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190 Businesses to Start on a Shoestring

Are you interested in having a small home-based business but can‘t handle large start-up costs? Don‘t worry. All of the businesses listed below demand minimal capital to begin. What you contribute is your skill, knowledge and experience!


But remember…

your business is more likely to succeed
if this is something you truly enjoy
and not just a way of making money.



You will need to consider who your customers are and how to reach them. Also check out your competition to determine appropriate rates and how you can make your business unique. Start small, with people you know. After you gather valuable feedback on your own services, you can grow from a solid foundation. For more information, go to Turn Passions into Profits, in particular section 5.

Good luck!

  1. Aerobic instructor
  2. Aquarium service
  3. Astrology
  4. Auctioneer
  5. Auto dealer
  6. Baker – cakes or cookies
  7. Balloon design and delivery
  8. Bed and breakfast reservation service
  9. Bicycle repair and sales
  10. Bicycle touring
  11. Blinds cleaning
  12. Boat maintenance
  13. Burglar alarm sales and installation
  14. Business plan writing
  15. Cabinet maker
  16. Calligraphy
  17. Car alarm installer
  18. Car wash
  19. Care of disabled
  20. Care of elderly
  21. Career Counselor
  22. Caricaturist
  23. Carpet Cleaning
  24. Cartoonist
  25. Catering
  26. Ceiling Cleaning
  27. Childcare
  28. Child-care referral
  29. Chimney sweep
  30. Chinese food take-out service
  31. Christmas tree lot
  32. Cleaning service – for houses
  33. Cleaning service – garage & attic
    (you haul away junk)
  34. Clown
  35. Coach – Personal or Business
  36. Coffee shop owner
  37. Coin dealer
  38. Collection agency
  39. Columnist
  40. Comedian (stand-up)
  41. Companion to elderly or disabled
  42. Computer animator
  43. Consultant – (according to expertise e.g. business, computer, or publishing)
  44. Cooking classes
  45. Costume rentals or sales
  46. Courier service (bike)
  47. Crafts businesses
  48. Crafts instructor
  49. Craft supplies catalogue
  50. Dance instructor
  51. Dating service
  52. Daycare (for adults or children)
  53. Desktop publishing
  54. Disc jockey (mobile)
  55. Disk duplication
  56. Dog grooming or training
  57. Drapery cleaning
  58. Dry waller
  59. eBay Seller (buy items at garage sales & flea markets, sell on eBay)
  60. Editing and proofreading service
  61. Errand service
  62. Etiquette training
  63. Event planning
  64. Executive recruiter
  65. Financial planning services
  66. First aid instructor
  67. Flea market sales
  68. Flower stands
  69. Foreign language instructor
  70. Formal wear rental service (male or female)
  71. Freelance writing
  72. Fundraiser
  73. Furniture refinishing & repair
  74. Gardening consultant
  75. Garage sale organizer
  76. Gift basket maker
  77. Glass tinters
  78. Grant writing consultant
  79. Graphic design services
  80. Greeting card service
  81. Gutter cleaning
  82. Hairdresser (mobile)
  83. Handyman services
  84. Healthcare consultant
  85. Herb farming
  86. Home inspection service
  87. Home repair
  88. House cleaning
  89. Housekeeper
  90. House painting
  91. Housesitting
  92. Ice cream truck
  93. Image consultant
  94. Import products
  95. Human resources consultant
  96. Information and research service
  97. Interior decorating
  98. Janitorial services
  99. Jewelry design or repair
  100. Juggler
  101. Knife sharpening
  102. Knitting
  103. Landscaping
  104. Laundry service
  105. Lawn care
  106. Letter writing service
  107. Limo service
  108. Literary agent
  109. Loan consultant
  110. Locksmith
  111. Macramé
  112. Mail order
  113. Magician
  114. Marketing consultant
  115. Massage therapist
  116. Meal delivery
  117. Meeting planner
  118. Message answering service
  119. Mime
  120. Multilevel marketing
  121. Music instructor
  122. Musician
  123. Nail salon
  124. Nanny placement service
  125. Newsletters
  126. Novelty shop
  127. Organizational consultant
  128. Packaging and shipping
  129. Painting service (interior or exterior)
  130. Party planner (children or adults)
  131. Personal fitness trainer
  132. Personal services – shopping & errands
  133. Personal services – for the elderly
  134. Pest removal
  135. Pet grooming or sitting
  136. Photographer
  137. Piano tuner
  138. Picture framing services
  139. Plant maintenance
  140. Plant nursery (grow & sell plants)
  141. Plasterer
  142. Pool service
  143. Portrait artist
  144. Posters
  145. Pottery
  146. Private investigating
  147. Publicist/agent
  148. Public speaker
  149. Puppeteer
  150. Recycling service
  151. Relocation service
  152. Rental finding service
  153. Restaurant delivery service
  154. Resumé writing
  155. Reunion planning
  156. Roof restoration
  157. Sandwich stands
  158. Screen printing
  159. Seminar services
  160. Sewing school
  161. Shoe repair
  162. Shopping service
  163. Sightseeing tours
  164. Small business consultant
  165. Snow removal
  166. Stamps
  167. Tax preparation service
  168. Teaching English as second language
  169. Technical writing
  170. Telemarketing service
  171. Television and appliance repair
  172. Temporary help service
  173. Thrift store
  174. Tour guide (walking, hiking, cycling, car)
  175. Training consultant
  176. Translator
  177. Tutoring
  178. Upholstery cleaning or repair
  179. Used bookstore owner
  180. Used clothing sales
  181. Vending machine service
  182. Videotaping service
  183. Web designer
  184. Website hosting
  185. Wedding planner
  186. Wallpaper hanging
  187. Window cleaning
  188. Windshield repair service
  189. Word processing service
  190. Yoga instructor