How to Start a Business with No Money [2024] 

As any successful entrepreneur or business mogul will tell you, the best way how to start a business with no money is a risky and intimidating affair, even with adequate capital. Therefore, it’s understandable that trying to build a successful business on an empty wallet might seem impossible. However, anyone can learn how to start a business with no money with the right mindset, ideas, and information.

Now, you might have heard that it ‘takes money to make money’, but not all business ventures require money to get started. In your case, the best approach is to first head for low-hanging fruits by using free business ideas to make your own money.

Step 1: Start with Free or Low-cost Business

Some free or low-cost business ideas allow you to follow a proven strategy when starting your business from scratch. These ideas range from service-based businesses to sales and merchandising. Here are some creative and cost-effective business ideas to help you get started, along with some real-life examples.

Identify Products to Sell

The first step in any entrepreneurial venture is deciding what product or service to sell. This step is one of the most crucial and hardest since getting it wrong means every other business process has a high chance of falling apart. The best way to choose the best product to sell is to assess if it falls within your expertise and to conduct adequate market research.

Performing market research entails learning about your target audience, what they need, and their purchasing behavior. This research will go a long way in helping you learn how to start a business by making data-driven decisions that result in success. Using Google Trends to find trending products is a great place to start.

See more in 15 Best Products to Sell on Shopify in 2023 [Guide]

Start a Dropshipping Store

Dropshipping is an excellent business venture for entrepreneurs seeking to learn how to start a business with no money. In this business model, you sell products to consumers and generate income without owning or holding inventory. When a customer places an order on your online storefront, you forward the order to the vendor, who’ll take care of shipping the products to the customer.

A great example of this is Zaid Shahatit, who started Fighthaus, a successful dropshipping business that sells fighting apparel to professional fighters and athletes.

Start a service-based business

Selling your labor-power is one of the oldest professions in the world. This business venture entails selling your experience, skills, knowledge, or resources to an employer who’ll pay you a salary or wage.

These service-based businesses include:

  • Handyman services
  • Freelance writing
  • Social media influencer
  • Digital marketing, like CPA marketing
  • Delivery services
  • Bookkeeping services

The best thing about service-based businesses is you don’t need to have a mastered skill; you just need to have something you can do better than most people.

Sell Handmade Goods or Digital Assets

A lot of people have a soft spot for hand-crafted items, and more often than not, they prefer handmade over machine-made products. Therefore, starting a venture with no money may not be that hard for you if you have a hobby of crafting items. One great place to start is Etsy.

Etsy is an online shopping platform specializing in unique, handmade products. You can learn how to start an Etsy shop with no money by looking at Katrina Bell’s example. Katrina Bell is a proud owner of The Copper Bell, a popular Etsy store that sells cash money candles. She started her business with little cost and kept reinvesting profits in the business until it became successful.

Once you choose which handmade products to sell, you can use an Etsy shop name ideas generator to develop a catchy business name that attracts clients.

If you can’t create handmade products, you can try creating virtual products and digital assets. A great example of a digital asset you can begin with is a digital business card. You can find amazing cash card design ideas and handyman business cards ideas online.

Become a Social Media Influencer

Chances are you have a smartphone and a social media presence; if so, then you’re halfway to becoming a social media influencer. This business model requires you to have an Instagram or TikTok account with at least 1,000 followers. Once you have followers, you can display sponsored content and affiliate links on your page for commission. Some influencers, including tons of YouTubers, also use their platforms to sell their merchandise to their fans.

Step 2: Write a Business Plan

A business plan is a blueprint that aids you in starting and managing your business. This blueprint breaks down the different components of your business, thus helping you have a clear outline of what you need to do when starting a business. And while it’s not completely necessary, a business plan may be useful when looking for investors.

Partners and investors will want to know your business model, growth plans, and how you intend to attain your goals. Therefore, having a business plan can help promote investor confidence in your brand. Investor confidence is important when learning how to start a business with no money since your business will need investment somewhere down the line to grow.

Here’s what you need to include in your business plan: 

  • Company description/overview: provides readers with your business’ basic background information. It may also include business models and legal information.
  • Business model: describes what type of business you’re aiming to operate. Is it a sole proprietorship, S corp, C corp, LLC, B2B, or B2C?
  • Product or service offered: explains what type of products and services you’ll be selling, why people will buy them, and what channels you’ll use to sell.
  • Financial plan: shows projected costs, profits, and how you intend to finance business operations.
  • Market research: outlines what your target audience demographic is and how your approach compares to that of  your competitors.
  • Marketing strategy: shows how you intend to reach and attract your target audience. This section should also outline which marketing channels you intend to leverage.
  • Logistics and operation plan: explains how you intend to get the products into the hands of your customers. You can use third-party courier companies, dropshipping suppliers, or deliver the products yourself if possible.

Step 3: Build a Website

In today’s digital age, having a dedicated online space for your business is crucial to reaching a larger audience. Your website will act as a virtual space to showcase your offerings and attract new customers by educating them about your products. When starting a business using a website, you can use a free website or pay for one.

Although there are several free website alternatives, paid websites make a better impression on your customers and investors. Fortunately, there are many affordable website hosting plans; for example, the Shopify starter plan costs only $5 a month.

Step 4: Create a Brand

Many people believe a business brand is all about clever names and cool logos, but this could not be further from the truth. Branding encompasses many aspects of your business, from business values and mission statement, background story, aesthetics, voice, and tone to hiring practices and marketing strategies. All these aspects come together to tell your brand’s story.  

When starting your own business with no money, including every aspect of your brand may not be possible. Big companies use digital strategists, brand managers, and social media specialists to manage their brands. Fortunately, you don’t need an entire team to manage your brand when learning how to start a business with no money.

You can get started with the following branding components: 

  • Business name – Choose something unique, descriptive, and catchy
  • Logo – create a simple and clean design that is eye-catching and intriguing
  • Brand story – tell your customers who you are, what you aim to achieve, and what makes you different.
  • Brand style – choose a common font, color palette, and imagery style across all your channels.

Just like there are sites to help you generate cash card design ideas, there are sites to help you develop brand styles. One great example is Canva.

Step 5: Validate Ideas with Preorders

Not all your ideas may work out when starting a business, especially when starting with no funds. However, if you’re going the e-commerce route, there’s a simple way to reduce risk and get revenue simultaneously.

Preorders allow you to test the chances of your product ideas succeeding by gauging customer interest and demand before releasing the product. When done correctly, the concept of preorders can create a win-win situation for both retailers and customers. You can get consistent cash flow to build your business by allowing customers to preorder products. On the other hand, customers usually get a great deal since preorders usually come at a lower price.

Once your product idea has generated adequate preorders, you can move on to turning your idea into reality.

Step 6: Choose Your Product Sourcing and Fulfillment Methods

Now that you know which products your customers want, the next step entails finding the right supplier and order fulfillment partner. Finding the right supplier and creating effective fulfillment strategies are essential for the success of any e-commerce store. As a result, this step usually takes a lot of time and can be expensive. However, since you’re learning how to start a business with no money, there are a couple of workarounds when it comes to product sourcing and fulfillment methods.

Integrating apps into your store to handle product sourcing and order fulfillment is a great cost-effective strategy for new merchants learning how to start a business with no money. Some affordable product-sourcing apps on Shopify include Faire, CJdropshipping, and Carro.

When starting a business, you can also avoid high manufacturing and shipping costs by selling cost-effective, high-value items that have already been manufactured and charging customers shipping fees, respectively.

Step 7: Detail Your Marketing Plan

Since marketing is an essential part of any business venture, you’ll need to develop an effective marketing strategy for your business. Your marketing plan should align with your business goals to effectively promote your products.

How to develop a marketing plan: 

  • The first step in developing a marketing strategy is setting clear marketing goals that are achievable and cost-effective. Marketing goals include brand awareness, increased website traffic, engagement, lead generation, customer acquisition, or industry authority. Since you’re learning how to start a business with no money, you should focus your marketing on goals that increase your customer base.
  • The second step includes conducting a SWOT analysis. You must evaluate your business’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT). With this analysis, you’ll be able to identify potential challenges and leverage your strong points.
  • The third step entails choosing the right marketing channels for your business. Your chosen channel should easily reach your target audience to maximize its effectiveness. The best digital marketing channels include email marketing, social media, content marketing, banner ads, organic search, and search engine optimization (SEO). Of these marketing channels, the best and most affordable when learning how to dropship with no money are email marketing, content marketing, and social media marketing.
  • The final step in developing an effective marketing strategy includes monitoring and reviewing the performance of your strategies. You’ll need to change underperforming strategies and double down on successful ones.

Step 8: Source Funding to Grow

While it is possible to start a business with no money, getting a little monetary help from here and there can help improve your chances of success. After all, over a third of all small businesses fail due to inadequate funds. You can avoid this by seeking startup capital from different sources. The funds you find can save your business when you invest them in marketing or inventory.

Some of the best ways to acquire funding when starting a business include –

  • Crowdfunding – This method allows you to collect small amounts of money from other people. The best sites to ask for money when crowdfunding include Crowdfunder, Kickstarter, and SeedInvest.
  • Small business loans – some banks specialize in offering loans to small businesses at low interest rates. If you can’t qualify for bank loans you can easily get loans from lending companies. However, you should conduct enough research when dealing with lending companies as some are predatory.
  • Family and friends – borrowing money from family and friends to start a business is a classic way of generating funds. Just ensure you honor your side of the agreement, as borrowing money from family and friends can sour your relationships.
  • Capital investors – You can offer shares of your company to angel investors and venture capitalists to acquire funds. This is one of the best approaches when starting a business with no money while avoiding traditional debt.
  • Small business grants – governments and non-profit organizations sometimes offer cash gifts to budding small businesses. Keep an eye out for these opportunities in your region.

Exclusive Discount Package to Help You Start a Business with No Money

Now that you know how to start a business with no money, you might be tempted to begin right away. However, we believe this exclusive discount package can help you speed up the process if you want to start an e-commerce business from scratch. The package includes effective and affordable apps and platforms that enable you to get your business off the ground for $1.

Our exclusive discount package includes:

1. Free Shopify account

2. Shopify subscription ($1/month, expires in 3 months)

3. Dropshipman subscription (free plan)

4. SEOAnt (free plan)

5. Trustoo.io (free plan)

6. ParcelPanel (free plan)

How To Get Started with The Deal

1. Sign up for a free Shopify trial account

Head over to the Shopify website and click on the ‘Start free trial’ button, then fill in the required information. This account expires in three days, after which you’ll be required to pay a monthly subscription fee of $1. This offer lasts three months for first-time merchants, meaning the total amount will be $3 after three months.

2. Add products

Go to your Shopify admin’s ‘Products’ tab and click ‘Add product.’ Fill in all the necessary product details and inventory information.

3. Customize your store

You can customize your store to match your branding preferences. Click ‘Customize theme,’ head to Online Store, then to Themes to explore customizing options.

4. Set up your store

Enter basic store information such as the store name and billing information.

5. Set up a payment gateway

Click on ‘Set up Payment’ or head over to ‘Settings’ then ‘Payments’. Shopify supports various payment methods, such as Paypal, Apple Pay, and Amazon.

6. Choose your subscription plan

Once your free trial expires after three days, Shopify allows you to choose any subscription plan that suits your business for $1/month. With this offer, you can access all premium Shopify features for three months.

7. Install the Dropshipman app on your store

You can access the Dropshipman app on the Shopify app store. Click on Install, then log in to your Shopify admin page on the pop-up that appears. Once back on your Shopify admin page, install the app and choose the free plan. Dropshipman can help you learn how to dropship with no money. The app is a great option for merchants looking to conveniently source products and fulfill orders.

8. Add SEOAnt to your store

Access the SEOAnt app. Once you’re on the website, scroll down to the Pricing section and click on ‘Get Started’ under the free plan. This will take you to the app’s page on the Shopify app store. Once there, follow the same steps as the Dropshipman app to install SEOAnt on your store.

This app helps you configure eCommerce SEO components effectively. SEOAnt uses an AI SEO booster to optimize meta tags, structured data, and advanced keyword research to improve search engine rankings. It helps you easily reach your marketing goals when it comes to search engine optimization.

9. Install Trustoo.io on your Shopify store

Access to the Trustoo.io app. Once on the website, follow the steps outlined in the above SEOAnt section to install Trustoo.io on your Shopify store.

Trustoo.io is a great marketing tool for improving customer engagement in your store. The app allows you to build strong social proof by collecting reviews and ratings from different online platforms and social media sites like Facebook and Instagram. Trustoo.io is great if you are starting your own business from scratch and you need to share and add reviews.

Read more in How To Add Reviews To Shopify: Increase Conversion Rates

10. Install ParcelPanel on your store

You can access ParcelPanel Order Tracking and then follow the steps outlined above.

The ParcelPanel order tracking app offers a comprehensive solution for order tracking and shipping notifications, ensuring customers have a seamless post-purchase experience. 

With its user-friendly interface and robust tracking capabilities, ParcelPanel helps to keep customers informed of delivery situations. Consumers can track deliveries through a branded tracking page, maintaining a consistent brand experience and increasing conversion rates. 

In addition, it features powerful analytics, enabling a smart upsell system with 24/7 customer support. Generally, with this app’s exceptional features, you can give your customers the post-purchase experience they deserve.

Conclusion

As any starting a business-for-dummies guide will tell you, getting the ball rolling on a business idea can be a daunting task. And when you’re doing it with zero financial backing, the task becomes much more intimidating. 

However, there are some advantages to starting a business with no money. You get full control of your business as no investors or loans are breathing down your neck. The risk associated with startups also greatly decreases when there’s no money to lose. And finally, there’s high scalability since starting from the bottom means you can only go in one direction.

FAQs

Abby Zeng

Content Manager

I’m deeply passionate about SEO and creating engaging content. My initial goal is to deliver high-quality, informative, and entertaining content that stands out in the digital landscape. By merging analytical insights with creativity, I aim to boost traffic for websites.

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