6 Businesses You Can Start For Less Than $1,000

What do Amazon, Google, Apple, Microsoft, and Disney all have in common?

If you guessed that they all started as home businesses – you’re right.

If you’ve thought about venturing into the life of an entrepreneur and starting a business, but you don’t have unlimited dollars to invest – this article is for you.

Small businesses account for 99.9% of all businesses in the U.S., according to the U.S. Small Business Administration. There are enormous opportunities for people who want to be their own boss.

When researching business types and writing a business plan, you’ll want to consider:

  • How much of an investment will a business require?
  • What are the most successful small businesses?
  • Is starting a business difficult?
  • What skills or special training are necessary?

Remember that for each of these business ideas, you’ll need to cover your basics, including finding a strong business name, getting a unique company logo to identify your business, taking care of registration with your state and local municipality, and more.

The following two comprehensive guides will help you get started: how to start a business, and how to create a strong brand identity for your business. All of the above startup issues, and many more, are covered in those guides.

Let’s look at each of these six business ideas in detail.

1. Bicycle repair business

Bike repair continues to be a hot industry.

Many people consider this type of business as a side hustle because it can be done part-time, with a small number of inexpensive tools.

If you are knowledgeable about bicycles and how they work, you’re ahead of the curve. In a recent report, Bikes for People found that 1 in 3 Americans rode a bike in the last year.

And with many urban cities adopting a bike-friendly approach, this industry will continue to grow.

Skills required

The primary skill needed for bicycle repair businesses is the ability to diagnose and repair bicycle issues. This requires knowledge of various types of bicycles and their components.

While no formal training is required, you might consider comprehensive or niche classes on bike repair at trade schools such as the United Bicycle Institute.

Investment

Bicycle repair requires very little investment. This is especially true if you already have the necessary tools.

You will need a place to conduct your business. And, while renting a business location can be a large expense, many entrepreneurs start by operating their repair business from their garage or home workshop.

You can also further minimize upfront cash expenses by buying special bicycle parts on-demand as needed by clients, instead of keeping them on hand. Just be sure to set clear expectations for your customers about the timeline they can anticipate for their parts to arrive and repairs to be completed.

It’s also wise to invest in alliances with bicycling clubs and organizations in the community. Members of these clubs can become potential mentors or clients.

Market size

The market for bicycle repair is booming.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, bicycle repair is predicted to experience faster-than-average growth of 26% between 2016-2026.

Your location will also have a significant impact on the market.

Regions of the United States that boast year-round moderate-to-good weather conditions will have a stronger market than states with shortened bike-riding seasons.

Why we love this business: Bicycle repair is a steady income for those passionate about cycling and those who work well with their hands. With minimal training and investment, new business owners can see returns on their investment relatively quickly.

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2. Event planning business

If you love managing the details of events such as location, themes, and food, starting your own event planning business may be the right move.

As an event planner, you will have creative control over all aspects of an event or party.

Although it takes more than just knowledge of local hot spots and killer organizational skills, an event planning business could be the perfect side hustle or full-time career choice for you.

Skills required

Event planning requires exceptional organization and communication skills.

As an event planner, you’ll wear a lot of hats such as:

  • Negotiator: negotiating pricing with vendors
  • Interior designer: developing and implementing a vision for the visual aspects of an event
  • Accountant: managing and staying in alignment with the client’s budget
  • Personal assistant: scheduling appointments for clients with potential and hired venues and vendors

While an undergrad degree in hospitality can help you hit the grounding running, it’s not required.

To increase your earning potential, consider acquiring the following certifications:

  1. Certified Meeting Professional (CMP): A CMP holder earns about $10,000 a year more than those uncertified.
  2. Certificate in Meeting Management (CMM): A CMM holder reportedly earns ~$30,000 more per year than those uncertified.

Financial investment

New business owners should expect to save money by initially doing a lot of the work themselves.

That being said, you can start an event planning business with an investment of $1m000 or less.

As an  Event Planner, you can work from almost anywhere if you have a laptop, wifi, and a phone.

Save the costs of office space by starting your business in your home office.

Need to meet with a client? Consider renting time at a coworking space or meeting at a local restaurant or coffee shop.

Market size

The market for event planning remains steadfast. Even during a pandemic, event planners are busy planning virtual events.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS), event planning has a faster-than-average growth of 7%.

The BLS also reported that the median annual wage for meeting, convention, and event planners was $50,600 in May 2019.

Why we love this business: With the right skill set, starting an event planning business can be very lucrative. We love that this type of business lends itself well to the entrepreneur who needs to start small and gain incremental growth with experience.

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3. Professional organizer business

People have too much stuff and not enough space or time.

Professional organizers assist clients in bringing top-shelf order and organizational systems to everything from personal pantries to office filing systems, bedroom closets to medical records.

Becoming a professional organizer means you’ll be helping others gain control over their domain, increase personal or professional productivity, create well-structured systems to stay on task and reduce stress.

If you’re highly organized and enjoy helping others, starting a professional organizer small business may be an excellent choice for you.

Skills required

There is no specific education or training required to become a professional organizer.  But, you will want to gain experience and knowledge in the organizational niche you concentrate on.

Organizers typically begin offering services after working in other professions, putting their knowledge and experience in that field to good use.

For example, someone with a financial background may consider a financial records niche whereas an experienced homemaker may be better suited for residential organizational tasks.

There are two helpful national associations that can help with training and certification:

You can also consider certification from the Board of Certified Professional Organizers (BCPO) after you’ve been in business for a while, as it requires 1500 hours of paid experience.

Financial investment

The financial investment to start a professional organization business at home is very low. Your most frequently used tool and asset will be your organizational chops.

If you have $1000 in the bank, that should be more than enough to start taking on clients.

Market size

In an age where less is rapidly becoming more, the future for professional organizers is bright.

According to data by Statista, this market has experienced steady growth since 2005:

Value of the home organization market in the United States from 2005 to 2020

The average salary of a professional organizer in the United States varies.  It can be anywhere from $50/hour (for starting organizers) to over $200/hour.

Why we love this business: Starting a professional organizer business requires very little training, and can be successful with minimal investment.  A professional organizer’s business can thrive when starting with even a few clients.

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4. Social media management business

Social media managers monitor, engage, guide, and measure the social media marketing of a brand. And, they’re an integral part of any business’s marketing team.

A social media presence is a must if a business wants to remain relevant.

Currently, over 49% of the world’s population is on social media. And, many business owners are opting to hire outside social media experts to take care of their social platforms.

So, if you speak all things marketing and social media, developing a social media management business may be right for you.

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Skills required

The skills required in social media management rely more on experience than education. A marketing degree can be an excellent benefit when getting started, but there are many successful social media managers who do not boast a college degree.

That being said, don’t fall prey to the assumption that social media managers simply tweet, pin, and post on Facebook.

Successful social media managers must excel in communication, organization, and writing.

You’ll need an in-depth understanding of the various social media platforms, written and visual content creation, and how to run marketing campaigns to be successful.

And, even though you may not need a college degree, you can’t neglect your training.

To stay competitive in a constantly-evolving field, social media marketers need to have up-to-date training on the latest regulations and best practices.

And, you will attract more clients as your business is starting out if you have certifications to enhance your credibility.

Financial investment

You can start a social media management business with very little money.

You will primarily rely on your social media and marketing knowledge. In fact, you can (and should) use your social media marketing know-how to promote your own business!

Social media managers generally start as a side-gig with only a couple of clients, while building up their brand.

Market size

The market for social media managers is stable and growing.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS), social media managers have a steady growth rate of 8%.

The 2020 median income reported for social media marketing managers by PayScale was $50,816 per year.

Why we love this business: Social media is here to stay. Businesses rely on the direct customer engagement social media can bring. And people who are savvy at social media and marketing can thrive as a social media manager.

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5. Dog walking and pet care business

Whether you identify as a “cat person” or a “dog person”, one thing is clear: people love pets.

In fact, billions of dollars are spent on pet care each year.

Busy pet owners need pet-sitters, dog walkers, groomers, and more. If you love working with animals, starting a pet care business may be right for you.

Skills required

Working with pets requires a level of comfort and confidence in working with animals. This is non-negotiable for this field.

Pet care can involve walking, feeding, grooming, dispensing medicine, and nurturing a client’s pet. So, you’ll need to be able to do all of these tasks.

You may also be asked to travel with pets to veterinary appointments and play dates. So, a reliable and insured vehicle will be beneficial.

While there is no formal training required, joining professional organizations such as Pet Sitters International will lend you credibility and help reassure new clients.

Financial investment

Most pet sitting businesses can be run from home. You’ll need a decent computer, a flexible schedule, and a good amount of heart to get started.

If you want to extend your services beyond your neighborhood or to include travel, you’ll also need an insured vehicle.

Market size

The market for pet care is experiencing notable growth.

The pet care industry has a faster-than-average growth of 16% according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS).

The 2019 median income reported by the BLS was $24,990 per year.

Why we love this business: The pet industry is booming. With minimal training and investment, this business requires minimal effort before launching. The growth outlook for animal care proves that it’s a dynamic business to consider.

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6. Cleaning business

Starting a cleaning business can be very lucrative.

And, a cleaning business requires minimal investment.

The truth is, there will always be homes, businesses, and public spaces that need to be cleaned.

Skills required

The thing we love most about a cleaning business is that the core skill – cleaning – is one most people already know how to do.

There is no formal education or skill development required for a cleaning business. However, you will want to familiarize yourself with safety laws and standards for working with toxic cleaning products.

The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) has a variety of regulations relating to eye and face protection, hand and foot protection, toxic and hazardous substances, and ventilation. If you plan to start a cleaning business, familiarize yourself with OSHA’s regulations.

Financial investment

Like the other business options on our list, the investment needed to start a cleaning business is minimal.

Plan your service offerings before buying supplies so you spend your money on the items you’ll really need.

And, be aware that cleaning supplies do need to be replaced or refilled over time. So, research your cleaning supplies before purchasing to find items that can be safely re-used and provide durable service until you start bringing in some revenue.

Market size

The market for cleaning businesses is thriving.

Currently, the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows the cleaning industry growing at a rate of 7%, which is above the national average for all occupations.

On top of that, the field is expected to grow 10% between 2016 and 2026; presenting a good opportunity for prospective business owners in this category.

Why we love this business: Cleaning businesses require minimal investment, no formal training, and are in high demand.

Wrapping it up

Becoming a business owner is hard work. But, it’s rewarding. And you can jumpstart your future with less than $1,000 in the bank.

Additional Resources:

We’ve compiled a list of resources to help start your new small business on the right foot.

The Complete Step by Step Guide to Starting a Business in 2020
Small Business Administration
DBA Requirements by State

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How to Start an eCommerce Business: A Step-by-Step Guide To Take Your Business Online (2020)

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