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10 cheap business ideas to start for under £5,000

If you’re looking for cheap business ideas with bags of potential, take a look at these...

10 low-cost business ideas

1. eBay business
2. Wedding planning
3. Childcare and babysitting
4. Tutoring
5. Editing and proofreading
6. Market stall
7. Sports coaching
8. Handyman business
9. Cleaning business
10. IT support and repairs


What does a tutoring business involve?

As a tutor you can teach anything from basic reading and writing to advanced post-graduate courses, and work with anyone from infants to adult learners. You can provide your lessons in established schools and colleagues, in your own home, or by correspondence – depending on the nature of your subject and what your clients want.

How much does it cost to start a tutoring business?

If you're going to teach your specialist subject to others, you need to be at least one level in advance of the level you are tutoring. Tutors often teach the subjects they studied for their degree or at A-level – the higher your qualification, the higher the level at which you'll be able to teach. If necessary, it's worth looking at your local universities and colleges to see what they can offer you in terms of qualifications and courses.

You'll also need a good computer, and the most up-to-date textbooks in your subject area. You'll also need access to the correct year's syllabus (around £2) and sample exam papers (50p to £1). Beyond these core expenses, the precise cost will depend on where you choose to conduct your classes. Renting a serviced office space will be far more expensive than doing it in your own front room or your clients' home.

Again, if you're working with children it may be worth investing in a Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) check in order to reassure parents, as well as an tutors you hire have had the necessary checks. (See the childcare section for more information).

How much can I earn as a self-employed tutor?

It's important not to set your sights too high early on – if you charge too much before you become established, people will start questioning your credentials. But, as an expert in your field, it's reasonable to charge £15 an hour from the outset.

What skills and personality do I need?

As is the case in any business based on teaching or coaching, knowing your subject is only half the battle; you also need to be able to deliver it. You might think your area of expertise is mind-blowingly compelling, but if you can't convey this belief, you'll get nowhere.

You need to be friendly in your approach, but ready to offer criticism if that's what your client needs. There's no point being too nice – if your clients aren't making progress, you need to let them know. Otherwise they're throwing their money away!

Top tips for tutoring success

  • Take a step back, and ask yourself if there is a need, and popular interest, in your specialist subject area.
  • Focus on building word-of-mouth recommendations and consider  offering free extra lessons to add value for your clients – perhaps if there is an exam approaching.
  • When marking clients' work, make sure you always provide as much feedback as you can. You can't go into too much detail in your comments.

If you're patient and know your subject inside out, read our step-by-step guide on how to set up a tutoring business or, for more bitesized tips, read our five simple steps to starting a tutoring business.

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