So you’ve got a great business idea, except there’s one big problem. You don’t have any money. How can you act on your vision if you don’t have the money to get a business going?
No need to worry. Some of our team here at CashBlog has been in that exact situation before, and we’ve found ways to start a business with no money. This guide will walk you through how to do it.
Money or Not, Starting a Business Will Require Work
First, let’s make sure it’s clear that starting a business is a lot of work. You’ll be creating something out of thin air and trying to get people to pay for it, and that’s not something that someone can breeze through.
And if you don’t have money to put into the business, you can’t pay someone else to do any of the tasks needed to start a business. That means that in the beginning, you’ll have to wear every hat in business and do it all.
Don’t let that discourage you, though. If you’re passionate and ready to put in the work, owning a business can be one of the most rewarding things you can do financially and in terms of personal satisfaction.
Choose a Business Model That Is Affordable
There are tons of different types of businesses out there. You could open a hair salon. You could start a warehousing business. You could create an e-commerce store.
If you are trying to start a business with no money, you likely have to choose an affordable business model. And the key to affordability is low overhead.
Overhead refers to the costs your business has to pay on an ongoing basis. If you rent an office space, for example, that rent is considered overhead.
If you have no money, you’ll want as little ongoing cost as possible. That almost immediately rules out business models that require a physical store presence because how would you be able to pay the first month’s rent if you don’t have any money?
That’s why the online business model is great for people who want to start a business with no money. No rent cost is involved, making it one of the cheapest business models.
Check out our guide for how to start an online business for a step-by-step guide that walks you through getting an online business up and running.
Now when we say that you can start an online business with no money, we don’t mean literally zero. But it can be awfully close to zero.
The key things you need are:
- A domain name (which costs only $10 or so in mosts cases)
- A place to host your website (which can be as cheap as $3 per month)
- A way to manage your website (which will depend on the type of online business you create)
There are three key types of online businesses that are most popular:
An e-commerce business is one where you sell products through a website. It can be products you make yourself, or it can be products made by other people.
What’s cool these days is that you can sell products online without needing to store them. Many manufacturers and warehouses will ship products directly to your customer for you without you ever needing to see them. That’s called drop shipping, and it’s common these days.
So all you need to do is figure out what you want to sell and where you’ll buy it from, and you could start selling products online without spending a dime to store any products. You only pay for a product after a customer has ordered it, which means you don’t have to come out of pocket with your own money to stock up on merchandise.
If you have an idea of the type of products you’d like to sell but don’t know where to buy them, you can try doing a Google search for the term “wholesale” or “warehouse” along with whatever the product type is. That might help you find warehouses that offer discounts on the products.
If you want to create an e-commerce store, you’ll need an e-commerce platform to manage the website. That is the other cost you will face and will likely cost at least $25 per month. Sometimes you can catch a free trial and get into the gates for free to test it out and see if it’s a good fit for you.
Website for Selling Your Knowledge
Instead of selling actual physical merchandise, you may want to sell your knowledge. It can be highly lucrative and significant for people who want to start a business with no money.
The idea is that you have a website, and you charge people money to access your expertise.
You could film a series of video tutorials and share your knowledge that way. Or you could write an e-book and charge people to buy it.
Many laptops these days come equipped with a camera, so you may not need to spend any money to start filming video tutorials.
You can use an e-commerce platform to manage the website and collect sales.
If you don’t want to sell stuff online but want to try to make money online, one way to do that is with a blog.
A blog is a website where you can write about anything you want. It’s informational, so people don’t go to blogs to buy stuff. They go there to read stuff.
And in the world of blogs, the more people go to your website, the more potential there is for it to make money. Traffic equals income potential.
You could blog about anything you want, focusing primarily on things that might drive traffic. For example, you could blog about what you ate for breakfast, but an article like that might have little appeal to the world.
If, on the other hand, you take something you are an expert at and blog about it in a way that educates people, that might become popular content that people want to read. Let’s say you are an avid mountain biker. You could blog about the best ways to improve mountain bike performance, and an article like that could appeal to people worldwide.
How does a blog make money? There are a couple of critical ways. One is that blogs can sell ad space. Another is that within the blog, you can put affiliate links where you get paid if a reader clicks the link and buys from that vendor.
All this makes blogging an excellent business model to consider if you want to start a business with no money.
Check out our guide for how to start a blog to get step-by-step instructions on how to get started. Also, it requires no money to use WordPress, the most popular blogging platform. So that one indeed needs no money to start using.
What if Your Business Idea Is Not for an Online Business?
If your business idea requires a physical location, it would need money to start the business.
Consider tweaking your business idea. Can it be modified to be an online business model instead?
For example, let’s say you wanted to start a hair salon. Since it requires money to start a hair salon, you could take your expertise in hair care and make money with it online.
You could start a blog related to hair care. Or you could open an e-commerce store that sells hair care products. Or you could create tutorials that teach people how to do hair care the way you do it, and then you could charge people money to watch your tutorials.
These ideas take your expertise and package it into a business model that can indeed be started for almost no money.
Maybe You Have Money To Start Your Business That You Didn’t Know About
Many people who want to start a business have no spare money in their bank account.
But having a credit card might give you the resources necessary to start your business.
Now we’re not saying you should recklessly use a credit card to start a business. But credit cards can offer a resource for covering startup business costs if you don’t have the money in your bank account.
Not only that, but most credit card companies would be happy if their customers were using the resources to grow more money rather than buying video games or clothes or things like that.
Either way, having a credit card means you have a way to pay for some of the business startup costs. You must use credit cards with caution and full awareness because they don’t offer free money.
One of the staff members here at CashBlog once bought a small website by making a cash advance from a credit card. It was a clear risk, but in his case, the business grew so much that he could later travel the world using the profits from the business. Using a credit card might be one resource to consider if you’ve got a great business idea and just need a little bit of money to get it off the ground.
Check out our guide to the best credit cards if you want to apply for a credit card that works for you. If this is your first time applying for a credit card, you can consider our guide for starter credit cards.
And a side note: if you want to consider buying a website that’s already put together, you can check out the listings on Flippa.
How to Grow Your Business With No Money
Okay, so you started your online business on the cheap, but how do you grow it and still avoid spending money?
The answer is that you have to do a lot of legwork. You will be running all over town (virtually if you have an online business) and trying to get the word out about what you do.
The first stop might be your friends and family. Make sure you know what you’re doing. You’re putting yourself out there, but you can get valuable feedback and support by doing so. They might end up telling their friends and family.
The next stop might be social media. Go to your social media accounts (Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Linked In, etc.) and get the word out about what you do. You can do this without spending any money.
Make posts related to it so that all your social media connections see it. This isn’t the time to be shy. This is the time to go to all corners of the earth to ensure people know what you’re offering.
Search for groups in each social media platform related to your business type and get involved with them. For example, if you create a blog online, you could look for blogging groups on Facebook.
When you join them, you’re rubbing shoulders with like-minded people and might pick up some valuable tips about how they’re succeeding. These might help you continue taking the steps.
Another vital part of getting the word out is doing SEO. That stands for Search Engine Optimization. That’s the process of trying to get your website to show up in Google search results.
You ultimately need other websites to link to yours to get your website to show up at the top of Google searches. Like everything else in this section, this involves going around and getting the word out about your company.
The beauty of all these marketing ideas is that they involve no money. They’re just a function of your willpower and work ethic. If you put in the time and effort, you can get a lot of eyeballs on your business without spending money.
Starting a business with no money will not be easy, but it’s also not impossible. If you choose the right business model and are passionate about your business idea, then there are ways to get the business up and running by spending almost no money.
The success of your business will be more a function of how good of an idea it is and how hard you work to make it a success.
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