Businesses you can start for under £1000

June 6, 2023

Millions of people all over the UK dream of being their own boss and starting their own business. And while it’s unlikely that an entrepreneur will become the next Elon Musk or Jeff Bezos, it’s still immensely rewarding to start a business from scratch and develop it into a viable, profitable success.

The only problem that stands in many people’s way is the need to ‘speculate to accumulate’: that is to say that it can take a lot of initial investment to get a business idea off the ground. This can be off-putting if it involves getting into large amounts of debt in the early stages, or simply impractical for those who don’t have access to that kind of startup capital.

However, that doesn’t mean that it’s impossible! There are countless small business ideas out there that require minimal initial outlay – and in some cases, nothing at all – making them viable for anyone who wants to strike out on their own. In this guide, we’ve picked out 14 of our favourite small business ideas that can be set up for less than £1000.

Get small business insurance with Protectivity

Even if your small business idea needs very little startup capital – or none at all – you’ll still need to take action to protect your revenue and assets as you grow. That’s because you never know what might happen, and even a minor issue that is beyond your control can easily escalate into a substantial claim for compensation.

At Protectivity, we’re dedicated to making sure that aspiring entrepreneurs like you don’t end up out of pocket when unfortunate or unforeseen circumstances arise. That’s why we provide a wide range of affordable small business insurance policies for a variety of different specialisms, such as hairdressing and pet businesses insurance, with additional policies such as event insurance and counsellors insurance. 

To find out more on our policies and how we can protect your business, get in touch with our team today.

Online retail

The ability to buy and sell goods from anywhere in the world has fundamentally changed the retail world forever, and opened up new opportunities for small business operators to grab their own slice of the action. You don’t need a huge amount of capital to get things up and running: just the right platform for selling your goods, and an initial amount of stock to get you started. By taking small steps, you can gradually grow your business without taking on too much debt.

Reselling and upcycling

These are two trends which have gained real popularity as hobbies in recent years, but have now grown to the extent that many people are now pursuing them as full-time jobs. Whether you find bargains in charity shops, in auctions, at car boot sales or from other sources online, selling on goods for profit can help generate a good income if you know what you’re looking for. It’s a relatively simple business to set up and manage, too.

Creative services

If you have a creative mind, then there are many different options that you can explore on a freelance basis. If you’re a good wordsmith, for example, then you can work as a copywriter, while those of a more artistic bent may want to consider becoming graphic designers and web designers. These are jobs that are perfectly practical to do from home – all you’ll need is a good computer, internet connection and any relevant software.

Pet grooming

When it comes to hiring, there are two ways in which people make mistakes when starting a business. The first is taking on too many full-time staff members too soon. The second is not bringing in any help at all.

When your business is still finding its legs it’s important to strike a balance between areas where it’s more important to save time, and where it’s more important to save money. Bringing in staff, be they full-time or part-time, can help to spread the workload, saving you time and energy, but it runs the risk of being a drain on your funds – at least at first.


When pet owners go away on holiday or for work reasons, they want to make sure that their dogs, cats and other animals will be cared for. Putting them in kennels and catteries can be expensive, so hiring a home-based pet-sitter is often a cheaper and more personalised alternative for them. You can provide a dedicated service that caters for an animal’s specifics, and you have full choice of which pets you’re willing to accommodate and which ones you aren’t.


There are always people who want to expand their education and knowledge, whether training for a particular qualification, studying for an exam or even just learning to play a musical instrument. In any of these cases – and a whole lot more – you can offer one-to-one tuition from the comfort of your own home. Along with your expertise, you’ll need some relevant qualifications, plus a DBS check if you’re planning to tutor children.

Cooking and baking

If food is your passion, then why not take that passion to a wider audience? All over the country are bakers, caterers and street food vendors that started their business on the strength of their own recipes and ingenuity. If you’re able to travel to events to sell your creations, then your expenses are pretty much limited to your transportation costs – as just about all the other equipment you’ll need is already in your kitchen!


You have two equally exciting options to pursue if you have talent and experience in cutting and styling hair. The first is to provide hairdressing services from a designated space in your own home; alternatively, you could set yourself up as a mobile hairdresser and provide sessions in customers’ homes instead. Either way, you’ll enjoy full flexibility in when you work, and can enjoy all the rewards of your efforts.

Beauty treatments

Similar to the hairdressing services mentioned above, the same principle applies to all sorts of beauty treatments, as long as they don’t require lots of space or specialist equipment. For example, there’s nothing to stop you offering manicures and nail-painting services from your own home, or the homes of customers, rather than having to invest in expensive high-street retail space.

Laundry and ironing

If you’re going to do housework, then you might as well get paid for it! There is a substantial marketplace for laundry and ironing services, from people who need a freshly ironed shirt for work to those who need their clothes washed, but don’t have the time or the appliances in their own home. If you already have a washing machine, iron and ironing board, then you’re good to go – although you may want to consider transport costs so you can offer collection and delivery, too.

Dog walking

Britain is a nation of dog-lovers, and there are lots of dog owners out there that don’t have the time to give their pet the exercise it needs… which is where you can come in as a professional dog walker! While dog walking fees are relatively small – between £10 and £15 per hour is commonplace, depending on the area – you can multiply this by walking several dogs at the same time. This makes it a lucrative job you can do in your local area.

Life coaching and therapy

Any services that involve simply talking to someone, or conducting a physical treatment, can be done from home (as long as you have the suitable qualifications and experience). Putting in place all the equipment to offer massages and physiotherapy may require more of a substantial investment. But areas such as mental wellbeing help and life coaching can be more viable – and can help you make a genuine positive difference to people’s lives.


Some people are much better than others at DIY and other repairs, and those who don’t are often willing to pay to get somebody in to do a job properly on their behalf. If you have a bit of common sense, you’re good with your hands and you’ve got a basic set of tools, then you can start a business doing odd jobs and other minor bits of work. You’ll need to be able to travel, but it will be mostly light labour – and you’ll probably get offered plenty of tea!

Event organiser

While there are countless jobs that can be done from home with a computer, one that you may not have considered is organising events professionally. From weddings and funerals to village fetes and sports competitions, many large-scale events need a coordinator who can pull everything together and make sure that everything runs smoothly on the day. As a freelancer, you have total freedom to pursue the types of events that interest you the most.