“I’ve got a great idea for a business, but I just don’t have the money to get it started.”
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Does this sound like you?
It’s true that starting a business is so much easier with capital, not having money shouldn’t scare you off.
Starting a business with no money might seem like a far-fetched idea at first, but I promise you it’s doable.
In today’s blog post, I discuss how to start a business with no money.
How To Start A Business Without Money
Traditionally, to build a business, you would normally start from a business idea, build it up using your capital, and earn money from it eventually.
But starting a business without capital requires a change in your mindset.
Here are the steps on how to prepare to start a business with no money.
1. Work with what you have.
Look at the resources you have and how you can use them effectively to start up your business.
Think about your skills. What fundamental skills do you have that can help you start up your business? What technical skills do you have? What personal skills do you have that can help you professionally?
Next, take stock of your knowledge. What degree, training, and classes do you have under your belt that you can apply in your business?
Reflect on your experience, both professional and personal, and think about what you can offer. What have you done previously that you’re good at and can convert into a profitable business?
Consider your connections as well. Who do you know that can help you in starting your business, either as a mentor, partner, supplier, or any other role? Do the people you know possibly know other people that can help you as well?
2. Draw up a solid business plan based on the resources you have.
No matter what business idea you have, it’s always good to start with a solid plan that you can always refer to.
It’s especially important to have a business blueprint and financial plan especially when you’re starting a business with no money. Outline the fundamentals of your business and how you can obtain them with your limited resources.
Do and get everything you can do and get for free.
List down what you need for your business and figure out alternatives.
For instance, the primary requirement for an online business is a website. However, domain names and hosting cost money.
If you have absolutely no money to start up your own website at this point, figure out temporary alternatives. Can you possibly start with a free website service and then switch to a paid website later? Or maybe even use a Facebook page first?
The same goes for other marketing tools you need: tools for email marketing and autoresponders, keyword research, social media, graphics design, scheduling, accounting, communication, project management, and other such tools.
There are plenty of free tools and resources available on the internet. Some are readily available, while others require you to dig deeper than the first page of your search results.
With plenty of patience and a bit of luck, you’ll be able to get the fundamental requirements of your online business for free or for very little.
3. Don’t pass up opportunities to earn side cash.
You’ll need at least some cash to operate a business if only to pay for your food, power, and internet bills.
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They may not seem much if you look at them per transaction, but if you scrimp and save every single penny from these side cash endeavors, you can earn just enough to keep you afloat.
You may even earn enough extra cash to put up as capital for your business.
4. Explore your funding options.
As you build up your business, you may need more capital than just the bare minimum, especially if you want to be profitable in a few months instead of a few years.
Here are some funding options you may want to consider:
• Small business grants
Frankly, small business grants aren’t easy to apply for.
However, when you’ve got your business up and running, you can try to search for small business grants for which you can meet the minimum requirements to apply.
The influx of free cash is well worth the time and effort of searching. Hopefully, you won’t be tempted to use the cash for anything else aside from growing your business.
• Angel investors
An angel investor is typically an individual who has a high net worth and cash to spare who invests in small businesses to provide capital in exchange for a stake in the company, usually through part ownership.
They’re invested in your success, so when you get an angel investor, you not only get capital, you also get a mentor that you can go to for advice on your business.
Angel investors would typically ask for their money back within a few years, so you do have some time to grow your business such that you’re able to pay them back.
You typically find angel investors through your network, but you can also try to find an angel investor interested in your business through online angel investor networks and directories.
As with small business grants, it’s not easy to find an angel investor for your business, but it’s worth the trouble.
• Peer-to-peer lending
Peer-to-peer lending is a financial practice wherein lenders lend money to borrowers via a third-party application that matches lenders to borrowers.
If you borrow money through peer-to-peer lending, you’re typically subject to stricter requirements than those who are taking out personal loans. This is because you’re eligible to borrow more money for a longer period.
The interest rates may be higher than those offered by banks or financial institutions, but the applications can be done mostly online, making it easier and quicker to get a decision on your lending needs.
• Small business loan
Applying for a small business loan from your bank is another option you can take if you can handle the requirements, the interest rates, and the repayment terms.
The main requirement of a business loan from a bank is steady cash flow; that is, your business should already be making money. If you haven’t yet started up your business, you’re not likely to get approved for a loan.
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Online Businesses You Can Start With No Money
At this point, you can’t afford to start businesses that require significant capital, especially product-based businesses that involve manufacturing or reselling.
Online businesses are the most logical way to start your business without money because it requires very little of you; a computer, an internet connection, and your knowledge are enough.
Here are a few online businesses you can start with no money.
1. Service-based businesses
If you have a specific skill set, this may be the only investment you need to start your online business.
You can provide this particular service on your website and promote it on all channels available to you, and the good news is that there are plenty of websites that allow you to advertise your service for free, not to mention social media.
Here are some examples of online service-based businesses:
- Social media management
- Virtual assistance
- Graphics design
- Video editing
- Resume/cover letter writing
- Travel management
- Website creation and design
Dropshipping is a fulfillment method wherein the retailer sells products but does not keep them in inventory.
Instead, the dropshipper offers products to buyers, collects their payment, pay third-party suppliers who then send out the products to the buyers.
Dropshipping is attractive to entrepreneurs who want to start selling products but don’t have the capital to assemble inventory.
There are plenty of dropshipping suppliers that offer a variety of products. It’s up to you to do your research and select legitimate suppliers that offer the products you’re interested in selling.
To start dropshipping, you only need to have your marketing skills and a website or an e-commerce platform to sell your products from.
A consultant is an expert in a specific field who works with an individual or business to offer professional advice.
It sounds very vague and general, but this is to your advantage. It means anyone can start a consulting business based on their expertise, years of experience, and depth of knowledge.
Consultants assess an issue, prepare a solution usually based on process, document and present that solution, and assist in implementing that solution.
Below are some types of consulting you can go into:
- Leadership consulting
- Marketing consulting
- Organization consulting
- Efficiency consulting
- Health and wellness consulting
- Career consulting
- Green living consulting
- Image consulting
- Financial consulting
People hear “brokerage” and they think “stock market” (and if you’re a day trader, you can certainly start a day trading business), but it doesn’t have to be.
A brokerage business, in general, is one that brings buyers and sellers together.
You can find brokers in many different industries, such as real estate (e.g., real estate brokers bringing property sellers and buyers), recruitment and human resources (e.g., headhunters bringing job seekers and companies that are hiring), and sports (e.g., sports agents bringing athletes and sponsors together).
Find an industry that can benefit from having an online brokering service, whether competition already exists or not.
The important skills to have in starting a brokerage business are excellent lead generation, marketing, communication, and interpersonal skills.
You can start an online education business with no money, armed with little more than your knowledge, teaching skills, and your laptop.
You can teach people various skills, such as playing musical instruments, photography, or using certain software.
You can also tutor students in subjects such as math, science, or English.
Starting an education business is a snap, even with no money. You can schedule classes and hop on to communication platforms like Skype or Zoom to hold live classes.
Alternatively, you can upload video courses to read-only shared drives and restrict access to only those who have paid.
The Bottom Line
Starting your own business with no money sounds crazy, but it’s really not impossible.
It’s going to take more time and more effort than if you have capital, but with patience, determination, and a little luck, it’s certainly feasible.
There are plenty of online businesses you can launch from home. Here are 50 ways to start an online business.
What’s your story?
Ever tried to start a business from scratch? Have you succeeded? Tell us your story in the comments!