Starting a business is a dream for many people.
Whether it’s the freedom to pursue something you love, the flexibility to be the boss, or the challenge of growing something from scratch that motivates you, many of us have a strong desire to start and own a business.
Although the thought of being a business owner is appealing, there are a few significant hurdles that routinely prevent people from pursuing these dreams. Most businesses require capital to get started. That means you’ll need to have a lot of money to invest in a building, inventory, equipment, or employees. Getting the money is a challenge and borrowing the startup capital comes with the risk of failing and not being able to repay the debt.
As a result, most people simply never pursue their entrepreneurial dreams. However, it’s possible to start a business with no money and avoid taking on debt.
The Answer: Start A Service-Related Business
Thankfully, not all businesses require a large investment, or even any investment at all. If you’re looking to start a business with no money to invest, your best option is to choose a service-related business.
We’ll be looking at many specific types of service businesses that can be started with either no money at all or a very small amount of money. But first, let’s talk about why service-related businesses can be such a practical option.
1. Use The Skills You Already Have
Chances are, you already possess some skills or abilities that are valuable to other people or to other businesses. If you’ve been in the workforce for a while, you’ve developed skills at your previous jobs. Or maybe you have a hobby that could be turned into a business (like design or photography).
With this approach, your existing skills are the most valuable asset for your business. You’re leveraging the experience you already have and you’ll be able to make money because of those skills and the ways you can help clients.
Of course, you can also develop new skills or improve existing skills as you go. However, the key to getting to profitability quickly is to focus on the skills you already have and what you can start offering clients today.
2. Low Overhead
Many service-related businesses involve very low overhead. Of course, the details vary depending on the type of business you’re running. The opportunities we’ll be covering in this article don’t require you to rent an office or hire employees. Service-related businesses are ideal for one-person operations, and of course, you can expand by hiring others when the business naturally reaches that stage.
The business opportunities we’ll be covering fall into one of two categories:
- Online businesses
- Local businesses
If you’ll be offering services online, you’ll be able to work remotely. Work from home or anywhere with an internet connection (ideal for those who love to travel).
3. Start Making Money Quickly
With a service-related business, you’ll start making money as soon as you have your first paying client. It’s possible you could start a business that is profitable from day one. This is in stark contrast to other business models that involve a lot of debt and years of work before getting out from under that debt.
If you need to start making money quickly, many types of businesses simply wouldn’t be a good fit for you. Online businesses like blogging and affiliate marketing tend to get a lot of attention, but you’ll need to put in several months of work, at a minimum, before you can expect to start earning anything significant.
While a service-related business may not be a glamorous as some other types of businesses, the fact that you can start making money immediately should not be overlooked.
What If You Don’t Want To Run A Service-Related Business?
If you have dreams of starting and owning your own business, but a service-related business is not what you have in mind, don’t worry. It’s possible that you could begin as a service-oriented business and then transition into another business model.
By doing this, you could use a service to start making money quickly, and then invest that money in a way that allows you to transition to another type of business. Here are a few examples:
- Blogging – If you really want to have a blogging business but you need to start making money quickly, you could get started by offering your services as a freelance writer. As a freelancer, you can start making money as soon as you land your first client. You can work on your own blog and invest some of the money that you’re making into that blog as you go.
- Software – If you’re a developer and you’d like to create and sell your own software, you could get started by offering development services to clients. Start making money right away and invest that money into your own product.
- Artist – If you want to sell your art, whether it’s paintings, sculptures, photographs, or stock graphics, you could get started by offering services to clients. Establish your name in the industry and grow your network through client work before transitioning to selling your artwork or prints.
Obviously, there are a lot of different examples that could be included here. The point is, you could start as a service business and then transition to another business model if you don’t want to offer services forever.
How To Start A Business With No Money
Here are some simple and practical steps you can take to get your own business off the ground.
1. Start With What You Have
One of the keys to getting your business to profitability quickly and with little-to-no expense is to focus on the things you already have. This includes:
- Skills and abilities
- Experience from previous roles or even from hobbies
- Equipment (like tools and software)
- Your network
These things currently available to you at no cost, aside from what you’ve already spent to get them, will be extremely valuable to your new service-oriented business.
Think about what you already have in these areas and the types of services you could offer based on this.
2. Use Free Marketing Methods
With any type of service-related business, you’ll need paying clients in order to have a successful business. While many businesses rely on costly advertising, there are ways around this.
As a new service provider, you should be leveraging your existing contacts and your own network. This includes your professional network from current or past jobs, as well as your personal network (family, friends, neighbors, acquaintances).
Most service providers are able to land their first few clients simply by talking to people in their own network. Be sure to let everyone know about the business you’re starting, the specific services that you offer, and the results you can provide for clients. If the people you know don’t have a direct need for your services, maybe they’ll know someone who does (you can offer a referral bonus as a way of encouraging people to tell others about you).
Word-of-mouth advertising is key for service providers. Be sure to always do your best work for clients and remember that your work will impact how likely they are to recommend you. You should also actively ask for referrals from your clients and contacts. Many people would be happy to tell others about you, but they’re unlikely to think about it if you don’t ask.
Aside from leveraging your own network and relying on word-of-mouth advertising, there are a few other free ways to promote your services:
- Use social media
- Advertise on bulletin boards in your local area
- Post to Craigslist
- Write articles for blogs, websites, or printed publications
3. Invest Once You Start Making Money
As soon as you start making money, it’s ideal if you’re able to reinvest at least a portion of that money back into the business. You could use that money for:
- Software and tools that make your work faster, easier, or more effective
- Outsourcing work to free up more time
You don’t need to spend money just for the sake of spending money, but you should be willing to reinvest money into your business when it makes sense. Investing in your business may produce a huge return by allowing you to make much more money in the future.
Businesses That Can Be Started With No Money
Now, let’s take a look at some of the best opportunities for service-related business that could be started with just a small investment, or even no investment at all.
One of the best business opportunities out there today is to work as a virtual assistant (VA). As a VA, you could offer a wide variety of services, but the best option is to focus on the things that you already have experience with. Maybe you’ve worked in administrative roles in the past and you’re good at things like managing a calendar, setting appointments, making travel arrangements, or responding to emails.
Maybe you have experience with blogging and social media and you could moderate forums or Facebook groups, respond to blog comments and messages on social platforms, write or edit blog posts, or create social media posts for your clients.
In the current environment, many businesses are more interested in outsourcing work to freelancers as opposed to hiring full-time employees. There is strong demand for quality virtual assistants, and that demand is likely to continue to increase.
While there are a lot of companies that offer jobs for virtual assistants, these jobs typically do not offer the best income potential. If you want to maximize your income as a VA, starting your own freelance business is the better option.
If you’re interested in learning how to start your own VA business, Fully Booked VA by Gina Horkey is a great resource.
With millions of websites and blogs publishing new content on a daily basis, there is a need for writers who can create that content. While the biggest companies may use full-time staff writers, most publications rely heavily on freelancers.
One of the most attractive perks of working as a freelance writer is the fact that many of your clients will be ongoing. You may have weekly or monthly assignments for new articles from each client. That means that once you have enough clients, you won’t need to dedicate time or effort towards finding work. Instead, you’ll be able to devote all of your time to the work that actually brings in the money.
There is work available in many different industries, so you can probably use your existing skills and experience to find work. You may even be able to turn one of your hobbies into a business by landing some writing gigs that cover the topics you enjoy most.
Check out the great 30 Days Or Less To Freelance Writing Success, included in the VA Foundations Skills Course from Gina Horkey.
If you have some design skills, you could put them to good use by working for clients. You could offer a wide range of services like:
- Logo design
- Brochure design (or other marketing materials)
- Social media graphics
- Label or product packaging design
- And much more
If you’re a designer, you probably already have the software that you’d need. If not, there are free alternatives to popular options like Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator.
Another way to put design skills to good use is to focus on websites. Obviously, every business and organization should have a website these days, so there are plenty of potential clients out there.
Website builders like WordPress and Squarespace have definitely had an impact on the industry as it’s easier than ever for non-designers to create their own website. However, these tools have a learning curve and many business owners don’t have the time to create their own website.
Many freelancers have responded by offering services to set up and customize a WordPress-powered website for a client who doesn’t want to tackle the project on their own.
While web designers focus on the visual aspect, developers handle the coding and technical aspects. If you have coding experience, working as a freelance web developer could be a great fit.
In addition to a strong demand for the services, developers also benefit from excellent earning potential.
Social Media Marketer
Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest can present outstanding opportunities for businesses. Unfortunately, most businesses are sitting on the sidelines and missing out on these opportunities.
That’s where you come in.
As a social media marketer, you could assist business owners by managing their social presence for them. This might involve posting regularly on select platforms, responding to questions or comments that arrive via social media, creating images and graphics to post, and even management of ad campaigns.
In particular, managing Facebook ads is an excellent business opportunity with a lot of potential. Most businesses could benefit from Facebook ads, but they don’t have the experience or expertise to do it on their own.
The Facebook Side Hustle Course teaches everything you need to know to start your own business running ads for clients. It’s a great option for a side hustle or a full-time business.
There are a lot of hobbyist photographers out there, so I know that some people reading this article would love to be able to make money with their photography.
If you have an interest in photography, you probably already have all of the gear you would need to get started with a simple photography business Really, you don’t need more than a camera, lens, and photo editing software to get started. Of course, you can invest in more gear as your business grows.
There are several different types of photography that you could offer, including:
- Real Estate
Consultant Or Coach
Here is an extremely flexible option that could allow you to take advantage of your existing skills or expertise. Consultants and coaches can work in just about any industry. Think about your strongest skills and your past work experience. Is there a way to incorporate that into a consulting or coaching business?
One of the main benefits of working as a consultant or coach is the income potential, since rates for these services tend to be high.
If you’ve done any bookkeeping work at a previous job, you could start your own bookkeeping business. You don’t need to be a CPA or have accounting experience to work as a bookkeeper, and you can still earn a really nice hourly rate with this service.
If you have strong grammar skills and keen attention to detail, working as a freelance proofreader could be a great fit for you. As a proofreader, you can work from anywhere with an internet connection. With the amount of content being published today, there is plenty of demand for quality proofreaders.
Proofread Anywhere is the leading course for anyone who is interested in learning how to make money as a proofreader.
Flea Market Flipping
If you enjoy shopping at yard sales and flea markets to find the best deals, perhaps you should turn it into a business. It’s possible to do really well as a flipper. Rob and Melissa from Flea Market Flipper run a six-figure flipping business and they offer a free workshop that shows how you can start your own reselling business.
Getting started as a flipper could involve a small investment to purchase the initial products that you’ll be reselling. However, if you need to get started with no investment, you can find some items from around your house to sell. You’ll be able to start making money right away with no investment, and you can reinvest that money to purchase additional items.
This is one of my favorite opportunities because it’s completely overlooked by most people, anyone can do it, and the income potential is outstanding.
Brian Winch started a side hustle in the 1980s cleaning up trash in business parking lots and at shopping centers. In a very short time, he replaced the income from his full-time job. For more than 30 years, Brian has been earning a six-figure income cleaning trash.
If you’re interested in starting your own business, be sure to check out Cleanlots, where Brian teaches the exact methods he uses. He refers to it as “America’s simplest business” because it requires very few tools and is so simple to do.
A lawn care business will cost some money to start if you don’t already have the equipment. But if you do already have a mower, you could get started by simply canvassing your neighborhood and offering your service.
Aside from mowing, you could also offer trimming, leaf cleanup, power washing, and other related services.
Painting is a relatively simple service to offer. Many people prefer to hire a painter because they don’t have the time or they simply don’t want to do their own painting. You could be painting interior walls, or exterior projects like fences and shutters.
The equipment needed is minimal, an you can build the cost of things like paint, rollers, and brushes into your estimates.
If you’re good with your hands and you enjoy fixing things, working as a handyman could be the right fit for you. There’s always work available and you can get started by talking to your friends and family or simply posting an ad on Craigslist.
Dog Walking and Pet Sitting
A good opportunity for pet lovers is to work as a dog walker and/or pet sitter. There is a strong need for these services and you can make a pretty good income doing it.
To get started, you can create a free profile on Rover and make it possible for clients in your local area to find you.
Put your knowledge to good use by helping others. You could offer tutoring services in the subjects that you know best. Tutoring is something that can be done online or locally in-person.
Starting A Business With No Money Is More Possible Than Ever
Don’t let a lack of capital stop you from pursuing your dreams of starting your own business.
A service-related business is a great option to start a business with no money upfront, and here we’ve covered a number of realistic possibilities.
Consider your own interests and experience to determine what might be the best fit for yourself. Take action and you could begin making money almost immediately.
Totally agree, you can start a business with no money. I let my friend a CPA file my taxes, he started with friends and family and went from there. In some cases you don’t even have to spend any money to acquire customers.
Accidentally Retired says
It only costs me $3 a month to run my website. That. Is. It.
And if you have any pre-existing skills going to a marketplace that is already looking for services you offer is an easy way to get started without even having to build a site or presence or anything.
Just gotta start somewhere and build from there.
Peter Anderson says
When I started this site it was hosted on shared hosting for $5/month. I paid $10 for a domain name, $5 for shared hosting and installed free WordPress for the site and I was good to go. I pay a lot more than that now, but that initial startup cost of less than a nice dinner out has paid dividends to the tune of thousands of dollars that I wouldn’t have earned otherwise. There’s no excuse not to get started now!