With economic pressures coming from every direction, there’s never been a better time to think about establishing additional streams of income that require no additional spending to set up. That said, the thought of starting a new business is daunting – even more so when you don’t have any funds to launch your company.
Besides the right skills, equipment, and idea to get going, there are a few tools and tricks that will give your business the greatest chance of success. From figuring out what you’re capable of to finding the professional groove and growing your company, this article will give you a step-by-step guide for success when starting a business with no money.
9 Steps to Start a Business With No Money
With a practical plan in place, you can start a whole bunch of businesses without any money. (More on the types of business that don’t require capital to set up later.) Following these 9 steps will help to ensure that you establish a company that’s low cost and high reward.
1. Assess Your Skills and Equipment
You may already have an idea for your business or you may still need to figure that out. Either way, you’ll want to take stock of your skills and the equipment you have at your disposal.
In the event that you’re looking to start a business without any money, you likely won’t want to spend a whole bunch of money on training or expensive gear. It’s important to take a moment to look at what you have and think about how you could use it.
If you’re not quite sure what you want to do, you’ll want to assess your skills. You may have an eye for design. You could be awash with cleaning skills. Or you might be great at organizing everything from events to calendars. Once you have an idea of your skills, you can assess whether you have the equipment necessary to turn that talent into a money maker.
Perhaps you already know what type of business you want to start. In that case, this assessment will help you to strategize to avoid additional costs. One way to save is by using a piece of equipment for something other than its primary purpose. For example, you could use your laptop’s native software to record and edit podcast episodes rather than buying professional software when you’re just starting out.
2. Find Your Niche
Rather than trying to do everything in hopes of catching clients, it’s better to focus on one or two areas of your chosen industry. In other words, you want to find your niche.
Identifying the areas that you’ll specialize in will take some more research. Successful businesses address a want or need that their target market has, and create a product or service that fills that gap. To understand where opportunities exist in the market, you’ll need to do a bit of market research.
This investigation will help you to understand who your potential clients are and what they need. It can also help you to identify (and hopefully avoid) the competition in certain sectors of your industry. What’s more, having a good understanding of the professional landscape can help you to make accurate predictions about your business’s potential.
3. Draw Up a Business Plan
Every great business starts with a business plan. This document sets out all of the details pertaining to your business. It usually starts with an overview of your company, including its name and the types of goods or services you’ll produce, as well as the information you gleaned from your market research (like potential customers and competitors).
Equally as important as what you’ll do and who you’ll do it for is how you’ll do it. In this vein, a business plan includes financial, operational, and marketing goals for the first 12 months you’ll be in business. It’s also a good idea to set out a budget and rough marketing strategy.
Having a well-thought out strategy in place will help you to stay on track during challenging moments. This is especially helpful when starting a small business with no money, as the lack of investment can make it tempting to switch tack when things are slow.
4. Figure Out Your Finances
Although there are plenty of ways to start a business with no money, it’s quite difficult to run a business continuously without any financial input. It’s likely that no matter what product or service you’re planning to provide to your target market, there are a few costs you’ll have to incur to bring in customers, execute projects, and accept payments.
Some regular monthly expenses that you should account for are:
- Utilities: For example, power, to ensure you’re able to run your equipment to produce the goods or services you’ll be offering.
- Internet: You’ll likely need to get online to do everything from market your business to manage its finances, so an internet connection is a must.
- Website hosting: A website is essential for every business; especially if you want to reach a larger audience and sell your products online.
- Merchant services: A payment service provider can help to create a top-notch customer experience by enabling you to accept card payments.
- Marketing: Word-of-mouth referrals are great, but you’ll likely need a bit of a boost through online or in-person marketing to grow your audience.
Making smart choices about the providers you use for these business services can help you to save heaps of money each month. That’s especially true when it comes to merchant services.
Many merchant service providers’ pricing structures make it difficult to figure out exactly what you’ll end up paying at the end of each month. Let’s say you work with Company X, which uses tiered pricing for their services. With this structure, there’s no clarity around what you’re being charged and why you’re being charged that amount.
On the flip side, you could work with Pay.com. Our simple pricing structure is fully transparent and the Pay Dashboard makes it easy to see what you’ll be charged each month. Plus, you can accept a variety of payment methods and you don’t have to pay for any transactions that don’t go through..
5. Establish an Online Presence
A large proportion of your clientele will likely turn to Google or social media to find you. In this vein, a website is essential. There’s no need to set up anything fancy; a simple site will do. Be sure to include your business name and logo, as well as details about the services you offer and the best way for clients to contact you.
There are a couple of website building and hosting services (think WordPress, Squarespace, and Wix) that offer free plans with simple drag-and-drop website templates to help get you started. Plus, you can research relevant keywords to get your site noticed by search engines using tools like Moz or Semrush.
If you have the capacity for it, social media is great too. Setting up accounts on the platforms that your customers are most likely to use will ensure that you’re talking to the right people. Just be sure to be active, posting at least once a week. Many potential clients will be wary of engaging with a brand with dormant social pages.
6. Find the Best Way to Accept Payments
Now that you have a website, you have the perfect platform for promoting your products or services. Next, you’ll want to start accepting payments.
There are plenty of ways to do this. Pay.com’s Pay Links can be sent to customers to direct them to a personalized checkout page. The Virtual Terminal allows you to collect customers’ credit card details (e.g. via a phone call) and process the payment manually.
With Pay.com, you’ll only have to set up one account to accept payments in the best way for your business. Not only that, but you can accept a wide variety of payment methods, from credit and debit cards to digital wallets like PayPal and Google Pay.
We’ve designed our platform with speed and ease in mind to ensure you’re up and running in no time. What’s more, you can accept dozens of payment methods, making purchases easy for your customers. Click here to get started!
7. Build Your Brand
A great way to encourage new customers to buy your products or use your services is through creating an emotional connection with them. Plus, showing that you care about solving client problems will also help to build a level of brand recognition, loyalty, and trust.
But how do you create this connection? In one word: branding. What your brand looks like (think brand colors and logo), how it sounds (its name and tone of voice), and the way it behaves (the values you stand by) are all part of branding.
This may sound like it would require a large investment, but this doesn’t have to be the case. Both Hubspot and Canva are free to use, and they both offer comprehensive guides for developing a strong brand.
Another simple yet effective way to improve your business branding is through creating a custom checkout page for your site. Including your brand colors and logo on these pages improves customers’ experiences and helps to bolster trust.
8. Spread the Word About Your Business
To make your new business a success, you’ll need to bring in new clients. Traditional and online marketing are great starting points here. Putting information in front of your target market about the goods or services that you offer is a great way to attract attention – and possible sales.
One way to do this is by positioning yourself as an expert in your field. Creating blog posts that answer your target market’s frequently asked questions is great for helping your website to get noticed by search engines without having to invest any money. Again, SEO is important. You can use keyword research tools to figure out what potential clients are asking about.
Another option is to share helpful content on social media. You can share the links to your blog posts on your business page. Plus, you can join relevant forums and answer questions asked by people in that group as they arise.
Don’t forget the power of your own social circle, either. Spread the word about your new business to family and friends, and ask them to recommend your business if anyone they know has a problem you’re able to solve.
9. Track Your Progress and Grow Your Business
Finally, it’s time to start doing business. With everything from your business plan to your payment methods and branding in place, you’re all set to go! All that’s left to do is get to work.
Getting going doesn’t mean the work we’ve discussed until now simply stops. Things like marketing, branding, and financial management are all ongoing.
To understand how your business is doing and make sound decisions for the future, you need data. Fortunately, this information is easy to gather if you sell your goods or services online, and use a full-service merchant services provider.
10 Ideas for Small Businesses You Can Start with No Money
Many small businesses that can be started with no money focus on providing services. They’re also mostly run from home. If your imagination needs a bit of a jump start, we have a few ideas for businesses you can set up with no capital:
- Dog walker: If you enjoy getting outdoors and have a love for pooches, then setting up a dog walking business is a quick and easy way to start earning some extra cash without needing any equipment.
- Virtual assistant: Do you get a rush from sending emails and successfully synchronizing calendars? Well, a virtual assistant business might just be for you. To make your client’s lives even more convenient, you can use Pay Checkout to create custom invoices that take your clients directly to a personalized checkout page.
- Walking tour operator: Another one for outdoorsy types, offering a walking tour in the city or town you live in only requires knowing a bit of history and some standout sights. Just be sure to check whether you need any permits or permissions to operate.
- Event planner: All you need to start an event planning business are good organizational skills and a dash of creative flair. With Pay Virtual Terminal, you can conveniently collect client payment details to accept payments.
- Stock photographer: A great option for visual artists who have a camera at the ready, taking stock photos costs nothing and can earn you a pretty penny while helping to gain you some recognition in the industry.
- Graphic designer: If you have an eye for design, there are hundreds of free apps you can use to start creating all sorts of marketing collateral. What’s more, there are many opportunities for growth into other digital design fields.
- Website designer: Good with computers? Know a thing or two about design? Creating websites that improve customer experience can be a lucrative business.
- Blogger: An option for those who have a way with words, creating a blog with affiliate links or advertising space is a great way to bring in some money. Plus, you can easily sell your writing services to a variety of businesses.
- Social media manager: Help other small businesses to thrive and earn an income in the process by posting content to their social media accounts, managing their online communities, and overseeing their online advertising.
- Podcaster: A podcast is a great opportunity to earn a bit of income for anyone who loves to talk about a range of topics. If you want to put your show behind a paywall, you can easily accept payments from listeners via a checkout page.
How You Can Get Funding for Your Business
Although there are some million-dollar-idea businesses that you can start with little to no money, there are others that need, well, a million dollars to get off the ground. In cases where there’s no way you’d be able to start your business without some sort of funding, there are a few options available to you:
- Bank loans: With a sound idea and a solid business plan, you’ll likely be able to secure a simple bank loan to fund your business.
- Crowdfunding: Ask the people of the internet to give you money to start your business, either as a donation or in exchange for something when you’re up and running.
- Government grants: The government sometimes provides low- to no-interest loans to small businesses to encourage economic growth in some areas or sectors.
- Investors: Other people invest in your business and you promise to give them either an ownership stake, a share of the profits, or both.
- Savings: Putting your savings on the line is risky business, but it is an option to start a business if you can’t find funding elsewhere.
The Bottom Line: Can You Really Start a Business With No Money?
In short, yes, you can really start a business with no money. Although there are challenges, setting up a company with no capital investment is more than possible if you’re willing to get creative and put in some hard work.
From coming up with a great business idea to ensuring you have the right skills, equipment, and branding, there’s a lot that goes into getting a new business off the ground. More than anything, when you’re first starting out, you want to choose tools and work with service providers who make your life easier.
Getting paid is the most important aspect of any business, and you’ll want to choose a platform that’s easy to set up and allows you to accept multiple payment methods – like Pay.com. Knowing that you’re able to handle all of the behind-the-scenes tasks with ease will reduce stress and give you the space to concentrate on what really matters: building your business. Click here to get started with Pay.com now!
If you’re keen on being your own boss and building a company that allows you to be creative and constantly learn new skills, then starting a business without any money is definitely possible.