Start a Business with No Money: Do You Want it Bad Enough?

how to start a business with no money down

You don’t need money to start a business!

Want to improve your finances by adding more income to the mix?

Start a business.

Want to start a business of your own, but think you need a lot of money or small business funding to kick things off? BS! Sure there are some types of businesses where full ownership will be limited if you can’t come up with your own capital to fund things (e.g. a franchise).

But don’t think for a second that you have to possess a lot of cash to get a business up and running. In fact, some of the best business can be started with little or no money what so ever. You just need to choose the right kind of business, or be willing to start slow and grow it.

Don’t take my word for it: listen to any episode of the Part-Time Money podcast. Most of these businesses were started with little or no 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 and your two feet. Start a lawn mowing or house cleaning business. Tell your clients you have to use their tools and products.

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.

I have to plug online businesses here as well because that’s what I have. There are some minor costs to 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.

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.

Invest in the Business Once You Have Cash

Obviously a lawn mowing business would fair better in the long run if you had your own equipment, so use some of the money you initially earned from those first jobs to buy equipment. The same goes with any business. Borrow until you can buy. Then buy more when you need to expand.

As PT Money grew, I started spending money on marketing, improved hosting, and freelancers to make this a better business. Truthfully, I probably waited too long to start reinvesting in this business. Don’t be like me. Take more chances early on and reinvest in your business. Especially if you’re still hanging on to that full-time job.

Additionally, there are legal considerations to running a business. Some businesses need insurance, legal services, etc. As soon as you can afford it, get insurance to protect you and your customers.

How to Market Your Business with No Money

Forget business cards, classified ads, and the telephone book for now. Who still reads that stuff anyway? Market your business for free online. Use craigslist.org, set up a Facebook page, email all of your friends and family to help get the word out. All you need is one initial client and you’ll 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.

Did you start your small business with little or no money down? How did you do it?



Last Edited: May 6, 2013 @ 2:23 pm
About Philip Taylor

Philip Taylor, aka "PT", is a husband and father of two. He created PT Money back in 2007 to share his thoughts on money and to meet others passionate about managing their finances. All the content on this blog is original, and created or edited by PT. Read more about Philip Taylor, and be sure to connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, or view the Philip Taylor+ Google profile.

Comments

  1. Great post, and I agree with you. I also have an online business, but I would also recommend to others about learning from those who have succeeded first. At the very least, ping a few questions off of those that are currently doing what you might want to do. For instance, if you want to start that dog walking business, shoot some emails off to a few dog walkers. You can just Google “dog walkers” and post a question on their blog or shoot them an email. In this world of technology, people and businesses are at your fingertips. Use that resource and educate yourself the best you can about anything that you want to pursue. It will help you succeed in the long term. Keep up the great posts!

  2. Excellent tip, Dr. Lawler. My success in online business is definitely a product of my relationships and the things I learned from people who are essentially my competitors. If I was starting a business from the ground up, I would definitely do lunch with someone already having success there.

  3. Funny you mention that you have learned from your competitors. I was just reading the other day about a word that encompasses that concept….”cooopertition” (cooperation with competition). It is an interesting concept. For instance, travel sites, such as kayak.com, that have other sites, such as orbitz.com in their searches. Orbitz is in direct competition with Kayak, but it builds credibility for Kayak to include Orbitz. That in and of itself helps build loyalty. You have to love the world we live in. Thanks for the quick reply to my comment. Take care.

  4. HI,,,
    Nice post i think this is a IT year and mostly people used to work promote their business via web-site by marketing their business. I think this is best source for marketing point of view.

  5. It is funny you mentioned lawn mowing business…that is exactly what my husband did.
    We iive in a small rural community so the jobs are scarce, and without anything other than a high school diploma, my husband’s options were slim. He has worked many different types of jobs, but most were temporary gigs, then the rest of the time he was working in at a fast food job. Needless to say he was not very content with that.

    The idea to start up a lawn care business came up after he had started doing a couple of small lawns for some elderly people that were friends of the family. Soon they had recommended him to others and when he realized that there was so much demand he decided to start his own business full time.

    We had bought a house with a large yard so we also had purchased a nice heavy duty Craftsman rider, and he had the weedeater & push mower so he had all the equipment he needed to start up except for a truck. He bought an old used truck for $800 and drove that for 2 years. He worked by himself the first year, but had to have a helper for the 2nd year because the business had grown so much. It has been 5 years/seasons now and each year gets better & better.

    He makes way more now in the 7 or so months of working for himself than he did when working a dead end job all year long. He gets the winter months off to pursue other projects (mostly doing home improvements on our home) & he doesn’t have to deal with anyone other than his customers. No more coming home complaining about people he had to work with or such…Now he is so much happier, which makes the rest of the family happier too. That makes it all worth going through the first 1 or 2 lean years to get to this point.

    I now know of several people who have taken that leap and started their own very successful businesses. You just have to be smart about it and have a safety net or backup plan. Learn to use what you already have – skills, tools, networks, etc. and build from there. It has changed our lives & our outlook…We feel more in control of our lives & future.

  6. Wow. This is comment of the year, aj! Thanks for sharing your story. I’m so happy that you guys have found something that makes your family happy and prosperous.

  7. Thanks for the feedback! I personally started an online business with $10 that it took me to register a domain name. I have to say that it took longer to build my business with no capital and a slow revenue stream, but it was worth it in the long run. Learning to make due on a shoestring budget is hard, but a great learning experience for new entrepreneurs.

    • Jeevan Bhandary says:

      Can I know the idea of what type of online business did you started???

  8. I would agree that starting an online business is great thing to try if you don’t have alot of capital. But just because the amount of money you need to start up is low, doesn’t mean its not going to be alot of work. But, if you are willing to work there is alot of opportunity on the internet right now. I’ve been making a good living online since 2006 and things are going pretty well. There is definitely a learning curve for new people, but if you put in a few years of hard work, you will get there.

  9. Agreed! There is a lot to learn and yes, a learning curve….but to NOT start an internet business …one of the greatest opportunities ever!…is incomprehensible to me….but hen again….I’ve always had an appetite for a challenge and a fun experience.

  10. opem source is not necessarily free. just sayin’

  11. I don’t know if many other’s have the same situation as me. I have a great idea for a unique business that I know will make money, a real good business plan and many people supporting and wanting this place open. my problem is my past relationship caused my credit to go bad. I have been improving it for the last 4 years now he is gone, but banks do not see a personal side they see a number side. I am a hard working mother of five children so I live pay check to pay check. If I don’t have thousands of dollars investors turn their back. I am determined to make this work, but finding the money resources have been impossible. Any suggestions for my situation?
    thanks,
    One determined mother to make a better life for her children.

  12. I don’t know if many other’s have the same situation as me. I have a great idea for a unique business that I know will make money, a real good business plan and many people supporting and wanting this place open. my problem is my past relationship caused my credit to go bad. I have been improving it for the last 4 years now he is gone, but banks do not see a personal side they see a number side. I am a hard working mother of five children so I live pay check to pay check. If I don’t have thousands of dollars investors turn their back. I am determined to make this work, but finding the money resources have been impossible. Any suggestions for my situation?
    thanks,
    One determined mother to make a better life for her children.

  13. I don’t know if many other’s have the same situation as me. I have a great idea for a unique business that I know will make money, a real good business plan and many people supporting and wanting this place open. my problem is my past relationship caused my credit to go bad. I have been improving it for the last 4 years now he is gone, but banks do not see a personal side they see a number side. I am a hard working mother of five children so I live pay check to pay check. If I don’t have thousands of dollars investors turn their back. I am determined to make this work, but finding the money resources have been impossible. Any suggestions for my situation?
    thanks,
    One determined mother to make a better life for her children.

  14. I don’t know if many other’s have the same situation as me. I have a great idea for a unique business that I know will make money, a real good business plan and many people supporting and wanting this place open. my problem is my past relationship caused my credit to go bad. I have been improving it for the last 4 years now he is gone, but banks do not see a personal side they see a number side. I am a hard working mother of five children so I live pay check to pay check. If I don’t have thousands of dollars investors turn their back. I am determined to make this work, but finding the money resources have been impossible. Any suggestions for my situation?
    thanks,
    One determined mother to make a better life for her children.