Career > Entrepreneurs > 30 Home Based Business Ideas With No Start Up Costs

30 Home Based Business Ideas With No Start Up Costs

Want to work from your home as a drop shipper or a party planner? Here are 30 home based business ideas, to help you figure out how to make money on the side without paying start up costs.

100 startup guillebeauIf the idea of a home based business is new to you, read The $100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future by Chris Guillebeau. He describes how people (entrepreneurs) with no special skills discovered aspects of their personal passions that could be monetized, and were able to restructure their lives in ways that gave them greater freedom and fulfillment. This is an easy-to-use guide that will help you see different ways to make money from home without start up costs associated with being an entrepreneur. You’ll learn valuable lessons from those who learned how to turn what they do into a gateway to self-fulfillment.

Finding the right home based business is about finding the intersection between your “expertise” – even if you don’t consider it such – and what other people will pay for. You don’t need an MBA, a business plan, start up costs, or even employees to make money on the side. All you need is a product or service that springs from what you love to do, people willing to pay, and a way to get paid.

If you’re the quiet type, read Best Jobs for Introverts and Quiet People. The best tip on how to make money on the side is to match your strengths with what people need. In the list of home based business ideas below, you may recognize your natural abilities and interests…and from there it’s just finding a way to get paid to do what you love.

As you look through this list of home based business ideas with no start up costs, ask yourself if this is a home business you can actually do. Be realistic.

“The worst thing you can do is get your heart — and any investment money — set on an idea that you simply can’t pull off in the end,” writes Jason Sadler in Is Your Crazy New Business Idea a Home Run or a Dud? “Give yourself the time to really think through how this idea is going to work. Do you have the resources? Do you have the time or the budget to make it successful? Challenge yourself to ask the hard questions, and get specific.”

But don’t let indecision paralyze you! Sometimes the only way to know which of these side business ideas are best for you is to try them.

30 Home Based Business Ideas With No Start Up Costs

Finding the best ways to make money on the side involves combining your personality and skills with the marketplace. In this list of side business ideas, I match specific personality traits and skills with different ways to make money.

When I searched for specific home based business ideas with no start up costs, I found dozens of websites that charge money to get new entrepreneurs started. This blog post is not one of those sites! I am not affiliated with any of the websites I list here (except Amazon and Google Adsense). The websites I link to offer free tips and ideas on how to start a home based business.

Do you have a creative eye? Start a photography business

Digital photography is one of the most popular side business ideas because it doesn’t require much equipment – but you will need more start up capital than, say, blogging or freelance writing.

In 4 Ways To Make Money As A Photographer, John Davenport shares his ways to make money on the side as a photographer. He says, “I’ll share with you my experience with photography as a side business, give advice on getting started, and tell you whether or not I was successful in my attempts. I’ve also found a few more posts on DPS (Digital Photography School) that will help you find more information.”

Are you good at teaching? Start an online tutoring business

I’ve heard of online teaching, but online tutoring is new to me! You can help students practice their English skills, or tutor them in specific subjects such as Math or Science. If you are a retired teacher this is one of the best side business ideas because you won’t need to learn new skills.

In How to Start My Own Tutoring Business, Miranda Brookins lists 10 steps to tutoring online. Is this one of the easiest ways to make money on the side? Probably not. “Starting a tutoring business requires extensive knowledge on the topics being tutored, as well as the ability to engage students, encourage them to learn and teach them techniques that will help them during tests, when they’re completing projects, and doing homework and classwork assignments.”

Do you have strong computer skills? Start a virtual assistant business

I hesitated to include this on my list of home based business ideas with no start up costs because I think many virtual assistant jobs are outsourced to difference countries, such as India. It may be cheaper to hire a virtual assistant from India or elsewhere, which makes this home based business niche a bit too competitive. That said, however, I know we have lots of North Americans making a fine living as a virtual assistant! So, I included this as one of the best ways to make money on the side.

In How to Start Your Own Virtual Assistant Business, they say, “Virtual assisting is one of the fastest growing telecommute careers. Virtual secretaries perform many of the same duties as office assistants, including but not limited to: word processing, transcription, database management, appointment scheduling, mailing correspondence, and emailing.”

If starting a side business no longer appeals to you, read 10 Highest Paying Jobs for College Students.

Are you a neat freak? Start a cleaning business on the side

Home Based Businesses No Start Up Costs

Home Based Business Ideas With No Start Up Costs

This is one of those home based business ideas with no start up costs (except for cleaning supplies) that you can do in your neighborhood! Or, you can join a franchise such as Molly Maid, and get their marketing, advertising, and business support. Don’t limit your cleaning business idea to homes. Once, I interviewed two cleaners who cleaned up after serious incidents, such as toxic spills or home invasions.

Passive Cleaning has tons of great tips on starting a cleaning company as a side business idea. In How I Started My Cleaning Business, he says, “I took pleasure in the ability to see a job complete – start to finish. We would arrive at a cleaning location and the office would be a disaster. A short time later, the office would be sparkling clean, fresh smelling and ready for the next work day. We cleaned offices as a family for years, and earned a pretty good passive income with commercial cleaning.”

Do you love creative shopping? Start a gift basket service

This is one of the most helpful, creative home based business ideas – but there may be start up costs involved. Can you imagine delivering Get Well, Happy Birthday, Happy Anniversary, or Just Because gift baskets to people at their homes or offices? You could buy products (eg, chocolates, wines, nuts – the stuff that goes in gift baskets) in bulk, and creatively arrange them according to your clients’ needs.

In How to Start a Gift Basket Service, the folks at write “Gift baskets could be the closest thing to the perfect gift because they can be totally customized to suit the giver, the recipient, the occasion and the desired price. For some people, creating gift baskets is the perfect business: an opportunity to be artistic, creative and entrepreneurial.” If you love shopping and being creative, a gift basket service may be your  best way to make money on the side.

Are you organized? Start a professional organizer business

If you’re naturally organized and clutter-free, one of the most suitable side business ideas may be working as a professional organizer for people with disorganized homes and offices. When I searched the internet for home based professional organizer businesses with no start up costs, I discovered you can actually narrow down the type of organizing into categories: filing, clutter control, time management, maximizing storage space, or juggling projects and priorities.

The National Association of Professional Organizers say, “Experts in the organizing industry agree that there are no “cookie cutter” solutions for getting organized. There are many different personality types, work styles, and environmental influences, so each person must find the system that works best for him or her. The number of organization-related products and services is continually increasing.”

Are you educated and full of ideas? Start a side consulting business

This career should be at the top of my list of home based business ideas with no start up costs, especially since my hubby was recently laid off. He is a professional geologist, and I think a geology consulting business might be right up his alley. Granted, running your own home business is a bit more work than just working for the man, but it offers lots of freedom too. If you’re looking for a career change, this might be it!

If you need to be convinced that this is one of the best ways to make money on the side, read 7 Lessons Learned From Running a Consulting Company by Neil Patel. “One of the first things I learned about consulting as a side business idea is that there is an inverse correlation between how much a client pays you and how many times they complain,” he says. “In other words, the more money a client pays you, the less they will complain. Large paying clients usually have a lot more cash, so spending it isn’t as big of a deal. They know that if they want to continue to grow, they have to spend money. And when doing so, sometimes things work out, while other times they don’t…”

Do you want to work online? Explore internet-based home business ideas

There are so many different types of online businesses, I don’t even know where to begin. This is one of the most popular Google searches, in terms of side business ideas. But just because it’s popular, doesn’t mean it’s an easy home business to start and run!

In How to Start an Online Business Around Your Passion, Henri says, “An online business works like any other business. It doesn’t change just because it’s online. You still need to create something people want to pay for in the form of products, services, courses, workshops, or even books.You need to find the intersection between what you’re passionate about, what you’re good at (or what you want to become good at), and what people want. It’s not enough to just do what you love. That’s the first step, but if you want to build a business and learn ways to make money on the side, there has to be a demand for what you have to offer.”

Do you love to cook? Start a dinner service (some start up costs)

This is one of those home based business ideas with no start up costs that benefits both families and organizations. Some families need meals cooked and delivered once or twice a week. As a personal chef, you would either cook at the client’s home or at your place and deliver it.

In 5 Mistakes to Avoid When Starting Out as a Personal Chef, they say that becoming a personal chef can be one of the most lucrative, enjoyable ways to ways to make money on the side. A personal chef has low overhead and almost no start up costs. When you go into business for yourself, you become responsible for acquiring all of the tools you need to make your side business a success. As a private chef you will, at the very least, need a good set of cooking knives, utensils and cookbooks.

You might also want to read How to Start a Food Truck Business.

Do you love shopping? Start a side business as a personal shopper

This is last on my list of home based business ideas, because I dislike shopping. Intensely. But, the cool thing about personal shopping as a home business is that you can create a niche, such as shopping for seniors, people with disabilities, executives, etc.

30 Home Based Business Ideas With No Start Up Costs

30 Home Based Business Ideas With No Start Up Costs

Even some of the simplest, most fun ways to make money on the side need business plans. Read Personal Shopping Services Business Plan for tips on starting this home business. This will give you an idea of how to create a business plan with or without start up costs – you can do an internet search for starting a personal shopper business, and find lots of links, tips, and ideas.

If you think starting a home business wouldn’t work for you because your attention wanders, read How to Work From Home Without Getting Distracted.

20 Home Based Business Ideas With No Start Up Costs

Here are 20 more ways to make money on the side:

  1. Drop Shipper
  2. Dog Walking or Pet Sitting
  3. Bed & Breakfast Business Owner
  4. Wedding Planner
  5. Desktop Publisher
  6. Freelance Writer, Blogger, or Editor
  7. Graphic Designer
  8. Event or Party Planner
  9. Accountant or Bookkeeper
  10. Transcriptionist
  11. Life Coach
  12. Cake Decorator
  13. Catering
  14. Handyman
  15. Gardener
  16. Data Entry Clerk (no start up costs with this home based business!)
  17. Remote Coder
  18. Greeting Card Maker
  19. Day Care or Babysitter
  20. Ebook Writer: 101 Ways to Make Money on the Side

And of course, here’s my favorite side business idea: blogging! Read How Bloggers Make Money – From Ads to eBooks. Writing is my favorite home based business ideas with no start up costs :-)

I welcome your thoughts on these ideas for entrepreneurs. What would be your favorite way to make money on the side, if you could find a way to get paid for it?

May you find the sweet spot between doing what you love and finding a way to get paid for it.


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4 thoughts on “30 Home Based Business Ideas With No Start Up Costs”

  1. One of the best home based businesses today is SEO or website work. Learn how to blog write, and you’ll have a million great ideas for starting a job from home. It’s hard work and takes a long time but it’s worth it. It’s the best job.

  2. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    A vending machine business would be an interesting way to make money on the side, thanks for the tip! You’re welcome to post more info here, if you’d like.

  3. Hi Laurie,

    Really great list of ideas here! I recently came out with a guide on how to start a vending machine business as a way to make money on the side, which I think could make a great addition to your list. I would love to share it with you if you are interested. Feel free to email me.

    Thank you very much,