Starting a home-based business is a great way to generate income while keeping expenses low. If you’re really on a tight budget, you can even start a home-based business for less than $30. You’ll just need a little ingenuity and motivation to do most or all of the work yourself.

Personal Service Business

Chances are you have a skill or knowledge others are willing to pay for, and you can use it to start a service business on the cheap. Personal service businesses include personal training, home organization, yoga instruction, house sitting, pet sitting, babysitting and almost any other service that can benefit an individual or family. You can start a personal service business for the cost of a pack of business cards, readily available online for $10 or less, but check with your city or county to see if a business license is necessary in your area. Certain instructional positions may require extensive training, and you may need insurance or bonding if you will frequently be entering people’s homes.

Online Retailer

You can earn a considerable income selling items online, and you can start with items you make, items you no longer need, or no items at all. Online sales and auction sites like Etsy and eBay let you get started in online retail for a nominal listing fee, typically less than $1. If you are not crafty and do not have any unwanted items to sell, you can even get started with no inventory by creating a free account with a drop ship service. These product suppliers allow you to place an order after a customer has already paid you, and they ship the products directly to the customer with no identifying information or receipts showing your cost.

Although you can get started in online retail for less than $1, you will likely want to invest in boxes and packaging materials as your business grows. You will also need to purchase postage and shipping insurance, but these expenses are not necessary until you receive payment from a customer. When your business grows, you may also need to purchase a business license from your city or county.

Professional Consulting

If you have extensive knowledge of a subject like IT, accounting, marketing or customer service, you can sell your services as a consultant to a business. You can start a consulting business for less than $10 by purchasing business cards, but investing another $10 to $15 in a domain name and website will lend considerable credibility to your service. If you are unfamiliar with web design, you can start with a blog that is easy to configure and free to start. Depending on your industry, you may benefit from professional certifications in your area of expertise. Keep in mind that these certifications can add considerable expense to your start-up costs. As your practice grows, you may want to reflect your professional status by investing in a high-end laptop and dress clothes.