If you want to know how to start a business with no money, the first thing you need to do is to learn how to be a reasonable person.
Why? Well, because like any average person, the first thing that you’re going to think is:
So, if by the end of this article you can learn how to:
- Create an alternative business plan
- Source a reliable external cash flow solution
- Start thinking like a real business entrepreneur
Well, then, you would have to admit that you were being unreasonable.
Benefits of Starting a Business
Sure, starting a business with no seed capital will be tough, but the path to business success has never been easy.
The fact is that with the arrival of so many new digital business tools on the market today, it is actually easier than ever to start a small business.
So, why take the risk?
Even if you have nothing more to lose than your time, what kind of opportunities are open to you as an entrepreneur, and why is now the perfect time to take the next step?
- Interest rates are lower than ever. The Federal Reserve has cut interest rates to practically zero until at least 2023. Meaning that loans are cheaper, and small business loans are more affordable resources for new entrepreneurs.
- Services are cheap right now. You can’t build a business without resources. Still, luckily, there is a free digital service out there for everything from email marketing to graphic design that will help your company get started.
- The world of work is changing. Millions of people are working from home, and that dramatic shift has opened up new business opportunities for companies and investors. Now is the time to become your own boss.
All over the world, people are ready to invest, and crucially, ready to invest in something new. So, even if you don’t have the money yet, there is plenty of opportunities to make some.
1. Assess your business idea
Every business needs a business plan. If you are trying to launch a business without any capital, your business model needs to be airtight.
Identifying the best way forward is a case of assessing the market and narrowing your business operations down to essential needs only.
Without any money immediately available, you should build your idea around the following:
The first step for your new company will be pooling people, opinions, partners, and ideas, rather than trying to find funding for products and services.
Don’t start your venture by trying to plug a gap in the market. Kickstart your idea by bringing everything that you have into one place before you move forward.
2. Grow your savings
Without the security of external funds, businesses looking to secure a reliable cash flow will need to save up some money first.
Luckily, there are plenty of ways to do it:
- Invest in stocks. Playing the stock market can be an excellent way to make money on the side, but it can also be hazardous. Most investors have the capital to make high-risk bets, but you might consider a low-risk investment such as an index fund if you’re just starting out.
- Monetize your real estate. No, this doesn’t necessarily mean you should remortgage your house. It might be an idea to rent it out if possible to secure some steady income.
- Set a goal. Try to set yourself a savings goal for your venture. One idea would be to save up six months’ worth of savings into ready cash that you can invest in your company.
3. Ask friends and family for funding
Asking friends and family for money for a business idea is not asking for a handout.
If you have a solid plan and a terrific product, plenty of people will be ready to help, knowing that their trust will be repaid down the line.
When asking friends for funds, you should consider:
- Strategy. Are you going to ask a handful of people for a large amount of cash or ask for a smaller amount from many contributors?
- Investment type. Will you be exchanging capital for a stake in your company? Perhaps you will pay dividends in the long run. You might even be able to trade funds for access to your company’s products or services.
4. Join startup incubators and accelerators
Startup accelerators support early-stage businesses through mentorship and funding.
Startups join accelerators for a fixed time period along with a number of other new businesses to share resources and facilitate intense learning by doing.
There are some serious business benefits to joining a startup accelerator that include:
- Support. As an entrepreneur, your best asset is your network of others you can rely on in business. Outside of securing capital, making networks with other entrepreneurs is one of the most valuable parts of the startup incubator process.
- Increased visibility. Finding funding from investors is much easier if you put your business in the spotlight. Startup incubators are regularly scouted by investors looking for their next project.
- Access to knowledge. You might know your product and your business niche, but anyone will tell you that the only way to be successful in business is to understand things on a broader scale. Access to mentors in accelerator programs can be a great place to start.
- New customers. Customers are the lifeblood of any business but finding more of them is a common problem for new businesses. Share your experience with others and learn from the way that other entrepreneurs work.
5. Consider crowdfunding
Crowdfunding works by encouraging lots of individuals and organizations to invest or donate to your business in return for a potential benefit down the line.
While crowdfunding seems like the perfect low-risk strategy to grow funds, there are always both pros and cons.
- It is a low-risk way to raise funds
- You retain your company equity
- Successful crowdfunding validates your product idea
- Your business can build a dedicated community before it even gets started
- Crowdfunding platforms can charge high fees
- Your campaign might fail, and the reputation of your product or service may suffer
- It can take a long time to build revenue
- You may have to spend a lot of money on marketing and early-stage product development
6. Apply for a small business loan
With interest rates at practically zero, there has never been a better time to apply for a small business loan.
Money is cheap to borrow, and governments are looking to stimulate their economies by promoting and supporting small businesses.
Still, to start applying for a loan, you will need to make your business into an attractive prospect for the banks.
To do that, you will need a:
- Good credit score
- Rock-solid business plan
- Business license
- Financial plan and revenue projections
After that, you need to know what type of loan is right for you. The most common business loans are:
- Term loan. This is the type of loan you are likely to be familiar with – a fixed-term loan at an interest rate set by the lender. You will usually need a credit score upwards of 700 to be successful.
- SBA loan. The U.S. Small Business Administration may offer you a line of credit, but these loans have strict eligibility requirements that may be difficult to meet as a new business.
7. Get a credit line
A line of credit is another form of business loan which allows your business to borrow money up to a given limit that the lender establishes.
It is more flexible than a traditional loan in that your business can borrow freely at any point. For example, it allows you to buy new machinery or to expand your business when you need to.
You will only pay interest on the funds that you borrow, and as long as you don’t exceed the maximum limit, your business can borrow money and repay it as it wishes.
It’s a similar concept to a credit card, but where credit cards typically have higher, variable interest rates, a credit line has a fixed rate.
As such, it can be the perfect way to start growing your business without too much risk.
8. Sell your services
Instead of investing in a physical product to sell, an entrepreneur can sell their services.
Some businesses, such as consultancy, might require more advanced qualifications and experience while setting up as a dog-walker only requires that you love our four-legged friends.
A service-based company can work with little more than a website and some expertise and can be a good way to bring in revenue without a large amount of seed funding.
Saving the best until last, the most effective way to grow is to meet possible investors and win them over.
Between LinkedIn and the conference circuit, there are more ways than ever before to meet players in your sector and find new revenue streams for minimal effort.
Even if you are not looking for funding directly, networking can help you to understand the finer points of your industry and build relationships with company leaders that will be invaluable down the line.
5 Low-Cost Business Ideas to Start in 2021
Now that you have the theory, it’s time to put it into action.
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Cleaning is something that everyone can do.
If you want to start a business with no money and are a bit of a neat-freak, then it could be the perfect business idea for you.
After all, you only need some inexpensive supplies and a website to get things started.
Dropshipping makes it easy and low-risk to sell products online.
No need to invest huge amounts of money in product development – just find the right one from a trustworthy supplier and introduce it to a new market with your design on it.
In 2020, the world’s highest-earning YouTuber was just nine years old and made a cool $30 million.
Proof that you don’t need much to make it big online.
Big businesses are global enterprises.
If you can speak more than one language fluently, you can become a very helpful asset to a lot of people with a lot of money.