Have you thought about starting a business or forming your own LLC? Entrepreneurship can be a great experience for many people — but what if you don’t have the money to start a business? This seems to be the dilemma I hear many people finding themselves in.
There’s good news, though. It’s definitely possible to chase your dreams anyway — here are some of the best ideas out there for starting a business with little money (or no money at all).
The first step to starting a business with no money is figuring out what business structure you want/need. From there, you need to set up and register your business either on your own or using a step-by-step service, such as the one Incfile provides. They make the process quick and ensure you have all the correct information before electronically submitting your paperwork. You can also find a helpful free business startup guide as well as a business checklist to make sure you have everything you need to get your business up and running quickly.
Ready to get going? Here are some ideas to give you a jumpstart:
1. Start a Service-Based Business
A service-based business is the best business to start if funds are tight. If you have a particular skill set that can benefit others, you have yourself a business idea right there.
For instance, let’s say you have amazing sales skills, but you can’t find a job in sales that you really want (or maybe you want a side hustle). Odds are you already have an email account or phone — which is all you really need to get things going in the right direction. Call or email contacts you know who could use your service and give them your pitch about how you can help. Or, hop online and reach out to people or businesses who could use your service to solve a problem. Using this sales example, it could be brokering for a company who doesn’t have a sales team in a certain market where you’re located.
Starting a business with no money doesn’t need to feel like a daunting task. By simply offering a service, you don’t have any overhead in things such as products, nor do you need a warehouse to keep the inventory.
2. It Doesn’t Have to be Perfect
If you think your new business will be perfect from the start, you’re in for a rude awakening (and probably will never get your company off the ground). Every day, entrepreneurs are constantly working on perfecting their business. Starting a business with no money simply means doing just that — putting one foot in front of the other and moving forward, no matter your circumstances.
Get your business off the ground first before you try to perfect things. If it’s your first business, you probably won’t even know what you need to work on without going through the motions and getting your feet wet.
Once you have some revenue to invest in your business, then it’s time to make changes to improve your company. But starting a business with no money should be as lean as possible — which means YOU will be the one putting in the time and work to get it moving and show growth.
3. Produce On-Demand
While I believe the best business to start with little money is a service-based business, there are ways to create products where you don’t have upfront costs. This is called on-demand. There is no overhead or inventory — you simply get the order and have the product produced to send out to the customer.
The process works like this:
- Your product gets out in front of people. I’d recommend using social media, since there are plenty of free platforms to promote your business.
- Customers pay for your product upfront.
- You take that money and put some of it into creating the product ordered. (If you use all of it, you won’t have any profits!).
- You then ship the product to the customer. Alternatively, you can hand-deliver it or have them come to pick it up from you.
This is a simple way of starting a business with no money since you’re effectively using someone else’s: the customer’s. Clearly, this process means your customers might have a delay in getting the products they purchase. As long as they are aware of that upfront, there won’t be any issues. But there are several on-demand companies out there to consider. A simple Google search will show you a list; you just need to know what product you want to produce and sell to narrow down your list of manufacturers to speak with.
4. Work With a Drop-Shipper
In addition to producing on-demand, you can also have an all-inclusive manufacturer who takes care of drop-shipping for you. This way you can collect payment from a customer upfront, put that money into having the manufacturer create the product and then let them ship it out for you too. This whole process lets you be hands-off — other than advertising your product and finding a way to collect the money.
The order process can also be simplified once you have some money in your business account. You can pay for a service such as Shopify to help you create a professional-looking site that links to a drop-shipper — and you can watch the orders come in and go out via your sales report while you don’t touch a thing. You’re obviously going to want to market your product and brand in order to build sales, but this is a great example of how to start a business with no money. Get it off the ground first, and then invest in it once you show a profit.
5. Barter for Things
If you don’t have the money to purchase materials or products themselves, you can barter for things. Yes, that means you’re going to have to swallow your pride a little and offer your services in exchange for the things you need to help start your business and/or keep it afloat.
Starting a business with no money is never easy, and many small businesses come from very humble beginnings. Most people don’t see the process of how you started your business — only the results. So if you can help a supplier by saving them money exchanging services for goods, you might get the things you need for your business without spending any money at all.
6. Google Is Your Friend
We live in an era where we have access to just about any piece of information we ever wanted in a matter of seconds. It doesn’t matter where we are in the world — if you have a signal on your smartphone or connection to your laptop, you can find the answer to any question. This is great because you can Google how to do so many things when starting a business with no money. The information is free and instantaneous.
Google will also let you set up a free Gmail account so you have a dedicated business email. It can be something like firstname.lastname@example.org — simple yet effective.
Another great free resource at your disposal are the many learning tools at Incfile, where there’s tons of valuable information about starting your business on a single site. And don’t forget that when you’re ready, Incfile can help you start your company too.