17 Small Businesses You Can Start for Under $100

Curious dogs leaning on dog daycare counter
••• Hero Images / Getty Images

People often dream of starting a business and working for themselves. For many of us, the hurdle of having enough money to launch the business prevents us from following our dream of business ownership. However, it is possible to ​start a business with very little money upfront.

The main costs associated with starting a business are usually advertising and marketing collateral (such as business cards). In many cases, you can jump-start your business with some flyers posted in key locations, social media marketing, word of mouth marketing or other bootstrap marketing techniques (working with little to no marketing budget).

Here are some examples of businesses that you can launch (if you already own the tools and have the skills). 

After-School Tutor

Tutors are needed provide educational assistance in just about every subject area for students of many ages. The key to starting a tutoring business with little investment is starting with one or two students and asking them to refer you to others.

Garage Sale Consultant

It takes a lot of work to have a garage sale, and you don't always get the results you want. Many people are willing to pay for the assistance of a seasoned garage sales expert to help with pricing, displaying merchandise and negotiating with buyers. If you have these skills, a business as a garage sale consultant may be a great fit.

Handyman/Handywoman

Many people need repairs and other small projects completed around the house that don't warrant the help of a professional contractor. If these homeowners don't have the skills or the desire to do the work themselves they look to hiring a handyman.

If you are often called Mr. or Ms. Fix It, starting a business as a handyman/handywoman can provide you with a low-investment business opportunity. The biggest cost for this business idea will be liability insurance.

Personal Concierge 

A personal concierge handles your errands, manages your schedule, takes your dog to the vet and helps to plan your travel itinerary for your next vacation. Starting a personal concierge business can be a great small business idea for anyone who enjoys assisting others, has a flexible schedule and thrives on variety.

Small Batch Gourmet Shop Owner

Gourmet is in! From specialty bread to beer, to chocolates and other sweet treats, if you have a passion for making artisanal or gourmet food, you may have a future with a small batch gourmet food business. If you are willing to ship your products, you may find you can expand your business with cost-effective online marketing. 

Virtual Assistant

A virtual assistant provides administrative, creative and/or technical services remotely. If you are tech-savvy and have a range of experiences that can streamline an entrepreneur's business, a virtual assistant business may be a great fit for you.

Holiday Decorator

Ever wish you had a Christmas elf who showed up right after Thanksgiving to get your holiday decorations set up, then returned after the New Year to take them all down and neatly put them away? There is a market for it. If you enjoy the decorating process, you may find that you can start a business holiday decorating for families or small businesses in your community.

Social Media Manager

The majority of businesses, educational institutions, and non-profit organizations use social media in some capacity to reach their audiences, but not everyone wants to be hands-on. If you have a strong understanding of various social platforms and want to provide targeted services in this area, explore creating a social media management business.

Organizational Consultant

Many people struggle when it comes to getting and staying organized. It can be difficult to create a system that works and maintain it over time. If this is an area where you thrive, and you enjoy sharing your organizational skills and systems with others, an organizational consultant—for homes or offices—may be an excellent business idea for you.

Computer Repair and Maintenance Provider 

Think of all of the households and businesses that have computers but don't have an in-house technical expert. If you have a technical background and an expert understanding of computers, a small business in computer repair and maintenance could be a great business idea for you.

Information Products Creator 

Information products can come in many forms, including ebooks, audio downloads, videos, webinars, online courses, and even blog posts. If you enjoy writing and developing tutorials and other informative content, you can create a series of information products to sell online through a website or blog.

Freelance Coding

Many people are developing skills with software at early ages. If you are one of these or have the education and skills to back it up you might consider a career as a freelance or contract coder. All you need is a computer and an internet connection.

Many companies are turning to contractors and freelancers for their projects. Getting a start might be slow unless you are already highly skilled. Freelancing can be unrewarding at first, but sticking with it will prove to be beneficial as you grow your client base.

Bookkeeper

For this business idea to be low-cost and successful, you will need experience with bookkeeping and/or accounting on a professional level, plus a certain level of knowledge of accounting software, such as QuickBooks. If you have these skills combined with an exemplary attention to detail, starting a bookkeeping business for other small business owners may be the business for you.

Event Planner 

Event planning is a great home-based business that can be done part-time, which is ideal when you're just dipping your toe into business ownership. If you truly enjoy the planning and preparation that is necessary before a party, it's time to explore starting an event planning business.

Pet Sitter

Do you have a genuine love of animals, are trustworthy, and consistently available? If so, then a pet sitting business that allows you to care for others' pets during normal business hours, weekends and holidays may be a great place to start your path to entrepreneurship.

House Painter 

Many homeowners don't have the patience or experience to paint their homes and instead want to hire someone to handle the painting, both inside and out. If you have experience with house painting, you probably already have most of the equipment you would need, so start-up expenses would be low, making a house painting business a potentially profitable business.

WordPress Developer 

It seems everyone wants a website these days, whether they are business owners, bloggers or just have a hobby they want to promote online. And WordPress is the most popular platform to use. There is a learning curve, however, and some people just don't have the time or interest to learn what they need to know. If you are a WordPress expert, a business getting WordPress websites up and running could be a no-brainer for you.

Some Final Thoughts

The common theme for all of these business ideas is that they are home-based businesses that use skills you already have. Each business is a great fit for word of mouth marketing and generating business through referrals. Also, remember that when you start a low-investment business, the work you put into it will dictate what you get out of it.