How To Start A Business with No Money (Step by Step Guide)
Photo by Micheile Henderson
Originally Posted On: https://alanspicer.com/how-to-start-a-business-with-no-money/
Are you looking to start your own business? To start a business with no money is hard and is definitely something that takes time.
I don’t mean 7 hours in the bath soaking like a prune “time” – I mean months of foundation and years of grind, reinvestment and research on the job.
So how do you start a business with no money?
Pick a niche that you are going to live in for years to come. A topic you know and can talk about in fine detail in blogs, videos, phone calls and meetings for hours on end. Over time you will build your reputation, leading to long term success. Lead with value and have patience.
As long as you have the love for the business, the passion for its niche and the ability to delay gratification enough to reinvest the money then you will go far.
Here are nine steps that you should follow to get the best startup possible.
Make sure that you’re picking your niche.
This is the core focus of anything, whether it’s YouTube, a career, a long-term goal, or in this case a business.
It needs to be something that you truly love. Because something that you have been educated to, that you really hate, can only carry you so far.
Love and passion will get you up at six o’clock in the morning.
Love and passion, and the absolute thirst for that specific business, is what will drive you through when that customer cancels on you, or when you’ve had that hard day, or when you’re scrambling around for that extra bit of money in the early days.
The love and the passion of your niche is what will make you want more. More of that niche, more of that business, more in general just going forwards.
I love business, and I love social media, and I love YouTube, that’s why I’m constantly reading new books. I binge Gary Vaynerchuk and many other entrepreneurs – reading and listening to in audio books.
I use Audible to hunt out all of the best stuff. You can do the same too, they even give away free audiobooks to new people, but it’s that thirst for that knowledge, that love of that thing, which will drive you to read more books, that will drive you to educate yourself more, which will drive you to make that content, which will drive you to share it, or sell it to someone.
Because if you’re not passionate about something that you’re selling, if you don’t care about the thing you are selling, whether it’s your face, your personality, your brand your services or product, if you don’t care people can see straight through you.
You Might Need To Start A Business As A Side Hustle
When I first started my own business I was working in security. 12 to 14 hour days, every day. I’d get up in the morning, travel for an an hour and a half to work, an hour half to travel back.
I was tired, I was exhausted, but I knew that security wasn’t going to be my career, I wanted something at that time in the web development world.
I wanted computing, I wanted design. So in the hours when I finally got home, or I was very lucky, on the hours that I worked on a night shift, where all that pay attention to was the CCTV cameras, I took my laptop in and I worked on myself, my side hustle, my passion.
This was back in the day, the dark days when Wi-Fi wasn’t free at every coffee shop and a corner shop.
So unless you could hijack somebody’s Wi-Fi network, or connect to a network that gives you Internet via the cable – you were screwed.
So I had to buy that a little mobile data dongle. A pen drive sized usb stick that would give you half a Gigabyte of traffic for the month and cost £40-50 pounds. and it was it was appalling. It never truly connected, the signal was absolute shit. I mean this is the birth of 3G, it was terrible.
However the point is – if you can use that downtime.
If you do a 9am-5pm, and you’ve got kids. Why not start working the 7pm-1am shift on your side hustle?
Yes you’ll be tired! But you’ll have that passion, you’ll know that that drive, those extra hours, are on you, in you, on your business. This is your time to build your brand.
Maybe you really love real estate, and you want to be in real estate, that’s your own business, and you work in real estate, why not start writing blogs about real estate. Do your research!
Go out there and learn some things. Push your reputation outside of the company that you’re in. This will be your parachute when you leave. This is your reputation, this is your proof that you know what you’re talking about. You could blog on LinkedIn, build connections, grow your influence out there.
Do you have your own website to anchor your content?
Share your blogs in multiple places, it builds you as an individual outside of your specific company, and it preps you for the future, because right now you’re starting of your business, could be your side hustle that expands. Maybe you’re lucky and you have enough money or backing behind you to start full-time.
Live lean, no silly spending. You might have the money to start, it may have been your parents, it may have been some kind of inheritance, you may have been lucky and been invested in. Don’t be stupid, this is money for you and s good source to start your own business. Don’t go out and buy silly watches, don’t go out and buy a stupid car just to impress people, that’s not how this works.
You need to live lean, think sensibly, spend sensibly, put your nose to the floor and grind that brand.
Working your side hustle is a short term fix to build your brand. If you’re full-time, even better, you’ve got those 16, 18-hour days to really pour in that content, really pouring that brand, really reach out to people. And something that I can’t express enough, if you are full-time straightaway don’t get lazy!
Investing In Yourself
This is paramount, I can’t express it enough.
Over the last 10 years many things have changed within technology in social media. YouTube was a mere fledgling 10 years ago, and now it’s the juggernaut that’s threatening to turn off all of your normal mainstream TV.
10 years ago mobile phones were pointless and dumb, now they rule the world, and you can run a business from a smartphone.
10 years ago many of these social media platforms didn’t exist at all, you was shuffling around MySpace, and promoting yourself on Friendster.
Invest in yourself and your future, by learning. Help yourself to start a business with no money by building your knowledge. Constantly listen to the expert, constantly read books, constantly build skills, because it’s that tool kit that will help you in the long run.
When I first started in web design I pretty much a one-trick pony. I could sell, and I’m okay with online social medias through open source software. I was good with forums and networking, keeping my eye what is new. That was the emergence of the social media network.
I could chat I could talk, I had the gift of the gab, and I could show people how to set up forums and blogs, and that was kind of it. I know in the long run if I’d learnt to code, and learn to design and stuff like that, that could build my future, and that can build yours right now.
There’s nothing stopping you going to a library. There’s nothing stopping you googling online, or finding YouTubers that you can listen to, expand your brain, try new things. Or if you are making money, there’s nothing stopping you paying a little bit of money to go on an accredited course.
I don’t mean these charlatans that are like “Here’s my Merc, here’s my Ferrari, this is how I made it, you can have this giant mansion too.” We know who you are Tai Lopez, calm your shit!
But if you invest in yourself it will pay out in the future, because all of the useless general knowledge that’s in my head, all of the random facts, figures, and skill sets are the things that help me think on the hoof, think on the whim, grab that gut feeling out of midair to win me that sale, or to chat to someone.
It’s that piece of knowledge that you throw into a sales pitch, and it could win you that big boy, that retainer, that thing that makes your side hustle into a long-term thing.
Before You Start Your Own Business – Get Your Own Website!
Yes, they’re not as powerful as they used to be, the whole world used to revolve around one man, his business card, and his website.
Now, it’s kind of all buzzing around social media, but you still need places to host your own content, control the narrative, and to push people. This specifically for people with a side hustle.
I have 2 active websites that I try to update regularly. That’s where I can list my services, my expertise, my testimonials, my case studies.
To start a business with no money, I can write two or three blogs a week to boost it to 150, 200 blogs a year, all that are search friendly. Blogs that help people solve theirs problems, me get found in search, and hopefully convince you that I have enough of expertise to teach you something that you didn’t know.
The plan is if I am helpful then maybe you feel indebted to me, and you share me around, link to me as a creditable source. This helps build my brand, and the stronger the brand the more you can charge in future. Building that brand could also open doors do that big pitch, winning you that customer, and in the long term maybe even securing that lifeline to cement your side hustle as a business with a heartbeat.
QUESTIONS – Should I customize my website? Can I just use templates? How much is this going to cost me?
Website customization can look great and hit the nail on the head branding wise but its not always necessary from day onw.
Customization could get you every fine minor detail, they move buttons they put your design, they hone it in your value proposition, but if you don’t have any pennies
You can build amazing websites without any coding knowledge, with templates and amazing designs from Wix.
The key point is as long as the website looks professional and isnt broken from day one, then you have a starting point!
You just need somewhere to push people. Most custom WordPress templates allow you to pick your color scheme. Many WordPress templates can have distinctive niches or styles and from there you simple start writing. If you have a little income you wish to invest in a premium YouTube template then that might get you a step closer to a unique look – but that isn’t always necessary.
Once you have a site you can establish your own writing style and build up some statistics you can share with potential clients. This is your proof you can attract and audience and could help promote their products or services.
Start A Business with No Money by Creating Content
You need to figure out what you’re good at.
Are you fantastic at writing? Are you brilliant at video? Or maybe you’re a talker? You can create a podcast?
That content is what will carry you forward. That content is what people will get to know you for.
In my case, I’m okay in front of a camera, I could talk about my passion, my love, and those videos are very luckily quite long recently, so I can turn them into podcasts, write them into blogs, and then I can share them out.
Pinterest, LinkedIn, Facebook, Reddit, Medium, Forums, Facebook Groups, Twitter – The more you share the content the larger the spider web is to catch more “flies” aka affiliate sales, product leads, video views etc
The content is what will build up your reputation.
Nobody knew who I was three years ago (probably nobody knows who I am now lol) but the difference between now and three years ago is that now I’m able to find clients, pay my bills and based on my reputation and establish stats I can build my income streams month on month.
All this from the proof built from my blogs, YouTube channel, Testimonials and leading lead with value.
However, if I DIDN’T start making content 3 years ago… none of this would exist today.
Best of all this content will always be there to send me traffic, leads and clients. You can reuse it, re-share it and it show your passion and knowledge on your topic and niche.
Yes, some things will change, video quality will change, in some of my older videos I’ve got a completely different backdrop, in some way older videos I have problem with frame-rate.
But, they’re still reusable you can re-share them, and you never know, that one thing that could have turned that person’s brain onto business, three years ago in that video that you made, if you’re re-sharing it, it could still find them today!
Win you that client, that click, that money, that income, that thing that makes you full-time on YouTube. The thing that allows you to be a full-time artist, or a full-time creator!
So start creating today.
Start a business with no money and you will need to reach out to people and let them know you exist.
This is your networking.
If nobody knows you, and you get a chance, go business meetings around you that you can go to in the morning. There will be networking groups that do breakfasts or evenings. Places that you can press flesh and chat.
These can help you be found locally. Or you could try it online with chat rooms, forums, Facebook groups.
That outreach is something that gives you that additional thread that you could put in that spider web, that makes it bigger, that catches those flies.
I’m pretty much an introvert, so for me I was reaching out on things like Facebook, and LinkedIn. I reply in forums, I was posting on blogs.
These build up over time – if you are linked via your website and your name, and you leave a very intriguing comment then people might be intrigued and check you out.
This is not me telling you to spam videos and comment sections.
If you truly engage with the post, the blog, the forum, and you help them, they will remember you when they need more advice and maybe even suggest you to others in times of need.
There’s a website I post on from time to time called Quora.
It’s basically Yahoo questions, they post a lot of questions, I answer a load of YouTubey questions, and then I can end up drop in my video, or they click on my name and it drops them back on my website, or my youtube channel.
You can do the same!
These outreach programs could be the way that you get into the DMs of somebody. It could be you reaching out on Instagram answering their question. It could be you tweeting at someone, or replying when they’re asking a question about your specific thing.
Gary Vaynerchuk for example, the world-renown Gary Vaynerchuk, started on twitter by simply replying to everything that had some kind of wine term in it.
When people were worried about a red, or a white, or whether it’s a Rioja, or whether it’s a Grenache, he would jump in, offer them some advice, give them some links, not try and sell, just let them know that his around, over, and over, and over again, and he slowly built reputation.
That is the way that you build your audience on blogs and YouTube – one subscriber, two subscriber, 10 subscribers.
Builds your YouTube channel, build your blog, your websites, your mailing list, and over time – your business.
Can Working For Free Help You Start A Business with No Money?
Many people see this is some kind of slave labor.
I can’t pay my bills with “exposure”
I totally agree! I’ve been in situations where I was saying to myself
Yeah, well I need to pay my gas and electric bill, and you’re giving me exposure – brilliant, Om nom nom nom nom nom nom nom!
Oh no I’m gonna get kicked out of my house now, ’cause that was my rent, thank you!
But there are times when exposure truly does help.
I use a website called PeoplePerHour, but there are other ones out there for example UpWork, Fiverr.
They are “gig economy” websites in which you can set up your offerings for next to nothing but slowly build a client base and reputation.
I get peanuts from it!
However, what I do get is a contacts, reviews and a chance to hone my skills in the niche I offer.
As you start a business with no money these successful sales and interactions are your practice – prepare your brain muscle, build a portfolio.
Over time those 20-30 mini sales can help you land those bigger fish. 20-30 clients willing to praise you and give you feedback that you can put into testimonials and justify your pricing.
Over the last 3 years I have landed some of my largest retainer clients through just doing something small.
You impress them, build up trust and up-sell when you get the chance. Now those clients are the vast majority of my monthly income!
Don’t get me wrong, some are dickheads, right? And that’s fine! Just remember at the end of the day if you designed logos for 20 clients, each with 3 different styles… you now have 60 examples you can display in your rapidly growing portfolio!
You could even use tools to make it easier for you to deliver those tasks – I have a load of easy to use tools on my resources page.
Reinvest Your Income – How To Grow A Business with No Money
Okay so you’ve reached out, you’ve started getting sales, started building up reputation – maybe there’s a trickle of income.
Now this is where you have to be very smart, and reinvest that back in you, your business and your skills.
It can be so easy to get your first pay slip, and blow it on something fancy. It can be all too easy to think this ever growing gold mine will produce clients and money forever… but you need to future proof your business.
In the first year, you’re really passionate, you’ve really got that drive, so you’re really going out there, you’re doing a lot, you’re tapping that low-hanging fruit.
Those connections you may have already known that you could pluck quite easily, quite early, but if you don’t invest in your future, if you don’t keep learning to grow your future – spider web that catches your clients disappears over time.
Very soon all that easy traffic and low-hanging fruit will just disappear, and you’ll start to starve, and so will the business.
If you wanna grow in the future, you need to invest in the future.
There’s no point in eating this year’s harvest if you’re not buying seeds to plant for next year, and next year, and next year.
Keep funneling it back into yourself.
I’m not saying don’t take an income. If you can afford to take an income and still invest into the business then do so, just be smart.
Do you really need that wage?
Could you live a little more humble?
Could you live a smaller house?
Could you use a different laptop?
You could learn to start a business with no money – You just need be a little bit more sensible and use that extra bit of money to invest in your business, to get that next customer, and the next customer, that guarantees you a future three years down the line – rather than just assuming next week will be fine!
Customer Care is Paramount!
You’ve hooked them in, they may even be one of your free clients, if you keep them happy – they will come back.
They might even up-sell or might refer a friend!
Customer care is paramount because if you upset somebody, you’re really desperate in two months time, and you’ve got a fantastic idea that you know that client would really love – you are 100% sure they will buy – if you’ve upset them, you can’t phone them anymore.
They won’t refer you to anyone anymore, and it might leave a nasty taste in their mouth that they spread faster to your potential clients.
Bad news spreads 10x faster, than good news.
Now, for the sake of your small business that you’re starting right now, reset, go back to number five – Create Content – and work your way to Customer care over and over again.
Your biggest mistake would be getting lazy – keep building – you can start a business with no money and reap the rewards for years to come!
Why not check out the five biggest mistakes I’ve made in business – so you can avoid them and grow your business faster!