Finance Small Business Eight businesses you can start for under $10,000

Eight businesses you can start for under $10,000

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It’s nice to have a generous budget when you’re starting a business – but there are successful entrepreneurs who have founded a start-up with little money to their name.

Warren Harmer, chief business coach at Business Plan Company, says that setting up your own enterprise can cost less than you expect.

“Common ones that are the cheapest to start up are home-based consulting. That could be any kind of service,” Mr Harmer says.

“People say you can almost start a business for nothing, but I don’t agree – you need something.”

He advises aspiring entrepreneurs to get proper insurance, keep aside enough money to cover their living expenses while their business is getting off the ground and against scrimping on things like logo design, business cards and websites.

John Dale, a business coach at Small Fish Business Coaching, warns those considering starting their own business that it’s likely to take longer for your enterprise to grow if it’s founded on a small investment.

“If you think about setting up a business, spending less than $10,000 in capital is entirely possible, but you have to think about the trade-off,” he says.

There are some costs that every new business faces, such as a logo, website, insurance and other set-up costs. 

So if you want to work for yourself, here’s eight businesses you can start with $10,000 or less:


ShutterstockKeen amateur photographers usually have all the equipment they need to start a professional operation, so they already have the main costs covered, says Mr Harmer. Otherwise, you’ll need to spend at least $3,500 on a camera body, $2,000 on a lens and around $4,000 for lighting, flash and a basic studio set-up.

This will provide you with the gear you need to work as a press, weddings and events photographer. Baby, portraits, small-scale fashion and editorial photography require a more complex studio.

A tip: If you are looking to start-out cheap, make “outdoor” photography and portraits your thing and save on the lighting and studio costs.

Online retailer

Got something to sell? If you can acquire goods at a low cost, starting an online retailer can bring in the cash while you build the business. In the year to March, 2014, Australians spent a massive $15.2 billion in online retail.

If you’re starting small, you may want to consider eBay or Big Cartel, as these websites charge relatively small fees for transactions. Likewise, you may find it cost-effective to use PayPal. Squarespace or WordPress are other good online options.

The overall start-up costs will depend on the product you sell. You’ll also need a website, clever social media marketing (this will cost you time, not money) and some spare hours to manage the posting.

Personal trainer

Become a PT for less than $10,000. Photo: AIPT

Cassandra Jackson of the Australian Institute of Personal Training says that setting up a business in the fitness industry is inexpensive and attractive for people seeking flexible and active work.

To become a personal trainer, you’ll need to do a certificate IV in fitness. At an institute like AIPT or TAFE, this will cost you up to $6,800.

Setting up a studio, home-based business or mobile business such as a boot camp or personal trainer will cost about $3,000.

You’ll also need a first aid certificate, business logo and proper insurance. The cost of insurance is about $350.

Graphic designer

Graphic designers finesse almost everything we see, but in the internet age it’s no longer the domain of large companies. If you’re a graphic designer, branching out on your own is almost a right of passage in what can be a volatile industry.

As an added bonus, you have the skills to design your own logo and probably already own a computer and the necessary software. So invest in marketing, get active on social media, sing up to Tumblr and promote your unique brand.

Party planning

It worked for the Middletons, didn’t it? Setting up a party-planning business catering for birthdays, weddings and other celebrations is relatively simple. All you need is top-notch organisation skills, an ability to manage clients and some contacts in the events industry.

Your most important task will be advertising, so put yourself on social media, get involved in forums and spend your start-up cash on a beautiful website and marketing.

Handy person

newdaily_220514_handymanThe old Australian lore of the backyard shed isn’t quite the same in modern cities. Many households these days don’t even own a hammer – so if you’re capable of fixing a tap or some simple carpentry, this is the perfect time to put those old-school skills to good use. If you already have a stash of tools in your garage, your start-up costs will be low.

Word of mouth works well in these types of locally-based jobs, so print some business cards or leaflets (this should only cost a few hundred dollars) and start getting your name out there.


Home-based consulting is an ideal model for those looking to set up a low-cost business.

Your main products are the skills and expertise you can offer to others. Mr Harmer says that many of his clients have identified a niche in their professional field and left their office jobs to become a consultant in that area.

Providing you have a home computer and a decent business phone set-up, most of your money needs to be directed towards marketing (getting yourself – and your name – out there).

Business coach

Services such as small business coaches, career coaches and life coaches are a popular choice for professionals looking to redirect their experience into an advisory career.

Some of them, like Small Fish’s Mr Dale, spend more than $50,000 getting started, including initial marketing, office equipment and buying a business program to deal with clients – but others manage to establish themselves on a more modest budget.

Mr Harmer estimates that you could set up a business for less than $10,000, if you use your existing computer and software, invest in a website and take a proactive approach to building your own business. Just be prepared to use your time instead of money to market your business.