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

Market stall

What does running a marketing stall involve?

This one’s fairly self-explanatory – as a market trader, you simply have to set up a stall on your local market and start trading. As anyone who’s ever been to a market knows, you can sell pretty much anything there, so the possibilities are endless.

How much does it cost to start a market stall?

To start with, you might want to pitch up at your local car boot sale – provided you talk to the organiser beforehand, and you’re prepared to pay a small amount for your slot, you should be able to secure a position. Then, when you’ve established yourself and learnt the ropes, you can look into renting a stall at your local market. This will usually cost around £20 a day. However, competition for slots is fierce so you may have to start off as a casual trader, which could mean standing in queues early in the morning waiting for a stall to become available. Your success as a trader will also be determined by the products you choose.

To secure a good quantity of stock, you’ll probably need to contact a wholesaler – magazines such as The Trader offer a wide selection. You’ll also need a street trading licence from your local council, and the cost will vary depending on your location. London’s Hackney Council, for example, charges £30 for both a 12-month permanent licence (for a fixed pitch) or six-month temporary licence, allowing you to trade wherever there’s a pitch available.

How much can I earn as a market trader?

There really is no firm answer. It all depends on what you’re selling, how much you’re selling, and how frequently you trade. According to the government’s NextStep advice site, a trader operating several days a week is likely to make between £15,000 and £26,000 a year.

What sort of skills and personality do I need?

Good presentation and communication skills are essential. If you can draw people to your stall, engage them with entertaining patter and give them the impression they’re getting a bargain, you’ve got a good chance of making this business work.

You’ll also have to think on your feet a bit. If you’re selling perishable goods, you’ll have to find ways to shift them towards the end of the day; if you’re selling something that’s not particularly fashionable or obviously useful, you may have to demonstrate new and unusual uses to people visiting your stall. And you’ve got to be persistent – some days will be better with others, and you’ve got to stick with it through good times and bad.


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Top tips for market trader success

  • Spend plenty of time at your local market. Find out when it’s busiest, and which stalls and traders are doing best.
  • Write down all the features and benefits of the products your selling, and rehearse them so you know them off by heart when you’re in front of the customer.
  • Think about discounts and bulk-buying deals to entice sceptical visitors.

If you’re an early riser with an eye for a good product, read our full length guide of steps on how to set up your own market stall, .

You’ll also be able to find out what it’s really like to run a market stall from our business insider Field and Flower’s Samantha Wallace, who gives her insight on risking it all to start her own market business.

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