Business planning

How to start a business without capital

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

Starting a business with no money might seem impossible, but it’s often entirely doable with some clever planning. What’s more, it will teach you to be creative and entrepreneurial and make you less likely to dig into your savings.

Can you start a business without any capital?

 Yes! It is entirely possible to start a business with no money.

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

This could include things like:

  • Kota kiosk
  • Cleaning
  • Delivery services
  • Repairs and handyman services

Having said that, most start-ups require at least a small amount of money to get going.

If you have a job or are receiving money through other means, you might want to set some aside and launch your business once you have a suitable buffer.

Start with a low-cost business model

If you don’t have cash on hand, you need a business model that doesn’t need much money to get going.

Service businesses are usually far less expensive to start than product-based ones because your income is generated through your skills and time, rather than from tangible items that need to be purchased or produced.

Service businesses can include things like:

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

Calculate your business costs

If you’re considering starting a business without any capital, it’s essential to calculate your expected costs to create a savings target that will allow you enough funds to launch comfortably.

Start-up costs usually include:

  • Registration: Registering a new business with the Registrar of Companies carries a cost.
  • Marketing and branding: Regardless of how you choose to promote your business – be it digitally or traditionally – the creation of promotional materials will cost you some money. That said, tools like Canva allow you to create your own marketing material for free.
  • Assets: This is all your equipment and inventory (if you hope to sell products). It’s things like your computer, office supplies, and raw materials.
  • Costs: This includes costs required to run your business, such as salaries, office space, wifi, etc.
  • Professional services: This may involve services 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. Be realistic – better to be prepared for the worst-case scenario than land up with unwanted debt.

Minimise your outgoings

If you’re looking to start a business with no money, it’s critical to keep your costs to a minimum.

Here are simple tricks to do that:

  • Work from home. Not only do you save on office space, but you save on travel costs too.
  • Find cheap or free online services. There are plenty of free services online that can be used to reduce costs. For example, you can build a basic website 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 Fiverr and People Per Hour websites.
  • Plan for cash flow. 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. Planning for cash flow is even more important when you’re starting without any capital. 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.

Learn how to start a business with no capital

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

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

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