Cheap small business ideas to start up

October 5, 2023

Ever considered some side hustle ideas, so you can break out of the nine-to-five? Now could be the best time to do it!

Every year, thousands of people just like you all over the country decide to set up their own small businesses and follow their dreams. Not only do they get to be their own boss, they get to enjoy the results of their hard work and turn their bold visions into viable business reality. But which idea is best for you?

This blog highlights more than a dozen side hustle ideas, that you can start up as small businesses for very little initial investment, or in some cases nothing at all. It includes side hustle ideas from home, chances to get creative, and opportunities to earn money for doing what you love most.

Pet grooming

If you’re an animal lover and you’ve got an eye for style, then becoming a professional pet groomer could be the job for you. Owners are spending more money than ever on their pets in order to keep them looking great, and to ensure that they’re as healthy as they possibly can be. This means that top-quality pet groomers, who have all the right skills, qualifications, tools and techniques, are in high demand – and can attract premium price tags once they’ve gained experience.

Mobile hairdressing

Men and women alike love to shell out on a great new hairstyle, but many people struggle to find the time to head to the salon. So why not take your styling skills to your customers? Mobile hairdressers are always in demand, especially during the evenings and at weekends when busy professionals are home from work. You’ll need your own transport as well as your own equipment, but you’ll be able to build a regular and loyal client base that can generate consistent income.


Britain’s high streets are teeming with nail salons these days, as they’re a great way to pursue a career in health and beauty without too much of a need to invest in equipment. While the number of nail bars already in business means the market is fairly saturated, but setting yourself up as a mobile nail technician can help you stand out from the crowd. Building a portfolio of your work that you can share online, and getting some formal qualifications, is an excellent place to start.

Personal training

For every gym bunny that works out every day, there’s another person who just can’t summon the self-motivation to exercise and push themselves on. This is just one of the reasons why personal trainers are so popular today. Whether you’re providing sessions in your local gym, outside in the park, or even in a client’s own home, you can make a real difference to their progress, whether they’re training to run a marathon or just want to lose a bit of weight. And you also have the freedom to specialise in certain techniques or types of exercise.

Massage therapy

Similar to personal training, massages can have a real positive impact on a person’s health and wellbeing, and the benefits can be mental as well as physical. Trained masseurs and masseuses can explore a range of different specialisms, from sports massages that encourage recovery to soothing treatments to promote rest and relaxation. You can operate from your own home or those of your clients, but getting qualifications will be key to attracting more – and more lucrative – clients.

Event management

Some of the side hustle ideas with the lowest start-up costs are those you can do from home with a computer. One that can be especially rewarding for small business people and freelancers is event management. There are countless organisations out there who need professional help in ensuring their events go smoothly, and plenty of couples who could do with handing their wedding planning to a third party. If you’re highly organised, can work well under pressure and don’t mind unsociable hours, then this could well be the job for you.

Woman on a call with dog

Pet-sitting, house-sitting and babysitting

When people go on holiday, are going out for the evening, or have to travel on business, they want the peace of mind that their loved ones and their belongings are protected. That’s why the market for looking after children or pets, or simply keeping houses occupied, is always a healthy one. The most important investment you can make in this area is to make sure you’ve undergone security checks, such as DBS if you’re intending to look after children.

Virtual assistant

As remote working has increased on the back of the pandemic, so many of the services that are related to work can also now be done remotely. An excellent example of this is a virtual assistant, who will fulfil many of the organisation and administration roles of a PA. Some businesses may only require this work part-time, opening up the possibility of working for multiple clients simultaneously. The key here is to make sure you’re as accessible and contactable as possible, across phone, email, and video collaboration tools.

Laundry services

If you’ve got a washing machine, a tumble dryer, an iron and an ironing board, then you’ve got everything you need to set yourself up offering laundry services. There are several reasons why laundry services get so much business, from busy executives who don’t have time to keep their office attire clean and pressed, to people in small accommodation who don’t have their own laundry facilities. It’s a job you can do entirely from home, although offering collection and delivery can help you stand out even further in the marketplace.


Everything needs cleaning and tidying at some point, but plenty of things can get in the way: a lack of time, not being very good at it, or just general laziness. This means that there’s always demand for professional cleaners, both in residential and business settings. Beyond your own transport, there isn’t too much in the way of equipment or qualifications required, and as a freelancer, you may have some flexibility around where and when you work. A good level of physical fitness is very important, though.

Handicrafts and artisan food

If you’re a creative person, there’s probably never been a better time to explore side hustle ideas that bring your passions to life. It could be arts and crafts, or food and drink, but there are two reasons why you’ve got more opportunities than ever before to sell your wares. One is the internet, where platforms like Etsy or even eBay can connect you to a global customer base. And the other is the growth of craft fairs and other similar events, where creators like you can showcase and sell your products to the public directly.


Tutoring is an excellent side hustle idea from home, and as long as you have the right experience and knowledge (and pass any security checks required), you’re more or less good to go. Tutoring can be in core subjects like English, maths and science for students who need extra help, or can be in learning more artistic skills like playing musical instruments. You may also want to specialise in coaching people to pass certain exams, such as the 11-plus, GCSEs, A-Levels or even university entrance assessments.

Social media and content creation

From individual influencers to global businesses, everyone has to work hard on their online presence, across their website and all their social media channels. If they don’t have the in-house expertise to develop the right content and strategies, then this is where you can help. You can create blogs and social media posts that help businesses generate more interest and sales, and you can also act as a consultant who assesses existing online footprints and recommends ways to make improvements.

Get small business insurance with Protectivity

The cheap side hustle ideas listed here are just a small fraction of the opportunities you can explore. But whatever option you decide to go for, one thing remains the same: make sure you have the most appropriate cover for your needs to ensure you’re protected from unexpected incidents.

Protectivity offers affordable small business insurance for budding entrepreneurs just like you, specialising in a wide range of different activities. Whether you’re looking for catering insurance, crafters insurance, pet business insurance or another another small business, explore the full list of small business insurance we provide today, or get in touch with our team to discuss your specific requirements.

This blog has been created as general information and should not be taken as advice. Make sure you have the correct level of insurance for your requirements and always review policy documentation.