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

Handyman business

What does a handyman business involve?

The concept of a handyman business is fairly new – until recently, property and maintenance firms tended to specialise in particular trades, rather than offering a combination of several.

But now more and more people are starting their own handyman businesses, and making a living out of being a ‘jack of all trades'. However, if you want to be successful, you need a working knowledge of all the various maintenance skills – and be prepared to take on any job, no matter how small.

How much does it cost to start a handyman business?

You'll need a vehicle to get from job to job and a decent set of tools. Prices for a good second-hand Transit van will probably start at £2,000-£3,000. Check out our vans for business channel for more information. Websites such as Auto Trader are also a good place to start and you may well find vehicles that are a lot cheaper. However, make sure the vehicle's in good working order or it could end up being a false economy. If buying a van outright is too expensive, there are also leasing options available.

You'll also need a basic toolkit, and you can pick one up for as little as £25 from companies such as Cromwell.

There are also additional costs to consider, including marketing and insurance. Alan Storry, of ourhandyman.co.uk, says: “To promote my service I purchased a business stationery pack, consisting of letterheads, postcard sized flyers and business cards, for around £60. For bookkeeping I used a spreadsheet, and also got an accountant to do my year-end work for £65.

“I purchased a domain name for £7 for two years, as I knew the internet would get me jobs in the future. I was able to make my own website, so there was no cost for that, but hosting was around £150 for the year.”

How much can I earn as a handyman?

This all depends on what you can do. If you can do domestic plumbing, for example, then you can charge around £20 per hour for fitting a bath or toilet, depending on your location.

Alan Storry continues: “The standard handyman work for a single operator is around £12-£15 per hour.  We tend to always have a minimum charge of £30, because going from one job to another can eat away at your time.”

What sort of skills and personality do I need?

A polite and caring attitude is essential. You need to call the customer if you're going to be late, and keep them in the picture. Alan Storry says:

“Too often I find that workmen think the customer should be happy simply because you're doing the job! Put yourself in the customer's shoes: how would you feel if you had been given a time that the handyman would be at your home, and he turned up one hour later?  It's not good, and your customer may never call you again.”

Another key attribute, which always goes down well with customers, is tidying up after yourself. Alan Storry continued: “I find that tradesmen tend to do what they do and leave the cleaning up for the customers, so if you clean up and make the place look as you found it then your customer will just keep coming back for more.”

Top tips for handyman success

  • Only do the jobs that you are capable of doing.  You can learn the jobs you have been asked to do for next time.
  • Always keep the customer informed of progress. If you're going to be late, then call.
  • Keep learning new skills, whether going back to college for short courses or using the internet.

If you're a DIY guru with great attention to detail, read our guide to setting up a handyman business.

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