Are you wanting to have flexibility and freedom with your work? Did you come up with an amazing idea and want to turn it into a functional business? Do you dream of the day where you don’t have to work for someone else, and can be your own boss?
If the answer to these questions is yes, then it might be time for you to start your own business!
Now, I know what you are thinking: “I have no money!”
Well, luckily for you, there are ways that you can become your own boss and enjoy flexibility and freedom with your work without much capital or funding at the beginning. If you’re wondering, “how can I start my own business with no money?”, that’s what we’re here to answer!
Having limited funds should NOT keep you from pursuing your dreams, especially if you have a clear vision of what you want your business to be.
In this comprehensive guide, we will teach you how you can start your own business with no money. Starting a business with barely any money sounds like a crazy idea, but it is definitely possible. It can even be beneficial to your business, because you have less to lose throughout the process, and can grow big from it.
There will of course be challenges and difficulties you will face and will have to overcome, but with the directions and insights in this guide, you will be equipped with the information you need to get started!
How Much Businesses Cost
The first step to answer the question “how can I start my own business with no money?” is to know how much businesses cost. The cost of business fluctuates based on the type of business and the industry it is in, but some of the initial costs for starting your own business will be similar across all fields.
According to the Small Business Administration, it costs about $3,000 to start a small business, and around $2,000 to $5,000 if the business is based out of your home. Even though this is only an estimate, this number can change dramatically depending on the type of business you will be starting and operating.
Some costs that you have to pay will be initial costs to start up your business, while others will be ongoing, especially once you start making money. Here are some typical initial and ongoing costs that you will have when starting a business on your own, no matter what industry you’re in or what type of business you have.
Initial Startup Costs
There are many different initial startup costs that you will have to estimate and prepare for, to get your business up and running. These are mainly one-time costs, and will only be necessary when you are first building your business and getting it started. Here is a list of common startup costs to estimate and consider when you are managing your budget.
Fees for Incorporating Your Business
Incorporation is a huge first step in starting your own business. If you would like to form an LLC or a corporation, then you have to pay a fee to the state that you live in to make your business whichever option your choose. The fee for this is usually under $300 in most states, but does vary per state and can be less or more.
If you decide to make your business a general partnership or a sole proprietorship, then you can avoid those fees. However, even though you don’t have to pay those fees initially, you won’t experience the same benefits that you would experience with an LLC or corporation, such as tax advantages and liability protection.
Leasing or Buying a Workspace
The workspace you choose solely depends on the type of business that you will be starting. If you are starting a freelance or consulting business and will be running it from your home, then you do not need to worry about this step.
Working from home will help to keep your startup costs much lower, so if you are able to do this, it is a great idea, especially when you are just getting started. You still may need to purchase items and equipment even when you are working from home, such as office furniture, computers, and software, so if you do not already have these, make sure you work these into your initial budget.
If you need an office, a place to meet with clients, or a retail location, then you do need to find a physical location to rent or buy. You can either find a singular and permanent location that you and your business will use solely, or you can purchase a membership to or part of a coworking space.
Depending on the type of space you are looking for, it can range between $100 per employee per month to $1,000 per employee per month. Coworking spaces can be a cheaper option for startups and for smaller businesses, so if you can’t work at home and need a physical space, that might be your best bet!
Creating a Website
A website is a great way to draw attention to your brand, and to educate your target customers about who you are and what you do. I would recommend that every business create a website when they first start their business, even if it is a very basic one. You can either build the website yourself from a website builder, or you can hire a consultant or expert to build it for you.
There are many different website builders out there that are easy to use and are very affordable, such as Wix, Squarespace, Weebly, and WordPress. They all include various templates and instructions for building your website from the ground up, without a huge cost. Wix is $13 to $39 per month, Squarespace is $26 per month, Weebly is $5 to $25 per month, and WordPress is $8 to $25 per month billed yearly.
You will most likely have to pay for your domain name and for web hosting while owning a website. A shared web host is around $3 to $7 a month, and VPS hosting is about $20 to $30 per month. A domain name costs about $10 to $15 per year. The website builder, web hosting, and domain name all need to be added up and incorporated into your budget when you are starting your business.
Now that you know the initial startup costs that you’ll have when starting your business, it’s time to discuss common ongoing expenses that you should estimate for your starting budget. You will need to continuously add these expenses to your budget throughout the life of your business – but especially when you are just starting out, it is important that you have enough cash on hand for these until you reach profitability.
Here is a list of common ongoing expenses to estimate when you are managing your budget.
Software and Tools
If you need a specific type of software or tool for the work that you do, you will need to incorporate this into your budget. Normally, software subscriptions or web services will be paid on a monthly basis, unless you pay ahead and purchase an annual plan. These subscriptions will need to be purchased when you are first starting up your business, and will continue throughout the life of your business unless you switch software.
For example, if you are an editor or a graphic designer, you will most likely need to purchase a tool like Adobe Creative Cloud. For an individual plan, it is $52.99 per month, and for a business plan, it is $79.99 a month. Whichever plan you would pick is based off of the structure of your business. Regardless, this will need to be included in your monthly expenses.
For accounting tasks for your small business, you can choose from a wide variety of software programs, including Quickbooks and Xero. Quickbooks starts with a free 30 day trial, and after the trial is over the cost per month is between $25 to $150 depending on which plan you need. Xero also offers a free 30 day trial, and then the cost per month ranges from $9 to $60 depending on which subscription you purchase.
The payment processing part of your budget depends on how your clients will be paying you for your work. If your clients will be paying you through their credit or debit card, you will have to sign up for a service, such as PayPal to have the payments processed for you to receive. Services that work from card to card usually have some sort of service fee you will have to pay.
If your clients are going to wire the payments to you, your bank might charge you a fee to receive the money to your account. If they pay you by check or from direct deposit, you probably will not have any additional fees to receive the money.
Equipment and Supplies
Even though equipment and supplies will most likely be a small portion of your ongoing expenses, it’s still important to add them into your budget! Items such as a printer, printer paper, pens, and small appliances are all things that you need to consider.
Plus, if you are going to be hiring a few employees, equipment and supplies will definitely be more costly than if it will just be you at the beginning.
Sources of Funding
Now that you know what common initial startup costs and ongoing expenses are for your business, it is time to discuss funding. Even though you can start your business with limited money, you are probably still wondering how you are going to pay for these beginning costs if your bank account is light right now.
No need to worry! There are plenty of ways that you can receive money for your new business, even if you do not have much money to start with. Self-funding is a crucial part of starting up your new business, so that you can ensure you are able to handle any costs that come your way as your business grows.
Here are a few sources of funding to consider while raising money for your new business.
Friends and Family
Friends and family are a great place to start while raising money for your new small business. If you have friends and family members that you are close with, that you trust, and who trust you, then it is a good idea to approach them for help getting your business off the ground.
Consider speaking with friends and family to invest in you and your company, with an understanding that the money that they invest may not be returned. They may agree to help you out, especially if you emphasize that their investment is in you, not just in your company!
Crowdfunding is known as the use of small amounts of capital from a large number of individuals to finance a new business venture. This allows you as a new business owner to expand your pool of investors beyond who you already know or have met before. It also requires fewer restrictions, which is why it is ideal to make use of crowdfunding when you are just getting started and are in the early stages of your business.
There are many websites that make crowdfunding super simple and effective. On crowdfunding websites, you can create a page for your business where you can accept funds from people who visit that website, and you can make promotional materials as well.
Each website runs a little differently, so it’s important to read into each one before you make your decision of which one you will use. Here are a few crowdfunding websites that are good options for your new business.
Kickstarter is a huge crowdfunding website, and has funded over 85,000 projects and businesses since its creation in 2009. To use Kickstarter, you’ll create a profile page about your business and list your fundraising goal. The website will keep track of how much you have earned so far, and how long you still have to go. To receive the money you raise on the website, you have to reach your fundraising goal, or else your donators get their money back.
When you reach your goal and are receiving money, Kickstarter will take a fee of five percent of your earnings. With this being said, make sure that you set a reasonable goal!
Indiegogo is another good option for crowdfunding for your new business. Just like Kickstarter, you will create a profile for your business, set a fundraising goal, and will receive funding from donators. But in this case, even if you do not reach your fundraising goal, you will still receive your money, but Indiegogo will take nine percent of your earnings. If you do reach your fundraising goal, Indiegogo will take just four percent of your earnings as a fee.
Fundable is a mix between a normal crowdfunding site, and a search for traditional venture capital funding for your new business. On Fundable, you promote your business, set a fundraising goal, post updated timelines, and display your overall business plan.
Your main goal here is not just to have people donate to your business, but to also attract venture capitalists and credible investors. Instead of taking out a fee of your earnings, Fundable requires a monthly charge to use their platform. It is similar to Kickstarter where if you do not reach your fundraising goal, you will lose it all.
Small Business Loans
Small business loans are another good option for funding for your business. Receiving a small business loan from a bank can be challenging, so it is important to be prepared when you are going to ask for one. Create a full business plan, formulate an expense sheet, and list your financial projections for the next few years to present to the bank when you are asking for the loan.
Generating all of this information will also help you to figure out how much money you want the loan to be, and how likely you are to be able to pay it off as your business starts to grow.
Bootstrapping is basically using your own financial resources to pay for your business, especially when you are in the initial stages. Some examples of bootstrapping funds for your business include using money from your savings account, reinvesting money that you are currently making into your new business, and carefully using your own personal credit cards or other lines of credit.
If your business will be based around consulting work or freelancing contracts, bootstrapping is highly possible especially if you charge high enough where you can reinvest in the growth of your business. If you will be selling a physical product with your business, it would probably be beneficial to use the funds from a pre-order of your product to help you get your business started up.
Businesses to Start With Little or No Money
After learning about all the different ways that you can receive funding for you to start a new business, you are probably motivated to get your own business up and running! But what if you know that you want to own your own business, but you don’t have a specific business idea yet?
If this is the case for you, there is no need to worry. Here we are going to discuss various business ideas that you could start with little or no money. With the widespread adoption of the internet and social media, there are a ton of different business options that you can start up with barely any funds, even from your own home.
Freelance writing is one of the cheapest and easiest businesses to start up for yourself. As long as you have a computer, internet connection, and you love to write about a variety of topics, you can become a freelance writer.
Of course, even though that’s all you technically need to start a freelance writing business, skills such as proofreading and editing, research, writing, marketing strategy, and search engine optimization are all extremely beneficial if you want to be a successful freelance writer.
One way to get into freelance writing is to start your own blog on websites such as Squarespace, WordPress, or Wix. You just have to purchase your subscription of choice for whichever website builder you want to use, as well as your domain name and website hosting. You can also set up your LinkedIn profile to connect with professionals you would like to write for, and search through freelance writing job listings that are posted on the platform.
Another way to get into freelance writing is to find open jobs and contracts on websites like Upwork, Freelancer, and FlexJobs. A lot of companies and individuals need to hire someone to write blogs, website content, product or service descriptions, marketing materials, and news articles, and they will post these writing opportunities and freelance sites like the ones listed above.
If you want more details on how to start blogging and to make money from it, check out our article on How to Make Money From Blogging.
Jewelry or Craft Making
If you have a love for creating and know how to make beautiful jewelry or crafts, than you should sell what you make! Make sure that you start out with a decent amount of inventory, and continue to add pieces over time based on how much you’re selling.
Websites like Etsy, eBay, and Shopify are great platforms where you can post the jewelry or crafts you have created and sell them to interested customers. Another way to sell your jewelry and crafts is to build your own website using a website builder such as the ones listed above, and sell your products through there.
If you are going to be selling your jewelry or crafts through online platforms, it’s important that you are knowledgeable about photography. Try to take high-quality pictures that you can post on your websites, so that potential customers can clearly see what you created and what you are selling to them. Create social media accounts for the company you created, and post pictures of the jewelry and crafts that you make and are selling, and link back to your website so viewers can easily purchase them.
Gain additional exposure for your jewelry and crafts by reaching out to local farmers markets and craft fairs to display your products. If you are invited to set up your jewelry or crafts at a booth at a local event like these, give whoever comes to your booth information about your Etsy or Shopify pages, eBay account, or personal website for future purchases.
Social Media Specialist
Thanks to advancements in modern technology, basically every person and every company has some sort of social media coverage. Whether it’s Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, or LinkedIn, there are a wide variety of social media platforms that you could create content and post on behalf of someone else. The need for social media experts and managers is in high demand, so if you are knowledgeable in the world of social media, you should find some work with it.
Conduct research to see if you need a business license or permit in your area to see if one is required to start a social media business. You can choose a business structure as well depending if you do not want to operate as a sole proprietor. If you do operate as a sole proprietor it is free to start and does not require additional paperwork, but operating as an LLC will help to protect your personal assets if needed down the road.
You can find a lot of social media opportunities on freelance websites like Upwork, Freelancer, and FlexJobs, where people will post jobs on behalf of themselves or their companies where a social media presence is needed. Reach out to friends, family, and connections within your network, and see if them or anyone they know might need help gaining more exposure on their social media accounts.
Dog walking is an easy and fun business to start up for yourself. There are dog walking websites such as Rover and Wag Walking where you can list yourself as a dog walker, and people who own dogs can find you through the web and hire you to be their dog walker. They can list what days and times they want you to walk their dog, for how long, and any other tasks that they may have you do for the dog while you are there.
Ask friends, family, and people in your network if they need your dog walking service. You can also join local groups, such as Facebook groups in your area or neighborhood, where you can post that you are a dog walker and are looking for new clients. Whatever way you gain clients for your dog walking business, make sure that you always have a written contract between you and your clients for the legal sake of your business.
Before you begin walking dogs, make sure that you look up local rules and regulations for walking dogs. There may be leashing laws or dog sanitation regulations in your area, so it is important that you follow all rules set in place for walking dogs.
There may also be insurance policies in your area for people and businesses that handle pets, so make sure you know what you need to run your business properly. Pet business insurances are usually around $200 to $400 a month, which would pretty much be your primary business expense as a dog walker.
Virtual assistants tackle tasks that most people don’t want to do, such as answering emails, updating their calendars, writing task lists, and handling customer complaints and inquiries. This is another good business idea that you are able to start with a computer, phone, and internet connection!
If you are an organized person, you can help your clients stay organized and handle a lot of tasks for them as their assistant. Who doesn’t want that?
Even though the startup costs to be a virtual assistant are pretty much zero if you already have the right equipment, there are some skills that you should have if you want to be successful as a virtual assistant. Oral and written communication skills, time management, writing and proofreading skills, and basic computer software knowledge of tools such as Google Drive and Microsoft Office are all extremely beneficial to have.
Depending on your location, you may need a business license to have your virtual assistant business, so it is important to look into this and get any licenses or paperwork done that you may need to legally run it. To find work as a virtual assistant, you can go on freelance websites like the ones listed above to look for open positions, or you can create your own website and brand and pitch your virtual assistant services to others. You can create social media accounts for your virtual assistant business to gain exposure and acquire more clients for your work!
Frequently Asked Questions About Starting a New Business With No Money
Now that you have learned about some business ideas that you can start with little or no money, you are probably asking yourself a lot of questions about starting up a business, including which business you should choose.
Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about starting a new business with no money, and our best answers to these questions to help you get started.
What is the easiest business to start?
This is a difficult question to answer, because it depends on your skills and your passions. When it comes to starting a business with no money, it is smart to create a service business that you can do on your own at the beginning, completely from home. This will save you a lot of money on payroll, leases, and supplies for an office space.
Freelance writing, website design, social media management, editing, and virtual assisting are all great businesses that you can start with just a computer and phone to keep expenses low!
How can I start a business with no money or experience?
This all depends on what you want to do! If you truly have no experience with any industry in particular but want to start your own business, it is a great idea to start with something basic like dog walking, babysitting, or house cleaning.
You can apply on websites that are already designed to connect people wanting to do the work and people who need the work done. This is a cheap and easy way to start your own personal business, with no money or experience needed!
How do I get free money to start a business?
The problem with raising money for a business is that you normally have to pay it back like you would with a small business loan or an investment. The best way to get free money is honestly from your friends and family members! If they believe in you and your business, they can invest in you and help you get started. Crowdfunding can also be an option for this as long as you reach your fundraising goal and do not have to pay it back, and if the fees are not too high for the platform you are using.
In this comprehensive guide, we discussed common initial startup costs and ongoing expenses for a new business, various sources of funding to raise money for your business, and which business ideas are inexpensive and easy to start up on your own!
Starting a new business definitely can be an expensive venture, but it usually doesn’t have to be! If you are determined, strategic, ready to work hard, and able to budget your money properly, then you can definitely start your new business with little to no money.
Now, we encourage you to go make it happen!