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.
7 Reasons Why You Need a Business Mentor—And How to Land One
One way to get strategic with your business trajectory is to land a trusted adviser in the form of a mentor. Mentoring can take many forms, such as a one-on-one relationship or a mentoring circle within an organization. The best mentor-mentee relationships involve two-way learning and reciprocation.
Mentors help professionals feel more engaged, derive more meaning from their careers, and grow their businesses. According to the Small Business Administration, small business owners who receive three or more hours of mentoring report higher revenues and increased growth.
Need more of a push? Here are seven reasons why you need a mentor this year:
1. A good mentor will help you identify blind spots
Blind spots are a funny thing because they exist for everyone—even the most successful leader. But when blind spots are our own, we are oblivious to them. While you yourself may not easily recognize where your weaknesses lie, a mentor can help you improve self-awareness. Think of this aspect of mentoring as a healthy reality check.
2. Give you access to a sphere of influence
A mentor can offer a large network of connections that you might not otherwise have had access to. Would your business benefit from introductions to more distributors, potential customers, or new vendors? Your sphere of influence facilitates these key interconnections.
3. Allow you to benefit from a free resource
How many small business resources can you name that cost $0? Not that many. And you can’t put a price on a mentorship, except for time spent. Both parties should agree to meeting parameters, times, dates, and agenda items so you can meet as efficiently as possible. When you enter a mentor-mentee relationship in an organized way, it will be time well spent for both parties.
4. Cheer you on through ups and downs
We could all use a cheerleader in our corner, especially when it comes to the trials and tribulations of running a successful small business. When you are paired with the right mentor, they genuinely want you to succeed. Your mentor will encourage you during your lows and be one of the first to celebrate your highs.
5. Challenge you in positive ways
Short-term and long-term goals aside, a great mentor will also challenge you to think outside the box. In an article in Inc., John Brandon explains one of his own techniques for mentoring: “One strategy I’ve used with those I’m mentoring is to assign a fairly difficult task to complete—something that will require my involvement. I don’t see mentoring as just a weekly chat. It’s an ongoing relationship and one that should always be moving toward a specific goal. It has to be intentional and specific, not vague and by the seat of your pants. Keep track of the task together and use it as a teaching aid.”
6. Share what they’ve learned from their own experience
Learning from others’ mistakes can be priceless. Who wouldn’t want to shorten the learning curve when it comes to building your small business? In most scenarios, a mentor is older, wiser, with years more business experience. With that experience comes tales of far reaching success, and also brutal failures. Honest, vulnerable conversations with your mentor will help shape your future business decisions.
7. Help you overcome your complacency
Have you ever felt stagnant in your business? A good mentor will help you establish realistic goals, hold you accountable to the tasks that help you achieve those goals, and push you when you feel like giving up.
How to find a business mentor
Once you have decided that you would like to have a mentor, how do you go about locating the right one for you?
Look at your current network. Is there another small business owner whose company’s growth is something you’d like to emulate within your own business? Take stock of your LinkedIn connections to see who is open to mentor-mentee opportunities.
Check for local SCORE opportunities. SCORE was founded in 1964 as a nonprofit resource partner of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). The SCORE network includes 10,000+ expert volunteers offering business mentoring and workshops at 300 SCORE offices across the country. Visit the SCORE website to find the closest local office; your local SCORE chapter will help pair you with a suitable mentor.
Investigate contacts within your specific industry. You might think this suggestion is counterintuitive for competitive reasons. However, seasoned professionals who are passionate about their field often offer mentorship services to other small business owners in their own industry.
See if there are private organizations in your area, such as the Pink Mentor Network
, a mentorship community for women in Charlotte, North Carolina. Also discover state-funded mentorship communities such as Business Mentor NY
Finding someone you admire should be a top priority. Make a short list of potential candidates and see where your personalities align. You can feel them out by having informal meetings where you discuss your goals and trajectory before officially asking them to be your mentor.
When asking a person to become your mentor, you want to be direct. Try something like, “I can see you’re a great team leader and I’m managing a team for the first time. Would you be able to work with me over the next year to become a great team leader?”
Once you have committed to the process, good luck. And if years from now you find yourself being asked by someone to be their mentor, draw on this experience and pay it forward!
3 Ways To Make Your Small Business Seem Like A Big Business
You’re a one person business operating from home. So how do you gain credibility with your prospects? There are a number of ways you can make your small business seem larger than it really is.
We, not I.
Always refer to your business in the plural form. It gives the impression that your business has a team ready and able to handle any customer service issue. Sure, you may be responsible for sales, customer service, accounts payables/receivables and your the sole service provider. But your prospects don’t need to know that. You can still refer to yourself as owner/operator with your focus on personal service. You need to keep in mind your prospect’s or client’s concern whether your company is large enough to service their needs.
Here are some simple ways you can accomplish this:
- Have a dedicated business phone number where all calls are answered with your business name. I’m still amazed how many small home based businesses utilize their personal phone number for business. This is not a place to be cheap. If you want to be taken seriously then you need to convey to your prospects that you’re a legitimate business.
- Operate with a business name. Do you want to be seen as a business or a person looking to make a few extra bucks on the side? If you’re a sole proprietorship you can file for a dba (doing business as) name.
- You need professional looking sales material. It doesn’t matter what it is. Flyers, post cards, brochures, sales letters, business cards or website. Get help with the copy or design if you need it. Here’s your opportunity to create an image for your business.
These are very basic but necessary steps for starting a legitimate business. If you want your business to be seen like one, never mind a larger one, you need to operate legitimately.
Jane Hurst has written a great post I’d like to share with you.
There are so many things you can do to make your small business look much larger than it actually is, which is going to give you more credibility to the public. Read more…
Friends and Family Don’t Support Your Dreams? – What to do When –
We’ve all had a situation in our lives when a friend or family member has discouraged us from pursuing an opportunity. You may have come up with what you thought was a great idea for a product or service. Perhaps your dream was to go back to school to advance your education. Or maybe you found a business opportunity. Instead of being encouraged you were given a host of reasons why you shouldn’t pursue your dreams.
Your initial emotional response was probably defensive. You might have retorted “why not?” or “how could you say that?” to their dismissive reasons. What’s important to learn in these situations is why you’re not receiving their support. Are you a dreamer and not a doer? Someone who’s always verbalizing their dreams but doing nothing to pursue them? You can’t fault people for reacting with doubt to your latest proclamation. After all, you have a bad track record. You also need to consider that some people will discourage you from pursing an opportunity that may result in you becoming more educated, successful or wealthy than they are. They have a pessimistic outlook on life and will instinctively give you reasons why your dream will fail.
Here’s what you can do: 1. Keep your dreams to yourself. Write them down and make a plan on how you’re going to accomplish them, one at a time. Most importantly, follow through. You can inform friends and family when you’ve achieved your goal. They’ll be happy to celebrate with you. 2. Find a mentor or group of people who share your interest that will provide support. You’ll get constructive criticism and encouragement, both ingredients necessary for success.
Once you understand why people are motivated to react a certain way, the more likely you’ll be able to choose the right people to support your dreams.
Here’s a great read on the subject from Melissa Chu.
If your family and friends aren’t supportive, you can use these strategies to convince them that your dreams are worth pursuing. Read more…
You Don’t Need to be The Smartest to be The Most Successful – Research Shows
Is self doubt preventing you from moving forward with life’s many opportunities? Perhaps you’ve been contemplating starting a small business but a little voice inside your head keeps giving you reasons why you won’t be successful. While some degree of doubt or skepticism is a good thing to possess, too much will stifle both personal and professional growth.
Being highly intelligent will open many doors but alone isn’t enough to become successful at most anything. Unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. The world is full of educated derelicts.
How focused, determined and persistent are you? When you’ve been successful at anything that you wanted to accomplish in the past you’ve utilized these three traits. Simple examples would be learning how to ride a bike, swim or drive. Graduating high school, then maybe college. Developing special skills at work. Dating then perhaps getting married. Looking back now you realize if you want something bad enough, you’ll find a way to become successful.
Find or create a plan to reach your goal. Stay focused, step by step. Be determined to follow through when you run into a few inevitable bumps in the road. You need to be persistent and keep working towards your goal and you’ll be rewarded with success!
Here’s a great article written by Melissa Chu that I’d like to share with you.
What does it take to be successful? Is it a matter of being the “best and the brightest”? We hear this term thrown around so often today that it seems as though intelligence is the gatekeeper to opportunities. This idea that inborn smarts and talent are the great divider causes us to hold certain beliefs about our world. If we see someone performing better than ourselves, we’re quick to assume that the person must be smarter or naturally more talented. Read more…
21 Nuggets of Wisdom for Launching Your Own Successful Small Business
So you’ve found your opportunity and are ready to take the leap into entrepreneurship. But where do you start? If this is a new experience for you, what’s the first step towards launching your own business? It doesn’t have to be a complicated or overwhelming process.
There’s never been a better time to start your own business. There’s plenty of resources to help you get started that didn’t exist before the introduction of the internet. Some are free and others are available for a nominal cost. What you need to do is break down into simple, manageable steps the processes necessary to starting and operating your business.
I’ve been operating a simple, home based, commercial parking lot litter cleanup business for over 35 years. I teach others how to start and operate the same service in my book, Cleanlots, and provide FREE consultation.
I’d like to share a great article written by Gloria Donaldson (author/gloriainspiring-life-com). She writes about some of the fundamental steps for launching your own business.
Are you looking for proven tips for starting a successful business? Examine these 21 nuggets of wisdom for launching yours. Read more…
5 Reasons Why You Need A Mentor
I found a great article written by Flo Falayi – 5 Reasons Why You Need A Mentor. Mentors do many things for you; coach, motivate, challenge, protect and share their experience .
You can benefit from my 35 years experience operating a commercial parking lot litter removal business. I provide FREE consulting to anyone who has purchased my book, Cleanlots, that details how to start and operate America’s simplest business. It’s almost as easy to do as a walk in the park!
This business provides me with a comfortable lifestyle. I can show you how it can do the same for you. Cleanlots customers can call me during office hours or email me questions for their FREE mentoring from myself.
In short, mentors provide undeniable counsel and resources that are not necessarily or readily available or accessible. One of the key realities on our journey is the fact that you will discover that you can not ‘do,’ ‘go’ or ‘be’ all you can be all by yourself. You will eventually need people and people will need you. Read more…
INSURANCE GUIDE: Liability Insurance For The Self-Employed – The Self Employed
You’ve discovered self employment to be both personally and financially rewarding. Your simple parking lot litter cleanup business has turned out to be a great source of income. You were able to start part time, with little money, based from home, and after only little more than a years time you quit your job to operate your business full time. You’re thinking life has never been better.
Then one day you receive a phone call from an insurance company. They would like to meet with you to discuss a slip and fall incident that occurred six months ago at one of the properties you’re contracted to provide litter cleanup. You feel sick. You thought you didn’t need insurance yet. None of your clients had asked you for proof of insurance coverage after initiating contracts. What could possibly happen that would make you require insurance?
It turns out a lady slipped on a banana peel that someone had discarded in the parking lot outside the health club at your contracted property. She broke her ankle and is suing for damages. Her insurance company has contacted the property owners insurance company, who is now wanting to involve your insurance company. This is a rare scenario, but it doe’s happen. Without insurance you’ll have to pay the cost of defending yourself in court. Yes, you have a contract that states you provide daily litter cleanup. You know you cleaned up that banana peel. In fact you clean up several peels from that same spot, probably from the same person who thinks the parking lot is fine to throw trash on. But you don’t have insurance so you’ll have to hire a lawyer to prove that neither the property owner or your company is negligent, as a contract is in place to clean up possible slip and fall hazards. Should the case go to court and the judge decides in favor of the injured woman, you’ll be held liable for her medical bills and other awarded expenses. You may also lose your customer.
Don’t let this possibility happen. Comprehensive General Liability Insurance (CGL) covers you in case someone gets hurt and the cost of your legal defence in that case. It’s a cost of doing business and as such is a business expense. Contact an insurance broker to shop for the best insurance coverage. I’ve found my clients require that I carry $5 million coverage. It’s important that your business be properly classified. In the case of my commercial litter cleanup business, I’m not operating any power sweepers so I don’t want to be classified as a sweeping/parking lot maintenance contractor. I provide a service on foot (walking) with simple, inexpensive hand tools. Getting a proper industry classification will result in a more affordable insurance premium.
I found a great article written by Marshall Lee. He further makes a case as to why insurance for the self employed is so important.
By neglecting to insure your business you are risking not just your income and your livelihood, but also your assets and your ability to earn money now and in the future. Read more…
How to Effectively Follow Up on Sales Leads
There’s more to follow-up on a sales lead than one simple communication. You’ve spent time and money on various marketing strategies to bring new leads in. Don’t waste those efforts by failing to do a few simple actions.
Firstly, contact your prospects as soon as possible once you’ve received a query from them. The sooner the better as they’re no doubt also contacting your competitors.
Secondly, stay in touch. You need to be persistent but not a nuisance. Follow up by asking them if they have any questions or need more information. Point out how your service (or product) will benefit them, in different ways, over a number of communications.
Remember the marketing fact that people buy when they’re ready to buy. They do so because their purchase decision satisfies their need or want. Not when businesses want to sell to them.
Here’s a great piece on this subject I think you’ll enjoy.
Do you know how to follow up on sales leads effectively? Here’s a detailed look at how following up in a timely and efficient manner can lead to more sales. Read more…
7 Simple Ways To Ramp Up Productivity In Your Home Office
Congratulations! You’ve decided to start your own home based business. It’s important you establish a proper office environment with the necessary devices to make operating your business as efficiently as possible.
Your home office should be set up in an area where it remains separate, in some way, from the family space of your home. You’ll need a cell phone with voice mail and email. If you have a full time job and are starting your business part time, you can respond to any inquiries during your breaks. This may help demonstrate you’re available during all regular business hours. Next in line is a computer. Doesn’t matter whether it’s a desk top or lap top. You’ll have a much more accurate view of your business and it’s profitability. It also proves handy at tax time as you can access pertinent information quickly. An “all-in-one” copier/scanner/fax machine completes your basic home office device needs. You’ll need to scan documents, print material and, yes, be able to accept and send faxes. I’ve found one I highly recommend. Go to my website for details. cleanlots.com. It’s very affordable and will do the job professionally.
Some sort of filing system will be needed to store records. You’ll need folders for business expenses, banking, legal, insurance, promotion, etc. A small filing cabinet, box or desk drawer keeps everything organized.
This is pretty basic stuff. For more tips check out 7 Simple Ways To Ramp Up Productivity In Your Home Office.
Check out these seven easy ways to create the ultimate remote work setup to maximize productivity.
Check out these seven easy ways to create the ultimate remote work setup to maximize productivity. Read more…