Get the latest Startup news and information

Please verify before subscribing.

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

Read on for our explanation of why they're potentially lucrative, as well as low-cost, business ideas…

Not everyone starts a business following a ‘eureka!' moment – many people decide they want to be their own boss then embark on a search for business ideas.

To do this, of course, you need to ensure you find the right business for you. You also need to make sure you have sufficient funding in place to support both yourself and your start-up until the business becomes sustainable.

However, not every business requires a vast amount of investment to get it off the ground. Here, we look at 10 low-cost start-up ideas to give you a taste of what each involves – and hopefully, some inspiration.

From starting an eBay business at home to becoming a wedding planner, we look at what investment, skills, qualifications and attitude are needed to make each venture a success:

eBay business

What does an eBay business involve?

It's pretty simple to become an eBay trader; in fact, there's probably no simpler start-up opportunity around. All you need to do is set up an eBay account, upload some images of your product and a brief description, and you're away. You can trade with people from all around the world, and handle orders of all sizes – from a one-off transaction to batches containing hundreds of units.

However, while it's easy to begin trading, making it a success is not so simple. As with any start-up, this will require much hard work, research and planning. Much of your success comes down to choosing the right products, so before you begin it's worth spending time researching the competition – look at what's already being sold and try to find a niche or a point of difference.

How much does it cost to run an eBay business?

There's no cost to register, and the amount it costs to display your product will depend on the size and value of your item. It usually costs between 10p and £1.30 to list an item for auction on eBay (most fixed price listings cost 40p), and for most items eBay now takes a fixed fee of 10% of the final selling price (regardless of how much the item sells for). This does vary across different product categories though – for example, for consumer electronics the fee is just 3%, while for clothing, shoes and accessories eBay takes 12%.

Once you've created a business account you can also choose to set up an online shop by paying a monthly subscription fee. This ranges from £14.99 a month for a basic shop package to £349.99 for the most advanced features.

How much can I earn as an eBay entrepreneur?

Nick Best, who's been trading on eBay for eight years says: “The market's huge at the moment, basically because people are running out of money and looking to make money, and Christmas is on the horizon.

“You may be able to make between £12,000 and £50,000 in a year. If you've got hundreds of a particular item, you're only paying to put it up once – if you've got 50 second-hand computers for sale, with the same spec, you can put them all up in one go.”

However, it's important to think about the people who use eBay, and what they'll buy. Some types of product, such as antiques, tend not to sell well – as prospective buyers like to see an antique before they buy, and the demographic isn't really represented on eBay.

What sort of skills and personality do I need?

A selling background can be useful, but it's not a pre-requisite. However, good people and communication skills are a must if you want to make a success of an eBay venture.

Best says: “It can be helpful to have an IT and publishing background, and the ability to write enticing specs. I try and make the description humorous, and try to put a bit of history behind the item – make it more colourful for a prospective buyer.”

Top tips for eBay success

  • Stay at it – persistence is crucial. Start small and grow the business slowly – don't invest huge amounts in stock until you've learned what sells.
  • Continue to look for new customers, and tweak your specs and images if necessary.
  • Respond to buyers quickly – remember that receiving positive feedback on the site is crucial to winning new business, as this will set you apart as a reliable seller.
  • Exceptional customer service is key.
  • Remember to register as self-employed with HMRC – even if you are employed elsewhere and running the business as a part-time venture initially.

If you're a good communicator with an eye for what sells, read our step-by-step guide on how to start an eBay business. Alternatively, check out our guide on how to set up an Amazon Marketplace business.

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