Small Business
Jun 7, 2024

How to Start a Business With No Money: 7 Steps To Start

Have you been sitting on a promising business idea for a while and want to follow through with your passion project?

We’ll help you think like an entrepreneur and ensure your new business venture is off to a good start.

A huge start-up capital doesn’t automatically translate into a successful business.

It takes a lot of market research, planning, and setting a sustainable business structure to ensure your relevance in the industry isn’t short-lived.

Follow along as we guide you on the dos and don’ts of starting your own business with no money!

Valuable business ideas shouldn’t be shelved for too long, or else another entrepreneur will beat you to the chase.

We’ll make sure this isn’t how events transpire for your business plan and give you some cues to set you on the right track as a new business owner.

How to Start a Business With No Money

Whether you’re providing a service business, launching an online store, or exploring other business ventures, you need to have a thorough understanding of your target market.

We’ve got some pointers for you to ensure you’re making the right business decisions!

1. Test Your Business Knowledge

You don’t need a degree to become a successful business owner. All you need to do is understand the ins and outs of business planning and build up scalable strategies and models.

You’d think business training has to come at a hefty cost, but, actually, this isn’t the case.

You’d be surprised by the number of free resources available online that lays down the basics and ensures you have all you need to pursue your side hustle.

It’s also worth noting that you can get free business counseling from partners of the Small Business Administration.

Such mentorship is invaluable, especially for aspiring entrepreneurs who’re starting out on a shoestring budget and want to ensure their limited capital is put to the best use.

2. Keep Your Day Job

Even though having upfront capital isn’t necessary to start your small business, you still need steady income channels lined up to help you cover your living expenses.

That’s why it’s wise to keep your day job while growing your side venture to stand on its own.

It might take some time for your new business attempt to become your full-time job, and having financial security during this time could help you make hard decisions and take risks when necessary.

Becoming your own boss won’t just happen out of the blue, and you’ll have to sit through a transitional period where you’re essentially taking on two jobs at the same time.

Once you’ve set a solid foundation for your business and started bringing in profits, you can dedicate more of your time and effort towards expanding your business model.

It’s also worth mentioning that being backed up by your personal savings should remove much of the stress while waiting for your small business loan to go through.

It comes as no surprise that your business credit won’t be as high as you’d hope for when starting out.

This puts a considerable cap on the business loans you can apply for. So, it’s always helpful to have extra cash flow channels for passive income.

3. Layout Your Business Plan

Starting a small business with little or no money requires you to be extra vigilant with your business planning.

It’s smart to structure your business around a model that doesn’t require much upfront start-up costs and accounts for scalability and growth down the line.

Here are some of the points you need to fulfill to have a viable business plan on your hands:

Business Idea

To stand out among other small business owners, you need to tackle a niche that can evolve according to the needs of your potential customers.

Layout your business model and work your way to secure all business licenses, and Voila, you’ve got the groundwork all taken care of!

Product Vs. Service-Based Business

Your online business can provide services like freelance writing or selling products. Make sure you have the talent and resources necessary to get the most customer satisfaction.

Market Research

Once you have your core business model set, you need to understand who your potential customers are.

Do thorough demographic research and decide whether you’re dealing directly with consumers or providing your products through a third party.

Marketing Strategy

Start by setting up your business social media accounts and prepare marketing materials that are appealing to your target audience.

You can do in-person marketing campaigns as well and book your spot in start-up events to expand your networking opportunities.

Raising Money

Look into all your potential income channels, including applying for small business loans, reaching out to venture capitalists, or conducting a successful crowdfunding campaign.

You need to have a detailed financial plan on how you’re spending much money in order to get the investors on board.

Financial Planning

While you can start a business with no money, you’ll need a financial plan once income starts coming in.

To assess your cash flow, you can use accounting software to ensure you’re not losing track of your business performance.

It’s also helpful to look into the business history of your competitors and see how their business plans have evolved over time.

This should give you a preliminary template that you can tweak and ensure you’re taking things up a notch!

4. Secure Your Business License

You can’t operate a business inside the United States without a valid business license.

Each state has its own set of rules and regulations, so depending on where your business is based, applying for a business license can be a different experience.

Here are some of the stables that you need to follow to secure a business license for your company:

  • Get your Tax ID Number (TIN.)
  • In most cases, you need to apply for multiple licenses all at once. In addition to the federal and state licenses, you might need an industry permit as well. Take time to look into which paperwork is needed to transform your business idea into an actual company!
  • Your application is then handled by the Small Business Administration (SBA.) Until they reach back to you with your valid license, you’re not allowed to do any business activities.
  • It’s always recommended to reach out to your legal team and check whether there’s any other paperwork that needs to be taken care of. This can range from license renewal down the line, expanding the scope of your business, or handling potential conflicts.

Once you have your business license, you can apply for business insurance to protect your investment.

However, you could hold off on such a step as long as your company is still a one-man show and you don’t have employees working under you.

5. Find Free Solutions to Cut Your Business Expenses

When setting a budget, it’s always wise to cut down on unnecessary expenses, especially when there’s a reliable free platform that gets the job done.

Marketing platforms

For starters, you don’t need to pay a professional designer to take care of your social media marketing materials when you can tap into the advanced tools that Canva provides for free.

You can also try out Colorcinch, an easy-to-use design tool that lets you effortlessly achieve stunning outcomes in significantly less time, even if you have minimal design experience.

Transform your image colors with its online color replacer tool.

You may want to lean into hiring a marketing agency to take over care of your online presence or pay big bucks for a professional-looking website.

But, initially, this shouldn’t be your number one priority, as you’ll find free alternatives that are as effective.

Starting your online storefront on Facebook can be an excellent step toward establishing your local business presence.

You can also take advantage of the tools provided by platforms like Etsy, Shopify, and Amazon to market your products and reach a wider audience.

Business Software

In terms of planning your business finances, you can find free accounting software to help you out.

It’s also a good idea to learn how to use Excel or Google Sheets for setting up your financial plan and keeping track of your income and expenses.

Such skills are invaluable as it postpones the need for a premium, full-fledged bookkeeping solution and allows you to do your finances without spending an extra dime.

As you can see, you can find free solutions to whatever hurdles come your way if you know exactly where to look.

Don’t take the easy route anytime you’re faced with an obstacle, and ensure you’re only spending money when it’s necessary.

6. Explore Your Funding Options

For the longest time, your only funding options are reaching out to angel investors or leaning on your personal savings.

Luckily, those aren’t your only channels for steady cash flow anymore, as there are more creative funding options waiting for you if you look hard enough.

Bank Credit Lines

Let’s get the basics out of the way first! If your personal credit is good enough, you can apply for a business line.

This allows you to apply for loans with reasonable interest rates that are only applied for the amount you actually borrow.

For this to work, you need to build a credible credit history and make sure you’re paying off your credit card debt regularly.

Also, once your business is registered and you have your business license, the company can have its own credit score.

This will be a convenient way to separate your personal finances from your business ventures.

Business Grants

You can’t base your entire business strategy around securing a grant, as they can be limited in scope.

For instance, if your business ideas don’t fall under the niche that the small business grants are concerned with, you’ll be out of luck.

Nevertheless, it’s worth keeping an eye out for any potential business grants while pursuing other capital channels.

For instance, there are more grants geared towards women and aspiring businesspeople of color today.

So, it’s always wise to check your eligibility for a grant and have a detailed business plan to present to increase your odds of actually securing it.

Friends and Family

Reaching out to friends and family comes with its own set of advantages and inconveniences.

Family can be generous and supportive of your dream if you’re passionate enough about your business venture and has the market research to support your business’s financial projections.

On the other hand, conflicts of interest can easily materialize unless you have a written agreement in place.

If you ask us, the best way to build a business relationship with your acquaintance is to treat it as if you’re reaching out to an investor.

Prepare a brief presentation laying out your different business ideas and highlighting why your family should choose to invest with you instead of other business owners.

It goes without saying that you need to be mindful about who you reach out to.

For instance, it isn’t wise to call this one uncle who’s been going through a rough patch and ask them about money to support small businesses.

Crowdfunding

Next up is crowdfunding, which basically gets you investment money from your future clients.

Kickstarter is a compelling platform for revenue generation as your product or service can be backed up by real customers who’re genuinely interested in the project and want to see it take off the ground.

You need to have a strong social media presence and build hype around your business online to ensure people will go out of their way to support your project.

Also, you could outline how people who support you can get special treatment down the line, like being the first to get access to your product or service once it launches.

Capital Investors

Investors with tons of business expertise can instantly spot the potential of your business venture.

If you have a detailed business plan with favorable projections, you can get some venture capitalists onboard and get some cash flow going!

Such shareholders are investing in your company’s success as they have their money at stake.

This could be the perfect incentive for them to provide valuable business advice and help you realize the full potential of your business idea.

Business Incubators

Starting a business with no money is made even more manageable thanks to the assistance of incubators.

Such companies take care of your start-up costs while offering mentorship, business advice, and essential resources like office space.

If you already have an established small business, you can get the assistance of accelerators to help your company grow and realize its full potential.

It’s worth noting that the funding offered by incubators and accelerators falls under the umbrella of an equity loan in most cases.

This means that you’re giving up a percentage of your company in return for the funding and assistance you received.

Think of the process as applying for an intensive business course, where your mentors keep bombarding you with assignments with tight deadlines.

Successful businesses are those which ace each milestone and graduate from the incubator program.

7. Consider Service-Based Businesses

As an aspiring business owner, you should explore opportunities that don’t require much money upfront.

If your business idea is centered around selling a product, you’d have to deal with supply chain variables, manufacturers’ minimal order lot, and warehousing considerations, just to name a few.

On the other hand, establishing service businesses come at low start-up costs as they’re based on your personal skill set and availability.

All you need to do to launch your online business is an internet connection, and you’re off for an excellent start.

Your profits can come in at an earlier stage of your business inception, provided you have an expansive client network.

You can build on your reputation through word of mouth as your happy clients leave positive reviews and start recommending your services within their social circle of business owners.

8. Don’t Miss out on Networking Opportunities

Starting a business with no money would be much more palatable if you’re backed up by the expertise and knowledge of like-minded entrepreneurs.

So, you never sleep on networking opportunities, whether in person or through online communities.

You can even secure local funding opportunities through trade shows and events where you meet investors interested in supporting a promising start-up.

You can also meet fellow business owners who can give you valuable advice on how to manage your business with minimal costs.

Wrapping Up

The idea of starting a business with no money can be daunting!

However, once you realize there are other resources at your disposal that channel into your business success, you’d be lenient to look at the bigger picture and direct your attention away from money for a second.

Once you’ve landed on a promising business model, you can start your social media marketing and build a network that involves potential investors and future customers.

The best part about starting your business side hustle is that you don’t need to quit your day job.

You can have a nine-to-five job while attending to your lawn care business with no issues!