10 Profitable Small Business Ideas to Start With Zero Capital

For people who have little or no money to invest, there can be the temptation to think that the lack of capital could translate to lack of opportunities. However, there are many small scale businesses you can start with little or no money down.

These types of businesses are numerous; from dropshipping and door-to-door sales, to many other lucrative online businesses. Small scale businesses are also perfect for people who want to test their ideas first before launching fully, or those who want the flexibility of working from home. After all, it is cheaper to launch and you wouldn’t need to take a bigger risk than you would like.

In this post, I will be introducing 10 most profitable small scale businesses you can start this year with little or no money down, guaranteed. That means the business ideas can be done by virtually anyone, as long as you have the necessary skill to do them. You may be a student, a stay-at-home mom or someone who just lost a job, but these businesses will definitely work for you as long as you are willing to work hard at making them successful. There is even the possibility of growing any of the small scale businesses into a multi-million dollar business empire you can pass onto the next generation.

All it takes is a little dedication to read through this post and your ability not to give up in putting what you’ve learned into practice. 

Below are 10 simple small scale business ideas, with 10 underlying business strategies and a walkthrough on how to build a multi-million dollar business with any of the businesses outlined.

Without taking more time, let’s take a look at them.

10 profitable small scale businesses you can start right now even if you don’t have any money

1. Home Tutor

A home tutor business is a perfect one for you if you are a retired school teacher, professor or even a young graduate still searching for a job. You can teach what you know from the comfort of your home and get paid. You just need to create the required space in your home, get the right facilities, and start marketing your home tutorial business to potential customers. You could even set up a cheap garage school teaching a few freshman courses. It is up to you to do what you want as there are many possibilities with this business.

There are so many small scale and home-based fashion schools, make-up learning groups and school prep centers being run by retired moms and work-at-home teenagers. You can look around and get a cue on how to start your own home tutorial too. Remember that this business doesn’t require much capital, if any. You just need to have knowledge that is sought after, and know how to teach and transfer that knowledge. If you think you’re ready, nothing stops you from starting your own tutorial service right now.

2. Freelance Writing

With the advent of the internet, information based businesses have started to boom. If you are proficient in writing articles, poems or movie scripts, there are enough jobs online waiting for you. All you need to do is get a page online where you post all your write-up samples. It could be on Facebook, twitter or blogger. As long as it is open to the public, you can use it as your online portfolio and market your works to potential clients. Once you find an opening for a freelance writing job, you can then link to your online portfolio when sending in your application.

There are many ways to start a freelancing business, but another unique way to launch your freelance writing business is to start a blog about writing. This way you are able to attract the right people to your business and also build a good reputation.

If you do well to attract the right people and constantly deliver high quality articles, you’ll be able to demand a higher fee because of your reputation. You can start by writing just one article per day, but make sure that your articles are of high quality and well researched. Once your audience starts increasing and you are able to connect properly with them, you can then put up a ‘hire me’ page on your blog.

There is no limit to what you can earn doing this and I will tell you that this is a fantastic small scale business. You can start earning a good amount of money soon enough, if you put the idea to work and consistently work on your plan.

3. Makeup Artist

Makeup is the new gold and the industry is one of the biggest of the century. But the good news is that you can tap from this goldmine. This is even better if you are a lady, as you probably already know a thing or two about makeup.

But, hey guys.

This is not to say that the guys can’t be involved in this make-up business. You just need to learn how to use newer make-up products and get acquainted with new make-up trends. Once you have acquired this knowledge, you’ll then need to practice to perfect your skill.

You can practice on a paint board or do free makeup for friends and family. But remember to take photos and keep track of your progress. Overtime, you’ll become better at doing more sophisticated makeup jobs and you’ll start getting your first few make-up clients. It may take some time, but the more you go, the higher you’ll be able to earn. The industry is very lucrative and I’ve seen artists earning as much as 75,000 Naira per day. This shows that you can build a huge business from offering makeup services. You just need to have the right skills and build the right connections.

4. Dog Training

If you are a pet lover or an experienced dog owner, then you can build a profitable home-based business offering dog training services. Many people have abused dogs or dogs that are not responding to personal training. You can come in and offer your skill as an experienced dog trainer. The business pays well, depending on the amount of clients you can pull and your level of success.

There are many ways to run a dog training business. You can host shows and even write books that teach what you do. A perfect role model to look at is Cesar millan who, according to Celebritynetworth.com is worth $25 million. Look at that!

In addition to dog training, you can also offer dog breeding services where you provide opportunities for mating and cross-breeding. Many people are looking for such services, and you’ll definitely build a profitable business if you pursue this business idea.

5. Auto-repair Services

You don’t have to be a professional auto mechanic to start your own auto-repair business. As long as you are proficient in handling car repairs or can organize people who are, then you have the opportunity to set up a garage shop where you repair vehicles at a lower cost than auto repair companies. You can start by doing trial repairs and diagnostics for your potential clients to show the quality of your work. This will help you pull enough first time clients to kick-start your small scale auto-repair business.

And let me tell you this.

According to IBISWorld’s “Auto Mechanics in the US”market research report, the auto repair industry generates $63 billion annually.

Can you dig that?

This shows that the potential for profit is very high. You just have to know your stuff and position your business for growth.

In addition to car repairs, you could also incorporate motorcycle or machinery repairs into the business too. Anything to get the hands dirty and the pocket smiling.

If you want to advertise your business without spending much, you can put up a little sign post at the front of your gate or the front of your garage, with your phone contact written boldly on it. This will help you ramp up more contacts from clients who may need periodic diagnosis and repairs for their vehicles.

The more you are able to handle complex problems for your clients, the more they’re likely to recommend you to others. After all, you’re the cheaper option and you get the job done.

6.  Graphics Design

If you are a creative geek like me, this should be a no-brainer small scale business for you to start right now. As long as you can effectively use available design software like Photoshop, lightroom, CorelDraw, MS PowerPoint, or even Canva, you should be able to build a huge portfolio in no time.

To start, you could put up a social media page or blog and start uploading your work samples. You either showcase some free samples of your work to help you attract freelance design gigs or you create quality designs and put them up for sale. There are many options available to you, but it depends on how professional your job is and the type of design you focus on. In all, you should be able to get a constant flow of clients online if you check the several freelance platforms available to you.

You have fiverr, freelancer, upwork and other platforms available to freelance designers. All you will do is just put up a good profile with some of your best work samples. You could even offer trial projects to help you increase your project volume and the amount of reviews you get. Once you start getting some jobs and building your trust level, you will be able to demand a higher pay for your services.

Now, here is a fact you’ll love:

According to the Bureau of Labor, statistics show that graphic designers earned $23.41 per hour on average. Assuming 2,080 hours (working at least 6hours/day) of work a year, this translates to an average annual income of $48,690 a year.

That’s an impressive income if you ask me. But to think again, what if you can turn your graphic design skill into a business that hires more graphic designers?

That means more work hours and more cash earned.

You can see that the possibilities are endless for you as a graphic designer. If you have the needed skill, then you are in luck. You can design your way into a profitable graphic design business.

7.  Home Cleaning & Laundry

This is a simple small scale business anyone can start regardless of skill and cash at hand. If you are the type who likes to take care of things around the house and making sure everything is good and in order, then this business will be good for you.

There are many busy professionals who will love to have you come around once a day or once a week to clean their homes and do laundry just for a small fee. All you have to do is pick your tools and get to work. Some homes even have everything you need. You only need to get an apron and gloves. The more houses you can serve, the more revenue you’ll make.

To advertise your business and start getting your first clients, you’ll need to make inquiries and ask around. You can create a small business card with your service list and contacts boldly written in it. Talk to people who you think may need your service and give them your business card.

It is advised to start from your neighborhood where you are more trusted and then build your reputation from there, until you are able to have a trusted brand. It can take a long time especially when you are starting with no cash at hand, but this business idea works and is one of the simplest businesses to start from home when you have no financial resource.

But let me say this.

You need to think like a business person if you want to earn much in this business, as clients may want to negotiate for a lesser fee. What you have to do from the onset is set your fee charge per hour and stick with it. You don’t have to work for everyone. Find the homes that can afford your fees and offer them quality work. The more quality your service is, the more recommendation you’ll be able to get.

You can also build a team of professional cleaners and laundry men. This will help you serve more homes and earn more revenue. You can even build a larger team from there and a business brand you’ll be proud of. You only need to start right now if you can.

8. Chef Services

Just like home cleaning, this business is a very lucrative one. As long as you love being in the kitchen and you’ve got great culinary skills, this business should be fun. The market potential is there and there are several opportunities for you to capitalize on.

If you look out there, you’ll discover that there are many busy professionals who either do not want to hire or can’t afford a full-time chef, but are open to day-to-day chef services. These people will gladly appreciate your services and pay the right fee. But you need to make sure you are not just the cook next door, certified only by his mom. You need to have both the needed culinary skills and the hygiene awareness to make good meals. If you can have both of these, you’ll be able satisfy most of the clients out there and get reasonable recommendations.

And talking of recommendations, word of mouth rules in this business. One bad meal and you would have lost a chain of customers. So, you need to always keep yourself in line at every moment.

Apart from home services, you could also contact offices and get deals to supply lunch meals. This is a very lucrative niche because most offices find it hard to get a dedicated chef to prepare lunch at an affordable rate. You can take on that opportunity and build a huge brand offering chef services. If you bring in the possibility of hiring other chefs and building a business around your services, then the potential to earn more increases.

And to consider further, you can bring in the leverage of technology and you’ll begin to see that you can build a multi-million dollar business doing just this. Just an app on the playstore or an ecommerce website, and you’ll be able to scale and even get external financial investments to help you keep doing what you know how to do. Only if you have the needed skill to start right now.

9. Recycling Business

The world is going green in a bid to keep the environment safe and knock down costs. How about you being a volunteer in this space?

A small scale recycling business is even a cool version as you can use your garage or your open veranda as a make-shift space for your business. There are opportunities in plastics, ceramics or aluminum, depending on the recycling company you have contacts with. A partnership will be better for this business if you do not have the funds to hire or purchase the required machinery.

Guess what it takes to start this business?


If you have good communication skills and can meet with people easily, then it’s time to put your skill to work.

You can start by asking neighbors to keep unwanted bottles, broken ceramics, used polythene and cans for you to pick up. If you are not getting enough positive response, incentivize the program. Offer rewards in return, depending on the volume of materials collected. This business may take time, but word of mouth will do wonders for you. Talk to people about the opportunities that come from recycling materials and offer rewards that are valuable to them. If you can do this, you’ll be able to get people to respond to your program.

The opportunities for you are enormous as the volume of waste generated per person continues to increase. 

The business concept is a direct one. You simply collect, organize and supply reusable and recyclable materials for cold hard cash. And if you dedicate yourself enough to the business, you’ll be able to make huge success before you know it.

10. Fashion Design

Fashion design is a big industry with lots of opportunities waiting for you. If you already have the required sewing skills, an eye for good designs, plus the creative talent to make trending styles, then you can start a home-based fashion design business.

You can start by making your own designs, creating samples, and then showing it off to people on different platforms. The more unique and creative your designs are, the more you can attract clients.

Fashion business pays, and you can quickly build a huge business from your ideas or get a big job in the fashion industry. To show off your works, get an instagram or facebook page with a unique name and upload your best design works. If you keep adding more unique designs and making sure they get in front of more eyes, it shouldn’t take long before you start making a reasonable income from your home-based fashion design business.

There are many opportunities to make money as a home-based fashion designer. You can make money by selling your unique design ideas, or get a contract with a modeling agency or a job with a big fashion brand. You can also start a fashion design school where you teach others to make good fashion designs just like you. The opportunities are unlimited as long as you know what you are doing.

But no matter what you choose to do, make sure your works are properly copyrighted and protected under the law if you want to avoid intellectual property theft and loss of revenue.

So how do you build a multi-million dollar business from all these small scale business ideas?

Starting a small scale business doesn’t mean that you have to think small about the future of your business. In fact, many of the global conglomerates we have today started as small businesses.

So, starting a small business is a necessary small step, but definitely not the end if you have dreams of building a multi-million dollar business right from your garage.

Building a multi-million dollar business may take a lot of time, but it is very possible. If you want to build a successful business from any of these businesses, then you must consider your strengths, your weaknesses, and your ability to organize/position your business for success.

All these can be so overwhelming especially when you are starting out from home with no money, but you can make it simple and automate the whole process of building a multi-million dollar business.

So, how do you do that?

The B-I Triangle.

The B-I Triangle (Business-Investment Triangle) helps you to understand and organize the whole process of your business with ease. It helps you to segment the different parts of your business, analyze the needed skill-sets and delegate people to the different functions that make up your business.

You can always start a small business from home as a sole proprietor, but if you really want to build a huge brand or a successful business, then you’ll need to bring in other people who are more proficient than you in some areas of your business. And even if you are a jack of all trades, you’ll still need to bring other hands to help you ease responsibilities.

The B-I Triangle is a perfect map that tells you who needs to be where and what should be where. You can easily know where your expenses are going and where your income is coming from. You will notice performance raises or drops with ease and know which part of your business needs improvement. These are all very important points that will ultimately decide if you’ll turn that backyard startup into a multi-million dollar business.

For a start, you’ll need to create your business MISSION to clarify and enforce the reason why you are in business. Then next, you build a dedicated TEAM that will be responsible for running the day-to-day demands of your business. Next, you define the LEADERSHIP so that every member of the team knows what category each person falls into and what is expected of them. If you can do all these, then you would have laid the first foundation needed to build a successful business. That is for the building blocks of your B-I Triangle.

Now, for the main properties of your business, you’ll have to design your PRODUCTS/SERVICES and delegate hands to make sure your products or services are up to standard and can meet customer needs/wants. Next, you’ll have a LEGAL team working on all the needed legal aspects of your business for protection under the law. Think copyrights, trademarks, patents, terms & conditions, and even disclaimers. All your legal documents must be prepared, reviewed and filed.

After the legal work is complete, next is the OPERATIONS, where you define how your day-to-day business is carried out. You need to design a system that helps to coordinate your business process, and then you delegate personnel or a team to make sure that system works every time. What is the process that enables your business to properly serve a customer? Clarify it and make sure it doesn’t break.

Once you have created your product or service, backed it up legally and defined how the business is run, you’ll then have to initiate external COMMUNICATIONS. Here you want to create a perception of your business and its products and services, and convince customers to stick with you. This may be in the form of branding, direct marketing or social media awareness. You just have to get the word out there about your business and try to get feedback on better ways to serve your customers.

The final part of the B-I triangle is the RESOURCES. You can easily call this the cashflow of your business. This is because it tells you what resources you have and how they are being used. If you want to build a multi-million dollar business, this is where you should pay close attention. This is because your business is made or marred by the use of its resources. No matter how big or small your business is, if its resources are being misused, it wouldn’t be long before the business begins to die.

For this part, you need to assign a trusted team and define the leadership that will take charge of the available resources in your business. You will need to pick the right people with the right management experience as they’ll be responsible for dictating how the resources are being used and for what.

That’s it.

Building a multi-million dollar business requires patience and your ability to work with the right people while improving yourself. If you want to build a multi-million dollar business from scratch with no money, then you’ll have to put the ideas in this post into good use. It isn’t about what you learn but what you do with what you learn that matters. 




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