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Starting a business with no money isn’t the ideal way to start out, but depending on what type of business you start, it can be done.
The secret to getting started with no funding is to get creative and be determined. Contrary to the cliche, it doesn’t always “take money to make money.” There are many entrepreneurs who started their businesses with little or no cash. Here are 14 ways strategies that work.
How to Start a Business with No Money
1. Start a Service Business
If you don’t have any startup capital, service-based businesses are perfect. Product based businesses require you to purchase and then resell. Service-based businesses like consulting, coaching, virtual assistant, web design, or home cleaning services only need the knowledge and equipment you probably already have.
2. Save Up the Money for Your Startup
Saving money isn’t easy to do, but neither is starting a business. If you’re serious about starting a business, look for ways to cut back on your spending. For instance, could you save money by cooking at home instead of eating out, or by bringing lunch to work instead of buying it? Could you enjoy local beaches and attractions instead of going on an expensive summer vacation? Can you watch movies at home instead of going out? Learning to pay attention to and minimize spending will not only help you save cash to start the business, it will also help you keep business costs down once you get the business going, too.
3. Work from Home
Renting office or retail space is expensive. It’s something you may want or need to do to grow the business, but when you’re just starting out, look for ways to work from home. If you work from home, the business won’t need money for rent, utilities and office furniture.
4. Use What You Have
Depending on what business you’re starting, you may already possess the basic equipment, software and tools you need to get started. Hold off buying new or upgraded equipment and software until you start bringing in business and getting paid.
5. Use Free and Low-Cost Marketing Techniques
There are dozens of free and low-cost ways to market your business. Learn them and implement them before you start spending money on paid advertising. Using free promotional strategies at first will help you see if there is a market for your goods or services, and it will help you start to understand what attracts customers so you don’t make expensive mistakes once you are ready to buy ads.
6. Get Creative with How You Raise Funds
Consider the story of how Outbox Systems started. The founders had a dream of connecting two software applications together but didn’t have the money to build it. Instead, they worked out a deal with another company where they would build a similar product for a discounted rate yet retain the rights to sell the product to others. That’s creative financing. How can you get creative with how you raise money?
7. Do All the Work Yourself At First
Rely on your own sweat equity to start a business with no money. Expect long days and the need to learn how to do things you haven’t done before such as marketing or selling or accounting. Doing all these tasks yourself at first save you money and will also help you understand what type of skills each activity requires when the business is making enough profit t hire employees.
8. Investigate Non-Bank Funding Sources
Yes, there’s friends and family but today we have crowdfunding, local and national incubators, accelerators, and microfinancing. If you don’t know what these are, do some Googling and learn about them. Look for communities of investors in your area and tell others about your business. There’s plenty of funding that doesn’t involve banks and credit cards.
9. Start Simple
Your dream might include a pretty big business offering a wide variety of products and services but for now, keep it simple. Sell a single product or service. Build your customer base and later branch out into other products and services.
One of the most expensive parts of running a business is acquiring customers. If you gain their trust with one product or service now, selling something else later is much easier.
Free Business Startup Checklist
Starting a business can be overwhelming! Use this free Business Startup Checklist to make sure you don’t miss any important steps. This downloadable Word document lists the steps you need to take to get your business up and running, and includes space for you to note your own comments and deadlines. You can get the checklist free when you subscribe to the free Business Know-How Newsletter.
10. Start as a Hobby
At some point you’ll have to quit your day job but that day isn’t today. Hobby businesses often come from the person’s love of something. Maybe you have a corporate job during the day but you love to bake when you come home. Start with people you know and allow your network to grow from there. Your marketing costs are zero and you still have money coming in from your day job.
11. Work for Somebody Else
Although they may not admit it, most business owners became entrepreneurs thinking they knew more than what they did. In fact, many businesses fail because the person was ill-equipped to build a successful business.
Before you start your own business, work or intern with somebody in the business already. The experience you gain will allow you to start your business knowing what you truly need to spend money on and what you don’t. You’ll also gain insider knowledge of the industry and possibly a healthy customer list from the beginning.
12. Use Free Services
The Internet is full of high quality services you can use for free. Mailchimp is a powerful e-mail marketing platform that’s free for the first 2,000 e-mail addresses. Wufoo allows you to make online forms, and although Facebook and other social media platforms won’t put your ad in front of large amounts of people unless you pay, you can still gain some traction by telling people what you’re doing.
There’s also freelance platforms like Fiverr, Elance, and Upwork that have quality freelancers willing to help with logo and web design, and other service for cheap. You could get a logo made for $5!
Don’t have any money? Offer to barter your services in exchange for somebody else’s. There aren’t many small business owners that aren’t looking for ways to get quality services for little or no cost. What you have, they want, and they’re willing to trade for it.
Finally, go into your business endeavor with a hustling mindset. Be ready to do anything legal and ethical to get your business off the ground. Don’t like cold calling? Do it anyway? Not a graphic designer? You can find templates online for just about anything. Don’t want to do any free work? It might be worth it to get your name out there. If you don’t have the money to pay for services, you have to do them or find somebody who can and will do it for free.
Just as you would do just about anything for your family, you have to have the same mindset about your business.
It’s possible to get a business off the ground with next to no money. You just have to get creative.
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