Have you been pondering the thought of working from home but don’t know where to start? This list of 5 low-cost business ideas is a great starting point to help you find a way of working from home and online without huge upfront investments.
Many mums are starting businesses working from home because it’s
- Fits in around looking after your kids
- Lowers expenses such as childcare and travel costs
- Empowers mums to do something for themselves, earn an income and do something for them.
I have worked from home growing my own businesses for the last 3 years. Honestly, it hasn’t been easy. There have been times I have wondered if it would be easier to return to a 9-5 office job.
But then I remember just how much time I get to spend with my kids. I am home every single day with them. I am able to home educate them due to the time I have available. And I can choose to work first thing in the morning and last thing at night so that it frees up the day to make memories and be present in their childhood.
For me, and maybe this is the same for you? I gain my drive and determination from my children. They motivate me to keep going and work hard. I work long days now so that in a few years time when I have figured this whole ‘building a successful business’ thing out and I’ve hit my goal of £10K a month consistently, I can take a step back.
Do you get your motivation and determination from your kids too?
Whatever your reason for wanting to start a low-cost business from home, I am telling you now that it is 100% achievable!
Each of the following 5 low-cost business ideas requires an initial investment of less than $100. Not to mention each one offers huge potential for how much you can earn. Within each low-cost business listed below, I have seen people earn from a few $100 a month to 6 figures a month!
The difference between each level of success is simple. It takes
- Determination and self-motivation,
- a willingness to learn from others in your industry,
- Be open to test and try different things,
- invest back into your business to help it grow and expand.
There are affiliate links used on this page. If you use any of the following links to make a purchase, I may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. I do not make any recommendations for products which I have not personally had a positive experience using. Read my full affiliate disclosure here.
Here are 5 low-cost business ideas you can start from home:
1) Network Marketing/MLM
Network Marketing has evolved a lot in the past few years. There are loads of opportunities and companies available right now. It’s not just beauty products anymore.
And I know a lot of people say you can’t really make good profit from MLM, but I’ll tell you I personally know friends and colleagues you have managed to earn a six-figure income from MLM. And it’s possible for you too.
There is a lot, I mean A LOT of opposition to network marketing because people don’t understand the model. Or, they have experienced network marketing from people who are taught ‘sleazy’ sales methods and it puts people off.
Related Post: What is Network Marketing? Will it Work for Me?
But here’s the thing, network marketing isn’t that dissimilar to another popular method of earning an income from home, which we will look at in more detail later. But just for comparison purposes, let’s briefly discuss it here.
Ever heard of Affiliate Marketing?
Well, Network Marketing is extremely similar in how the model works and you earn an income.
With Affiliate Marketing, you sign up to a company and are given a unique referral link. When you recommend this product e.g. through social media or a blog post, you can use your unique referral link. If someone is interested in the product from reading your content, they click on your link and make a purchase, you would earn a small commission.
Now, compare this to Network Marketing. You find and sign up with a company which sells a product you genuinely like and want to use yourself. You are given your own replicated shop so when you recommend the products to others if they want to make a purchase they can do so via your own online shop. Any sales made via your shop, you earn a commission.
With MLM, there is a secondary level of income with growing your team. This is where you introduce other people to the business opportunity and they start their own business with your MLM company.
There is something similar in affiliate marketing called tiered affiliate marketing. This is where if someone likes the same product as you and also wants to recommend it to their audience, they can sign up via your referral link to become an affiliate as well.
So, both affiliate marketing and network marketing are incredibly similar in terms of business model. Where they differ, is the tactics people are taught to grow their business and hence, why you might have heard of network marketing gaining a bad rep.
If you want a low-cost business from home with network marketing, here’s how I suggest you approach MLM:
Choose the right company
I can’t stress the importance of this enough. Start with a company you believe in. Don’t just choose an MLM because your friend raves about it.
The great news is that MLM is a huge industry that continues to grow. So there are many different companies you can choose from, all with different niches such as:
- household products,
- and even travel.
So for example, if you are really into your fitness, you love to work out and share top tips with others, a company such as Beachbody would be a great opportunity for you.
Choose an industry that you are interested in and which offers a consumable product, meaning customers will return to you to repurchase when their product runs out.
Review the Company
As with any other company, there are scams in the MLM business too. You can easily spot them after reviewing the company. Make sure to review the following things when considering joining a network marketing company:
- High Investment. Most MLM companies have a low signup cost, mostly below $99. High investment sends alarm bells ringing. Often, in this case, it might be that the company doesn’t have a good product on offer or a product at all. MLM companies must have a product or service to sell, with their business model offering higher commissions for sales than team member sign-ups. If a company doesn’t offer a product and prioritises team growth, I would honestly run in the opposite direction if I were you.
- Look at reviews within Facebook groups. Facebook is a great resource, particularly work from home mum groups. As these groups are usually quite large and full of fellow mums who have probably tried and tested the opportunity you are considering already. Hence, it is a great place to post and ask for honest thoughts about XYZ MLM company and the products they sell. Word of warning though if you do this, be prepared to gain a few ‘join my team’ comments. As mentioned above, people are still trained ‘sleazy’ sales tactics and that is one of them.
- Training and Support. MLM companies usually offer training material to their team members. After all, they want to help you sell their products. This can range from digital images, annual training conferences, and private Facebook groups. I highly recommend checking out what training is available to you before you sign up. As a newbie, you will want to soak up all the training opportunities and resources available to you to get a good head start.
- Deceptive Advertising. Are they deceiving recruiters or overpromising with their products and practices? Unfortunately, this does happen so double-check the facts before signing up. Often, network marketing companies themselves rely on word of mouth from their consultants and hence save money on advertisements. So the adverts you see and read, are more likely to be from an individual consultant. Some consultants aren’t always honest or knowledgeable about what they sell. So, it is always good to find out the facts first and double-check anything you read before starting your low-cost business as a network marketer.
Promote Yourself and Not Your Company
Smart MLM leaders know that they can’t just depend on one company. Sometimes the company shuts down or sometimes you grow as an influencer and you want to work with other brands. Also, when you promote yourself, you also have a better chance of connecting with the audience because people like to talk to people and not brands or products.
Build a brand for yourself and promote yourself.
What top tips do you have to share?
What value can you offer your audience in relation to your products?
What problems do your audience face that you can help find a solution for with your products and/or business?
Some people suggest not mentioning the product at all that you are trying to sell, however, I disagree. People buy from those they trust. If you aren’t publicly sharing which company you work with or the products you sell, they would be wondering what it is you have to hide? Are the products actually any good? I know I would be questioning this if it were me looking for an MLM opportunity.
Be open and honest. Gain your audience’s trust by offering value and solutions to their problems. Take time to answer their questions. Show your personality and what it takes to grow a business.
People buy from people, not companies!
Dropshipping is another low-cost business you can start from home. In a nutshell, it’s basically selling products without having to take part in the manufacturing and distribution. Your focus is only on selling the products through your online shop using a platform such as Woocommerce or Shopify.
When a customer makes an order through your site, you notify the supplier or wholesaler and they take care of everything. From obtaining the product to warehouse storage, packaging and shipping.
Ready to start selling?! Here’s how to succeed with dropshipping:
Select Your Niche
With dropshipping, a good idea is to niche down on your business. Don’t just sell anything and everything, that’s what people use Amazon for. And, if we are being real for a moment, you just cannot compete with Amazon.
Sell products that relate to your blog or your niche. For example, if you are a dog lover, you could niche down into a specific breed.
Find Your Supplier
Look for suppliers in your niche. Ask in Facebook groups. If you have friends and family who are working with dropshipping, ask them for suppliers. Research your supplier carefully before signing a contract with them. Order a few test products yourself to check for quality and reliability.
Some supplier websites you can also check out are:
Create Your Online Store
The next part is creating a store where you will be selling your products. You can create one as an extension of your blog, or create one on Shopify.
Some things to consider when setting up your online store:
- Your Store Name
- Payment Gateway Setting
- Shipping Fees
- Store Policies (returns, refunds, etc)
Promote Your Store
Once your store is set up, the next thing is to promote your store. Create your social media accounts. Spend time understanding and implementing SEO. Including a blog section is excellent on your site as you can write articles optimized for search engines and hence, increase the visibility of your online store. Many successful Dropshippers also invest in Facebook ads to extend their reachability. I highly recommend joining some Facebook groups with advice on successful Dropshipping. Here are some suggestions:
You can also find lots of comment threads within other momtrepreneur or mum boss groups within Facebook, which share tips and support for others considering starting a dropshipping business.
3) Virtual Assistant Services
According to Yahoo, About 543,000 new businesses start each month. While it is easy to start a small business, the challenge is in maintaining and running a small business. Many of these business owners are moms like you and me.
And so they need help. It could be specialized help, like help with marketing, finance, taxes, etc. But at other times, the help is also general admin work like organizing the inbox or helping with schedule management.
Becoming a virtual assistant is a great low-cost business you can do from home. I personally work with a Virtual Assistant (who is awesome by the way if you are looking to hire one for yourself!)
There is just no way I can get everything I want to be done in a week all by myself. For my business, my virtual assistant supports me with
- opt-in and Ebook design,
- social media scheduling,
- email broadcasts,
- managing my email lists,
- conducting research for blog posts
- and other administrative tasks.
If you are looking to become a virtual assistant, it’s a great way to support other businesses working from home without the huge investments needed of starting a traditional business.
Here’s how you can start your VA business:
Figure out your VA Services
Start by creating a list of VA services you can offer. Some virtual assistants like to focus on specific types of tasks, while others like to offer a range of services.
Think of what you do best. Are you good at social media? If yes, you can help manage Facebook, Instagram or even LinkedIn for small businesses and entrepreneurs. Or if you have a type-A personality, you might want to help with organizing and time management.
Many virtual assistants start off by offering a range of services. Then, as they become more experienced and figure out what tasks they really enjoy, they offer very specific, niche down tasks.
When you have figured out the services you want to offer, it’s a good idea to create a portfolio based around them. If you have experience with any of these services, include them in your portfolio or even your resume. If not, you can start by volunteering or subcontracting with other virtual assistants or even NGOs to build your portfolio.
Create Your Virtual Business
Once you have your services listed and your portfolio completed, the next part is naming and branding your business. Many virtual assistants use their own names, but you can be as creative as you want.
After this, you can create your logo. This can easily be done on Canva, even without having a graphic design background. Canva is simple and easy to use with simple drag and drop graphics to help you create a sophisticated business logo. You can also create your business card or any other promotional material you need on Canva too.
If you don’t feel comfortable with creating your own logo, there are plenty of other affordable options. Many people turn to Fiverr for cheap logo designs, however, there have been incredibly mixed reviews from others using this platform. I highly recommend checking out creative market. You can find some really professional premade designs and branding packages at extremely reasonable prices.
The next step to launching your low-cost business as a virtual assistant is by creating your social media profile and if you have the budget, your website. Initially, you might want to skip the website and focus your energies on building your social media following. I suggest you start with one or two social media platforms. Focus on the platforms where your target market will hang out. Dedicate time to commenting on posts within relevant groups and growing your authority and brand name offering value and top tips to your ideal client.
Start Looking for Clients
This is where most newbie virtual assistants get stuck. A lot of Virtual assistants quit because weren’t able to get a client in the first two months. Others get clients as soon as they launch their business.
A few tips to help you obtain clients:
- Hang out where your target market hangs out. Even virtually, look where your prospective client goes to. What social media channels do they use? Spend your time growing your own business profile on this platform through consistent posting. Ensure to join groups relevant to your ideal client and become an active member. Respond to people’s posts with value and top tips to grow your authority and build your reputation.
- Start helping your clients even before they hire you. Offer them value. If they are stuck with a problem, help solve it for them. Build relationships.
- When you respond to a job opportunity, don’t talk about yourself. Talk about how you can help them solve a problem. Use all three modes of persuasion: Ethos, Logos, and Pathos.
- Ethos: meaning to build credibility. Ensure to talk about your experience and what makes you stand out from other VA’s
- Logos: refers to emotional appeal. Appeal to your potential client’s emotions. Discuss the areas of their business they need the most support with tasks they find time-consuming and frustrating, and then how you can support them with this.
- Pathos: persuade through facts and figures. Share your success with other clients, and relevant figures e.g. if you are offering social media management, share statistics with how you helped a client increase engagement or followers with your services.
- Finally, be professional. Give your 100% to your client.
Your first client is the first step on the ladder. After you have gained your first client, ensure to offer your absolute best service for them. Word of mouth spreads fast, whether that be positive or negative.
If your client is impressed with your work so far, they are more likely to recommend your services elsewhere. Referrals and genuine testimonials are a great and fast way to grow your business and connect with other business owners.
Related Post: How to Become a Virtual Assistant: Your Essential Guide
We went over affiliate marketing when discussing network marketing in this post. Affiliate marketing can be a brilliant way of starting a low-cost business working from home.
The great elements of affiliate marketing are that you don’t have to worry about creating your own products, plus, more often than not, marketing material is also provided for you.
Just to recap, affiliate marketing is where you sign up for a companies affiliate program, perhaps you have used their service or products yourself. When you sign up to their affiliate program, you are given a unique referral code and/or link to use and share.
You can then write about and share their products/services with your own audience via a blog, Pinterest, email list, or social media. Ensure to include this code/link given to you. If someone clicks on that link and makes a purchase, you earn a small commission.
Let’s say you sign up to Converkit’s affiliate program. Convertkit offer 30% recurring commission. If someone purchases their monthly email marketing service on the basic plan at $29 a month via your link, you would earn 30% for every month that individual stays on that plan. In this case, you would earn $8.70.
Here is where affiliate marketing gets really interesting and where there really are no limits to how much you could earn. Say you wrote a detailed blog post explaining the benefits of Convertkit and how to use it. Perhaps, with SEO and using Pinterest to promote your blog post, you gained 1000 views a month for this particular article. Perhaps, 20 people from that post went on to purchase the basic plan from Convertkit. That would equate to $174 every single month all 20 remains on that plan with Convertkit.
$174 on its own doesn’t seem like a lot. But, combine that with increased traffic, affiliate links within each of your blog posts AND signing up for multiple affiliate programs – that’s a lot of income potential.
If you are considering affiliate marketing as a low-cost business start-up, take a look at these top tips for getting started:
Choose an Affiliate Program
There are tons of affiliate programs available, the most popular being Amazon. Though Amazon is often the first choice for new bloggers and affiliate marketers, I would suggest you dig deeper. Amazon is great in that you can earn commission on anything somebody purchases. But commissions are extremely low per item and, their cookie length is tiny – only 24hours.
I highly recommend joining affiliate programs for products or services you have personally used yourself as a great starting point.
Alternatively, another great start would be to consider joining affiliate networks. Affiliate networks connect you with 100s of affiliate programs. But instead of having to apply and sign up individually, you can apply right within an affiliate networks site, with the same login details, and payout all in one place. Here are some top affiliate networks to help get you started:
It’s important to remember not just to sign up to affiliate programs with a view of making money. The programs you promote need to fit your audience’s needs. For example, if you were a fashion blogger, it would look out of place if you tried to promote website hosting.
Make sure the affiliate links you include within your content help your audience and offer them value. You want to gain their trust, not come across spammy including all and any links whenever there is an opportunity to do so just to get a sale.
When you do find affiliate programs that will benefit your audience, be sure to check these details before signing up:
- Commission rate. You can get anywhere from 1-50% commission for a product depending on the product and the affiliate program. A higher commission rate means you earn more with every sale. But also understand that a high commission rate is often set for higher-priced products, and hence will need more upfront effort from you to ensure your audience understands the value of the said product.
- Affiliate Cookie Lifespan. Your usual cookie takes less than a minute to finish. But here we are talking about web cookies. When you put an affiliate marketing link on your website, your affiliate program tracks how many people end up buying from that link. Most people don’t buy instantly. However, this doesn’t mean you don’t get paid if they make a purchase at a later date. Cookie lifespan means how many days your affiliate program tracks your readers after they click on the link to your affiliate product. Look for companies that offer a longer cookie lifespan, especially for higher-priced products.
- Look at the products. Check out the products offered by the affiliate program. Look at their reviews and feedback. If it isn’t something you have personally tried and tested yourself, make sure you aren’t recommending a dud product to your audience. If your audience purchases a dud product from your recommendation, it’s going to tarnish your trust and credibility.
- Vendor Transparency. Review the fine print of your affiliate program’s terms and conditions. Check for transparency and expectations. Some companies do not allow you to promote your products on social media. Amazon does not allow you to include your links within an email. It’s really important that you take the time to read the fine print as companies can and will cancel your account without warning if you break their T&Cs.
Choose Your Product
Once you sign up to your favourite affiliate links, the next thing is to choose which of their products to promote.
You can either select the high-end products or the lower-priced ones. The lower-priced ones might sell more, but their commission rate is also often low. So choose well. You won’t want to create a 1000-word blog post for a 5$ product. If you want to sell that $5 product, combine it with a high-end product.
Sometimes this decision will be based around your method of affiliate marketing. For example, if you use Pinterest to promote your products, you might spend more time promoting lower-end priced products, because it doesn’t take long to create and post a pin. Compared with a blogger like myself, who spends hours researching and writing a single blog post, it makes more sense for me to focus on higher-priced products due to the amount of time spent on creating that content.
Where to Promote Affiliate Links
There are many places you can promote your affiliate links, just again, make sure to read each companies T&Cs before figuring out your marketing and business plan.
For using Pinterest, you can create your own business profile and boards. Then, create pins for each product relating to your boards and incorporate keywords and search terms people would be searching on Pinterest.
You can also do the same via social media platforms. You are able to include most affiliate links within your posts, so some will limit you to only sharing links within a closed group.
If you are a blogger like myself, you can create content which naturally includes your affiliate links. As mentioned above with the Convertkit example, if you used Convertkit yourself, you could create a guide in the form of a blog post to offer value to your audience, and naturally, include your affiliate link within the post. You could then extend this to your email list, offering them 5 top tips for using Convertkit or a video of ‘how to use Convertkit’ and include your affiliate link there.
No matter which option you choose, you MUST include an affiliate disclosure. This is sharing with your audience that you have used an affiliate link and if they make a purchase through your link, you will earn a commission. It is vitally important that you do this within all platforms, not just to be transparent, but it’s actually illegal if you don’t.
In the last decade, blogging has become one of the top choices for those wanting to work from home.
People are drawn to starting a blog because it offers so much potential. It is a low-cost business to start with, but there are so many flexible opportunities for monetizing a blog.
In 2020, it is expected that there will be over 31 million bloggers! Not all of these blogs will be active, but that number is still pretty darn impressive.
Blogging is extremely appealing. With all the free information available online already for starting a blog, it is pretty simple for anyone to do so. Your business can be up and running in a matter of hours and, you can choose what you write about, how to monetize it, and of course, how much time you put into your blog.
What I will just mention now is that not everyone on the big wide web is as transparent as they should be with regards to the effort, time, and sheer dedication needed to grow a successful blog.
Blogging is not as simple as writing a couple of posts, include some links, and bam, you’ve made your first $100! It takes time to plan and research content, work out what your audience needs support with and wants to read, spend time consistently promoting your posts and brand, plus, all the additional things such as email marketing, creating graphics, freebies for your audience, any products such as ebooks and courses.
So, although starting a blog is a very low-cost business to start, it isn’t a ‘get rich quick’ scheme.
In saying that, I am the founder and owner of multiple blogs, and even though it can send my head spinning some days, I absolutely love it. I thoroughly enjoy writing and sharing my knowledge and experience to help others.
Related Post: Your complete guide to starting a blog in 2020
If after all that you are still considering starting a blog, check out these top tips:
Again, your Niche
I feel like I keep talking about the niche. Well, because choosing your niche is crucial to the success of your blog, or any other low-cost business. It gives focus to your blog and helps your audience develop expectations.
You know what topics to write about, and your audience knows what they are going to read on your blog.
Not only that but when you come to consider monetizing your blog, you already know what it is your audience needs help with. For example, if your niche was beauty for busy mums. You already know that your audience is busy, they have a minimal amount of time for makeup, haircare, and skincare. So, your posts could focus on topics such as
- Ten 5-minute makeup looks for busy mums.
- Easy up-dos for mums on the go.
In terms of monetizing, you could offer links to products which don’t take long to apply or are easy to apply.
Rather than, if you had a generic blog with topics on gardening, beauty, and running a business. It is highly unlikely that there are many people who run a business but also are looking for beauty tips and gardening tutorials. So this makes it harder to promote the right products for your audience.
You need to consider a niche, something you are passionate about, but also something that is in demand aka, people need support with.
Buy A Domain and Hosting
The next part is getting your domain and setting up your blog. I have used both Lyrical Host and Fasthosts when purchasing my domains, and Lyrical Host for hosting. I have never had any issues with either and both offer prompt and excellent customer service.
*If you choose Lyrical Host for your hosting package, make sure to my personal code CE2020 to gain 10% off your first hosting plan payment.
When buying a domain, you will have to think of a name. I honestly recommend thinking about your niche and writing as many keywords relating to your niche on a piece of paper. Are any of them catchy and yet still relevant to that industry? Are they easy to spell for people who are searching for your site?
Try to think a little outside of the box in terms of gaining a name that’s relevant, but that won’t already be owned by someone else.
Once you have your domain, you can set up a WordPress blog on your website. Now customize your blog, incorporate your brand, and ensure to include yourself and your personality:
- Add a logo and a tagline
- Create your brand colours
- Decide on a font
- Write an About Me Page.
- Create a Contact Me page
- Write Your First Blog Post
Remember, I told you there are going to be an estimated 31 million+ blogs on the internet this year?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization whereby, if someone is searching Google or any other search engine for a keyword, you want your blog post to rank highly within that search so that that person can find your blog and read what you have to say.
For example, if someone is searching for best natural homemade treats for dogs and you have a dog food blog, you want to be ranking on page one of that search engine. Being listed on page one means that that person is more likely to find your content and engage with it. So for this particular example, you would want to have written a post along the lines of 5 Best natural homemade dog treats.
Learning and implementing SEO is a HUGE must if you want to succeed with your blog. If you don’t know much about SEO, I highly recommend purchasing this bundle. Once I purchased a few of this blogger’s Ebooks, I gained a much clearer understanding of SEO that I could actually take action and implement straight away.
Launch on Social Media
Many bloggers now start with a social media platform, before actually creating their blog. They gauge the interest of their readers, increase followers, do micro-blogging and then start with the real blog once they have the experience and the following.
You can do that too, or start the other way round. Build your social media after you have 5-10 blogs on your website.
Initially, I always suggest creating profiles on all platforms, just so that you can claim your business name. But, with being active on social media, I suggest focusing on just one platform, to begin with. It is super easy to go down the rabbit hole of social media and an hour later wondering what on earth you have been doing. Not to mention stretching your time too thinly if you are trying to manage 5 different social media platforms at a time as well as your blog.
Choose the platform where your ideal audience hangs out the most. For example, a business-related blog might receive better traction on LinkedIn and Twitter while a food blog would get better followers on Instagram, and Facebook (or even TikTok now).
There you have it, 5 low-cost business ideas you can start from home:
- Network Marketing
- Virtual Assistant
- Affiliate Marketing
The initial cost for these businesses can be less than $100. As you grow, I suggest increasing your investment to improve your skills and knowledge and help you to expand your business even further.
Which of these 5 low-cost business ideas appeals to you the most?