Got the buzz to start your own business? Becoming an entrepreneur is a brilliant idea for anyone with the energy, patience and stamina to give it a go. Yet sometimes, the entrepreneurial spirit is willing, but the financial body just isn't able yet. If you're broke and curious about how to start a business with no money, look no further. We've got everything you need to launch your own endeavor today for the low, low price of free.
5 steps to start a business with no money.
1. Start here, now.
What do you already own or know how to do that you can monetize? Take an inventory of your home, your skills and any enterprising outlets that only utilize the space, resources and know-how you already have. The internet is your friend here and so is research, if you're unclear of just how your skills can make you money. But the right idea for you can be easy to recognize. Do you like taking pictures? If you already own a camera or have a decent one built into your phone, then that's a perfectly viable way for you to start making some money and building one.
2. Explore services before products.
Because making stuff often requires buying stuff first. So, unless you have a nice stash of already-made crafts, think about what you can do to make money first. Selling your photography online via stock or drop-ship websites works. Do you own a car that gets excellent gas mileage? Think about running errands or even driving folks to the airport. Services are easier (and cheaper) to provide than products.
3. Spread the word.
You don't have to have a massive advertising budget to launch your enterprise. In fact, you don't need a budget at all. It's worth repeating: you can totally start a business with no money. After all, there are tons of free website platforms available, and social media (and your local grapevine) cost exactly zilch. Building your company and its brand is all about networking. Which takes time, not money. So, build a website, start blogging and posting and don't rule out the real world. Door-to-door sales are a tried and true way to get the word out, and your friends and family are also an invaluable resource for referrals (and free advertising!). One of the key elements of starting a business with no money is growing those networking muscles and letting folks know you're available.
4. Invest your profits back into the business.
You made your first sale? Congratulations! Now go buy some business cards, a domain name or some more supplies. When you're starting a business with no money, don't expect to turn a profit immediately. Your goal is, first of all, to build a solid foundation for this business, not pad your bank account. So, invest your profits into the things you need to help this company grow. Pro tip: make sure some nice-looking business cards are the first things you invest in.
5. Stay flexible.
One of the great things about being an entrepreneur is having a high degree of flexibility about what you do for money. And rest assured, no matter how humble your venture might be here, you are definitely an entrepreneur. So, learn your market, and adapt to it. Because while you might start out as a lawn-care generalist, dealing with everything from mowing to snow removal, if you come across an increasing demand for garden design and maintenance, give some serious thought to moving in that direction. As you build up, a niche is more or less probably going to find you. Be open to letting that happen, and growing with the opportunity when it does.
10 businesses you can start for $200 or less.
1. Cleaning service: $50-100 for cleaning products.
Cleaning homes is a solid way to make either a little side money or a full-on income. And it doesn't matter if you live way out in the country or smack in the middle of some urban sprawl: there are always going to be folks willing to pay someone else to dust and vacuum. Remember to market yourself based on the services you provide, be it the basic pass-through like sweeping and bathrooms or full-on housewifery like laundry, bed-making and meal prep. But remember: you don't have to just do houses. Small businesses are also a good avenue to explore. Bonus: you can clean stores in the evening after they close — and after you get off work at the day job.
2. Dog walking/pet-sitting: $200 to join a professional association.
If you love animals and have some free time during the day, when the nine-to-fivers are away, dog-walking and other pet services are an excellent way to start a business with no money. If you have a bit of cash in the beginning, invest in some flyers and business cards, and start spreading the word. Once you book a few clients, consider investing in a membership with a professional association, and take advantage of any certifications offered. These can add a lot of cache to your business.
3. Tutoring: $200 for association and certification fees.
A love for sharing what you know could lead you to tutoring — but finding clients can be tricky, depending on what you want to teach. There are a few websites that act a bit like temp agencies, connecting tutors with clients, but they do charge a registration or membership fee. Think of this as an investment, however, because tutoring isn't just for kids struggling with algebra. Adults pay tutors for any number of services as well. Once you get going, you're likely to establish a solid clientele.
4. Photographer: $200 for domain name, advertising or trade shows.
If you already own a camera (or an awesome cell phone), hanging out your shingle as a photographer is a great way to start a business with no money. However, a photographer without a great website is a photographer with no portfolio. And zero clients. So focus on buying a domain name and creating a stellar display of your photography. You can also list prices and services and, once you start booking, have a way to share galleries online with your clients. If you go the wedding photography route, setting up a booth at a bridal trade show is one of the best ways to book couples. These do require registration fees, and decorating a booth will carry a bit of cost, but if you book even one wedding (and if you're any good, you can count on at least a few), this will be money well spent.
5. Handywoman: $200 or less for business cards and any tools you don't already have.
If you're a born tinkerer, becoming a handywoman might make perfect sense. Chances are, a lot of your friends and family are well aware of your handiness, having no doubt called on it a time or two. So, make up some simple cards and hand them out to your loved ones for a little free advertising and referrals. And stop into local small businesses and restaurants yourself, not only to leave your card on any community boards they may have but also to offer your services to the owner. If you're already fairly comfortable with most kinds of basic repair tasks, then the overhead of going into business as a simple repair gal is super low.
6. Lawn care: $50 for gas and oil for your equipment.
If you've got a mower and aren't afraid to sweat, then mowing lawns and performing other lawn care services is a great idea. Door-to-door selling is a prime way to get customers, so you don't even need an advertising budget. Just bring your mower to a neighborhood, and start knocking on doors. Repeat customers may even let you use their own equipment. And don't think this sort of service is just for summer, either. Taking care of a property is a three-, even four-, season gig. From weeding to hedge trimming, from winterizing to snow shoveling, a lawn care business is a cool idea for anyone with some physical stamina and a love for the outdoors.
7. Homemade gourmet goods: $50 or more for supplies, equipment and packaging.
If you're a dab hand with the rolling pin or have an impressive catalog of recipes for vegan, gluten-free or other specialty diet baked goods, consider starting a bakery right out of your own home. Consult your state health department and check out cottage food laws to get an idea of what goods are considered "low-risk" and therefore fairly easy to sell from your personal kitchen. Becoming a baker-for-hire could lead you in an endless number of directions, from bakery owner to holiday gift-basket creator. The potential to grow this kind of company is seriously serious.
8. Website designer: $100-200 for design certifications.
If you've got computer skills and you like collaborating, designing websites will be a fun and relatively easy thing for you to build. You can market yourself to small businesses, nonprofit organizations, freelancers, artists, musicians... pretty much anyone you want to work with. The need and demand for awesome websites are real. How many people do you know right now trying to launch their own side hustle, build a brand or start a business? And how many of them would gladly pay someone else to design their website? Exactly.
9. Event planner: $100 for some of the more basic certifications.
Weddings, anniversaries, birthday bashes and corporate events: what these all have in common is that they require some very careful planning. Wrangling all the ducks that need to be put into a row for any one of these affairs requires not only a certain personality but also an organized soul. Is that you? Then start volunteering to plan and coordinate everything from your friend's big dinner with the in-laws to the upcoming company picnic. Get your feet wet, get the word out and get planning!
10. Crafts and homemade goods: $200 for supplies and craft fair fees.
Knitters and soap makers of the world, unite! That thing you do simply because you love to is just waiting to make you some money. From Etsy to your local arts fest, there are just so many ways to turn your hobby into a biz. You can design and create whatever you feel like, make these items by request or both. Booths and tables at fairs can vary in pricing, but starting your own little shop online is quite affordable. It's good to explore all avenues as you're able, however, because this is totally a great way to start a business with little or no money.