Starting A Side Hustle In 2021? These 6 Business Ideas Need Little To $0 Capital

Denise Bay

Denise Bay

Last updated 23 December, 2020

It isn’t uncommon for one to start a side hustle in their free time in the current climate we live in. Being your own boss doesn’t have to be an expensive affair —  there are side businesses that don’t need your entire life’s savings.

With companies implementing pay cuts and compulsory no-pay leave as cost-saving measures, it is difficult to not ponder about starting a side hustle to rake in more money even if we are lucky enough to retain our day job. This is especially true if you have a family to feed, are looking to build up your emergency funds, start investing or save for retirement. 

Having access to extra income is always a great idea if you have the drive and time to get down to business with the side hustle of your choice. Below are some business ideas for your consideration. They require little to no capital to boot; all you need is commitment, time and some good ol’ passion!

#1 Provide in-demand business services

In-demand skills are increasingly sought after as companies scramble to digitise or improve the user experience for their customers. If you are stellar at what you do, definitely consider providing your service(s) for a fee if you are keen on starting a side hustle. 

In-demand business services you could consider offering: 

  • copywriting
  • content writing
  • web or app development
  • social media or digital marketing
  • podcasting
  • video editing
  • graphic designing or illustrating
  • testing games
  • transcribing interviews, dramas or films

While you definitely have to carve out time in order to hustle and rake in the extra dollars, take heart that you’ll never be short of clients if you look hard enough or spread your net farther. Plus, you can work in the comfort of your own home — perfectly aligned with social distancing measures!

To spread the word on what you have to offer, try linking your portfolio on your LinkedIn account or blogging. Your only overheads are likely just the website hosting fees and social media buys that help generate awareness and engage customers. 

Estimated initial cost: Cost of your laptop or computer 

Estimated overheads: $10 - $80 a year for a web domain, upwards of $3.53 per month to host a website, $2 - $15 cost per click for Google AdWords campaign, $50 for 3 or 4-day Facebook Like campaigns, $10 - $30 per boosted Facebook post

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#2 Offer dog walking services

Are you a dog-loving soul who enjoys spending time with adorable furries? If your answer is a big resounding yes, consider offering dog walking services in your free time. Not only do you get to surround yourself with cute doggies, but also you can earn some extra money, breathe in fresh air and work those muscles of yours. A win-win for sure. 

Estimated initial costs: $0

Estimated overhead cost: $0

#3 Give swimming lessons

Being adept at swimming is a life skill not to be disregarded. Put your proficient swimming skills to good use and become a swimming instructor. While you don’t need to be a Joseph Schooling to give swimming lessons, it is a wise idea to complete a swimming instructor course before you dive into this side gig. 

It is crucial that you have the know-how in saving a drowning person before you even attempt to teach. Check out Singapore Swimming Academy, Sport Singapore, Swimming Teachers’ Association (STA) and AUSTSWIM for courses that let you become a certified swimming instructor. 

Estimated initial costs: Up to $1,500 (including first aid with AED certification, lifesaving course, swim coach certification etc)  

Estimated overheads: Your commuting expenses

#4 Explore tutoring

Have a knack for imparting precious knowledge to students? Start giving tuition lessons if your passion lies in educating and inspiring kids.

Depending on your ability and qualifications, you may find yourself tutoring young children, teenagers or even those in university seeking extra help. While tutoring can be lucrative, keep in mind that ex-MOE teachers usually can get away with a bigger ask when it comes to rates!  

Estimated initial cost: $0

Estimated overheads: Your commuting expenses (unless you’re Zoom tutoring!)

#5 Sell handcrafted artisanal bits and bobs

Home-based businesses have certainly taken off rapidly in Singapore ever since Phase 2 started. It’s not a bad idea at all to turn your hobbies into real cash by starting your own home-based business. Nobody says you can’t start small, so take a leap of faith and make use of Instagram or Facebook to spread the word about your business at no extra cost! 

From handcrafted sewn goods like face masks, tote bags, pouches, drawstring bags to handcrafted accessories like clay earrings and resin earrings, the sky’s the limit. Prefer baking instead? Set up your own home bakery! 

Assuming your home-based business is a home bakery…

Estimated initial cost: Let us operate under a further assumption that baking equipment such as stand mixer and oven are appliances that you already own in your household

Estimated overheads: Baking ingredients like flour, eggs, sugar, butter, chocolates, cheese

#6 Try freelance photography gigs

Have a good eye for detail, love the interplay of shadows and light and possess a flair for photo taking and editing? Consider exploring freelance photography in your free time if you already live and breathe photography. From food and product photography to events, lifestyle and wedding photography, you sure have options. 

Becoming a freelance photographer could be a viable option if you already have the necessary skills and equipment on hand. Social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook are fantastic for letting you showcase your work and build up your online presence, all at no extra cost!

Estimated initial cost: An entry-level DSLR costs anywhere from $730 to $1,500 (Tip: Use a rewards credit card to earn cashback, miles or rewards points if you need to purchase your camera)

Estimated overheads: $10 - $80 a year for a web domain, upwards of $3.53 per month to host a website, $2 - $15 cost per click for Google AdWords campaign, $50 for 3 or 4-day Facebook Like campaigns, $10 - $30 per boosted Facebook post

Ready to hustle?

Taking a leap of faith is your first step to starting a side hustle. Regardless of what others have to say, there’s no wrong or right way to hustle. You do you! Pick something fun or monetise your hobbies if those speak to you more. Offer in-demand business services if you’re tapping on those coveted hard skills of yours. The choice is entirely yours to make, and the sky’s the limit, really. 

If you need to upgrade your equipment or if you are scaling up your side business after some time, know that personal loans are available should you find yourself in need of funds to grow your side hustle into something bigger, more exciting and more profitable.

Read these next:
Freelance Jobs In Singapore: How Much Can You Earn?
Considering a Career Switch? Here Are 4 In-Demand Jobs In The COVID-19 ‘New Norm’
10 Prudent Things You Can Do With Your Travel Fund If COVID-19 Has Derailed Your Trip
4 High-Risk Jobs That Require Greater Insurance Protection
6 SkillsFuture Courses Worth Spending Your $1,000 Credits On

While Denise has a thing for travel, K-dramas, 0% sugar bbt (with boba!), Japanese cuisine and flat white, her curious nature means all sorts of random tabs are open on her phone 24/7. She doesn’t like to pay full price for anything, too.


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