Small businesses are ruling — especially now. And Chennai is one of the best places to start a business of your own, as it’s one of the safest cities in India. The people are educated, there’s a vast IT crowd, and starting a business right out of your home without much investment is feasible. As one of the centers for various fields such as technology, architecture, art and much more, there is no dearth of small business ideas in Chennai.
From the mami delivering linch to the IT crowd to the maavu selling household goods within apartment complexes, everyone is busy with a side hustle these days.
And even if it were not a survival tactic, Chennai is full of enterprising young and old business people who put their creative minds to earning money.
A home-based small-scale business does not require much startup capital investment, except for the raw materials needed. Already there are many men and women with micro businesses who provide the whole world with:
- Customized and curated chocolates
- Eco-friendly toys
- Cloth diapers
- Custom-tailored clothes
So, if you are mulling over starting a business of your own, here are 16 small business ideas that will do great in Chennai.
Editor’s note: Make your new venture look legit with a logo you create yourself with this free tool.
1. IT services
What is it: Apart from the usual tech-driven backend management, there are numerous small business ideas that can help you get you started if you have the related expertise. Some of the in-demand IT-related services worth exploring are:
- A tech-savvy mutual funds management agent
- Security advisor
- Website development and management
- Social media management
- Risk mitigation advisor
Why this: With most modern businesses shifting towards online channels, there is high demand for web-designing and internet-related work.
How to: You can start this with just a good internet connection and a computer. However, if you want to do it professionally, think of a smart name for your company and buy a domain. Then work on a marketing plan to popularise your domain name and catch the attention of prospective clients.
Investment: INR 20,000-30,000.
What is it: Caring for young children while their parents or legal guardians may not be available. It involves looking after and being a trustworthy role model for children.
Why this: Fast-paced metropolitan cities such as Chennai mean that there will always be a need for trustworthy babysitters. Babysitting usually pays by the hour and typically pays quite well. Babysitting is the perfect small business idea for you if you love spending time with children and want to be able to work from the comfort of your own home. The skills you may learn while babysitting are also extremely valuable for managing everyday life.
How to: Develop necessary skills such as patience, communication, first aid, responsibility, interpersonal skills and childcare management techniques.
Investment: Requires no investment! All you need is the willingness to invest time into developing your interpersonal skills.
3. Interior design
What is it: Decorating and designing homes and office spaces to fit the needs of the consumer.
Why this: As one of the most prominent cities in India, Chennai experiences a large influx of new visitors each year. Therefore, interior design is a flexible, creative and artistic small business idea that can allow you to unleash your inner artist. It’s the perfect option for those who want to begin working from home right away with little to no technical infrastructure.
How to: Online interior design courses can be extremely useful for helping you get your foot in the door. Develop your own aesthetic sense to be able to recommend and procure furniture, paintings and decor for clients based on their specific needs. Also understand how specific interior design choices can affect morale, productivity, comfort and confidence in different situations.
Investment: Interior design requires almost no financial investment, at least in the beginning. For now, a computer is all you need! Investing in a comprehensive aesthetic design course may help you understand client requirements and preferences better.
What is it: Creating videos of interesting things regularly.
Why this: YouTube is full of successful vloggers earning money. If you can find a niche that people in Chennai connect with, you will eventually amass many followers.
How to: All you need is a video cam or a smartphone with a good camera, along with a video editing application
to help you establish a flow and refine your content.
You can vlog about anything — handicrafts, cooking, interesting aspects of daily life, diet advice, traveling … the list is endless. Just put some good thought into coming up with a unique, interesting topic to vlog about.
Investment: Zero if you already have a smartphone with a good camera and internet connection. Creating accounts on social media platforms is free. Most editing apps also have freemiums (start for free) pricing strategies that beginners can take advantage of.
5. Language training
What is it: Training students to become proficient in fundamental aspects of various languages such as Tamil, Hindi, English, Spanish, etc.
Why this: Chennai is one of the biggest tourist destinations in India. Therefore, it is a hub for people from various cultural origins who may be looking for opportunities to learn new languages. Language training can be an ideal small business idea for bilingual instructors and trainers and can even be done from your own home.
How to: Online certification courses can help you become an accredited language teacher. It can be the perfect way to leverage knowing multiple languages. Understand how learning programs can be customized for customer demographics across different age groups, preferences and learning criteria. You may also consider teaching at language institutes or schools by obtaining the appropriate qualifications.
Investment: You may need to invest in different online courses to strengthen your language proficiency and teaching ability. However, these courses are often free online.
6. Food truck
What is it: Preparing, serving and selling food from a large vehicle equipped with a kitchen. In other words, it is a portable restaurant that can be driven throughout the city.
Why this: Food trucks are becoming increasingly trendy in large cities across India, particularly with younger audiences. Since food trucks are mobile, they are extremely easy to relocate according to shifting demand. They are also an extremely cost-effective way to enter the restaurant industry without substantial startup costs.
How to: Decide which type of cuisine to sell at your food truck. Most food trucks in Chennai specialize in fast food that can be prepared and served quickly. Then, acquire the necessary regulatory licenses and permissions required. Lastly, determine which locations are ideal for setting up your food truck. Busy areas with a high level of visibility are typically ideal locations.
Investment: The average cost for establishing a food truck including expenditures such as renting or leasing a vehicle, equipment, utensils, raw material and insurance is typically between INR 8-10 lakhs.
7. Tour guide
What is it: Providing tourists and new visitors with recommendations, insight and advice about accommodation, cuisine, tourist attractions and activities.
Why this: Chennai attracts a large number of tourists each year who may require guidance about the best places to eat, stay or visit. Starting a tour guide business or travel agency is the perfect small business idea for those of you who have lived in Chennai for an extended period of time and know the biggest attractions and destinations.
How to: With almost all tourist attractions reopening after the pandemic, you can promote your travel guide business in a cost-effective manner through social media or websites. If you are considering hiring more manpower as your business grows, you must ensure that your employees are well-versed with the most popular destinations in Chennai. Connecting and collaborating with representatives from landmarks that tourists may want to visit can make starting your business much easier.
Create comprehensive lists of tourist destinations and landmarks that tourists and visitors may want to visit. Then, develop potential itineraries based on different potential target audiences and preferences. You can then create a list of representatives from different hotels, restaurants and landmarks that you can collaborate with to get your business started.
Investment: Apart from costs related to insurance and training, starting a tour guide business often requires extremely minimal investment. As your business grows you may consider investing in an office space. You may also need to purchase a website domain name to advertise your services.
8. Terracotta jewelry
What is it: It’s about creating ethnic pieces of statement jewelry made from clay and other eco-friendly decorative materials.
Why this: Sales for terracotta jewelry are now on the rise with current evolving fashion trends. There are takers for good terracotta jewelry pieces even abroad.
How to: If you are creative and can design innovative jewelry pieces, you can go for this. There are courses available online on how this jewelry is made.
You need to:
- Get the raw materials
- Make a business strategy
- Decide on pricing
- Make jewelry to show
Instagram and other social media channels are great places to showcase and sell what you create.
Investment: Rs 1000-2000 for raw materials, and if you plan to market on social media, another Rs 5000. In all, less than Rs 10000.
9. Bharatanatyam classes
What is it: Teaching Bharatanatyam classical dance to interested customers.
Why this: As one of the widely recognised forms of Indian dance, Bharatanatyam originated in Tamil Nadu and is usually used to depict religious stories, devotion and spirituality. Bharatanatyam continues to be a passion that many follow to be able to live a life of discipline, passion and creativity.
How to: If skilled in Bharatanatyam classical dance, you may teach interested clients through online videos or tutorials.
Investment: Requires little to no financial investment. However, you may choose to purchase or rent a space to convert into a dance studio.
Related: How to create an online course
10. Curio shop
What is it: It is a shop of cute things that can be sold as collectibles or gifts.
Why this: People in Chennai are always looking for unique items to give as gifts for various occasions or just to collect.
How to: First, you need to rent a place to convert into a shop. It must be easily accessible, and if you are starting it at home, ensure it’s a place away from the rest of the household.
Then it would help if you had vendors willing to give you their creations for display in return for a part of the sale profit. Alternately, you can start the shop with your own and your friends’/family’s creations.
You need to be business-savvy and:
- Know how to market the products smartly
- Handle online delivery
- Have a returns policy
- Be market-friendly with pricing
Investment: With all overheads including rent, Rs 50000
Related: Sourcing products for your business
11. Homemade food delivery
What is it: Cooking food and delivering it to those who can’t do it themselves for various reasons.
Why this: The pandemic has forced many Chennaites to go for homemade food rather than ordering from a restaurant. Chennai has the second highest elderly population in the country — these people prefer simple home-cooked food but are unable to do it themselves.
In addition, many among the busy IT crowd also order at least two meals from outside.
How to: Start talking about your venture in apartment WhatsApp groups, create Facebook Instagram pages and popularise your venture. Draw up a set weekly menu for three meals a day — if you have a unique offering, like diet menu, etc., the better.
When you get orders, begin cooking and either deliver it through a delivery service or do it yourself. Just be sure you’re a good cook, though!
Investment: Raw materials needed to cook each meal, add to it overheads such as LPG used, etc. Rs 500-600.
12. Teaching Yoga/exercise coach
What is it: If you are a yoga practitioner and know your asanas and poses, you can become a yoga teacher. Same for exercise coach. You will have to teach others yogasanas or exercises and tell them about the benefits of following a good workout regimen.
Why this: It’s become hugely popular, especially with people young and old trying to get some exercise within their homes.
Start advertising by setting up a social media account and inviting learners for a monthly fee.
If you live in an apartment, put up notices on the common board. Once people show interest, you can form a Zoom or Hangout group and get started. You can start from your drawing room!
Create various time slots to suit all people. If you want a certification, apply for it in a good yoga institute, and you can pass the exam for a nominal fee.
Investment: Nothing. It would be best if you had a good internet connection and a smartphone or laptop.
13. Social media strategist
What is it: It’s about helping companies and businesses make a mark in the online world and come up in top online searches in their respected categories – it can be a website, or social media platforms.
Why this: With everyone taking their business online, it has become a big thing to make their presence felt online. From multinational to small hyper-local businesses, everyone wants to be seen and heard online.
How to: You can master the skill with umpteen free online courses and by reading internet articles by experts. You can then offer your services to startups and corporates or market your own business.
Investment: Zero if starting as is, but if you plan to open a digital agency and create a website and promote it, Rs 20000.
14. Candle-making business
What is it: As it sounds, it’s about custom-making different types of decorative and utility candles.
Why this: Gifting candles on occasions such as birthdays, anniversaries, housewarming, and health and wellness is the thing in Chennai these days. It’s a home business, and with a little creativity, you can find your niche clientele quickly.
How to: Decide on what type of candle you want to make — tealight, scented, decorative, etc. — and also a luxe brand name. Zero in on packaging, and where all you can sell your candles — you can register on many register-and-sell platforms like Amazon and Flipkart at no cost.
Investment: You’ll need different types of wax, scents, colors, moulds, wick, etc. You’ll also need a packaging and marketing budget. As a home business, the investment would be Rs 25000, but if you go for a candle-making machine, it may go up to Rs. 2.5 lakh.
15. Pregnancy and child photography
What is it: This involves clicking aesthetically beautiful pics of pregnant women, alone and with their families, as memorable keepsakes. Clicking cute pics of kids at various locations.
Why this: Pregnancy photography (which includes baby shower parties) is a rising trend in Chennai, with many new-age couples opting for it. Children’s photography has always been in vogue in the south of India; these days, it has become more upscale.
How to: You’ll need photography expertise, an eye for good locations and angles, and basic photography equipment like a DSLR camera with usual filters and lens (if you buy a new one, it will cost you anything from Rs 75,000 to a lakh, including filters).
You will need a website or Instagram handle to flaunt the amazing pics you click (be sure to respect client privacy and seek their permission before sharing online) and a website to solicit and canvass your business.
A good computer with software like Adobe Photoshop and knowledge of how to use them is also necessary.
Investment: If you will buy a camera, anywhere between Rs 1-2 lakh, including website creation. Else, Rs 25,000.
16. Regional dry cuisine items
What is it: Making podis (like gunpowder, sambar powder, health mixes, etc.) and dry health-food items such as various herbal teas.
Why this: It’s the business of the moment. Everyone is looking at healthy alternatives to supermarket packaged items. It’s easy to make, and with some research, you can make and sell dry food items everywhere, including on Amazon.
How to: Research, experiment, and discover healthy dry items that make dishes tastier. You can even find a unique angle like making ancient grains upma mixes, millet dosa mix, chukkukapi (herbal black coffee), etc.
Investment: Actuals for raw materials, buying a strong mixer-grinder, sieve, packaging materials, etc. Rs 5000.
Chennai’s 16 best small business ideas
It’s never too late to become an entrepreneur with your small business idea in Chennai. If you have a one-of-a-kind idea and the expertise to execute it, Chennaiites will likely be game to buy and experiment.
If you are dedicated, committed, and fanatically quality conscious, you will soon stand out among the crowd of sellers and begin to make a profit. And for some motivation: There are many small businesses that started just as an idea and became big in Chennai — Netmeds, the online pharmacy, is just one of those names.
The information contained in this blog post is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as an endorsement or advice from GoDaddy on any subject matter.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which small business idea is best in Chennai?
Business ideas that evolve according to rising trends such as vlogging, food trucks, IT services and more are extremely valuable opportunities to use your creativity and imagination. More established business ideas and services such as franchises, babysitting, language training and tour guides are likely to generate demand and hence translate to success.
What are the most profitable small business ideas?
Small business ideas such as cafes, travel and tour agencies, event management, local food businesses, photography and vacation rentals for tourists and visitors are typically the most profitable.
What small business can I start with INR 20,000?
Small business ideas such as vlogging, babysitting, interior design, language training and exercise training typically involve little to no financial investment and can be done with just a computer and a secure internet connection. Alternatively, businesses such as IT services, photography, preparing regional dry cuisine items and candle-making businesses usually do not require significant financial investments.
How do I start a business in Chennai?
Starting a small business in Chennai is almost as simple as deciding on an idea and starting from the comfort of your own home. For businesses that involve the preparation of food or manufacturing processes, you may require specific licenses and permits from relevant regulatory bodies. Once you have decided which small businesses to move forward with, you should ideally create a business plan, identify ideal customer demographics, select a name and establish an online presence through websites and social media.
What are the best franchises to start with?
Some of the most profitable yet low-investment franchising opportunities in India include brands such as Khadims, Career Launcher, Kidzee, Jawed Habib and Firstcry. Franchises can provide you with an opportunity to learn from others’ success, enjoy the support of franchise owners and learn the key areas to focus on to drive long-term, sustainable success.
Why choose Chennai for investment and business?
Chennai is one of the most lucrative cities in India to start a business. Chennai is equipped with large infrastructure, an untapped talent pool, a high literacy rate and specialized policies designed to support small business owners in terms of investment, taxation and labor regulations.
What are some small businesses that can be started with low investment?
Small businesses such as freelance website development, language translation, daycare and babysitting facilities, coffee shops or kiosks, event planning and management, tutorials and clothing boutiques can be started with very minimal financial investment.