Three ideas for a small business in South Africa

If you want to be your own boss, here are three small business ideas to start in South Africa with little or no access control and minimal start-up capital.


Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) estimated that at the end of the fourth quarter of 2021, South Africa had an unemployment rate of 35.3%.

It is estimated that more than 7.9 million South Africans are unemployed, a number that is expected to increase as the labor market becomes more competitive.

In light of this, the push for entrepreneurship is one that government and business have endorsed. But it is not easy to get more entrepreneurs because there are factors that create barriers.

This includes securing start-up capital, sitters, and potential saturation in chosen entrepreneurial activities. Below we provide small business ideas to get started.

The benefits of starting your own business

The comfort of working for someone else is that the responsibility for getting paid rests with the employer, not the employee. Additionally, depending on the specific job, there may be additional benefits included in your contract.

However, when it comes to entrepreneurs, these responsibilities fall solely on them, although that does not mean that there are no benefits to entrepreneurship.

There are, in fact, many. Some of them are that you control your own working hours. As a result, you also control how much you earn, within reason.

Additionally, through the creation of your business, you create opportunities for generational wealth as the business can grow over the years and be passed on to your children, etc.

Three ideas for a small business in South Africa

Before we share our best small business ideas to start in South Africa, we want to take a look at some hacks that can increase your chances of starting a successful small business.

First, research an opportunity, especially if the business idea benefits your community. Ensure that the business responds to a demand in the community.

Second, start small but consider the big picture. This is especially important for those who want to start a business with little or no start-up capital.

This could mean that you would have to start selling candy from your house before you could consider opening a tuck shop.

Remember that entrepreneurship is a long-term vision and that small gains are stepping stones to the big goal. Therefore, don’t be afraid to start small.

So here are our three small business ideas to start in South Africa.

1. Content Creation

One of the best small business ideas to start in South Africa is to become a content creator, otherwise known as influencer marketing.

Whether you choose to become a YouTuber or a social media content creator, in recent years we’ve seen an increase in the popularity and commercialization of influencer marketing, locally.

In this business, by creating a strong brand identity, you attract followers and businesses to work with while diversifying your business based on your content.

Think Mihlali Ndamase with Malakyt, Kay Yarms with the launch of her hair brand, Saxx Beauty, or Naledi M with the launch of the collective, The Real Housemates.

2. Food

One of the best and most consistent small business ideas is making and selling food. Everyone needs to eat, and if your food business idea can fill a gap in the type of food sold in your neighborhood, your business has a better chance of growing.

Of course, you can start small by selling affordable meals from home and then expand your business by purchasing a mobile kitchen that can travel and provide catering services in the future.

But first, it’s important to grow your customer base, ensure quality control, and solidify repeat customers who will hopefully refer new customers because of the quality food and professional service received.

3. Laundry

This is more applicable for people who live in urban and metropolitan areas. For many, laundry is a laborious task that is easier to leave to someone else or it is easier to send the laundry to a laundromat for lack of space.

As such, you can corner the market by offering laundry services. This is a good idea, especially if you offer delivery and pick-up services, for which additional costs may be charged above the standard price.

Another advantage of this business is that the dirty laundry is always there, therefore, you will always have customers. That is unless the service, customer service, or pricing needs to be adjusted to attract new (and old customers to come back).

Final Thoughts

With an already competitive labor market in South Africa due to high unemployment, entrepreneurship is arguably the best way to build your own wealth and become your own boss.

However, some businesses are easier to start than others, as factors such as access control and start-up capital can be an obstacle.

However, there are viable, low start-up cost businesses you can start in South Africa. These require patience and you put in the work, and have a long-term view of the business to make it successful

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