How To Start A Business With No Money
This Question Is A Trap To Avoid
There are very few barriers to starting a business. It costs next to nothing to register a company name and secure a website address. Boom, you’re in business, and you’ve spent very little money. Now what? The problem is not, how to start a business with no money. The question is, what business is worthy of your blood, sweat and tears for the next five years or more?
What Does Starting A Business With No Money Mean?
Starting a business with no money means something different for everyone. No money often translates into discretionary funds. It’s money you can invest without taking out a loan, tapping into your line of credit or credit card.
No money might mean you plan to invest other people’s money rather than your own.
No money is tens of thousands for some people, and for others, it literally means no money.
What do you mean when you say no money?
No Money Businesses Are A Myth
Starting a business with no money means you plan to invest more time in your business than money. But since time equals money, you’re still spending money.
Investing your time in business setup and operation means you’re giving up money you would have made working on paying activities elsewhere. There is always a cost.
It’s easy to convince yourself that your time is not as valuable as real money. This self-deception makes it easier to rationalize your huge personal investment.
Every start-up entrepreneur sinks thousands of hours into their new venture hoping the payoff will somehow justify the sacrifice. Most people invest many thousands of real dollars as well. Sadly, the vast majority of these businesses fail in their first year or two.
It’s A Sobering Statistic
Despite all the time and money invested, most businesses fail. Even worse, many invest years into building a company that has no hope of ever being profitable enough to compensate for the up-front investment.
These zombie businesses are just successful enough not to die. They linger and survive, but they never thrive.
These undead businesses rob you of your time, health, relationships and more. And they keep you from investing in other ventures more worthy of your time and commitment.
Just like movie zombies, these ventures are incredibly difficult to kill. Why? Because of the herculean effort you invested. It leads to attachment. It’s your baby. Plus, you feel compelled to recoup your investment, justify your effort and save face.
Maybe rather than looking for a business to start with no money, there are better and more useful questions to ask?
Alternative Questions To Consider
Half the battle in any inquiry is asking the right questions. Some alternate questions to consider include:
Is this a business where:
- I don’t have to invent anything
- there’s significant demand for the offering
- there’s limited competition
- there’s potential to grow and scale
- it’s a good fit for me and my personal goals
- costs are low, and margins are high
- the business is easy to explain, refer to others and sell
- I’m passionate about the business purpose and will stay fully engaged for years
Or is this a side-hustle:
- with low up-front costs
- where I can keep my day job
- where I can make enough money to make it worth my time
- where I already have the skills and equipment
- where there’s pent-up demand for the offering
- with limited certification, regulatory or insurance requirements
In both scenarios, you’re looking to be as purposeful. strategic, and selective as you can.
Critical Self-direction Questions
Perhaps more important than selecting a business is getting clear on your reasons and objectives for starting a business. Without first being clear on why, it’s nearly impossible to make a good choice.
Without knowing your reasons and objectives, you’re likely to get into a business that sparks a passing interest rather than one that makes good financial sense.
Clarifying questions to consider:
- Why do I want to start a business?
- Do I want staff, or is this more about lifestyle and self-employment?
- Do I have the communication skills to direct and manage others?
- Am I looking for time flexibility?
- Am I okay with working behind a desk, or do I need to be outside?
- Do I want to work from home, a physical location or on-site with customers?
- What businesses do I already understand and have experience in?
- Is my partner on board for this marathon rollercoaster ride?
- How much money do I need each month to live?
- How much financial risk am I willing to take on?
- How much money can I invest?
- How much time can I commit to this venture each week?
- Can I keep my day job until this business cash flows?
- What skills will I need to develop, and am I willing to learn?
That’s A lot Of Questions
Yes, it is. And there are many more questions like these to consider. These are just the preliminary scoping questions. If you don’t like disciplined and critical thinking, business ownership might not be right for you. That’s okay too.
Why Answer All These Questions?
It’s vital to answer all these questions carefully because you have so much at stake.
People often worry about the cost of getting into a business. They may not appreciate the ongoing expense of being in a business or the cost of getting out of a business.
Starting and running a business is much more demanding and time-consuming than people realize. If you’re going to be a business owner, you need to go into it with your eyes open and a solid dose of reality.
The reality is your odds of failing and losing your investment are much higher than your odds of success.
What’s On Today’s Low-Cost Business Menu?
Let’s get back to your original question. “How Do You Start A Business With No Money?” There’s no shortage of articles offering lists of business ideas you can start for almost nothing. There are links at the end of this article we hope you’ll find useful. It can be interesting and thought-provoking to see and consider so many different business ideas.
And if you’ve already asked yourself a bunch of qualifying questions, a list of business ideas can be quite helpful. You can scan these lists for suitable options you might have never considered. You can shortlist these options and test their fit against your selection criteria.
Which Businesses Have the Lowest Start-up Costs?
If you’re really tight on funds, a service business is usually the least costly option.
What’s A Service Business?
A service business, in simplest terms, involves someone helping someone else get something done.
Obvious right? There are thousands of different types of service businesses to consider, categorized into five broad groupings.
Service Business Categories
- Unskilled Labour
- Personal Services
- Skilled Trade
- Professional Services
- Unregulated Services
Unskilled Labour Services
Unskilled Labour Services include businesses such as junk removal, litter cleanup, grounds maintenance and different types of cleaning services. It’s not that there is no skill or care involved, it means you don’t need a diploma, degree, or certification to offer the service.
These businesses rely on your communication skills, workmanship and whether you are trustworthy. These are great businesses for physical people who loath the idea of working a desk job.
Being social or anti-social doesn’t impact these businesses. Often the so-called unemployable people find a home here since they can set their own rules and timetables.
These are often the simplest and easiest businesses to start with almost no money.
These types of companies may not be as glamourous or as high-tech as other businesses, but that does not mean they are not worthy of consideration. These businesses are often overlooked and, as a result, may have fewer competitors.
If you truly have no money and want to get into business for yourself, then look very closely at this business category.
The website you’re on now is such a business. We invite you to look at how our company works if you fit this category.
Personal Service Businesses
Personal Service Businesses serve people’s individual needs, but they require vocational training.
Hairdressing or fitness instruction are examples of personal services. The benefit of personal service businesses is their nearly universal appeal. Realtors fall into this category, as do wedding planners, personal organizers, house sitters, and many others.
Skilled Trade Businesses
These businesses require a trade school education, apprenticeships, and several industry certifications. Skilled trade businesses commonly include electricians, plumbers, carpenters, tile setters, gas fitters, welders, mechanics, truckers etc.
If you have a skilled trade, this may be the business category to consider.
Professional Service Businesses
These businesses are for people with advanced degrees, board certifications and years of experience. The most common examples include accountants, engineers, architects, dentists, chiropractors, and doctors.
As with skilled trades, if you have a professional designation, your business of choice may be obvious.
Unregulated Service Businesses
Unregulated service is the catch-all category for the remaining service businesses. Several new business models get lumped here. Many internet-related service businesses such as graphics design, social media, SEO consultants and content creators fall into this category.
Why Write This Article?
We prepared this article because we get asked the, how to start a business with no money question a lot.
We started our business over 40 years ago with almost no money.
We started our business part-time, at night, until it grew enough to operate full-time. People call these part-time businesses side-hustles today, but 40 years ago, they called it moonlighting.
We spent years growing our side-hustle, then business into a $600,000 per year operation.
While we’ll never compete with Elon Musk or Jeff Bezos in the race to the stars, we’ve been successful.
We’ve been our own boss for over 40 years. We’ve travelled and financed our kids’ university educations, and we’ve not wanted for anything. We’ve been where you are now, and we know what the path you’re on looks like.
After 40 plus years in the litter cleanup business, we’re approaching retirement and would like to help others experience the success we have.
We’re not selling a franchise or pitching some expensive training program. We’ve created a training manual for motivated, ambitious, and hard-working people who want more control over their lives.
What we’re offering is a book that details how our business works. We also offer free coaching and mentorship from our founder to help you do what he did.
What he did was create a great life with a very simple business idea he started with almost no money.
If you’re interested, you’re one click away from discovering America’s simplest business. We hope you’ll take a minute to learn more.
Are You A Fit For This Business?
You might be if:
- you live in or near a city of at least 30,000 people
- you prefer to work outside, on-location at a customer’s business
- you’re physically fit and enjoy walking
- you can lift 10 to 30 lbs a few times per day
- you’re diligent and willing to speak to property managers to sell your services
- you have a reliable vehicle and a cell phone
- you’re willing to show up consistently and pay attention to details
- you can invest about $200 in learning and equipment
If this is you, we hope you’ll consider our low start-up cost business idea.
Either way, please invest the time and answer all the questions posed. The time you spend up-front researching and getting clear on what’s right for you is the most important step you can take.
We wish you well in your path to successful business ownership. It was the best decision we ever made. We hope you have a similar experience.
Our Favourite Articles Listing Low-Cost Business Ideas
These are the best articles we could find offering tips on how to start a business with no money.
12 Low-Cost Business Ideas for Introverts
12 Side Hustles That Pay Well
16 Easy Businesses to Start
20 Cheap Businesses You Can Start in Your Spare Time
25 Businesses You Can Start for Less Than $100
26 Businesses You Can Start for Free
27 of the Most Profitable Small Businesses to Open in 2022
The 49 Best Home Business Ideas for 2022
50 Self-Employed Business Ideas You Can Start for Under $100
65 Businesses You Can Start While Working Your Day Job
70 Best Ways to Make Extra Money on the Side in 2022: $500+
How To Make More Money – 100+ Great Ideas
200+ Small Business Ideas with Low Investment
If you have a favourite article you would like to see in this list; please share it with me and I’ll add it to the list.
Inspired Money: How To Make $650,000 Picking Up Litter with Brian Winch
Brian was recently a guest on Inspired Money where he spoke about growing Cleanlots from a part-time job to a full-time business, types of customers served, and factors that go into pricing litter pick up.
Here are three key takeaways from the interview:
When starting a business, it’s less risky to start small. At 21 years old, Brian started Cleanlots without a college degree, no business training, and little extra money. He called property management companies and quickly landed three accounts. In three or four months of part-time litter cleaning, he was making more money than his day job, so he quit that to build his business full-time.
“The intention was for it to be a side gig and eventually become a full-time business — a simple one-man operation. Out of necessity, because my clients were so happy with my service and I didn’t want to turn them down or turn any work down, we scaled up into a profitable business where three or four people are working. Then it continued to grow where we’ve got about ten or twelve people working for us full-time. It’s a pretty simple service that we provide, and it’s almost as easy to do as going for a walk.”
Over 40 years, customers who come to know, like, and trust you tend to ask for additional services, but Brian learned to stick to his core business. “We bill out over six figures, typically about six hundred thousand dollars a year, in litter picking work and we don’t do anything else. We don’t do snow removal, we don’t cut grass, we don’t do pressure washing.” The result has been a great business with loyal customer relationships that can last over 10, 20, or 30 years.
Brian says that it’s important to provide great service. “What you need to do is provide that extra value, and so we make that point when we’re out cleaning our properties. If we see things like somebody’s dumped a sofa and mattress at the back of the building or their wall has been tagged with fresh graffiti or a stop sign has been run down in the parking lot, we always contact our clients and let them know about these things. It shows them that we were out at the properties cleaning them, but we’re also an extra set of eyes for them. It helps us to strengthen the relationship with that particular client, so that they’re more likely to want to continue doing business with us and send business our way because they get that little bit of extra bonus.”
Hard Work Pays Off
Cleanlots has survived through many recessions and continues to thrive even during a global pandemic. Brian said, “We were very concerned when businesses were being shut down. When businesses aren’t making money, they can’t pay rent. If landlords or property management companies don’t have that money coming in, they can’t pay their service vendors.”
It turns out that business remained busy with an increase of litter like latex gloves, masks, and sanitary wipes being left in the parking lots of grocery and drug stores.
Not one to rest on his laurels, Brian pitched this story to his city’s largest TV station. Within 15 minutes, a producer contacted him, and the news station filmed a story about Cleanlots cleaning one of its customer’s parking lots. This PR was positive for current and prospective customers to see.
While not everyone wants to do this job, Brian encourages those who want to work outdoors to consider it. He even sells a Cleanlots Operations Manual, a how-to on starting a litter clean up business, and provides free support. “Here’s a way that you can start your own business and be successful, provided that you are passionate, patient and persistent. If you work your business, the business will work for you.”
Find show notes at www.inspiredmoney.fm/150 and listen to the entire Inspired Money interview on your favorite podcast app that’s probably already on your smartphone.
About Inspired Money: Improve your money mindset with host Andy Wang, named a top influential financial advisor by INVESTOPEDIA, as he interviews actors, entrepreneurs, non-profit leaders, and even a former WWE wrestler to help you get inspired, shift your perspectives on money, and achieve incredible things. Whether you want to launch a side hustle, pay down debt, or give money to charity, listen to Inspired Money because big things begin with just a little inspiration.
15 Inexpensive Business Ideas You Can Start
Do you want to start a business from home and are searching for inexpensive business ideas you can start quickly? Are you looking for a simple to operate business that doesn’t require the time and money to develop specialized skills? If you want a legitimate business opportunity, you need to be prepared to work the business if you want the business to work for you. Riches don’t come overnight, but you can make a good living from being your own boss.
There are many inexpensive business ideas you can start as a side hustle. You might choose to keep it that way to supplement your income from your full time job. Eventually you may decide to quit your job and focus your time on your business. It’s a nice choice to have.
I faced such a choice myself in 1981. I was working a full time job and wanting more out of life and realized my job couldn’t provide it. I didn’t have much money or education but I had the desire to work for myself. My late father used to have a simple side gig to supplement his full time income when I was a kid. He provided a simple litter cleanup service outside a neighborhood shopping plaza that was almost as easy to do as going for a walk! I started a similar service while still working and within months I decided to go full time with my business and quit my job.
Being your own boss is a rewarding experience. If you’re willing to put forth the effort, seek help when necessary and not give up, you can turn one of these ideas into a successful business.
Check out Susan Ward’s post, 15 Inexpensive Business Ideas That Anyone Can Start.
Don’t have much to invest? Check out this list of business ideas for profitable businesses you can start quickly and inexpensively. Read more…
100 Business Ideas to Make You a Promising Entrepreneur
Many people desire to work for themselves. The idea of doing what you want to do, being able to choose your working hours and the thought of making money for yourself and not someone else is very appealing. But how do you choose the right business idea for you, and turn it into your dream business?
Frankly, anything that you would love to do, or are really good at can be developed into a business. A little self assessment, research, work and determination are required to achieve your goal. Here are some things to consider:
- Are you looking for a side hustle or a full time business? Many successful businesses started out part time and were grown into full time endeavors. Perhaps you can get enough satisfaction from having just a side gig.
- Do you want to sell a product or service? Would the product be your own making or something drop shipped from a company such as Amazon? Can your service be provided from your home office or is it performed in the field?
- Do you enjoy working in an office or retail environment or would you prefer working outdoors or traveling from one job site to the next?
- Are you a “people person”? Do you enjoy working with others on a job or would you prefer the solitude of working by yourself?
- Do you enjoy working behind a computer or working with your hands?
- Do you prefer the routineness of a job or being able to create things?
- How much money do you have to start a business?
Rima Pundir makes some good points in her post, 100 Business Ideas for You to Become Your Own Boss. Check it out.
There’s so much you can do when it comes to running your own business in this ever-expanding world. Business ideas include pet hotel, toy making… Read more…
15 Easy-To-Start Green Businesses
Joining the growing, earth-friendly movement towards a more greener environment can put more green in your bank account and provide the satisfaction that you’re making the world a more beautiful and prosperous place for generations to come. Some entrepreneurs recognize the many opportunities and are starting green businesses that reduce, reuse or recycle waste materials.
We’ve been providing a simple green litter cleanup service outside retail, office and industrial properties for over 30 years. We offer a daily on-foot service using inexpensive hand tools to property management companies who need to maintain their properties litter free. Almost as easy as a walk in the park!
We help provide our clients with a cost effective entry point into the environmental stewardship conversation through commercial litter control. We promote healthy commercial surroundings and play a key role in our clients ability to retain and attract new tenants to their properties as well as improving a company’s image with customers.
Cleaning up litter may not seem like it makes much of a difference, but you’d be surprised about how harmful litter is to waterways and wildlife. In no small measure we make a significant contribution to the local cleanup effort, and so can you with your own green, environmentally responsible business. To learn more about the importance of litter to the environment, take a few moments to read about Keep America Beautiful.
Here are a few of the many eco-friendly, home based businesses you might want to start, written by Priscilla Huff. Check out her post, 15 Easy To Start Green Businesses.
15 Easy-To-Start Green Businesses Read more…
5 Reasons to Start a Home Based Commercial Cleaning Business
Most people don’t like cleaning, but then most people don’t get paid to do it. A home based commercial cleaning business can be a great home business choice. It can be very profitable, offer flexible hours, and be built quickly without special skills or experience.
Every commercial building requires some type of cleaning service to maintain a professional and clean environment. Janitorial services, window washing and outside litter removal are 3 examples. These services are most often provided daily, month after month, year after year, in any economy, good or bad. Cleaning contracts provide consistent business and income.
People have started commercial cleaning businesses with very little money and have grown them into very profitable businesses. You don’t need a formal business education or special skills as you can learn from an existing business or franchise model. Many janitorial supply companies also provide online or classroom training. Most cleaning work is performed after hours, or when the businesses are closed, so you can start out by doing all the work yourself even while working a full time job. You can build your business further by taking on people who are in need of a second income and able to work nights. Invest in tools that will maximize your time and effort.
Cleanlots offers a simple, low cost, outdoor service opportunity. For more on how to get started in commercial cleaning, read 5 Reasons to Start a Home Based Commercial Cleaning Business, by Mindy Lilyquist.
5 Reasons to Start a Home Based Commercial Cleaning Business plus tips to getting started. Read more…
101 Best Side Business Ideas to Start While Working Full-Time
Most of us don’t have the luxury of being able to quit our full time jobs to pursue starting a business. We have our financial obligations to meet, never mind finding the extra money necessary to start a business. That’s why you should consider starting a side business while working your day job as a means to self employment. You can start generating a business side income, then decide whether you’re satisfied or want to grow your side business into full time self employment.
I started a side business while working a full time job in 1981. I was uninspired by my job and looking for a business from home opportunity. My prospects were slim as I had no special skills, no business education and limited capital. But what I had was the motivation to change my life for the better and a desire to work for myself.
That’s when I remembered my dad used to make extra money on the side by cleaning up litter outside a neighborhood shopping plaza. I’d gone along with him a few times as a kid and I remembered thinking how easy the work was. It was literally a case of us walking around the property cleaning up litter before the stores opened. All we needed to do our work were inexpensive hand tools. We would walk up to a piece of litter and simply sweep it into our litter collection tool. Almost as easy as going for a walk!
It was then that I decided to start a commercial litter cleanup business from home on the side so the work wouldn’t interfere with my full time job. I contacted property management companies and offered to clean their retail, office and industrial properties on a daily basis. After just two months I was making more money than in my full time job. That’s when I gave my employer my two weeks notice that I was quitting my job. I decided to operate my business full time
I turned my initial $200 start up investment into a $650,000+ per year business. I never dreamed I could turn a simple litter cleanup side business into such an enjoyable lifestyle, but I did. Now over 35 years later, I’m nearing retirement. I’ve enjoyed my life and I want to share my success with people like you. That’s why I created Cleanlots. I want you to achieve freedom and control over your life and income. I want to empower you to create your dream lifestyle. With the purchase of my book, Cleanlots, you’ll also receive access to FREE email and telephone support directly from me. This is possibly the easiest, most honest and least expensive way for you to start your own side business from home. Here’s to you – taking control of your life!
I’m a realist. This business isn’t for everyone. With that in mind, check out Ryan Robinson’s comprehensive list of 101 Best Side Business Ideas to Start While Working Full Time. I hope you’re inspired by one of these proven business ideas that can be done while you still keep your day job – and primary source of income.
No matter how rewarding your full-time job may be, finding the right side business idea and eventually becoming fully self-employed is even more meaningful than great pay and solid benefits. Choosing the path of entrepreneurship working on your business idea is without a doubt riskier than being content with holding a 9-5 job, and requires way more sacrifice. However, once you’re reaping the lifestyle benefits of being your own boss and hustling your way into making significantly more money than you ever could at your day job, the hard work will have all been worth it. Read more…
6 Types of Businesses You Can Start With Almost No Cash
Starting a business requires money for various start up expenses. You’ll need to decide whether you’ll operate as a sole proprietorship, LLC or corporation. Other legal expenses are filings for business name, business license, business insurance and business bank account. Are you going to create your business and financial plans or pay a professional to do them? Same for your book keeping and accounting systems. Don’t forget your domain name, website and marketing start up costs. You can see, it does take some money to formally start any business.
There are certain types of businesses you can start with little money, other than the typical start up costs. Some businesses don’t require costly equipment, products or a store or office. There are service type businesses that can be performed with an investment of time instead of money. A commercial parking lot litter removal business is one example. All you require to perform the service are simple hand tools. Work full or part time based from home. I’ve been successfully operating this business since 1981 and I can personally show you how to do the same.
Jayson Demers writes more about the type of businesses that can be performed with an investment of time rather than money. Check it out.
After you get your business started and start earning revenue, your lack of startup capital will become less of a problem. You can reap the profits from your venture and reinvest them, or use them to start an even bigger business. Read more…