Guide

Good startup ideas that won’t break the bank

Find a startup business idea that’s in demand, matches your interests, and minimises your risk.

Your startup starter

Small business owners say they launch startups to be their own boss, enjoy greater flexibility, and take control of their careers. If that sounds like you, then now’s the time to build a list of good startup business ideas and filter down to the one that works for you.

Ideas, checklists, and resources

Ideas for a startup

Don’t forget to record startup expenses so you can claim them on your tax return.

Wellness services

If wellbeing is a core value of yours, try career coaching, personal training, spa treatments, fitness programs, nutrition counselling, mental health therapy, or holistic healing.

Moving services

Being a mover doesn't need a large investment – just a van, packing material, and the necessary licences. You could also offer storage for customers who need to stash their belongings temporarily.

Handyman

If you’re a skilled fixer-upper, a home repair and maintenance business is a great startup idea. You can work locally and advertise through established networks, and you’ll soon enjoy steady demand for your labours.

Gardening

Use your passion for green spaces to open a gardening startup – you could carry out maintenance, lawn treatments, landscaping, and design, and run local workshops. You could also sell gardening products online.

Home care

A home care startup offers compassionate assistance like childcare, aged care, and special-needs services.

These businesses can work locally and offer personalised support, and have fairly low operating expenses.

Clean homes, offices, windows… you name it

If you’re a whiz at scheduling and coordinating, and hold high standards, cleaning services are a profitable startup idea. It's pretty cheap to get a cleaning business up and running. And because window washing takes special equipment, you might face less competition!

Pest control

A pest control startup is perfect if you want to focus on animal care, humane removal, or extermination services.

Just make sure you get the right protective gear and pesticide licences, and understand the local laws about handling certain animals.

Virtual assistant or organiser

Business leaders who need remote assistance are either working remotely themselves or don’t need you to be physically present – which means a flexible schedule for you and an easy start from home.

Craft goods

Turn a crafting skill or hobby into a business by selling handmade goods in your area and online. These could be paintings, furniture and metalwork, homeware, clothing, cosmetics, jewellery... or just about anything else crafty.

Baking

An experienced baker or chef can work from home with the right food-handling permits. Baking startups can sell at local markets and operate by advance order to keep costs low and manage small inventories.

Food truck or stall

If you’re not a culinary specialist, but food trucks are an attractive idea for you, an ice cream or coffee truck could be a profitable choice.

A sign-written vehicle does its own advertising, and you can serve customers at local events. Simple.

Pet services

Pet owners are everywhere, and some pets need more attention than others.

Busy owners need help with grooming, pet sitting, training, and walking. Build on these services by selling pet accessories, treats, and toys.

Training or tutoring

Being a tutor or trainer is cheap, and you can get started quickly. You could offer in-person or online teaching. You might start out giving one-to-one support, then move on to one-to-many as your confidence grows. If you move online, you could provide on-demand videos that earn you money while you sleep.

Niche blogging

If you’re a good writer, blog on your favourite subject. Building a blog that earns money can take time, but you can monetise your audience with merchandise, subscriptions, affiliate marketing, and consulting.

Web services

If you’re comfortable with platforms like Wordpress and can use templates to build a website, then web services could suit you. The work is often remote, giving you flexibility, and you get to support other small businesses.

Ecommerce

Ecommerce startups are flexible, so you can work remotely and use your online store to reach large audiences. With a clear plan and budget, you can automate your sales processes and offer customers access around the clock. Learn how to start an online business.

Subscription boxes

Subscription-based businesses give your customers door-delivered convenience, and give you a predictable income. By selling to an active subscriber list, you can forecast demand and manage your inventory efficiently.

Sustainable homes consultant

Help your customers create environmentally friendly homes. By offering energy audits and learning about sustainable building materials, you can help people make their houses more green and energy efficient.

Interior designer

If you have an eye for detail and complementary features, think about offering interior design advice to homes and offices. Overheads are typically low, and you’ll have great flexibility when scheduling work.

Creative freelancer

Creative freelancers are always in demand for things like design, photography, film, marketing, and writing. You can pursue projects in line with your interests, and scale your startup once you get busy.

Upcycling

Upcycling is the repurposing of certain types of waste – like food scraps, coffee grounds, cooking oil, e-waste, and discarded clothes – into quality products.

An upcycling startup can generate income from two directions: you could charge a fee to remove waste, and sell the product you make from it.

Franchising

Startup businesses don’t have to be original. With franchising, you can adopt a business model that already works, and leverage an established brand.

Research franchising options to find a well-suited product or service, pay the parent company to open the business in your area, and away you go!

End-of-life services (funeral services)

Lots of places lack end-of-life services, so think about providing funeral operations or bereavement support in your community. You’ll need a range of skills, cultural understanding, and personal sensitivity, but it’s a rewarding way to help grieving families.

‘Easiest’ startup ideas for the risk averse

If you’re looking for a low-risk, relatively low-stress startup, think about these options:

  • Freelancing – work remotely, keep your day job while you get the ball rolling, and minimise costs.
  • Ecommerce – like freelancing, you can run an online business as a side hustle. Dropshipping can be a good option because you don’t have to carry inventory.
  • Hobby-to-business – monetising a hobby means you’ve already got the skills, and may even have a community to tap into.
  • Single-asset businesses – startups that need specialist equipment can be simpler to start up because the equipment does the marketing for you. Customers want you because you have the kit to drive in a fence post, clear a gutter, print a mug, or deep fry an ice cream.

A checklist to help you pick the best startup idea

Your startup should:

  • use your existing skills, or require skills you feel comfortable developing
  • have manageable startup costs
  • not be tied to an expensive location
  • have few legal or licensing requirements
  • allow you to automate admin like ordering, scheduling, and payments
  • be scalable if you succeed and want to grow

And don’t forget: a startup business idea that also has novelty is a bonus – think of a niche that innovates the old or supports underserved markets.

Free stuff for startups

Guides

Templates

Glossary

Learn the lingo for your new startup with a straightforward glossary of accounting terms.

Calculators

Work out profit margins and set prices with this margin calculator.

Disclaimer

Xero does not provide accounting, tax, business or legal advice. This guide has been provided for information purposes only. You should consult your own professional advisors for advice directly relating to your business or before taking action in relation to any of the content provided.

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