Time and money are the top 2 reasons why many budding entrepreneurs end up becoming dreamers rather than doers. Yes, business takes time and costs money; but you can’t realize your dream without investing resources. Time is the irresistible force. It doesn’t matter how far technology has evolved, no one has invented a device that can control time. But money is a different matter. If you are willing to spend the time, you can start a business for less than 50,000 Pesos in the Philippines.
You don’t need millions of pesos to start a business. It’s nice to have an unlimited resource of capital to support a startup with but even then, having truckloads of cash will not guarantee success.
You can have a business that you can start for 50,000 Pesos and build on it to become a multi-million Peso success story in a few years time!
Here are 33 businesses you can start for less than 50,000 Pesos in the Philippines. As a disclaimer, some of the figures stated here were provided by the proprietors themselves.
There will always be a margin of error when it comes to estimating costs and revenues. The takeaway is that these businesses have continued to thrive throughout the last few years.
1. Sari-Sari Store Business
The iconic Filipino neighborhood convenience store remains a go-to small business idea for many budding entrepreneurs. If you ask a proprietor, he or she may share childhood memories of good times spent hanging around a favorite Sari-Sari store.
But it is a business venture that will easily fit a 50,000 Pesos budget and become viable provided management policies are strictly followed. A Sari-Sari store is a business that earns cash every day. The number reason it loses money is that proprietors give credit terms to customers.
If your home has a wide area with good street access, you would have an ideal location for a Sari-Sari store. Start out by selling popular items such as cooking ingredients, candies, snacks, soft drinks, toiletries, instant noodles and canned goods. Slowly add to your product mix by including cell phone load and school supplies.
You may also want to consider setting up a carinderia within the Sari-Sari store. This way you have another source of income. You can bring in new customers and move your inventory faster.
Related: How to Start a Sari-Sari Store with Small Capital in the Philippines
2. English Instructor
If you have an excellent command of the English language, passed TOEFL or Test of English as Foreign Language and enjoy teaching people, you can have a financially rewarding career as an English instructor.
Filipino English instructors are in demand. Outsourcing companies are paying a salary anywhere between 15,000 and 30,000 Pesos a month depending on your qualifications and level of experience.
You can also start your online English instruction business. Set up a website and promote your services heavily on social media and on online job communities.
If you have limited capital, start out with a personal website. A professional web designer may charge you 10,000 Pesos. Add the cost of a brand new desktop PC, hardware and Internet service provider and your start up cost will remain under 50,000 Pesos.
3. Personal Trainer
Have you been an athlete all your life? Do you enjoy exercise? If so, you can start a Personal Training business and share your passion for health and fitness.
Gold medals, Philippine records, and certificates of recognition will not be enough to qualify you as a Personal Trainer. You must be certified by an accredited personal training agency such as the American Council on Exercise (ACE), National Strength and Conditioning Association (NCSA) or International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA).
Certification fees will be your biggest expense. These courses typically range between $600 and $1,000 but it will be worth it as PT sessions usually cost $15 to $30 per hour.
You can set up a home gym with a pair of adjustable kettlebells, Yoga mats, medicine ball, resistance bands, Bosu ball and jump rope for less than $300 or 15,000 Pesos.
Talk to any photographer and they will tell you they could have bought a brand new car with the money spent on photography equipment. But why spend close to million pesos when starting out?
You can buy a good digital camera like the Nikon D5300 for under $500 or 25,000 Pesos. Lighting equipment can be purchased between 7,500 to 10,000 Pesos.
If you are not confident about your skills, you should take photography lessons which may cost you 7,500 to 10,000 per course. Another option is to find a friend who is a good photographer and ask him or her to train you. In return, offer to apprentice and help around for free.
5. Content Writer
Content writers are in demand because businesses are focusing on content-based strategies to create markets for their products and services. I know this from experience because it did not take long for me to develop a large clientele for content writing services.
Once we landed our first content writing project, we didn’t have to network for additional clients. The projects came in very fast; clients referred us to other companies and it snowballed from there.
Today we include blogging, article writing, copywriting, e-book writing and product reviews among our suite of services.
My only investments were the costs of incorporation, a brand new PC, and headset. As a content writer, you can make anywhere between 45,000 Pesos to 150,000 Pesos per month.
Success in content writing requires you to find the right balance between quality and quantity. Take in as many jobs as you can handle but be ready to scale up operations by hiring additional writers.
The first client my company signed up required transcription services in the legal and entertainment industries. I was fortunate enough to have hired 2 excellent transcribers to handle the projects.
Similar to content writing, the amount of income you earn in transcription will depend on the volume of work you can handle. In medical transcription, you are paid per line. In a legal and close caption, you are paid per word.
The rate will also depend on the quality of the audio and the number of speakers involved. The more inaudible, the higher should be your charge. At the start, don’t expect much work because the client will test you out. But stay consistent and the hard work will pay out.
Take advantage of cloud-based programs like Asana for project management and DropBox for file sharing. These are safe, secure and encrypted. Best of all, you can sign up for free.
7. Personal Shopper
If you enjoy shopping, have an eye for quality and value, you could do many Filipinos a world of good by offering Personal Shopper services. I have heard that these services are so far available only to high-end clientele who shop at the most expensive stores in Metro Manila.
Before becoming a Personal Shopper, talk to the merchandisers or someone from top management of the department store. Ask if you can work out a discounting scheme for clients. After all, as a Personal Shopper, you are promoting the retailer directly with clients. It saves them from spending money on marketing and promotional activities.
Set up a website and promote your services in social media. You should find yourself busy during Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and the Yuletide season. Of course, your services could be solicited for birthdays, anniversaries and special events that take place every day.
8. Personal Chef
Just like the Personal Shopper, as a Personal Chef, your target clientele are the affluent members of society. They have distinct tastes when it comes to food. Some are very strict with their diets. Others enjoy the good life and want to eat like royalty day in and day out.
So you should have a degree in the culinary arts to become a Personal Chef. I have a friend who has a Personal Chef. Eating in his house is like eating in a 5-star restaurant. Food is plated like a work of art.
He pays his Personal Chef 800 to 1,500 per meal not including ingredients! Oftentimes the ingredients are courtesy of the client who also provides transportation services. So the Personal Chef hardly incurs expenses.
According to the Personal Chef, he can only manage 4 clients a month and that he makes 200,000 Pesos “easy”.
9. Digital Marketer
Presently, more than 2 Billion people are on social media every day. How astonishing is that? For starters, the Internet attracts 3.7 Billion users every day. That means more than 50% of Internet users are on social media on a daily basis. This number is expected to rise as more people are using smartphones to connect to the Internet.
As the Internet grows in popularity so will the demand for digital marketers. More businesses are outsourcing this skill because it requires specialization, advanced training, and experience.
If you want to launch a career as a digital marketer you must be certified. There are courses offered online and in some technical schools. You should be familiar with the basics of web design and management, knowledgeable about SEO, understand the principles of content marketing and have shown success in social media marketing.
In addition to reliable PC or laptop, you should invest in a website to promote your services.
10. Web Designer
Despite the availability of free, downloadable website templates, the demand for web design services remains high. Nowadays, it is no longer enough just to have a website. It must be mobile-responsive, fast, accessible, fully functional and beautiful.
A professional web designer has the tools and expertise with an effective and efficient website. This can be a competitive field so it would be to your advantage to be certified and to have your own business website. It would also improve your value proposition if you’ve learned programming.
Remember, e-commerce is fast becoming the ideal business model for entrepreneurs. Retail giants in the US are dying while malls in the Philippines are experiencing high vacancy rates. These are telltale signs that the face of retail is changing.
11. Catering Business
Having spent 10 years in the food business, it’s not what it seems to be. Don’t let the long lines in restaurants fool you. The mortality rate is very high. And the “magic bullet” is the exorbitant rental rates charged by mall developers.
Food cost in the Philippines is already high because we are a net importer. From experience, food cost here averages 50% at best. Mall developers will charge you 34% of Gross Sales or a fixed rate, whichever is higher.
Now assuming, food cost is 50% and rent is 34%, how much will you have left to pay salaries, benefits, power, water, dues, packaging, cleaning supplies and contingencies?
Once the government pushes through with its “End to End of Contract” or ENDO scheme, these restaurants, and other retail businesses will die a slow and painful death.
A catering business becomes more viable for those who still insist on food retail because you don’t have to deal with feudalistic landlords and myopic minded government agencies. Buy ingredients and hire people when you need them.
Your 50,000 Pesos can go to pans, pots, utensils and other serving equipment.
Statistically, less than 50% of all small businesses close down within 5 years. A big reason for business failure is the lack of sound money management policies.
You do not have to be a CPA to run an accounting business. A CPA is needed for auditing purposes. Otherwise, you can offer payroll preparation, bookkeeping services, inventory management, cash management, accounts management and preparation of financial reports.
In addition to a reliable computer, you should also subscribe to the latest accounting software such as QuickBooks or DelTek. You may need to hire a data encoder for payroll preparation.
Tutors are fast becoming an in-demand skill because parents no longer have much time to oversee their children’s homework and test preparation.
Worsening traffic conditions have also eaten up study time for parents and children. I know of parents who claim that because of poor traffic, the children only have enough time to have dinner, shower, and rest before bedtime.
The best solution would be to find tutors who can spend time with the children during weekends or whenever their schedule allows. Tutors get paid 15,000 to 30,000 Pesos per month depending on the workload.
14. Perfume and Cologne Making Business
Personally, I did not think much of the perfume and cologne making business until I saw a segment on TV which showed the house of an entrepreneur who launched his own line of affordable fragrances in the early part of the new millennium.
The guy’s house had it all: several rooms, multi-level floors, an infinity pool, a fleet of cars and an elevator! Who would have thought having a business that sold affordable fragrances could turn one into a mega-millionaire?
This is a low-cost business. The ingredients you need to create fragrances are inexpensive. Perhaps you would have to stretch out your 50,000 Pesos for packaging and marketing.
Affordable perfumes attract many Filipinos because imported scents are very expensive.
15. Coffee Stand Business
You don’t need an espresso maker to brew coffee Filipinos would love. Filipinos love their coffee and will get their caffeine fix any way they can. Go to any food court and you will see groups of people milling about with a cup of 5 to 10 Peso coffees in their hands.
You can lease out a coffee maker from any distributor of instant coffee. The machine is free of charge. You just have to buy a specified volume of coffee mixes every month.
Coffee is a low food cost item. Trust me; you still have good profit margins at 5 Pesos per cup! Use the coffee to up-sell sandwiches or pies as a value meal. You can just get a consignor for the sandwiches and pies.
16. Virtual Assistance
Virtual assistants are no longer just secretaries or those tasked with carrying out personal chores. Today’s virtual assistants are more highly skilled. The increase in demand has blown open the doors of the industry to those with specialized skill sets.
All you need is a reliable desktop PC, a good headset and a dependable Internet service provider. You can buy a brand new PC for 25,000 to 27,000 Pesos and a high-end headset for 1,500 Pesos.
For virtual assistance work, 3MB will be good enough to handle voice and transfers or large sized data.
Inexperienced virtual assistants are paid between $2 and $3.50 per hour. Those with more experience and who come with strong recommendations can earn $7 to $12 per hour.
17. Aromatherapy Air Freshener Business
Air Fresheners are not just for cars alone. They can be of great value for homes, offices and other enclosed areas. When they have been formulated for aromatherapy, they can help relax the mood or ease up stress levels.
This is another business idea that will cost you much less than 50,000 Pesos. There are many suppliers of aromatic fluid and the costs are quite low. You can price your product at market levels and still make a healthy profit margin.
18. Bakeshop Business
Another popular small business idea among Filipinos is a bakeshop. You can find more than one in a neighborhood offering similar products like pan de sal, spiral, pan de coco, pan de luma, Spanish bread and brownies among others.
Personally, I prefer the products prepared by these small bakeries than the ones sold at the supermarket. The one I go to prepares them fresh every day. I normally buy Spanish bread, hamburger buns and pan de coco. According to the proprietor, she bought the oven for only 5,000 Pesos 10 years ago. But I think it would cost more than 10,000 Pesos nowadays.
She said sales average 5,000 Pesos on weekdays and 2,000 Pesos on weekends.
19. Fruit Preserves Business
Fruit preserves are easy to make; I even make them at home, and there are different fruit varieties you can try year-round. You don’t require much capital to start a fruit preserves business. Packaging would be the most expensive component.
You can sell your products online, from your home or at flea markets and trade shows. If you have contacts in other countries, you can explore the possibility of exporting fruit preserves.
20. Dimsum Business
You can go to any food court, LRT station and street food corner and chances are some of the longest lines will be at dimsum stalls. Filipinos love to eat dimsum because they are light on the stomach; can be eaten as a snack or with rice and very affordable.
Dimsum is another low food cost item. Ground pork is comparatively inexpensive. Variety would be good but it is the pork siomai that sells the fastest.
The recipe for dimsum is very simple. It may not be worthwhile experimenting just to differentiate the flavor. Instead focus on sauces. While toyomansi with chili remains the classic sauce, there’s certainly no harm trying out different sauces. After all, they have a long shelf life.
21. Car Wash Business
More cash wash businesses are coming up in various neighborhoods. Cars in the Philippines get really dirty because of poor road conditions, unpredictable weather, and air pollution. You can have your car washed today and 2 days later, you will need to have it cleaned again.
All you need are industrial grade car cleaning solutions, a vacuum cleaner, and a few hard working people. Your budget of 50,000 Pesos can easily cover your costs.
Based on interviews with car wash owners, average gross sales is 50,000 Pesos per month.
22. Barbecue Stand Business
One of my fondest memories growing up was having a barbecue with my Mother at the parking lot of De La Salle Taft in Manila during the 1970’s. Eating barbecue on the street corner is part of Filipino culture. Everyone loves the salty, sweet flavor of grilled pork kasim dipped in vinegar.
Today barbecue stalls still thrive all over the metropolis. The more expensive, commercial ones cost 40 Pesos per stick while regular street food barbecue costs 25 Pesos per stick. Either way, business remains brisk.
Pork is one of the cheaper cuts of meat and the traditional marinade is made of inexpensive ingredients. You can buy a charcoal grill for 5,000 Pesos and set up the stall outside your home or in a place that has high foot traffic.
23. Cellphone Loading and Repair Business
A cellphone loading business will always have ready clientele because the number of smartphone users in the Philippines will continue to rise. In fact, its growth rate is higher than that of the Filipino population!
You only need a cellphone to start a loading business. Sign up with a local carrier and you’re good to go. But why stop there? Bring more customers to your business by offering cellphone repair services. Sell accessories because Filipinos love dressing up their cellphones!
You can set up the business in your own home and offer house visits if your schedule allows. You may need 1 or 2 technicians to help you manage all the repairs.
24. Noodle House Business
Filipinos also love eating noodles. You’ll be hard pressed to find any Noodle shop or stall that isn’t packed with customers.
Traditional noodle recipes such as Mami are low food cost items. The key to your noodle recipe is the broth which can be made from bones of chicken, fish, pork or beef. The broth can be frozen and re-heated every day. The longer the broth stays the stronger and more flavorful its taste.
Add complementary items like Siopao, Cuapao and Siomai which are also low food cost items.
25. Clothes Alteration Business
Personally, I’m glad someone started the clothes alteration business in the Philippines. I’m not a big fan of shopping for clothes. They’re expensive and I don’t like trying 2-3 pairs before finding one that fits well.
I first came across one in the mid-2000 and it’s great the industry is thriving. I even see clothes alteration shops inside subdivisions.
You don’t need much capital for this type of business. The shop I go to only has one sewing machine and one cutter. He spends mostly on material but sometimes the customers provide it themselves.
He told me he spent less than 20,000 to put up his store and he makes around 5,000 Pesos per day.
26. Computer Repair Shop Business
I’m surprised that despite mobile devices relegating the desktop on the wayside in terms of online traffic, PC’s remain expensive. I canvassed for a brand new unit with just the basic features (i.e.: not for gaming) and the price ranged from 25,000 to 27,000 Pesos inclusive of a 21” monitor.
A computer repair shop gives PC owners the option to just have their desktop repaired or upgraded. I have a technician who comes over to give my PC a tune-up every few months and he only charges me 800 Pesos per visit. But I pay extra if he changes hardware.
He says he only spends for software and charges clients the cost of hardware with a little markup. On a busy day, he would earn 4,000 Pesos. On slow days, he would make 1,200 to 2,000 Pesos.
27. Ukay Ukay Business
Asians are known to be fashionistas and Filipinos certainly have a sense of style. But unbeknownst to many, even the rich and famous buy their clothes from an ukay ukay or used clothes store.
I first came across an ukay ukay in Baguio sometime in 2002. The place smelled “old”; almost musty, it certainly did not appeal to me.
I even joked with the saleslady, “Does the shirt come with the death certificate or obituary of its former owner?” People used to say clothes sold at an ukay ukay were stolen from the dead.
But graveyard robbery or not, the stall had a good sized crowd. Merchandise was selling for 80 to 250 Pesos.
If you have relatives living in the United States, ask them to shop at outlet stores and garage sales. Pack everything in balikbayan boxes and sell them here at flea markets or via social media.
28. Hamburger Stall Business
In one of the food franchise seminars I attended in 1995, a survey revealed that hamburgers were the most popular food item in the Philippines beating out fried chicken and spaghetti.
Hamburger is a low food cost item. You can buy local ground beef for only 300 Pesos per kilo. A 140gm hamburger with bun will cost you 46 Pesos. Sell it for 100 Pesos and you have a good profit margin! If you want to improve your profit margin, buy your beef from a supplier to get a 20% discount.
You don’t need a fancy marinade to make a good burger. The secret has always been the quality of the beef. Just season with salt and black pepper then grill over charcoal.
29. Refreshments Stand Business
It doesn’t matter what time of the year it is, the Philippines will always be hot and humid. This is one reason why cool down refreshments are always brisk sellers.
A refreshment stand can sell halo halo, mais con yelo, saba con yelo, sago’t gulaman or buko pandan. Lately, my family and I have been trying out the different versions of these popular items at various refreshment stands.
One of the best sago’t gulaman is sold near our neighborhood church. The homeowner makes crushed ice out of the syrup! I tried the saba con yelo sold near my friend’s gym after a workout and it was really, really good! The saba was served warm with condensed milk!
These are all low food cost items. You can make a good profit even if you sell them for 50 Pesos. Here’s an idea: Crushed ice with syrup and condensed milk. Make sure you can make powdery ice.
30. Stuffed Toys Business
Stuffed toys are easy to make and these are not expensive to produce either. You can buy the materials wholesale and generate 100% profit margins selling these at 150 Pesos per stuffed toy.
If you’re not confident of your cutting and design skills, there are short courses you can take. Or you could hire a cutter because one mistake could be costly!
It would be better to design your own characters to avoid copyright infringement.
31. Buy and Sell Business
As a grade school student, I used to buy comic books for 25 Pesos then sell them to my classmates for 50 Pesos. Sometimes I would rent them out for 5 Pesos for overnight reading.
A buy and sell business is the very embodiment of retail. The concept is very simple: buy low then sell high to make profit. The question is what are you going to sell?
It has to be a product or item that you are knowledgeable about because you have to expect customers to ask you questions. If you come across as an expert, the chances are better that you will close the sale.
Related: 20 Buy and Sell Opportunities in the Philippines
32. Printing Business
50,000 Pesos will not be enough to buy you a digital printer that can run high-resolution posters, streamers, and flyers. But it will be more than enough to get you a printer that can produce elegant looking brochures, letterheads, calling cards and invitations.
If you have an eye for design, a printing business specializing in small scale collaterals could be worth your time and money. It is competitive; print shops have been around for more than 20 years, so you will have to network extensively to land accounts and clients.
33. Pet Grooming/Sitting Business
Pets are adored all over the world. Some owners treat their pets as part of the family. They would spend for them like they would for their own children. Thanks to Cesar “The Dog Whisperer” Milan, businesses that deal with pets have become a thriving industry.
One of the best ideas you can start for less than 50,000 Pesos is a pet grooming and sitting business. Start out with 1-2 certified pet groomers and have a Veterinarian on speed dial. You will have to buy top quality pet grooming supplies and equipment.
Offer your services within the neighborhood to gain experience then slowly expand your area coverage to nearby subdivisions.
Grow and start your business for less than P50,000
Do you still need convincing that you can start a business for less than 50,000 Pesos in the Philippines? Many of the Philippines’ most successful and iconic entrepreneurs started out with very limited capital. But with hard work, strategic thinking, and undying self-belief, they grew their businesses into the giants they are today.
Think about that whenever you visit Henry Sy’s SM Supermalls, drink Alfredo Yao’s Zesto juice drinks or browse through books at Socorro Ramos’ National Book Store!