Five Cheap Startup Ideas that Scale

When you think of cheap business startups, you think of overhead costs. Time is also a cost, though, and it’s one we don’t often consider when we look into starting a business for ourselves. Starting a new business sounds really great but without a lot of time it feels like a far off dream.

So here are five truly cheap startup ideas that anyone can manage in their spare time and grow into something more profitable.

Massage Therapist

Massage therapy is a traveling profession, and you’ll meet a lot of people. Not for the squeamish. You should be sociable and OK with touching other people. If that sounds like you, the cost of massage supplies, like a table and some essentials, plus some training is about all you’ll need. Some states may require certifications, so be sure to check in your area to comply with local laws and regulations.

It’s not difficult to advertise, and you can easily offer competitive rates. Invest in enough training to know what you’re doing without hurting someone, but don’t invest in a lot of schooling until the work is really paying dividends.

Cook for Hire

The cooking scene is seeing some good growth with services that send meals in a bag, and “uber for cooking” like services that send a chef to your home to prepare a meal. Start with people you know and trust and offer one night a week. Cover the costs of supplies and a reasonable hourly rate.

It might seem novel but there’s real value in taking that task off someone else’s plate, so to speak.

The trick is you have to be decent at cooking, and you should be able to cover most of the supplies you’ll need. You also have to be comfortable in someone else’s home, and you should be willing to travel.


Computer Services

If you can earn a few certifications, you can qualify yourself as a computer technician and earn some money on the side by offering to fix or clean computers. You’ll need a basic tool kit with screwdrivers, some cleaning suppliers (usually an air can or specialty vacuum), along with a few other necessities (like testing equipment).

The rest is in your mind. If you’re good with Windows machines, and you know your way around computer hardware, the investment is minimal. There is also ample opportunity for growth. Lots of people need help setting up home networks, private media servers, media PCs and home surveillance systems.



Caregiving can be tricky to get into as restrictions tighten state by state, but there’s still a lot of room for pets, children and elder care. This type of job requires someone who is patient, kind and willing to lend a hand.

It’s not easy work all the time, but it can be very rewarding and simple.

Caregiving may rely on certifications or completion of education state by state. It’s important to comply with the laws and regulations, especially because of the liability you face if you’re caught operating without proper licenses. It’s also important for your reputation, but the largest investment this kind of work requires is from you.


Selling Online

Have you used eBay or Etsy to sell something you make? Maybe you have stock of something lying around and want to get rid of it?

Selling online is a very cost effective way to make side income. You can grow your business is you’re effective at it. If you can show a track record of creating listings that lead to sales, people will pay you a commission to sell their stuff. “Learning eBay” is really all about sales tactics, so anyone good at copywriting and sales can try their hand at this gig.


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