How to Start a Business with No Money - I DID IT with Only $41!

Starting a business with no money may seem really difficult; however, I was able to start Failory with only $41, and I am not a clever guy with extensive knowledge or experience either. In this article, I will explain how I did it and how you can replicate.

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You’re probably thinking about your rent or mortgage, your car payment and every dang insurance you have to have on top of your other bills; and at the end of the day you have about $41.78. You think, “how am I supposed to start a business with that?”

Well you are in good company. I started this site with $41.00, so you are actually better off than some. I am currently making +$755/month (you can always check this in Failory’s /open page), which might not be a lot for some, but it is great as a passive income.

Let me show you how I did it.


Tips on How to Start a Startup Without Money

Research

The first, and possibly most important step, is to research your market. There is probably no other better resource to learn how to do this properly than this video. It's quite long, I know, but it's amazing. You will learn in real time how Ramit Sethi, a really successful entrepreneur who has sold +$12,000 products to hundreds of customers, carries out a market research for new businesses.

Another interesting thing to do is to research for tools. When starting a business, you will probably need many tools and softwares to build it and sell it. But you don't have a lot of budget to pay for them, so it is really interesting to find a free alternative.

There really is no need to reinvent the wheel. If you have a general idea about a tool you wish you had or existed, Google it. Seriously, Google exactly what you’re thinking. Google “Top Ten…” and you can even add “Free” in the search and find out which ones are similar.

If you’re starting a business from scratch with no money, then you’re probably pretty creative and clever. Use that creativity in your research to find what best suits your needs and budget.

There are plenty of free tools for everything, and don’t be afraid to test out the FREE TRIALS. You can always cancel it. #protip: set a calendar notification to cancel it so you don’t forget and get charged.

If you can think it, it’s probably already out there (and if it’s not, make it and sell it).

A few weeks ago, I needed to schedule some content for social networks. But I didn't want to spend some money on Buffer or Hootsuite. That's why I started googling and found a free solution using Google Calendar and IFTTT. I now basically create an event, set a description which is used as the post text, add a hashtag in the title depending on the network I want that post to be published in, and set up a date and time I want that post to live.

Google Calendar Integration


Read about other Startups.

Other people, just like you, are facing the same problem of starting a business with no money.

We don’t share success and failure startup stories on Failory for fun; we do it for you! Researching and reading about other startups (even in unrelated fields) will help you learn how to start your business without money because you will see what worked and what didn’t.

Researching other startups, more specifically in your field, will better help you determine how much money you may need to start your business. It will also help you figure out which low budget tools have worked and which have failed.  

You can also learn about potential suppliers, vendors, customers, and competitors. Learning about suppliers, vendors, and customers will help guide your product. Learning about your competitor will help you learn how to shape your marketing and business strategy.

Plenty of people have brilliant business ideas and great products, but it isn’t always the best that succeed. That’s why you need to be filled with knowledge. In this industry, a lack of knowledge will truly eat you up, so keep learning. Knowledge really is power, it isn’t just a cheesy phrase!

If you aren’t sure where to start reach out to other businesses, startups, and potential co-founders. Their insight is priceless. Some ways to do this are meetup and Linkedin.

Your Idea

As you might have already realized, having a good idea is necessary to build a no money startup.

You need to know exactly what your idea is and how much you are going to need to start things up. Don’t just go out and get a huge loan; you might not need it. That’s why research is the first step.

Your idea should be refined; it should be specific and clear. What I mean is, test it out and get feedback. We will talk more about feedback later, but the main idea is to see how practical your theoretical product or service is.

Figure out your idea before you invest too much money into it.

When you have a business idea, work through the process. The process is everything from birthing the idea to getting money back into your bank. If you can’t sell it or market it, keep working.

As Brian Tracy puts it, there are four principles of marketing strategy or business strategy: “Specialization (your specialty), Differentiation (why should I buy from you/what makes you better), Segmentation (customers most likely to buy from you the fastest), Concentration (focus on target market).

You may ask, “How much money do you need to start a business?” This will depend on the type of business that you’re starting. Sometimes it’s best to “bootstrap” your business, which we’ll go over more in a minute.

Bootstrapping - Advantages and Disadvantages

A small business will cost less than starting up a larger business, and so forth. Luckily there are many options to get the ball rolling. Starting a business with money and bad credit is possible once you have an idea that you can realistically achieve in the near future.

If you have a lack of funds, you shouldn’t aim for anything huge. Take small steps until you have the funds that you need. And, more important, start small. First, build an MVP and validate your idea.

MVP stands for Minimal Viable Product. If you take away only three things from this article I hope that this is one of them. For a no money startup to be successful you’re going to need to bring in profits to keep fuelling it.

An MVP is a product on a basic level that is valuable and works.

You can always add more features and spend time perfecting it, but get it out the door if it is good. Your product may not need all the add-ons. This gives you an opportunity to get feedback about what people really want.

Some Ideas

Freelance writing is pretty popular. It only costs time and skill; of course, it costs a computer and maybe an internet connection, but if you’re reading this then I’m not too worried about that. Freelance writing is a good way to make a few extra bucks if you have the time and skill.

There are already an abundance of platforms out there to find freelance writing work. I suggest looking up reviews for them first. It’s important that the job is worth the pay.

Digital marketing is also becoming increasingly popular. Again, it doesn’t cost anything to start, but there is a pretty steep learning curve. It is a fast paced, ever changing complex field.

Social media marketing is part of digital marketing; pick the platform you are most comfortable with and learn everything about it you can. Once you know more than the average bear, jump in. Get an internship if you can, find a mentor, do whatever it takes to learn the ropes. If you sell a service you have no experience with you risk your reputation and possible future business prospects.

Manual labor. I say manual labor because this can be anything. Some would argue that there is a shortage of skilled or just plain dedicated workers. Lots of people want white collared job where they can just sit at a computer and make money. So much so, that there is a ton of money just waiting to get picked up off the floor.

Finally, you could start a cleaning service. You can clean houses, wash cars, mow lawns. Yes, you can still mow someone’s lawn and make good money. There is a guy, right now, who charges $1,200-$1,500 for ONE day’s work of mowing a few acres of weeds, and people pay!


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Get a second opinion

To you, your idea may sound amazing. However, you may be slightly biased. You need to get an opinion from someone who will be honest with you.

It’s important to have somebody who would tell you if you’re going in the right or wrong direction or if it isn’t really complete.

Even if you don’t have a full time partner who can watch your back every step of the way you should seek wise counsel. A second opinion could be the difference between your business taking off or taking a nosedive.

There are a few great ways to find startup advisors and co-founders. CollabFounder, CoFoundersLab, and Linkedin are just three great resources where you can easily reach out to people that can help.

It’s not always best to go in needy. Remember, anyone capable of giving good advice is probably very busy. Provide value and make a connection; no one wants to feel like you are just trying to get something from them.


Tools and Apps

Once you have researched the market you want to work in and refind your idea, it is time to figure out what tools you are going to need.

Look at what other people in that industry are doing and what tools they are using to get the job done task by task.

Here are 5 tools that helped me when starting Failory:

Canva: No matter what you do, you need to create a graphic. Canva is a quick pain free way to create professional looking graphics. Canva comes complete with stock photos, template designs and layouts, and the correct sizing for the platforms you want to publish on.

Unsplash: If you want to promote your business you are going to need to create content. This tool follows Canva, because the stock photos of Canva only get you so far. You need options. To pump out lots of content you need LOTS of options, and you will always need new pictures.

Hootsuite/Buffer: I don’t want to say that these two tools are the same, but they both get the same job done. You need to stay on top of your marketing strategy. Hootsuite and Buffer are scheduling platforms where you can optimize, set, and relax. They have different insights and analysis tools, but they are essential if you don’t want to devote time every day to creating and maintaining a social media presence. As I have said before, I am no longer using these tools (I am mainly using a combination of IFTTT and Google Calendars), but I totally recommend them.

Wordpress/Squarespace/Webflow: You need a website. Wordpress is the most common, but it can be a little difficult if you are going with the .org versus the .com. The .org is far more complicated but has near limitless capabilities and plugins. Squarespace is similar to Wix but is very much about aesthetics. They are very proud of their beautiful templates. Webflow is more of a develop and design yourself platform. Basically you will be making all the changes and coding without actually needing to know how to code. All of these website builders are good, so look into them, check out reviews, and determine what fits your needs and your capabilities.

Quickbooks/Freshbooks: You made a product, and now you want to get paid. Give them an invoice. Some people are willing to pay cash, checks, or use a credit card, but if it is a B2B business they are going to want an invoice to go along with it. A few other tools for B2C are Venmo, Paypal, and Apple Pay.

For a ton more essential tools about starting a business with no money, check our Entrepreneurial List.


Stay Employed

Okay, so you have a great idea and you might even be pulling in a little money. Don’t quit your day job. Even if you’re in a job that doesn't pay much, stick with it.

No matter what you’re making, every little bit helps when starting a business from scratch. Save your money; it will make things so much easier for you in the long run. I can’t tell you how many people were dominating their startup game until some other financial disaster or incident happened and shut them down.

Staying employed is a good way to build a buffer, keep your living expenses at bay, and fund your business by yourself. Not to say that you can’t start a business with no money, because you can, but a few extra dollars won’t hurt.

If you can keep a small stream of income, it will make things so much easier for you. If you’re not convinced you can keep your day job and get your side hustle on, check out this article.

Invest your profits. Congratulations, you made your first sale and you want to start your own business, but you also really want to blow that cash you just made. After all it’s all extra since you already have your day job, right? Wrong! Spending all your profits and not putting it back into your new business is a fatal amature flaw. Don’t be an amature.

For many, the first sale is a bit of a surprise. Don’t let the excitement distract you. You might not know how to start a business with no capital (or how to just plain start a business), but from the minute you make one transaction, make a plan or your success will be short lived.

Crowdfunding

The power of the internet is real. There are many people who are in financially difficult positions, who get financial help from the public.

Crowdfunding Stats 2018

People are looking every day for a cause to donate to. People like donating. People like helping others; it makes them feel good. Give them a cause to believe in.

If your case encourages people enough, they will not hesitate to donate money towards your cause. If you get enough people to do this, things will add up very quickly.

Crowdfunding is a legitimate way to get startup funds for your business, so don’t be afraid to advertise your crowdfunding campaign on social media and any other chance you get. It is so popular, there are multiple platforms dedicated to it.

Some notable websites for this are Kickstarter, CrowdFunder and IndieGogo.

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Be socially active

When I say socially active, I mean attend events and talks. Talk with other startup owners and keep updated on the latest startup news.

Search far and wide and always stay informed about what’s happening. This will allow you to meet potential investors, meet possible cofounders, educate yourself and gain confidence. You need to put yourself out there when you plan to start a business. About 70% of jobs are obtained from networking, so staying at home won’t do the trick. Meetup is a great way to find people who are interested in the same things.

No one wants more spam mail and email, but consider signing up for newsletters to businesses that are relevant to you. Often they have free gatherings and network events that you can attend just for being on their email list.

Ramp up your social media activity. Social media is FREE advertising. It is a bit more difficult than simply running an ad that points them right to your business, but it is free.

You can greatly grow your brand awareness or product on all social media platforms, but figure out which one is best for you and stick to it. Consistency is key. Create a business page, and promote yourself on your personal profile.

There is no better way to gain eyes and attention for starting a business without money than to use the right social media platform for your business.

Pieter Levels is a great example of being socially active. He is the founder of Nomad List and Remote Ok and does an excellent job in Twitter. He has an audience of +60k followers who have helped him a lot bootstrap his businesses and make over $70,000/month.

Levelsio Twitter Growth


Bootstrapping

Bootstrapping is the minimalist way to start a business. It is starting a business on your own without venture capitalists, angel investors, or large long-term loans. Bootstrapping is completely self funded.

Bootstrapping keeps costs low. The less money you borrow, the less interest costs you’ll have, the less promises you have to make.

For bootstrapping to be successful, it is important to figure out what you need to buy versus rent or loan, what you can outsource for cheaper, and what you can get for free that will just get the job done.

Learn to Negotiate

Negotiating is an important business skill. It doesn’t matter what you do. We all negotiate every day.

Maybe you’re thinking, “I’m not trying to be some hostage negotiator,” or, “I’m not negotiating a business take over.” The reality is, if you’re trying to get something out of someone then you are negotiating. When you’re starting a business with no money and a priceless idea you’re going to lay everything on the line.

What we get out of life is largely determined by our ability to ask.

How much do you make an hour? Negotiating for just a few minutes could be the difference of saving or making thousands of dollars. Do you make a thousand dollars a minute? You could.

Whether you’re trying to starting a startup or you’ve been at your job a long time, improving this skill will greatly alter your business and personal dealings.

Here is a quick read to get you started on the path to successful long lasting negotiations. If you really want to do some further studying on the subject (or you just want to get a better salary or better deal on a new car), “Never Split the Difference: Negotiating as if Your Life Depends on it” by Chris Voss, is a fantastic read. Brian Tracy, Zig Ziglar, and Dr. Larry Iverson are a few other great speakers on the topic.


Loan

There are many ways to get startup money if you don’t have it lying in your bank. One way is to get a loan. If you are super confident in your idea, this could work. If you feel that you can earn your loan money back in a certain amount of time, this could be a brilliant idea. You just have to be 100% sure, because if things go wrong, you will be in a very sticky situation!

There are plenty of ways to get loans so do some research to what is the best option for you. There are some businesses, such as Lending Club, that might be better than your typical bank.

Remember, everything is negotiable. If a loan is your only option, don’t just take the first offer anyone makes. The higher up the ladder you can go the more power someone has to give you what you want.


Plan

A typical business plan is all about the structure or framework of your vision. Define your vision and set goals to guide your overall growth.

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

A business plan has to do with the general road map and goals. A business strategy is how to achieve those goals.

If you don’t plan it will be very easy to lose focus of your original vision. Your business plan is what will draw co-founders, employees, and brand advocates to you. A business plan is also great thing to get feedback on.

Marketing

If you have a great product but poor marketing, you are not going to get very far. It takes both to be successful.

Social Media Marketing is one of the cheapest and best ways to get the word out. I say cheap and not free, because sometimes you’re better off putting in a few dollars for an ad. Ads on most social media platforms are underpriced, so get it while it’s hot.

Content Marketing is all about giving; it’s all about providing value. It’s not the same as an advertisement. Content is a way to show what you know, what you can do, and to help people get to know you so they want to do business with you.

Content Marketing Sales Funnel

Affiliate Marketing has to do with promoting other people’s products or services in order to gain a commision. This is something you can use for your business and it is something you can do to generate income while growing your business.

Patience and Persistence Wins in the End

For everyone, the cost to set up a company isn’t low, but more people are doing in now than ever because it is possible. Starting your own business is truly one of the top ways to financial wealth and prosperity.

The internet and all the free tools out there make it possible. You just have to look. Maybe you just need a laptop, website, and business cards to start your company. Maybe you need a new wearhouse. Either way, it is possible to keep costs down when starting a business. Hang in there.

There is help out there for funding. It can add up, so consider bootstrapping first. Be prepared to pay for something if you want to get serious and make big moves. Many entrepreneurs find that the premium versions of many free tools are worth it.

If you want the best results, you need to invest in your business, and more importantly, yourself. You have social media, crowdfunding, and even the old-fashioned method of public fundraising. If you are fortunate enough to have a job, keep pushing forward and save as much as you can. If you combine these methods, you’ll find yourself with the money that you need in no time at all.

A failure to commit early on is one of the top three reasons startups fail. If you want it then go for it. Have patience and don’t give up.

Remember how I started Failory with only $41.00? Well, it took over eight months of no revenue before I started making money. If you think your idea really is worth something then hang in there. Know from the start, and don’t get discouraged.

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