Money Matters

How to start a business with no money

Starting a business with no money might seem like a daunting prospect. But, with a little planning, it’s often perfectly feasible. Read on for everything you need to know about how to start a business without money.

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What do Hewlett-Packard, Subway and Mattel have in common? Besides being global brands, they all began with almost no startup capital. 

Starting a business with no money might seem like a daunting prospect. But, with a little planning, it’s often perfectly feasible. 

In fact, learning how to start a business with no money can be a positive thing. It means you won’t dig into your savings and will have to be lean, creative, and entrepreneurial. 

Read on for everything you need to know about how to start a business without money. Here’s what’s covered in the article: 

Can you start a business with no money?

Yes, it’s possible to launch a business without any money at all. 

Assuming you have marketable skills and already own some equipment, you should be able to start generating an income. 

This might include things like: 

  • Cleaning 
  • Dog walking 
  • Delivery services 
  • Repairs 

That said, most startups require at least some money—but you don’t need vast amounts. Almost 60% of startups have less than $2,500 during the start up phase. 

If you have a job or are receiving financial aid, you might want to set money aside and launch once you have a suitable buffer. 

Choose a low-cost business model

If you don’t have ready access to cash, you’ll want to choose business model that doesn’t require much money to get started. 

It usually costs far less to start a service business than a company that sells products since your income is generated by your skills and time, rather than from physical items that you need to make, buy, or store. 

Low-cost service businesses include things like: 

  • Tutoring and training 
  • Consulting 
  • Photography 
  • Writing and editing 
  • Translation 
  • Graphic design 
  • Digital marketing 

Calculating your business costs

If you’re thinking about how to start a business with no money, it’s a good idea to calculate your expected costs. This will give you a savings target, so you have enough money to launch comfortably. 

Typical startup costs include: 

  • Marketing and branding: Whether it’s printing fliers, building a website, or using a designer to create a logo, you’ll need to spend money promoting your business. 
  • Registration fees: Costs vary for the US and Canada, and by state or province, so you will need to check your local government’s website for fee costs. 
  • Assets: This is all your equipment and inventory (if you hope to sell products). It’s things like your computer, office supplies, raw materials, and more. 
  • Costs: This includes fixed or regular costs involved in running your business such as office rental, staff salaries, subscriptions, and website hosting. 
  • Professional services: This may involve services that you outsource, such as bookkeeping, patents, and business insurance. 

Draw up a list of all the possible costs your business might incur for the launch itself, as well as outgoings for an average month. 

Try to be as realistic as possible here—it’s always better to overestimate costs than be surprised later on. 

Minimize your outgoings

If you’re looking to start a business with no money in the US, it’s essential to keep you costs as low as possible. 

Here are some simple steps you can take: 

Work from home 

Starting a business from home with no money is much less expensive than renting an office, warehouse, or shop. 

It also minimizes your travel costs. 

Use free or cheap online services 

There are plenty of free services online that can be used to cut costs. 

You can build a basic website for free with services such as WordPress or Wix and effectively market your business through the likes of Facebook or Instagram. 

You can also find people to do many tasks for you at a low rate through websites such as Fiverr and People Per Hour. 

Get free equipment 

Most businesses require at least a computer to get running. You may already have one, but it’s often possible to find free equipment using websites such as FreeCycle. 

You may also have a friend or relative who can loan you gear until you have enough money to buy your own. 

Otherwise, try to cut back on your personal spending when starting out. It might mean less fun for now, but it should pay off in the long run. 

Plan for cash-flow

Did you know that the second-most common cause of business failure is running out of money? 

If customers don’t pay their bills on time, you won’t be able to pay yourself or your staff (if you have any) either. 

And this is even more critical if you’re starting a business with no money. 

You might want to take on a part-time job to ensure you can still pay your rent and bills to begin with. Or, if you already have a job, try to run the business during your evenings and weekends. 

Find investment if it’s needed

Some types of business are simply impossible to start without any money. That may include businesses in the manufacturing, technology, construction, retail, or hospitality industries. 

In this case, you might want to consider getting a loan or seeking out investment. 

Bank loans 

You might be able to get a business loan from a bank, although this may be hard if you have no collateral at all. 

Government grants and loans 

Your government, state, or province will offer financial support incentives for certain industries and regions so make sure you bookmark your local government’s website. 

Bank of Mom and Dad 

Family and friends may be willing to provide you a loan free of charge, or for a share of your company. 


There are various crowdfunding websites–such as GoFundMe and Kickstarter–which allow people to either donate money or buy small shares in your idea if they like the sound of it. 

Angel investment 

This is often associated with technology startups. A wealthy backer invests in your business in return for shares. 

Know how to start a business without money

Learning how to start a business with no money is your first step on a journey to being your own boss. 

With planning and a bit of luck, being short of cash shouldn’t be a barrier to business success. 

Try our free cash-flow calculator to ensure you’re on the right track!