Small Businesses You Can Start With Less Than $1,000
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19 Small Businesses You Can Start With Less Than $1,000

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Small Businesses You Can Start With Less Than $1,000
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Some Pretty Boss Ideas

With the proliferation of online businesses, the sharing economy, and apps aimed at providing everything from lawn care experts to gardeners, plumbers, and dog walkers, the reality is that starting a small business is easier and cheaper than ever, particularly if you already own a computer and a smartphone. Even businesses that can potentially earn thousands in revenue can be started with relatively minimal expense. Here are 19 businesses, both online and traditional, that require less than $1,000 to start and even less to run.

Note: All start-up costs assume the individual already owns a computer and phone.

Professional Pet Sitter and Dog Walker
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Professional Pet Sitter and Dog Walker

Start-up costs: About $50
Tools and equipment: Pet bed, pet food, pet toys, leashes; computer, internet access
Thanks to sites like Rover and Wag, starting your own pet-sitting business takes a matter of minutes. The sites, which allow you to sign up and list your pet sitting and walking services, do all of the advertising for you. "You can earn up to $5,000 a month as a full-time pet sitter through sites like Rover.com. The site makes it easy to set up a profile and set your own schedule," said Andrea Woroch, a consumer savings and personal finance expert. "The start-up costs are minimal. You may need a pet bed, food and water bowls, pet toys, carpet cleaner, and a couple of leashes. You're looking at no more than $50 for these supplies, and possibly less if you shop sales and discount retailers," said Woroch.

Related: Must Love Dogs: 14 Unexpected Jobs for Animal Lovers

Blogging
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Blogging

Start-up costs: As little as $12 per month for domain name, website template and hosting, depending on the provider selected. Additional costs for internet access, which vary by provider.
Tools and equipment: Computer, writing skills, internet access
One of the easiest businesses to start for less than $1,000 is a blog, says James Pollard, founder of TheAdvisorCoach.com. "I've seen lots of people start blogging about topics they're passionate about and monetize the content," says Pollard. "For example, someone who's interested in travel can start a travel blog and can become an affiliate for various hotels and resorts across the globe. Or that person can create an e-book or video course on how to score cheap flights and hotels. This is the type of thing people are willing to pay money to have." Start-up costs include purchasing a domain name for a website and ongoing fees for web hosting services. Sites such as Squarespace and WordPress offer particularly cost-effective ways to get started blogging. Squarespace provides everything from custom domains and website templates to SEO features for visibility, website metrics and customer support all for as little as $12 per month.

Related: 35 Hobbies That Pay Off in Jobs

Digital Marketing Consultant
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Digital Marketing Consultant

Start-up costs: Video editing and accounting software, which can be less than $500. There are also ongoing phone conferencing fees of about $120 annually.
Tools and equipment: Computer, internet access, phone, video editing tools, accounting software, social media and marketing skills

Five years ago, Jenny Wilson started her own digital marketing business from her home in Ames, Iowa, and did so for far less than $1,000. "I had very few start-up costs," says Wilson. "When starting out as a marketing consultant, you can usually begin by using technology you already have, such as your computer and smartphone." To get her business off the ground, Wilson invested $249 in Camtasia, a video editing and presentation tool; and about $189 in accounting software QuickBooks. She also suggests a phone conferencing and screen sharing subscription, such as Join.Me, which costs about $120 per year.

Personal Training

Personal Fitness Trainer

Start-up costs: About $299 if you choose to get certified. Additional costs for fitness apparel.
Tools and equipment: Certification, fitness apparel, transportation
Personal fitness trainers work with a wide range of clients, from people battling obesity to prospective brides and grooms getting ready for their wedding. Personal trainers are in high demand, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicted this field would grow 10% between 2016 to 2026, faster than the average for all occupations. Technically speaking, there are no major requirements to start a personal fitness business, although having a certification, such as an ACE Personal Trainer Certification from the American Council on Exercise, could increase a non-certified trainer's client base and hourly rate. The ACE's basic personal fitness trainer course starts at $299. In addition to training, expect to spend money on fitness apparel and reliable transportation.

Food Tour Company
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Food Tour Company

Start-up costs: Business license (cost varies by state); business insurance (median price of about $48 per month/$584 per year); website ($12 per month); used camera (varies from about $35 and up); internet access (varies).
Tools and equipment: Computer, website, business registration, business insurance, camera
A food tour operator requires neither a commercial space, nor inventory or expensive equipment, says Patrick Barnett, founder of The Income Spot, a website focused on revealing the latest income opportunities. "Being a food tour operator involves a love of cultural experiences, a well-thought out business plan, and some marketing savvy," says Barnett, who estimates that the costs to get started include the fee for obtaining a business license (which varies by state from $50 to hundreds of dollars), the cost of business insurance (median annual cost is about $584), and creation of a website (as little as $12 per month). You'll also need a camera to take pictures of your tours for your website, but it doesn't have to be a fancy camera. Consider buying one used to save money, says Barnett.

Sound out Podcasting
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Podcasting

Start-up costs: Podcast account (about $5 per month); microphone (about $29); recorder (starting at about $107).
Tools and equipment: A laptop or tablet for beginners and podcast hosting account. Those who want to get more serious may purchase a recorder and external microphone.
Podcasting is a great way to share your passions with the world and make some money, says Mark Webster, co-founder of Authority Hacker, a marketing education company. "Today, lots of people are making money online by hosting online podcasts," says Webster. "The best thing is you don't require a significant investment to get started. Just take some recording gadget like a smartphone or tablet, a mic, and that should be perfect for your first few episodes." You'll also want a podcast hosting account, such as Libsyn, which starts at about $5 per month. For those who really want to get serious about podcasting, Entrepreneur magazine suggests the essentials include a good microphone, headphones, a filter, recording and editing software, and more. But before investing in all of that additional equipment perhaps consider starting with the basics Webster suggests and building an audience. Audiences are key because the best way to monetize podcasts is to build a following, connect with brands, and distribute their content, explained Webster.

Teach Online Courses
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Teach Online Courses

Start-up costs: $249 for Camtasia
Tools and equipment: Laptop computer, Camtasia video software
If you are good at something, don't offer it free, suggests Webster of Authority Hacker. "If you have expertise in some subject that people would be interested in learning about, you could teach it to people online," he explains. Platforms like Udemy allow users to upload videos and lessons for students to learn from, and the site also offers free courses on how to build your own course. "You can make a handsome amount of money by creating great content," said Webster. Popular online instructional classes include photography, content writing, video editing, digital marketing, and cooking. Camtasia is a great tool for creating instructional videos, allowing for recording and editing.

Related: Expert Tips to Grow Your Business Without Stressing Out

Clothing Resale
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Clothing Resale

Start-up costs: $0
Tools and equipment: Used clothing; laptop computer

With the proliferation of resale sites like eBay and Poshmark, making cash from old clothing has become quite the lucrative business for some, particularly fashionistas who have a closet full of unwanted threads. There's no cost to sign up for these sites and with a little time and attention, becoming a reseller can evolve into a steady business. "I started my online selling business with $0. I downloaded three apps, Mercari, Ebay, and Poshmark. I began to list my items online and within one month, I made $700," explains Alex Tran, creator of the site Schimiggy.com, where Tran now also sells clothing. "Now I make over $3,000 a month selling." Keep in mind that many resale sites charge a commission or a sales fee for transactions on their sites.

Translation Services
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Translation Services

Start-up costs: $525 for certification; $29 for recording device
Tools and equipment: Language skills, certification, laptop computer, recording device
Initial costs for independent translator businesses are low, especially for those already fluent in another language who don't need training. The basic equipment to start professional translation services are just a computer and a recording device (which sell for as little as $29), and software that speeds up the most repetitive parts of the job. With an increase in competition from software, it helps for translators to have both certification and a specialty, such as offering services in the health fields. The American Translators Association offers certification for about $525. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says median pay for translators is about $49,930 per year — which means it can get much higher.

Online Jewelry Boutique
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Online Jewelry Boutique

Start-up costs: Jewelry-making kit (price varies from $10 to well more than $100)
Tools and equipment: Internet access, computer, jewelry kit, online store
Unique or custom jewelry is a top-trending and top-selling item online. Etsy, an online marketplace for unconventional products is just one of several places where artsy types can sell their creations. Additional online storefront options include Shopify, Storenvy, and Big Cartel, where people can capitalize on their creativity. Artisans should research which ecommerce system will work best for their needs; for instance, at Etsy, probably the best-known name for starting an online boutique, there are no start-up costs, but the site charges to post an item, as well as transaction and payment processing fees when you make a sale. Jewelry kits will be another cost to keep in mind and while the price for these starts as low as $10, professional kits will set you back much more, in excess of $100.

Photographer
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Photographer

Start-up costs: About $200 to in excess of $600 for a camera; website ($12 per month)
Tools and equipment: Camera and website to showcase work
A basic DSLR (digital single-lens reflex) is the key piece of equipment needed to get started as a photographer. Luckily, eBay carries a variety of top-brand DSLR cameras for far less than $500, including numerous used options. "You can get started with an older camera and lens for under $200," says professional photographer Jay Soriano. Many photographers also take advantage of free social media websites to showcase their work, including Facebook and Instagram, or make their own sites with services such as WordPress (where prices range from $12 per month). Specialty photographers sell their pictures online, at art fairs, or at flea markets. Stock photographs are gaining popularity as online businesses and ecommerce continues to expand. The website Stock Photo Secrets lists the latest photography trends in stock photography.

Wedding Planner
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Wedding Planner

Start-up costs: Business license (cost varies by state from about $50 to a few hundred dollars); certification via online self-study ($595); business insurance (median price of about $48 per month/$584 per year); website ($12 per month).
Tools and equipment: Business license; business insurance; business plan; marketing plan; wedding planner certification; website
If you have a flair for organizing unforgettable parties and events, it may be time to consider launching your own wedding planning or party planning business. "Being a wedding planner is a stable, low-cost business idea you can start with little or no cost," said Webster, of Authority Hacker. "You need to be creative, and it would be great if you have excellent industry contacts with vendors who can help you execute an event seamlessly." Operating this type of business from your home is the best way to get started with minimal costs. The most notable expenses include obtaining a business license, insurance, and wedding planner certification (if you choose to do so). The business licenses and permits you need from the state, county, or city will depend on your business activities and location, and your business license fees will also vary, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Freelance Bookkeeper
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Freelance Bookkeeper

Start-up costs: Accounting software such as QuickBooks ($189); printer/scanner (starting at about $49); website ($12 per month)
Tools and equipment: Accounting software; website; printer/scanner
Depending on the tools you already have, the start-up costs to be a freelance bookkeeper can be quite minimal. "You will need some accounting software, internet access, a business phone, and a good printer and scanner," says Russell Barbour, creator of the site Unconventional Prosperity. "It also helps to have a website to advertise your services." According to Payscale, the average hourly pay for a bookkeeper is about $16 but can be as high as $25. Barbour says the hourly rate for a bookkeeper is closer to $65. "There is a huge demand for great bookkeepers, and it's a skill that you can learn from a course in your spare time," he adds. "Small businesses are required by law to track all their financial transactions and they are happy to outsource this to a freelance bookkeeper."

Related: America's 14 Worst Cities for Small Business

Real Estate Business
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Real Estate Business

Start-up costs: Pre-licensing coursework (starting at about $300 or more); real estate exam and license ($325 or more); professional membership fees ($150)
Tools and equipment: Real estate training; license; professional membership
The most significant costs associated with starting a real estate business include pre-licensing coursework and obtaining your real estate license. Beyond that, your costs should be minimal. "There are many brokerages that will provide a free office space, a secretary, and a copier," says Phil Georgiades, lead real estate agent for VA Home Loan. You'll also need to become a member of the National Association of Realtors, the dues for which are $150.

Join Professional And Casual Groups
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Public Relations Company

Start-up costs: Website ($12 per month); Accounting software (about $189)
Tools and equipment: Phone, computer, website, accounting software
Rhonda Rees started her independent public relations business nearly 30 years ago after being laid off from a staff position at a public relations agency. "I didn't have any money when I began," says Rees, who has been named one of the five most powerful publicists in Hollywood and authored the book "Profit and Prosper with Public Relations: Insider Secrets to Make You a Success." "I started things for less than $1,000." The basic equipment needed to get started includes a computer, a phone, and a website. To get your business off the ground and keep it going, Rees also stresses the importance of attending networking events, joining organizations, serving on industry boards, and using both traditional and social media marketing.

Print on Demand T-Shirts
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Print on Demand T-Shirts

Start-up costs: $0
Tools and equipment: Computer, internet access
Starting a print on-demand T-shirt business is completely free, says Stacy Caprio, founder of Accelerated Growth Marketing. All you have to do is set up an account with a print-on-demand retailer, upload designs you create, and then get royalty payouts each time they sell and print one of your shirts," explained Caprio. "There is no inventory cost and you don't even need to pay to set up your own website, making it a great no-cost business idea." Retailers that offer this service include Shopify, Printify, and Merch by Amazon.

Combing Through Job Openings Can Be Automated
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Freelance Virtual Assistant

Start-up costs: Website (optional; $12 per month)
Tools and equipment: Computer, internet access, website to promote your business
The start-up costs for a freelance virtual assistant can be as little as zero, says McKinzie Bean, who has personally started five businesses for less than $1,000 including the website Moms Make Cents. "As a virtual assistant, you do tasks, typically for online business owners," explains Bean. "They may have you do things like managing their email inbox, write social media posts, edit product listings, and more." Most people already have the tools necessary to be successful as a virtual assistant, she adds. The essentials needed to get started include a computer and a smartphone. It's also a good idea to have a website to promote your services but you can also use sites such as Upwork to advertise your services.

Handyman
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Handyman

Start-up costs: Cost varies, 210-piece tool sets can be found for around $100
Tools and equipment: Tools such as drills, wrenches and more

Thanks to the proliferation of sites such as TaskRabbit and Thumbtack, launching your handyman business has never been easier or cheaper, says Priyanka Prakash, a business finance expert for Fundera. "It's free or a nominal cost to create an account on these sites," she explains. "To this, add on the cost of a basic set of handyman tools such as a drill, and wrenches, and business insurance since you'll be going into people's homes to fix things." Keep in mind that TaskRabbit and Thumbtack deduct a small percentage when a customer books you for a job and pays you.

Transcription Services
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Transcription Services

Start-up costs: Transcription software (free depending on the type you choose); headphones (about $16.99); foot pedal (starting at about $99)
Tools and equipment: Software; headphones; foot pedal and website
If you have strong editorial skills and a broad vocabulary (and if you're a bit introverted) consider starting an audio transcription service, says Chloe Brittain, owner of Opal Transcription Services. "Transcriptionists convert audio and video files to text," explains Brittain. "There are many different types of transcription work available, including medical, legal, academic, media, entertainment, corporate, insurance, and law enforcement." Assuming you already have a computer with basic word processing software and an Internet connection, all you need to get started is transcription software and headphones. Website oTranscribe offers free transcription software. Express Scribe is another option, offering free and paid versions of its software. Those who use Express Scribe Professional may also want to purchase a foot pedal to control playback of audio and video. Brittain also recommends setting up a business website.