Posted on: 04 November 2020

Getting a business started with a limited budget

One of the main reasons that people are put off by starting their own business is the financial backing that they think they need to get a business off the ground. With COVID-19 affecting so many jobs and businesses, is now a good time to start a business without having to spend too much money?

In this article, we are looking at some of the businesses that you can start for either a small budget or no money at all.

1. Writing services

Provided that you already have a computer, laptop or another device that can install word processing software, setting up a writing services business can be started with relatively low costs.

Even if you don’t have the relevant equipment right now, you can pick something up relatively cheaply, with laptops starting from as little as £150 for some basic models, or if you’re looking for a desktop a full set up can start from around £400. To be truly portable, you can consider picking up a tablet with a keyboard, such as the Microsoft Surface, however, these can be fairly costly for what you get, starting at around £400.

As for the writing element, you will need some form of word processing software. The industry standard for many years has been Microsoft Word; part of the Microsoft Office package. Word can come as part of a Microsoft 365 subscription, priced at £9.40 per month for the standard package. You could also explore other options, such as Google Workspace, formerly known as G Suite, which has word processing, spreadsheet and presentation functions, for £9.20 per month. Workspace can also help you with a domain for a website if you need it. There is a huge range of other word processing software that you could use to create documents, some of which are free, but Microsoft Word and Google Workspace are the two that we have picked as industry leaders.

Once you are set up with your equipment and relevant software, some of the services that you could offer include CV writing, copywriting or editing /transcribing services. You could also start up a blog to share your thoughts and experiences, earning money mainly through advertisements.

Download our Copywriting Business Start-up Guide

As a copywriting freelancer or consultant, it’s important to consider all aspects of setting up a new business from the legal setup of your business through to purchasing freelancer insurance.

We have created a downloadable PDF guide to setting up a freelance copywriter business. So if you’re a budding copywriter looking to launch your own business, then download our guide to get valuable information about start-up costs and considerations to help you get your business plan started.

2. Photography

If you have an interest in photography, chances are that you will already own the equipment that you need to start up a photography business, and as the saying goes “find a job you enjoy doing, and you will never have to work a day in your life”.

Even if you don’t own a camera, you may be able to pick one up cheaply online at places like Facebook Marketplace, eBay or Gumtree, or you could pick up a brand new DSLR camera for around £300.

You may also need some image editing software, such as Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Lightroom or Corel PaintShop Pro. Adobe software is part of the Creative Cloud and is currently priced at £19.97 per month for Photoshop, but other pieces of software, such as Acrobat Pro or Premier can be added to your plan. A quick Google search can help you find free image editing software if your budget is tight, or if you don’t want to spend any money at all.

A basic website can show off the portfolio of your work, so there may be an additional cost in creating this, but overall, setup costs for photography businesses are low.

If you start a photography business, it’s likely the majority of your initial business investment will be in tools and equipment to allow you to work. Therefore, it’s important you also take time to consider if you have the right photographers insurance cover in place to protect your equipment and your new business.

3. Dog walking or training

If you love dogs, setting up a dog walking or training business is attractive as set-up costs are usually low. To get started, you could use Facebook to set yourself up a business page allowing you can start to advertise your business around your local community.

For dog walkers, it is likely that you won’t need to buy equipment, as your customers will probably provide a lead or harness to walk the dog. There may be a small cost in picking up some dog waste bags, and you may want to buy some treats for your customers’ dogs.

As a dog trainer, you will also likely need waste bags and treats, but if you decide to host dog training sessions in groups, you could ask your customers to bring their own bags and treats.

You may want to put some money into Facebook to advertise your new business to customers in the local area, or even set up a website, but these aren’t necessary when starting up this kind of business.

As a dog walker or trainer, you should ensure that you protect yourself and your business. You will likely need public liability insurance as a minimum when walking dogs in public places. However, there may be other dog walkers insurance covers you require for peace of mind.

4. DIY Installations

Can you handle DIY tasks with some level of skill? Setting up a business as an installer could be a great way to make money with your DIY skills whilst keeping business start-up costs low.

It is common for people to buy their own materials and pay for someone else to do the installation. You can offer your services to people based on the skills that you have to help keep overall costs down.

Many manufacturers have opted for click in vinyl flooring in recent years, which are easier to install than traditional flooring and may not even rely on tools, so here might be a good place to start. You could also consider being a painter, as customers are likely to buy their own paint, and you only need to pay for your brushes, rollers, trays and sheets.

Once you have developed more skills, you could move on to tiling, and eventually, even learn skills like plumbing or plastering to offer full bathroom installations.

Start-up costs are kept low because customers are the ones who are paying for the materials. Some optional costs are, again, Facebook advertising or setting up a website.

You’ll be classed as a contractor so it’s important to consider you have the right insurance cover in place to protect your new business venture. Learn more about the covers that could protect your business by reading our guides to handyman insurance and property maintenance insurance.

5. Snow removal

This business idea is likely to be more of a seasonal opportunity to diversify your existing business or skills. Clearing snow from pavements or driveways is more likely to be a side gig than a full time business, especially as most areas of the UK only have to deal with snow in the late winter months.

Start-up costs for this kind of business are low, with only a snow shovel and some warm clothes as a necessity, but you will also need to be willing to work hard at unsociable times, such as early mornings or late nights.

To take on larger snow removal tasks may require investment in equipment such as snow throwers and blowers, a snow plough and salt spreaders.

Start off by advertising your services in the local community, and if it takes off, look to branch out further afield.

If you are diversifying an existing business or working with specialist equipment, make sure you speak to your existing insurer or insurance broker to ensure your business activities are covered.

6. Gardening

Similarly to DIY installation, some of your customers will already have the tools and materials for gardening, just not the time, motivation or skills to do the actual work.

If your customers don’t have the right tools, you can always pick up a lawnmower, trowels, spades and other garden equipment at low cost, either at your local garden centre or online. Other costs include having the appropriate gardeners insurance cover in place.

Gardening can be a fantastic way of making the most of the summer weather, but you should also be prepared to offer different services as the weather and seasons start to change. Perhaps you could specialise in snow removal as discussed above?

We have written a guide to help gardeners prepare for the colder months.

7. Driving gigs

If you already own a car and want to earn some extra money, consider becoming a driver for businesses like Uber or Lyft.

You may need to take some additional tests to become a licenced taxi driver, but if you want to be part of a food courier service, like Uber Eats or Deliveroo, you might not need to have these extra checks.

If you use your own vehicle, you should check with your existing insurer or insurance broker to ensure you are covered for business use. You may be required to take out a new commercial vehicle insurance policy. Even if you don’t have a car, you may be able to be a driver for these types of businesses if you have a driving licence, as some of the taxi services can loan a car to you to use.

Deloitte found that 90% of adults in the UK own a smartphone, and if you own one, you can use it to accept gigs, but if you don’t you can pick up a smartphone capable of installing the necessary apps for around £90.

8. Cleaning

Cleaning is a chore that many people hate doing. It can be hard work and something that has to be kept up constantly. This is why a cleaning business could make you a fortune. Whether you decide to clean cars, houses, windows or businesses, this is a business that you can start up without having to fork out large sums of money for.

Basic cleaning supplies, such as gloves, chemicals, cloths or brooms, won’t cost you much, and you can even use equipment that you already have around your own home. Marketing spend on things like Facebook or flyers can also cost money, but if you get a reputation for outstanding work, you can rely on word of mouth referrals to find new customers.

Gloves, chemicals, clothing and small tools will serve you well for cleaning houses or offices, but if you wanted to take on more complex cleaning tasks, such as cars or high windows, you may need more complex equipment.

Pressure washers and telescopic poles are more expensive items, but both can be picked up for around £100, so it isn’t an unreasonable cost for you to fork out.

Download our Cleaning Business Start-up Guide

As a cleaner, it’s important to consider all aspects of setting up a new cleaning business from technical training through to cleaning business insurance.

We have created a downloadable PDF guide to setting up a cleaning business. So if you’re looking to launch your own business, then download our guide to get valuable information about start-up costs and considerations to help you get your business plan started.

More start-up business guidance

On our Insight Hub we have lots of useful guides to starting a new business in the UK. For further guidance and more start-up business ideas see:

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With Premierline, it’s simple to compare business insurance quotes online if you know your insurance requirements. However, if your needs are more complex or you need advice on the insurance covers that are right for your business, call us and we’ll be happy to help.

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