28 Businesses You Can Start For Less Than $1,000

28 Businesses You Can Start For Less Than $1,000

Starting a business is tough, always. But money doesn't have to be a big obstacle.

Sure, there're many types of businesses that require a high investment, but if you do your research properly and look for a profitable niche you can surely find a way to start your own business for a very low amount of money.

Here on Starter Story we've talked to hundreds of founders and many of them started with very few resources.

To show you some examples that you can get inspired by, we've put together a list of 28 businesses that believe it or not started with less than $,1000 of funding.

They are very different between them: graphic design, grooming products, tech platforms, video tutorials,... so there's no need to stick to a specific sector in order to start with little money, you just need to put yourself into the right mindset and be sharp enough to spot the opportunities.

Have a business that required low initial investment and want to get added to this list? Submit to share your story here.

Check them out below:

1. Uber for graphic design ($87.9K/year)

The graphic design business, MeetAnders, was founded in Singapore, Singapore almost 7 years ago.

  • Revenue: $7,321/ month
  • Founders: 2
  • Employees: 3
  • Location: Singapore, Singapore

When my kid was born in 2013, there was no way for me to be serving my clients while babysitting. That’s when I realized my business couldn’t run without me.

Our customer acquisition relied solely on referrals. We had enough referrals coming to keep us busy. But because I was drowning in a sea of day-to-day tasks, that didn’t leave me time to set up a proper lead generation system.

I was the bottleneck in all areas of it.


2. Google sheet tutorials ($48K/year)

The skills training business, Better Sheets, was founded in over 1 year ago.

  • Revenue: $4,000/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 0
  • Location:

It began as a side project while building a web app. I had wanted to launch something helpful to a broad set of people. And I wanted to launch something that could run without my interference.

In the company that I co-founded, to do ad sales we were constantly building biz models and outreach in Google Sheets. My co-founder earlier this year mentioned that all my Google Sheets look great. And are way above anything else he had seen.

I didn’t have to validate it, necessarily, before creating it. I just launched the damn thing on a Friday. Landing page, 4 free videos, and 4 paid videos. I set a price and moved on with my life. Come Monday I had a sale, and everything blasted off from there.


3. Lifestyle blog ($180K/year)

The blog, Katie Did What, was founded in Sacramento, California, USA almost 10 years ago.

  • Revenue: $15,000/ month
  • Founders: 2
  • Employees: 2
  • Location: Sacramento, California, USA

I just mentioned having kids, but it never hurts to talk about them again! We’ve got 3 kids who as of May 2020 are 1, 4, and 6. Never a dull moment! I initially started my blog almost ten years ago as an outlet. I loved writing and just used it as an online journal. Pretty much my mom was my only reader for the first year!

I ignored Pinterest for way too long, I slept on Instagram too! The later you get into a new platform, the harder rapid growth is!

Around that same time, I started, my husband started a coupon and deal blog. He began making some money there and was really learning the ropes of monetization as I was growing my own audience.


4. Elastic apple watch bands ($2.4M/year)

The niche accessories brand, Braxley Bands, was founded in Austin, Texas, USA over 4 years ago.

  • Revenue: $200,000/ month
  • Founders: 2
  • Employees: 3
  • Location: Austin, Texas, USA

I have always had a fascination with art and style. I've also always loved creating things in many different formats. The idea for Braxley Bands started because of a personal desire for a more comfortable Watch band option and the need to come up with a project idea for my marketing class. My band at the time was the original band Apple included which is made from cheap-feeling plastic. Furthermore, the only options out there at the time were very plain solid colored designs. I wanted to jazz it up.

I had absolutely no background in anything related to business when I got started aside from me being a Junior marketing major. While I did learn some foundational stuff in business school, most everything eCommerce related was learned either from podcasts, books, people on social media, or mentors.

We didn’t have a big budget at all when we were getting started because we didn’t want to take an investor. That way we could play by our own rules. Also, who would ever give us money? So we had to learn everything ourselves. Everything from accounting to photoshop to supply chain management.


5. Pet sitting & dog walking ($648K/year)

The dog walking business, Furry Fellas Pet Service LLC, was founded in Remote over 15 years ago.

  • Revenue: $54,000/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 19
  • Location: Remote

I have always had a passion for animals. I was going to school full time at the University of Rhode Island as a Pre-Vet student while working full time at a local veterinary hospital AND picking up pet sitting and dog walking clients on the side.

Since my late teenage years, I have known that I wanted to work with animals. While working at the animal hospital, I saw a great need for this type of service, and soon after decided to start this business!

I would often come across clients who had not traveled in years because their pets required specialized care or medications or because they did not know who to ask or whom they could trust with their pets and their home.


6. Shirt folds ($24K/year)

The fashion accessories brand, FLXCUF, was founded in Chicago, Illinois, USA over 4 years ago.

  • Revenue: $2,000/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 0
  • Location: Chicago, Illinois, USA

I came up with the idea while working behind a bar. My uniform was a dress shirt and given the nature of the business -- I ALWAYS rolled up my sleeves. The problem, they never stayed up or looked good. It was a classier place, so appearance was just as important as functionality. I started using rubber bands behind my cuffs. That worked as a temporary fix, but it also cut off the circulation in my arms.

Go for it. If you have an idea, embrace uncertainty and make it happen.

Fast forward to my first-day job in marketing for a casino, I began doing the exact same thing. I would roll up my dress shirt sleeves throughout the day and continuously run into the same problem. Going back to the rubber band trial, the idea of making the shirt cuff “flexible” (ta-da, flxcuf) and allowing it to expand as it went up one’s arm started to come to life in my mind.


7. Hand lettered stationery products ($36K/year)

The stationery business, Jordyn Alison Designs, was founded in Michigan, USA almost 4 years ago.

  • Revenue: $3,000/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 0
  • Location: Michigan, USA

A few years ago, my boyfriend (now husband) went off to Boot Camp. In preparation for those months of zero communication, I started hand lettering and making long-distance greeting cards. I needed something to occupy my time… something more than just college!

When I first started my business, I was working full time as well as being a full-time college student. It was really hard to grow my business to what I dreamt it could be when I didn’t have a ton of time to spare. It’s taken me some time to not get discouraged from others’ faster success. However, looking back I really do appreciate my slow-but-steady growth.

In December of 2017, I graduated with a Bachelors in Graphic Design. I was looking forward to 2018 finally being my year to fully work on growing my business - but life happened, and let’s just say… moving across the country (22 hr drive non-stop) 3 times in 5 months really tires you out.


8. Turnover chains, bling pendants ($84K/year)

The niche accessories brand, Bighead Custom, was founded in Florida, USA about 9 years ago.

  • Revenue: $7,000/ month
  • Founders: 2
  • Employees: 3
  • Location: Florida, USA

I have been around art since I was a kid. My grandfather was a professional artist so needless to say it's in my blood. I've always loved being creative and was always tinkering around as a young kid trying to invent and come up with cool things to play with.

Always listen to your customer! If there's something that needs to be improved on, your customers will always let you know!

When I was in my 20’s I worked every type of job imaginable. Mostly sales. I was really good at sales but I was never really content. Art always had my attention and was never far from my next thought. I stumbled my way through life trying everything. I eventually settled on buying and selling used cars alongside my brother, Craig, the mastermind really. He knew this business well so I just tagged along and learned what I could and went on to make good money flipping cars. There was one huge problem, I didn't love it. I wasn't being creative. I needed that.


9. Women's apparel ($84K/year)

The women's clothing line, Garage Gym Barbell Apparel, was founded in Tehachapi, California, USA about 4 years ago.

  • Revenue: $7,000/ month
  • Founders: 2
  • Employees: 0
  • Location: Tehachapi, California, USA

Garage Gym Barbell Apparel has been a journey starting with me personally. Some of us have that “one day” where we wake up and decide we are ready to make a life change and never look back. My “one day” came 8 years ago. Very unhealthy, overweight and desperately needed to get myself healthy; I set a goal that I would lose weight and be healthy and never looked back. From that moment I have stayed the course and made that goal something that my business was built around.

Some of the things I accomplished in my personal journey; yoga instructor, Zumba instructor, Crossfit level 1 & 2 certificates, NASM personal training certificate. My biggest accomplishment was getting California State records in the United States Powerlifting Association for a 341lb squat and a 419lbs deadlift at age 44 years.


10. Eco-conscious clothing ($96K/year)

The sustainable clothing line, IndieGetup, was founded in Denver, Colorado, USA about 4 years ago.

  • Revenue: $8,000/ month
  • Founders: 2
  • Employees: 0
  • Location: Denver, Colorado, USA

As many innovations begin, IndieGetup was created as a by-product of a creative pursuit.

I’ve always aspired to start my own company, instinctively I assume because I come from a family of entrepreneurs. Throughout college, I always looked for positions and internships at smaller companies, where I would have direct exposure to the owner. These companies gave me the opportunity to understand the full interworking of a business.


11. Rustic decor and furniture ($102K/year)

The home decor business, Valhalla Wood Forge, was founded in Portland, Oregon, USA over 4 years ago.

  • Revenue: $8,500/ month
  • Founders: 2
  • Employees: 3
  • Location: Portland, Oregon, USA

I started Valhalla Wood Forge in 2017 while working full-time as a police officer. Our department was smaller, only seven of us total, we didn’t have full-time detectives so we had to fulfill dual roles as patrol and doing detective level investigations. I was working long hours, investigating a lot of sex crimes, which were taking a huge emotional and mental toll. Additionally, I was (and still am) a Coast Guard reservist, doing law enforcement and search and rescue, so my stress level was very high.

One day, the Police Chief ordered a big wooden flag for like, $500. I remember looking at it and thinking, “I could make that, but better.” So I got some wood, borrowed a circular saw from my parents, and made a flag to donate to my department. The department put a picture of me with the handmade flag on Facebook, and pretty soon, I was getting requests from cops and military buddies for their own flags. For the rest of 2017 and really, the first half of 2018, I didn’t charge much as I was only making 1-2 flags a month. I was having fun and had found a way to unwind and work through a lot of stress, and have my tools get paid for. Score, right?

Do your homework if you’re going to use outside marketing agencies, and don’t take shortcuts.


12. Sterling silver jewelry ($4.8M/year)

The jewelry making business, Inspiranza Designs, was founded in Colombia almost 16 years ago.

  • Revenue: $400,000/ month
  • Founders: 2
  • Employees: 8
  • Location: Colombia

Dawn and I were lunch friends at the law firm that we both worked for years. We would often eat our lunch and discuss how we thought that God had a greater plan for us and how we would love to start our own business someday. Dawn had a fine jewelry background so she had insight as to how to get started and wholesale vendors to use. I had an IT background and was the firm's IT Manager. These two things were the perfect ingredients for the birth of Inspiranza Designs. One day she came to ask if I wanted to sell sterling silver jewelry with her at home parties. I thought it would be an awesome Idea as jewelry was something that we both loved!

After just one night of pondering the idea, I came back to Dawn with an even bigger idea! Why don’t we start our own direct sales business and provide the opportunity for other women to own their own business? Dawn agreed!

Only spend what you have.


13. Digital products and courses to help you organize and simplify your entire life! ($240K/year)

The online courses business, The Savvy Couple, was founded in Rochester, New York, USA over 5 years ago.

  • Revenue: $20,000/ month
  • Founders: 2
  • Employees: 2
  • Location: Rochester, New York, USA

I was your average kid growing up wanting to be a police officer and changing the world one bad guy at a time. Brittany also knew what she wanted to be when she grew up, a teacher.

After meeting each other in 9th grade American Sign Language class the rest is history. We started dating at age fourteen and have never looked back. Best friends would be an understatement.


14. Temporary tattoos ($12K/year)

The temporary tattoo artist, Forgotten Mermaids, was founded in Atlanta, GA, USA over 3 years ago.

  • Revenue: $1,000/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 0
  • Location: Atlanta, GA, USA

Before mermaid tattoos, I was working as a freelance graphic artist on everything from illustrations to website designs. I knew the fundamentals of how to design a brand and decided I wanted to apply those skills to create my own.

At the time I had been traveling and living out of my van while working full time as a freelance graphic designer. I spent a lot of creative energy working on other people’s ideas when I realized I wanted something of my own. Better yet, I realized I should be working towards something for myself.

The next step was figuring out what that was. At the time I was living in a van in a touristy Florida town, so naturally there was an abundance of mermaid themed stuff in all of the shops.


15. Baby products subscription box ($720K/year)

The subscription box business, Bambox, was founded in Autonomous City of Buenos Aires, Argentina over 4 years ago.

  • Revenue: $60,000/ month
  • Founders: 3
  • Employees: 7
  • Location: Autonomous City of Buenos Aires, Argentina

In Bambox co-founding team, we are 3 french engineers, Timothée Jauffret (COO), Rémi Beaufils (CTO) and myself.

We all left our day jobs and we bootstrapped Bambox from our living room in our shared flat. Until today, we couldn't be more thankful to our roommates for letting us pile stacks of diapers in the house for at least a year!

We all came to Argentina for different reasons. One came to study and is getting married now, another settled down here after traveling around the world. For me, after graduating from an engineering Msc in Brazil I wanted to stay in LatAm to enjoy the lifestyle and I ended up working with Timothée at a third-party logistics provider.


16. Handcrafted steel tongue drums ($24K/year)

The handcrafted drums business, Goya, was founded in Dublin, Ireland over 3 years ago.

  • Revenue: $2,000/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 0
  • Location: Dublin, Ireland

I had traveled to the Amazon rainforest in Peru a while ago to partake in some tribal ceremonies and stayed in there for a week.

On one of the days I took place in a sound bath where Tibetan bowls and other instruments were played to help induce a relaxing, meditative experience. I was expecting nothing more than some enjoyable tones and melodies, but a few minutes after relaxing and closing my eyes, I became immersed in a sea of bliss. After the sound bath ended I felt refreshed, positive, and energised! A new connection to sound and music was made and a new passion grew inside me.

Upon returning home I found out about handpans, big metal percussion instruments that emitted beautiful tones for meditative music. The only downside was the price tag of 2000 euros.


17. Luxury watches ($3.84M/year)

The watch brand, Delray Watch Supply, was founded in Miami, Florida, USA over 4 years ago.

  • Revenue: $320,000/ month
  • Founders: 2
  • Employees: 4
  • Location: Miami, Florida, USA

While currently, I am deeply ingrained in the luxury watch space, this was not always the case in my career journey.

The real foundation for my career progression I would likely attribute to my earliest of memories- playing with Legos as a child. I had developed a fascination and building and fixing things at a young age, and it has followed me up to this day.

If you have an idea try it. Yes, you may fail, but you will learn things in the process. You may fail the next 10 tries thereafter, but you will learn even more. That 11th try may be your Delray Watch. It was mine.


18. Branding and packaging design ($240K/year)

The digital agency, Dox Design, was founded in Ann Arbor, MI, USA almost 4 years ago.

  • Revenue: $20,000/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 2
  • Location: Ann Arbor, MI, USA

Dox Design was kind of a happy accident. I had the fortunate experience of working in the agency world after I graduated with my Bachelor’s Degree in graphic design, getting into one of the top design agencies in the Midwest and working with some pretty cool national brands.

I was on the fast track to working in a big city like New York which I thought was always my dream… but I quickly realized that working environment wasn't for me. I hated leaving my dogs every day and working a lot of long nights to meet deadlines for projects that didn’t totally inspire me. So here I was, still a fresh post-grad and thinking my career path isn’t what I thought it was going to be.

Identify where your sales are coming from and put your focus there. In today’s world, it’s really easy to fall into the comparison game and feel like everyone else has it figured out—when in reality, that is far from the truth. Stick to what works for you and don’t worry about what everyone else is doing!


19. Dead simple ecommerce page ($1.2K/year)

The ecommerce platform, Really Simple Store, was founded in Austin, Texas, USA almost 3 years ago.

  • Revenue: $100/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 0
  • Location: Austin, Texas, USA

I originally created Really Simple Store around five years ago. At that time, it was an ecommerce API- a way to add ecommerce to existing websites, no matter what platform they were built on.

I was running a digital agency at the time, and we had several clients who wanted ecommerce but didn’t want to switch their whole site to Magento or Shopify.

The only advice is... just start. People hear that but don’t do it, and I think one reason is that “starting” seems like something you can’t stop once you go. That’s super untrue, and every time you just start, you get a valuable new perspective- even if you stop after five minutes.


20. Pay-per-click (ppc) advertising agency ($480K/year)

The PPC consulting agency, Big Flare, was founded in London, England, United Kingdom almost 8 years ago.

  • Revenue: $40,000/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 3
  • Location: London, England, United Kingdom

It was the summer of 2012 in London, UK. At this point, I’d been working in (other people’s) advertising agencies for the best part of a decade. London was a great city and I enjoyed my career. However, I was getting tired of the stressful lifestyle, the commute, the office politics, and the grey, dreary weather.

I figured I was going to burn out if I kept on at it, so I saved up some money, enough to take a sabbatical from work and fund a year-long travel binge to cure my malaise.

When I started this business my dream was to create a successful location-independent company that I could run from anywhere with an internet connection, and that’s exactly what I have built.


21. Dropshipping mentorship ($1.2M/year)

The business coach, E-commerce Mentoring , was founded in Telford, England, United Kingdom over 4 years ago.

  • Revenue: $100,000/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 6
  • Location: Telford, England, United Kingdom

Finding my first drop shipping supplier was by searching over AliExpress and looking for the supplier with the best reviews and years in business and most importantly communication reliability I would get on skype calls with the suppliers and do a mini-interview to see if they fit the criteria I was looking for, also another important thing was making sure my supplier had a license to sell these products I was marketing/selling.

My supplier would handle all the logistics like inventory and fulfillment that’s how the drop shipping business model works.

I set up an LLC in the US I got an accountant to manage the books using a Shopify app called Taxjar.


22. Podcast strategy ($240K/year)

The podcast production company, Counterweight Creative, was founded in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada over 5 years ago.

  • Revenue: $20,000/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 0
  • Location: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

I went to school for audio engineering, initially wanting to produce records for bands and artists. After graduating in 2012, I interned at a big studio in my hometown of Vancouver, and while I learned a lot, I quickly realized that I didn’t have the drive (or financial ability) to show up at the studio at 8am and work (for free) until 4am six or seven days a week for a year or more before moving up into a position that might pay $10/hr and actually start getting paid to work on music.

I went home that night, started a profile on UpWork, got my first client three days later, and within six months had quit my landscaping job and was working for myself full time as a podcast producer.

After interning just a couple of days per week for over a year, while also working full-time at a retail job, I quit the internship and put my dreams of working in the music industry behind me. I worked a number of manual labour jobs including landscape construction and maintenance, tree planting in northern Canada, and others before taking a year off to travel, bicycling across Europe, and backpacking through the Balkans, and Asia.


23. Kids activities printable booklets ($78K/year)

The niche blog, Leader Connecting Leaders, was founded in Cleveland, Ohio, USA almost 8 years ago.

  • Revenue: $6,500/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 1
  • Location: Cleveland, Ohio, USA

When I graduated high school I didn’t stop with the hobby instead I then joined back in as an adult volunteer and became a Girl Scout leader for the same troop my mom started for me when I was 6 years old. So with over 25 years of Girl Scouting experience, I really thought I would be a leader forever.

Blogging is work, don’t start blogging and expect to quit your day job overnight. Any blogger who claims you can make 100k in 6 months either was super lucky or lying.

Then in 2015, I was blessed with a Son and quickly found out the time it took to run a troop and raise a child was not there so I stepped down as a Girl Scout Leader, but quickly missed the planning part of being a leader, so I decided to take my 25 years of experience and my 10+ years of web design and build a blog sharing all my knowledge to help other leaders plan and run their troop meetings easier. I started creating activity booklets to help earn the badges with everything you need to earn badge.


24. Engagement ring advice service ($18K/year)

The dating coaching business, Agent Engagement, was founded in London, England, United Kingdom almost 7 years ago.

  • Revenue: $1,500/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 1
  • Location: London, England, United Kingdom

My career has always been about building relationships and partnerships as part of business development for a range of start-ups and successful enterprises. By day I’m a Global Senior Marketing Manager at MOO, the lovely online print and design company and by night I’m a Secret Agent!

You don’t necessarily need to rush: Going full-time on your new business can be a lot of pressure. If it’s possible to test out your idea and product or service at the weekends or evenings, definitely do that first!

As I’m not a jeweler myself, I’ve built Agent E by looking at the experience of buying or creating an engagement ring through the eyes of a customer – who most often have very little experience of buying fine jewellery until this point in their lives!


25. Life-changing scents ($4.56M/year)

The soap business, Outlaw, was founded in Sparks, NV, USA over 8 years ago.

  • Revenue: $380,000/ month
  • Founders: 2
  • Employees: 13
  • Location: Sparks, NV, USA

In retrospect, I’m pretty sure no one else has the foolishness we had in the start of our business. But, you know, it worked out ok…

So, first, let me say that we had never made soap before we decided to start a soap company. Yeah, seriously.


26. Furnace filters online supplier ($2.4M/year)

The water filter store, PureFilters, was founded in Canada over 6 years ago.

  • Revenue: $200,000/ month
  • Founders: 2
  • Employees: 4
  • Location: Canada

Honestly… I accidentally got into the business.

I run a digital marketing agency and at the time we had a lot of HVAC Contractors as clients. One of my clients was explaining to me how he sells furnace filters to customers that he visits, and wondered if he could sell them online instead. I researched this for him and concluded that there were a ton of Google searches for furnace filters. I pitched him on creating a new campaign to sell these filters online. He decided not to do it.

Once an idea comes into my head, I don’t rest until its given a fair shot, that’s just how I am. Even though my client said "no", I still wanted to do it because I was curious. I saw it as an opportunity to get a better understanding of the e-commerce landscape and the marketing challenges involved.


27. Men's grooming products. ($1.2M/year)

The men's grooming company, Beardbrand, was founded in Austin, Texas, USA almost 10 years ago.

  • Revenue: $100,000/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 17
  • Location: Austin, Texas, USA

Before starting Beardbrand, I was a financial advisor at a big bank. I felt the corporate pressures to look and behave a certain way and it was too much for me. So I left that career, grew out my beard and started a graphic design business.

As I rocked a beard in the business world, I heard a lot of typical bearded stereotypes - Grizzly Adams, ZZ Top, and Duck Dynasty. While those are interesting people, they weren’t lifestyles that I personally identified with.

We launched the Beardbrand e-commerce store a few days before I found out that my wife was pregnant with our first child. That gave me a tight deadline.


Pat Walls,  Founder of Starter Story

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