5 Business Startup Ideas That Cost Less Than $1000

Have you always dreamed of starting your own business, but felt held back by the costs involved? You’re not alone. The idea of amassing a mountain of debt, or pleading with the bank manager for a loan, to get up and running is daunting.

Business Ideas Costing Less Than $1000

However, starting a business needn’t be overly expensive. If you can lay your hands on $1,000, a myriad of business startup ideas is well within your reach.

In this article, we’ll look at six options – listed from the cheapest to the most expensive – that are all under or around $1,000. Let’s get cracking!

1. Remote Freelance Writer or Designer

If you have a computer and a marketable skill that can be utilized remotely, you can go freelance from home for next to nothing.

Firstly, you’ll need to figure out your discipline and niche, then find your first client. Search carefully through your existing work background for any potentially suitable disciplines – if you have any specialist knowledge this will serve you well, because general fiction writing is a crowded and generally low paying field. Similarly, specialist design is better paid and easier to break into than the generic design sector – for example, Total Professions suggests car or home appliance design as potential fields.

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Once you’ve identified a general area to focus your writing or design skills, you may want to hone in on a particular subset to carve out a highly specialist niche. There’s a constant argument about whether a wide or narrow skillset is better, so it may be helpful to start exploring your general field and find where the best prospects are before specializing too narrowly.

Finding your first client isn’t that difficult – try researching people who have hired freelancers with similar skills. It’s worth actually emailing them for advice – not so much to be hired, but to understand their hiring criteria. Client lists on the websites of other freelancers in your field can help you to find such contacts.

See this great previous post for more in-depth advice on going freelance.

2. Pet-Sitter

Do you love animals? Here’s the ideal startup idea for you! The easiest way into this field is to register with one of the well-known pet care franchises, such as Rover or House Sitters America. The former takes 20% of your income from pet-sitting to cover expenses (such as support (including vet bills), secure payments, and insurance), and the latter charges just $30 per year but focuses more on the house-sitting angle. However, there’s no indication of pet-specific support.

It’s possible to spend heavily on some franchises, so the above are inexpensive options that provide the security of an existing business framework, and (in some cases) support. That said, it would be wise to check exactly what’s on offer before joining.

You could also set up your own pet-sitting business in your local area, but you’d have to get insurance (in case of loss, pet illness or death, etc.), make arrangements with a vet, and have a comprehensive agreement with pet owners that would cover vet fees and payment for any damage the pet might cause.

3. Consultant

If you’re coming out of an industry where you have many years of expertise, it could be time to leverage your good name and become a consultant to others in your sector.

Apart from your knowledge (which is handily tucked away free in your head) you’ll also need an office with equipment, including the ubiquitous computer, phone, and office furniture. You’ll also likely need some means of transportation. If you’re going out to meet clients, a decent car is a must – and it will soak up a good chunk of your budget.

Starting out as a consultant means a lot of preparation, some serious networking, and extensive market testing. If you have a good level of expertise, you should have good contacts in your chosen field you can canvass for opinions before taking the plunge. Ask for advice on the potential prospects for work as a way to open up a potentially fruitful dialogue.

You’ll also need a professional-looking website to showcase your expertise, so you’ll have to factor the costs of setup and maintenance into your budget. The NFIB has a useful guide to website costs and what you’d need to include. As you’ll see, for your budget you won’t be getting more than a fairly generic design, but you can add to your offering as your business evolves.

You can also save money by starting from a home office and using your existing furniture rather than buying expensive new stuff. Every little helps!

4. Event Planner

If you’re the one who always organizes company events or family get-togethers, you could leverage those skills to become an event planner. Weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, graduations – the list and the opportunities are practically endless.

If you’re looking to go down this path, it helps to have a degree in a related subject such as hospitality, communications, or public relations. Getting one could take up to four years, and of course, you would have to fund yourself through this period.

However, there are many short events planning and management certificate programs (even online, such as Ashworth College) that could keep expenses within your tight budget. Ashworth’s basic course comes in at $1,009, so there’s a definite opportunity to shop around.

The sort of expertise you’ll need includes knowledge of risk management, facilities operations, marketing, costing, and event coordination. The Study website offers a list of top schools, and Hotcourses Abroad takes a wider look at the range of courses available.

You’ll also need the funds to market your services (LegalZoom has an interesting article on costings), and standard office equipment and transport will be essential.

5. Event Caterer

If you’ve got a passion for cooking, you might consider going into catering. Wedding receptions, business meetings, and all sorts of hospitality events inevitably offer a range of food provided by external caterers.

Of course, catering requires a range of equipment, and what you have to provide will likely depend on the location and the style of event. If you tailor your services to smaller events, and get payment for event-specific expenses upfront, you should be able to start out within your budget.

Many local colleges offer catering courses, plenty of which offer internships that provide practical experience and training. There are various levels from degrees to diplomas, and while schools seem very shy about providing definite costings, many offer monthly payment programs and flexible remote learning opportunities.


Starting your own business doesn’t necessarily have to be a pipe dream – for around $1,000 there are a multitude of business startup opportunities that you can get into.

What you’ll need above all else is the determination to get out there and follow your new career – and to work (and network) like crazy! Of course, there are plenty more ideas out there, but the six options we’ve looked in this piece are:

  • Remote freelancer.
  • Pet-sitter.
  • Consultant.
  • Event Planner.
  • Event Caterer.

Have you come across any interesting low-cost business startup ideas? Let us know in the comments section below!

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