5 low-cost start-up ideas to launch on a budget

We offer some inspiration for starting a business on a shoestring

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So you’ve decided you want to start a business but you don’t have much cash to invest. Take a look out our budget business ideas and see if any of them take your fancy:

Interior Design

What is it? Initially you might start small with furnishings and curtains. But this can grow into a complete interior design service through visiting the client in their home, having a consultation to making up and fitting. This might cover anything from carpets to lighting through furnishings and curtains.

What’s the appeal? Every job is obviously different and meeting people to talk through and combine their and your ideas can be challenging. It’s fairly flexible though it can mean evening work

What skills do I need? Any design experience or training is helpful but if you intend to start with a small business it may be enough to have an eye for colour. You will certainly need practical cutting and sewing skills.

What does it cost? A domestic sewing machine won’t be sufficient. You can get a good industrial machine second hand for about £400 and an industrial overlocker (allows multiple thread feed and different stitching) will start at £1200. You’ll need pattern books from material manufacturers, £20 to £80 each.


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What can I earn? This varies according to the size of windows to the size of the room to cost of fabric. But for a width of hand-sewn curtain, for example, you might charge anything from £20 through to £40 to £60. And a small two-seater sofa could be anything from £300 upwards plus fabric (at around £18 plus a metre)

Any red tape? If you’re going into people’s houses do work you need insurance just in case you accidentally break something. This also applies if you have subcontractors working for you

Prospects for growth There is always a demand for this kind of work as people are constantly on the move. Within an area you can quickly build up word of mouth recommendations.

Tips for success Be genuine with your customers. If they choose a fabric that won’t work – tell them in a friendly way and suggest alternatives.

Pros In the beginning you’ll be doing all consultations (and making and fitting) personally. This works to your advantage though as customers know they’re always getting the top person and something special

Cons If you do expand, however, this can mean that pressure remains high – as the ‘face’ of your business, you will always be busy

Useful contacts The Interior Decorators and Designers Association (IDDA) http://www.idda.co.uk/

Ready to get started? Find out everything you need to know about how to start your own business here.