10 Self-Employed Businesses You Can Start Today With Little or No Money

Starting Your Own Small Business Today on the Cheap

Of course the conventional wisdom is that when you don’t have a ton of cash on hand, or an existing employment situation from which you might transition to full-time freelancing, starting a business is tough. That’s true – if you choose the wrong sort of business.

The fact is, it is not nearly as tough if you do it right.

What do I mean by that? One way to succeed right now is to start an inexpensive part-time, home-based business.

Some Self-Employed Opportunities When Just Starting Out

No, none of the ideas below are get rich quick plans, but they certainly can help you get some extra dough now, and maybe even more later. Here then are some freelance businesses that can be started right now without a lot of time or money:

1. Deliveries / Driver:
Especially with the price of gas evening out a bit, this might make sense. Businesses of all sorts (in bigger cities especially) need stuff delivered every day. Print up some flyers, charge less, and away you go.

2. eBay sales:
We once had a pal who spent every weekend at garage sales buying old motorcycle parts which he then sold during the week on eBay. He made several thousand dollars a month. His motto? It’s all in the buying. Think of something you know well, hunt it out, and resell it on eBay. Buy low, sell high.

Related: How to Make a Fortune on eBay

3. Residential and commercial cleaning:
House cleaning is a tried and true freelance-based business, and it can lead to more lucrative commercial contracts. The cost to get into this sort of business is almost zero.

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4. Transcription:
Doctors and lawyers especially contract out transcription services.

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5. Window washing, spa and pool cleaning, snow removal, etc:
Simple service businesses like these can be started with very little time and money and require nothing but some elbow grease. Again, especially in this economy, the secret is to undercut the competition in terms of price.

6. Pet-sitting and house-sitting:
No, you won’t make a ton of money, but these sorts of businesses can be a nice source of extra income. (Although the dog sitter up the street seems to have 20 dogs a day, every day. Lets see… 20 dogs x$20 a day = $400 /day. X 5 days a week = $2,000 a week. Not bad, not bad at all!)

7. Hauling:
With a truck and a Craigslist ad, you can have a business removing junk for people.

Related: How to Start a Moving or Hauling Business for Little or No Money

8. Independent sales representative or manufacturer’s rep:
Thousands of companies hire independent salespeople to get their products into store and handle their product lines. This job would likely take you on the road for long stretches. Consider handling the products of several different companies.

LightbulbWant even more great low or no cost business ideas? Check out: Even More Businesses You Can Start With Little or No Money!

9. Gardener:
If you have a green thumb this might be the right business for you, but of course it tends to be seasonal work with most of it coming in the spring and summer, along with some leaf cleanup in the fall.

10. Childcare:
Of course this is a business that requires extra responsibility and due care, but it can also be very rewarding and can be started with little money.
This list is really just a sample to get you thinking. If you have a specialized skill, such as automotive repair or being bilingual, you could parlay those as well into a shoestring startup. The important thing is that you open your eyes to the possibilities.
More Ideas to Consider…


  1. perfectly and efficiently wrote article that helps me a lot to understand it .i got very informative knowledge thanks for sharing this

  2. I’m only 19 I’ve worked in tons of call centers and finally realized I will not be a slave to someone else’s million dollar idea . I want to quit my job and start making money everyday to at least take care of my essentials Rent , Car Note , Power/Electricity , etc. But how do I instantly make money out of these ideas

  3. I’m only 19 I’ve worked in tons of call centers and finally realized I will not be a slave to someone else’s million dollar idea . I want to quit my job and start making money everyday to at least take care of my essentials Rent , Car Note , Power/Electricity , etc. But how do I instantly make money out of these ideas.

    • Hi,
      I am from India, tamilnadu. I am a semi-qualified cost accountant with more than half a decade of experience in International Finance & Accounts BPO. If you can get some Accounting work from micro and small companies, i will do it if required I can make it as a team work here you will receive your commission. In our area outsourcing is possible due to low cost employment. If you have any questions you can email me at [email protected]

  4. I am self-employed, but my a friend of mine asked the question:
    “so, what is your position in your job?”

    I did not expect someone to ask any question like this.
    Do self-employed people have any positions?

    • If you are self employed you are the CEO, product representative, clerical support staff, shipping and receiving clerk and general flunky… I call it being a slave to the dream = absolutely the best job in the world if you are organized and dedicated.

  5. You have no idea how many transcriptionists there are. It’s continually promoted by colleges as a great way to make money. What that means is that there are way too many transcriptionists and not enough jobs (not even as a contractor).

  6. Fiverr is a great source / place for Freelancers, I’ve purchased a few gigs from there in the past to help with those things I don’t have the skills for myself.

  7. Some great ideas on here, I started a low cost business just a few months ago and have seen great success.
    A few other simple ideas though….. Dog walking, blogging, writing reviews, crafting

  8. I’ve been self employed now for over 25 years, most recently selling mobile apps to small and medium sized businessess. No investment, no catch is the key with some of these things. This company required no start up fee and gave free training … I have been very successful with it! Sign me happy! smartypantsmobilemedia!

  9. 2. eBay sales: Thats how I started, now I have a multiple ecommerce sites but I wouldnt do ebay now, ebay is absolutely horrible for sellers from everything from fee’s to it’s policy’s. Plus they could shut you down at any moment for any little reason and then you have no income. Seen it happen to many people on their message boards. Actually anyone even considering ebay as a anything more then a hobby should check out their message boards first to get a real good idea of what they are up against with that plan.

    7. Hauling: Yeah, go look at craigslist, spammed hard with endless “free removal” ad’s.. way to much competition in this economy.

  10. I started a self employment business as a Plastic Surgeon in 1990.
    I only had to finish High School (4 yrs), College (4 yrs) and Graduate with a Bachelors Degree at top of Class and then get admitted to Medical School (4 yrs) and Graduate at top of Class to compete for position in Surgical Residency (4 yrs) and Graduate as Chief Resident to compete for Fellowship Position in Replantation and Microsurgery (1 yr) to then get admitted for a Plastic Surgery Residency (2 yrs) then borrow $500,000 to open a medical practice and to add to my $300,000 Schooling Debts to START WORKING to begin to pay back my debts!!!!

    OR I could have just waited for Government Run OBowMao NoCare Insurance Scheme and get paid a big check working for imbeciles like OBowMao who think they know Everything about Medicine!!!!!

    • I dd 10 YEARS of Volunteer NO PAY Missionary Surgery and dedicated one month out of every year to provide free surgery in Third World Countries worldwide!
      60% of ALL Patents treated in Emergency Rooms by Doctors that are required to care for them 24 hours a day NEVER PAY A PENNY for their care!
      In other words Betty, I have personally PAID FOR MORE FREE CARE for the poor of the USA and the world than you willl ever make in your lifetime!
      But being a dimmoKKKRAT that probably NEVER DONATES A PENNY OF YOUR OWN MONEY to the poor, but DEMANDS money from everyone else be REDISTRIBUTED BY OBOWMAO, you know nothing about CHARITABLE GIVING vs BEING ROBBED BY OBOWMAO!

      • You do know you are coming off as completely disingenuous. You seem like some right wing kook with Obama Derangement Syndrome. No one really believes you are a highly qualified surgeon. Your writing, verbiage, and random use of made up words and insults mark you as uneducated. You come off as angry and unbelievable. Was that your goal?