How to start a business with no money or experience

There is an old saying that I am sure many of you are familiar with: it takes money to make money. However, maybe that is not always the case. Many of us have an idea for a business, or want to become entrepreneurs but feel that we are held back by our finances. You might think that it is impossible to start a business without some investment but you will be surprised at how many businesses start without any initial investment. So, how can you start a business without money or experience? What businesses are the easiest to start with? Let’s find out.

First off, don’t quit your job!

If you are thinking about starting a business to move on from your current role, don’t be too hasty and pack it all in. Starting a business takes time, if not money. And most businesses will fail in their first year. So before you embark on any work, make sure that you are stable and have a back up. Once you feel that you have something that is bringing in money and requires all your time, then consider taking that step to make it your full time career. You want to take these steps slowly and carefully.

Have an idea? Do your research. 

If there is something that you want to pursue and that you feel that you can start without money or experience, do your research. Don’t dive in blindly. We all like to think that we have come up with the holy grail of ideas when it comes to new businesses but the reality is that you probably have an idea that many have had before. What can be different is your approach to making that business successful. To do this you need to research. 

Research involves researching the market. Who is your target market, how you will market to your preferred audience and the amount of demand for your product. With this in mind it is a great idea to learn about the basics of marketing if you are not already familiar with them. This will improve your chances of success. Having an understanding of how digital marketing works will give you a huge advantage when it comes to correctly marketing your product to the right people. Remember, your idea should be something that solves a problem. 

You will also want to research your competitors. Start locally and compare your prices and services to those that are around you. See if there is much competition and how you might offer a better quality product at a cheaper price without undervaluing yourself.

Utilise social media

If you have an idea that you want to see if there is any demand or interest in, social media is a great free way to do this. Many social media sites will have different options for businesses, many of which are not free, but you can still make use of social media to propel your business. It just involves discipline and network, reaching out to people and gauging their interest in your idea.

Create a business plan 

You will not get very far without any type of plan. To achieve your vision you need to set out how you will achieve it step by step. 

What will it look like in six months, three years, and beyond? What kind of resources, manpower, and capital are you going to need at different stages? What makes you different from your competitors? How are you going to build brand loyalty for customers to come back again and again? (Failory, 2022) 

Without a plan, you will lose focus. You need to ask yourself some hard questions and come up with the solutions to these questions. Your business plan is your roadmap to success, and is what you should spend your time and energy on in the beginning, and reference each step of the way.

Save up some money for expenses and utilities

Ok, so this might go against what the title of this article is about but you will need to consider some expenses. For example, you may decide to start a photography business. Well of course you are going to need a camera and some lenses, perhaps a flash etc. But these are investments and items that are essential to your business and ones that you will make your money back on. The point here is that you are using your own money and not looking to get a loan from a bank or family or friends. And certainly this type of spending is a fraction of what you can end up spending on marketing and advertising.

Create a website to launch your business

While social media is going to be a very valuable way to spread the word about your business, you will still need a professional looking website. Especially if you are considering selling your own products like jewellery or a photography business. Thankfully, it has never been easier to create a website for your business for free or next to nothing. There are many platforms out there to create your own website from scratch or from templates. Below are just a few examples.

  3. Wix
  4. HubSpot Website Builder
  5. WooCommerce
  6. Gator by HostGator
  7. Zyro
  9. BigCommerce
  10. Shopify
  11. Squarespace
  12. Weebly

If you are going the eCommerce route it is recommended that you check out Shopify to start with, as this has many options to tailor your online shop to your target audience.

Inventory your skills

You might have the drive and ambition to get your business out there but do you have all the other skills to back it up? While it is impossible to know everything and exactly what skills you will need, many of these will simply come from experience. However you can start by making a list of what you are good at, perhaps you have skills from your current role that you can apply, and skills that you need to succeed. For example you might have coding and design skills but lack bookkeeping and digital marketing knowledge, so here is an area where you can take an online course to give yourself an understanding of these crucial skills that are required in a successful business. As your business grows you will hire people to fill in these gaps but starting out it is important to have even a basic understanding of areas that you need to make your business stand out and be successful.

Consider crowdfunding

If you do need some investment and have a proof of concept, in other words a business that you are sure can be successful, you might consider crowdfunding to help with some of the initial expenses. There are hundreds of crowdfunding sites out there designed to help small to medium businesses get off the ground. It is recommended that you start realistically with your targets, don’t set them too high, if you do reach your goal you can raise it. But do not rely solely on crowdfunding to source investment, and be sure to show your investors the fruit of your labours. You might also consider offering an incentive for people that donate, for example, if you are a graphic designer you may do some design work for them for free or at a discount.

What businesses can you start without money? 

Many service industry businesses can be started with nothing or just some equipment.

  • You could start a dog-walking business. All you need is time, your two feet, and a way to get the word out.
  • Start a lawn-mowing or house-cleaning business.
  • Start a moving company. 
  • Start a food service business. 
  • A photography business.
  • A website development business.
  • Graphic design jobs.
  • Blogging and other writing jobs.
  • Digital marketing.
  • Admin work.
  • Beauty therapy.

Some of these businesses require equipment as mentioned before but otherwise these are all opportunities that only require some leg work, word of mouth and local social media. With that in mind, when you are starting a business you should think local to begin with, as the majority of your early clients will come from in your own territory, and is likely to lead to a more sustainable business. Treat your regulars well too and good old word of mouth will spread!

Grow your business

When you start to see some money coming in and your client list grows, it is important to put some of that money back into your business to expand it. The best investment for businesses is marketing. This involves digital marketing, remarketing and retargeting. If these terms are ones that you are not familiar with, a basic or intermediate marketing course is the best way to go to upskill your talents. Learning about Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is essential to any marketer and business, as this is the best way to get your brand out there, but it can be a little daunting without any experience or guidance, so knowledge and learning are going to pay off greatly in the long run!

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