Alright, so you're itching to get something of your own going so that you can quit your job and achieve the freedom that many business owners enjoy, and you're even prepared to put some capital into your new venture. But which new venture is that, exactly? How do you determine which business to start with $10K (or less)? Here are 10 business ideas you can start with $10,000 and a few resources that might help to get the ideas flowing.
If you have a passion for helping people and wish to improve the lives of those in your community, starting a health-based business could offer the fulfillment and income you're looking for — and you don't have to be a doctor or pharmacist, either.
Nonmedical home care is an exploding business idea that you can start with under $10,000. As our vast population of baby boomers gets older, they begin to require additional care and services such as meal preparation, personal shopping, transportation for running errands or attending appointments, medication reminders, and various other everyday activities.
Starting a nonmedical healthcare business enables you to define your target audience — whether seniors, new mothers, people with disabilities, or others — and start with just a few clients. As you grow, you can add additional services, hire staff to provide support, and even serve a broader radius. Start by developing a business plan that outlines how you will serve your clients.
Resources to check out: Courses on sites like Udemy, as well as a vast selection of blog articles
Estimated cost to start: Under $10K (basic supplies, marketing, vehicle graphics)
Have a property to rent out? No? Alright, well, what if you help property owners rent and manage their vacation properties? According to data presented by iProperty Management, it's estimated that there are nearly 2 million professionally managed vacation properties for rent in the United States, which accounts for a whopping 20 percent of global vacation rental properties. That's a lot of bookings and a lot of cleanings. Many owners live great distances away from their properties and require help managing their guests' experiences.
If you can help vacation property owners charge more for their rentals by conducting repairs, adding amenities, and cleaning — and keeping their calendars fully booked — you're in business, baby. With a $10K budget, your expenses will primarily include marketing and advertising properties locally in order to drum up bookings for your clients. Start by contacting property owners to see what needs they have, and let them know what you're able to do for them.
Estimated cost to start: Under $10K (marketing and advertising properties, cash flow for conducting repairs, etc.)
This is a pretty big umbrella, as you can start a vast number of different retail or ecommerce businesses for around the $10K mark (or below). Focusing on selling liquidated inventory that you purchase from wholesalers will require some capital as you'll need to buy products in advance, while designing products and using third-party dropshipping companies can lessen the financial burden if products are made to order.
Alternatively, if there are products that you can make from home, such as artisanal soaps, pet products, or other unique offerings, your startup costs will primarily be used for materials and marketing.
The most common and viable ecommerce models include Business to Consumer (B2C), Business to Business (B2B), Consumer to Consumer (C2C), within which you can choose to operate a Direct to Consumer (DTC) business model, offer white label or private label products, dropshipping, and more.
Estimated cost to start: Depending on which model you choose and what sort of products you wish to offer, you can definitely stay under $10K when getting your new business rolling.
Real Estate, Rentals, and Leasing Businesses
If you're scouring business ideas with $10K to spend, it's no secret that real estate can be a lucrative venture — as long as you have a degree of patience and prefer to strategize before making any sudden moves.
In fact, Megan Young of MCS Rental Software advises you to put that 10 grand towards the purchase of an investment property for the best results.
"The sum of $10,000 may not be enough to put down on a mortgage, but it would cover the deposit on a modest rental. Restore the property to rentable condition and locate renters who can take on the responsibility of paying the mortgage and property taxes. It's a safe, long-term plan that will return your initial $10,000 real estate investment and more. Investing in a rental property may also serve as fantastic protection against inflation. A fixed-rate mortgage is a kind of financing in which the monthly principal and interest payments remain constant for the term of the loan. However, if you increase rents in line with inflation, your revenue should rise."
Estimated cost to start: A real estate business is likely to take the full $10K as you'll need to cover the downpayment on whichever property you choose. Start small, sell, then roll your profit back into another investment property.
Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation Businesses
Want to go for something a little different? The arts, entertainment, and recreation sector offer endless possibilities, such as…bouncy house rentals. Yep, and it makes sense if you think about it. Someone has to own these bright-colored castles that bring smiles to kids' and adults' faces alike, so why not you?
Bouncy houses, bouncy castles, and other bouncy-themed PVC domiciles range in price from $2,000 to $15,000+ with truly massive inflatables on the higher end of the spectrum. If you're looking for a business to start with $10K in hand, purchasing one of these could yield some impressive profits. According to Backyard Sidekick, most rentals bring in anywhere from $125 to $580 per day!
If bouncy castles aren't your thing, don't worry. Starting up a video production business, photography business, drone photography business, or another type of arts & entertainment venture might be more your speed, and there are many ways to turn your passion into a full-time salary.
Estimated cost to start: Whether bouncy castles, cameras, drones, or similar, a $10K budget should easily enable you to purchase the equipment necessary to start bringing in an income.
Consulting and Freelancing Businesses
Freelancing is on the rise as many remote workers are choosing to venture out on their own after being called back to their offices post-pandemic. Consulting, copywriting, software development, graphic design, legal services, accounting services, and more are popular choices for freelancers, and with some effort and perseverance, you can crank up your income to whatever you choose.
That said, let's hear it from an expert in the freelance world:
"Setting up any type of consulting or coaching business on the cheap is possible because all you need is a website, logo, name, email, business cards, online stationery for proposals and invoices, cell phone and a good idea to get going. If you want to incorporate that will add some expense but all of these activities can be done with little investment until you sign up some clients and choose to spend more." — Paige Arnof-Fenn, founder of Mavens & Moguls
Estimated cost to start: Under $10K as most freelancers create something from nothing (i.e., little to no upfront costs besides a laptop and a basic personal brand)
If you have industry knowledge of transportation, importing and exporting, logistics, or supply chain, venturing into transportation could be a fruitful business to start with $10K. There are a lot of federally regulated do's and don'ts surrounding the importation and exportation of products, which is why many companies hire an expert to help them navigate the regulations and expectations necessary to grow their business offerings.
As a side note, you may wish to combine an import/export transportation business with inventory warehousing for ecommerce, meaning that you specialize in importing products to sell in your own online store. Either way, putting existing industry knowledge to work can help you build a profitable small business without the need for significant startup capital.
Estimated cost to start: Under $10K as you don't necessarily need to purchase much of anything, but a good recommendation would be to spend a little on hosting a seminar or workshop where you can find clients to sign up.
Property Care and Maintenance Businesses
Sometimes the best ideas are those right under our noses or, in this case, our feet. For those who enjoy working in the great outdoors and are looking for business ideas with $10K to spend, starting a property maintenance company is an excellent option. As Gene Caballero, co-founder of GreenPal, puts it, getting started is less expensive than it might seem.
"Mowing grass can be a very lucrative side hustle to earn an additional income and has a very low barrier to entry. Lawn care pros can earn up to $40-$60 per hour by cutting grass and this can all be done in the evening or even just on the weekends. One can obtain a used commercial mower and trailer for less than $1,000 and start mowing immediately."
Estimated cost to start: Under $10K for intermediate tools and equipment — as Gene says, you can buy a used mower and get going very inexpensively.
Financial Services, Accounting, and Bookkeeping Businesses
If you're good with numbers and enjoy serving others, starting a business in the financial sector is a solid way to make money off of your skills and expertise. Accounting and bookkeeping are two of the more obvious choices, but something like specializing as an "expense reduction consultant" might not be floating around at the top of your mind.
These specialists are often former business managers, operations managers, accountants, chief financial officers, and controllers who have a firm grasp on budgeting, calculating overhead expenses, increasing productivity in the workplace, and developing strategies to reduce operating costs.
Offering a financial service enables you to provide copious amounts of value to your customers and clients and help them reduce their costs so that they can grow and scale. If you can do that and do it well, you should have no shortage of clients.
Estimated cost to start: Under $10K for sure, as you'll rely more on your knowledge than anything else — just buy a capable laptop and start connecting with businesses that have high expenses.
Internet and Web-Based Service Businesses
Internet and web-based service businesses offer an exciting way to make an income as well as pursue fleeting opportunities that have the potential to lead to significant profits. From tech startups and software as a service (SaaS) to niche software tools and micro businesses, there's a lot you can do here if you're searching for techy business ideas with $10K to spend.
Take it from these two experts in the tech space:
"My secret tip, given a $10k budget, is to buy yourself a headstart and microacquire. Microacquire.com (I'm not affiliated, just a fan) is a marketplace for small-scale tech companies, where ready-built products and businesses are for sale at all kinds of budgets. Aim to spend around $5K on the acquisition, saving $5K for marketing and growth strategy. Ideally, the business should have some revenue that helps validate the idea solves a real problem that people are willing to pay for, but at this price, the current revenue (if any) will be minimal. If you can identify an easy add-on that the original developer missed then you can quickly reach a return on investment." — Mark Walker, founder of AWcode
"I originally started my company with limited capital, spending roughly about $6,000. By the second year, I was earning that amount every month. When business gurus say that 'the greater your capital, the greater your potential returns', it is not true. Return on investment (ROI) is the measure of financial success for a business and you can achieve a high ROI from a business that requires low capital. The key is finding that business. To start a web development agency, you only need a small workspace, the necessary tools and talented employees. One of the advantages of this industry is a lot of work can be done remotely and as such you save on multiple costs, electricity, water, rent, etc." — Alan Carr, CEO at Webpop Design
Estimated cost to start: You might spend the whole $10K if you go this route; however, acquiring the right small startup could yield big, big results.
How to Choose the Right Business to Start With $10K
Ultimately, the best advice is to choose something that you are truly passionate about. Waking up every day as your own boss is an enticing thought, but you'll burn out quickly if you don't find fulfillment in your business. Whether your goal is to achieve high profit, location independence, or just a casual business that is easy to maintain, your heart will need to be in it in order to win it.
If you're ready to start your first business or your next business, Incfile can help. We've put together our Start a Business Guide to help you navigate the terms and requirements pertaining to business formation. From taxes and forms to licenses and legalities, it's all there so that you can start your business with confidence. Download the Start a Business Guide today and form your next business with Incfile.
Chad is a freelance writer and former project manager focused on presenting information on SaaS, technology and business formation.