30 Best small business ideas you can start with less than 10K

Planning to start your business but not sure where to begin? Statistics show that 5.4 million SMBs filed for formation in 2023 alone. However, starting your business requires setting a budget before you can start minting money.  

If you've also dreamed about starting your own business but are turned off by potentially high start-up costs, check out this list of the top businesses to start with $10K or less in the bank. I spoke to lots of people who've been successful with these business types, so you'll get some inside tips along the way.

Corporate Insurance Broker

Insurance brokers and insurance agents aren’t the same thing. Brokers tend to be licensed while agents often aren’t, and brokers can usually work with a wider range of insurance companies than agents can. Brokers generally can take on a higher level of risk, also, with the authority to analyze and make decisions about a potential client’s worthiness for insurance.

Going the broker route will give you more freedom to offer a variety of insurance products for various types of businesses. You’ll need that license though, so save some time and money to earn it. Once you’re licensed, you can take your services to local businesses with a considerable amount of credibility.

The key to finding prospects will be to network heavily. The local chamber of commerce, local business and trade associations of almost any kind, even online business meetups or local events such as fairs and school sporting events—they’re all opportunities to get your name out in the community.

You might also have to do some cold calling or visiting local business to prospect for business. It won’t be easy, and you might experience more initial success if you already have a lot of friends in the community where you live. But the reward could be very much worth it. This is a business that is hard to get started in, but once you get going you can build terrific momentum and profits as you build your clientele.


Dropshipping is easily one of the easiest businesses to start as a small business. Its starting cost is around $1000 with a 10% to 40% profit margin depending on how you run it. You can earn up to $1M annually with this business model. With the increasing popularity of dropshipping, the industry has expanded quickly.

Tutoring Services

Students require help with their subjects all year long; it’s one of the most stable businesses and hardly requires an investment. Yes, you do have to gain experience and expertise in the subjects of your choice for them. Freelancing platforms like Upwork can also help you get started faster.

3D printing

A 3D printing business involves charging clients a set rate for access to printing or designing and printing your own products to sell. To start this business, you'll first need to purchase a 3D printer, which will cost approximately $1,000 to $6,000 based on the model chosen. 

To get started:
  • Purchase a 3D printer and needed materials
  • Determine if you'll create your own products or rent out your printer
  • Determine your pricing structure per object or per rental period 
Real Estate Agent

Becoming a real estate agent is relatively costly, as its starting cost lies between $5,000 and $10,000 on average, with a median income of $49,000. It would help if you also had licensing and certifications and fulfilled the requirements needed.

Hauling Business

The startup cost of trucks and trailers ranges between $5,000 and $10,000, and you can increase your fleet with time. Professionals in this business earn around $15-50 per hour, along with other expenses. You can also help eliminate unwanted junk and clean the area.

Digital Marketing Consultant

A laptop and an internet connection are all you need to get started with this profession. You will easily make $24k to $60k per client with a 10% to 40% profit margin. It depends on the quality of services, as well as the affordability with which you can maintain the business operations.

Tour Guide

If you become a walking tour guide, it will cost you as little as $2,000. If you want to make it more special, you can always use a vehicle that costs around $10,000. The best part is, you can charge up to $360 per person during the tours. Recovering your initial investment will not be a problem in this case.

Green Business Consultant

The startup cost for this business varies for regions but is under $10,000, with a commission potential of $1M/year. However, you have to gather knowledge about the following: 
  • The available technology
  • Green-minded contractors for installations
  • Conservation methods
  • Calculating return on investment
Personal Trainer

If you are a fitness enthusiast, becoming a personal trainer can be your most viable option. You may need to spend $5,000 monthly for most businesses and earn up to $96,000/year. You’ll help people achieve their fitness goals while earning a substantial amount for yourself.

Window Cleaning Services

Most of the essentials for window cleaning services are available in your home, and are also readily available and affordable. You can make anywhere between $50,000 and $75,000 per month, going up to $1M/year. It’s a great spin on classic housekeeping services and can help you get more payments.

Online Business Manager

As an online business manager or consultant, you need the following things to start: Management experience
Internet A laptop

There are some certifications to prove your skills, but you can constantly update them over time. You can help CEOs achieve tremendous industry success too!

Fashion Designer

The median income for fashion designers is around $65,000, but you can always get more if you have the skills and reputation. You will need sewing machines, fabrics, and measuring tape. Later, you can work your way up and grow as a business.

Local Delivery Service

As a local delivery service, the primary costs of businesses include the licensing and vehicle expenses/ This business has an estimated 32.6% CAGR 2021-2027. This allows small business owners to earn up to $1,200/week with services like UberEats.

There’s a profit margin of $1-8 on every delivery after paying your drivers. This kind of business may take slightly longer to take off, but it will be worth the effort in the end.

YouTube Content Creator

Starting a YouTube channel as a content creator is free. You may have to handle some startup equipment costs, but you can start with what you have. There’s a $.10 to $.30 margin on every video view. You can also make $3 to $5 per 1,000 views on your channel, depending on your location or region.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

You can start working in SEO with free tools and gradually work your way up. The top-rated industry professionals earn up to $150,000/year, making it a great small business idea. You can use different tools for the task, including: 
  • Keyword research
  • Improving site speed
  • Google My Business
  • Content marketing
Freelance Writer

As a writer, you can start for less than $100 and earn up to $150/hr if you have the skills and experience required. You can also sign up as a copywriter and provide various services to industries. Tools like Surfer SEO can help you optimize your content and start your writing business.

Rental Service for Equipment

The startup cost for the equipment rental service is around $15,000 (without heavy machinery). In this business, you can enjoy an average gross profit margin of 30% to 40%. The rental equipment business is popular in various industries, such as Home medical equipment rentals
Construction tool rentals
Cars, boats, and other rentals

Brick and Mortar Restaurant

A brick-and-mortar restaurant is one of the few businesses you can start for $10,000. These businesses may have various requirements, including health district inspections, insurance requirements, etc. Nonetheless, it’s a profitable SMB to get started with.

Starting a Food Truck

To start a food truck, you need around $10,000 and make your setup $1M per food truck. There’s also a $20,000 to $50,000 profit margin from these food trucks. It’s ideal if you like feeding people and want money.

Import/Export Business

Have you seen something while traveling abroad that you’ve loved and you thought maybe people back home would buy? Bring it home and sell it with an import/export business. (Or, take something you love here and send it abroad for the “export” part.)

In the Internet era setting up an import/export business is relatively simple. Pick what it is you want to import or export—one product, or at least one category of product—and stick with it. Get going with a website and a blog about the product you’re trying to sell. Learn everything you can about that product.

It gets a little trickier from here. You’ll need to determine where you want to sell your product, whether you’re importing one to sell here or exporting one to sell elsewhere. If you’re importing, you’ll need to find a supplier for the product. After you have a supplier, you’ll need a company that can ship your product back and forth, including a company that can clear customs for you. Once you have a sense of your costs, you can determine a price for whatever it is you’re selling.

I would first recommend that you try to wholesale your product to retailers online or offline and focus your business model on importing and sourcing. But you might want to try your hand at selling directly online too. In either case I would create an awesome looking website, with a lot of thought given to search engine optimization.

This is a business idea that will take some time to plan and execute. If you can get it up and running successfully, it can be a pathway not only to profits but also to excitement and getting to know fascinating people around the world. One of my friends started a business while still in college, importing goods from local artisans in Latin America into the US market. He grew the business to the point where he was using the entire available cargo capacity on some airline flights.

Become an Ice Cream Man

Everyone recognizes the ice cream man on the corner of the street. You can start this business for $10,000. However, it would help if you remember your target audience is kids, there’s a seasonal fluctuation at times, and all you need is a freezer on wheels.

Meal Prep Company

The starting cost of license and inspection is the most significant consideration for small business owners. There’s a $20 to $50/hour profit margin you can consider. You can create a menu and market it to your potential audience.


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