10 Low-Cost Service Businesses to Start from Home

Service businesses can be very inexpensive to start, and often can be run right out of your home. If you’re looking for a low-cost business to start, try one of these ten service business ideas.

Have you ever thought about ditching your nine-to-five job and striking out on your own? Making this a reality may be easier than you think. If you’re hesitant due to concerns about securing start-up capital, here’s some good news: A service business can often be started without much money. Better still, many service jobs can be operated mostly or entirely from home.

You may already have an idea about the type of business you’d like to start up. If not, don’t worry. There are plenty of viable options, and many of them can be handled by people with all kinds of different backgrounds. Here are 10 ideas to help get those wheels turning:

1. Handyman service

If you’re handy with fixing things around the house the perfect business for you to start may be a handyman service. Families with high incomes and busy schedules as well as older homeowners who are starting to find it difficult to do certain kinds of tasks are ideal targets for everything from fixing screens, painting the porch, doing minor plumbing repairs, or even moving furniture in the house. The types of services you could perform will depend on your personal skills and training, and your customers’ needs. One way to get started: make contact with general contractors in your area and let them know you’re available. Often general contractors retain the services of subcontractors to handle various tasks on their jobs. Referrals from friends and family are helpful too, and small classified ads in weekly local newspapers and shoppers can be beneficial too for this type of business.

2. Personal Chef

Some people simply don’t have time to prepare tasty, nutritious meals every day. Often, these people have enough disposable income that they will happily pay for someone else to prepare and deliver those meals. According to the American Personal & Private Chef Association, personal chefs report an income between $200 and $500 a day. Before getting too carried away, however, check local zoning laws. If cooking up a storm sounds like your dream business, be sure to look into local regulations regarding food preparation and consider purchasing liability insurance to cover your business activity. 

3. Tutor

According to CNBC, private tutoring is a $7 billion industry. You can easily grab a slice of that pie if you have in-depth knowledge about a particular subject and can teach concepts to others. Students can come to your home, and you can easily charge anywhere from $40 to $50 per hour. Needless to say, the cost of starting up such a business is minimal.

4. Professional Organizer

Do you have a passion for keeping things neat? Are you good at sorting through clutter and weeding things that need to be retained from things that can be disposed of? Do you enjoy arranging things so everything has a place, and everything winds up in its place? If you answered yes to these questions a business as a professional organizer may be just right for you. Depending on your background and interests, you could tackle anything from helping individuals clear up clutter in their homes, to helping businesses de-clutter office or organize their records.

5. Virtual Assistant

Most of the work that administrative assistants and secretaries do can just as easily be done from home. That’s precisely why the virtual assistant industry has taken off over the last several years. In addition to offering virtual assistant services, you can offer specialized services like marketing and technical troubleshooting to command higher pay. Websites like UpWork (formerly eLance) let you find freelancers for many types of work, or you can sign up with International Virtual Assistants Association, an online registry, and let the clients come to you.

6. Computer Repair

Are you the person who friends and family turn to for when their computer breaks down? If you know how to troubleshoot and fix a wide range of problems, turn your talent into a work-from-home service business. Consumers and small businesses will pay well for someone to come to their location to get their computer working. Because you will be dealing with other people’s property and data, it’s important to get insurance coverage for this type of business. 

7. Online Retailer

Online retailing is a huge business. In fact, in the US alone, desktop retail e-commerce sales amounted to $237 billion dollars in 2014. While the bulk of those sales are rung up by big businesses, small companies can make handsome profits, too. That’s because cloud-based shopping cart services like Shopify and online marketplaces like Etsy and Ebay have made it very easy for small companies to sell products online — even creating an online bookstore. The secret to success is to choose something to sell that you really like and know a lot about and that has a market you know how to reach (ie, people who want to buy). Then, promote your products to that market on a regular basis. If you don’t have your own products, or don’t want to buy and store inventory, look for reputable drop shippers who have products you’d be interested in selling.

Related: When to sell from your own website vs a third-party marketplace

8. Party Planner

According to IbisWorld.com, around 215,000 people are employed as party planners, and the industry generates around $5 billion in revenue each year. The job involves setting up equipment rentals, caterers and the like, but most of the work can be done from home. For a sociable, outgoing person who is also good at paying attention to detail, this is a fun gig, and can be very affordable to get off the ground.

9. Pet Sitter and Groomer

If you love animals, you can take care of pets for a fee. Many pet owners prefer keeping their pets in their own homes instead of boarding them at kennels when they travel. You can profit by caring for their pets while they are away. The amount you can earn will depend on your location, the number of pets you’ll take care of, and what needs to be done. (ie, Feed the cat once a day, vs walking 2 dogs three times a day). By offering grooming services too, you can cash in even more.

10. Video Producer

YouTube and Facebook videos are a great way to market a small business. But many small businesses don’t have the skill to produce videos that will help sell their products and services. If you possess the equipment, software and skills, producing videos for small to mid-sized businesses could be your key to being your own boss.

Endless Possibilities

These are just a few of the service businesses that can be started on a very small budget. There are many others. Think through your personal skills, abilities and interests and think about how individuals or businesses might be able to use what you know how to do. If you can’t think of anything on your own, we have a list of 1001 business ideas that may spark your interest.

Did you know that by starting an LLC you’re increasing your liability protection by creating a separation between yourself and business? This can be filed on your own or through a top incorporation service like ZenBusiness or any good Legal Zoom and Inc Authority alternative.

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