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1. Eight low-cost business ideas with high profit potential

8 low-cost business ideas with high profit potential in 2023

As more Americans leave the corporate world and start their own businesses, you may wonder if this career pivot suits you. Whether you have a good business idea or want more freedom in your daily life, finding a low-cost business idea with the potential to earn massive profits is highly appealing to most people.

So, what's stopping you?

Aspiring entrepreneurs often hesitate to jump into more lucrative businesses because they need the capital to invest in startup costs. From small business loans to renting out a workspace, many costs are associated with running a business that sends us running for the hills.

Fortunately, quite a few low-cost business ideas don't need significant upfront investments. Regardless of your skills and background, this list includes eight low-cost business ideas with high profit margins. You'll need a solid business plan and a positive attitude, but building a successful business is at your fingertips. Let's get into it!

Main takeaways from this article:

  • Low-cost business ideas allow individuals to quickly launch a company, start earning money, and expand to other revenue streams to increase profits.

  • From online courses to digital products and various marketing offerings, many profitable business ideas exist online that you can run anywhere in the world.

  • Print on demand and selling digital art are the most successful low-cost business ideas for people from any background or skill set.

Eight low-cost business ideas with high profit potential

Keep reading if you're seeking a profitable business idea that won't break the bank from the start. This list contains eight of the best low-cost business ideas that will yield profits and continue to grow and scale as you see fit.

1. Creating a print on demand business

2Creating a print on demand business

Print on demand is a brilliant low-cost business idea because it requires minimal initial investment and virtually no inventory management or storage.

You can sell your products on existing marketplaces, like Etsy, or build your own website; it's entirely up to you. As you scale your business, sales will increase on the products you're already selling, generating more and more revenue.

When launching a print on demand business, your first order of business should be finding a reliable, sustainable print on demand supplier to partner with. With a partner like Gelato, ecommerce businesses can sell and print products in the destination country, saving time on production and shipping to reach their customer base faster.

Gelato carries a wide assortment of print on demand products, including wall art, t-shirts, hoodies, tote bags, phone cases, and more. Print on demand is easily the most lucrative business idea on this list, and we recommend exploring it as a viable option for a low-cost business idea.

2. Selling digital products

If you have industry knowledge or expertise in a particular niche or subject, you can create educational digital products for like-minded individuals to purchase.

Digital products include eBooks, online courses, tutorials, videos, podcasts, and more. Many digital products are easy to design using platforms like Canva or Photoshop, depending on what you're creating. There are many sites to develop and launch online courses, including Teachable and Kajabi.

Online courses and other content can help you build a successful business because they're relatively straightforward to create and can continue to bring in more profits without any effort (besides marketing them).

Best practices for creating & selling digital products
  • Create simple, concise products that are tailored to one specific industry, like digital marketing or running a business

  • Market your products in LinkedIn professional groups and on your social media accounts

  • Create follow-up products to expand your customer base and fuel more interest

3. Freelancing


Freelancing allows individuals to create a flexible schedule that works for their lives and to offer their skills to clients they want to work with. As a freelancer, you can decide how much work you take on, when and where you work, and how fast your business will grow.

Because of this, the startup costs for a freelancing business are pretty low. You can create a website to market your business or promote your services via social media or through sites like Fiverr.

Digital marketing freelancing business ideas
  • Blogging

  • Photography or photo editing

  • Graphic design

  • Social media management services

  • Email marketing

  • Website content

  • Business consulting

Best practices for freelancing
  • Promote your skills and knowledge on social media, in your community, and network as much as you can

  • Build and maintain relationships with clients so they will continue to hire you for projects

  • Don't sell yourself short! Charge what you know you're worth - whether that's by the hour, per project, or per word

4. Affiliate marketing

Affiliate marketing is one of the most lucrative businesses in the US, with spending reaching nearly $8.2 billion in 2022. To run an affiliate marketing business, you'll need a website, a social media presence, and a network of followers who trust your expertise and opinions.

Then, you'll partner with brands to promote their products and receive a commission for every sale made through one of your affiliate links or codes.

Affiliate marketing is a popular business idea for influencers and creators with a loyal following, making it easy to promote the products they use and the companies they work with.

This business model generates passive income because, over time, shoppers will still click those links and buy products through the affiliate program, even if the creator isn't actively promoting it.

Best practices for running an affiliate marketing business
  • Choose a niche that makes sense for you and your interests (fashion, home decor, travel, etc.)

  • Choose an affiliate program to apply for, like Rakuten or Share A Sale, to gain access to more products and commissions

  • Promote products that you stand behind and love; don't just grab any brand deal that shows interest

5. Pet sitting and dog walking

4Pet sitting and dog walking

A dog walking business or pet sitting business is another highly profitable business idea because there are little to no startup costs involved.

You can promote your services using social media marketing and word-of-mouth referrals and prioritize building a website once your business is off the ground.

If you are passionate about dogs and other animals, there's no reason why you can't create your own dog-walking business for this furry niche!

Best practices for pet-related businesses
  • Get the necessary insurance, permits, and licenses for your pet-sitting business

  • Offer daily walks, overnights, and multiple visits per day to create more demand

  • Use digital marketing and your social media accounts to promote your business to locals

  • Design a simple website with your pricing, contact information, and experience

6. Tutoring, coaching, and consulting

If you have particular subjects that you are passionate or knowledgeable about, tutoring and coaching (both in-person and online) are easy, low-cost ways to add another revenue stream to your monthly earnings.

Whether tutoring students in particular subjects or providing advice and support as a life coach, running your own business in this realm can yield high profit margins. You already have the content and knowledge; you need to find a platform to market your services and attract new clientele.

Starting a consulting business is an effective way to take your career into your own hands based on the expertise and experience you already have. Consulting is a low-cost business idea because you can start small and scale up as you bring in more clients.

Tips for creating a tutoring/coaching/consulting business:
  • Network on LinkedIn and your social media channels to promote your services

  • Ask for referrals from people (friends, family, previous clients) you've worked with before

  • Offer virtual and in-person training sessions to cater to a wider audience

  • Create a compelling, concise website that describes your services

7. Selling your art

5Selling your art

Startup costs are extremely low for selling art because many of your pieces, images, and designs are already created and ready to sell. You can sell original artwork or scan or photograph your art and create unique apparel and other products with your designs and images printed.

Whether you stay within a particular niche or expand your art to cater to a broad audience, selling art is one of the most profitable business ideas for creators and artists.

Ideas for selling art & photography
  • Sell your photos on stock photography sites

  • Sell digital art through a print on demand supplier

  • License your artwork and photos for companies to use

Create and sell custom wall art, clothing, tote bags, and more through a print on demand supplier

8. Creating and monetizing content

Monetizing content to make money online is a highly lucrative business idea that nearly 11.5 million Americans utilize as a full-time job or a form of passive income. Pretty impressive, right? That could be you, too!

Creating and monetizing content happens in a few ways; you can become a social media influencer, create a podcast, or build a YouTube channel, to name a few. Most of these methods are free to join and start utilizing, making them highly profitable, low-cost business ideas.

Once you've established an online presence, you can start making your content profitable by selling ad space on your website, joining affiliate marketing networks, offering an online course, or creating a paid membership for your community to access exclusive content.

If you do it right and build an engaging, loyal audience, monetizing your existing content and creating new content for your followers is one of the most profitable business ideas you'll find. It takes a lot of time and energy, but the value is worth it.

Best Practices for Creating & Monetizing Content
  • Choose a niche that you're passionate about

  • Utilize search engine optimization strategies to build exposure and get more visitors to your site

  • Offer content freebies to boost engagement and create interest in your content

Create a successful business with little investment

Finding a low-cost, high-profit business idea that fits your passions and skills can be challenging, but the ideas on this list should get you started. We know it's possible to generate a significant profit with minimal investment; you need a great business idea, creativity, and a can-do attitude.

If you plan to sell custom digital products of any kind, you'll need a reliable print on demand partner in your corner to help with the heavy lifting. We take the stress of printing, fulfillment, and shipping off your shoulders so you can get back to building and scaling a profitable online business. Get started with Gelato today.

Starting a business FAQs

What is the cheapest, most profitable business to start?

A print on demand business is by far the cheapest, most profitable business to start because of the minimal startup costs, the feasibility of scaling quickly, not having to invest in product upfront, and little need for extra staff.

Many people run print on demand businesses entirely by themselves; it's a highly profitable business model that doesn't require many extra hands.

The perks of running a print on demand business
  • Minimal startup costs

  • No inventory management or storing inventory

  • Low shipping costs

  • Easy to scale and add new products

  • A wide variety of products to sell, from posters to phone cases, custom hoodies, and mugs

How do I start a business with no ideas?

Starting your own business can be overwhelming, especially if you need to find business ideas that motivate and inspire you. If this sounds like you, take a step back and make a list of the things you love.

Whether shopping, drawing, traveling, writing, or any other hobby, your passion can easily translate to a business idea that can bring high profit margins - you just have to know where to begin.

If you need the inspiration to start your own business, print on demand is one of the most profitable and successful small business ideas. Sellers can gain inspiration by browsing a print on demand supplier's product inventory to determine what they want to sell. Choose from in-demand products from home decor, apparel, lifestyle, and much more.

Are you missing the design or creative skills to get started? No problem. Hire a graphic designer or photographer to create your initial designs or use stock images to launch your own online store.


Next steps

Start selling products with Gelato