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31 best businesses to start with little money (in developing countries)

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In previous posts, I talked about the official and the alternative approach you can follow to start a business with limited funding. There is one more topic I want to cover at this time. I want to give you examples of businesses that do not require a lot of funding to start.

This list can give you ideas for starting your own full-time business. Or a temporary business to generate profits that you can save until you have enough to start the business that you really want to start. Or to get additional savings for your family.

You could even start your business together with some friends and share the profits (make sure you have clear agreements in place!). Okay, so what are some of these businesses?

9 businesses that require minimal skills and investment

  • Cleaning service for homes and businesses
    Start by using the products you are already using to clean your own house. When you start getting profits and you want to expand, you can start buying more specialised equipment. You can also expand this by offering window cleaning services for businesses, though this may require some additional investment. If you learn the skills, you could also offer pool cleaning and aquarium maintenance services.
  • Errand service
    Look for people who are busy or who are physically less capable of running errands for themselves and offer to provide this service for a small fee. Make sure it covers your own costs, like transportation.
  • Grocery delivery service
    This is similar to the errand service, except here you go and do the shopping for your customers, either at the market or the grocery. Make sure your math skills are good enough, so you can give a complete account of expenses to build trust.
  • Recycling services
    Some countries have scrap metal or plastic recycling industries that pay you to collect and bring this waste to them. You can do it yourself, or, if you really want to do this like a smart entrepreneur, get others to work with or for you.
  • Yard maintenance
    You can provide this service to neighbours in your community, but also at businesses and schools. Have clear agreements in place as to where, what and how often, and also have agreement about the quality of the work that is expected from you. If you are expected to also clear the weeds, you can charge more than if you are just doing the sweeping.
  • Car washing
    This is easy to do which is why you see a lot of people offering it. If you can distinguish your business, for example by offering additional services, customers may prefer your business.
  • Gift basket arranger
    If you are creative and like design, putting together gift baskets for customers is an easy business to start. You can search the internet for examples, then create social media posts to showcase what you are able to offer. Make sure to calculate the prices correctly and don’t forget to add some profit for yourself.
  • Party entertainment
    If you like children and know how to be funny, being able to serve as a clown or party entertainer may be an easy business to do during the weekends. Research the internet to learn how to make balloon animals and other party tricks to teach kids. Use social media and word of mouth to gain customers and again, make sure to calculate your prices well.
  • Laundry service
    This business is physically demanding but could bring in some additional cash if you don’t mind washing other people’s clothes. You could add additional services like ironing the clothes after they dry.

13 business ideas that require some skills and investment

  • Personal training
    Do you like working out? If you understand warming up, working out routines and cooling down, you could teach others and charge a fee to do so. You could even create an online business by making videos of your workout routines and charge people to access the website.
  • Dance instructor
    This is similar to the personal trainer. If you are a good dancer and people like your moves, why not teach them how to dance?
  • Music teacher
    The same as above. If you know how to play a certain instrument or know how to write songs, why not use that knowledge to make some money?
  • Clothing repairs, alterations or design
    If you know how to do basic clothing repairs, you could provide these services for friends, community members or even coworkers. If you are more skilled, you could also offer to do clothing alterations (for example, resizing clothing that is too big), designing and making clothes for customers, and custom Again, use the internet to your advantage to learn some of these skills or to find designs.
  • Handyman services
    In richer communities, people are often willing to pay to have small repairs carried out at their homes. If you have this skills and the tools, and are willing to provide high quality service, this could be an interesting way to generate money. If there is demand for flooring services in your area, you could also look into offering this service to make more money.
  • Garden maintenance at business complexes or private homes
    In the same way, private homes, apartment buildings and business complexes may be interested in having somebody regularly maintain their garden. You will need to know about plant care, so this may be easier to do for somebody who studies agriculture or horticulture. However, the internet can again teach you a lot and if you are willing, you can start will smaller clients to practice the trade before moving up to bigger customers. Additional services to offer could be landscaping and garden design.
  • Florist
    If you have good access to flowers that you can sell and you are creative, you could look into starting a florist business. If you do, I would suggest you first spend time getting to know the market well and trying to find some customers (businesses, hotels, upscale restaurants etc) who are willing to try you. Make sure you are able to deliver as promised (so your supply needs to be constant). You could expand your services to churches and funeral homes.
  • Tutoring
    For this one, you have to understand the subject you are teaching and be able to explain it to somebody else. You could tutor children after school or during the weekend. If you can travel to the house of the client to provide the service, you may be able to charge extra.
  • Proofreading services
    Is you English very good? You can provide proofreading services to people who are writing letters or any other document that needs good English. If you also have access to a laptop, you could expand by offering resumé writing using professional CV templates. These are available on the internet for free.
  • Hair and beauty services
    If you know how to style hair or apply makeup in a nice way, you could look into offering these services to people who want to look good. However, your business growth will be limited to the number of clients you are able to handle per day. If you sell your knowledge online, you can increase your profits. Make sure to give clear explanations and to have good videos so those who are watching understand you well. The same applies to manicures, pedicures and nail art. Another interesting addition could be henna application. There are many designs on the internet, or you could create your own designs and sell them.
  • Photography
    When you are starting out, you can use your phone to take pictures. Study the basics of photography and photo editing on the internet, and then practice until you have mastered it. If you are good, you can share your knowledge online and charge people to access it.
  • Event and party planning
    Being able to organize an event or party well so your customer can relax and enjoy can be a very interesting business. The more your client is satisfied, the more money you will be able to charge. Use the internet to learn the basics, and once you have started, consider adding additional services like catering, party entertainment and beauty services (beauty workshops). If you are well-qualified, you could also add wedding planning.
  • Catering services
    You do not have to open a stall or shop to start with this business. Depending on your community, there may be schools, churches, businesses or busy traffic junctions near you where people will be interested in buying from you. Consider starting with something small like cookies or doughnuts, then move up to breads and pies. When your business starts growing, you could add jams, juices and decorated cakes. Don’t forget to check the internet for a lot of free information and designs.

4 businesses that require more investment and skills

  • Cold food and beverage selling
    This business will require you to have access to a refrigerator or freezer, but you can reduce costs by paying somebody to share their freezer with you. If you are selling cold foodstuffs, make sure you fully understand how long these foodstuffs can be kept before spoiling and also have a backup in case there is no electricity. You also need to understand basic hygiene and health concerns, for example the consequences of refreezing food.
  • House painting
    You will need to have some knowledge of painting as well as some tools before starting (like a ladder and some brushes).
  • Auto parts sales
    It is possible to start an auto parts business with limited money, but the main challenge is where to get the parts, how to ensure they are of good quality, and how to have a steady supply. I would also recommend to pay particular attention to the market and the number of customers who may be willing to buy from you.
  • Child care
    Anybody can start a child care business to mind children. But unless you have some knowledge about early childhood development and child care, your business may not really do well.

5 business ideas that are fully online

Note: These business ideas require you to have a good internet connection and laptop.

  • Facebook business page designer
    Learn how to set up Facebook business pages and then charge clients to set up their page. An additional service could be to manage the page for them. Be clear about expectations; are you expected to just put posts on the page, do they want to see engagement at certain levels, or are they expecting more business to come in through the page?
  • Social media marketing consultant
    If you understand social media marketing (if not, use the internet to learn, or ask me), you could work as a consultant, offering advice to businesses about how to do social media marketing. You can also offer to manage the social media marketing for clients to help them gain more customers.
  • Logo design for businesses
    Use free logo design resources to create beautiful logos for customers.
  • Website designer
    Using the many online resources, you can design professional websites for clients.
  • Online courses
    If you have skills in a particular area, can you teach other people these skills? Do research online to see what other people are doing, and then start your own online school. If you are doing video training, make sure you have a good (phone)camera, lighting and know how to do some video editing.

Grow the business by combining ideas

When you are considering the business ideas, check to see if there is a way for you to grow the business by combining some of these ideas to offer additional services. This will help your business to grow faster. For example:

  • House cleaning + Yard maintenance + Plastic recycling + Car washing + Laundry service + clothing repairs
  • Tutoring + Proofreading + Resumé writing
  • Event planning + Party entertainment + Beauty services
  • Facebook business page designer + Social media consultant + Social media management + Logo design + Website design
Humble beginnings can lead to great things!
 
Look at the example of this American lady. After she and her husband divorced, she and some of her friends got together and started offering house cleaning services to make money.
 
When they started their business, they used the same cleaning materials that they used to clean their own houses. By providing good quality service to customers every time, managing their money well and keeping their costs low, the business grew into a USD 3.5 million business that employed 165 people.
 
If you don’t believe me, google Sparkle Cleaning + Carrie H. Johnson.

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