How To Start A Business With No Money

Brian Winch | April 05, 2022


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.

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