35+ ways to start a business with no money
With minimal start-up costs or ongoing overheads, there are lots of ways to start a business with no money. Here are some opportunities for budding entrepreneurs to get started with.
1 Food deliveries – Whether it’s delivering everyday essentials during Coronavirus, or satisfying the munchies of the midnight masses, food delivery is a huge market. Advertise your service via social media for free local promotion.
2 Trade online – Selling online is a great way to get your product to customers at minimal cost to you. Set up your own eBay shop for under £20 a month. Take a look at our guide to online marketplaces.
3 Gift baskets – Create gift hampers stuffed with foodie treats like biscuits and jams. With good presentation, they sell for much more than the value of the items included.
5 Hire things out – Invest in something that people want to hire and let the product do the hard work for you. What will you choose? A bouncy castle? Wedding chair covers? A photo booth?
6 Earn from arts and crafts – Whether you’re a gnarly knitter or an inspired illustrator, your crafty creations can earn you money. Online shops like Etsy specialise in online sales for independent artists.
7 Stock photography – If you’ve got an eye for photography and a quality camera, you can raise income by selling your best shots to online stock photography sites. Shutterstock is a great place to start.
8 Clothes repairs – If you’re nifty with a needle, offer clothes repairs. Promote yourself as an environmentally friendly alternative to throwing clothes away and maximise on the movement against fast fashion.
9 Face painting – Are you the envy of your friends at Halloween thanks to your fabulous face painting? You could turn it into your business. Face painting at family events and children’s parties is always popular.
10 Personal trainer – Use your love of physical fitness to help others achieve their goals. To set up as a personal trainer you’ll need public liability insurance, a first aid award and a lot of energy.
12 Moving and deliveries – if you have a van (and the right insurance) you can make money from your muscle. People always need furniture collecting, help moving house, deliveries making.
13 Cleaning company – Busy workers want to come home to a clean and tidy home, so there’s high demand for cleaners. Use the customer’s own cleaning products for minimal overheads. Read our guide on how to start a cleaning business.
14 Ironing and laundry – Life’s too short to do your own ironing! Help customers feel pressed, not stressed, by taking away their laundry and bringing it back ironed and folded.
16 Handyman – A dab hand at DIY? Not everyone is. People will happily pay to have someone else hang their pictures, put up shelves and wall-mount their new flatscreen TV.
17 Social media assistant – Help busy business owners stay on top of their social media by managing it for them. Charge a monthly retainer or by the post. Check out our article about social media planning for small businesses.
18 Post flyers – Offer to deliver flyers for local businesses. Charge them per 1000 flyers delivered. Do the deliveries yourself or secure some low-cost staff like students.
21 Graphic design – Apps like Canva mean you don’t need to design from scratch to create professional results. Use templates to create designs for leaflets, business cards and social media.
22 Event and party planning – Perfect if you’ve got a natural knack for organisation. Offer your services organising corporate events, private parties and even weddings.
23 Wedding / party favours – Everyone loves leaving an event with a treat to takeaway. Create wedding favours, party bags or sweetie cones for event organisers to give away to guests.
26 Doggy daycare – Dog owners can’t always be there during the day to care for their pet. Offer to have them over at your house for a small fee or set up a dedicated doggy daycare.
28 Home tutor – If you’ve got a degree or teaching qualification, support schoolchildren with their homework and exams. Invest in formal training if you want to make this your full-time job.
30 Computer skills mentor – You might find IT easy, but there’s plenty of people who don’t. Set up as a computer skills mentor to share your skills with people who need tech help.here supporters can buy you a virtual coffee to support your activities, like photography or music.
31 CV consultant – If you’ve have a knack for writing CVs, use this to help job hunters. Write their CVs, cover letters and job applications as a one-off or on retainer.
How to Start a Business With No Money
So how exactly do you start a business with no money? Don’t let the lack of funds be the reason you don’t move forward with your entrepreneurial dreams. Once you have a clear vision and confidence in your idea, you can work on finding the money to get started.
There are also many business ideas that require little to no startup capital. However, you’ll probably still need to cover some expenses. Below are some ways you can start building cash flow in order to get your business off the ground.
1. Keep Your Day Job
While having a big idea and going for it may be great, being practical is what pays the bills. Don’t quit your day job with stars in your eyes and throw yourself into growing an untested business. Believe it or not, keeping your day job will make it more likely you’ll succeed.
Here’s why: if you maintain a steady source of income while starting and building your business, you’ll be more likely to take risks. While it may be hard to balance both your full-time job and your business for a while, doing this will help you scale your business faster and give you the security to try new things.
You can also use your income to invest and grow your business at a faster pace. Once you get your business off the ground, transitioning from an employee to a business owner will be a lot easier. Take the time to build a solid foundation so you can set yourself up for long-term success.
2. Use Services to Generate Cash Flow
If you’re looking to start a service-based business, you don’t need a lot of cash flow to get it off the ground. Just set it up and start marketing your services. Product-based businesses, on the other hand, require up-front capital to get started.
Even if you don’t have the funds to start your product-based business today, don’t despair. Consider providing services to generate cash flow and fund the product aspect of things. This can be something related to your product idea such as consulting or an entirely different line of business.
The extra cash flow can help you save up faster to build your product prototype and start testing. Just make sure you draft a timeline and create a budget to help move your product business idea along.
3. Put in Sweat Equity
No one is going to be as invested in your business as you are. You have to have the drive and hustle to work around the clock and make your dreams a reality. Chances are, you’re going to have to get in the trenches and make things happen.
Do whatever it takes to build a solid base for your new venture. Get on the phone, knock on doors, make connections, go to tradeshows – whatever will move the needle in the right direction.
Getting in the trenches also means making mistakes. This is actually a crucial aspect of building a new business. Mistakes are how you’re going to learn what works for you and your business–and what doesn’t.
All the time spent laying the groundwork will also make it easier for you to onboard new hires in the future. Since you have first-hand experience of what it takes to succeed in your business, you’ll be able to show your employees how to be successful.
4. Build a Prototype
Having a prototype also lets you test and troubleshoot potential problems before trying to go to market with your idea. Even large, multi-billion dollar companies build prototypes and test, test, test.
Having a poorly-made and badly thought out product is a surefire way to lose your customers’ trust. Do the best you can to build a test product and perfect it until you have the best version possible before you go to market.
5. Consider a Business Startup Fund
If you have a business idea but you’re not quite ready to get started, try building a business startup fund. To get started, open a separate account and label it with the name of your business idea. This will remind you why you’re saving every time you transfer money.
You can set aside some funds every paycheck, use part of your tax refund, your year-end bonus, and so on to add money to the account. Set a target amount and keep adding to it every way that you can. Consider getting a side hustle to quickly grow your savings.
Don’t Pay for Banking
To start your business savings efforts, take the step to open a free business checking and/or savings account. This will ensure you keep your new business endeavors separate from your personal finances.
A good business account will have all the services you’ll need – things like a debit card, bill pay, connection to accounting software, and the ability to take payments. Nowadays you can usually find these services for free.
6. Research Small Business Grants and Local Funding
As a small business, you may qualify for a grant to help you get up and running. The Small Business Administration works with different organizations to provide federal financial assistance if you meet certain criteria.
Preparing for Opening Day
Preparing for your first day in business is not going to be like most people think of where they finally have an office space. You’ll either be going around to neighbors houses or working on your computer because the best business to start with little money from home is an online business.
Honestly this section should really be described as how to start an online business with no money. You’ve got a great business idea, but now you need to figure out how great business ideas become successful businesses.
Some online advertising will also offer deals, but be careful when accepting them. I once accepted an offer for $500 for free when you spend $500. It started before I was ever given access to the account. I never got access to the account and 18 months later I got a call telling me I owed them $500 for services.
Online businesses are great cause they allow you to deduct some of your living expenses like utilities, rent, and internet connection from your taxes. You get to be your own boss, and a lot of the expenses are fixed costs. From my standpoint, you definitely want to understand how to start a business with no money online.