10 small business ideas you can start with small capital in South Africa

Published by
WIlliam Dube

There are no restrictions on who can become a successful entrepreneur. To start your own business in South Africa, you don’t need one of those earth shattering business ideas, a college degree, or a bank account with several zeros. A simple smart company idea, approach, and dedicated service can lead to significant success. Even if you have little or no capital, you may use the resources and skills you have to generate a fortune while also improving the lives of those around you.

This enterprise may take a combination of frugal thinking, planning and creativity. You could begin your own success story stretching limited funds and achieve great things.

1. Social influencers

At a time when everyone is complaining about lack of jobs and retrenchment making the headlines on every news channel, vacancies for social influencers continue to flood the market. Most people refuse to acknowledge being a social influencer as a profession, but the reality of the matter is it’s actually one of the fastest-growing careers in South Africa.

If you have watched the proudly South African Netflix series, Blood and Water then you saw how much, “Fiksie “and her crew made in just a few hours just by simply chilling at the pool of a hotel taking pictures and posting them on their social media pages. Working they called it. Yes, that was fiction, but being a social influencer is pretty much the same thing in real life (though that is not to say it’s easy ). 

Imagine making a career out of sharing your knowledge in fashion or food, sharing your rock-hard abs, idyllic holidays or make-up tips with the world? It almost sounds like a dream right. Being a social influencer is hard work and requires as much dedication, diligence passion and consistency as any other career.

This is true especially if you are considering it as a full-time job. Social media is an incredibly competitive space. Not only does an influencer have to get a big audience and develop a relationship with them through engaging them on DM’s and replying comments but this career also demands skill. For social influencers to be in a position where brands actually pay them for collaborations, they must have great content creation skills.

Whether your skills are that of photography, videography, styling or illustration. In this industry, if you snooze you lose because there is always someone else waiting and eager to take your place. Handling negotiations, monitoring trends, creating custom content, deciphering analytics and constantly reinventing themselves to stand out in an increasingly crowded market.

The job of social influencers varies from the micro-influencer with 1000+ followers; the macro with 100, 000+; and celebrities with reaching of millions of followers. According to Business Insider, South African influencers can get paid between R500 and R10, 000 per post. This depends on how much effort you put into your work and how good the quality is.

Hence, starting up as a social influencer may the business idea that launches you towards those extra zeros on your bank account. Being a new industry, its one of those business ideas with ever changing optics.

2. Cleaning Services

Here is one of those business ideas that will never go out of fashion…from the bachelor who is always too lazy to pick up a broom and tidy the house, to the working mother with a demanding job and little time to spare for household chores. All these need cleaning services to keep their house in order. While some simply opt for full-time domestic helpers, others simply prefer something more temporary.

All you would need to make this business work are a few helping hands (or even multiple, depending on the scale at which you want to operate) and some cleaning equipment.  With the workers, you only have to pay them for services rendered so the costs of labor aren’t part of the expenses you have to consider when you are raising capital.

Vacuums, mops and cleaning detergents are part of the things you need. You should also at one point consider the brands your company will use. It’s wise to use the best products on the market because while this might leave a dent on your pockets, it will definitely enhance your service delivery. Committed staff members who work to achieve a standard of excellence coupled with good products deliver a good brand.

Oftentimes you will be delivering services to different areas, therefore it is important to have a plan for a vehicle to transport your workers and the cleaning equipment to different places. Even if you choose to limit your business to a specific location, unwise as it may be, you still can’t expect your staff to walk distances of above 500 meters carrying vacuums and mops on their heads. So a vehicle is a necessity.

Don’t let this factor stress you though because you can always improvise by simply renting or borrowing a vehicle. Better still, consider getting a partner with a car which can be used for the business.

3. Meal Planning

The one thing that’s constant in this crazy, bustling world we live in, is that people need to eat.

Oftentimes, however, we find that there is little time to spend on some recipes to make traditional meals.

With the constant pressure to lose weight,  but so many confusing plans on the internet it becomes difficult to find a simple meal plan that will work for you.

Perhaps it’s time to create a solution to help assuage the burden of figuring out what to eat!

Starting up on this venture won’t require anything fancy or too expensive. Your basic home computer/laptop/mobile phone and internet service will help you to get your online menu planning business started.

You will also need a website to direct your potential clients but purchasing a domain name and paying for hosting fees will cost you approximately R2000 annually.

4. Online Dating Consultant

A business idea to advance love? It’s an innate human desire to love and be loved so it’s no surprise that there lies gold just waiting to be found.

Love is a beautiful thing but finding a partner and staying in a relationship long enough to celebrate the first anniversary is mission impossible for most people.

The good book says, “where the heart is, there your treasures will be” so it’s no surprise that people are always willing to spend on dating consultancy in the hopes of better success in their love life.

If you’re that person who always gives your friend and cousin’s relationship advice that always seems to work. Or are generally good at relationships then an online dating consultancy business may just be the right option for you, even if you have very little capital.

You don’t need a particular education or certification to qualify to be a dating consultant.

However, a dating coach certification or even a relevant degree like psychology makes you more appealing to the potential customer.

It’s much easier to trust your fate in love in the hands of an academically qualified consultant than to one with little to no credentials,

As an online dating consultant, you will be working through the use of phone consultation and email consultations which means that you would have to invest on a good laptop.

You can start a blog where people write to you for advice and you answer questions and offer general dating tips.

Set up a website with information about your pricing structure and success stories where you’ve helped people find love, even if those people are family and friends.

To earn yourself a few extra cents, the website can also offer additional resources such as books, webinars and e-books that customers can purchase to get quick dating advice.

5. Tutoring

I don’t know if schools have become more challenging in recent years but it seems more and more children are requiring the help of tutors to aid them in academics.

Especially those preparing for national exams like Matric and even grade 7. For some parents, a child doesn’t need to be in an exam writing class to need a tutor.

As evidenced by the number of children with tutors, right from the very first grade up until they graduate from high school.

This, however, is a trend more common among the rich and elite who can afford the costs of a tutor in addition to the expensive tuition fees of their children’s schools.

When starting a business as a tutor it’s wise to evaluate the market to learn which services are most in-demand and which location would be favorable for the services that you are offering.

Tutors for more complicated subjects like Mathematics, Accounting and Science subjects are most in-demand throughout the country.

While teachers for practical and extracurricular subjects like swimming and music are more in demand in high-class societies.

A start-up tutoring business requires little capital and mainly for marketing purposes and maybe a few textbooks if you don’t already have them.

Under the circumstances where your students will be coming to you for lessons then you may consider renting an office.

But if your budget is too tight then your living room will also do (in the case that it has enough open space).

Starting up a business as a tutor does not necessarily require too much capital but it certainly isn’t for everyone.

No one would entrust their child’s education to someone with no solid academic background right.

Teachers, retired teachers and university students with knowledge on subjects they want to teach are more suitable candidates for this venture.

High school graduates can also consider this route but only for the lower grades with much easier syllabuses.

This enormous task can’t be left only on the hands of the teachers who obviously don’t earn enough to walk that extra mile during normal work hours.

A business idea in education is beyond making money. It is a social good.

6. Senior Home Companion

The need for connection doesn’t change as people age.

In fact, socialising is just as essential for the elderly as it is for teenagers. Starting a senior companion business to meet this substantial demand for in-home care may potentially be a rewarding business enterprise.

The business would offer non-medical home care services which include personal care, meal planning, assistance with daily living activities, transportation and housekeeping.

These services are often vital for folks to remain safe and comfortable in their homes.

In the early stages of starting up, you should write a detailed plan of how you will start, operate, and grow your business.

Set up your business entity and check on licensing requirements. When all that’s done, you can start recruiting and training staff.

This is a very critical stage of the startup process so don’t rush it. Invest your time into interviewing prospects and checking references to find most compassionate, competent and resourceful caregivers.

The reputation of your business depends largely on the service delivery of your staff.

Marketing, as with any other business, is another salient factor so you can’t cut out on the marketing costs.

7. Web Designing

Of all the business ideas this one is a no-brainer. Hospitals, schools, nonprofits and tech giants all rely on web developers to serve their communities.

Technology plays a huge role in our daily lives, from the simplest of apps to the most groundbreaking inventions.

Every website or piece of software that we encounter has been built by a web developer.

In this endeavour, you could choose to go solo or employ a group of skilled individuals to assist you.

The first step to a career in web development is to learn the necessary languages, libraries and frameworks.

All web developers should be proficient in a certificate in HTML, CSS and JavaScript.

A college degree in computer science or certificate in a technical course would also go a really long way in making your business more appealing to potential customers as academic qualifications give an illusion of competency.

Just like in every venture with a likelihood to survive, the aspiring entrepreneur must have a solid business plan.

As one wise person once said,” If you want to go far, go with others”. The same is true for businesses as establishing a support squad is off essence in starting up a business in the tech world.

Administrative and legal issues need to be addressed whichever field you choose treading into and so as you start up, this should be among the critical issues that you sort out.

Craft your brand. Push yourself to the limit, extend yourself to the level to which your pocket allows you.

Allophonic Network Solutions Pvt. Ltd. established in 2013 and Volumetree established in 2017 are counted among the giants in the industry.

Making an average of 450rands to 1000rands per hour.

Their success stories are clear evidence that you too can make it big and you don’t need to have been in the industry for decades to finally reach your goal.

8. Resume Writing

With such high statistics of unemployment in South Africa and a likelihood of a sharp increase in the curve, job seekers need something that will make them stand out. 

A good resume has the power to open doors so every candidate hopes to have the one that stands out the most.

If you are generally good at writing and have knowledge of job markets but little capital to venture into another business then writing resumes may one those great business ideas that launch you to the next level of income.

All you’ll need is a computer and a phone to start offering services, specifics of your business and discover some unknowns.

A clear plan of the business is always the first step in starting out as an entrepreneur. 

It will help you map out the direction for your business, make decisions on how you will operate.

And whether to limit your business to online services or if your finances allow you to expand beyond that.

For face-to-face meetings, you can rent offices but to cut costs, you can consider meeting clients at a coffee shop.

To impress the client and obviously appear more professional, the costs of refreshments will fall on you.

9. Grocery Delivery Services

Online shopping is one of the trends that have become very popular in the past few years and has grown steadfastly during the COVID 19 Lockdown phase.

It’s so convenient to shop for groceries in the comfort of your own home or office without having to walk through isles of huge stores, rummage through shelves or go from shop to shop searching for a specific product. 

In a world where the time crunch is constantly crunching harder, they are more than dozens of people who will pay handsomely to have someone else shoulder the burden of grocery shopping for them.

If you are willing to take the load, have the time to drive and have a reliable vehicle then this might be your ticket way to a higher income. Among many business ideas this one has one of the least barriers to entry.

Your old bakkie or just any vehicle that’s still in good condition will do, so the costs of starting up are minimized.

In starting up a grocery delivery store you’ll need to do market research. Check out the competition, advertise and research local business-licensing laws.

They are multiple ways to run a grocery delivery business so it’s up to the owner to decide which way works best for their business.

You could either establish an account with a grocery wholesaler. The customer gives you their orders, you place them and then sell your service at a profit.

Or you could find contracts with local retailers to deliver customer orders for a fee.

The grocery store bills the customer and markets the service, and you just do the work.

Another way would be to have customers directly contact the business with their shopping list and you go to the store for them.

If you are starting up, you can limit your business to ordinary groceries as any vehicle will do to transport these.

As you grow, you could consider diversifying into cold meat or fresh produce which might require a vehicle in really good condition and coolers. 

Contact between the customers, stores and the business can be made through calls and emails but as the business grows a website can also be considered.

10. Bed and Breakfast

If you own a house with a few spare bedrooms, then a bed and breakfast may be just the perfect business for you.

A bed and breakfast establishment (B&B) is an informal, periodic accommodation operation undertaken from a private dwelling. It is one of the most trending business ideas of the 21st century for home owners.

Guest bedrooms in a B&B are limited to a maximum of 3 and an extra one guest bedroom will automatically qualify the establishment as a guesthouse instead of a B&B.

Unless you are renting the house, the most you have to splurge money on are a few upgrades and renovations around the place to make your place look beautiful, warm and inviting.

The only problem with B&B’s is the legalities involved when you are starting up.

The first step in starting up a B&B venture is submitting your plans for approval to the Town Planning Department.

Upon getting the green flag, you proceed to register the business and obtain a trading license from the Licensing Department.

When you get the approval, you also register with the regional Services Board and with Inland Revenue as a business ­ sole proprietor, close corporation (cc) or private company (Pty).

That process seems long enough already right, but that’s not bad considering you will be starting a business that you intend to grow and make professional.

When your establishment is up and running, you can expect a few official drop-ins from a number of local government departments including Health, Fire and Traffic departments.

On the business side of things, you will have to first evaluate the market because not every location favours the establishment of a B&B.

After customizing the place and giving it your signature mark, you can expect to stand out against your competition.

This doesn’t even have to cost you a lot because making a place more homely is not a matter of buying the best appliances and the most expensive lawns or painters.

Create a daily tasks list and where you can’t manage on your own, get extra staff to help you around.

List your rooms on websites and watch as customers flood in.

Encouraging customer reviews in this industry is key as ratings are the best type of advertisements and it comes at no cost to you.

Remember that Rome wasn’t built in one day. All good things take time, entrepreneurship is not a “get-rich-quick” scheme.

It takes hard work and involves risks.  Stick to the plan you’ve created and consistently work on your business to increase your chances of success.


So here are the best 10 high-profit businesses you can consider to start in 2021 with little to no capital. Examine each of the suggested business ideas listed. But all keep in mind, business ideas are like belly buttons, everyone has one. Having a business idea is only the first part. You need to execute that business idea with diligence and skill in order to make it work. 

WIlliam Dube

William Dube is a finance and economic news expert with over 10 years of experience in economic anaylsis, financial product assessment and market analysis. With a numerous certificates from prestigious universities including but not limited to Yale University and the University of Pennyslivenia. William specializes in providing insightful news developments in South Africa and commentary on investment strategies, risk management, and global economic trends. You can contact him on

Published by
WIlliam Dube

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