews.

8. Virtual Assistant

Setup Cost: $100-$300 for a decent computer and internet.

Tools/Materials Needed: Computer, internet connection, scheduling/organization apps.

Virtual assistants can do many jobs. Some jobs are posting on social media, sending emails to tell people about products, and typing information into computers.

Doing a great job and helping customers well is very important. To show you are good at office work, you can offer to manage emails and schedules for people. On freelance websites, you can find people who need these jobs done and start your own business.

9. Pet Sitter

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Setup Cost: $50-$200 for supplies (leashes, crates, etc.) and marketing materials.

Tools/Materials Needed: Reliable transportation, pet first-aid kit, and other supplies.

If you love animals, watching pets can be a fun job. It is important that pet owners trust you. When telling people about your services, talk about times you took care of pets before and how you are responsible. Make good ads that get pet owners to believe you. You can also get a certificate that shows you know pet first aid. This makes you look even better.

10. Event Planner

Setup Cost: $100-$500 for business materials (cards, website, etc.)

Tools/Materials Needed: Computer, internet connection, planning/organizational software, vendor connections.

To excel as an event planner in one of the most exciting business ideas you can start with $500, you need a combination of certain skills. These are exceptional organization, meticulous attention to detail, and effective communication.

Start by planning small parties. This lets you build up your work examples and get experience. After that, work on making parties people will always remember. Tell everyone about your business on sites like Facebook and Instagram.

11. Translator

Setup Cost: $50-$200 for basic work setup.

Tools/Materials Needed: Computer, internet connection, translation software, dictionaries, etc.

You can find chances to translate things in many places, both on and off the internet. These include papers like legal forms, content for businesses, and writings on websites.

Show you are good at it by knowing a lot about certain industries or papers. To get paid more, you may want to get official papers that say you know how to translate well.

12. Fitness Coach

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Setup Cost: $100-$500 for equipment (optional gym space).

Tools/Materials Needed: Fitness equipment, marketing materials, video equipment.

There’s a high demand for certified coaches. As a coach, you could create personalized fitness plans and you can also guide clients through virtual platforms or in-person sessions. To differentiate your services, consider specializing in a particular area, which may be weight loss, strength training, yoga, or nutrition.

13. Blogger

Setup Cost: $50-$200 for a domain/hosting, and basic photography gear.

Tools/Materials Needed: Blogging platform (WordPress), editing/design tools, internet connection, content creation tools.

To share your expertise on a particular subject, consider starting a blog or website. Such a platform can help you establish yourself as an authority in your field over time. And you could generate income through advertising, affiliate marketing, or other means. This may be through selling your products or services. The key steps involved include choosing a niche and creating high-quality content.

14. Facebook Ads Consultant

Setup Cost: $0-$200 for courses/certifications (optional).

Tools/Materials Needed: Facebook Ads Manager, analytics/tracking tools.

This business focuses on helping businesses extend their reach through Facebook advertising. Earning certifications isn’t obligatory, but completing online courses can sharpen your skill set. Staying current with Facebook’s advertising platform is essential. And it also helps if you have some history of proven success.

15. YouTuber

Setup Cost: $200-$500 for video gear (camera, lighting, mics).

Tools/Materials Needed: Camera or smartphone, video editing software, lighting equipment (optional).

As a YouTuber, you can monetize your channel once you have amassed a good following. Some common methods are advertising, sponsorships, and merchandise sales.

To get started, create captivating content that engages your audience. And also focus on building a loyal subscriber base. Through these strategies, you can monetize your YouTube channel and generate revenue.

Start Building Your Business Today

It doesn’t matter if you want to build your income immediately or lay the foundation for future growth. These low-budget business models cut upfront risks while maximizing your earnings potential. All you need is sweat equity, ingenuity, and a hunger for entrepreneurial freedom to take advantage of these 15 business ideas you can start with $500.

Featured Image by storyset on Freepik

Riya Gupta

Riya Gupta is a seasoned marketing strategist. With a passion for leveraging cultural insights and innovative approaches, Riya has spent over a decade honing her expertise in the dynamic realm of marketing. Her comprehensive understanding of consumer behavior and market trends has propelled her to develop impactful campaigns that resonate with diverse audiences. Riya's commitment to excellence, coupled with her creativity has established her as a trusted leader in the field of marketing. She is dedicated to driving growth and fostering meaningful connections through her work.

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