Last Updated on January 28, 2021 by Serish | I Hated My Boss
Is it really possible to start a business with little to no money? Heck yeah, and I’m going to show you just how!
Now, I’m sure in your search you’ve come across many people advising you to take out loans or borrow from friends and family.
But let’s be real, not everyone has good credit, nor do they want to ask family or friends out of shame.
So, if you want to learn how to start a business with little to absolutely no money, read on to see how you can bootstrap your way to a successful biz.
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(This post may contain affiliate links. I only recommend products or services that I love and use. Thanks for your support!)
Should you quit your job?
No, please no.
If you’re currently employed, keep your job. This way you have a steady source of income and can invest funds into the business, which will also give you peace of mind.
Although I quit my full-time job on a whim, I would advise against doing so.
Unless the following applies to you:
- you have a savings that is enough to cover six months of rent, utilities, and other necessities (i.e. food, water, shelter)
- you’re living with someone who is willing to support you for the next few months
- your friends and family have lend you some dough
- you really hate your boss (jk!)
In case you’re wondering, I actually moved back home with mommy after quitting my job.
At any rate, I highly recommend holding on to your current job while you start this side hustle.
Things To Consider
If you haven’t already decided on the type of business you’re looking to start, here are some important considerations:
- what are some of your interests?
- will you be selling products or offering services?
- will you have a physical storefront or sell online?
- how much money can you really set aside today?
As a digital marketer, I’m obviously going to recommend starting an online business or blog because it’s a lucrative side hustle that has a high potential of turning into a career and allowing you to live a comfortable lifestyle.
Especially now, due to the global pandemic, more and more brick and mortar stores are closing and people are flocking to learn how to start an online business or a blog that makes money.
Now I’m in no way trying to discourage you- I’m just sharing recent trends and shifts in the physical store market.
This is due largely in part to consumers’ needs shifting from shopping in-person, to shopping online from the comfort of their homes.
How To Start A Business With No Money
In this section, I will outline how it’s possible to start a business without taking out loans or asking friends and family for money.
I’ll also share pros and cons of each option to help you decide which method will work best for you.
Ready? Let’s begin!
Crowdfunding: What it is and How it Works
An excellent way to start a business with no money, crowdfunding is basically raising money from the public to jump start your business.
It allows entrepreneurs the opportunity to raise money– hundreds of thousands of dollars and up to millions if your idea really takes off.
People who invest towards a campaign are referred to as “backers” or “sponsors,” and each person can contribute as little as $10.
For example, let’s take Zack Brown’s crowdfunding success story as an example. His idea was to create a new potato salad recipe with a fundraising goal of only $10 (lol).
Instead, he raised more than $55,492 with 6,911 backers.
Funny, but it’s 100% true.
Best Crowdfunding Sites
Below are some popular crowdfunding websites that have helped thousands of entrepreneurs get their businesses up and running quickly.
I’ve highlighted their fees and policies, so you can choose which one may be the right fit for you if you decide to go this route.
Kickstarter is a popular crowdfunding platform focused on catering to creative projects such as film, art, music, and technology.
However, you must have a clear goal in mind.
The “funding goal” is the amount you need to complete your goal, or bring your idea or project to life.
Of course there are some rules as to what projects qualify, and since ideas are endless, it’s impossible to define all the rules.
For further information on rules and what’s prohibited, click here.
Kickstarter fees vary based on your country. The following commission fees are for U.S. only.
You may visit Kickstarter to view all the countries and currencies they support.
- 5% of total funds raised
- in addition, a payment processing fee of 3% + $0.20 will be applied to every transaction $10 & up
- for microcontributions, or contributions below $10, a 5% + $0.05 payment processing fee will be applied
- free until you reach your goal
- no fees if your campaign is unsuccessful
- you can run your campaign for up to 90 days
- no obligation to do anything until you reach your goal
- easy user interface to get your campaign started easily
- you don’t need to grant ownership of your product/idea to anyone
- huge brand recognition and more successfully funded campaigns
- higher likely-hood of meeting your campaign goal
- funding goal must be met completely, otherwise you won’t be able to cash out
- basically it’s an “all-or-nothing” model
- limited to specific countries
Indiegogo is a flexible crowdfunding platform for raising funds for your campaign. They do not require an approval process.
Basically, you can raise money for anything.
The greatest difference between Indiegogo and Kickstarter is that with Indiegogo’s flexible funding option, you don’t need to hit your goal to receive the funds you raise.
You can choose between fixed funding (if you require a strict funding minimum) or flexible funding (keep all contributions even if you don’t meet your campaign goal).
In addition, there are no fees to pre-launch a campaign.
- pre-launch is free
- 5% platform fee of total amount raised
- third-party payment processing fee of 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction
- InDemand is a post campaign solution that allows you to continue raising funds for your project
- 5% fee of total funds raised
- 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction for credit card payment processing
- allows equity crowdfunding– raise money from investors
- keep your funds, even if you don’t hit your campaign goal
- no application or approval process
- provides support from partnerships
- sell your product on major e-commerce platforms (i.e. Amazon)
- run a campaign from almost any country
- receive funds in almost every country
- 24/7 customer support team
- although great, the flexible funding option has its drawback
- If you don’t meet your goal, yes you get to keep the funds. However, you still need to ship your products to backers who contributed, or fulfill any rewards that you promised.
- For example, let’s say your goal was $10k but you raised only $5k and decide to cash out. The product/reward you promised your backers, you must fulfill.
- not as popular as Kickstarter
- to put this into perspective, Kickstarter has raised over $4 billion in total projects vs Indiegogo at $1 billion.
- your campaign will have lesser exposure than Kickstarter (their backer community is much larger)
- this means you’ll have to work a little harder on marketing your campaign
- campaign deadline is 60 days
Other Crowdfunding Sites
- Business crowdfunding platform for companies with a solid plan of action
- For non-profit or charitable crowdfunding causes
- Crowdfunding for custom merchandise only (i.e. t-shirts)
- Ability to create, sell and ship on this platform
Though crowdfunding may not be for everyone, it’s a far better option than to take out an interest-based loan.
How To Start An Online Business with Little to No Money
Now that you have a better understanding of what crowdfunding is and how it works, let’s explore some options on how to start an online business for free, or with just a few bucks.
Tools You’ll Need
Even if you’re not a tech wiz, you don’t need to hire a professional website developer to build your website.
Starting an online website is a lot easier than you think, and I break down the steps for you below.
Here’s what you’ll need to get your website up and running:
- Domain Name (i.e. www.ihatedmyboss.com)
- Website Builder (i.e. Shopify, WordPress, Wix)
- Web Hosting (this will vary based on the website builder you choose)
1. Domain Name
A domain name is basically a unique name that identifies your website address. For example, www.ihatedmyboss.com.
Firstly, you’ll need to choose a domain name. It’s typically your company or blog name, but you have to make sure it’s available and not copyrighted or trademarked.
To check if the domain name is available, visit Go Daddy’s Domain Name Generator Tool.
Once you have verified the domain name is available, you’ll need to register it.
GoDaddy is always running cool promotions on cheap domain names and you can get one for as little as $0.99/year!
- Get super cheap domains here.
Tip: enter the following phrase in Google.com for the latest GoDaddy promo codes: “GoDaddy promo code”
2. Website Builders
A stress-free way to create an online website is by using a website builder.
Website builders offer an all-in-one software that allows you to create your website quickly and easily, without requiring any coding knowledge or design skills.
Here are some of the most popular website builders on the market today.
You can create a free website with Wix and WordPress.com, however, your domain name will not be custom (www.ihatedmyboss.com), but it’ll be shared (www.ihatedmyboss.wordpress.com).
Nonetheless, it’s a great way to start your website with absolutely zero dollars. In the future, you can always buy a cheap plan that will cost you around $13/month.
If you choose Shopify, you can have a fully-functioning online store for as little as $29/month, and your domain name won’t be shared.
Web Hosting (Get Your Business or Blog Online)
In order to have your website visible on the internet and a place to store all your files, you must have a web host.
Think of it this way– web hosting is like your home, and all the belongings you keep inside your home, such as furniture, clothing, etc., are like website files.
Furthermore, the monthly rent you pay for your home, is like paying a monthly web hosting fee.
Also, hosting depends on which website builder you choose, because some plans automatically come with hosting (i.e. Shopify).
Now, there are hundreds of different web hosting companies out there, but in this post here I compare the top six that are affordable and high quality.
Here are some of the top web hosting providers on the market today:
Finding A Supplier for Your Online Store’s Products
Once you have decided on what platform you’d like to start your online business on, the next step is to find the products you want to sell.
But what will you sell and how will you get access to suppliers?
Fortunately, finding a supplier today has become A LOT easier than what it used to be just a few years back.
Here are two of the most popular dropshipping platforms that’ll connect you with thousands of manufacturers and wholesale suppliers around the world.
If you’re planning to sell physical products, then drop shipping is an excellent way to start a business with a zero dollar investment and no inventory.
But first, what is dropshipping?
Dropshipping is an order fulfillment method through a third-party supplier or manufacturer.
Meaning, when a customer purchases a product on your website, you then purchase that product from your supplier. Thereafter, your supplier ships the product directly to your customer.
As a result, you won’t need to keep piles of inventory on hand or deal with shipping packages.
The best part?- You only purchase the products from your supplier after a customer buys from your website!
Aliexpress is an online retailer based in China with endless products at super cheap prices. It has been dubbed the “eBay of China.”
It is owned by Alibaba Group— one of the largest eCommerce retailers in the world.
The best part about Aliexpress is that it’s completely free to use and you can contact suppliers directly via their messaging system.
This has been my primary avenue for sourcing wholesale clothing suppliers in China for my eCommerce biz that I run on Shopify.
Pro Tip: Message individual suppliers directly and ask for a discount, especially if you’re purchasing in bulk. More often than not, they will offer some sort of discount- whether on lower shipping costs or a percentage off the total.
Oberlo makes dropshipping for merchants a lot easier by connecting you to suppliers on Aliexpress, and then importing your products to your online store.
However, it is only available with Shopify and requires a Shopify plan.
How does Oberlo work?
The Oberlo app integrates with your Shopify store.
First, you choose the products you want to sell, then import them into your Shopify store.
Secondly, when a customer places an order in your Shopify store, the order is sent directly to your supplier.
And finally, your supplier ships the product to your customer.
Although Oberlo connects you with Alixpress, the biggest difference between the two is the order fulfillment process.
For example, let’s say you didn’t use Oberlo and were selling products on a different platform (i.e. Wix). Once a customer places an order on your website, you have to then manually go into Aliexpress, find the product, enter all of your customer’s information, and finally place the order.
In addition to all of the above, you will still have to keep track of the order when your supplier ships it. Once you have the tracking information, you have to manually fulfill the order on your website, and then provide your customer with tracking details.
See how labor-intensive the process can be? That’s why Shopify is a great all-in-one tool to start an online business quickly, and for as little as $29/month.
The benefit of Shopify is that not only do they offer a free 14-day trial, but their plans are paid monthly.
So, you aren’t required to pay upfront for 12 months.
To summarize, you can start a business with absolutely zero money by raising funds through crowdfunding.
Although it may take some time to meet your campaign goal, it’s nonetheless a great option to start a business when you have absolutely no money.
In addition, you can create a free website for your online business or blog using a website builder, such as Wix, and sell products via Aliexpress dropshipping.
Lastly, for those who want to set up an online shop as quickly and easily as possibly, you can have a fully functioning online store with Shopify for as little as $29/month.
It ultimately comes down to your individual budget- how much you can really afford, and which platform will work best for your online business.
I hope this guide helped you in one way or another. If you have any other questions, drop me a line in the comments below!