There's a perception that you can only start a business if you have a large amount of cash to hand. But in reality, there are a huge number of kinds of business that can be started without spending a lump sum up front.
So if you want to know how to start your own business with no money then read on.
But first, a disclaimer.
What do we mean by starting a business with no money?
It's probably not possible to start a business with no savings and no income. (Although if you know otherwise, please tells us). However, it is possible to start a business with a modest income and no savings. So throughout this article, when we say "no money" what we really mean is "no lump sum to invest".
Ok, with that out the way let's begin to examine how you can start a business with no money.
Please note, prices listed in this article are correct at time of publication.
1) Ignore ideas that need upfront investment
It's easy to get carried away when thinking about starting your own business, so it won't harm you to start with a healthy dose of realism.
Begin by identifying areas which will be out of bounds for you. This includes things like an ecommerce business which will need you to purchase stock upfront, any business which needs premises, and a business that requires a large, complex and expensive website, to name just a few.
Keep a list of areas that are out of reach for you, and the reason why. This will help you refine potential opportunities into realistic opportunities.
2) Conduct basic research into doing business online
If you haven't already done it, now's the time to look at how you'll do business online and how much it will cost you. At the very least you'll need to buy a domain name and a set up website. The good news is obtaining these needn't set you back a huge amount of money. You can create a website with GoDaddy Website Builder from just £4.99 a month, while a domain name can cost you as little as 1p for the first year. To take advantage of the lowest prices, you'll need to pay up front these services, but you should be able to get online for under £100 in your first year.
It also pays to research the way the web has made doing business easier in general. For example, you no longer have to buy stock in advance to run an ecommerce business - there's drop shipping where stock is shipped by a third-party when your business makes a sale.
Video conferencing software means face-to-face meetings can happen anywhere, anytime. Businesses of all kinds can meet with clients from all over the world, and there are even online therapists who consult via video meeting software.
You should also start thinking about marketing at this stage. Although you won't be able to make firm plans, understanding the options that are out there and the amount of money you'll need to spend will help you prepare for the future. You can read about low-cost marketing techniques in this guide.
3) Match your skills to an online business niche
Now you've got a better understanding of what world of online business is like, it's time to further narrow down your potential area of business.
If you don't have a lot of money to spare, you're most probably going to want to start a business in a sector you're already skilled and/or experienced in. Why? Because you're less likely to make expensive mistakes. You'll also need to do less research to get up and running.
Some possibilities here include going freelance in the same field you're currently employed in, turning a creative hobby into an ecommerce business, or making use of a skill such as computer repair.
It is possible to start a business in an area in which you have no experience, but it will mean you need to spend more time researching the field.
4) Draw up a business plan
By now you should have a strong idea of the kind of business you're able to set up and a rough idea of how much it will cost to get your business up and running.
At this stage, it's important to draw up a business plan. Your business plan will act as a kind of blueprint for your business.
By setting out what you want to achieve and how you plan to achieve it, you'll get your new business off to the best possible start.
Of course, it's not possible follow a business plan exactly but it's better to have some sort of guidance to hand than none at all.
Your business plan should include:
- The idea behind your business
- Your business goals and how you plan to achieve them
- What product(s) and/or service(s) your business will offer
- Who your customers will be and why they'll want to do business with you
- Your financing needs
Some of these will be easier to define than others. Identifying your customers and why they'll want to do business with you is particularly challenging. This guide to creating buyer personas will help you understand which customers to target and how to target them.
You may also want to seek advice from a specialist small business adviser. They'll be able to guide you and your business to make sure you avoid common pitfalls. They should even be able to help with drawing up a business plan. You can find a directory of small business advisers here.
5) Think about how you'll finance your business
Clearly you don't have a lot of money to invest up front, but you'll still need to plan how you're going to find the funds you need to get your business up and running, and the income you'll need to live on until your business becomes profitable.
The most likely answer to both these issues is by continuing to work an existing day job. Plenty of people launch a part-time business and continue to work on it outside of normal office hours.
But there are other options available, and it's worth understanding what they are. You can read about options for small business funding in this guide.
There's no one clear path to business success that anyone can show you. But hopefully by now you should be heading in the right direction. Conducting researching and seeking advice when you need it will help you stay on track. And of course GoDaddy will be here to support you throughout the course of your business journey.