26 Businesses You Can Start for Free

Author: Briana Morgaine

Briana Morgaine

Briana Morgaine

15 min. read

Updated May 31, 2024

You’ve always wanted to start a business.

You’re tired of working for someone else, and you’d love the flexibility and responsibility of running your own company.

The trouble is, you don’t have a whole lot of starting capital—or any, for that matter. Which probably means you’re out of luck, right?


Starting a viable business with little to no money is more feasible than ever. Here are 26 businesses that you can start virtually free (and those that aren’t completely free are quite low-cost). They don’t require expensive training or degrees, fancy equipment, or lots of materials, space, or product.

That being said, plenty of the businesses mentioned below require, at a minimum, regular access to a computer, the internet, and perhaps a car.

However, if you’ve got those sorted already, dive right in—you’re bound to find a business idea that suits your skill set if you think creatively!

1. Blogging

While not a new concept, monetized blogging is always a popular option for an essentially no-cost business.

There are tons of options when it comes to making money from your blog, such as affiliate partnerships, producing ebooks, offering online courses and webinars. Some of these work better than others, as and certain blog niches will be more popular and easy to monetize than others. For instance, beauty, food, and parenting blogs are some of the most popular niches, and will, therefore, be easier to monetize (though you’ll also face stiffer competition).

It’s worth mentioning, however, that monetizing your blog will work best when you choose a subject that you are actually passionate about and personally invested in to blog about. So, this route works best if you’re thinking, “Yeah! I’ve always really wanted to start a blog about my love of handcrafted artisan chocolates!” (or whatever else gets you going). Merely wanting to make money isn’t enough.

2. In-home child care

If you love children and have a good setup for it, turning your home into an in-home childcare facility might be a great option for you. There will be associated fees and licensing requirements (which vary state by state), but these aside, the costs associated with starting a childcare business are minimal to none.

To start, check out our article on starting a daycare business, which will walk you through all the steps you’ll need to go through to get your business up and running. You can also download our free child care business plan example to use for inspiration.

3. In-home dog care

In a similar vein, if you love caring for animals, consider setting up a doggy daycare business. You can operate during business hours, for folks who need someone to watch their dog while at work, or you can look after dogs for people while they are out of town.

In addition to being low-to-no-cost, the skill set you need is pretty self-explanatory: experience with caring for dogs, and ability to patiently and carefully look after them. If you’d love to start a dog care business but haven’t spent a ton of time around dogs, consider volunteering at an animal shelter first.

Check out DogVacay (recently acquired by Rover) to get a sense of what this looks like, and what other sitters are charging in your area. You can even list yourself on the site!

Brought to you by

Create a professional business plan

Using AI and step-by-step instructions

Create Your Plan

Secure funding

Validate ideas

Build a strategy

4. Pet services

On that note, why not start a business that encompasses all of the smaller details of pet ownership, such as taking pets to grooming or vet appointments, dog walking, pet sitting, and so on?

Mix and match services depending on what works for you; you could easily start a business involving full-service pet help, including walks, trips to the groomer, sitting during the day, and so on.

5. Dog training

If you’re great with dogs, you might also want to look into starting a business as a dog trainer. Pet ownership has surged since the COVID-19 pandemic, and many of those new furry friends have behavioral issues that need help working out. Be aware that as with the other pet-related business suggestions your business will fare best in an area where demand is high—one where there are lots of dog owners who need the kind of training you can offer.

Beyond this consideration, starting a dog training business can be a great, cost-free business to start, especially if you have experience working with dogs or are able to learn. Consider shadowing at an established training facility to find out more about the process, and check out this article from the Animal Humane Society on becoming a dog trainer.

Tip: Establish relationships with vets—getting a vet to refer clients to you can be an invaluable way to bring in business.

6. Freelance writing

Are you a strong writer? This one is a no-brainer. If you have solid writing skills, consider starting a business as a freelance writer.

As a skilled writer, you can offer your services to a wide range of clients, from individuals to non-profits, small businesses and larger corporations, as well as print and digital publications. AI tools like ChatGPT have certainly shaken up the marketplace for content creators. But with plenty of high-profile public mishaps, organizations still need strong communicators who can effectively sort out facts from misinformation.

To build up your portfolio and client base, you may want to start with a site like Fiverr or Upwork (and check out our article on how to make money as a freelancer—it’ll give you insight into what to do, and what not to do!).

7. Freelance editing

Similarly, if you have a great eye for necessary structural changes and enjoy editing for grammar and punctuation, you may want to consider starting a freelance editing business.

Even in an era of ChatGPT and other AI technology, as long as there is written content, there will be a need for editors (this post is a bit dated but, here a blogger discusses an instance in which her roommate and fellow editor took on an entire thesis over the weekend). So if you have writing experience and a good eye, freelance editing may be a business idea to consider.

8. Resume building

Maybe you’ve worked as a hiring manager for years, and you know exactly what employers are looking for. Maybe you are a graphic design whiz and love creating a polished, professional-looking resume. Maybe you also have a great eye for detail (and I mean great—no mistakes allowed here!).

If so, consider starting a business as a resume builder. There are multiple ways you could approach this; some services specialize in editing existing documents, while others will build an entire resume—graphics, content, and all—for a considerably larger fee and time expenditure. What you choose will depend on your skill set, but both are viable options for free businesses to start.

9. Logo and image design

If you’re artistic and good with Photoshop, consider starting a logo or graphic design business. You can list your services on sites like Upwork, 99Designs, or any of the number of other freelance sites available to help build a portfolio and a client base to start.

If this sounds right up your alley, check out these resources from How Design, geared toward those interested in freelance graphic design or starting a design business.

10. Etsy business

While some Etsy businesses have a cost component associated with starting (think jewelry making and other crafts where materials are involved), there are some products that can be sold on Etsy that involve very minimal startup costs.

For example, if you’re a designer but not much interested in logo creation, digital art and other printables such as to-do lists and calendars are hugely popular on sites like Etsy.

A basic search of the term “printable” should bring up hundreds of ideas, with everything from wedding invitations to word art. The beauty of this business idea is that you simply create the image and list it; once it’s purchased, your customers do all the work.

11. Social media consulting

Businesses of all sizes recognize the importance of having a strong social media presence. However, many companies lack the time, resources, or expertise to create engaging content consistently. This is where you, as a social media content consultant, can step in and offer your services.

To start a social media content creation business, you’ll need a deep understanding of various social media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn. You should also have a creative eye for designing visually appealing posts and a knack for crafting catchy captions and hashtags.

As a content creator, you can help organizations develop and execute their social media strategies, create and schedule posts, engage with their audience, and analyze performance metrics. You may also offer additional services like social media account setup, branding, and ad management.

12. Errand runner or jack of all trades

Have you heard of TaskRabbit, the site where you can essentially ask anyone to do any task for you—no matter how menial? (Though I assume you’d get a few funny looks if you asked someone to help you open that tricky jam jar.)

Many people are looking for convenient ways to get the products they need without leaving their homes, so you can employ a similar idea and start working as a jack-of-all-trades or general errand-runner. Someone needs dry cleaning dropped off, groceries purchased, or old clothes donated to Goodwill? You’re on it. For even more specificity, you could consider choosing a niche, such as running errands for seniors.

13. Building websites

If you know how to set up a killer website, you’re in luck—most people don’t, even though they understand that a professional and user-friendly website is essential for establishing a strong online presence.

Assuming you’re proficient in web development languages like HTML and JavaScript, and have a good eye for aesthetics and user experience, you can take advantage of the demand for high-quality business websites. You can choose to specialize in a particular platform, such as WordPress or Shopify, or offer general design services.

One of the biggest competitors to your web design services isn’t other designers, but business owners who choose not to hire anyone at all. So, how will you make yourself seem invaluable? Check out this article by GoDaddy about how to make money building websites to learn more.

14. Programming

While it is possible to teach yourself programming and build your own app, programming services will always be in high demand. If you are a skilled programmer, you can start a business with no money offering your programming skills.

Here are some useful tips for landing your first clients as a freelance developer, and if you’re interested specifically in building apps, check this article out.

15. Driving for Uber

Do you have a car (more specifically, a 4-door sedan, year 2001 or newer)? That’s about all it takes to become an Uber driver, along with at least three years of driving experience and a clean record.

If you have the above, starting a business as an Uber driver can be wildly lucrative. While you may not reach the heights of the so-called “Uberpreneurs” who make upwards of $200,000 a year, it can be a great free business to start.

16. Music lessons or tutoring

If you are great at a specific school subject or play a musical instrument, consider starting a tutoring business. The possibilities are nearly endless, enabling you to specialize in your niche skill set or interest (though you may have more luck as a general English tutor and not, say, as a specialist in 19th-century Gothic Literature).

You can offer one-on-one sessions, group classes, or even online tutoring via video conferencing platforms. You may need to invest some funds in some basic materials, such as textbooks, workbooks, or educational software, but you can market your services cheaply through social media or even by posting flyers in your community. Word-of-mouth referrals are key for growing a customer base.

This article gives you an inside look at what it takes to start your tutoring business, and check out this Udemy course on starting a tutoring business too.

17. Language teaching and practice

If you speak more than one language, you have a golden opportunity to start a business teaching a language, or holding language conversation practice sessions.

If you’re wondering where to list your tutoring services, there are plenty of options beyond basic Craigslist.

18. Virtual assistant

If you’re organized and can easily accomplish tasks in a timely manner, consider becoming a virtual assistant. Virtual assistants handle scheduling, bookkeeping, and various other administrative tasks remotely from their home office. Depending on your background, you can choose to specialize in a particular area or offer a broad range of services to appeal to a wider client base.

Promoting yourself as a virtual assistant is a bit similar to how you would do so as a freelance writer or editor. Create a website highlighting your services and experience, join virtual assistant associations or freelance platforms, and network with other professionals in your niche.

For more on becoming a virtual assistant, check out The VA Handbook, a site dedicated to helping others start and manage their own virtual assistant businesses.

19. House sitting

Okay, sure, you’ve done house sitting for friends before—but can you turn this into an actual, profitable business?

It turns out you can—by building a reputation for respectful, trustworthy behavior, prioritizing client needs, and considering what they would want in a house sitter.

Good references are paramount when starting a house sitting business (though experience managing a home, caring for pets, and conducting minor lawn care are also important). That being said, building these up in the beginning may be as simple as finding families in your social circle who are going out of town this summer!

20. Home organization

Do you love to keep a clean, tidy home? Does the idea of visiting The Container Store fill you with excitement (don’t worry—you’re not alone)? If so, you may want to consider offering home organization services.

As a home organizer, you can offer a range of services from decluttering and space planning to organization of digital records, or situation-based organization such as move management or setting up a home office.

To get a taste of what the process of becoming a professional organizer looks like, download Organize 365’s Ultimate Professional Organizer Checklist for tips on how to start an organizer business.

21. Professional finder

While this may be one of the more unusual suggestions on this list, if you have a knack for finding things, you may be able to monetize this service, at no cost to you.

You may be asking, “Okay, great; but what am I finding, exactly?” According to this article, the possibilities are nearly endless. From family genealogical information, to classic cars, to old records, to perfect roommates, if you are good at tracking down the perfect thing or piece of information, you may want to look into it.

22. Drop shipping

I won’t even begin to get into drop shipping here—especially when Shopify has such an excellent drop shipping guide already.

The appeal of drop shipping is obvious: it involves little when it comes to specific skill set, can be done from anywhere, doesn’t involve startup capital, and can be hugely lucrative.

23. Gardening and landscaping

If you have a green thumb and enjoy working outdoors, starting a gardening or landscaping business can be a low-cost and rewarding venture. As a landscaping business owner, you can offer a range of services, from mowing and edging to planting, pruning, and designing outdoor spaces.

You’ll need some basic equipment, such as a lawnmower, edger, trimmer and gardening tools. The more complex the process (i.e., more complex irrigation techniques and similar) may require additional learning, through a course, degree, or mentorship.

Though the latter does take away from the “free” aspect of starting this business, it’s still worth looking into (and perhaps you can mentor under an expert in the field to learn new skills at no cost). For more on starting a landscape gardening business, read this guide.

24. House or office cleaning

Cleaning businesses are incredibly appealing due to their low cost of entry—it essentially comes down to the cost of cleaning materials alone. Not only that, but you can guarantee that cleaning services will always be in demand.

As a house cleaner, you can offer a range of services, from basic dusting and vacuuming to deep cleaning and organizing. You can also seek out partnerships with real estate agents or property managers.

We’ve covered the entire process of writing a cleaning service business plan and starting a cleaning business in our industry planning and starting guides, right here on Bplans.

25. Event planning

An event planning business can be a great free (or at the very least inexpensive) business to start; you primarily need a computer and capital to create a website and any branding materials.

Building connections with businesses like music venues, caterers, florists and entertainers is one of the keys to being a successful event planner, so you’ll need to be a skilled networker. But with the rise of remote and hybrid events, planners can help coordinate an event outside of their own community, creating even more opportunities to generate revenue.

The Event Manager Blog has plenty of great resources (such as this article on How to Start an Event Planning Business).

26. Sewing and alterations

If you’re a skilled seamstress or someone with a desire to learn, you may want to consider starting a sewing or alterations business. Startup costs are virtually nonexistent, provided that you already have a sewing machine and the necessary skills (and even if you don’t, these one-time expenses are still fairly low in the grand scheme of new business ventures).

Ready to start your business?

If you’ve found the perfect business idea, great—it’s time to get started.

When you’re ready to start planning your new business, check out our business starting hub, learn how to write a business plan, then download our one-page business plan template to quickly start creating your own plan.

You can also browse the Bplans gallery of over 550 sample business plans from across dozens of industries. Download as many as you want for free and start customizing them to fit your business needs.

Brought to you by

Create a professional business plan

Using AI and step-by-step instructions

Create Your Plan

Secure funding

Validate ideas

Build a strategy

Content Author: Briana Morgaine

Bri Morgaine is a seasoned content marketing leader with a decade of experience in copy editing, social media operations, and content strategy— having honed her skills at industry giants like Palo Alto Software and Andreessen Horowitz.