Creative Ways to Start a Business with No Money

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Starting a business of any kind can be an uphill battle. You need to come up with a creative idea and more importantly, you need to fund it. While it may seem like you always require massive capital to get a business up and running, the statement itself is far from true. Many small business owners who have later grown into full-fledged corporations began with little. All you need is an entrepreneurial spirit, some creativity, and a lot of grit to make it happen.


You have $0 in the bank: what now?

Just because you have no money — or very little money — in your bank does not mean that you’re out of luck in the entrepreneur game. Many business owners get creative with it. Whether it’s engaging in new business models like dropshipping or selling your services in a certain niche, there are ways to experiment with new business ideas and generating recurring income.

In this article, we’ll show you how!

  1. Reflect on what you can do for free
  2. Ask yourself what you can get for free
  3. Get planning
  4. Build up savings
  5. Look into small business grants and local funding opportunities

1. Reflect on what you can do for free

A surefire way to start a business with little cash is to tap into what you already have: your services. Even if you haven’t quite mastered a skill, chances are, if you enjoy doing it and do it in repetition, you will excel eventually.

You don’t need a strong set of skills to make it into a business. There are plenty of jobs out there that busy people often jump at the chance to pay for — simply because they don’t have the time.

These skills could easily grow into a full-fledged service-for-hire, including:

  • Virtual assistant
  • Freelance writing
  • Freelance design
  • Dog walking
  • Landscaping
  • Social media marketing
  • Housekeeping
  • Car washing
  • Sell digital services (through courses, ebooks or worksheets)
  • And so much more

2. Ask yourself what you can get for free

Ask yourself: what exactly is essential to running your business? You might think: “I need a slick, custom-designed website to showcase my brand or sell my products”. When in reality, you could probably get away without a website in the first 6 months to a year of starting up your business.

Let the dollar value on your bank account grow by staying lean on:

  • Social media accounts: Lean into word-of-mouth (WOM) marketing and referrals from family and friends in the first few months of running your business. It doesn’t matter how amazing your marketing strategy is, marketing costs can easily hike up. Focus the first few months on generating recurring revenue by growing net sales, then re-focus later on on potentially investing in marketing tools.
  • Accounting and bookkeeping software: You could get away with doing bookkeeping manually on paper or Excel in the first year. But as your business grows, adopting smart accounting software to automate various accounting functions is key to uncovering business finances, getting ready for tax season each year, and making data-backed decisions as your business grows. From invoicing and tracking expenses to conducting bank reconciliations — focus first on the basics, then switch gear to a tool that automates and saves you time without sacrificing error. For example, sending an invoice or two makes sense for a new budding entrepreneur who landed their first dog walking client. Meanwhile, if a freelance designer’s clientele grows, it might make sense to be able to track all income and expenses automatically in an intuitive smart accounting software, with features like bank feed syncing, automatic reconciliations and expense categorization, and invoicing.

While these are areas that you could potentially save in those initial months, business-critical areas like finances and accounting are absolutely areas that you shouldn’t skip out on when it comes to adopting technology.

3. Get planning

A business plan is the blueprint for how you’ll grow your business. The contents of yours will look different from others and depends on the low-cost business model you’ve chosen. But generally, it includes:

  • Company description: An overview of the company you’re about to start, including the business model and legal structure.
  • Market research: Include demographics that your target market shares. For example, will you sell directly to the consumer or via wholesalers? How does this approach compare to how competitors do things?
  • Products and service: You’ll make recurring net sales by selling one of these. Describe in your business plan what the product or service is and why people will buy it.
  • Logistics and operations plan: How do you intend to get your product or service into the hands of your paying customers? This could be third-party logistics companies, dropshipping suppliers, or selling digital services directly online.
  • Marketing strategy: Paint a detailed picture of how you will promote your business to reach your target market, be that through social media, email marketing or advertising.
  • Financial plan: Describe how you intend to make and spend money. Include your financial needs, costs and expenses, balance sheet, and cash flow projections. If you plan to use accounting software, these numbers can be reviewed, exported and analyzed in seconds.

4. Build up savings

Tapping into your savings account is never ideal. Yet, it’s highly common amongst new business owners and entrepreneurs to do so or reach out to family and friends for help initially. As you design your business plan, be realistic with how much revenue you’ll bring in. But more importantly, be sure to forecast how much you’ll be spending in order to bring the revenue in. As you plan, make it a goal to save at least 6 months worth of living expenses so that you can devote that time and resources into building your new business.

5. Look into small business grants and local funding opportunities

Truthfully, there’s rarely free lunches in the business world. But with the right investigative hat on, you may be able to find small business grants that can help get your business up and running. Depending on where you business is, numerous grants and local funding sources are available. Most grants have specific eligibility requirements and application requirements. As a budding entrepreneur, it’s important to carve out time each week to identify local funding sources and grant opportunities, in addition to allocating time in your busy schedule to apply.

Tap into your creativity today

If money wasn’t an issue and your billion-dollar business idea was validated, what would you do with it? It sure would be time to execute on your plan. We recently wrote an article for new entrepreneurs on how to start a business — just because you have little capital, does not mean that you can’t get creative with it!

As you can clearly see, a big part of being creative as a new business owner comes down to being creative with your time and resources. After all, both equates to money. As you grow and acquire a few more clients, a way to automate bookkeeping tasks like invoicing and managing expenses will become increasingly evident. If that’s the case, then be sure to explore some of TrulySmall’s accounting tools. They’re made for small business owners by small business owners!

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