How to Start a Business Without Money - A Short SBG Guide

ByJulija A.
March 23,2022

Many people assume that you need a lot of money in the bank to start a company. But, as you’ll discover in this post, that’s not always the case. While capital helps for certain types of enterprises, it’s not always necessary. In today’s world, you can start something from scratch with no cash outlay at all and, in some cases, even build an income that far outstrips your regular salary.

In this post, we'll take a look at how to start a business without money and then provide some business idea examples that are affordable and easy to pursue.

How To Start a Small Business Without Money

Fifty years ago, start-ups had to do virtually everything themselves. Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak built Apple computers in a shed, and Bill Gates didn’t exactly have a ton of investors lined up to support Windows when he started out. 

Things have changed in recent years, though, and starting a business with no money is considerably easier than it was in the past. These days, it’s more about leveraging the tools that are already out there in new and interesting ways. Good business ideas often still need some money, but there are ways around that, too.

Here’s how to start a business from scratch with no money saved up: 

Find a Problem To Solve That Uses Your Skill Set

The best business ideas are those that sit at the confluence of your skillset and a problem that needs solving. Pursuing a passion of yours at any cost is not necessarily advisable. While you might love the work, it may not align with a problem in the marketplace.

Instead, look for a small subdivision in the market where consumers’ needs aren’t being solved and then look to fill the gap. For instance, you could:

  • Chop a larger product into smaller, more manageable chunks (such as chocolate buttons or apple slices).
  • Improve how often or in which ways you interact with customers (for example, eBay reviews).
  • Change how quickly you deliver products (such as next-day or same-day delivery).
  • Combine two existing ideas (such as providing a play creche in a coffee shop).
  • Take something out of a product that people don’t like.
  • Exaggerate your love of ugliness (such as misshapen fruit and vegetables to reduce waste)
  • Automate an activity that used to require human labor (such as picking products in a warehouse)

Of course, your imagination will be much better than ours. But the principle remains the same: your idea needs to provide a meaningful improvement in your customers’ lives in a way that others on the market aren’t offering at the moment.

Create a Minimum Viable Product

After you find a novel problem that requires your skill set to solve, you need to create a minimum viable product (MVP). Your MVP should offer at least a minimum feature set that people will pay you for - it’s basically a demo meant to attract buyers.

When starting a business with no money, MVPs are essential. You need to generate revenue as quickly as possible to keep your head above water. You should not wait until you’ve built out your entire feature set before you start selling the product or idea. 

Set Up a Payment Mechanism

Once you have your MVP in place, the next step is to set up a payment system. If you want to open a retail store with no money, you can work with a merchant account service. These provide you with the POS tools and accounts you need to take credit and debit card payments at your premises. 

If you are setting up an online shop, eCommerce websites will provide you with various ways to take payments. Similarly, if you want to sell courses or training, you can use an online platform, such as Mastermind or Kajabi. 

If you’re selling something else, look for existing payment platforms in your niche. Usually, you’ll find a company that provides you with all the tools you need to make payments so you can avoid relying on old-fashioned paper invoicing, bank transfers, and cash. 

Go Public

The next step is to go public with your plans. Even if you are an entrepreneur without money, there are still plenty of ways to do this. 

Start by setting up a website on a free platform, such as Squarespace, Wix, or WordPress. Then acquire a domain name from a reputable provider. 

You will need to pay a small fee for this, depending on the name you choose. However, prices are low for more obscure domain suffixes (such as .co or .us), meaning that you can get a URL for just a few dollars a year. 

If you want to start an eCommerce business with no money, there are plenty of platforms to choose from, including WooCommerce, BigCommerce, Shopify, and Magento. 

Next, maintain a constant social media presence. Make sure that you: 

  • Regularly respond to users’ questions and queries.
  • Ask other people in your network to promote your posts.
  • Post one to three interesting items about your brand per day.
  • Regularly check in with your audience to make sure they’re happy and address their concerns.

Get Some Help

Great business leaders don’t try to go at it alone. They always ask for help and try to find ways to make the universe conspire in their favor by:

  • Getting friends and family to pitch in and provide extra funding or ideas.
  • Asking for mentors to listen to sales pitches and offer advice on how to improve them.
  • Going to reputable lenders for small business loans when extra cash is needed.
  • Looking for local grants and small business funding opportunities.
  • Finding potential angel business investors who might be willing to take a punt on their business idea.
  • Looking for additional sources of funding, such as peer-to-peer lending and crowdsourcing.
  • Learning more about how to start a business without money.

Grow Your Business

The final step is to grow your business so that it becomes profitable. If you don’t push forward hard, you may not build enough momentum to make a good return on your investment. 

Here are some inexpensive or free ways to market your business and ensure that it thrives: 

  • Invest in SEO

You can pay an agency to do this for you, or if you’re really short of money, you can do it yourself for free. Ensure that you include relevant keywords on your website, write content relevant to your audience, and get links from partner sites to your pages. 

  • Market on social media

You can pay for this with ads or do it for free by creating content for your pages and accounts. If you are struggling to gain traction, try working with influencers.

  • Do content marketing

By writing useful articles and creating helpful videos, you can provide prospective customers with the value they can’t get from your competitors.

  • Cold outreach

Lastly, you might want to try cold outreach. While challenging, it is a great way to get your foot in the door and build more sustainable clients long-term. 

Examples of Businesses You Can Start With No Money

Wondering how to start a business with no money or credit? There are plenty of examples already out there and they provenly work. Let’s take a look at a few:

Life Coaching

A life coach is simply someone who offers guidance to other people on how to live better. Many coaches focus on a particular dimension of life, such as relationships, finances, spirituality or career. To stand out in this industry, you’ll need to have the ability to truly change someone’s outlook on a particular area of life. 

Pet Sitting

Becoming a pet sitter can be a fun line of work. You walk or groom dogs and, in return, their owners pay you a fee. Pet sitting is popular in cities where professionals don’t always have the time needed to look after their pets properly.

Handyman Services

If you are good at fixing things around the house, then you might consider handyman services. These professionals charge callout and service fees for fixing broken windows, putting up curtain rods, and removing mold from tile grouting. You might need some initial investment to buy the necessary tools if you don’t already have them, though.

Selling Printed T-Shirts

On-demand, customizable printed t-shirts are a viable, low-cost business option. Here, you simply set up an online store and then work with a t-shirt printing partner to distribute apparel to your customers. This is not exactly a free option and is something you’ll need to invest at least some funds in, but the overall returns make those modest initial investments worth it. 

Selling Books

You might think of writing as a different category from business, but it’s not. After all, a book is just another product that gets bought and sold. 

There are many types of books you could create. These include:

  • How-to manuals.
  • Professional books for a particular industry niche.
  • Novels and fictional literature.
  • Scientific books and journals (not really a money-maker, though).
  • Self-help or philosophical books.
  • Photo books.
  • Comics.
  • Customizable books for children and adults.

Again, this is one of the best businesses to start with little money because you don’t need to set up the printing shop yourself. You just work with an existing publishing house that provides the features you want to offer your customers. With that in mind, you’ll still need to scrounge up some starting capital.

Selling an Online Course

If you are thinking about how to start a business online without money and are serious about not having even a tiny bit of seed capital, there are still options to consider. One is to simply sell your skills – something that you already know how to do well, but other people will find valuable learning.  

Selling a course online is much easier than you might think. Today, there are many platforms that host your course and help it reach your target audience. What’s more, it’s the type of work you can do without having to quit your day job, and, on many platforms, you won’t have any upfront costs, either. 

Selling Print-on-Demand Cards, Posters, and Prints

Print-on-demand services are becoming more popular as consumers look to personalize gifts or items in their homes. Therefore, selling these products could be a great way to scale a business fast. Again, you don’t need to pay for the printing facilities or worry about shipping yourself: you can partner with a dropshipping service and a publishing house and get them to do it for you. 

Child Care

Have you ever said to a friend, “I want to start a business but have no ideas on where to start”? Child care is a very popular profession in this age of overworked people who cannot dedicate the time they’d like to their children but still want them to be in good hands. Parents want to leave their kids with people who will look after them properly and provide educational support. 

If you get a license, you can start using your home, which will allow you to look after multiple children simultaneously to earn more money from this venture. 

Test Prep Services

Parents want their children to perform well at exams. Hence, test prep services are just as popular as private tuition, if not more so these days. All you need is some experience in academia or a background in education. 

Car Detailing

If you love cars, you might want to offer a car detailing service. Proud owners are often willing to pay a premium for specialists who can make their vehicles look great, and the start-up costs to set up such an operation won’t cripple your budget. 

Food Trucks

Food truck businesses aren’t free, but they are much more affordable than setting up a restaurant or getting a retail unit in the middle of town. 

These days, you can rent food trucks to test your business model – you don’t have to buy them outright. To be successful, you’ll want to offer people niche food that they love. 

Electronics Repair Services

If you know a lot about electronics, such as smartphones and notebooks, you might want to offer an electronics repair service. Here, people bring you their broken items, and you’ll attempt to fix them. Again, you’ll need both knowledge and a set of tools, but if you’re keen on electronics and have been fixing your own hardware for years, chances are you’ll already have everything you need.

Refurbished Electronics

A similar idea to the one above is opening a refurbished electronics business. Here, you take old devices, factory reset them, clean them up, repair any obvious damage, and then sell them on while making a profit.


The landscaping business can be a very lucrative option. If you are careful with the type of projects you take on, this can be a great way to make money. Start with small items that you can complete with simple hand tools, and then use the cash you earn to buy more equipment that will let you take on larger projects. 

Vending Machines

Believe it or not, there is actually quite substantial money to be made from getting into the vending machine business. It’s not an entirely passive income stream after the initial investment, though - at least not if you want to keep making money. The ongoing work involves restocking machines and fixing them if they go wrong. To make truly good money, you’ll eventually want numerous vending machines and a team of staff to help with restocking and repair work.

Airbnb Business

It’s easy to start an Airbnb business without money, but you will need a place for people to stay. Your home is more likely to be in high demand if you are close to a tourist hotspot or a business district.

Selling Subscription Boxes

Selling subscription boxes is a great way to start a business without experience. The way it works is simple: instead of building your own products and packaging them, you curate those of other brands and then pass them on to consumers in boxes. The value is in the selection process itself: you’re telling consumers what’s good instead of relying on them to figure it out for themselves. 

Selling Phone Accessories

Today, there’s a huge market for smartphone accessories, due to the sheer volume of people who now own these devices. They need Bluetooth headphones, tripods, cases, dashboard holders, portable and wireless chargers, and so on. What’s more, they are often willing to buy on impulse, either online or in-store, so you’ll likely have a high demand for your products. Just bear in mind that this is another job that will require some reasonable starting capital. 

Online Consulting

If you have had a long career and are starting a business from nothing, you might have success with online consulting. Here, you provide firms with guidance and advice on topics they might not understand. They may then ask you to directly intervene and perform tasks for them, paying you fees for the privilege. It’s another great job to put your skills to good use without having to spend any money upfront.


Starting a business without money is surprisingly easy in the modern world. Thanks to the internet and other communication technologies, it’s now something that’s accessible to most people. That said, some of the ideas we presented here still might require some sort of seed capital, but you won't need a large amount of funding to get your idea off the ground. 

Frequently Asked Questions
Can a business run without money?

There are many ways to start a business without money. However, many companies have running costs (unless they are dormant). Therefore, revenues will need to exceed expenses if you want to stay in business and avoid having to constantly dip into your savings. 

What do I do if I can’t get a loan to start a business?

If you can’t get a loan but need funding to start your business, you can look for alternative financing sources.. For instance, you may be able to fund a business with crowdsourcing or angel investors. If you are still struggling, you might want to save up and self-finance or explore business opportunities that don’t require any upfront outlay of cash. 

What are some cheap, profitable businesses?

Examples of cheap, profitable businesses include child care, pet sitting, renting out part of your home on Airbnb, digital marketing, blogging, personal training, home and office cleaning, product licensing, and translation services. 

What are the most successful small businesses?

The most profitable small businesses tend to cluster around professional skills. For example, consulting, bookkeeping and accounting. However, you can make virtually any business highly profitable, so long as you adequately scale it and provide good value to your customers.

What business can I start with no money?

If you’re wondering how to start a business without money, check out our detailed guide above. There are plenty of businesses that you can start with little or no money, but you’ll have to pick one that matches your skillset to do well. Some of the better options are online coaching, home remodeling, catering, child care, print-on-demand cards, handyman services, and pet sitting.

About the author

Julia A. is a writer at With experience in both finance and marketing industries, she enjoys staying up to date with the current economic affairs and writing opinion pieces on the state of small businesses in America. As an avid reader, she spends most of her time poring over history books, fantasy novels, and old classics. Tech, finance, and marketing are her passions, and she’s a frequent contributor at various small business blogs.

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By Julija A. · March 22,2022
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By Julija A. · March 21,2022
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Succession plans require a lot of time and effort. This is why many businesses plan for succession well in advance, and business transition planning takes place long before there’s a buyer ready or disaster strikes. Succession plans are contingency plans and should be taken as a way forward for any event in which dramatic changes to the business will occur. Why Is a Succession Plan Important? Here are some essential benefits of creating succession plans: It Protects the Future of Your Business Bad things can happen to any enterprise, no matter how careful the people running it are. Employees leave, business owners become unable to run their companies, the market becomes hostile, and so forth. How then do you safeguard your business operations from any of these often unforeseen circumstances? That’s where a succession plan comes in. Just like we have various types of insurance to give us cover from mishaps, a succession plan is an insurance policy for your business’s continuity. It Aids in Identifying the Most Qualified People in Your Company One of the most important benefits of succession plans is that they allow business owners to see which employees are best suited for the transition. This is a key aspect of succession planning for business owners and plays a key role in the continued success of the company’s operations. With a succession plan, you get to see which of your employees are most qualified as future leaders. It also helps to narrow down which positions within the company are most critical for its success. It can also shed light on potential vulnerabilities, helping identify and remedy them. For example, If there are no employees suitable for leadership roles within your organization, you would know to look externally early on. In the same vein, business succession planning is a process that could lead to increased employee retention and motivation, as it lets hardworking members in the organization know that their efforts have been noticed and encourages others to do better. It Helps Create a Training and Development Structure Building on the previous point, another benefit of succession planning is fostering an environment friendly to training and development. One other positive thing about identifying leadership prospects is picking out competency gaps and filling them by training your staff. Professional development can come in many forms, such as mentoring, coaching, giving staff increased responsibilities or even job shadowing. Some positions may require employees to head back to school for further education or certification. This early tapping on successors puts you and your business ahead of the curve, giving everyone enough time to prepare and build the skills or experience needed in leadership and other roles. It’s an excellent method to consider even before you start thinking about how to transfer business ownership to someone else down the line. It’s also an excellent way to let employees know you are willing to invest in them. It Maintains the Brand Identity of Your Business Succession planning helps identify employees that can keep the torch burning within the company and helps ensure that a brand identity built over several years doesn’t get thrown out the door when there’s a change in power. Even when there’s a new boss around, succession plans help ensure nothing crucial changes. It Puts Extra Eyes on the Job Succession planning is a company-wide exercise, meaning that you can have junior managers and veteran staff working together on the same tasks. This can help wring out any weaknesses and further finetune processes and operations. Resources for Succession Planning Now that we’ve covered why succession plans are essential let’s touch on what resources can aid the process of making one. A  business succession planning template is a great way to start getting all your business affairs in order and prepare for the future. You may need help, and a great place to turn to is your accounting firm. Note, however, that this only applies if they are experienced in succession planning. There are other factors to consider, such as the size of your business and the complexity of its operations. How urgent you need the succession plan is also a consideration. You can choose to hire an accounting firm or bring in temporary professional services (free accounting tools are also an option, but most don’t offer succession planning features). Here are some succession planning resources you can look to: PwC PricewaterhouseCoopers is widely known as one of the Big Four in the accounting industry (alongside KPMG, EY, and Deloitte). The company has an extensive background in succession planning and is a great fit for small businesses as it mainly focuses on smaller privately-owned enterprises. SCORE SCORE’s well-developed guide on business succession planning is a fantastic resource. SCORE is one of the largest networks in the world, providing small businesses with access to mentoring. The best part is that as a small business owner, you can ask to be paired with a mentor that’s a perfect match (these business mentors volunteer their assistance). It’s an option you should seriously consider if you require help with succession planning. Local Accountant If a local accountant is experienced with succession planning, then they’re a good option to consider as well. You can ask around your network for contacts, try to use your local Chamber of Commerce, any business support groups you know about, or just search for a certified public accountant in the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants directory. Steps To Creating a Succession Plan Succession plans can be tough to work on. However, there are some steps you can take to make it easier and create a better succession plan template. Let’s go over them: Succession Timeline Succession plans can be split into two types: an exit succession plan and a death-or-accident succession plan. The former covers the transfer of ownership at a specific date, while the latter deals with the event of owner death or disability.  An accident plan can be considered at any time but exit plans should be written when retirement is close by or the owner wishes to leave the business. There should be a specific date in mind when the transfer would take place, and the plan should also indicate whether you would still be involved after the exit or want to be done with the business completely. Determine Your Successor Who takes the reins after the business owner’s departure?  Many owners hand the reigns over to their families in business succession planning, and children often continue the family business. Sometimes, it is handed over to a  business partner or one of its key employees. Other times, the business is outrightly bought by an outsider. It’s a tough decision, but the successor must be someone that cares about the business and has similar values as the owner. Keeping it within the family is great, but you should bear in mind that most second-generation businesses have a high failure rate. That said, almost a quarter of small businesses fail because they don’t have the right team running the show. This just shows that succession planning is crucial in ensuring that the best people for the job inherit the key responsibilities. Record and Formalize Your Standard Operating Procedures Recording your SOPs for future reference is something that every small business owner should do daily. It is beneficial for employees and any future owners. They vary depending on the business, but most SOPs usually include: Org Chart Operations Manual IT Manual Employee Handbook Training Programs Skill Retention Strategies Performance Management Meeting AgendasEvaluate Your Business There are many succession planning best practices, but one of the most essential is evaluating your business. How much is your business worth? You should have a rough idea about this at any stage of running your business. Don’t make the mistake of overvaluing your business, though, as it can lead to poor financial planning. There are various ways to do it, too, from using a business valuation calculator to a professional appraiser. Some companies like Guidant Financial offer valuation services for businesses.  Handling the Finances of Your Succession Plan Your succession plan must cover how someone will buy your business - by paying a lump sum, purchasing it in installments, using credit facilities, or some other option. You should also have a buy-sell agreement, a legal document where the buyer agrees to an action that enables them to purchase your business. To draft this agreement, you’ll also need to meet with a legal professional, such as a business succession planning attorney. Succession plans are typically funded in one of the following three ways: Life Insurance: usually more common in family successions. A policy taken out on the business owner can help finance the buyout of the business in the event of death or other events such as owner retirement or disability.  Acquisition Loan: this is money borrowed from a bank to purchase a business. Typically, a buyer can get about 70% to 80% of the purchase price from a bank or the Small Business Administration (SBA). Seller Financing: or installment payments, occurs when the buyer pays for the business gradually after a down payment has been made, usually about 10% or higher. Final Thoughts One mistake many make is not reviewing their plans after they’ve been made. Succession planning in business is something that has to be reviewed regularly, and changes sometimes need to be made on the fly. Succession planning deals with answering difficult questions and dealing with unexpected events. Who takes over, and how if the need arises? Will the new business owner handle things the same way as the old one did? Which employees and positions are essential, and which ones can the business go on without? With our template, answering these questions should be a lot easier. Don’t forget that you can always seek the advice and services of legal and financial experts that have experience in succession planning.
By Julija A. · March 21,2022

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