If you want to move away from the traditional nine to five, you’ll need to launch your own business but that can get pretty expensive and, the trouble is, most entrepreneurs when they’re first starting out don’t usually have a ton of money to fund themselves. If cash is what’s holding you back, you’ll be pleased to know that there are many low investment business ideas you can try out to get your own business up and running, even on a meager budget.
We’re going to explore precisely that in this article. Let’s dive straight in!
Low Investment Business Ideas #1: Dropshipping
Purchasing and managing inventory is a large financial commitment. Not to mention, it takes up loads of time and effort which you probably don’t have if you’re also working another job on the side.
Starting a business takes more than just researching and finding a selection of winning products—in addition, you have to shell out for stock, budget for warehousing, pay for packaging, and sort out shipping which can all require a lot of money to execute successfully.
This is where dropshipping comes into play.
If you’re unsure about what dropshipping actually is, check out our Dropshipping 101: What is Dropshipping? article to get an in-depth overview but it’s simply an order fulfillment model where online sellers (AKA, you, the merchant) utilize third-party suppliers such as manufacturers, wholesalers, or any kind of product supplier in general.
With dropshipping, instead of you being the responsible party for storing and shipping your merchandise to your customers, your supplier does this on your behalf but in a way that makes it appear to your customers like the orders are coming directly from you.
How it works is when a customer makes an order on your website, you pass the order information along to the supplier and they take care of the rest. Consequently, there’s no need for you to handle any of the products, store them in your own warehouse or actually physically fulfill and ship orders out to customers.
This makes it incredibly easy to curate a variety of different products to sell online from one (or more) suppliers. There’s even a whole host of apps that upload dropshipping product details from the supplier straight onto your own sales pages so they’re ready for you to edit which means pretty much that all you need to worry about is making sales and providing customers with top-notch service!
There are lots of drop shipping vendors out there. Some operate from the US and others overseas, so take your time finding a reliable supplier to partner with. Some of the more popular drop shippers include:
To find more dropshipping suppliers, check out our Premium Dropshipping Suppliers Directory here (or access the free version of the dropshipping directory here) and check out our roundup of the 10 Best Shopify Dropshipping Apps if you’re looking for a dropshipping product supplier that will connect directly to your Shopify store.
As you may have gathered already, dropshipping is also an excellent way to test products you’re considering making or selling yourself because it massively reduces the risks associated with investing, creating, and launching your own merchandise. Instead of purchasing a bunch of materials upfront to make your products or purchasing an expensive amount of inventory without knowing whether it will actually all sell or not, see if you can test the waters first by dropshipping. Start a simple store with some dropshipping products and try to drive traffic to the store, make sales, and run some ads. We have an entire article dedicated to how you can test product ideas with dropshipping so check that out for more information.
If you plan on building a long-term business based on the dropshipping business model, you’ll want to establish a relationship with your supplier. This means building trust so that they’re more likely to provide a reliable service for you. The last thing you want is to go into business with an undependable supplier—this reflects poorly on your brand and could lose you customers. All in all, take time to nurture this relationship, it’ll be worth it in the long run!
Low Investment Business Ideas #2: Print-on-Demand
Print-on-demand is a business model very similar to dropshipping so, as we said above, you’ll be relying on a third-party supplier to handle your inventory, shipping, and order fulfillment. The critical difference with print-on-demand, however, is that you’re able to customize products with your own designs.
Common examples of print-on-demand products include:
- Phone cases
- Tote bags
You name it, there’s a good chance that you’ll find a print-on-demand supplier listing the specific kind of product you want to customize. So, if you’re creative and you have artwork or designs that you want to sell, this might be the perfect business model for you!
If designing isn’t your strong suit, however, head on over to one of the many freelance sites and you can commission artists or creatives to produce high-quality designs for you which you can then get printed on your products. Fiverr, Upwork, Dribbble, and 99Designs are all fabulous examples of freelance sites you could use to find creatives.
It’s worth noting, however, that most print-on-demand suppliers require you to pay per-product which usually results in a higher unit price than regular dropshippers who can buy/make their merchandise in bulk. So although it’s a slight disadvantage that print-on-demand dropshipping doesn’t allow as much room for markups, if a specific design doesn’t sell you also won’t have wasted a dime because you don’t purchase stock until you’ve sold it on your website, meaning there are no upfront costs as far as inventory is concerned.
There are plenty of print-on-demand services out there and the majority of them integrate with Shopify so if you’re already running a store via this ecommerce platform, you should, in theory, enjoy a smooth and fully automated order fulfillment process. Some of the popular print-on-demand companies include:
You can also check out our Premium Dropshipping Suppliers Directory to find more print-on-demand dropshippers (or access the free version of the dropshipping directory here) and check out our roundup of the 10 Best Shopify Dropshipping Apps which includes print-on-demand dropshipping suppliers that connect directly to Shopify stores.
For more print-on-demand dropshipping resources, check out Creative Market to create DIY designs for your products, this list of the Best T-Shirt Mockup Templates if you’re going to be focusing exclusively on starting up an online t-shirt business and also Placeit which can help you create beautiful mockups for a wide variety of different products which you can use as product photos on your website or in social media posts and ads. It’s a great idea to use a mockup generator to create your product photos because it’s way easier than getting every single product of yours printed and shipped for you to photograph and manually upload to your online store.
Low Investment Business Ideas #3: Write an Ebook
If you’ve always dreamt of writing an all-time classic or something helpful and useful, consider writing and launching an ebook. You don’t have to be a word wizard—you just need enough knowledge about a specific area of expertise to provide value to your target demographic.
For example, if you’re a dog trainer, you could write an ebook giving away your best puppy training tips. Or if you have experience in Human Resources, you could write an ebook about the best recruitment practices. The scope of what you could write about is limitless—just think about what you’re good at and go for it!
Here are a few handy tips to bear in mind as you launch and sell your first ebook:
- Think About Pricing: If you’re new to the world of ebooks, you need to be aware that you’re (probably) an unknown writer. Now, we’re not saying this to discourage you from creating an ebook, instead, you just need to be aware of that fact and approach that territory accordingly. From the customers’ perspective, there’s more of a risk when purchasing from an unknown author than from a name they recognize so you’ll need to price your book accordingly. Do some research to get to grips with the prices other writers in your niche are charging for similar ebooks. At the very least, you want the cost of your book to be comparable.
- Don’t Stop Working After the Initial Launch: If you’re taking this low investment business idea seriously then momentum is essential. This means scheduling plenty of follow-up work after the launch. By this we mean, launching email marketing and social media campaigns, hosting webinars, guest blogging or whatever other methods you’re comfortable using to get your product out to your intended audience.
- Don’t Be Afraid to Give it Away for Free: Now, at first, this may seem counterintuitive but bear with us: If you’re not solely looking to make a profit—maybe you’re hoping to establish yourself as an authority or grow your email list instead—then giving away a free ebook for readers to download is an excellent idea. This comes in especially handy if you’re launching a series of books. If that’s your plan then give away your first ebook for free to hook your readers and then charge for the rest of your works—ingenious!
Low Investment Business Ideas #4: Create & Sell Digital Products
These days, there’s an incredible amount of demand for digital products. From online courses to downloadable music to ebooks, there are tons of exclusively-online products that you can create and sell.
Not to mention, if you’re new to online selling, digital products are great to get started with because you don’t have to budget for manufacturing, inventory, or shipping costs which means your profit margins should remain relatively high.
If you already have a Shopify store and want to branch out into digital products, you can download Shopify’s free digital downloads app. This enables you to sell digital products online alongside your physical merchandise. If you aren’t using Shopify, you can also sell digital products through WordPress/WooCommerce (although it’s a self-hosted ecommerce platform option as opposed to a hosted option like Shopify or BigCommerce), BigCommerce—learn more about adding downloadable products to your BigCommerce store here, Squarespace, BigCartel, Gumroad, Sellfy, and Pulley.
Want to Create & Sell an Online Course?
If you nodded your head as you read the above question, take note of this advice:
- For a course to be successful, provide customers with the information they need to achieve tangible results for themselves. After all, there’s a good chance that your customers are only parting with their cash out of sheer desperation to learn how to do something so you better follow through on that! This is why step-by-step systems tend to convert so well; they help entrepreneurs set customer expectations, goals, and time frames to a realistic standard. Consequently, customers are more likely to feel satisfied with the digital product you’ve created and sold to them.
- For the launch of your course, you need to build suspense. This isn’t as hard as you might think. Lots of course developers report having success with creating and launching a free video series. These videos usually provide short snippets of valuable content to hook the prospect. Although it’s a free giveaway, ensure that the viewer learns something new. By giving students tidbits of value, you’re more likely to inspire them to enroll in your course.
- First, and above all else, ensure that there’s demand for the digital product you’re offering before you create it. The easiest way to do this is through market research which may sound long, drawn out, and painful but it’s well worth it. There’s no point investing weeks of your time and energy into creating a course only to realize no ones interested in what you’re offering!
So, if there’s already a few courses out there in your niche, this is a good sign. From this, you can infer there’s a definite demand for your course topic.
In addition to this preliminary research, ask yourself the following questions:
- Are people asking questions about your potential course content online?
- Can you offer something slightly different from the rest of your competition?
- Are people talking about your niche on social media?
- Are industry influencers blogging or vlogging about it?
If it’s a “yes” to all the above, it sounds like your course idea is worth pursuing!
Low Investment Business Ideas #5: Create an Online Fashion Brand
If you have a passion for fashion, this might be an avenue worth considering. After all, starting an online clothing line can be far cheaper than opening a brick-and-mortar fashion boutique and, when done well, the return on your investment can be much higher!
If you don’t consider yourself a fashion designer have no fear, you can use the dropshipping business model we mentioned above to start an online fashion store but still keep it low cost.
Really and truly, launching your own fashion brand has never been easier or lower cost. Numerous product sourcing apps integrate directly with Shopify, WooCommerce and plenty of other major ecommerce platforms which comes in especially handy for finding, selecting, and uploading apparel and accessories to sell on your store.
To find fashion items so you can start a clothing brand for very little upfront investment, check out these particular suppliers, or head over to our Dropshipping Suppliers Directory for more:
Low Investment Business Ideas #6: Sell Homemade Goods
If you’re an avid crafter or Pinterest user and can’t get enough of DIY projects then you might as well earn some extra cash from your passion! It doesn’t matter whether you make homemade cards, pottery, soaps, bath bombs, furniture, or whatever else you enjoy manufacturing in your spare time, there’s a good chance that there’s a market online you can appeal to.
Unfortunately, if this is a route you’re considering, unlike the other business ventures on this list, you’ll have to bear in mind that you’ll likely be responsible for your own inventory and shipping management because you’re creating products from home so you won’t have automatic access to storage and shipping facilities. This means that you’d need to handle this all yourself or, as you expand, find a fulfillment warehouse to outsource to.
But, let’s not get too ahead of ourselves.
Most entrepreneurs who undertake this kind of home business start off working on a per-order basis and then, over time, they scale up to handle small batches of orders. Once your business gains more traction, you’ll eventually have both the funds and infrastructure to handle consistent sales.
Tips to Help You start Any of these Low Investment Business Ideas
If you like the sound of one (or more) of these low investment business ideas, take on board the following pieces of advice as they’ll likely help your venture get started on the right foot.
Picking a niche is essential. It may seem hard at first—especially if you have several passions you’re tempted to pursue—but trust us, if you’re serious about profiting from your business, you’ll be amazed at how much easier it is to market an industry-specific brand than a general one.
Without an effective marketing strategy, you won’t make money. Period. It’s not enough to just have a fantastic business idea and a flawless online store—you need to get your products in front of people who actually want to buy what you’re offering. This means finding your ideal customers and driving them to your online store.
This is where you’ll thank your lucky stars you have a niche.
When you only have to worry about one demographic, you can then tailor your content and ads to resonate with that audience, which should result in higher conversion rates.
Not to mention, having a niche also makes it easier to keep your branding consistent which, as we all know, is critical for boosting brand recognition and building a healthy rapport with prospective customers.
If you’re new to online selling, there’s a good chance you won’t have a big audience. This is where influencer marketing is really useful because you can quickly tap into a pre-established following that is relevant to your industry.
Just head over to YouTube, Facebook, and/or Instagram and type in keywords that are relevant to what you’re selling, and see who appears. You can do the same with Google to see which bloggers have already established themselves in your niche. Alternatively, use influencer marketing marketplaces like Grapevine and Famebit to really hone in on influencers in your niche.
Now, all that’s left to do is reach out and contact the bloggers and influencers you’ve found. Say, for example, you’re trying to market your ebook—send them a free copy and politely request if they’ll give you a shout out or ask them if they have any advertising options you can purchase from them.
Start a YouTube Channel
If you haven’t already, it’s time that you create a YouTube channel for your business to market your new business. After all, it’s the second most-visited search engine after Google so it’ll come as no surprise there are millions of daily searches for “how-to” videos.
In light of that, we suggest posting short, sharp, and engaging videos that provide viewers with actionable advice pertinent to your niche.
But, it’s not enough just to do this once and hope for the best. Commit to the long haul and create and publish regular videos on your channel. This is the only way you’ll gradually build up your following and it’ll encourage your audience to come back for more!
Optimize Your Social Media Profiles
You need to optimize all your social media profiles because, in addition to your website and blog, these channels are excellent platforms for positioning yourself as an expert in your industry.
Updating your bio on each of your handles is one of the simplest things you can do to communicate your area of expertise. You should also link out to your website so that potential prospects can easily find out more about what you have to offer should they want to.
Create a High-Converting Sales Page
When creating the product description for your sales page, you’ll want to communicate the benefits of your products clearly. By this we mean highlighting the desired result, achievement, look, or feel that your target audience craves. If you don’t think you have the writing chops to do the job justice, hire a professional copywriter from freelance marketplaces like Upwork, Fiverr, FreeeUp or iWriter.
Offer a Guarantee
We highly recommend that you offer customers a satisfaction guarantee. You’ll be amazed at how this helps increase sales.
It stands to reason that consumers don’t like taking risks so, by providing that guarantee, you help them overcome an objection that might have otherwise prevented them from making the purchase.
It also shows how confident you are in your products. After all, you wouldn’t offer a refund unless you were sure that very few shoppers (if any) were going to utilize this policy.
Create a Facebook Page
You should always create a Facebook business page for your brand. This is an excellent way to attract fans and boost brand recognition plus it’s also an invaluable platform for sharing content with your audience.
For starters, be sure to create and use a professional-looking cover image that exudes the aesthetic of your brand. Canva and Creative Market both have plenty of free templates that you can use to create superb designs. We also suggest including a link to your website in the description of your Facebook page.
Share Infographics on Pinterest
If you have an eye for design, creating infographics and sharing them on Pinterest could be an excellent way for you to market your business.
Just conduct some research to find interesting facts and stats, and present them in a beautiful infographic-style design that’ll engage your target audience. Like we’ve said time and again, we highly suggest including a link in your post. This is very effective for driving traffic from Pinterest to your website.
If you’re unsure of how to create fabulous looking Infographics head to YouTube, there are tons of useful tutorials. Again, you can also use Canva and Creative Market to create graphics that abide by Pinterest’s image size requirements.
Have any of these low investment business ideas fuelled you with inspiration? Or, have you just recently launched one of the above ventures? If not, and if you want to start your very own online business but don’t have a lot of cash to contribute then try out one of these low investment business ideas for yourself!