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Ten Low-Cost Business Ideas You Could Start Today

Starting a business doesn't always need to begin with big lump sums and investors. Here are ten low cost business ideas you could get off the ground today.

Waking up in the morning, preparing yourself for work and then getting stuck in traffic can be tiring. Most of us are content with our 9-5 jobs, but for those who aren’t there is another option: starting a low-cost business of your own.

But what if you don’t have the money or time to start one? Well, with creativity and perseverance, anything is possible. In this article, we’ll help you escape your office cubicle. Here are ten low-cost business ideas, with tips for how to start each one.

10 Low-Cost Businesses You Can Start Today

First, starting your own venture is not an easy route. You’ll need a ton of energy and extreme focus. So read on and carefully choose what business will be best for you based on your current skills, capital, and capacity.

1. Freelancing

Yes, it still looks like a 9-5 job. However, freelancing is similar to traditional business operations – just on a smaller scale. You’re technically a self-employed individual who offers services to multiple clients.

But that’s not why we put this at the top of our list. Starting a freelancing career doesn’t require much capital. Depending on the service that you’ll be offering and the niche you’re exploring, a minimum amount of money is required.

There are several ways to enter this industry. The most common is using your current skills as your service. The next is upskilling. If you have a certain niche industry you want to venture into and don’t have the right skills for it, go train.

There are many courses (free and paid) that will help you get a jumpstart on this career path. The resources are plentiful, since the current freelance market is worth $1.3 trillion in the US alone.

food truck

2. Food Trucks

If you’ve got the culinary skills to match, a food truck can be a great, flexible option for starting a low-cost business. Compared to a brick-and-mortar restaurant, setting up a food truck doesn’t need a large amount of up-front capital. You’ll need a truck, but it doesn't necessarily need to be brand new. You can also lease one from companies like Rent a Food Truck and FoodTrckr, which are all based in Canada.

Make sure to get all the required permits before operating. Plan the products you’ll be selling and, as always, market them online. A food truck in Canada can average $156,000 CAD annually. As long as you pick the right spot and delicious food, you’re on your way.

3. E-Learning & Course Creation

According to research, the e-learning market will be worth $325 billion in 2025. Building and selling an online course doesn’t require you to have a background in teaching. What are you passionate about? Plants? Yoga? Whatever it may be - you can create your own course to share your wisdom.

Start with investing in an online course creator. Software like Courseou and Learning Studio will help you build a course in minutes, and offer AI assistance to help streamline the creation process.

Everything from course descriptions, content, and even video elements can be automated - you just need to tweak it and it’ll be ready. The most difficult part here is marketing. Maximize the use of social media to promote your courses. Create email lists, promotions and launch events.

4. Pet Stores

Canada's pet market is expected to grow by 4.3% between 2020 and 2025. So, if you want a business that’s forecasted to grow in the next few years, this might be it. You definitely want to start small. Either get certification in pet grooming, or start an online pet needs store.

You don’t have to get a physical store. Invest your initial capital in training if you’re planning on getting into grooming in the future. You can also use your funds to buy accessories, food, and toys to sell.

You can do either of these while you’re on your corporate job. You can leave once you have the proper training, capital to scale and if the demand significantly increases.


5. Event Planning

If you like to organize everything and are very detail-oriented, you’re the right person for this one. An event planning business is one you could start with a minimal investment, as long as you can find a client or two who is willing to put some faith in you.

The first step is to market yourself. You can use cheap website builders like Wix and WordPress to present yourself professionally. Social media can also be an effective way to promote yourself if you have a network of contacts to speak to.

Booking your first event doesn’t require a budget, either. Your client already has that, so most of the expense will come out of their pocket. Whenever you book with vendors, you don't have to pay upfront. Just get the entire bill and send it to your client.

6. Dropshipping

Many frown upon dropshipping, a unique, low-cost business model, because of its perceived failure rate. However, the problem is not the framework itself; expecting a huge profit during the first few months is. That’s not how this works, and that’s not how all businesses work.

Basically, dropshipping is an all-digital business model that requires little investment and can be done from anywhere in the world. You’ll have to sell products online, but the catch is that you don't need to have any products with you physically, and you don’t need to ship anything yourself.

The first thing to do is research your niche market to determine if it’ll be profitable. Look for reliable manufacturers by researching their previous customers and feedback. Next, launch your store via eCommerce websites like Shopify.

Whether you’re paying for your website domain or using a free hosting service, the cost of building one is very little.

7. House Cleaning Services

If you’re up for a physically demanding business, then house cleaning might be for you. The annual income of this sort of business ranges from $60k to $100k. It’s an in-demand and versatile service.

You can offer carpet cleaning, window washing, janitorial services, or private residence cleaning. You don’t need a commercial space at first. Start from your own house and move your business once you get some profit.

Invest in tools such as vacuum cleaners, dusting rags, paper towels, sponges, trash bags, and cleaning products. The overhead cost is very low, so try investing your extra funds in marketing (e.g. localized ads).


8. Vending Machines

One of the fastest-growing businesses that many don’t know is vending machines. We are looking at a 5.18%–16.5% growth rate worldwide from 2023 to 2032. The vending machine market is growing due to the rising demand for snacks and drinks on the go to meet the needs of our fast-paced lifestyles.

Start by researching the product you want to sell and your supplier. There are many named brands, such as Dixie-Narco, AP, Royal, Vendo, and AMS.

You can also buy used machines, but be careful and inspect everything meticulously. The key to offering a wide range of products that appeal to a diverse customer base is to have a larger crowd at your location. Set a minimum size for your location and adhere to it.

9. Delivery Services

It’s no surprise that the food delivery service market alone is expected to grow to $200 billion by 2025. Because of the pandemic, many are used to getting deliveries instead of going out. But this doesn’t just apply to food.

Offering services such as grocery shopping, restaurant order pickups, and delivery of daily necessities can be highly profitable. If you have a large vehicle like a truck or van, you can also transport bulky items like furniture. Additionally, collaborating with local businesses to deliver their products to customers is an excellent opportunity for growth.

10. Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is a way for you to make money just by recommending a product or getting a sale on another person's offer. It’s basically a business model that you can use without having actual business capital. In fact, 81.2% of affiliate marketers make more than $20,000 annually.

The easiest way to start with affiliate marketing is when you already have a sizable following. You can create content around the product you are promoting and send your followers to your affiliate link.

Bottom Line

Most of these ideas involve investing in your skills. The more you learn, the more marketable you become.

Again, these are low-cost, low-upfront ideas. You don’t need to go big at first, but as you see your business grow, it’s time to put in more money. Luckily, the Canadian Government offers small business grants for aspiring entrepreneurs. You can also look for other loan options to fund your business.

It’s not hard to leave that 9-5 job. As long as you have the passion and dedication, you’ll make it through. Plan carefully and be consistent, and you’ll be on your way to a high-profit business.

Stuart Wood

About the author

Stuart is Editorial Manager at He has worked as Editor for a B2B publisher, Content Manager for a PR firm, and most recently as a Copywriter for Barclays.