Updated December 4, 2023

Business to Start with 10k

Read more about Business

You don't need millions to begin your own business. Here are 52 low-cost businesses you can start with $10k or less.

Starting a business can be (and often is) very expensive.

From business registration fees to equipment and utility costs, you need to consider a lot if you want to get into your own business.

Thankfully, there's plenty you can start with only $10,000 or less.

Discover which of these great business ideas is right for you.

Businesses to start for $10k or less

If you only have $10,000 or less as initial capital, that's more than enough to start these businesses:

Import/export business

  • Startup difficulty: (2/5)
  • Expected income: Around 48k per year[1]

Have you ever wanted to buy something only to find out it's not available where you live? Even with globalization, accessing products from other countries can sometimes still be tough.

That's why if there's a high demand for certain items in your area and very few suppliers, starting an import/export business can be a great idea.

This type of business involves bringing products from other countries to sell in yours or vice versa. It can be very profitable, especially if you offer something unique or rare.

If you're importing a large volume of items, you can get lower prices if you buy directly from the manufacturers.

Food truck/cart

  • Startup difficulty: (3.5/5)
  • Expected income: Around $250k to $500k per year[2]

There's always a demand for food. So if you're an excellent cook or have a unique recipe, selling cooked meals can be a lucrative business.

But opening your restaurant isn't always possible, considering how expensive it can be. That's why food trucks/carts have become popular alternatives in recent years.

Not only do they have fewer startup costs than a restaurant. But you can also attract more customers because you can go to where they are instead of waiting for them to come to you.

If your food creates enough buzz among customers, you got yourself a winner.

Note that buying a food truck can cost upwards of $50k without customization. Renting one might be better if you want to minimize your startup expenses. This will only cost around $2k to $3k per month.

If cooking in public isn't really your thing, the next item on the list might be a better fit.

Home-based food manufacturing

  • Startup difficulty: (3/5)
  • Expected income: Around $30k to $250k per year[3] (revenue cap varies per state)

A home-based food manufacturing business means you prepare, cook, and pack everything at home. In most cases, the business owner also handles the shipping and delivery.

So if you love cooking or baking but prefer working in your place, a home-based food manufacturing business can be your best bet.

The FDA doesn't require home-based food businesses to register as facilities to operate legally. But some states still require kitchen inspections to comply with health standards. Check your state's laws to see if you need one.


  • Startup difficulty: (3/5)
  • Expected income: Around $39k to $44k per year[4]

Even in the era of smartphones, many people still hire professional photographers to help them preserve their special events on film.

That way, your clients can focus on enjoying their special moments while still being able to look back on them later on.

A photography business can be a good choice if you know how to work a camera effectively. Besides events, you can also do other types of photography, like landscapes, portraits, or editorials.

You can even take stock photos to sell on websites like Shutterstock or iStock Photo, where customers pay to use the images commercially.

Note that photography equipment can be expensive. The camera alone can cost $1k+. But you can still manage with just $10k or less if you start small.

Personal image consulting

  • Startup difficulty: (3.5/5)
  • Expected income: Around 25k per year[5]

A good image is important in many careers, even those that don't necessarily deal with the public. That's why professionals sometimes turn to personal image consultants for guidance.

Personal image consultants help clients transform their individual, social, and professional images (online and offline).

This usually involves coaching them about their appearance, behavior, communication skills, etc. You may also do physical makeovers for your clients so their appearances match their new selves.

If you possess strong makeover abilities and people skills, this can be an ideal business to pursue.

Event and party planning

  • Startup difficulty: (3/5)
  • Expected income: Around $50k per year[6]

Attending parties and big events is something that many people look forward to. But planning them is another story. That's why they often hire event and party planners to handle them instead.

Event and party planners arrange and handle everything needed for an event from start to finish. It usually includes coordinating with the vendors, working with the venue, overseeing the setup and cleanup, etc.

You will also take care of any issues that may crop up before, during, and after. Some of the events you will manage include:

  • Weddings
  • Conferences
  • Reunions

Becoming an event and party planner may be a wise decision if you're well-organized and sociable.

Real estate appraising

  • Startup difficulty: (4/5)
  • Expected income: Around $61k per year[7]

Buying or selling real estate properties is undoubtedly a big deal. So you want to ensure a property is priced fairly before you make your final decision.

That's where real estate appraisers come in.

A real estate appraiser evaluates properties before they're sold or bought. You'll conduct property inspections to assess the quality of amenities and overall condition. After this, you will offer an estimated value based on your findings and the prices of similar homes in the area.

Note that this business could be a good fit if you deeply understand the real estate industry and have a keen eye for details.

Like real estate agents/brokers, you must be licensed to become an appraiser. The requirements will vary from state to state. So make sure you check what your area requires.

3D printing service

  • Startup difficulty: (2.5/5)
  • Expected income: Around $37k per year[8]

3D printers have made it possible to create product prototypes or working models of designs on a smaller scale. Designers no longer need to wait until they meet a minimum number of orders to test out one design.

If you're knowledgeable about 3D design and printing, you can start a 3D printing service.

Generally, you just need a 3D printer, design software, and filaments (the materials used for 3D printing) to get started.

Children daycare center

  • Startup difficulty: (3.5/5)
  • Expected income: Around $28k per year[9]

Parents want to know their kids are safe and cared for, especially when not with them. That's why reliable daycare centers are in high demand.

Daycare centers look after groups of children when their parents can't, usually while they're at work.

This often means feeding them, changing their diapers, and playing with them until their parents can pick them up.

If you love working with kids and want to help the parents in your neighborhood, opening a daycare center can be a great idea.

Makeup artist

  • Startup difficulty: (3/5)
  • Expected income: Around $30k per year[10]

Makeup can undoubtedly help you feel more confident and beautiful.

But doing your makeup, especially for special events, can be time-consuming. That's why you usually ask makeup artists to do it for you.

Makeup artists use different techniques and beauty tools to help clients achieve their desired appearance with makeup.

You need to be updated on the latest beauty trends and products to better accommodate clients' requests.


  • Startup difficulty: (3/5)
  • Expected income: Around $38k[11] to $43k per year[12]

Doing repairs and maintenance around your property is definitely hard work. You need the right skills for it. Otherwise, you can end up with more damage or compromising safety.

Handypersons typically handle small repairs and odd jobs around the property. This can include patching holes, fixing leaks, installing new lighting, painting walls, etc.

You may choose to offer only specific services or be an all-around handyperson.

If you know your way around tools and can fix almost any issue in a home, starting a handyperson business can be a good venture.

Note that some states require getting a contractor's license if your earnings hit a certain amount. For example, in California, you need to get one if you earn $500 or more from jobs. It's always best to check your state's requirements before diving into this type of business.

Small business coaching

  • Startup difficulty: (3.5/5)
  • Expected income: Around $77k[13] to $93k per year[14]

Having a mentor can be extremely helpful in any field, especially if you're just starting. This is also true for aspiring entrepreneurs who want to start their businesses.

That's where small business coaches shine.

This involves familiarizing yourself with your clients' companies to give them personalized feedback and strategies.

So if you know how to start and run a successful business, becoming a small business coach can be great. You can use your expertise to help fellow entrepreneurs launch their ventures and achieve success.

Vending cart/machine business

  • Startup difficulty: (1/5)
  • Expected income: Around $300 per month[15] (or $3600 yearly) for 1 machine

A vending cart or machine is a great way to grab a quick snack or drink without worrying about closing times. It is a very convenient option, especially if you're often awake during odd hours.

Vending machines/carts can also sell almost anything. These can range from your typical chips, candy, and soda to T-shirts, books, and even gold.

They also need minimal supervision and maintenance. You just have to make sure they're always fully stocked. That's why they can be a profitable, low-risk business for $10k or less.

Commercial cleaning

  • Startup difficulty: (3/5)
  • Expected income: Around $30k per year[16]

Cleaning services are another type of in-demand service, especially among commercial properties. Commercial cleaners do what residential cleaners do (like sweeping, mopping, and scrubbing) but on a larger scale.

Your clients would be other establishments instead of homeowners, like schools, restaurants, hotels, and offices.

You will generally charge much higher rates than residential cleaning services because of the amount of ground you'll cover.

Online store

  • Startup difficulty: (2.5/5)
  • Expected income: Around $37k per year[17]

The internet has undeniably made shopping easier for consumers since you can now order almost anything online.

And everything gets delivered directly to your house. It's no wonder there are around 218 million online shoppers in the US alone.

Did you know?
Fashion, toys, hobbies, and electronics are the top online shopping categories in the US as of 2023.

That's also why starting an online store is worth considering. It has fewer startup costs than a traditional brick-and-mortar store.

And it can be very profitable, especially if you sell something in demand.

Home staging

  • Startup difficulty: (3/5)
  • Expected income: Around $51k per year[18]

When buying a new house, seeing what it would look like as your future home is important. That's where home staging comes in handy.

Home stagers rearrange the interior of a house for sale to make them look more attractive to potential buyers. You help interested buyers better visualize what it would look like if they lived there.

Starting a home staging business can be great if you have a flair for interior design and know how to sell a "home."

It's also profitable if your neighborhood has an active real estate market. You can partner with real estate agents and brokers to get clients.

Massage therapy

  • Startup difficulty: (3.5/5)
  • Expected income: Around $47k per year[19]

A massage therapist uses different massage techniques to ease aching muscles, relieve physical pain, or simply help clients relax.

You will typically work at spas and healthcare facilities. Or you can have their own space. Sometimes, you'll go to clients' homes and do massages there.

This can be a good business to start if you're already certified. The industry is becoming more in demand, especially as people become more conscious about their health and well-being.

Did you know?
Massages have many health benefits, including relieving pain, lowering stress, and improving the immune system.

Trash removal

  • Startup difficulty: (2/5)
  • Expected income: Around $30k per year[20]

No one likes it when junk accumulates in their properties. And these can be a health hazard if not dealt with properly.

But it's not easy to remove trash when you don't have the right tools and equipment. Trash removal services help clients remove and clear up junk from their properties.

These are usually bigger pieces of garbage that need several tools and equipment to move, like old and broken furniture or large debris. You can also help with clearing out foreclosed properties and offices.

So if you don't mind doing the heavy lifting, literally, this can be a great business to start.

Lawn care/gardening business

  • Startup difficulty: (2/5)
  • Expected income: Around $35k per year[21]

Lawn upkeep is often considered tedious and time-consuming. So it's not a chore everyone looks forward to doing. In fact, many homeowners would rather delegate the task to someone else.

Starting a lawn care/gardening business can be a good idea if this is a common issue in your neighborhood. This can also be a fantastic choice if you have a green thumb or just love doing yard work.

Some of the tasks you need to do are trimming hedges/bushes, mowing lawns, and removing weeds. They might also ask you to care for their plants, like pruning, watering, and fertilizing them.

Green business consultant

  • Startup difficulty: (4.5/5)
  • Expected income: Around $77k per year[22]

Adopting more eco-friendly practices has become a major business priority in recent years. And they're often given incentives to encourage them to become more sustainable.

But going green isn't easy if you don't know how or where to start. That's why more and more business owners have been turning to green business consultants for guidance.

These professionals help entrepreneurs develop new ways to be environmentally responsible while keeping costs low. You will review your clients' current practices and policies to find areas to improve without spending a lot.

Being a green business consultant can be rewarding if you have the skills and experience that align with your passion for the environment.

Medical claims billing

  • Startup difficulty: (4/5)
  • Expected income: Around $46k per year[23]

Doctors are busy with their patients. Which means they usually don't have the time to handle the paperwork required by insurance companies.

But these documents still need to meet the companies' standards and be properly documented before the doctors can receive payments.

Medical claims billers are in charge of managing patients' invoices and payments for medical procedures. This often means doing the following tasks:

  • Generating invoices with the right filing codes
  • Submitting claims with the insurance companies
  • Communicating with patients about their payments and balances
  • Coordinating with insurance companies regarding patients' information and coverage

So if you have the credentials and experience, starting a medical claims billing business can be for you.

Bounce house rental

  • Startup difficulty: (1/5)
  • Expected income: Around $300 per week[24](or $16k per year)

Inflatable bounce houses have long been popular event attractions, especially at kids' parties. And nowadays, you can choose from unlimited designs that will fit almost any theme and occasion.

There's also a wider variety of sizes to accommodate almost every group size.

This can be a profitable option if you're looking for a business idea that requires minimal effort. You can start with a single bounce house and rent it out to potential customers in your area.

Liquidated inventory sales

  • Startup difficulty: (1.5/5)
  • Expected income: Around $46k per year[25]

It's a fact that businesses sometimes close, whether it's due to a lack of customers or financial mismanagement.

When that happens, they usually sell their leftover inventory to recover some of their losses (aka liquidation).

Sometimes, they do this when they have too much inventory (overstocking) or can no longer sell the items (like with returned products). And they typically sell the items at significantly lower prices.

So you can start a business by buying the products cheaply and then selling them at a higher markup. You get to make a profit without spending a ton of money on products.

Human resources service

  • Startup difficulty: (4/5)
  • Expected income: Around $62k[26]
    to $126k per year[27]

Every business, small or big, needs an HR department. But having an in-house team is usually more expensive than outsourcing to a consultant.

An HR consultant's tasks vary, depending on their experience and expertise. But generally, you will handle the following:

  • Oversees a company's recruitment, hiring, and onboarding processes
  • Assists and mediates between employees and management regarding workplace issues
  • Assesses the company's current policies for inefficiencies and proposes solutions
  • Develops and enforces HR policies and strategies tailored to the company
  • Ensures the company observes local labor laws and regulations

This can be a good business idea if you have a human resources and administration background.


  • Startup difficulty: (3/5)
  • Expected income: Around 60k per year[28]

Videos, like photos, help preserve special occasions on film. But instead of a single moment, they capture the entire event (including audio) as it happens.

Videographers are the ones who record these events and edit the footage for more polished results. You may cover different occasions, like school events, weddings, and conferences.

Some companies will also hire you to shoot training videos for their employees.

This can be a great business if you already know how to work a camera and edit videos.

Consider trying drone photography and videography to expand what you can do. This can also be more profitable than regular on-ground videography.

Businesses to start for $5k or less

Only have $5,000 or less instead of $10k? No problem. You can still become an entrepreneur with these business ideas:

Personal chef

  • Startup difficulty: (3.5/5)
  • Expected income: Around $29k[29] to $50k per year[30]

Personal chefs aren't just for the rich and famous anymore. Hiring one has become a popular way for people to enjoy gourmet cooking without going to expensive restaurants.

You are usually hired for smaller, more intimate events. Clients typically need to book an appointment in advance. So it's less busy than running a restaurant or a food truck/cart.

It also has fewer startup costs since you'll prepare everything in the clients' kitchens.

So if food trucks/carts aren't your style, becoming a personal chef is another way you can showcase your cooking and special menu while earning good money.

Children's party service

  • Startup difficulty: (3/5)
  • Expected income: Around $50k per year[31]

A children's party service is similar to an events and party planner. You will handle everything needed for a child's party.

It usually means coordinating the activities, providing party favors, and arranging the entertainment.

This can be tougher than a regular event and party planner since kids are usually more energetic and active.

But overall, this is a good business to try if you love planning parties and working with kids.

Did you know?
Kids' parties have become as big as weddings these days. Some parents have spent upwards of $50k for a single party.

Valet parking service

  • Startup difficulty: (2/5)
  • Expected income: Around $29k per year[32]

Looking for a parking spot can be frustrating, especially in a crowded area. That's why some establishments have valet parking services to increase their guests' comfort.

A valet parking service involves driving and parking a guest's car for them. They hand the keys at the entrance, and an attendant takes over.

Valet parking services are most common around hotels and upscale restaurants. But they can also be found at events with many attending guests, like weddings, conferences, theater plays, etc.

Consider a valet parking service if you're comfortable behind the wheel and have a friendly and outgoing personality.

Personal shopper

  • Startup difficulty: (1.5/5)
  • Expected income: Around $33k per year[33]

Shopping usually involves spending money instead of earning it. But who says the two are mutually exclusive?

If you're good at shopping on a budget, why not become a personal shopper? Personal shoppers help customers pick the perfect products for their needs while sticking to their budgets.

Traditionally, you will work in fashion retail stores, assisting clients in finding the perfect outfit or replacing their entire wardrobe.

But these days, you can work as a personal shopper in almost any field, including gardening, interior design, and even groceries.

Businesses to start for $2k or less

For only $2,000 or less, you can start the following businesses:

Social media management

  • Startup difficulty: (3/5)
  • Expected income: Around $63k per year[34]

After all, almost everyone is on social media these days, even businesses. But not all of them have the time to monitor their accounts regularly.

And this is why they turn to social media managers for help. You will handle your client's social media accounts so they don't have to.

Some of your most common tasks include setting up your clients' accounts, posting on their behalf, or answering their customers' questions. Your tasks may also include analyzing social media trends and developing new marketing strategies.

If you're tech-savvy and have excellent communication skills, this can be a great business to start for $2k or less.

Pet grooming and/or sitting

  • Startup difficulty: (2.5/5)
  • Expected income: Around $30k per year[35]

For many people, their pets are family. That's why they pay top dollar to ensure their fur babies get the best possible treatment.

So if you love pets or have a way with animals, starting a pet grooming or pet-sitting business can be a great idea. You get to earn money while working with adorable animals.

To give you a better idea, pet groomers bathe and clean pets. This usually means trimming their nails, brushing their teeth, and styling their fur. You also need to know how to handle animals with different temperaments to keep them calm during the process.

Meanwhile, pet sitters look after pets while their owners are away or busy. It often means feeding, walking, and playing with them. Sometimes, you will take them to the vet or care for the pet's other needs.

Consider taking courses like pet first aid to make your services more attractive to potential clients.

Arts and crafts lessons

  • Startup difficulty: (2/5)
  • Expected income: Around 50k per year[36]

Arts and crafts used to be considered an activity just for kids. But they're now a popular hobby among adults as well. In fact, many people take up lessons to explore and get better at it.

So this can be a great business to start if you're skilled at a craft and an effective teacher. Some examples of arts and crafts you can teach are knitting, calligraphy, scrapbooking, etc.

Consider stepping up your arts and crafts game by using common household items as your materials. It can be a great way to channel your students' creativity while reducing waste.

You don't even have to hold in-person classes if you don't have the space. You can record and upload the lessons to platforms like Skillshare or Udemy.


  • Startup difficulty: (3.5/5)
  • Expected income: Around $70k per year[37]

Are you skilled at creating content that sells? If that's the case, becoming a copywriter can be a good idea.

A copywriter creates written messages (or "copies") that promote a company's brand, products, or services. The main goal is to persuade potential customers to buy whatever the company sells.

Businesses always look for skilled copywriters who can promote their products or services. This is a great way to capitalize on your excellent writing skills.

Music lessons

  • Startup difficulty: (3/5)
  • Expected income: Around $93k per year[38]

Music is something that most, if not all, people appreciate. And some want to take their appreciation to the next level by taking lessons, whether learning how to play an instrument or just the theory behind it.

If you're a skilled musician and teacher, offering music lessons can be a great business. It's a great way to make money while doing something you love.

Plus, you can hold private lessons or group classes, depending on how many students you can handle at once. Start an online course if you can't teach in person.

Fashion accessories design

  • Startup difficulty: (3.5/5)
  • Expected income: Around $46k[39] to $77k per year[40]

Fashion is one of the most common forms of self-expression. But sometimes, existing designs just don't match your style. This applies even to accessories.

So why not create your own?

A fashion accessories designer creates unique and stylish designs for jewelry, hats, handbags, etc. You will usually check the latest trends to develop complementary accessories for various outfits and occasions. Sometimes, you would sell your designs to interested buyers.

If you have a killer fashion sense and design skills, this can be a great way to showcase them.

Furniture flipping, repairing, & refinishing

  • Startup difficulty: (2.5/5)
  • Expected income: Around $37k per year[41]

New furniture can be so expensive these days. So replacing old furniture isn't always possible. That's why furniture flipping, repairing, and refinishing can be lucrative, especially if you have the DIY skills to make them work.

You'll revamp furniture (old or new) to make it more appealing. This usually means fixing issues, reupholstering, and repainting the pieces before reselling them for a profit.

You can work with your client's existing furniture or look for old or inexpensive ones you can flip and resell.

While you're at it, try online sources like eBay or Craigslist for low-cost, secondhand furniture. Sometimes, you can get them for free if the owners simply want to get rid of their old furniture.

Go for furniture pieces you can easily restore and resell for a profit. Some examples are dressers, tables, and bookshelves.

Vintage items selling

  • Startup difficulty: (2/5)
  • Expected income: Around $52k per year[42]

Vintage items, especially those in mint condition, can fetch a pretty high price these days. These can be old clothes, toys, figures, etc., that are rare or no longer produced.

Collectors often pay hundreds to thousands of dollars for an item needed for their collections.

That's why selling vintage items can be a good business to start. You'll go through old things other people sell to find something valuable. And then resell them for a profit.

It's also profitable because many collectors are willing to pay extra for the convenience.

Soaps, candles, and essential oils making

  • Startup difficulty: (3/5)
  • Expected income: Around $35k[43][44] to $50k per year[36]

The handmade soaps, candles, and essential oils market has boomed recently. They're a great way to create a relaxing ambiance and enjoy a spa experience at home.

It's also why making and selling handmade soaps, candles, and essential oils can be profitable.

You can experiment with different scents and ingredients to create unique products that appeal to your customers. You can even offer personalized products for interested customers.

SEO and digital advertising

  • Startup difficulty: (3.5/5)
  • Expected income: Around $52k[45] to $75k per year[46]

Search engine optimization (SEO) helps web pages, including ads, rank higher on search engine results pages (SERPs). It also allows companies to set themselves apart from the competition.

But both of these can be complicated if you're unfamiliar with the strategies. That's why SEO experts and digital advertisers are in high demand.

You can help businesses optimize their online content and ads to match what search engines are looking for. That way, they easily reach the right audience.

If you're well-versed in SEO strategies, an SEO and digital advertising agency can be worth a shot.

Did you know?
According to Oberlo, digital advertising accounts for approximately 67.4% of the overall expenses for media ads. This is roughly $626.9 billion and will increase in the coming years.

Online researching

  • Startup difficulty: (2.5/5)
  • Expected income: Around $50k per year[47]

Almost everything is readily available online these days. You need to know where to look. If you're good at digging up information online, becoming an online researcher can make sense.

Businesses typically hire online researchers to help them gather and organize valuable data from various online sources.

They can use this to optimize their operations, make more informed decisions, and avoid unnecessary risks and losses.

You can start this type of business without leaving your house. So it's also a great choice if you prefer working from the comfort of your own home.

Clothes alteration service

  • Startup difficulty: (3/5)
  • Expected income: Around $32k per year[48]

Clothes alteration involves making minor changes to clothes so that they fit better. For example, you'll adjust the seams of a dress or pair of pants to make them snugger or looser.

It's different from tailors, who create custom pieces of clothing for clients (usually with their designs). Customers often go to an alteration service when something they bought is off by a size or two.

Try this out if you have excellent sewing skills and can work quickly and efficiently.

Floral designing

  • Startup difficulty: (3/5)
  • Expected income: Around $30k per year[49]

Floral designers use their understanding of flowers' meanings to create unique floral arrangements for their customers. As such, one of your tasks is to make sure the accessories and packaging match the customer's preferred theme.

Floral designers usually work in flower shops, grocery stores, and other retail stores with flowers.

Sometimes, you will collaborate with event and party planners to ensure the arrangements suit the event's theme.

If you love working with flowers, pursuing this career seems a no-brainer. More so if you can channel your creativity into producing stunning arrangements.

Fitness trainer

  • Startup difficulty: (3.5/5)
  • Expected income: Around 41k per year[50]

Working out and being fit can be tough, especially without guidance. So if you can inspire others with your lean physique and active lifestyle, becoming a fitness trainer might be your calling.

Fitness trainers work closely with their clients to help them achieve their fitness goals, whether losing weight or improving their overall physical health.

This usually means creating personalized workout plans that cater to their needs and levels. You monitor your clients' progress and help them adjust their workouts when needed.

Fitness trainers often work at fitness centers and gyms and provide one-on-one in-person coaching to their clients. But you can also work with clients remotely via online platforms.

Tax preparation service

  • Startup difficulty: (3.5/5)
  • Expected income: Around $77k per year[51]

Paying taxes is something everyone needs to do. And all your financial records must be accurate and in order before filing them. After all, the IRS is pretty strict, especially with businesses.

And not to mention, no one likes doing their own taxes. They'd much rather have someone else handle it.

As a tax preparer, you'll organize your clients' financial records and ensure everything's accurate. You'll also help them calculate and file their taxes, including determining which expenses are tax-deductible.

And contrary to popular belief, you don't need to be a CPA or an attorney to become a tax preparer. You just need to get a PTIN (preparer tax ID number) and an EFIN (electronic filing ID number) from the IRS.

Take note that the states of California, Connecticut, Maryland, Illinois, Nevada, New York, and Oregon have additional requirements to become a tax preparer.

Graphic design

  • Startup difficulty: (3.5/5)
  • Expected income: Around $51k per year[52]

Striking images and visuals are ways businesses set themselves apart, especially since web users tend to ignore certain elements on a website unless they stand out.

That's why graphic designers are in high demand nowadays. Companies will hire you to create unique, bold designs that accurately represent their brand, from official logos to marketing materials.

Graphic designers also usually handle the visuals for social media posts, product designs, and more.

If you're very creative and can turn concepts into vibrant designs, you can use it to your advantage with a graphic designing business.

Bicycle repair service

  • Startup difficulty: (2/5)
  • Expected income: Around $35k per year[53]

Bicycles have made a comeback in recent years. They're more eco-friendly than cars, which is becoming more of a priority due to growing environmental concerns.

But while most know how to ride a bike, not everyone knows how to fix one. That's why bicycle repair services are still in demand.

Bike repairs can range from tightening loose screws and bolts to replacing flat tires and reattaching bike chains.

This can be a good business if you're an avid cyclist who can repair and maintain bicycles. You may already have the necessary tools if you regularly ride a bike yourself.

Businesses to start for $1k or less

If you have a budget of only $1,000 or lower, there's no need to lose hope. You can explore the following business ideas and see which one sparks your interest.

Online affiliate marketing

  • Startup difficulty: (1.5/5)
  • Expected income: Around $55k per year[54]

Do you have a product you can't stop raving about? Or maybe you discovered an item or service that you know others would benefit from as well?

If that's the case, consider the potential of becoming an online affiliate marketer. You can make money while promoting these items/services.

Affiliate marketers promote a company's product/service and encourage people to buy them using a special affiliate link.

You can earn a commission every time customers use their link to purchase the item or even when someone just clicks on the link, signs up for a trial, or downloads an app.

Did you know?
Around 20% of marketers consider affiliate marketing the most important way they gain new customers.

Business plan writing

  • Startup difficulty: (3.5/5)
  • Expected income: Around $2k to $25k per project[55]

Business plans are a must-have for any company. But putting together one can be tough, which is why many business owners prefer outsourcing this to skilled writers.

As writers, you will assist companies in creating custom-tailored business plans that will help them achieve their goals. You will also usually conduct the research and analysis needed for a well-crafted business plan.

Did you know?
Around 71% of fast-growing businesses have and follow a business plan.

So if you're business-savvy and good at putting plans to paper, writing business plans for other entrepreneurs can be a good idea.

Non-medical senior care

  • Startup difficulty: (1.5/5)
  • Expected income: Around $30k per year[56]

Unlike the medical kind, a non-medical senior care business doesn't need special permits/licenses or extensive training.

It usually involves handling tasks seniors have trouble doing, like grocery shopping and housekeeping.

Did you know?
Around 90% of seniors (age 65+) prefer staying at home instead of living in community residences.

You can also drive them to their destinations, like doctor appointments or visiting loved ones. Sometimes, you just need to keep them company.

If there are a lot of seniors in your neighborhood, launching a non-medical senior care business can be a beneficial opportunity. You can help older people and give back to your community while earning.

Virtual assistant

  • Startup difficulty: (3/5)
  • Expected income: Around $40k per year[57]

As the name suggests, virtual assistants are similar to regular office assistants. Only you will do all the work online and remotely. Your specific tasks will vary depending on your niche and industry.

But typically, you will handle calendar monitoring, appointment scheduling, and customer data management.

You'll also deal with social media, marketing, sales, and project management.

Becoming a virtual assistant can be a good business idea if you have excellent communication and organization skills. And like online researchers, you can earn money without leaving your home.

Did you know?
Approximately 67% of business owners hired at least 1 virtual assistant in 2021.

Mobile car wash business

  • Startup difficulty: (1.5/5)
  • Expected income: Around $30k per year[58]

A mobile car wash offers the same services as a regular car wash. These can include basic exterior washing, waxing, polishing, and sometimes even detailing.

The only difference is that instead of the clients going to you to have their cars cleaned, you go to them. This is more convenient for clients since they can stay home and still have clean vehicles.

Did you know?
There are around 103 million privately and commercially owned cars in the US. And approximately 92% of US households own at least 1 vehicle.

Offering mobile car wash services makes perfect business sense if there are a lot of car owners in your neighborhood. And you can start small with a bucket, soap, and sponges.

You can offer premium services like car detailing if you want to earn more. But this costs more to start (but still $10k or less).

Content creation

  • Startup difficulty: (3.5/5)
  • Expected income: Around $45k per year[59]

The content creation industry has boomed in the last few years thanks to platforms like TikTok, YouTube, and Instagram.

It has become a profitable field to enter, especially if you can build a massive following and attract sponsors. And it's not limited to videos, either.

You can create content for blogs, podcasts, streaming platforms, and more. Basically, making digital content makes you a content creator.

So if you're an expert in your field or have a unique concept, this can be a good business to start. You can share what you know with the world and earn from it at the same time.

What to do before starting a business

Now that you have all these great business ideas for $10K or less, it's only the beginning. There's a lot to learn and do to become successful in them.

It will help if you do the following before you start:

  • Do a SWOT analysis
    Before investing all your money into an idea, doing a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis is best.

    This will give you a more realistic view of your idea's viability. It will also help you identify potential issues and come up with effective solutions.

  • Create a business plan
    Even if your idea is viable, achieving success with your business can be tough if you're not prepared. Having a business plan is a must.

    It will show your commitment to your business and help you focus on your goal. It will also allow you to take the necessary steps to achieve it.

    Your business plan doesn't have to be very detailed or complex immediately. You can start with the key elements (e.g., executive summary, marketing analysis, and products/services). Then expand them later on.

  • Decide your business financing
    Capital is necessary for any business. But it's not always possible to pay for everything out of pocket.

    A solid financing plan, whether using your savings or securing a business loan, can increase your chances of launching a successful and sustainable business.

  • Start small and grow from there
    Opening a business always comes with risks. That's why starting small can be better than immediately going big.

    This can make everything more manageable. And it'll leave more room for changes and adjustments when needed. It's also a good way to grow your confidence first.

  • Learn what you need before starting
    Learning new skills or brushing up on existing ones can help you become more familiar with the industry.

    And it can make your services more appealing to potential customers. One way to do this is by taking online or in-person courses.

  • Build your network
    It's important to connect with as many potential clients as possible. Not only will it help you build your network, but doing this will also help spread the word about your new venture.

Pros and cons of being an entrepreneur

Starting your own business can be a new exciting path. But, like with anything, it has its advantages and disadvantages.

Here are some of them:


  • More control over your lifestyle
  • Can earn higher than a regular 9-to-5 job
  • Allows you to explore your passions
  • Can be more fulfilling than a regular office job
  • Offers a more flexible schedule


  • Has more financial risks
  • Requires a lot of time and commitment
  • Might not be as financially stable as a full-time job

What the Experts Say

CreditDonkey asked a panel of industry experts to answer readers' most pressing questions. Here's what they said:

Bottom Line

Money is always a major concern when it comes to starting a business. Ultimately, you'll require funds to cover everything you need for your new endeavor.

The good news is that there are many business ideas you can try out with $10k or less as capital.

Just make sure you do your research beforehand and choose something where you can maximize your skills and talents. That way, you can increase your chances of succeeding as an entrepreneur.


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