By Emily Suess
Some people start small businesses because it’s been their dream for years. Others become small business owners because they need a way to generate income and pay the bills, and they need to do it fast.
Low-overhead small business options make it possible to get started earning money quickly, even if you don’t have much to invest in the startup. With access to everyday technology like a computer and the Internet or professional equipment like a camera or snow plow, you can start a new business in literally minutes.
- Accountant. From personal taxes to small business bookkeeping, with the right software and qualifications you can be up and running quickly.
- Freelance Designer. Your skills in web design, Photoshop, and Illustrator can propel you into a solo career designing everything from book covers to professional logos.
- Freelance Writer. Business websites and niche journalism opportunities abound. Build a portfolio and get paid to write.
- Virtual Assistant. If you have exceptional organizational skills, type quickly, and great people skills, as a virtual assistant you can help clients with everything from transcription to social media management.
- Consultant. Making money as a consultant is an option for experts in almost any field. If you’ve got industry-specific knowledge that can help companies grow, you’ve got what you need to start a consultancy business.
- Tutor. From elementary to college students, you can make money as a one-on-one tutor working face-to-face with your clients or connecting through video chat.
- Translator. As more businesses expand and begin operating globally, the need for translators grows, too. You can earn money translating everything from sales emails to product manuals.
- Photographer. If weddings aren’t your thing, try event photography or selling prints at the local coffee shop.
Despite the need to purchase and service equipment, supplies or maintain inventory, here are a few more businesses you can launch with relatively low overhead.
- Lawn Care Business. Operate a lawn care business year-round by offering mulching, mowing, and snow removal services.
- Baker or Caterer. Bake cakes, cupcakes and other treats for birthdays, weddings, and other special events or offer complete event catering services.
- Cleaning Services. With a residential or commercial cleaning service, you can quickly recover the costs of supplies and equipment.
- Courier Business. Deliver documents and other items quickly—in many cases, the only costs you’ll need to cover are insurance, and routine bike or car maintenance.
- Sales Consultant. Sell your own creations on eBay or Etsy or get started as an independent sales consultant for popular jewelry, home décor, and accessory companies.
- Event DJ. Once you have the right equipment, you can build a weekend business working weddings and other special events.
- Home Repair. If you own the right tools and pass on the cost of supplies to your clients, you won’t need much extra cash to get started working as a handyman.
The great thing about each of these business opportunities is that they are affordable and scalable—you can devote as much or as little time as you want to your new business.