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Have you always dreamed of starting your own business?
The life of entrepreneurship has always had a draw for you and you’re ready to finally pull the trigger.
The only problem is, starting a business can be expensive!
You’ve got startup costs that can be enormous sometimes and you wonder how you can possibly afford to start a business?
Typical costs for a startup may include:
- Office supplies
- Packaging and shipping
- And, more!
You don’t want to incur the cost of getting a business loan and you don’t want to be cash-strapped, trying to use your savings to fund your business.
Don’t worry, there are home-based business opportunities with no startup cost!
Keep reading as we dive into these 15 home-based businesses you can start with zero startup cost.
Take a look!
Why Go for a No-Startup Cost Home Business?
We mentioned some of the reasons above. Startup costs can soar. Who wants to invest their life savings in a business, hoping it will succeed. Because, according to Forbes, 90% of startups fail!
So, there’s a 90% chance you’ll be losing that money for good.
I know many entrepreneurs that failed in their first business (and many that succeeded).
In fact, my first 5 businesses failed.
Growing up, I always was drawn to entrepreneurship-type endeavors. I wanted to model, be an artist, be a CEO of my own company, etc. I never thought about what these different professions had in common. They were all some form of self-employment, for the most part.
It wasn’t until I was older, finished college (and a graduate degree) that I was finally an adult working in the real world and realized, I hated being chained to a desk job.
I did not like the thought of always being bossed around (even as a manager, I would still have a boss) and most importantly, I knew there would always be a cap on my income.
So, in my final two years at my 9 to 5, I decided I was really going to give a full effort to running my own business.
I didn’t know what I was going to do or how I was going to do it but I dove in anyway, starting 5 businesses, that all failed.
Then, the sixth one succeeded! And, afforded me the opportunity to quit my job.
Today, six years later, I still enjoy self-employment and I don’t ever see myself going back to a 9 to 5.
Don’t let failure scare you because I know business owners that have failed and I know business owners that have succeeded, in their first business. It is a weight off your shoulders knowing that you won’t have to incur startup costs for your business.
Without further adieu, lets look at these 15 home-based business opportunities with no startup cost.
1. Freelance Writer
As a freelance copywriter, you’ll be writing for a living. Your clients will include:
- Small businesses
- Radio stations
- And, more!
You will write white papers, reports, articles, blog posts, resumes, product descriptions, etc.
Being a writer has zero startup costs. All you need is a device to do your writing, like a computer. You can write from anywhere including your home, local coffee shop, the library, etc.
Many new writers start work in their home office and as their business grows, may expand to a co-working place or commercial office space, though working out of your home indefinitely works too.
To succeed as a copywriter, take a look at these best practices:
- Pick a niche
- Have realistic expectations
- Use social media
Pick a Niche
Pick a niche that you’ll focus your writing on. This can be a specific type of writing like resumes or it can be a topic like B2C (business to consumer), for example. Focusing on a niche in your writing allows you to get really good in that particular lane. You’ll build a reputation for yourself in that niche. You’ll find that you may start getting approached for work more and more, because you’ve carved out a space for yourself in that niche.
Starting out, you will want to make sure your expectations are realistic. As a new writer, you may not make $5,000 your first month (you might) so don’t beat yourself up setting lofty goals and not reaching them.
Join groups and communities for new writers. Practice your skill, network, make friends with fellow writers and learn as much as you can.
Social Media is Your Friend
Market yourself on social media. It’s the best way to put the word out about yourself for free. Create social network accounts on the big networks like Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. And, don’t miss out on joining writer communities and groups too.
Give value, share your knowledge, answer questions and soon you’ll find people coming to you with opportunities.
This piggybacks off of the above. Put yourself out there, network, make friends, and it will help you immensely.
2. Digital Creator
A digital creator is someone who created digital work to sell. This digital work can include ebooks, digital courses, printables, digital calendars, digital planners, checklists, and more.
This is actually a very lucrative space.
Digital creators can make up to six figures (or more) in the launch of their product, while enjoying passive income for years to come, with minimal effort.
If you have expertise in a field, consider becoming a digital creator.
Free Places to Create Your Work
Check out these free resources to create your digital products:
Where to Sell
You can sell your products:
- To your email list
- Through social media
- To your personal network
A top recommended way to make a lot of sales is to grow an email list. You can sign up for a free email provider like Mailchimp (free for first 2,000 contacts) and grow an email list by giving away a free product in exchange for a visitor’s email address, called a lead magnet.
For example, if you were growing your email list in an effort to sell your ebook on starting a home bakery, your lead magnet might be a checklist of required resources needed to start the home bakery business.
Visitors will come across the checklist lead magnet and want it so, they share their email address in order to get a free copy and you get their email address. Then, when it’s time to promote your product, you can email them about it.
Social media is a free place to sell your digital work.
Share it on your wall on Facebook, make a Pinterest pin about your product and pin it, tweet about it, post on your Instagram feed, etc. Plus, with the introduction of groups and lists on a lot of these networks, you’ll have the chance to promote to groups of people in a niche, for a bigger impact.
For example, you can promote your home bakery ebook to a Facebook group of 20,000 aspiring home bakers.
Lastly, do not rule out your personal network.
These are your friends and family, neighbors, church peers, members of your community, school, coworkers, etc. My former coworker plugged her photography business at work, every chance she got and she got leads that way! Six months after starting there, she quit for her successful photography business!
3. Social Media Influencer
You’ll get paid as an influencer to the general public. This is a real gig and more and more millionaires are being created every year because of influencing.
How it works?
You’ll set up a social media account and as the account grows, so will your fanbase. The more fans you have, the more influence you have and so brands will pay you to feature their products on your social media account.
Because you have that influence, your fans adore you and may take your advice, buying a product or service that you recommend.
For example, you might recommend a perfume to your fanbase of 20,000. The perfume company pays you $1,000 to do your feature. They send you a free bottle of perfume and you take pictures of it and showcase on your social network. Your promotion results in 1% of your audience (or 200 people) buying that $50 bottle of perfume so, the brand’s $1,000 investment in you, made them $10,000!
Imagine if you did 10 brand deals like this per month. Ten deals at $1,000 each is $10,000 per month.
And, this is just one income stream that influencers get. There are many more ways you can earn as a social media influencer.
How to get started?
Get on social media. It’s free. Start your account and post regularly. Interact and engage with fans and grow your following. This is a slow process usually. It can take a long time to start earning thousands or tens of thousands of fans throughout the year but, it can happen that your account achieves rapid growth, helping to propel you to a high following influencer.
Either way, it’s a lucrative way to earn a living and a totally free home-based business to start.
Here are some examples of niches you can choose for your social network:
- Mukbang or public eating
The most profitable networks are YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.
4. Virtual Assistant
Get paid to virtually assist clients around the world. You’ll be their personal assistant virtually, helping with a variety of tasks, based on the needs of your client, which may include:
- Email management
- Event planning
- Calendar management
- Customer service
- Accounting and bookkeeping
- Plus, more!
If you love helping others, a fast typist, and can take direction well, this might be the gig for you.
You can start this business with no out of pocket cost. All you need is a device that you can use with Internet, like a computer, tablet, or smartphone, and you’re good to go!
How to get clients?
There are various ways to get clients, including posting ads on classified sites, reaching out to your personal network, posting in Facebook groups, or investing in paid ads, among other ways.
You can price your services hourly, by the package, on retainer, or a combination of the above. It’s not unusual for VA’s to earn up to six figures per year, making it a lucrative home-based business to pursue. And again, at zero startup cost, you really can’t beat it!
5. Social Media Manager
You’ll be paid to manage social media for companies. This may include tasks like posting on social networks, crafting engaging captions and posts, content curation, interacting and engaging with fans, growing the fanbase, and more.
Social media is super critical to businesses.
It’s a way that brands can communicate with customers, showcase their products and services, share their brand message, get traffic, and a ton of other perks. So, your role as a social media manager is pretty important.
You can manage one or more clients per month, helping them reach their business goals, measure their success, the strength of your marketing campaign, and more. For those who love playing on social media, talking to fans, and creating awesome posts, this is a home business you’ll adore.
6. Child Care Provider
Opening a day care in your home, helping to watch and care for kids is a home-based business to start with no up front costs. You can charge clients per child and easily make up to four figures per month with just a handful of kids.
My sister-in-law had a family member who did this. She watched her own baby at home as a stay-at-home mom, then other moms in the neighborhood approached her to watch their kids. Soon, she was watching around half a dozen kids and charging around $400/week for each one.
Make sure to research the regulations in your area to ensure your home meets all requirements for an in-home daycare.
7. Tax Prep or Bookkeeping
If you have the knowledge to prepare taxes and do bookkeeping, this is an excellent home-based business, that will peak around tax time.
Offer your services to small businesses and be their ongoing bookkeeper, helping them stay on top of their income and expenses every month. This is a great business to offer an extension of services to, as well, like:
- Financial planning
- Business planning
- Business reporting
- Operations and strategy analysis
Work right out of your home and you can even keep your business entirely online, without having to make in-person trips or travel. A great home business for the financially savvy that have the skills and knowledge to do taxes and bookkeeping work.
Offering proofreading services to authors, bloggers, and other professionals, is a great way to work from home in your own business with no startup cost. A proofreader will review a document for spelling, punctuation, and grammar errors. The goal is to ensure the document is free of mistakes.
In order to be a proofreader, you must have a strong command of your native language. For example, English proofreaders must have a strong command of the English language. You should know grammar and spelling well, being able to easily identify these mistakes.
If you are new to proofreading, you should be a self-starter and work well independently. You will likely be given work to do on your own with little supervision so you should feel comfortable enough to do this work well, on your own.
You can find proofreading jobs in these places:
According to BLS, proofreaders earn an average wage of around $39,000/year.
To learn more about proofreading, check out this resource.
9. Online Event Promoter
As an event promoter, your goal will be to generate buzz and get people to attend your client’s event. This could be a:
- Club event
- Timeshare presentation
So, you’ll use your network and skills to persuade as many people as possible to attend the event.
You can start this business for free, without the need to invest in paid marketing by using word of mouth, social media, and free ads. This is a great business to scale up, bringing on more and more clients that will pay you a flat fee or a percentage of sales based on the turn out, or some combination of the two, in some cases.
This source shares that online promoters can make $25K to $45K annually.
Learn more about this gig and getting started here.
10. Dog Walker
Dogs need to be walked. It’s great exercise and they need the outdoors to relieve themselves.
Sometimes pet owners are just too busy. The daily hustle of work, personal life, events, and other things going on makes it a challenge to walk dogs daily. That’s where you’d come in, as a professional dog walker.
A Day in the Life of a Dog Walker
If you started your own home-based business as a dog walker, your work day might look like this:
After meeting your client and collecting payment, you might set up a routine or schedule for the client’s pet. Then, you’ll visit the residence at the designated times and take the dog for a walk.
You’ll want to consider things like:
- Length of walk
If you collect payment up front, some of the small costs like possible parking meter fees and supplies like pet bags can be bought with your service fee to the owner, making this a zero startup cost business.
For multiple clients, organization and planning is super important.
You want to ensure that client appointments don’t overlap and you have enough time to travel between residences to pick up the dogs for their walks.
This is a home business that will keep you active and in the outdoors so if you dread being chained to a computer all day, this business will definitely get you out. For those who want to walk dogs without having to start their own business, consider companies like Rover or Wag, where you can get paid to walk dogs for a living.
I took on this role for around a year or so, securing a handful of clients to consult. It was a lucrative opportunity that provided learning experience and something I can add to my resume.
I consulted a few clients on ecommerce and content sites. The goals were mixed but in a nutshell, most of them wanted me to lend my expertise to them to coach them on how to run a successful ecommerce and/or content site.
Consulting is a great, no startup cost business to get into because no supplies, equipment, or inventory is needed. You don’t even need a computer. You will be working with the client to coach them on whatever your expertise is in. This can be face-to-face, by phone, or web conference.
How to get started
First, evaluate your skills. Do you have enough knowledge in a field to consult? Would you enjoy helping others overcome a challenge and lending your experience and knowledge?
If so, consulting might be the business for you.
There are many different kinds of consultants. These are examples of common roles:
- Business consultant
- Sales consultant
- Marketing consultant
- Ecommerce consultant
- Technology consultant
- Legal consultant
- Operations and strategy consultant
Learn more about how to become a consultant.
12. Yoga Instructor
Teaching yoga or becoming a fitness coach or teacher can be a business with no cost to get started.
Aside from teaching students in your home, you can also hold classes in places like this:
- The student’s home
- The park
- The beach
- Town square
Today, more and more folks are getting into fitness. They want to feed their minds and bodies well so they can live long, healthy lives.
You can get clients from your neighborhood, college campus, and other places. A small class of 6, at $20 each, for classes three times a week can earn you a part-time income while a dozen students make you money full-time.
Plus, if you create digital content like workout videos, workout courses, nutrition plans, etc. then, there’s even more opportunity to earn.
Make sure you check the regulations in your area, as licensing may be required to teach fitness.
13. Online Opinion Sharer
An online opinion sharer gets paid for their opinion through surveys and panels. This is good for those looking for part-time income with flexible schedule that can be done anywhere they are connected (computer, tablet, smartphone, etc.).
I’ve personally earned thousands of dollars doing surveys in my spare time.
Here’s how you get started:
First, register for free to join your favorite survey companies. Some examples:
Then, fill out your profile, take surveys, and get paid!
Each survey company is a little different. Some allow you to login and take as many surveys as you want to while others will email you survey offers. Payment can range from direct deposit, PayPal cash, gift cards, and rewards which can be converted to cash and prizes.
Panels are another opportunity to get paid for your opinion.
They are like a longer form of survey. Surveys take 2 to 30 minutes to complete, usually, paying anywhere from around $.25 to $40 each, depending on the offer. Panels take 30 to 90 minutes (sometimes up to several weeks) to complete and the pay typically starts at $40 and ranges up to $500 each.
Panels are more time and effort for more money.
They aren’t as readily available as surveys so although they are higher paying, you may not be able to land a panel opportunity everyday or every week. Check out these 2 panel companies that offer opportunities:
Once you join User Interviews for free, you’ll have immediate access to the panel opportunities. There are usually at least a dozen different opportunities every time I login so, you’ll have a nice selection to choose from, though every offer may not be a fit for you.
You’ll noticed that each panel opportunity is targeted to a specific demographic, like:
- Users who use online banking
- Small business owners
- Retail workers in charge of staffing
- Stay-at-home parents who make the buying decisions in their home
So, again, every opportunity may not be a fit for you.
Once you pick an opportunity, you’ll be taken through a short screener survey to determine if your background and demographics fit the panel. After the screener survey is completed, you’ll hear back via email if you are selected.
If you are selected, depending on the panel offer, you may do a phone interview, web interview, or in-person interview.
When I did my panel it was a phone interview that was expected to take 45 minutes and took 35 minutes. It was super simple and although I was told I’d be paid within 7 to 10 days, I was paid 30 minutes later!
I earned around $150 in the form of an Amazon gift card, which I used later that day to buy a high end stick vacuum cleaner!
Respondent is another panel company, similar to User Interviews.
Sign up for free, then complete your profile and start applying to panels. The process is almost identical to that shared above, for User Interviews.
Panels are also targeted toward specific niches and you’ll go through a screener survey to see if you are a match. If so, expect an email sharing that you qualified, along with the details of the study.
For my panel with Respondent, there were around 10 time slots available and I was able to pick a date and time slot that fit my personal schedule. I did a web conference where I did a screen share and talked aloud about my experience on the website and answered some additional questions.
The pay was also around $150.
Panels and Future Opportunities
Something else I noticed about panels that is pretty neat is, if you agree to be contacted about future opportunities, you might be emailed high paying offers from other companies. When I began taking surveys and panels more regularly, my inbox started getting more opportunities, not connected to the two panel companies above.
For example, I’ve received 2 invitations in the past year to participate in a focus group for my local bank, paying around $80.
I also got a chance to do an online focus group (which I took advantage of) that took around 90 minutes and paid me $400 (Visa gift card). So, if you find yourself starting to get contacted more about opportunities, it’s likely because you opted in, on one or more of these survey sites. Not a bad thing, if you ask me.
For a quick list of survey companies to earn $600/month or more, check out this awesome roundup.
14. Direct Sales
There are tons of direct sales opportunities that require zero sign up cost.
In direct sales, you’ll be a representative of a company, selling their products to the general public. Each company is different but many allow you to set up a small online shop (for free) that you can direct your leads to. Every sale that comes in will land you a commission.
I had a high school friend that was a huge lover of beauty and makeup products. She started as a reprsentative for Mary Kay and is now a top executive!
What you’ll love about direct sales is that you will likely work on a team. So you will have a support system to help you succeed and has an interest in you doing well. Most companies send new reps a starter kit with tons of materials to help you get started selling their products.
Here are some direct sales companies to check out:
- Country Scents – Candles, melts, home decor, sprays
- Do You Bake? – Ready-made foods and desserts
- Kaeser & Blair – Promotional products
- Linen World – Blankets, bedding, kitchen, and home products
- Mayvenn – Hair care
- Nu Skin – Health and beauty
- She Anna Bella – Purses, jewelry, scarves
You can become a flipper, making a profit on the goods you flip. You can flip many different products, too.
Here’s how it works:
Buy a product at a low price, then, flip it at a high price, keeping the difference as profit.
To get started with no out of pocket cost, start by flipping things around the house. I love doing this a few times a year and I coordinate it around the time I do my big Spring and Winter cleanings.
Go through each room in your home and make a pile of stuff you want to throw out. Then, instead of throwing it out, flip it!
- Home decor
- Small appliances
Where to flip?
You can flip products online, in places like eBay. You can flip in-person through local consignment stores, used goods stores, flea markets and thrift stores.
Once you start earning money from your flipped goods, you can invest into starting to buy products, like department store products on sale, resold on online outlets like Amazon.
What else to flip?
Flipping isn’t just limited to stuff around the house or products you source at stores. You can also flip:
- Products from liquidation stores
- And, more!
Learn more about the ins and outs of flipping through The Flea Market Flipper (they earn six figures per year flipping).
This wraps up our roundup of 15 home-based business opportunities with no startup cost. Remember, whatever business you dive into, make sure you have a passion for, so that enthusiasm keeps you going, throughout the startup phase, which can be slow for some businesses.
We hope you enjoyed this article.
Do you know of any free home-based business opportunities?
We’d love to know about it! Comment down below so we can hear from you.