Starting your own business is the dream for many. The ability to set your own hours, to determine the type of work you do and earn your income as you wish is a freedom many consider worth pursuing. And, if this sounds like something that interests you, now may be the perfect time to do so. According to data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis of the United States Department of Commerce, from the years 2000 to 2011, 99% of the total increase in employment was from the self-employed.
Becoming self-employed is goal for many want-to-be entrepreneurs, but knowing exactly what business to start and being able to afford the startup costs can be a barrier. Luckily, there are plenty of opportunities for those willing to learn and put a little elbow grease into their career path. If you’re looking for a little motivation or inspiration to get you started, below you’ll find 50 self-employed business ideas you can start for under $100. Now, now you just need to pick one!
1. Life Coach/Mentor Service
While we may be able to see exactly what someone else needs in a particular situation, figuring it out your own life isn’t always as easy. That’s where a life coach or mentor can be of help, especially if you specialize in a specific area. This particular business idea is lucrative because it’s inexpensive to get started and the fields of specialty are endless. You can coach or mentor in any area from sports to weight loss, organization to personal happiness.
2. Write Books
Amazon and Apple have made book publishing a field just about anyone can enter. If you have a wealth of knowledge in a particular subject, creating and publishing your own books might just be your ideal business. The key here is to enter this business with the goal of creating multiple books related to your subject matter. The more books you can create the better. When you are comfortable with the process, consider helping other authors publish their works for a fee.
3. Direct Sales Consultant (Pampered Chef, Tupperware, Avon, etc.)
If you have a big network of friends and acquaintances, and you don’t mind selling, you may want to have a go at becoming a direct sales consultant. Most of the reputable companies offer starting costs under $100 and provide training and team support to help you succeed. This is a great idea for someone who wants to branch out on their own, but wants a little help and support behind them.
4. Business Plan Service
Make your business helping other people start their businesses! Business plans are needed to help secure loans, investments and to make sure you keep your business running on target. If you have a keen knack for creating business plans, considering helping out one of the fastest growing employment areas – the self-employed!
5. Restored/Upcycled Furniture Business
Are you handy when it comes to repairing furniture? Taking old things and refurbishing them, or even upcycling the various parts into something completely different, is a great way to earn a bit of extra cash. With this business Craigslist and social media are your best friend. Fix up a few pieces at a time and offer a “sale day” where people can come by and see everything you have. Or, just sell your pieces one at a time through Craigslist listings.
6. Logo Design Services
If you’re a graphic designer, but don’t want to be attached to huge projects, you might want to consider becoming a logo designer. The projects are typically simple and straightforward and you probably already have everything you need to do the work. To get started building your portfolio, contact local businesses, nonprofit organizations or government agencies for work. You can also expand your services by providing logos and other branding images for use on social media profiles as well.
7. Homemade Gourmet Foods
There are a lot of laws restricting what food products you can and can’t sell out of your home, but as long as you’re following them, there’s always a great market for delicious homemade treats. If you’re at home in the kitchen, this may be the perfect business idea for you. With the growth of different diets, you have a great opportunity to carve out a niche for yourself in a specialized area such as low carb, gluten-free, vegetarian, paleo, etc. You can start out small and test your recipes with local food stores.
8. Homemade Natural Soaps/Beauty Products
Similar to making your own gourmets foods, you can also create your own natural soaps or beauty products. The trend for going natural in all areas of our lives is growing and this is an area with some real potential. If you’re not up for actually making the products, you could refer to the previous ideas in this article and either set up a dropshipping relationship with vendors you trust or create a blog related to this topic.
If you love cooking up a feast for special events, consider starting a catering business. You’ll need to check with local laws and regulations before starting. However, many in this field find it an extremely rewarding experience. They key to success with this business idea is to find a speciality that is unique in your area. You can focus on a certain cuisine, dietary needs, or type of event.
10. Errand Service
Companies like TaskRabbit are already employing this idea, but they’re only available in certain cities. Offering similar services in your local area could be quite lucrative if you’re willing to do the tasks at hand. This can be especially fruitful if you are offering your services to the senior market. This demographic isn’t as able to get around and would benefit greatly from having someone they trust run some local errands for them.
11. Virtual Assistant
The best part about being a virtual assistant is that you can do it from home. Most of the tasks for a virtual assistant are computer related, so as long as you have a computer, internet access and a phone you are set. With this business you’ll want to make sure you have a few clients at a time to ensure you can work the hours needed. Since the benefit of a virtual assistant is that a person can hire them for as much or as little as needed, you’ll need to account for peaks and lows in weekly hours.
12. Pet Groomer
It’s probably no surprise that pet grooming is a growing business. In 2012, 62% of households had pets. That’s a lot of animal baths! As a groomer, you can not only handle pet bathing, but also other basic grooming needs. If you have the resources, you can expand your business by offering a mobile service as well.
More and more companies are venturing into other countries and want to reach more demographics. This means the need for translation services are growing. Website translation is an especially growing area since their is a global reach. If you know a few languages, you might consider offering your services as a new business opportunity.
14. App Developer
The phrase “there’s an app for that” has never been more true than it is today, but there’s always room for a new idea or a better implementation of something that’s already out there. From developing an app for a company to creating something for yourself. All you need is a great idea and the technical know-how to actually build it.
15. eBay Seller
Selling your stuff on eBay can seem like a great way to earn a few bucks on the side, but for many people it’s too much of a hassle to research prices, take pictures, put together a good post and keep track of payments, shipping, etc. The idea of selling something online is appealing, but when it comes down to doing all the work many would just rather donate the items in question or let someone else sell it for them. For this business idea, you would just need to reach out to friends and family and see if they have anything they’d like to sell. You can do all the setting up of the shop and products, and you can split the profits. And, if you don’t like eBay, consider Craigslist instead.
16. Freelance Photography
If you have a love for taking pictures, consider making it your new business venture. This is an area where having a speciality will help you stand out. You can focus on typical portraits or consider other areas of photography such as travel, nature, food, corporate portraits or corporate photography.
17. Personal Chef
While people may not need someone to cook in their home for them, they may need some extra help during their busy day with lunch or even breakfast. One of the benefits of being a personal chef is that you don’t necessarily have to cook at a person’s home. You can also offer foods that are already prepared that just need to be reheated. This is a great way to offer your services to a larger amount of people without having to be committed to one client or customer.
18. Personal Trainer
Health is a high priority for many, and losing weight and getting fit are top concerns in this area. If you have a track record for helping people with their fitness in a specific area, you could have a very profitable business. Like many of these suggestions focusing on niche or target area can help you stand out as an expert in a growing industry.
19. Computer Repair
For many people, a computer problem that could be a simple fix winds up being a drawn out warranty nightmare. While we may know how to breeze our way through apps, many of us are not as comfortable with the hardware that powers our machines. Computer repair is a great low cost business startup, especially if you offer mobile computer repair. Getting started is as simple as building up a reputation for being the “go to” computer handyman. Get the word out to your friends and family about what you’re doing and you’ll be off to a great start.
20. Computer Skills Tutor
In today’s connected world, people can often feel out of the loop when it comes to new technologies, and the constant stream of new products means it’s only going to get worse. If you have the patience and the teaching ability, it could be a great idea to start a business getting the “technologically inept” up to par with the current software.
21. Garage Cleaning/Garage Sale Guru
Cleaning up a cluttered garage can be a daunting task, but having some outside help that is able to assess the situation objectively can be a huge benefit. Offer your services to help people empty out their garage, and follow it up by helping them sell the overflow with a garage sale.
22. Picture Framing
If you’re willing to do some research and learn how to frame and cut glass, picture framing may be a great business opportunity for you. Once you have the skills, the benefits to this business are pretty obvious. You can work from home and determine your own hours and clients. There are huge markups in the framing business, which means you can earn more while working less – every business owner’s dream.
23. Personal Grocery Shopping
Not everyone has the time or ability to get their own groceries. You can offer a needed service and work your own hours by completing someone else’s shopping list. This is an especially helpful service for new moms, seniors and if you are diet conscious, those with dietary restrictions or special dietary needs.
24. Sell Plants Online
Have a green thumb? Now you can make some extra green selling your plants online. This is a newer growing niche, but with concerns over seed origins growing, this could be a lucrative business venture. This business will be somewhat seasonal, but you can offer garden design and landscaping plans during the off season to help provide some additional revenue.
25. Crafts Seller
Do you love making things? Use your talents to generate a profit with an online craft business. With sites like Etsy, selling your homemade goods has never been any easier. It’s especially helpful if you focus on a specific trend or niche that fits into a specific category. This will help you get found easier and will help people share your products on sites like Pinterest easier as well.
26. Cleaning Out Foreclosed Homes
The state of some foreclosed homes definitely leaves something to be desired. However, getting them cleaned up and ready for sale is necessary evil that someone has to do, and that someone might as well be you. You can find out if there is a need in your area for this type of work by contacting some foreclosure agents to see who to contact about cleaning the homes.
27. Internet Security Consultant
With privacy and security concerns at an all time high, now is the perfect time to consider a business as a internet security consultant. You can help educate people on setting up their home networks and securing their personal information. You can also work with companies by helping them secure their websites and their business/customer data.
28. Organization Consultant
Are all your socks in matching pairs and neatly organized in their drawer? If so, a business as an organization consultant might be right up your alley. Not everyone has the ability to control the chaos. Luckily, organization consultants can help in a number of areas from personal organization to business organization.
29. Dog Training
If you’ve been reading this list from start to finish, you’ll know that the pet business is a huge industry. As long as there is a desire for a family pet, the need for dog training is always present. One way to set yourself apart in this area is to offer mobile and home training. With a mobile service, you can help train animals in the home setting as well as help train them in social settings like dog parks.
30. Local Tour Consultant
If you have a love for local history and lore, becoming a local tour consultant might be your perfect business idea. You can start off by simply offering walking tours of your city or specific history regions within your city. You’ll need to contact your local city offices to make sure there are no laws or regulations that would interfere. However, if you’re good to go, the only thing you need to get started is a website with your tour information and some local word of mouth to start your first tours. You may want to consider partnering with your local visitor’s bureau to help attract tourists to your business.