There are several businesses you can start with different levels of cash. Here’s a list of business ideas to get the entrepreneur in you started.

Being your own boss can be life-changing. Imagine walking out of the corporate world and diving into self-employment. You’re not the only one who might have a dream to run their own business either. According to a Freshbooks report, 27 million Americans are ready to ditch traditional work for full-time self-employment within the next two years. 

As someone who went from working at a corporate office to running my own business, I’ve seen the challenges and triumphs firsthand. There are entrepreneurs from all walks of life whom I met that have aspirations to start their own business. The common question among all of us? What business can I start and how much money do I need? I’m guessing that’s you, too!

Novo – A completely online fee-free checking accounts with no hidden fees built for small business owners

I’m a firm believer in cash flowing a new business. Whether you want to operate a food truck or run a blog, upfront capital can ease the stress of starting a business. If you’re an entrepreneur in the making, check out these businesses you can start with different levels of cash.

What business can I start with no money?

What Business Can I Start With $20k? - What business can I start with no money?

Consult, contract, or freelance

There are several ways to start a business without money. Look no further than what you already do for your full-time job.

An administrative assistant can easily pick up virtual assistant gigs that require a similar skill set. Book appointments and travel for executives? Farm out the same skill. Reach out to your network and let them know you’re available.

Start a YouTube channel

Like video? Enjoy talking in front of a camera? All you need is a camera and internet access to start a YouTube channel.

Plenty of YouTubers had humble beginnings with nothing but an iPhone to get started. Note that in order to reach monetization on YouTube, you need to have 1,000 subscribers and acquire 4,000 watch hours over the last 12 months. 

Start a blog

Okay, so maybe you can’t start a blog with no money, but there are plenty of cheap options to get started.

First, you need a domain and a place to host your website. Web domain costs can be as low as $0.99 to get started via GoDaddy.

Web hosting services, like Bluehost, can start as little as $2.75 per month. You could get a blog up and running for less than $5 bucks!

What business can I start with $1,000?

What Business Can I Start With $20k - What business can I start with $1,000?

Software developers can use their skills to build their own web app for $1,000 or less. All you need is some seed money for server fees, a domain name, and marketing campaigns. According to research by Daxx, there were 23 million software developers in 2018. That number is expected to reach nearly 28 million by 2023.

Kyle Bumpus, a software engineer and blogger based out of Seattle, says it’s easier than you think to get started.

“It’s cheap to throw an app on the web. If you have programming skills, that’s just about all you need,” said Kyle.

Today, there are millions of native and web apps available to users.

“The biggest advantage an app creator can have is the money to spend on marketing and user acquisition,” said Kyle.

A thousand bucks would come in handy then, at least to get you started.

What business can I start with $5,000?

What business can I start with $20k? - What business can I start with $5,000?

If you want to profit off of a business with just $5,000, you might consider getting your real estate license. Andrew Herrig, blogger at WealthyNickel, and his wife Emily decided to fork over roughly $3,000 so Emily could be a licensed real estate agent.

“We do real estate investing as well. My wife got her real estate license with the intention of using it to save money on commissions for our own personal transactions as well,” said Andrew. 

In order to get a real estate license, you’ll need to take a course. Courses can be taken online or in-person. Typically, coursework takes just a few months to complete. In one year, Emily made more than $17,000 through six real estate transactions. “It’s a very part-time job right now since she stays at home with our kids, so the flexibility is nice,” said Andrew. 

Expect to pay roughly $3,000-$4,000 per year on dues, subscriptions, and education to stay current with your license. As long as you continue to network and sell houses, this could be a profitable business.

What business can I start with $10,000?

What business can I start with $20k? - What business can I start with $10,000?

Entrepreneurs with more sizable capital can venture into the food industry. For $10,000, you could start your own shaved ice business. Scott Morrison, owner of SnoMo’s Shaved Ice in Orlando, Florida, spent roughly $10,000 to launch his shaved ice shop.

“Our shop is a food trailer set up in one location. The initial $10,000 bought the trailer and supplies,” said Scott. Surprisingly, there weren’t a lot of shaved ice businesses around Orlando and Scott seized his opportunity. Plus, with a small trailer, Scott doesn’t have to worry about leasing a retail space keeping his overhead costs low.

Within a few months of opening, Scott was able to recoup his initial investment. He was also adamant about getting kids involved in the business.

“We have five kids and we use SnoMo’s to teach them about entrepreneurship and working. Plus, we wanted to provide a local place for teenagers to work,” said Scott.

What business can I start with $20,000?

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Real estate investing can be lucrative so long as the math works in your favor. Just ask Avery Breyer, author, and real estate investor. She and her husband decided to put $20,000 towards a down payment on a newly built condo. The property was purchased in 2008 for $216,000. Today, they have about $95,000 in equity.

“We bought this property for the purpose of building up equity that would become part of our retirement nest egg one day,” said Avery.

They eventually refinanced in 2013 at 3.39%. The property is worth around $280,000 today. Here’s how the math works out each month:

Monthly rental property costsCost
Mortgage payment$928
Property tax$276
Condo fees$227
Rent charges$1,580
Profit from rental property$149

Avery says she sets aside the profit from the rental property for maintenance or unexpected events. “It’s a fairly new condo, so there’s not much to expect for repair costs. We keep on top of things though so costs don’t accumulate,” said Avery.

If you want to start a real estate investing business, look for homes that require less work, like what Avery and her husband did. Keep in mind, this type of real estate investment business is a long-term game. Keep your eye out for new builds in a trouble-free neighborhood. It could help you earn a steady income over time.

What are the hidden costs of starting a business?

Whether your business is virtual, on-site or wrapped up in a real estate property, you could run into hidden costs. Once the entrepreneur high subsides, you’ll see that there are several expenses you should shell out for, including:

  • Creating an LLC or S-Corp – These expenses can vary depending on where you live. An LLC costs $300 if you register in the state of Texas or $70 if you register in the state of California.
  • Business tax certificate – The same goes for a DBA and business tax certificate, so you’ll want to check your state’s business filing programs.
  • Business insurance – Getting business insurance is always a good idea. It’ll protect you from major financial trouble if something unexpected happens.
  • App and software subscriptions – App and software subscriptions can run from $100 to several thousand. If you anticipate using a teleconferencing software like Zoom, basic plans are free up to $20 per month per host for larger businesses. Even a bookkeeping software has a monthly service fee.
  • Payment gateway fees – Think Stripe or PayPal. If you plan on selling items, remember that Stripe and PayPal charge a payment gateway fee. PayPal charges a fee of 2.9% of online transactions plus a fixed fee based on currency.
  • Self-employment tax – The self-employment tax rate is 15.3%. Note, you can deduct the employer-equivalent portion of your self-employment tax when calculating your adjusted gross income.
  • Legal consulting fees – Legal consulting fees can range from a few hundred to a few thousand. LegalZoom starts its services at $79, and you can expect to find higher fees with individual CPAs and attorneys.
  • Conferences and travel –  Conferences and travel may also be part of your business costs. While a conference ticket could run a few hundred bucks, don’t forget to factor in the cost of transportation, hotels and meals, and other expenses.

Sure, you might know that you have to pay for these expenses, but they creep up while you’re busy making something awesome or having important business conversations. Legal setup fees can quickly stack up if you’re not careful.

I started my first business as a marketing consultant and needed a contract created that I could send to clients. I had a small business lawyer create the contract with the right language included to protect myself. That document ended up costing me $500, a cost I certainly didn’t foresee when starting out.

Where to get funding for your business

If you need some financial help getting your business off the ground, or to keep it afloat, getting a business loan is one of your best options. These loans come with a repayment schedule that allows you to make manageable payments each month, rather than having to come up with a large chunk of cash upfront.

When it comes to getting a small business loan, you’ll obviously want to go with a reputable lender. One of those lenders is Bluevine.

A Line of Credit through Bluevine offers a revolving credit line that you can pull from as needed. You can get a credit line of up to $250,000 with rates as low as 4.8%.  With this type of loan, you may get approval within just five minutes!

Things to keep in mind before starting a business

Before you venture out into the unknown (cue Frozen 2) with your business, know that there will be failures. There will be heartache and tough days.

And when those tough days come, you have to remember your why. Why did you create a business in the first place? If it was to make money alone, then you’re in the wrong business.

Choose a business doing something that you would do for free. I initially started my personal finance YouTube channel – not because I wanted to make a ton of money, but because I genuinely love creating personal finance videos. The money came after a lot of hustle!

Remember that when you decide on what business to start.

How to keep the cost of starting a business low

Use free banking

There are plenty of free business bank accounts, so there’s no need to pay hefty fees to keep your money safe. One account that’s making waves right now is Novo.

Novo is completely free, has no hidden fees, and you can open an account in just minutes. Novo is an online bank, so you can do everything from your laptop or Novo’s easy-to-use mobile app. Their goal is to make business banking easy – and that’s exactly what they do.

Use bookkeeping software

Once you have decided on what business to start, it’s imperative that you keep overhead to a minimum. Regular bookkeeping can help you see what money is coming in and going out each month. 

Don’t forget to budget for your business

In addition, I keep a budget spreadsheet in Google Drive so I can actually feel those transactions hit. It makes me think twice about accepting another business lunch meeting (did you know you can only deduct 50% of the meal for tax purposes?).

Consider a business credit card

Cash is a great way to start your business. If you are a responsible credit card user, I suggest applying for a business credit card. It keeps your business transactions separate from your personal ones (you should never mix ‘em!).

A great option for a business credit card is the American Express® Blue Business Cash Card, which has no annual fee. You’ll earn 2% cash back on all eligible purchases on up to $50,000 per calendar year. After that, you’ll still get 1% back.

One neat feature of this card is the Expanded Buying Power, which allows you to spend above your credit limit depending on your credit record, payment history, use of the card, and more.

Additional benefits include car rental loss and damage insurance and access to the Global Assist Hotline. When you’re traveling for business, these will come in handy in case there are any emergencies. You’ll also get purchase protection for up to 90 days after purchasing a product if it’s stolen or gets damaged, along with an extended warranty on purchases, which can prolong a warranty for up to a year.


Starting your own business can be exciting and terrifying. Upfront cash can alleviate stress when starting a business so you can focus on growth instead of impending costs.

Expect costs like business registration, website hosting, legal fees, and more. When you start a business based on a passion and not solely on revenue generation, you can get through the tough days.

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About the author

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Justine Nelson is a personal finance freelance writer and YouTuber. She enjoys teaching millennials how to eliminate debt and live a debt free lifestyle. Justine paid off $35k in student loan debt in two and a half years on a $37k income. Connect with her on Instagram or her website Debt Free Millennials.