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How to start a business with no 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?

Choose a low-cost business model

Calculating your business costs

Minimise your outgoings

Plan for cash flow

Find investment if it’s needed

Dreaming of bossing your own business? Take our quiz to see how ready you are to take the plunge

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 a quarter of UK startups launch with less than £1,000.

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

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.

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: It’s free to register as a sole trader, while registering a limited company costs £12.
  • 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 regularly 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.

If you’re looking to start a business with no money in the UK, 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 minimises 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.

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.

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

There is support from the government for certain industries and regions.

Bank of Mum and Dad

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

Crowdfunding

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.

Are you ready to be your own boss?

Dreaming of bossing your own business? Take our quiz to see how ready you are to take the plunge.

Take the quiz

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