5 Low-Investment Business Ideas You Can Start Online

Author profile picture

@ashely-johnAshely John


Entrepreneurship definitely is one of the most misconceived terminologies of the era. It seems like a mountain of tasks to start a business. When we think of all the time, money, and risks involved, it’ just seems so inaccessible to a regular man or woman.
We don’t doubt the complexities and the groundwork critical to start a business, but it’s not that much of a task you can’t commence without spending a fortune. Especially, when we are living an era of digital commerce and online businesses, the available high-tech solutions have made eCommerce business ideas accessible to the masses. We have seen giants coming up from college dorms and garages, online entrepreneurship can’t be this tough to take on your own.
Take the current state of task, money, and time obligatory to build an eCommerce website for instance. Just a decade ago, entrepreneurs would spend a great deal of fortune to get their eCommerce stores developed, but today, we have ready-made eCommerce platforms, which build web stores in no time. This grown-up accessibility has made low-investment business ideas practical and offered easy entry points to any person with a business idea.
5 low-investment online business ideas to start on the go
Here are five low-investment eCommerce business ideas you can undertake in 2019 without thinking much about the massive investments required.

1. Dropshipping eCommerce

Dropshipping is a result of not just modern-day advancements in web technologies but also the logistic infrastructure that we see today. First came inventory-based eCommerce where entrepreneurs would invest in in-house inventories, warehouses, and supporting-infrastructure to fulfill the orders they would get on their web stores.
Then came the marketplace model of eCommerce, which allowed web store owners to ditch hassles of managing an inventory. The eCommerce website in this model would act simply as a platform to connect the sellers with their customers. The website owner would pass on the orders to the sellers and the sellers would hand over the products to your shipping partner, who would deliver the same to the customers.
However, still, the website owner would need to manage the warehouses and shipping of the products. That’s where the modern Dropshipping business model came into existence. It allowed the website owners to ditch even the warehouses and shipping hassles, as sellers now were also responsible for shipping the products directly to the customers.
Image Credit: brihaspatitech.com
As a dropshipping business owner, you just need to pass on the orders to your dropshipping supplier, and they would take care of everything from managing the stock to delivering the orders to the customers. Eventually, you are responsible for the marketing, customer service and branding of your business, while dropping all kinds of bulky investment and focusing on fetching the sales to the drop shipping suppliers.
A drop shipping business is considerably a low-investment venture that can accommodate all sorts of products, and easier to expand, as you can collaborate with both local and overseas suppliers to fulfill orders around the globe. You can earn from the commissions paid by the suppliers on each sale they get from your platform. Of course, you need to collaborate with a reliable supplier whom you can trust for the fulfillment and quality of products, too. Otherwise, it’s you and your brand name that would take a hit if anything goes wrong.
So find some profitable products you can dropship, find a supplier(s) you can trust, use a ready-made marketplace software to build your drop shipping platform, market, promote, advertise, optimize, and sell as much you can to earn as many commissions without even investing in inventories, warehouses, logistic, and shipping of the products.

2. Design and sell printed stuff

If it wasn’t for the drop shipping model, this particular low-investment business idea could have been one of the most expensive ideas. Keeping in-house printers, raw materials, labor, and then managing the stocks and shipping would have been a heck of a complicated mission for a regular entrepreneur with a limited budget.
Thanks to the drop shipping model and never-ending demands for printed clothes, accessories, stationery, and other printed supplies, you can sell all kinds of printed stuff without any hassle today. You can sell three types of printed supplies in this segment:
  • Generic-Branded: You can sell from the already available inventories of your suppliers. Get in terms with suppliers/manufacturers/wholesalers with ready-made supplies of the products.
  • Exclusive-Branded: You can create your exclusive designs and ask the suppliers to fulfill them. Get in terms with suppliers/manufacturers/wholesalers ready to produce on your exclusive designs.
  • Print-on-demand: Let your customers submit their desired designs, which you would pass on to the suppliers/manufacturers/wholesalers to fulfill accordingly on-demand.
To get the most out of this business idea, you can adopt a hybrid of all three methods. There is a huge demand for printed products in both the individual customers and the bulk orders segment. What and where should you print?
T-shirts, phone covers, laptop skins, tote bags, t-shirts, pants, shoes, sandals, wallets, water bottles, coffee mugs, photo frames, holiday cards, and a lot more. You can think of trending memes, slogans, hashtags, anything that resonates with the current trend will make a good fit to print.
However, you would also get the bulk orders from brands to print their brand identities on office supplies, stationary, clothes, business cards, and much more; there is no shortage of stuff and ideas to print.
While there is a lot you can sell, selecting a niche and focusing on making a name in the same would be a good idea. There are so many businesses already in the market supplying almost everything. The only way to stand out would be serving a niche and focusing on product quality, marketing, customer support, and conversion optimization in the same.
The market is full of some great drop shipping suppliers for printed stuff. They also offer easy APIs integration with popular eCommerce platforms to synchronize the orders and inventory.
To name a few, you can check out the suppliers such as Printify, Zazzle, Gooten, TeeSpring, Printful, Society6, Spreadshirt, Merch Amazon, Fine Art America, Design by Humans, RedBubble, Merchify, CG Pro Prints, and Heat Press Fun.

3. Create and sell online courses

The easiest things to sell online are digital products. They don’t demand inventory management and administration of shipping hassles. You just need a good digital product, responsive customer support, great marketing, and competitive pricing to kick-start a digital products business on the go.
While there are many products you can sell and fulfill digitally (software, magazine, songs, videos, e-books), selling eLearning courses makes a great fit in today’s scenario. Online courses today are not just coming out in complement to regular courses but have also acquired their own fair share in almost every segment. Be a vocational course, degree course, simple tutorials, or K-12 academic help for school students, online courses are trending in the market.
Now, you must be wondering who would create these courses? Maybe, you can create one or two courses with your skills, but you can’t just become a master of all fields overnight and create courses for everyone. That’s a good point, but the marketplace model of eCommerce has a solution to this, too.
You can simply start an eLearning marketplace (just like Udemy) and let different subject experts create and upload their courses. You would be making money from the commissions you would get from every sale these subject experts make on your platform.
So how to build an eLearning marketplace? You can start with free eCommerce platforms like Magento, PrestaShop, WooCommerce, and OpenCart; all of them support selling digital products. If your courses are PDF, TXT, Videos, Images, etc., it’s not tough to sell and regulate their download on these platforms.
However, we would suggest using a decent Udemy clone script, if you can spare some budget for website development. Selling digital products and selling eLearning courses are two different undertakings. Websites for online courses require special features for course authoring, instructional designing, learner management, and tutors management. Traditional eCommerce platforms and create an online stores to sell physical products, but they lack special features for eLearning management. A good Udemy clone script will have everything sorted out and inbuilt.
So what do you want to teach? Have you decided on your niche yet? Perhaps, a K-12 academic help site or a site just for Astro-physics will make a good fit. Explore your prospects now.

4. On-demand service marketplace

Selling a service instead of a product is yet another way to start a low-investment business. Here, the only investment is time, as you will have some limited period to deliver your services to the customers. A service could be anything thing you or your associates can provide to your customers on-demand. To name a few, you can experiment with ideas such as content writing, website development, house help, cleaning, cooking, and dog walking.
You can follow the service marketplace model and add as many service providers and services to your catalog. The same commission-per-transaction model will let you make some great money by just facilitating the communication and transactions on the platform.
Depending on how good are your connections you can include both scheduled and on-demand services in your eCommerce business ideas. You can let people schedule plumbing work after a week, request a beauty salon at home, or even book a wedding planner. The range of services will depend on your groundwork and business model.
Take some cues from the likes of TaskRabbit, Thumbtack, Upwork, and Freelancer, and start a service marketplace similar to these. It’s best to start within a niche and market yourself as an expert in supplying the niche services. For example, Upwork and Freelancers are popular for freelancing services, while Thumbtack and TaskRabbit have acquired a great name in on-demand and scheduled utility services such as plumber on-demand, baby-sitter on-demand, wedding planning, etc.
You can establish yourself in any such niche. For instance, photography services, videography services, electricians, AC repairing, and moving & packing services, etc. There are various TaskRabbit and Thumbtack clone scripts available in the market to build a service marketplace platform. You should test them out.

5. Build a followers’ base and monetize

Online business is not just about eCommerce and selling stuff directly to the target customers. There is a lot you can do with the internet to make money. In a world so connected by the internet and social media, the ability to influence an audience-base with your opinions can also open up multiple revenue channels to make money. Influencer marketing is something that big and small businesses don’t mind spending on. If you can somehow secure a big followers base on social media, brands will come to you for promotion.
You can start with YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and propel all the way to your own fan site. Even your blogs will pay off decently when you have people following you on social media. You can do:
  • Sponsored blog posts
  • Sponsored videos
  • Sponsored live streams
  • Affiliate marketing for brands
Eventually, the audience will don’t mind sponsoring you on Patreon, YouTube Channel Premium Subscription, Twitch Premium, and even on your Fan-site.
This could be indeed a low-investment business idea, but it’s not simple. It takes a lot of effort to create engaging content and attract viewership and then follower ship. Having done that, it takes an even longer duration to establish an influence; an influence so much that the audience will not mind paying for browsing your content or supporting you financially.
However, if done correctly, this model will not only allow you to earn from your followers but will also let you secure some even bigger earnings from brands and businesses willing to work with you in their influence marketing-mix. Moreover, the same influence will also establish you as a brand, allowing you to launch your products and merchandise and making some direct money selling stuff to the fans.
So, find out what you are good at, what kind of content you can create, how will you engage your audience, and so on. You don’t have to be a big celebrity to become an influence. You can pick a niche such as cooking, travel blogging, technology education, performing arts, and many more.
Everything needs perfection
The ideas and tips explained here are merely small sections of what you can do with them. These are some eCommerce business ideas to start in the least investment, and it doesn’t mean continuing on the same scale forever would be a good idea. Trends come and go, and you have to adapt to them to survive. Moreover, the more you innovate on the existing prospects, the more is the chance to stand out from many others who are willing to experiment with these ideas, the same as you.


The Noonification banner

Subscribe to get your daily round-up of top tech stories!