Can you start a business with no money?

Published · 2 min read

Here’s the challenge. While you don’t need much money to start a small business from home, the chances of a bank lending you this money may still be pretty small. Plus you don’t really want to take on (more?) debt right now. You may be on a tight budget because you’re not working, working part time, or spending a big chunk of your salary on childcare. So you don’t really want to spend money on a business that should be putting food on the table or clothes on your kids.

Here are some tips on starting your business on a tight budget:

Keep your job for a bit longer

If you have a job, keep it for a while longer than you planned and funnel some of your earnings into your business. If you’re able to, try to phase in your business as you phase out your job. So start your business in your spare time (I know, not easy) and then cut your hours down to part-time once your business has grown a little. Eventually you can give up the job completely.

Keep your business expenses low

You can start a business for far less than it used to cost. For example, you can get a website from just £2.99 per month from Create. Also, pick a type of business that is inexpensive to run. Setting up a small service business or an online shop (or even becoming a freelance writer!) will usually need less investment than inventing a product and bringing it to market, for example.


Freelancing is like creating your own part time job. Write down the skills you have and the work you might like to do and then put the word out that you’re available. If you or your friends know any self-employed people, ask if they need some short-term help with something as simple as data-entry or mailing out some catalogues. I’m not talking about setting yourself up as a virtual assistant here (although this could help you get started as a VA), just getting yourself some casual work.

Put your earnings back into your new business for a while

As soon as you start making a little money, even as little as £20 here and there, put that back into your business. You’ll grow slowly, but you’ll be debt free and you won’t be taking any big financial risks along the way.

Loan from friends or relatives

If you’re very lucky you may find someone will lend you the money you need. If you do this it’s best to put this in writing so you’re both clear about how much is being borrowed, when you’ll pay it back and any input the lender is going to have into your business. This will help prevent tension later on.

Claim anything you’re entitled to

If you were employed in the previous tax year but left your job or reduced your hours to part-time part of the way through the year, you may have over-paid some tax and should claim it back. Make sure you’ve claimed all the benefits you’re entitled to as this could free up some cash in the family budget to put towards your business.


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