low investment business ideas
Starting a business can seem like a mountain of a task. But the amount of time, money, and risk involved all depends on the business idea you chase.
Contrary to popular belief, there are actually many ways to start a business that let you focus less on the logistics and upfront costs and more on getting
These low-investment business ideas make a great entry point for beginners, bootstrappers, or anyone with a busy schedule, letting you pick up a side business
without having to drop everything else.
You still need to come up with a solid idea, build a brand, put effort into marketing, and provide excellent customer service. But you can bypass many
traditional startup costs, such as initial inventory, warehousing, and retail space.
Here are some of the low-investment business ideas you can start today.
Best low-investment business ideas you can start on the side
choosing a low-investment business idea
- Partner with a dropshipper
Buy stock, store it, pick it, pack it, ship it. Managing inventory can be a big commitment when you’re running a business.
is a fulfillment model where a third party supplier stores and ships inventory to customers on your behalf. You just need to make the sales and pass orders
on to your supplier; you don’t need to handle the products yourself.
You can curate products from one or more suppliers into your own online store under a theme that focuses on a specific niche, like gear for yoga enthusiasts
or water bowls for dog owners. When a customer buys a product from you, the order is sent to your supplier who fulfills it on your behalf. However, you
are still responsible for your own marketing and customer service.
There are both local and overseas suppliers you can work with, as long as you can establish a relationship with them built on trust—an unreliable supplier
will reflect poorly on your brand.
Dropshipping is a low-investment way to test product-market fit and launch a business before you invest in your own original products. Just be sure to
always order a sample for yourself to make sure that your supplier is reliable and that the quality of the products is fit for selling to your customers.
Additional Resources to help you with this business idea:
list of 4 items
• The Definitive Guide to Dropshipping with Aliexpress
• How to Use Dropshipping as a Low-Cost Way to Test Product Ideas
(free Shopify app for importing products into your store)
• How to start a dropshipping business in India with Shopify and Glowroad
dropshipping business idea
- Design and sell print-on-demand t-shirts
Another dropshipping model,
puts inventory, shipping, and fulfillment in the hands of a third-party supplier. But unlike the dropshipping idea above, the focus here is on customizing
these products with your own designs to create something original.
T-shirts, hats, phone cases, hoodies, skirts, tote bags, and more become canvases for your creativity. You can think up witty slogans for developers or
references that resonate with cat owners—if there’s passion and pride within a community, there’s a potential t-shirt business you can start.
Even if you’re not a designer, you can find a designer to work with using freelance sites like
With many print-on-demand services, you’re paying per-product, so the base price per unit will be more expensive than if you were to order in bulk. But
the advantage is that if a certain t-shirt design doesn’t sell, you haven’t actually paid for the item yet (only the design if you outsourced it).
You can even use
t-shirt mockup templates
so you don’t actually need to spend money on a full photoshoot for every new design.
There are a variety of print-on-demand platforms you can work with, many of which can be integrated with your Shopify store for seamless order fulfillment.
However, be sure to always order a sample of your product (often offered at a discount) to make sure your custom products look good.
Source: ThinkPup figure
t-shirt business idea
Source: ThinkPup figure end
Additional resources to start with this business idea:
list of 4 items
• How to Start a T-shirt Business
• Think Pup T-Shirt Store [Case Study]
Shopify Academy Course: Build a Print-on-Demand Empire
Expert Shopify merchant Adrian Morrison shares his framework for starting and launching a successful print-on-demand shop.
Enroll for free
Want to learn more about starting an online fashion and clothing store?
Read this guide.
- Launch your own book
A book is just another type of product when you think about it. And as such, you can create one to serve a particular demand in the market.
Cookbooks, picture books, comic books, poetry books, photo books, coffee table books, and novels—if you’ve got the knowledge or the creativity, there are
a variety of original books you can bring to the market.
Print-on-demand publishing is a relatively safe way to test the waters and get started with self-publishing, while giving you control over the quality
and look of your book.
are popular platforms for this purpose, letting you create, order, and distribute your own books as digital and physical products.
While you can order one book at a time, costs naturally go down when you buy in bulk. You can consider pre-selling or
your book idea to ensure that there’s demand and guarantee a certain number of customers for a bulk order.
Launching your own book can be a great way to monetize a blog if you have one or are looking to start one.
Examples of print-on-demand book types from Lulu Xpress figure
print on demand books from lulu xpress
Examples of print-on-demand book types from Lulu Xpress figure end
Additional resources for similar business ideas:
list of 3 items
• How to Start a Blog That You Can Turn Into a Business
• Lulu Xpress
- Create digital products or courses
Digital products like music, courses, and templates are unique on this list of ideas. Unlike the others, they’re not tangible products. There aren’t recurring
manufacturing or shipping costs to worry about so your margins can remain high.
The trick is figuring out what makes for a good digital product. What is useful enough that people are willing to pay to download it?
The answers range from original instrumental beats to stock photos that can be licensed to other creators, to information products and templates that help
people level up their skills in a particular field.
If you’ve got a talent that can be turned into a digital product, you can think about packaging it into a new stream of income.
Shopify offers a
free digital downloads app
that lets you offer digital products in your store as easily as physical products.
Source: PixieFaire figure
digital products business ideas
Source: PixieFaire figure end
Additional resources for these business ideas:
list of 3 items
• How to Sell Digital Products with Shopify
• How an Entrepreneur from Alaska Built the Biggest Hip-Hop Drum Sample Business in the World
• How to Sell Photos Online
- Sell print-on-demand posters, greeting cards, and prints
If you’re artistically inclined or know your way around a camera, you can dropship using a print-on-demand business model to let others physically own
a piece of your work. Just be sure you have the rights to the content you want to print, unless you’re using public domain assets that you can freely monetize.
If you’ve already got an engaged online following, say you’re a cartoonist or an urban photographer, you’re in an especially good position to give this
business idea a try.
Depending on the printer you work with, you can turn your work into products such as posters or framed wall art, even greeting cards. There are plenty
of digital templates and mockup generators like
that you can use to showcase your products without having to print out each item and conduct your own photo shoots.
Source: Zen Pencils figure
sell prints business idea
Source: Zen Pencils figure end
Additional resources to get started with this business idea:
list of 2 items
• How to Sell Art Online: The Ultimate Guide
• How to Sell Photos Online: For Beginner and Professional Photographers
Ready to start an online store?
Get started on Shopify with a free trial.
- Start a charitable business
Starting a non-profit organization isn’t the only path you can take to help fund a better world.
Having a mission to go along with a business, and setting aside some profit for a cause, gives social entrepreneurs a unique way to position their company
in the market while addressing the issues they care about most.
89% of consumers surveyed
said they were likely to switch to a new brand with similar products and prices if it was associated with a good cause.
While many social enterprises offer their own original products, you can also take any of the business ideas above and partner with a non-profit, or execute
that social good with your own hands, as long as you’re transparent about how it works.
As part of your marketing, you can share the impact that your customers are having by supporting your business, such as a blog post covering your work
in the community or a real-time impact calculator on your website.
Give & Grow Shopify app
makes it easy to partner with charitable organizations and incorporate your mission into your business. You can set it up to donate a specific amount
or a percentage of sales, or ask your customers to add a donation at checkout.
The Give & Grow app for Shopify lets you track and display your impact. figure
charitable business ideas
The Give & Grow app for Shopify lets you track and display your impact. figure end
Additional resources for similar business ideas:
list of 2 items
• Social Entrepreneurship: Harnessing Business to Make the World a Better Place
• How This Social Entrepreneur Is Building a Better Detroit By Empowering Its Students
- Sell a service
With services-based businesses, “time” is your inventory and your biggest investment. You’ve only got a limited supply of hours in your day. However, that
makes it easier to get up and running if you’ve got skills that are in demand.
Writers, designers, developers, photographers, house cleaners, fitness trainers, and more can build a business around their skills.
They can also expand their business with any of the other ideas above to create additional revenue streams by “productizing” their services through physical
or digital goods.
A photographer, for example, can service a local event while selling prints online through their Instagram account. A copywriter can sell a copywriting
swipe file of high-converting sales copy. Coupling your service-based business with physical products can give you another source of income that isn’t
directly tied to your time.
You can use the
Book an Appointment app
for Shopify to let customers easily schedule a session, consultation, or buy tickets to a class with you through your store.
You can also offer your services through a freelance marketplace like
to increase your chances of getting discovered by the people who need your skills.
The Book That App for Shopify lets customers easily book your services. figure
The Book That App for Shopify lets customers easily book your services. figure end
list of 1 items
• 12 Things to Sell on Shopify (Other than Physical Products)
Build your business on Shopify. Start your free 14-day trial today!
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- Create an online fashion boutique
If you love fashion and sharing your sense of style online, you can consider creating your own online fashion boutique. You don’t need to become a fashion
designer either—you can simply curate items from other vendors into your own online store (using the dropshipping model we discussed earlier).
From dresses, shoes, swimwear, accessories, and more, you can build your own fashion brand using one of the several
product sourcing apps for Shopify,
model them in your own product photos and social media posts, and build an online following as a trend-setter.
My Online Fashion Store lets you import various styles into your Shopify store. figure
fashion product sourcing app on shopify
My Online Fashion Store lets you import various styles into your Shopify store. figure end
Additional resources for similar business ideas:
list of 4 items
• How to Start a Fashion Line
• My Online Fashion Store
• How to start an online store in India for your fashion and apparel brand
- Sell handcrafted and homemade goods
If you’re a maker—whether you DIY soap, candles, sauces, or pottery—you’re in a unique position to find an
online business idea
since product development and procurement are literally in your hands.
Unlike many of the other ideas on this list, you will need to consider shipping and inventory management, but you can start out simple on a per-order basis
or with a small batch until you start generating consistent sales.
In fact, many makers on Shopify started out with a part-time
home based business,
selling from their homes on Etsy or to friends and family, growing into full-time business owners after establishing demand for their products.
Just be mindful of any
in your product category, especially for anything customers will eat, inhale, or put on their skin.
Brooklyn Candle Studio is one of many maker-owned businesses on Shopify that started on Etsy. figure
brooklyn candle studio on shopify
Brooklyn Candle Studio is one of many maker-owned businesses on Shopify that started on Etsy. figure end
Additional Resources to get started with these business ideas:
list of 5 items
• How to Start an Online Food Business
• How to Sell Art Online
• How to Turn Your Jewelry Hobby Into a Business
• 10 Things to Make and Sell Online
• 12 Creative Ways to Make Money
- Grow an audience you can monetize in multiple ways
In today’s connected world, the ability to capture and keep the attention of others is an asset. It’s one that many businesses are even willing to pay
for, and one that many creators are able to convert into a business with multiple revenue streams.
Whether you choose to grow your following on
(ideally a combination of different channels), you have many avenues for monetizing your audience:
list of 5 items
• Do sponsored posts on behalf of brands
• Become an affiliate
• Sell physical or digital products (via any of the ideas on this list)
• A combination of the above (they’re not mutually exclusive)
Taking an audience-first approach to starting a business means you’re playing the long game (it might be months until you’ve figured it out). But you don’t
need millions followers to do it—Instagrammer Kat Gaskin, for example,
pulled off a $10k product launch
with only 3,000 followers.
Kat Gaskin’s personal Instagram account links to her Shopify store: The Content Planner. figure
kat gaskin started an instagram-based business
Kat Gaskin’s personal Instagram account links to her Shopify store: The Content Planner. figure end
list of 5 items
• How to Get More Followers on Instagram
• How to Build an Email List
• How to Become a Fulltime YouTuber
• The Right Way to Monetize an Audience (From Wait But Why)
• Sell on Instagram: How to optimize your Instagram bio, hashtags and posts to increase sales
- Antiques store owner
Do you ever walk into a local store and find products that look exceptionally good, probably from an earlier time than yours that could be refurbished
or used as antique pieces? Well, if you have an eye for such pieces and you can get a good buying price for them, it’s time to start an antique store of
Remember how Nasty Gal did it?
- Cloud kitchen or bakery
Are you fond of cooking and baking? Well, this is one of the best low-cost business ideas for you then. You could decide a menu for your cloud kitchen/
set up an online store
for it and let those close to you get their food either delivered or picked up.
What’s more? You get the flexibility of how much business you want to run or how many orders you want to deal with in a day.
- Online coffee/ tea store
If you’re a tea or coffee connoisseur, this business idea might just be your calling. But to be able to do this, you need to align yourself tea leaves
and coffee producers. It’s a bit of hard work but can turn into a brand of its own once you’re able to tap into the taste buds of the consumers.
Don’t believe us?
Here’s Blue Tokai’s story
of selling coffee online.
- Craft classes online
This is a generation that learns online and that’s a behaviour that you can tap into to start your own business. If you’re passionate about art and craft,
you could either start curating and selling DIY kits online, or start selling online classes/ courses. All you need to do is get crafty about how you want
to teach on online platforms like Zoom, Skype and others.
- Interior decorating
The one thing that everyone loves is well-decorated home. But not everyone has the eye for aesthetics and details, or the time for it. And not everyone
wants to hire a pricy interior designer. If you’re passionate about interiors and think you’d love to build beautiful homes, offer online consultation
or interior decorating as a service.
- Pet sitting
This one’s probably a hit amongst all those animal lovers. If you’re someone who has always wanted a pet or have more than one but can’t keep so many,
this might be the right business idea for you. The best thing is that all people look for in such a business is that the person is genuinely in love with
animals. That’s all it takes to start this business.
PS. You can even start a pet supply store online with Shopify.
Here’s how Heads Up For Tails did it.
Got an eye for details, angles and lighting – we mean, photography? Well, this is another one of the best low cost business ideas. Set up your website,
showcase some of your finest pictures and let your neighbourhood know that you’re offering photography as a service. You’ll be surprised by the number
Oh, by the way, you can also get into smartphone photography if you don’t have or don’t want to invest in professional cameras.
Here’s a guide on how to do smartphone photography.
- Life coaching
There are people out there with vast skill sets and ambitions. But they don’t know what to do about them. They lack the guidance and the direction they
need to feel like they’re fulfilling their dreams. If you hold a considerable amount of experience in being a life coach, go ahead and pick your niche.
Be it general happiness, finding a balance in your life or career coaching, share your knowledge.
- Online book store
Are you someone who hoards books? Time to get your reads to others too. You can start an online store to sell the books you’ve read too many times or those
you know you’re not going to read anymore. You could also consider starting a bookclub and initiate book exchanges.
- App creator
Are you a problem solver? Do you like building out solutions that other businesses could make use of to achieve their goals? Well, you could become an
app developer/ creator. In fact, did you know that Shopify is home to thousands of apps that were built as solutions for eCommerce merchants?
Check them all out here to get inspired.
Choosing from the business ideas: Three tips to get started
choosing a business idea
The business ideas we’ve covered might be easier to run when it comes to logistics, but that doesn’t make them easy. There are at least three things you
should keep in mind as you consider your options, no matter what you decide to start.
- Focusing on a niche makes marketing easier
As with any business, marketing is what unlocks your success. It’s not enough to know that there’s demand for your products—you need to figure out ways
to reach the people that are most likely to buy them. You need to get the right visitors to discover your products.
Luckily, marketing is a lot easier when you’re catering to a specific audience or identity (e.g. vegans, board game lovers, photographers in your city).
You can produce
social media content that resonates
with these people or run ads that target their interests. Taking this approach also helps you project a consistent brand because you’ll have a more specific
idea of who exactly you’re talking to.