Small business ideas for Indian men & women
Though we obsess about corporate jobs with high salary packages, a large percentage of men and women in India get their income from small business ideas that they’ve tapped into to launch their small-scale home businesses. Some of them are gender specific, while a large number aren’t.
Have you read ‘Business Doctors: Management Consulting Gone Wild‘?
If not, pick up a copy after reading this post. It’s a story about management consultants trying to turnaround an underworld organization.
It’s a fun, spicy read that introduces management ideas without making them sound like a boring MBA class.
While the story is bizarre and fictional, you’ll realise that the basic principles of operations and management strategy can be applied to any business.
Whether it’s this fact that inspires the entrepreneur in you or any other reason, it’s a good time to explore some of those business ideas that don’t need a lot of money to start.
When you are thinking of how to start a new business, whether small scale or big, the immediate pre-requisites that pop into the mind are – capital (startup money) and space (e.g. office, shop). If you already had those, you would’ve been busy minting money now and not reading this article. So, let’s explore what you can do when you don’t have a lot of money or spare space to launch your new business.
Later in the article, we also share a few free resources that we’ve created for you to test & build the skills needed to run your own business.
For starters, here’s a list of the best low cost small business ideas for men and women in big cities and small towns of India.
10 Good low-cost small business ideas for men & women in India
Small Business Idea 1: HR services
Big companies do it. Small ones do it too. No, we aren’t talking about employee exploitation. One step before that. Recruitment.
Some have relationships with big recruitment firms. But many reach out to the employment pool in India through a network of independent headhunters. The supply side (employees looking for new jobs) is crazy. Start off on the demand side instead.
If you can establish contacts with a few small companies in your neighbourhood that don’t have a dedicated recruitment team, you’d have something that you can present to professionals in your network. The best part is that your network will only grow.
In fact, your client company will do its little bit by making life tough for the same professionals you placed, so both will come back to you with requests for new opportunities. It’s a self-sustaining process!
Idea 2: Kids related small business
Just because your clients are half your size doesn’t mean they can’t give you twice the amount of grief and pain. Ask their parents, who’d be more than happy to part with their prized possessions for a few hours in return for some peace and quiet.
Most crèches in smaller localities are started in homes. Several parents may prefer a smaller, more intimate setting to leave their kids while they are aware at work.
Apart from regular babysitting, you could provide (MBA buzzword alert!) ‘value added services’ ranging from providing nutritious food, support with their homework or teaching them new skills depending on the kids’ skills and their parent’s paying capacity (craft, dancing, painting, political analysis frameworks).
Idea 3: Senior Citizen Services
All the media publications might be talking about how the average Indian is in the mid-twenties. But the fact remains that we have a lot of senior citizens who could use a little help.
Unlike in the west, old age homes still carry a stigma in India which forces many senior citizens to live independently.
Due to security risks and the health constraints many have limited access to basic services related to general day-to-day activities such as grocery shopping, bill paying, bank tasks, buying medicines, maintaining their household appliances and equipment.
They might appreciate some support if you can reach out and offer some ideas. They have to find you trust-worthy and reliable. Then through word of mouth you could reach out to others. Apart from being a small business, you’d gain some good karma too.
Idea 4: Interior designing and decoration
Whether it’s a shared studio apartment or a lavish 5 bedroom house overlooking the sea, everyone wants their little nest to look good. Not many have the time or aesthetic eye to dress it up though. This is where you could come in.
Starting with your own home, if you can show friends and relatives that you can help them give a makeover to their homes with your interior designing and decoration skills, you’ve got a small business idea going.
Your networking skills and contacts count more in this business than professional qualifications.
Idea 5: Financial Planner
In India, while big majority spends their life earning money, very few are astute enough to have a plan to not just safeguard their wealth, but grow it as well.
At various stages of their lives, they’d have different priorities. In the earlier years, wealth accumulation and growth takes precedence.
In the sunset years, it’s more about security and protection of their wealth. The financial tools available in the market can get too confusing. Tax planning is another scary area for many professionals and businessmen.
If you have a quant-focused brain with an understanding of financial instruments, you can help them create a financial portFolio (consisting of FD, equity, insurance, tax products) that matches their personal goals.
Idea 6: Education & Training business
This is a huge market in India. But it’s fragmented. The bigger companies come with cost and resource overheads that make them too expensive for students and professionals with a tight budget.
If you are good with technical skills in the area of software, competitive exams, grooming, language or any other area that you can think of, consider becoming a trainer.
But you’d need a classroom for that, right?
Not really. You could start off by holding the class in one of your student’s house (and give her a discount as an incentive). As the numbers grow, you’d have saved enough to lease out some commericial space to conduct your classes.
Idea 7: Brokerage Business
India with all it’s size and bureaucracy has provided a fertile ground for middle-men. For all the evils associated with this breed, they’ve still played a role in market making i.e. connecting buyers to sellers.
Technology is being used in a big way to automate things and position itself as the middle-man. But not everyone is on the internet. Old-school practices are still prevalent in India.
From real estate to marriage, many would feel more comfortable talking to a human being about their requirements than select them via drop-down lists. With your knowledge about your locality, if you know who’s selling a house (a car, a computer) or looking for a spouse, you can connect both parties in return for a neat commission.
Idea 8: Health consultant / Nutritionist
What’s more important than money? I understand your sentiments if you say – more money. But I was thinking of another (philosophically correct) answer – Health!
If you’ve been cursing your doctor for charging obscene amounts for even the most trivial health problems, it’s time to give them a taste of their own medicine (the trained eye would stop here for a fleeting moment to appreciate the medical analogy).
Go one step higher in their supply chain to teach people how to take care of their health and avoid trips to hospitals and clinics.
You don’t need an MBBS / MD degree to help people. You would however need to have some training and certification (whether it’s yoga, nutrition, alternative therapies) to elevate yourself from being a practitioner to a teacher.