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Five Small Business Ideas You Can Start for Under $100

Updated on January 28, 2017
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I'm a business communications coach who teaches writing, speaking, and leadership skills to adults in the midst of a career change.

If are interested in starting your own small business but you don't know what kind of service or product to sell, here are a few ideas to get you started. In most cases, with diligent planning you can get started with these small businesses for under $100.00.

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Note: These small business ideas are suggestions only and have not been tested for viability. Before you start any small business or consultancy, always develop a proper business plan, prepare a realistic budget, develop a marketing plan and do a risk management assessment. In some cases, starting a small business may require you to seek professional advice from accountants, insurance brokers, and lawyers or notaries.

Eco-consultant. Help small businesses make their operations more eco-friendly and sustainable by showing them how to reduce, reuse, and recycle. For example, you could help companies set up a composting program or show them how to make their meetings and workshops more eco-friendly. This is a fun and creative way to make money on the side because not only do you get paid for the work you do, you're helping the environment as well! And good karma is the best kind of paycheck there is!

House-sitter. Have you ever dreamed of living in a luxurious mansion complete with an in-home theater, pool, and tennis courts? Well, regardless of what type of part-time work you do, you probably won’t be able to make enough money on the side to buy a home like that. But you could live in one on a temporary basis and get paid to do so. Imagine that! Getting paid to live in a mansion. It can happen if you market yourself as a reputable, responsible house-sitter.

The lights are on, and somebody IS home: you!
The lights are on, and somebody IS home: you! | Source

Here are some of the initial expenses you might incur when starting up your small business.

  • Business cards
  • Website
  • Promotional Materials
  • License or Permit (if required by law)
  • Tools and Equipment
  • Appropriate Clothing/ Safety Gear

Letter writer. Some people might think that this suggestion for how to make money on the side is shallow and impersonal, but many people have a hard time writing letters that effectively communicate what they are feeling. Being a paid letter writer isn’t about a stranger writing a letter to your grandmother---that is definitely impersonal and kind of tacky. A professional letter writer could help people write letters of complaint, letters to address a minor dispute, formal letters of apology, and many other types of business letters. Sure, there are other people out there who make money writing cover letters and resumes, but you could set yourself apart by identifying a letter-writing specialty and then marketing yourself as a professional business writer.

B & B Operator. People have been opening up their homes to run bed and breakfasts for a long time. It’s not really a new business idea. But online services that match people with rooms to share with people looking for a place to stay the night makes it really easy to turn a spare bedroom into some spare cash.

Handyman for seniors and people with disabilities. We often take things like changing light bulbs, assembling flat pack furniture and hanging pictures for granted. But for seniors or people with disabilities, those little tasks that make a house a home can be a big challenge. If you want to make money on the side and help people enjoy their homes independently, then you could consider doing work as a handyman for people who need a little extra help here and there.

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Here are some important things to keep in mind if you want to make money running a side business without getting yourself into a legal or financial mess.

  • If you're running a small business where your clients and customers will be receiving services in your home, make sure you have adequate insurance to cover yourself in the event that someone gets injured. Talk to a qualified insurance broker to make sure that you are fully covered. Also, to avoid running afoul of municipal bylaws, check with city hall to see what types of licenses and permits you will need to run your business.
  • If you are cooking, baking, and preparing food for the general public, either served at your home, at an event, or sold online, get certified in proper food handling and storage. If you need to get a permit to sell food and baked goods, then look into this and apply for your permit before you start this type of side business.
  • If you're working with animals, such as the dog walker or pet sitter jobs, consider getting trained in pet care first aid. Also, you might be able to charge more for your services if you have pet grooming skills, too.
  • If you're already working a full-time job, it's a good idea to double check your employer's policy on moonlighting. Although it sounds like an infringement on your rights to make a little extra money, some companies have good reason to discourage employees from doing work on the side if it creates competition or threatens proprietary information. If you are hiding your after-hours work from your employer, think carefully about what would happen if you got caught. It's always wise to be upfront and transparent with your boss about any side jobs you're doing to make extra money.
  • Always act ethically and fairly. Treat your customers in the same way you would want to be treated if you were doing business with a small business owner or consultant.
  • Always keep good books and report any income as required by law. Just because you think you are only making a bit of extra money, that doesn't necessarily mean you are tax exempt.

Making money on the side is not about skirting rules and regulations to make a few bucks. If you want to keep the money that you make and not have it eaten up with hefty fines, tax penalties or lawsuits, always follow the proper channels when setting up your home-based business.

© 2017 Sally Hayes

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  • Karen Hellier profile image

    Karen Hellier 4 months ago from Georgia

    These are some great ideas. After I graduated from college and had my own apartment, I used to house sit for people and it worked out great. I saved money on my electric bill because I wasn't using the electricity at my own home, and I got to try out some nice homes, although never a mansion. And the pay was great.

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