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How to Start a Business With No Money

Written by:

Charles Camisasca

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The idea to start a business with no money sounds a little farfetched until you start digging into the many opportunities and side hustles out there.

It’s something more people started to embrace during the pandemic, but there is still plenty of room for your ideas as well. In the following article, we share our 13 best tips for getting started, as well as some ideas with easy barriers to entry.

Let’s begin! 

1. Explore Your Interests

Starting a business from home is not only possible but also easy to do. That doesn’t mean finding success will be easy, only that the barrier to entry is small. 

The rise of the internet and other innovations have made it feasible to find ideas, market to the right audience, and accept payments without a lot of overhead. To do it with a full head of steam, though, you’ll want to have a genuine interest or talent for what you’re setting out to do.

Therefore, take some time to explore your interests in-depth. You might even consider taking a career aptitude test to help clarify and sharpen your focus. These can easily be honed into business ideas. 

2. Source Freebies or Low-Cost Items

Starting a new business only works if you have a product or a service to sell. Without doing your research, that can get costly as you look into product development and inventory. 

However, there are ways around it. For starters, you might seek out informational products that grant resell rights. To capitalize on this, you shouldn’t simply resell the product as-is.

Take what has been created and use your own resources and expertise to personalize it. Before long, you’ve created a new informational product with little effort and very little cost. 

Product-wise, you can find a reputable drop-shipping company. Such companies can help you find products that you can sell directly to consumers. That way you’re not purchasing inventory until it’s already been sold and payment has been received.

Aside from drop-shipping, there are always other product opportunities out there. Here are 10 strategies to find ones that work!

3. Start Saving Towards Your Business

One of the key steps to starting a business (and growing it) is to re-invest as much as you can. That’s going to demand having money, but being strategic about how you access that money allows you to start the business without any upfront expenditure. 

To accomplish this, it’s important you save up what you can for as long as you can before launching a broader effort to grow the business. If you have a job, set aside a small portion of each paycheck for the express purpose of marketing your business.

If you don’t have a job, look at what you might be able to sell to gain access to startup cash. You also might consider reaching out to a close family member or friend. Be careful, though, because accepting money from people you love can create tension in the relationship. 

4. Partner With Someone Who Believes in Your Idea

Creating a business out of nothing means having the right idea at the right time with the right partners in place. Take a moment to list everyone you know. Go through the friends and followers list on your social media accounts.

Each time a connection occurs to you, write that name down as a reminder to follow up. You can launch virtually any type of business in this manner.

Starting a T-shirt business, for example, might be as simple as partnering with a screen-printer in your town. Present them with your designs and offer to include them on a percentage of the profits provided they handle the overhead.

Leverage your relationships and your ideas can flourish! 

5. Look Into Grants and Other Types of Small Business Funding

Looking for loans or grants to start a business? The US Chamber of Commerce is a great resource if you’re in America. Countries outside the US should look to their economic development organizations for more information.

The main thing to realize is that grants do not have to be paid back, unlike small business loans. However, they might have restrictions placed on them that affect how you start and operate your business.

Small business loans do have to be paid back over time. They do not come with a list of requirements that have to be met once the loan is approved. Also, there is nothing that disqualifies you from pursuing both forms of funding. 

6. Start With Business Ideas That Have Low Entry Costs

Not every business idea demands startup funding. As we’ve mentioned, info products are easy ways to get your feet wet. That’s because they only cost your time and attention. 

Buddying up with a local artisan or acting as an affiliate marketer for an existing product or service is another way. In a sense, you become a professional marketer, which is a job that has only your own savvy as the barrier to entry.

In the case of professional marketing, it can help you find other low-cost career paths as well. For example, you could set up websites for people, write blog posts, and manage their social media accounts. You’re only limited by your powers of observation and creativity. 

7. Get Involved in Your Local Entrepreneurial Scene

No matter where you live, there is likely a group of people who feel the same way you do about starting a business. They want the flexibility and personal fulfillment that comes with being the boss and charting their own course.

Find those people! If you feel your town is too small to have one, start your own group or get involved with the nearest location where entrepreneurship is celebrated. 

The more entrepreneurs that you surround yourself with, the more opportunities will come your way. Best of all, it doesn’t cost a dime to introduce yourself and find out more about what’s going on around you.

8. Embrace Existing Skills

Everyone has a skill or a talent. Look over your past experiences. Is it writing, research, customer service, retail? 

What past jobs have you excelled at? What were the classes in school where everything just came so naturally for you? Even if the skill or expertise doesn’t come naturally, what have you succeeded at after putting in the time, energy, and practice? 

The answers to these questions are important. They will lead you to the opportunities that you are equipped to capitalize on. In time, you’ll be creating real value for people and doing so with confidence. 

9. Arrange Upfront Payment Terms

There are so many ways that shoestring startups can use this tip to their advantage. Selecting products for drop-shipping, as previously noted, is one. 

If providing a service, communicate this to your clients ahead of time. It might help to explain that you accept a combination payment term of half-upfront and half-on-delivery (or some acceptable percentage-split of terms).

What you can ultimately enforce will depend on the work you do, the presentation of what you’re selling, and whether any of the business is coming from satisfied referrals. For example, a lawn care business might be easy to “sell” upfront if customers are finding their way to you based on the opinions of people they trust. 

10. Consume Everything You Can

You’re not going to be an expert at everything your startup requires of you. However, you can become proficient at it. All it takes is a commitment to learning. 

To that end, find every research tool you can. Make Google, YouTube, and podcasts your friends. Read, study, and listen. 

The more you consume, the quicker you’ll become an expert. At the very least, you’ll be good enough at what you’re doing to affordably launch your business. 

11. Wear Many Hats Until It Makes Sense Not To

Ideally, you will be able to outsource all the things about your business that you’re not good at or would prefer not to do. These would be things that take time away from what you actually do to generate revenue.

That’s not always realistic in the beginning, though. When starting a business with no money, you will need to temporarily wear many hats. That means embracing the inefficiency of handling tasks you’re not the best at handling. 

That’s okay. Make it your purpose to outsource or eliminate the processes that are holding you back as soon as you conceivably can. 

Make your number one focus the thing that sets you apart. Get to the other stuff when you can get to it, and be prepared to have someone else do it as soon as possible.

12. Never Quit Your Job on Blind Faith

You want to succeed at your business, but avoid the trap of thinking you have to quit your day job to focus on this new opportunity full-time. A regular job can give you the right amount of security that you need to grow your side hustle into a viable company. 

Without that financial security, you will find it hard to focus on what you’re doing. You might even get burned out and give up altogether.

To keep this from happening, re-shape how you think about your job. See it as the resource it is for getting you where you want to be. If you can shift your thinking, you might even find that you enjoy your work! 

13. Find Free Resources and Variable Costs

There is a free version of virtually everything these days. With so much competition for new customers, businesses realize they have to make it easy for you to try out their software, products, or services. 

As you move further into the world of bootstrapping your startup, you’ll become resourceful at finding these free options. Only pay for something when you see the value in it. 

The free resources right for your business will vary depending on your industry, needs, and expertise. If you do need to take on expenses, try to find ones with variable costs.

An example of this would be PayPal. PayPal isn’t going to charge you unless there’s revenue coming in. Your costs are nonexistent unless you’re making the money that it takes to pay for it. 

Low-Cost Business Ideas to Start (Including Our No. 1 Pick!)

Now that we’ve discussed how you can start a business on no money, or at least a very limited budget, let’s look at the easiest ones to launch. If we were going live tomorrow, it would probably be one of these four options. 

Creating Online Courses

Package your knowledge and passion into an easy-to-follow online course. Think about offering it on sites like Udemy, Teachable, or Skillshare. Perhaps start your own site and sell directly from there! 

Copywriting

Virtually every business, from asbestos removal to zebra trainers, needs effective writing in their marketing, branding, and general presence. Look into copywriting courses to get started, or rely on your own training and expertise to drill deep into an unexplored niche. 

Working With a Dropshipper

Dropshippers are great partners to have. They keep inventory in their own storage facilities, receive orders from you, and fulfill it, all without ever putting you in the position where you have to handle physical products.

Furthermore, you can price your costs into each sale, so every transaction is profitable.

Of all the options on this list, it’s the most streamlined and the one with the most potential, especially if your strengths lie in products instead of services. Yes, dropshipping is our No. 1 pick!

Social Media Management

Social media management is something very few businesses understand. That’s true even if they’re technically “active” on social media. 

For many, it’s simply about “posting something.” For managers to stand out, they’ll need to demonstrate an ability to create or notice quality content and promote in a way that starts and continues conversations between the audience and the brand.

Startup cost: nada! 

How to Start a Business With No Money: You Have Options

To start a business with no money, you have to really commit to the creative side of yourself, as well as the desire to succeed. Knowing what type of business to get involved with, where to find resources, how to build relationships, and, ultimately, what will make you happy are how you get there! 

Like what you read here and ready to get your business going? Consider subscribing to The E-Comm Boardroom today to never miss a tip.

And if you’re ready to jump into the exciting world of dropshipping and E-commerce, check out our E-comm Bootcamp course.

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