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10 Small Business Ideas that Require Zero Capital

By: John England


A shot of a male personal trainer assisting a woman lifting weights

Thanks to the digital revolution, it’s now easier for anyone to start a business. There’s nothing more fulfilling than becoming your own boss and changing the world through entrepreneurship. Since no one is born an entrepreneur, you, too, can become one.

According to Microsoft Inc, many studies have shown that for a small business the minimum starting capital is about $30,000. Unfortunately, this amount is way too much for most budding entrepreneurs. This is equally true whether you’re in an emerging market like Estonia or a large market like Brazil. Either way, starting a business in Brazil or starting a business in Estonia could require thousands of dollars that you’re unlikely to have readily available.

So do you feel like you want to start a small business, but then you worry so much about your lack of capital resources? Don’t worry! Many large successful companies arose from humble beginnings, and so you don’t need thousands of dollars before you can own a business.

Here are ten small businesses you can start with little to zero capital.

Bicycle repair & maintenance

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Bicycles are a popular means of transportation in parts of the world today. They’re used by workers in different fields of occupation, meaning the market is quite wide. Fortunately, a bicycle-repair business doesn’t require a lot of advanced technical skills to operate. Once you have an eye for details, you can start a bicycle repair business with zero capital. The fact is you may not have a shop right from the start, but don’t let that stop you. Talk to some friends, and they will help you set up a makeshift structure by the roadside, which will serve as your repair shop. When you land your first contract, execute it with excellence, and you’ll find that customers will start coming your way.

Venture into boat-cleaning

Great entrepreneurs don’t look down on small business ideas, and this is one of them.  After long hours of cruising through ocean waters and being exposed to the weather, boats usually require thorough cleaning. From the deck to the sleeping quarters, boats are better off when the various compartments are tidied up in grand style. The only limitation of this business idea is that its potential depends on your location. For people who live in landlocked regions, opening a boat-cleaning business is not a feasible idea because there’s no market.

Party planner

This is another great business idea you can execute with zero capital. However, you will need to have some skill sets in planning. Did you know that “children parties” is a booming industry? In the United States, an average party-thrower spends about $500. Since children keep coming into the world in their numbers, it will not be a bad idea to want to serve them. A great party planner can bring smiles and wonderful memories to kids when they arrange for delicious meals and exciting venues for parties. Parents who can afford will be happy to pay for your service if you are a master of your craft.

Start a consultancy

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You can be a professional advisor to customers and, of course, a prominent one. Here, an entrepreneur needs to really be good at what consultation services he/she intends to offer. People will be looking to you for answers to their problems.  Once again, you don’t need to have a massive amount of capital to kickstart a consulting business. Consultants exist in several disciplines, including accounting, marketing, catering, medicine, law, etc. To convince people to count on you, consider showing them your past achievements, and lay down a well-defined procedure about how to help them achieve results. Clients will always pay for anything that adds value to their lives.

Set up a lawn care business

While many people love to admire the beauty of nature, not everyone has the time and skills to manage lawns. A landscaping business could be a good fit if you live in a region where greenery is part of every household. You may not have the necessary landscaping tools to get started. But a wise entrepreneur will find a million ways to reach a goal. Hire lawnmowers for your services, or better still, apply for a small loan to buy your own mowing equipment to get going fast.

Freelance writing

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The freelance writing industry is huge, to say the least. Top-level freelance writers work about 40 hours a week, and net annual incomes around $40,000. The advent of the internet and the computing age have created a lot of online job opportunities for writers. Provided you have good writing skills, there are a lot of clients who will be ready to pay to get some content written for them.

As it stands now, robots are killing corporate jobs, one after the other. But when it comes to writing, it’s virtually impossible for robots and software to take over completely. What does that mean for you? Job security! Great writers are born with their skills. But with practice, anyone can launch a freelance writing career and take control of your work schedule and income as well. Freelance writers are having fun working at home and making some money.

Become a blogger

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Bloggers create digital content and upload them to their websites to make money through ad networks such as Google AdSense. What’s stopping you from starting your own blog? Maybe it’s a lack of money to buy a domain name and hosting packages. In any case, that’s still not an excuse. Hosting plans are becoming cheaper each year. Free domain names are being offered by some hosting companies such as Bluehost. With an initial investment of less than $100, you can build up a WordPress blog.

Social media influencer

The social media fever has caught up with the youth. Each day, some users spend not less than 3 hours on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. These social networks have evolved into powerful money-making channels.

The idea that celebrities don’t usually have time to post updates and respond to comments has landed people online gigs as social media managers. Social media influencers strive to gain a huge number of followers. When they achieve this goal they usually move on to other things like running their online businesses. With service providers like Drop Cowboy they can manage voicemail and text communications and well as other tasks successfully. Advertisers also pay them to promote their brands.


Have a flair for menial jobs? Maybe it’s high time you launched your painting career. The real estate market is unstoppable. There will always be some homeowners around you who may love to see their buildings take new colors every year. You don’t need to be a perfect painter from day one. Land your first contract, and the rest of your story will be a success.

Fitness trainer

One way to monetize your athletic skills is by starting up a gym. Clients will come to you for advice on how to lose weight, how to burn belly fat and build their ideal body shape. Yoga instructors are making a fortune in organizing yoga classes for their clients. Start a fitness center, set your membership pricing, and make your mark in the flourishing fitness market. Live an active life practicing your hobby, and get paid for doing what you already love doing.

So now that you have a few good ideas in mind, bringing your business to life is when the fun begins. Starting a small business is not an end in itself but rather the beginning of a new chapter. As a founder, you are solely responsible for the direction in which to steer your business. Here are the most important steps to run a small business successfully.

Draw a business plan

Outline a clear road map for your business idea if you believe it will work out for you. A good business plan should capture the following points:

  • An executive summary of your brand and its market
  • A concise business model, outlining what services you’ll offer, and to which customers.
  • Competitor information (their strengths and weaknesses)
  • Operation management detailing the structure of your business
  • Marketing and sales strategies
  • Financial plans

Choose the type of company

The legal framework for your business should be laid out as well. Do you want to run a limited liability company (LLC), or a sole proprietorship is your best fit? Think it through, and make a well-informed decision. LLCs have more complex business structures, but they offer more tax advantages than one-person businesses.

Open a bank account for your business

When the profits start to roll in, you’ll need a bank account to securely keep all that money. A savings account for your startup attracts interests with time, but there are limits on your transactions. On the other hand, a current (checking) account will not attract good interest rates. But it will grant you the freedom to do limitless transactions anytime.

Set up your business office

If you’re running an at-home business, you can reserve a separate room and use it as your business office.

Start work

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Hire your employees, and get to work.

The bottom line is that, if you can dream it, you can get it. There are a million ways to start a business with zero capital. Remember that in whatever industry you choose, let passion be the key to propel your goals. Do this, and you can build a great future from the petty business ideas shared here.

Published: June 12, 2020

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