31 small business ideas that are easy to start on a small budget

21 min read
Stacey Hartman

Are you considering a dive into the exciting world of small business in 2024, but feeling a little unsure of where to start? Never fear, we've got you covered.  

We'll take you through 31 easy-to-start small business ideas that won't break the bank.  

These budget-friendly options will help you turn your passions and skills into a money-making venture, giving you the chance to be your own boss and control your destiny. 

Related: How to start a successful online business 

31 small business ideas to make money 

Let's get started and explore some fantastic low-budget business ideas to make this your best year yet. 

We’ve gathered a list of the best small business ideas to help spark some inspiration. Let’s take a closer look at each idea below. 

1. Freelance writer 

Person typing on an old black typewriter

Passionate about writing? Turn it into a profitable web writing business, even with minimal experience. 

Begin by identifying your niche, such as: 

  • Writing emails for SaaS companies 
  • Writing blog posts for the real estate industry  
  • Copywriting for fitness professionals 

Think about the industries that you know well – these would be good niches to focus on. 

The advent of tools like ChatGPT has introduced a whole new list of writing sub-specialties, from prompt engineering to artificial intelligence optimization (AIO) writing. Combine AI skills with one or more industry focuses will improve your chances of getting assignments. 

Then, pitch your services to potential clients or explore freelancer platforms like Upwork, Freelancer or Fiverr. 

Be willing to accept low fees at first, then work your way up. 

These platforms offer a range of writing gigs, from blog posts and website copy to resumes and press releases. It’s a good way to build your business and gain experience. 

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2. Social media manager 

Many of us use social media daily, but did you know you can build a business managing and growing accounts for other businesses?  

Social media managers are in demand, with their importance only set to increase, according to the Government of Canada.  

If you've successfully managed your own social accounts, you have a head start. Otherwise, numerous educational resources can help you develop the necessary skills to excel in this growing field. Here are just two: 

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3. Graphic designer 

If you’ve always had a love for design or spend your off hours toying around with Photoshop and Illustrator, then you can build a business around these design skills. 

There are several different niches you can tap into with your graphic design skills. For example, you can find work within markets like: 

  • Book cover design 
  • Front-end web design 
  • Logo design 
  • UX (user experience) design for mobile and web apps 

There are so many niches open for those with the right skill set. And, if you need an attractive website to display your portfolio, GoDaddy’s Managed WordPress gives you all the fun of WordPress, without the upkeep. 

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4. Web developer 

If you have a knack for web design or you’ve always wanted to learn how to build sites, then this might be a viable option for you. 

Your first step is learning how to code and then building your portfolio. Once you feel confident in your abilities, it’s time to start getting clients. You can start pitching clients on platforms like Upwork or start building relationships with businesses directly. 

To increase your chances of success, it’s always a good idea to find an area to specialize in.  

For example, will you build websites for real estate agents and property managers? Will you be focusing on a local market? Or maybe build sites for startup ecommerce companies that want to start an online store 

Whichever niche you choose, it’s a good idea to register a domain that clearly states your specialty. 

Related: The best TLDs for web designers and developers 

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5. Digital marketing 

Digital marketing is a pretty broad category and can cover virtually any online marketing task.  

But, as more and more companies jump online to stake their claim, you can build a business by helping these companies succeed. 

Once again, deciding upon an area of focus will help to increase your chances of success. 

Here’s a quick look at the types of skills you can build an online business around: 

You can either build up a roster of local clients or serve clients virtually across the globe. 

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6. Ecommerce store owner 

Woman looking at products on her tablet

Ecommerce stores have experienced a surge in popularity in recent years, largely due to COVID-19. If you’re interested in selling physical products rather than digital services, this could be a good choice. 

In the world of ecommerce, there are two primary approaches to consider:

First, you can create and sell your own unique, handmade products. This allows you to fully control the products that you offer, ultimately offering a much more authentic experience to customers. 

Alternatively, you can opt for a more cost-effective strategy by sourcing inexpensive goods from suppliers and reselling them at a profit. This method, often referred to as drop shipping, enables you to make money selling popular products without the hassle or expense of managing inventory. 

You promote and sell the product; someone else ships it to the buyer. 

Regardless of the approach you choose, the key to success lies in identifying a profitable corner of the market and offering high-quality customer service.  

When you’re ready to create an online store, take GoDaddy’s Online Store builder for a trial run. 

Related: Tips for starting your own business 

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7. Sell online courses 

If you’ve been working for a while, you may have some existing knowledge you can package up and sell as an online course.  

Statista projects that the online education industry in Canada will grow by almost 10% percent a year for the foreseeable future. There’s enough room to make a name for yourself in this space. 

You can take your knowledge and experience and sell it in a ton of different ways. You could: 

  • Integrate your course into an existing blog 
  • Sell courses from your social media profile pages 
  • Use one of many education platforms like Udemy or Skillshare to share your wisdom 

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8. Self-publish Kindle books 

If you’ve been dreaming about making a living as an author, this reality may be closer than you think.

Self-published authors can make up to 70% in royalties on their books. 

The prevalence of self-publishing has brought down the walls between you and your career as an author. The ease of publishing means there’s more competition, but by writing a book that satisfies the reader’s expectations, you can still make a name for yourself. 

Spend some time figuring out the genre you’re going to write in. Then, write the best book possible, and begin to build an email list of readers to whom you can sell books in the future. 

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9. Etsy store owner 

Do you love crafting and regularly create Pinterest-worthy crafts, art projects and other goods? If so, you might be sitting on an Etsy goldmine.  

Spend some time exploring Etsy to see if there’s a market for what you produce, then make sure you can keep shipping, materials and manufacturing costs low enough to turn a profit. 

If you can satisfy these conditions, then you have a solid chance of running a successful Etsy business. You will always have the option of moving to a fully-fledged ecommerce store as well. 

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10. Online consignment store owner 

Thrift stores and consignment shops are more popular than ever. If you have an eye for stylish clothing or home goods, then this unique business idea could be the right fit for you. 

Consignment shops can work well as online businesses too. With an online presence you don’t have to worry about a building lease or employees. 

You could create your own online store using a simple template or use sites like Poshmark that allow you to create a virtual closet to sell your clothing and goods. 

Related: How Atelier Renouveau par Myriam got its start 

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11. Sell stock photos/videos 

If you're passionate about photography or videography, you can transform it into a profitable business. Simply create and upload content that aligns with current trends and market demands. 

Some stock photo sites include iStockPhoto and Shutterstock. If you prefer to go the video route, you can upload your stock videos to sites like Pond5, Storyblocks or VideoHive. 

To build a long-term business, it can be helpful to create a niche for yourself on these sites, either through your unique style or the subjects or themes you capture. 

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12. Event/wedding planner 

Requisiti per diventare wedding planner

The stress of event planning isn’t for everyone. But some people thrive under this pressure.  

If you love planning and coordinating events, hiring caterers, booking talent, and managing staff, then this could be the right home-based business idea for you. 

As an event planner, you can either focus on a specific style of event, like weddings or conventions. You could choose to serve your local area by tackling a variety of events, from birthday parties to family reunions. 

Event planning is largely a word-of-mouth space, but with a quality online presence, you can make success that much more likely. 

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13. Lawn Maintenance and Landscaping 

Do you have a knack for outdoor design? Love a freshly mown lawn? Would you rather be outside than sitting at a desk?  

If so, combining your interests into a lawn maintenance and landscaping business could be the perfect fit for you. You'll have the opportunity to use your interests to create visually appealing outdoor spaces. 

By starting a landscaping business, you can tap into this growing market and capitalize on the demand for quality outdoor design and maintenance services.  

Not only will you be providing a valuable service to clients, but you'll also get to work in beautiful outdoor settings, bringing stunning landscapes to life. 

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14. House painting 

Two people painting a room

Starting a painting business is an attractive option for aspiring small business owners due to its low startup and overhead costs. 

Unlike other trades, painters don't require extensive education or certification, allowing for quick training of new employees or self-employment.  

But marketing your skills to the public will require some thought.  

Additionally, working to develop specialized painting techniques can increase your earning potential, especially with the popularity of home renovation shows and historical property restoration. 

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15. Auto detailing 

Auto detailing businesses are an in-demand field of work with a low cost of entry.  

This business type offers flexibility in scheduling as well, allowing you to choose your working hours and whether or not to work on weekends. You would also have the freedom to set your rates based on what you believe is fair compensation for your time and skills. 

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16. House cleaning 

Launching a house cleaning business is another budget-friendly business option.  

The demand for cleaning services is consistently high, ensuring a steady flow of income.  

As long as people live indoors, those spaces will need to be cleaned. By offering a comprehensive range of general cleaning services, you'll be well-positioned to cater to a diverse clientele and capitalize on an evergreen business segment. 

Related: 6 easy ways to get house cleaning jobs 

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17. Snowplowing 

Snowfall is a fact of life in all parts of Canada, with fall, winter and even early spring hosting a generous helping of snow. 

If you've got a truck or SUV, all you need to do is get a reliable plow to hook up to the front. You can score some sweet deals on used plow blades from other landscapers or by checking out online marketplaces.  

Then, get yourself a small business license and explore general liability insurance coverage requirements in your province or territory.  

The trick to attracting clients is to advertise your services before the snow hits, so think about using marketing tools such as social media, or even good old-fashioned flyers with special offers for new clients. 

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18. Yard cleaning 

If you enjoy being outside and getting your hands dirty, a yard cleaning business can work for you. It's a great way to stay active and enjoy the fresh air while you work.  

A yard cleaning business is also scalable. You can start as a solo operation and expand your business over time by hiring employees or subcontracting work to other professionals. 

Additionally, starting a yard cleaning business is an excellent entry point for those wanting to build a loyal clientele and eventually get into yard maintenance or landscaping as a career. 

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19. Interior decorating 

For those with a flair for design and a passion for transforming spaces, this career path can be incredibly fulfilling and creative.  

You'll have the opportunity to help clients realize their dream homes or workspaces. You can start by showcasing your unique style and expertise online with a simple website. 

The demand for interior decorators is on the rise as people increasingly seek professional help to create well-designed, functional and beautiful spaces.  

This means there's potential for a steady stream of clients and income. And, as your business grows, you can expand your services, network with other professionals in the industry and even establish your own brand. 

Related: Learn how successful startups choose a brand name 

Small businesses you can start from home 

Are you looking for a business that you can run solely from your home? Let’s take a look at a few ideas for those wanting to stick closer to their house. 

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1. Music teacher 

As a child, you may have had your fair share of piano or guitar lessons. If you’ve kept your musical skills sharp, you can pass on this same love of music to the next generation. 

Intellectual Property Man Writing a Song

You can teach music lessons right from your home, either in-person or virtually.  

A working-from-home musical teaching career offers the opportunity to make a meaningful impact on students' lives, foster a love for music in the next generation, and enjoy a flexible career.

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2. Personal chef/caterer

As a personal chef, you have a pretty broad customer base — anyone who loves to eat and who has the need for your services! 

To be a success, you not only need to be a master of the kitchen, but also up to date on the latest Canadian food handling and health regulations from the Government of Canada. 

As a personal chef, you might only have one client for whom you prepare all meals or multiple families you create a few dinners a week for.  

Be ready to adapt to various kitchen setups or invest in your own portable kitchen utensils. 

If you want to scale up your cooking even further, you can start to cater events. To produce this volume of food, you may need to rent out a commercial cooking space and bring on additional staff or even a partner. But the fee you can make per catering gig can be much higher. 

Related: Charcuterie Vancouver’s road to success

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3. Run an Airbnb

There’s a lot that goes into managing a successful property via Airbnb. But, if you’re serious about renting out your home, or even just a room, then you have the chance to build a decent side income. 

Depending on how desirable your property is, and the reality of your local rental market, you may be able to offset your entire rent or mortgage just by renting out all or a part of your place on the weekends.  

Make sure to learn about local Municipal Bylaws and Condominium Corporation Bylaws that might affect your property before listing on any short-term rental platform.  

You can learn how to turn your cottage into a homestay here. 

Easy to start business ideas 

If you’re looking for the easiest businesses to start, we’ve got several suggestions for you to consider. 

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1. Data entry 

Data entry might not seem like the most exciting job. But the fact that you can work from home, or virtually anywhere in the world, might help to make it a more appealing small business idea. 

Plus, the skills required to get your business off the ground are minimal. All that’s needed is the willingness to learn how to input information into your clients’ desired software program. 

This kind of side hustle might not be as lucrative as others on this list, but it won’t require as much attention either. So, feel free to listen to a podcast or put on Netflix while you work.

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2. Sell baked goods

If you’re a talented baker, you can create a business selling baked goods to local families and businesses.  

Person holding a tray of decorated cupcakes

Most coffee shops and cafes don’t make their own baked goods in-house.  

Instead, they outsource this to others with the proper skills. 

You can: 

  • Specialize in a certain type of pastry, like gluten-free or vegan baked goods, or  
  • Opt to cast a wide net and bake every kind of pastry under the sun. 

Check into Canadian Government health and licensing regulations in your area to make sure you’ve covered all requirements when selling to the public.

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3. Join a freelancer site

There are many massive freelance platforms that you can take advantage of by selling your freelance skills.  

For example, you can join Fiverr, Workhoppers, Freelancer and Upwork, to name a few. 

To build a sustainable business on the back of these platforms, you’ll need to create a focus for your skills.  

For example, can you: 

  • Write SEO articles or blog posts for large content sites?  
  • Are you a graphic designer who does startup web design?  
  • Are you a chartered professional accountant who specializes in small business finance? 

These platforms are a quick path toward a reliable income. As your experience and reputation grow, you can expand beyond these platforms and diversify your client base and skill sets on offer. 

Side-hustle business ideas 

Not sure if you’re ready to quit your day job? Here are a few suggestions of some side business ideas for those who might be curious, but not ready to make the leap. 

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1. Blogger 

Creating a blog gives you a multitude of opportunities to create an ongoing side stream of income or even full-time income. There are tons of success stories floating around online about bloggers earning crazy profits online. 

It will take a lot of work to get to those levels as a blogger, but with determination, you have a solid chance of building a business from scratch. 

The blog in and of itself won’t make you money. But the different ways you can monetize your site once it’s picking up traffic will. Money can be earned if you can: 

  • Sell others' products on your blog 
  • Host paid advertising on your blog 
  • Sell online courses and ebooks on your blog

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2. Photographer

Are you good with a camera? There are a number of different photography-based home businesses you can start on your own. 

For example, you could specialize in: 

  • Wedding photography 
  • Portraits 
  • Product photography for ecommerce 
  • Studio photography 
  • Drone photography 
  • Events photography (birthdays, parties) 
  • Real estate photography and more

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3. Pet sitter/dog walker

Person holding a green tennis ball near two dogs

If you have a deep love for animals, then it’s hard to imagine a better job. You can spend your days watching and playing with pets while their owners are away. Or, walking a group of dogs down to your favorite park for the afternoon. 

Most pet owners love and care for their pets as if they were their children. So, attention to detail and a high degree of trustworthiness are essential qualities to possess to build a loyal clientele. 

You might love the job so much you’ll want to start your own Doggy Daycare! 

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Small business ideas on a low budget 

For those with specific skills, we’ve got a few suggestions to help you out.

1. Fitness instructor

If fitness is your passion, you can create a business sharing this with others. 

There are multiple paths to success as a fitness instructor. You can: 

  • Make house calls 
  • Create group fitness events in your local park (check your local city website to see if a permit is needed) 
  • Work out of a gym  
  • Have clients come to your space to use equipment you already own 

Social media marketing tools like Instagram can be very effective in helping build awareness of your services. 

Beyond physical fitness coaching you can also consider adding meal planning and diet consultations as an additional service to help your clients meet their health goals.

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2. Online tutor/teacher

If you have a talent for teaching, you can start a business teaching or tutoring online.  

The work is consistent, and the need for competent teachers is high.  

Students come in all ages and ability levels, so choose to offer services for those you know you can support best. 

You can explore virtual teaching roles on sites like Verbalplanet and Learn4Good. 

If you prefer to take the tutoring approach, you can build a sustainable tutoring business teaching about your favorite topics. For this approach, you can find solid leads on sites like Superprof.ca and TeacherOn.com.

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3. Virtual assistant

Love planning and organization? A virtual assistant business might be right up your alley. As a virtual assistant, there are a ton of different tasks that will fill up your workday. 

Tasks might include: 

  • Bookkeeping  
  • Responding to emails 
  • Scheduling meetings 
  • Posting to social media 
  • Doing general data entry 

A lot of online businesses and solopreneurs are turning to VAs to handle daily tasks they don’t have time to do themselves. 

If this sounds like the right home business idea for you, you can explore gigs on sites like Upwork or Remote.co, to learn more about this field. 

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Choose a small business idea and make it yours! 

The options for starting a small business are vast, with plenty of budget-friendly and easy-to-start options available. Whether you're interested in offering specialized services like web development or graphic design, selling unique products through an ecommerce store, or sharing your passion and expertise as a music teacher or fitness instructor, there's a small business idea out there for you. 

By exploring these recommendations, you can find the perfect opportunity to turn your skills and passions into a thriving venture.  

And if you need examples of how to write a business plan to help formalize your strategy into a plan of action, we've got you covered. You can also check out these business plan template ideas.  

Don't let the fear of starting a business hold you back — take the plunge and make this your most successful year yet! 

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