How to Start a Business With No Money
Starting a business from absolutely nothing is no easy feat, but it can be done. There are some tools necessary, like good credit, internet access, and certain skills, but anyone can start a company or a startup these days. It just takes determination and following the right steps. You don’t have to be a billionaire or a venture capitalist to become a successful small business owner.
Just because you’re starting with no money doesn’t mean you shouldn’t brainstorm and write out a business plan. A business plan is like a map that you lay out in advance to help you achieve your business goals. Your goals, however, need to be concrete.
A solid business plan can help get you the funds you need to get your services or goods off the ground. This plan will not just be something you use to reference personally; it will be shown to possible investors or partners to convince them to get on board with your ideas. Think of it almost like a marketing pamphlet.
Type of Plan You Need
There are two basic types of business plans: lean and traditional. Lean plans are much more simplistic and streamlined. They work well for business goals that are clear and have fewer steps or boundaries to overcome compared to more complex business goals.
Usually, lean plans only take up a single page and may only take an hour or two to write up. Examples of business ideas that may only require a lean plan include selling a single product on a popular eCommerce storefront.
Creating and selling a single product on your own is relatively easy compared to more complex businesses that include multiple products and services that you plan to expand on. For more complex and expansive business ideas, you may need to consider a traditional business plan.
Traditional business plans are usually much more detailed than basic business summaries or lean plans. They take more time to write because of how much more comprehensive they are. Traditional plans are much more complex, and you may need help in coming up with the outlining sections.
Business Plan Basics
Several core sections should be included in a good business plan. The first is an executive summary. This is the basic summary of things like what your company is, what product or service you are offering, and other things like who you will employ.
The next section is a detailed description of your company. This is an opportunity to brag about how good your product or service is and why it’s better than your competitors. After that, you may need to include a section for market analysis. Prove that there is an unmet need that your company will be fulfilling.
A section about the company structure and other important legal details regarding what type of company it is should be included. After that, write a section on the details of your product or service. This will include information about copyrights and patents.
Some sections will have overlapping information on marketing, financials, and business costs, but it’s imperative to iron out those details with as much information as you can come up with. Will you maintain your own inventory, or will you make use of dropshipping? What kind of market research have you done? The final piece is the appendix, where all of the other things go, like resumes and credit reports.
Once you have your business plan down, it will guide you and keep you focused on what you need to do. One of the biggest killers of new businesses is a lack of focus and planning. Business plans are technically not needed, but your company’s future will likely suffer if you opt-out of making one.
There is no way to get around it; your business is going to need money, whether it’s yours or an investor’s. The good news is that this means you can still start a company from nothing. There are many ways to acquire funding to get started.
Acquiring a business loan is a great way to get funding for your project. There are some hurdles and hoops to jump through, though. First, you’ll need to check your credit score and make sure it’s in good standing.
Virtually no bank will give a business loan to someone with poor credit or little history. You can improve your credit score with credit cards that you regularly pay off. If you can’t get a credit card on your own, you can have a cosigner apply for a credit line under both of your names.
An easy way to start building credit with cards is to apply monthly bills and regular expenses to a card. Things like gas, electricity bill, and groceries, for example, are common starters. Always pay your bills on time and keep your balance low.
Remember that credit is not only used in your life for big purchases like cars and homes. Credit will be used for business opportunities, like small business loans. It’s also advisable to try and acquire a loan from a bank with which you already have an established relationship.
They will be more likely to grant you financial services as opposed to banks that you have no history with. However, much of this depends on the financial climate you’re dealing with and can change annually.
Banks are not the only place to get loans for your business. There are government-sponsored programs that financially help new businesses and companies that specialize in finding potential investors that match your company’s goals.
Crowdfunding is the practice of acquiring startup capital from a large group of people, often through platforms like Kickstarter. Crowdfunders differentiate themselves from investors by not expecting a return on the money they put in. They have no stake in the company and are basically donors, rather than lenders.
Crowdfunders often expect something in the form of a gift for their contributions, such as a discount on the product you’re selling, some sort of recognition, or potentially even to be used as a consultant. For example, if a film project is crowdfunded and someone donates enough, a perk may come in the form of appearing in the credits of the film.
Crowdfunding is becoming increasingly popular because of the low risk to the business. Loans need to be paid back, usually with interest, whether the business is successful or not. It’s a lot riskier.
With a crowdfunding campaign, there is essentially no accountability or risk associated with getting donations, even if you end up getting a lot of money. Nobody will expect you to pay them back, depending on the agreement parameters you set. Sometimes, crowdfunding intermediaries require performance and results, or the money must be refunded.
It’s not a free ride, however. Part of getting funds with crowdfunding is an advertising campaign or a social media presence of some kind. Some people make videos describing their goals, services, or products and publish them on Twitter, Linked In, or YouTube. They often follow a similar outline to a basic business plan.
Thanks to the internet, starting a company from home or your local coffee shop has never been easier. There are three types of online businesses: companies that provide products, companies that provide services, and companies that provide both.
Let’s say you have your own products, like jewelry or decor items, you want to sell online. You have a couple of options. You can choose to sell your product to potential customers on an established website that can facilitate payment processing and advertising—like Amazon, Etsy, or Ebay.
The other option that is initially more challenging but possibly more profitable in the long term is making your own online storefront. It’s certainly a lot cheaper and easier than brick and mortar, but it’s still an obstacle. You can use websites like Wix, WordPress, and Squarespace to do this.
Luckily, there are endless free resources that can teach you how to build a website. Some sites have templates that make it incredibly easy to customize your webpage and quickly get your online store up and running. You don’t have to be a graphic designer to create a logo and get to work here. You can also aim to create a company blog to help funnel organic search to your website, as well as making use of social media marketing.
The downside to these sites is that they do have a small upfront cost. If that’s something you can’t do, the established eCommerce sites may be your best option. They will usually take a cut of your sales, so that’s something to be aware of when deciding on pricing.
With free online tutorials and resources, you can create a company by just learning a digital skill. There are endless examples and ideas yet to be conceived, but here are some examples:
- Content Editing and Creation
- Data Analysis
- Online Security
- Online Learning Platform
And the list goes on. There are endless possibilities. Most of these business ideas require that you do some freelancing and contractor work before you actually start a business. This is a benefit, though. Working with these other companies first will give you the experience necessary to become the founder of your own company.
Starting from nothing and building something successful is part of the American dream. It’s tough, but it can certainly be done. If you have a great business idea, don’t let concern over funding hold you back–you have options.