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Starting a business is difficult for many reasons, but money is one big factor that prevents people from starting their business. While some fields (such as food and dining) intrinsically cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to operate, others can be started for less than $500. If you want to start a side business or devote all your time to self-employment, here are four businesses you can start for little.


Do you live in a large city, or near a college? Chances are, you’ll be able to find plenty of students looking for help with their education. You can tutor a wide variety of subjects, depending on what you are comfortable with. SAT Prep is extremely popular with high school students, and getting started can cost around $100-$200 for books and certification. You can also tutor college students with their homework, although you will have to compete with on-campus tutoring, which is often free. Finally, you could tutor younger students of any grade, or you could be a private tutor that teaches homeschooled children.

Direct Sales

When you were young, did your mom ever host an Avon party or buy from the local Tupperware lady? While not all of us have this experience, these direct sales consultants are recognizable to all of us, as they are a huge part of American culture. Stay-at-home parents may have an easier time starting a direct sales business than a traditional business, and it typically costs less than $200 to start. You’ll easily make this money back, though, as people who work part-time typically make up to $500 per month.


There are tons of different jobs out there that are so minimal it is not worth hiring a new person to complete them. Freelancers fill in these gaps by providing their services for a single project or a contracted amount of time. As a freelancer, you can take jobs from writing to web design and even digital assisting. You set your hourly rate, or you can choose to accept jobs with a predetermined rate. Either way, you can make a living fairly easily by staying on top of listings and building a positive reputation. The best part? You likely already have all the tools you need to get started.

Handmade Goods

Are you crafty? People sell all kinds of handcrafted goods on one of the most popular e-commerce sites, Etsy. If you enjoy making unique items (particularly if they are trendy), you can definitely find success on Etsy. Since you are making the product, you will set your initial cost and can set your price point as well.
Starting a business may seem like an easy way to spend your life savings, but in reality, it is easy to start a business with some spare pocket money. If you want to find a job you will really enjoy, without having to sell your car to fund it, try one of these four options.