Starting a business in New Zealand is clearly popular, with well over 500,000 businesses including self employed people currently active. If you’ve only just started thinking about getting into business for yourself, you might be caught up on the potential starting costs involved - but not every business idea needs significant money to get started. For many jobs the costs can be minimal when you start out and grow as your business scales.
In this article we take a look at 10 business types that can run lean, with a low cost barrier to getting started. The greatest asset you’ve got is your brain and a good business idea!
Tutoring and training
Tutoring businesses are almost exclusively based around your knowledge on a subject and the ability to teach this to other people effectively. Tutoring is sought after at every level from primary school to secondary to tertiary. Tutors are also in demand for ESOL students including new migrants to New Zealand. Aside from some text books and curriculum, the cost for tutoring is minimal. You can run even more streamlined if you engage your students via video conferencing - eliminating the travel cost and time and putting more money in your pocket.
Beyond 1-1 tutoring, many highly successful Kiwis are making their living with professional training businesses. These can take a number of formats including group workshops, leadership training, sales and negotiation training and even digital-based modules.
These businesses’ largest costs are in the time required to develop their programmes and IP, and perhaps capable video equipment if this forms part of the offering. Beyond that, print outs, whiteboards, markers and stickies are ongoing expenses. This training is an excellent way to turn experience and knowledge into a good income - provided you’ve got a passion for communicating!
The design industry includes many freelancers who work across different clients and projects. The freelancing world allows designers to pick and choose the work they’re most suited to. While there is a cost to having a computer and digital tools for design work, the ongoing costs are relatively low. Design doesn’t require vehicles, premises or stock. If you’re a designer considering going into business for yourself, and have the tools already to start delivering work, you can essentially start in business today!
The cottage industry has had somewhat of a renaissance thanks to various factors - the internet e-commerce boom, the visual-centric social media like instagram. New Zealand’s continue spread out into smaller cities and towns in the digital age have all opened up Kiwi’s eyes to the potential of turning an artform into a business. Whether it’s candles, pottery, handmade jewellery or anything else, a craft business can start small and scale. Pottery could be an exception when it comes to wheel throwing (as this equipment requires some investment), but the costs of materials can be reasonably accessible. The concept of ‘bootstrapping’ is a wonderful approach for many of these job types in this article, and crafts is no exception. It means slower growth, but less stress around large investments from elsewhere.
A very broad category, consulting applies to hundreds of different disciplines and not just professional services. In today’s skills shortage climate, there’s real demand for highly experienced, knowledgeable experts that can enter a business and provide guidance. Aside from a computer, there are few considerable expenses for a consultant. The big investment will have already been made - in the years preceding where you’ve acquired the skills, wins, losses and learnings to be an effective guide for clients.
Some of the challenge with becoming a consultant is in how to distil your expertise into a coherent service offering that your target market can understand and knows they need. This can take some time - and some trial and error - to get right.
Social Media Management
The digital industry is ever-changing and expanding. New channels emerge, and each of these have their own best practices and new features to get a handle of. While a huge percentage of the population has some sort of social media presence, it’s a far smaller group that actually understands what it takes to make a company successful on social media. It’s also an area that’s relatively new within the context of marketing, meaning that regulation and strategies are evolving with every year that passes.
If you’re a social media expert that’s performed these skills for an employer or within an agency, but are looking to get the freedoms and control that self employment or your own company allows, then there’s certainly the demand for what you offer. Like a consultant, the main expense will be a capable computer. If you’re running social media but also creating content for your clients, you will need a capable phone with a good camera. Beyond this however, there’s no need for a dedicated premises or car. One of the ongoing costs beyond internet and mobile connection that you might want to consider is software that allows you to manage many accounts and channels at once - otherwise it can be tricky to switch between clients manually.
Home Cleaning Services
Cleaners are in high demand in both residential and commercial environments. While commercial cleaning businesses do need some set up costs that would exclude it from this list, home cleaning doesn't need to cost the earth. Cleaning products, cloths, mops, and a capable vacuum cleaner are the staples of a house cleaner’s arsenal. You’ll also need some appropriate footwear and safety accessories like gloves.
Like many of these jobs, you have the opportunity to start making money with minimal costs and then gradually build out your business with new equipment. You will need a vehicle, although there are no special demands of what car you use, as long as it can fit your equipment.
Home cleaning is a true word of mouth industry - advertising and marketing efforts can certainly help, but within your community a cleaner is one of the most common recommendation based services. Your best marketing strategy is the great job you do for customers.
Landscape and property maintenance
This is another field of work that can start simple and build up once you have enough regular paying customers. As many of us know all too well, there’s no shortage of garden tools and other fun bits and pieces at our popular home DIY stores across NZ. But compared to many jobs, the starting costs of property maintenance can be reasonably low with some careful planning.
You may start using customer mowers and tools, and basing yourself in one condensed area near your home. As you build up the business, other purchases can be made such as upgrading a mower, buying a utility vehicle and other specialist equipment like pole saws and hedge trimmers that enable you to expand your service offering.
And while digital has created many marketing opportunities for cheaper, don’t discount some of the traditional methods like letter box drops or even the humble notice in your local supermarket. Like cleaners, you’ll also find that word of mouth gets around - there’s no shortage of properties that are in need of some good TLC!
Remote PA/EA work for different companies
The events of 2020 really supercharged the digital-based job market. While virtual or remote assistant work certainly existed before the pandemic and lockdown, there’s been a remarkable paradigm shift in the way we view working habits that has helped these roles become a viable option to more businesses. Meeting via a video conference is no longer considered so impersonal, and businesses are (rightly) judging employee’s performance on their outputs and results as opposed to how often they’re sitting at their desk at work. As a virtual PA/EA, your costs are largely contained to your computer, phone and a reliable mobile and internet connection. There’s no demand to have fixed premises - you don’t even need a home office if you’re the type of professional nomad that likes to change your surroundings regularly.
Selling online is increasingly becoming a chosen career for savvy digital minds. While large online businesses do incur significant costs around inventory, supply chain, shipping and storage, there are many startup businesses that run a light operation without carrying any stock. This can be made possible with good supplier relationships or even ‘dropshipping’ where even the fulfilment is passed off to another party.
Online selling can be done in places like Trade Me, too, with the online marketplace providing second hand dealers of all kinds an excellent tool to transact safely and securely.
If you can write in different styles for different audiences, you’ve got the opportunity to start a successful business. Writing spans virtually every industry and within writing comes areas like advertising copy, technical writing, journalism, blogging, SEO and corporate work like vision statements and reports.
Your costs as a writer are simple - a computer and an internet connection. You may need to interview subjects if your work takes you into feature article writing. Also expect the coffee budget to increase if that’s your fuel!
You might be concerned about ChatGPT and other AI tools. The reality is that every industry will be changed somewhat by the AI revolution. But the market for original, unique writing is unlikely to disappear entirely - especially as businesses look to differentiate from competitors who take shortcuts and start to all sound the same!
Need help with growing your new business?
At RightWay we offer business advice, bookkeeping and payroll and of course accounting services to our clients. You don’t have to hire for these functions internally - simply chat to us about your needs and we can help build a plan that works for you. It might free up time for you to focus on growing your business and doing the work you love.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is intended for general informational purposes only and may not apply to the specific details of your business. For personalised and tailored advice, we recommend reaching out to our professional team. While we strive to provide accurate and up-to-date content on our website, RightWay assumes no responsibility for any business loss or damage that may arise from relying on the information provided.