How to Start a Business with No Money in 2022 • Part-Time Money®

Business Ideas that Require No Money

Many service industry businesses can be started with nothing.

  • For instance, you could start a dog-walking business. All you need is time, your two feet, and a way to get the word out.
  • Start a lawn-mowing or house-cleaning business. Tell your clients you have to use their tools and products. (Some clients may actually appreciate this, if they have preferences on cleaning supplies, for example.)
  • Start a moving company. Tell your first client that you need them to rent a moving truck.
  • Start a food service business. Tell your first client they need to provide the funds for the first trip to the grocery store.

Sure, you’re not going to attract every customer with this approach. But you don’t want every customer. You want JUST ONE…for now.

Read more: 20 Unique Business Ideas (That You Can Start Today!)

I have to plug online businesses here as well, since that’s what I have. There are some minor costs involved in starting an online business: domain and hosting.

But most online business software is open source (i.e. free) these days, so as long as you have a computer and Internet connection, you can start to build your online business.

  • Some ideas include blogging, social media marketing, SEO services, and so on.
  • I will plug freelancing as well. Freelancers don’t even need a domain or hosting. Just hustle. Open up a PayPal account, start hitting up the freelance job boards and get to work building your freelance business.

Don’t limit yourself to just your own time and skill, though. Make plans to own a freelancing business where you use your connections to start hiring freelancers of your own. That’s how you grow your business and your income!

Related: 6 Online Resources Every Freelancer Should Use

Choose a low-cost business model

If you don’t have ready access to cash, you’ll want to choose business model that doesn’t require much money to get started.

It usually costs far less to start a service business than a company that sells products since your income is generated by your skills and time rather than from physical items that you need to make, buy or store.

Low-cost service businesses include things like:

  • Tutoring and training
  • Consulting
  • Photography
  • Writing and editing
  • Translation
  • Graphic design
  • Digital marketing.

Video

14. Programming

While it is possible to teach yourself programming and build your own app, programming services will always be in high demand. If you are a skilled programmer, you can start a business with no money offering your programming skills.

Here are some useful tips for landing your first clients as a freelance developer, and if you’re interested specifically in building apps, check this article out.

How to start a business with no money or credit

Get a secured credit card ASAP, use it to fund the business, and earn credit by paying it off each month.

25. Event planning

We’ve covered the process of becoming an event planner extensively here on Bplans, including my articles How to Make More Money As an Event Planner, 11 Resources You Can Use to Grow Your Event Planning Business, and our free wedding and event planning sample business plans.

An event planning business can be a great free (or at the very least inexpensive) business to start; you primarily need a computer and capital to create a website and any branding materials. In addition to the links included above, the Event Manager Blog has plenty of great resources (such as this article on How to Start an Event Planning Business).

6. Purchase an insurance policy

It might slip your mind as something you’ll “get around to” eventually, but purchasing the right insurance for your business is an important step to take before you officially launch. Dealing with incidents such as property damage, theft or even a customer lawsuit can be costly, and you need to be sure that you’re properly protected. 

Although you should consider several types of business insurance, there are a few basic insurance plans that most small businesses can benefit from. For example, if your business will have employees, you will at least need to purchase workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance.

You may also need other types of coverage, depending on your location and industry, but most small businesses are advised to purchase general liability (GL) insurance, or a business owner’s policy. GL covers property damage, bodily injury, and personal injury to yourself or a third party.

If your business provides a service, you may also want to consider professional liability insurance. It covers you if you do something wrong or neglect to do something you should have done while operating your business.

Build up six months’ worth of savings for expenses

Admittedly, tapping intoyour savings account isn’t the ideal situation. Yet, it’s a pretty common practice among entrepreneurs. When designing your business plan, be frank with yourself about how much you’re spending and how much revenue you’ll likely bring in. Then, be realistic about how long it will take before you see a profit. Usually, it takes about at least six months before you start seeing any cash flowing in. Make it a goal to save at least six months’ worth of living expenses so you can devote yourself to your new business.

4 Best Businesses to Start with No Money

2. Freelancing & Consulting

All you need to start freelancing or consulting is a marketable skill, a computer, and an internet connection. Everything beyond that is just a bonus.

Freelancing and consulting share a lot in common. Consulting is similar to freelancing, except that instead of creating deliverables, you’ll be selling your advice and expertise.

There’s a market for virtual assistants, writers, programmers, designers, photographers, recruiters, and more. If you’ve built a solid career and portfolio in any of these fields, then there’s a good chance clients will be willing to pay for your work.

Eventually, you’ll want a website to host your portfolio and build your credibility—but it’s not a necessity on day one. If you’re struggling to find initial clients, you’ll need to invest in marketing yourself. However, you should be able to get started by networking with your friends, family, colleagues, and previous employers.

Your earnings may start small as a freelancer or a consultant, but they’ll grow steadily alongside your experience and portfolio. Every client you win isn’t just a paycheck—it’s an opportunity to create career-long relationships. It’ll also help make you a better writer, which will help you bump up your rates and score bigger, higher-paying clients.

3. Blogging

Blogging often gets hyped up as a way to go from nothing to six-figure income in months. While there’s real earning potential behind this profession, approach it with a bit more realism—optimism, too, but realism first.

It doesn’t take much to start blogging. Instead of building an audience on third-party sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, Medium, or Tumblr, invest in your own property. It’ll cost a few bucks, but it’ll give you more versatility with monetizing your audience in the future.

You’ll want to build a basic website, and most of these come with pre-made blogging functionality built-in. Hosting fees for a website and a domain will cost you around $100-$200 a year, which provides plenty of functionality for you to get started.

Beyond that, you’ll need a computer and an internet connection—and that’s about it.

Monetizing Your Blog

Now, as for revenue. Once you’ve built an audience and consistent traffic to your website, here’s how you can start monetizing:

  • Ecommerce: Sell your own products on your website. If you don’t want to invest in inventory, consider selling print-on-demand or digital products. For example, you could write and publish an ebook or course for free and sell it on your site.
  • Affiliate marketing: Don’t want to sell your own products? Sell other businesses’ products and get paid a commission when your readers click through your affiliate links and make a purchase.
  • Advertising: Run ads on your page and get paid for impressions or clicks.
  • Donations: Notice those sites that ask you to donate $5 for a cup of coffee or to help support the great content? That might seem like a small amount of money, but it can be a significant revenue-maker if you’re raking in thousands of monthly viewers.
  • Memberships: If people are devouring your content, they might be willing to pay for it. Consider locking premium content behind paywalls. For example, you could start a subscription-based newsletter using a membership platform like Substack.
  • Sponsorships: Brands may want to get in front of your niche audience, and they’ll be willing to pay to do it.

Internet Businesses

There are a lot of Internet businesses you can start with very little money. You might be able to make a fortune if you can develop a highly popular blog or website. But the more sure bet for making money in the Internet space is for service type businesses. Just like with any other business, you want to carefully plan and start your Internet business.

Social media serviceSelling on eBayDropshippingVirtual assistanteBooksEtsy sellingStart a blogSEO specialistAffiliate marketingSelling domain namesSmartphone appsWebsite designCustom T-shirts

Find investment if its needed

Some types of business are simply impossible to start without any money. That may include businesses in the manufacturing, technology, construction, retail, or hospitality industries.

In this case, you might want to consider getting a loan or seeking out investment.

Bank loans

You might be able to get a business loan from a bank, although this may be hard if you have no collateral at all.

Government grants and loans

There is support from the government for certain industries and regions.

Bank of Mum and Dad

Family and friends may be willing to provide you a loan free of charge, or for a share of your company.

Crowdfunding

There are various crowdfunding websites – such as GoFundMe and Kickstarter – which allow people to either donate money or buy small shares in your idea if they like the sound of it.

Angel investment

This is often associated with technology startups. A wealthy backer invests in your business in return for shares.

Business idea: In-home services

Services don’t cost you any money up-front because they’re intangible goods. And if you’re working in people’s own homes or neighborhoods, you won’t need a physical headquarters for your business. For example, you could start a babysitting service, a dog-walking or pet-sitting service or something like landscaping or snow-plowing.

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How much money does it take to start a business?

According to Shopify, starting a business normally costs $18,000 for business owners with zero employees, while a business with up to 4 employees spends $60k during the first year. Shopify included 300 business owners in their study and found that they funded their business in the following ways:

  1. 198 used personal savings
  2. 90 reinvested revenue
  3. 69 got support from friends and family
  4. 63 got a personal loan

In other words, you’ll probably need some skin in the game because bootstrapping is the number one way of starting a business. Shopify goes on to explain the percentages a business should aim to spend on various aspects of the business. They suggest the following:

  • Operations: 10%–15% – Software for managing business. This can be fairly low. For instance, Quicken is $100/year and will make keeping track of accounting easier. Cloud based services normally have free trial periods to get started.
  • Product: 28%–36%: When selling goods divide the cost by.28 to get the price you should sell for. Use Printful to make this process easier.
  • Shipping: 8%–12%=should be covered by the customer unless they spend over a certain amount.
  • Online: 9%–10%=Cost of software directly attributable to selling product
  • Marketing: 7%–12% =You or outsourced
  • Team: 14%–30%=You starting off.

I have included some observations after Shopify suggested percentages.

The good news is that you’ll really only need about $1,500 per month to operate for a year.

Let’s look at some more commonly wondered things.

Network With Communities of Support

There’s no need to go it alone as you jump into entrepreneurship. And in fact, joining in-person and digital communities of like-minded peers can be an incomparable help in moving you forward.

“You can attend events and trade shows where prospective investors can be found,” says Eliza Nimmich, cofounder and COO of Tutor The People. “Through social networking platforms, you can even access different online communities where you can find helpful advice and support to bring your company to life.”

Tapping into the knowledge, advice, and even funding that others offer can be done without spending anything, though it’s important to have a lot of congeniality and goodwill in the bank.

Bonus: How to Market Your Business with No Money

Forget business cards, classified ads, and the telephone book now. Who still reads that stuff anyway? Market your business for free online.

Use , set up a Facebook page, email all of your friends and family to help get the word out.  Or consider using Thumbtack. You can post your business online for free and just pay when a customer reaches out. All you need is one initial client to get the ball rolling. Do a kick-ace job with that first client and they’ll send you more business.

Get 1 Customer -> Do a Great Job -> Ask them to Refer You -> Do a Great Job Again -> Repeat

There are people in this world who would love to help you get started with your business. People love the upstart entrepreneur. Just put yourself out there, tell people what you need to get started, and then overwhelm them with your service and skill.

Once you have some cash rolling in, use it to legitimize your business and grow your business into something that can sustain you.

Know what type of business structure you want to have 

Sole proprietorship, general partnership, limited liability company (LLC) and C-corporation may be legal structure terms you need to understand. As a start-up, you don’t need to know how your business structure will be over the next 10 years. However, it would be advantageous for you to know what your structure should be in the next year. This is so you can structure your business appropriately. More than likely, you’ll start out as a sole proprietor, or in a partnership if you can convince someone to take the plunge with you :). 

Knowing the type of business entity you want to evolve into, and how you share responsibility will affect your company’s roadmap, financial planning and maybe even your business name. 

10. Grow your business

Your launch and first sales are only the beginning of your task as an entrepreneur. To make a profit and stay afloat, you always need to be growing your business. It’s going to take time and effort, but you’ll get out of your business what you put into it. 

Collaborating with more established brands in your industry is a great way to achieve growth. Reach out to other companies and ask for some promotion in exchange for a free product sample or service. Partner with a charity organization, and volunteer some of your time or products to get your name out there. 

While these tips will help launch your business and get you set to grow, there’s never a perfect plan. You want to make sure you prepare thoroughly for starting a business, but things will almost certainly go awry. To run a successful business, you must adapt to changing situations. 

Free download: Free download: We’ve created a sales plan template you can use to scale customer acquisition.

“Be prepared to adjust,” said Stephanie Murray, founder of Fiddlestix Party + Supply. “There’s a saying in the military that ‘no plan survives the first contact,’ meaning that you can have the best plan in the world, but as soon as it’s in action, things change, and you have to be ready and willing to adapt and problem-solve quickly. As an entrepreneur, your value lies in solving problems, whether that is your product or service solving problems for other people or you solving problems within your organization.” 

Business idea: Consulting

Many workers think about becoming entrepreneurs only after getting several years of professional experience under their belt. Think about the industry you’re in, and how much you’ve been able to learn in that time. Up-and-coming professionals, or startup business owners will likely be glad to pay you for your expertise. Consulting is a service that costs only time to produce but can be highly valuable as a career opportunity.

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Conclusion

Don’t let the lack of money or lack of experience be your excuse for not starting a business! There are plenty of excellent businesses you can start today with no money.

What will be more important in determining your ultimate success will be choosing a great business idea – and also learning everything you can about how to start a business.

What Are the Cheapest Businesses to Start?

There are many business ideas that require very little money to start, including:

1. In-Home Services

Any business that allows you to work in the homes of your clients will save you on overhead costs since you won’t need a physical office to do your work. In-home services include tutoring, nanny work, pet-sitting, and dog walking.

2. Skilled Labor

If you have specific, in-demand skills like those of a handyman or landscaper, you can start a business with low overhead costs, since you won’t be working in an office. You will need to invest in the tools of your trade, but you’ll save money by not paying for a physical establishment for your business.

3. Business Consulting

If you have senior-level professional experience in an in-demand industry, you can transfer your existing skillset and put it to work as a consultant. Many business owners and startups are happy to pay outside professionals for their expertise and your business will require few overhead expenses.

4. Virtual Assistant

Becoming a virtual assistant takes very little money: you’ll just need an internet connection, a computer, and a phone. To work as a virtual assistant you’ll need to oversee scheduling, prepare reports, and perform research for your clients.

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