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15 Summer Businesses You Can Start with Less Than $500

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Can’t find a summer job? Instead of sending out resumes, pounding the pavement, and filling out endless job applications, create your own opportunity by starting a summer business without spending a lot of money. You can be your own boss, make the most of the great weather, and maybe even have a new career when the season is done. Here are 15 low-investment summer businesses to start for less than $500.

1. Dog walking

If you’re an animal lover, dog walking may be the summer business for you. Invest in a couple of months worth of pet business insurance, dog treats, poop bags, and good walking shoes. Advertise locally: post flyers at area veterinarians, pet stores, dog groomers, and online classifieds.

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2. Mobile car detailing

Busy families can’t wait to get away for the weekend but may not have time to clean the car. Invest in a small vacuum, cleaning supplies, paper towels, a bottle of window cleaner, leather cleaner, and small garbage bags, and you’re ready to launch your mobile car-detailing summer business.

3. Lawn mowing

Yes, you have to invest in a lawn mower to launch this summer business, but if you can put your hands on a good secondhand mower and weed trimmer for under $500 total, you’re all set.

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4. Exterior house cleaning and window washing

Get a few brooms, a power washer, a ladder, and exterior window-washing supplies (cleaning fluid, squeegie, bucket, cloths) and launch your cleaning business. Connect with local realtors and lawn care companies for referrals, and advertise at local grocery stores and hardware stores. Learn how to start a cleaning business.

5. Garage cleaning/organizing

Nobody wants to clean their garage in the winter, and many don’t want to clean it in the summer either. Why not offer to do it for them? Cleaning supplies, marketing materials, and a knack for organizing and labeling are all you need to get this business off the ground.

6. Junk removal

If you already have a beat-up, old pickup truck or cargo van, all you need to start a summer junk-removal business are some muscles and a willingness to haul junk out of people’s homes and offices.

7. RV cleaning services

If you live in an area with many RV owners, why not open an RV cleaning business? Offer spring-cleaning services to open the season and a winter-prep service to get trailers ready for winter. Cleaning supplies and advertising are your two main expenses.

8. Guided tours

Whether you’re returning home for the summer or heading to a favorite town or city, offering guided tours is a great way to share your love and knowledge of an area while making money this summer. This is best for multilingual/history/geography buffs in an area with a large summer tourist crowd.

9. Tutoring

Take what you’ve learned at school and offer summer tutoring services — your only startup cost is marketing. Touch base with local high schools, churches, recreation centers, and local kids’ sports organizations to get your name out.

10. Mobile sports instructor

Are you great at a particular sport or outdoor activity? Teach kids to swim in their own backyard pool or play tennis on their own court. Your only expenses should be your own sports equipment, advertising, and transportation, so you could be in business for well under $500.

11. Summer childcare

Another summer business to start with less than $500 is being a nanny or an au pair. Look after one family’s school-aged children in their own home when they’re out of school for the summer.

12. House sitting/pet sitting

Living in someone’s house and/or watching their pets while they’re away for the summer doesn’t require a lot of effort or energy, but getting clients can. Word-of-mouth referrals through people who trust you works best when starting a summer house-sitting or pet-sitting business.

13. Vacation-house minder

Launch a business minding vacation homes in busy beach areas while the property owners aren’t around. Collect newspapers, mow the lawn, and water the gardens while homeowners are away during the week.

14. Mobile beach supply

If you live near a beach, launch a mobile beach-supply business. Load up a cooler on wheels with bottled water for sale. Or sell hats, sunglasses, or sunblock — anything families may have forgotten to bring with them.

15. Festival face painter

Summertime is festival, barbecue, and outdoor party time. Capitalize on the fun season and make the most of your creativity by starting a face-painting business. Invest in a handheld mirror and a palette of theatre makeup, advertise at local party supply stores, and you’re in business.