How to start a business with no money in 6 steps

by Maxine Bremner

Published • 14/12/2023 | Updated • 14/12/2023

Starting a business

How to start a business with no money in 6 steps

by Maxine Bremner

Published • 15/12/2023 | Updated • 15/12/2023

Starting a business

Starting a business and becoming your own boss is a dream for many aspiring entrepreneurs. However, it can be a daunting prospect for some, especially with the perceived barriers to entry, or even knowing where to start. For many aspiring business owners, the key question making them hesitate is ‘how to start a business with no money?’.

Naturally, the biggest obstacle standing in the way of realising that dream is money. Both raising enough capital to actually get the business off the ground, as well as being able to cope with the likely impact establishing a start-up will have on your income.

Though this can be prohibitive in many cases, for some business ideas, there are ways that you can start a profitable business without ever spending a penny.

In this guide, we’ll take you through the steps of how to start a business with no money, and list a range of business ideas for getting going without any start-up capital. 

Step 1: Finding your focus

Advancements in technology and the scope of the internet have created a new dawn for starting a business with no money. 

Although competition is higher than ever, there’s never been more opportunity for UK merchants to launch a successful business. London alone has circa 1 million private sector businesses, while the South East has some 844,000, accounting for 34% of the business population

From traditional business models like opening a cafe to innovative, digital-first businesses like dropshipping, as a modern entrepreneur you have a whole world of options to choose from.

When you’re looking at how to start a business with no money, it’s important not to get drawn into a particular business idea simply because it seems like an easy way to kick the 9 to 5. 

Many of the successful businesses that have inspired you to this point will have almost certainly been through a journey of ups and downs, demanding sacrifice and hard work from its founding members. 

Overnight successes very often take years to build, and it's important to consider the longevity of an idea in comparison to your current situation. 

This is a critical moment in your new career, where you have the opportunity to choose how you will spend your working life and enter into a more fulfilling career.

When finding a focus for your business, it’s a good idea to look for ways of making money out of your passion, because when you put your energy into a business you’re passionate about, you’ll find it much easier to maintain a clear vision and persevere when you come up against challenges. 

Your passion for your business will also be felt by your customers, and be reflected in your brand’s story which will likely be more compelling and authentic.

What are you most passionate about, and how can you turn it into a business model? 

Think about your skills and traits on a macro and micro level:

  • Could your academic skills be used in a professional environment?

  • Are your creative skills being wasted?

  • Would your compassion for others be better served elsewhere?

  • Could your home DIY skills be turned into a business? 

  • Are you a great chef or baker with a specialty that you want to share with the world? 

  • Do you love the simple satisfaction of seeing a freshly mowed lawn?

More often than not, you already have the skills or passion you need to establish your new business. 

Unless you plan on a complete change of direction, the likelihood is the experience you’ve gained in your career and life to date will underpin your new business. 

With a little soul-searching and creative thinking, you’ll be able to articulate the idea, and make the following steps infinitely easier.

Monetising your passion and attracting your first customer

If passion is to be the driving force behind your new business, your next challenge is to identify your route to market. 

Those first few sales can be equally nerve-wracking and exciting, but they’ll almost certainly be formative in your young business, as you understand how to deliver on your new venture. 

Here are a few preliminary pointers about attracting your first customer and how to monetise your passion.

Tap into your existing network

Once you have an idea of the activities your business is going to focus on, take a moment to think about how it could better people’s lives. You’ll probably already know people who might have a need for your kind of expertise.

They might include family, friends, old colleagues or social media connections. Make a list of all of these people, and you’ll have an instant list of prospects which just might contain your first paying customer.

Even if you don’t manage to monetise your idea immediately from this list, getting the word out to people you know can still help you to attract new customers in the near future, which brings us to our next point.

Ask for referrals

Even if you think those contacts may not require your services, it’s a good idea to let everyone know that you’re open for business. 

The buying cycle will of course depend on the industry that you’re entering, but the sooner your potential customers are aware of your services, the shorter the lead time to making your first sale.

Almost certainly, there are people in your immediate social circle who might either be interested in buying your solution, or know someone who is. Up to 90% of people are more likely to buy when they have a recommendation, even from a stranger. Word-of-mouth remains the number 1 sales driver. 

At any opportunity you get, tell your friends, your family, your neighbours and anyone else who will listen about your new business, and ask if they know anyone who might be interested. 

With over 70% of working professionals being affected by doubts concerning work at some point in their lives, imposter syndrome is a real fear experienced by many new business owners. However, once you put yourself out there and begin having the types of conversations that could turn into a paying customer, you never know who might provide a great referral. 

Attend events

In a lot of instances, the best way to earn those word-of-mouth recommendations and introductions, aside from the work itself, is to network. 

Meeting like-minded individuals, or even your target audience face-to-face will amplify the conversations and help generate new leads for your business. 

Whether you’re looking to open a B2C or B2B business, there are almost certainly events happening somewhere near you that will be great for networking with the kinds of people who could benefit from a business like yours.

If you’re developing a business that you’re passionate about, finding the right kind of networking event can put you in contact with people who you already have something in common with.

Trade and networking events aren’t the right environments for a hard sell. Instead, focus on striking up conversations, building connections with people who might be able to help you monetise, and exchanging information that will help you develop the relationship in the future.

Reverse engineer your roadmap to success

Having a specific goal you can envision clearly and work towards can stimulate your passion for business even further, and help you find the drive you need to succeed.

Traditionally, business leaders will strategise from square one onwards. However, starting with an end goal in mind and then reverse engineering the steps required to reach it can help you create a more granular view of your business strategy. 

With this roadmap in place, you’ll find it much easier to take those crucial first steps in starting a business with no money.

The key steps to reverse engineer your strategy are:

  • Setting specific goals: Make sure your goals aren’t too low-resolution by following the specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time-restricted (SMART) framework

Try to avoid creating generalised business goals, and instead focus on breaking your vision down into specific milestones for different areas of your business, such as marketing, revenue growth etc.

  • Develop strategies that get results: With these targets in mind, the next step is to tap into your creativity and flesh out strategies that will get you there. 

If, for example, you have a goal to gain 100 new customers, perhaps your strategy involves running a great marketing campaign and earning positive online reviews. 

Researching the steps necessary to get the results you’re after will make it easier to plot a detailed strategy, which brings us onto the next phase.

  • Assign each task a time value: Once you’ve been able to articulate each individual step needed to reach the goals you’ve set your sights on, the next step is to assign these steps hourly values. 

Breaking tasks down to a granular level like this will help you plot them on a calendar day by day, working backwards from your long-term vision until you arrive at your business as it exists today.

Thinking of a side hustle to start with no money can be hard. However, taking cues from past success stories can help you find a spark of inspiration and some great ideas on how to move forward.

To help get the creative juices flowing and spark new inspiration, check out our merchant Ten Green Bottles to see how they did it, and learn more about the success they’re now enjoying with their high street gin stores.

3 businesses you can start with no money

Finding a business idea that you can throw yourself behind with no start-up capital can be a challenge. If you’re hitting a creative block, here are 3 businesses you can start with no money.

Of course, these are only a small portion of the possibilities when it comes to businesses that you can start with no up-front capital. For more inspiration, check out our other articles on small business ideas, including:

1. Landscaping business

Starting a landscaping business is one of the best business ideas if you love working in the garden, want to start your own business and enjoy the flexibility of setting your own hours. 

If you're not shy of hard work and love being outdoors in all weather, landscaping is a low-cost start-up that mainly requires tools and transport to get started.

2. Dog walking and pet sitting

The world’s full of people who love their pets but don’t have the time to give them the attention they need. 

If you love dogs and other domestic pets, starting a dog walking or pet sitting service in your local area could be a great route towards starting your own business without having to raise a penny of capital.

3. Car washing

Just like takeaways and groceries, many people will pay for that little extra convenience of having the car wash come to them rather than having to go to it. 

A car wash business requires only a few simple materials that you likely already have in your home, and will offer the same flexibility as other to-your-door businesses'. 

Starting with the basic resources of soap, water, and a little effort, it won’t take long to invest in a higher standard of equipment and develop your venture into an all-in-one service offering.

Step 2: Do your research

Whether you’re bootstrapping the business or are backed financially, starting a successful business will always require thorough research.

The research phase of starting a business will help you get the lay of the land and understand the kind of market you’re planning to enter. 

This will be crucial for making the right calls in the early days, and help position your business to appeal to its target audience without getting swallowed up by the competition.

Here are some of the key areas to research before planning how to start a business with no money.

Your target audience

Even if your product or service is something that everyone could use, you need to have a plan to appeal to a specific target audience if you want your business to succeed.

From the wording on your website to the way you apply the brand values, customer service should be tailored to a specific customer that you’re trying to delight.

Target market research can be extremely complex and expensive, but there are plenty of free methods you can use to gain initial insight to an audience, including: 

  • Using free analysis tools like Google Trends to look at the level of interest people have in certain products or services. You can filter this data by geographic regions or other parameters to pick out findings that are most relevant to you.

  • Using forums or social media groups where your audience hangs out, to discover what people want to see from businesses in your industry.

  • Reading studies in industry journals and general business publications to seize upon trends that could influence the direction of your business.

Your competition

Analysing the competition allows you to get familiar with the companies already doing what you’re planning to do, and how you can do it better.

By studying the competition, you can take lessons from what has worked or not worked for similar businesses, while isolating the kinds of qualities that have made certain businesses hugely successful in the market you’re going to enter.

There are many free resources to consider when researching the competition, including:

  • Competitors’ own platforms. Run a competitor analysis on other brand’s websites, social media, and marketing materials. The language businesses’ use and the kinds of USPs they highlight can tell you a lot about their strategy, and any neglected specifics that you might be able to take advantage of.

  • Third-party channels. Review aggregators, social media pages and forums. These are helpful for studying the general sentiment that customers have for the competition, especially when it comes to areas where they could improve.

  • Media outlets. Popular news sites are often a great place to find out about developments from big-name brands, with a particular emphasis on how they’re perceived by the public.

  • Industry journals. For smaller competitors, industry press can provide insight into their strategies, through press releases and other kinds of industry articles.

Your business structure

To operate legally, you’ll need to register a business with HMRC, report your earnings and pay taxes on your profits above a certain threshold. This means that you’ll have to choose a business structure to register as.

The kind of business you choose will affect the amount of tax you pay and the kinds of personal liability you have in settling your business’ debts. Because of this, it’s important to research the distinctions between different business structures and what they could mean for you as a business owner.

As a first-time business owner, the 2 main options you’ll have for your business structure are:

1. Sole trader

The default business structure for self-employed people who own and operate their own business. 

This is the simplest business structure to set up and administer, making it a good choice for many first-time merchants looking to start a business with no money. It also doesn’t require you to disclose any details about yourself on public records, and allows you to keep 100% of the profit your business makes. 

The main downside of registering as a sole trader is that it offers no liability protection. This means that you and your business will be seen as one legal entity, and you’ll be responsible for any debts and losses made by your venture.

2. Limited company

Though many associate the term ‘limited company’ with large multinational corporations, this kind of structure is also accessible to smaller companies, and even solo entrepreneurs

The key benefit of setting your business up as a limited company is that it ensures limited liability for the business owner. The business will be treated as a separate legal entity from its personnel, meaning that any debts or losses incurred by the business won’t affect your personal assets. 

Though this can be a major advantage, it’s important to note that setting up and running a limited company is much more complicated than managing your business as a sole trader

Setting up as a limited company requires you to keep detailed financial accounts, as well as records of meetings and changes at your business. As the director, you’ll also be required to disclose certain personal details which will be made public on Companies House.

Step 3: Write your business plan

Once you have a promising business idea you can get behind, the next step is to write your business plan.

Your business plan is a document you can use as a business readiness checklist. They describe all the key characteristics of a business, such as how it earns money, details about its products or services, the organisational structure, and other details.

Though business plans are often written with an overarching aim to attract the interest of investors, they can also be a useful point of reference for internal use as you start to turn your business idea into a reality.

Even if getting outside funding isn’t something you’re planning to do for the foreseeable future, writing a business plan is a great way to codify your broader strategy, get all your market research in one place, and review loose ideas that you haven’t committed to yet.

Though there are a variety of ways you can format a business plan, there are certain key elements that all business plans should include:

Executive summary

As the name suggests, an executive summary is a top-level distillation of all the following parts of your business plan. 

Usually only a paragraph long, the executive summary should sum up all the salient points and encourage future potential investors to read on and find out more about your business.

Some of the key points to hit in your executive summary include:

  • An overview of the business opportunity.

  • A mission statement.

  • An audience profile.

  • Your business model.

  • Competitor analysis.

  • Profiles on the senior leadership.

  • Financial analysis.

  • A description of how you’ll implement your business plan.

Company description

A company description can be thought of as an extension of your executive summary, and serves to give anyone reading your business plan another, more detailed summary of the business. 

The idea here is to articulate your business’ identity and purpose, while also exploring some of the less-tangible elements of your business plan, such as your culture and philosophy.

A business description should cover certain objective facts, such as the legal structure your business is going to follow, the industry it exists in, and who your team is. 

You should also use it to cover things that are a little harder to define, such as your business’ mission and vision.

Business goals

Next up, your business plan will need to outline your goals as a business. 

This section should include both short-term goals, which specify where you want to be in a matter of weeks or months, and long-term goals which outline your vision for your business 5 or more years from now.

Regardless of the kind of scope of your goals, you should always articulate them using the specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time-restricted (SMART) framework. 

This popular and proven method of goal setting will allow you to use your time and resources as efficiently as possible, and maximise the chances that you’ll achieve whatever you set out to do.

Product or service description

A business plan also needs a section dedicated to describing the thing that’s going to make your business money.

Even if this element of your business is a straightforward service, such as lawn mowing or car washing, it’s important to give your product or service description its due diligence and examine it at a high level of detail.

This part of the business plan should not only include a top-level description of what your product is, but should also outline the details of how your product or service is facilitated and delivered to your customers.

This will help to convince potential investors if and when you look for funding for your business, and will give you a useful point of reference to help plan and execute your work as a business owner more effectively.

Market research

The market research section of your business plan is where you give an overview of the industry your business is about to enter. 

Here, you should summarise the qualitative and quantitative factors that have made you decide that the market is an attractive prospect for your business idea. 

These might include the size of the industry, its growth rate, common practices in pricing services or products by businesses like yours, as well as any macroeconomic influences that could make a difference to your business.

The market research part of your business plan should also contain some information about your target audience. Though your resources are limited, collating all the information you have about the kinds of people you’ll be selling to, their pain points, and their motivations, is an essential part of effective market research.

Marketing plan

Your business plan’s marketing plan is used to provide a breakdown of the different marketing channels and strategies you’re going to use to put your business in front of your target audience.

As you’re starting a business with no money, this section will need to be focussed on forms of marketing that don’t necessarily require a large upfront investment, such as basic search engine optimisation (SEO) and organic social media marketing (SMM).

Aside from describing the mechanics behind your marketing, your marketing plan should also list some of the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) you’re going to use to measure the success of your marketing. 

Your KPIs are the metrics that will be used to track your progress towards the marketing goals you set for your campaigns, measuring things like your traffic and conversions from certain online sources or the percentage of vouchers that were redeemed after a campaign with a local newspaper.

Financial analysis (optional)

Your business plan should have a section that’s devoted to the financial aspects of your business. This is optional, but is considered an advisable section to include.

The financial analysis section typically covers elements like a balance sheet, cash flow projections, a profit-loss analysis, and a break-even analysis. This whole section is explained in more depth in our other guide: How to write a business plan.

We’ve marked this step optional, because seeing as you’re planning out a business to start with no money, many of these sections will be difficult or even impossible for you to fill in. Furthermore, because of the complex nature of the financial analysis, many first-time business owners opt to hire an accounting professional to help them make sure their analysis is accurate.

The financial analysis section of a business plan is primarily for potential investors to read. Though you won’t have to worry about it for the time being, it’s still a good idea to read up on this part of the plan and learn some of the basics of managing your business’ finances.

Appendix (optional)

The appendix of a business plan is used to expand on some of the strategies and concepts that you’ve covered in the earlier sections. 

Typically, this will include supporting documentation for market research, projections and so on, aimed at helping readers to build a better understanding of your vision for the business.

Again, when you’re starting a business with no start-up capital, you’ll likely be focussing on simple products or services within a simple market, and this section will often be unnecessary. However, like with the financial analysis, it’s still a good idea to study business plan appendices and build some understanding of how they can support the previous parts of the document.

Support with your business plan

Writing an effective business plan can be a challenge when you’re first setting out as an entrepreneur. Be sure to check out our guide to writing a business plan for more in-depth advice and support.

Step 4: Think about funding

Starting a business with no outside funding at all is known as bootstrapping, an approach to entrepreneurship that has a number of pros and cons.

On the one hand, starting your business without external support means that you’ll have total control over every aspect of the business, and won’t have to justify decisions you make to people whose capital may be tied up in your business. This will be particularly useful as the business grows, and revenue increases.

On the other hand, the lack of funding can make it hard to build traction in the early stages of your business, and will mean that you have to shoulder all the financial risk yourself. 

Investments that could speed up the progress of your business, such as tools or software will have to wait until you can afford to pay for them, which may limit scaling and growth for your new business.

You may not have enough of your own money to put towards starting your business right now, but that doesn’t mean you can’t source financial support from others. 

If you’ve decided that the bootstrap approach isn’t right for you, there are many ways you can tap into sources of money and generate some start-up capital for your business.

Your family and friends

Many people have hesitations about asking their family and friends for financial aid. However, this is a more common way of funding a new business than you might think, and even huge international companies like Specsavers, JCB and Dyson have got started thanks to the financial assistance of the founders’ friends and family.

Although asking your friends and family for assistance with your business isn’t as formal a process as applying for a business loan, it’s still important to treat it with an attitude of professionalism and respect. 

If this is a viable and desirable option for your business, make sure to treat it in the same way as a formal application, with no ambiguity and clear communication channels. 

Articulate and mutually agree the plans for your business in detail, explaining how you plan to use any money you receive, how you will repay the money, and what this will do for the business’ long-term growth.


Small business crowdfunding is one of the newer ways to get funding for a new business. 

Conducted through various online platforms, this method of financing a business involves posting about your business idea publicly, then using this content to appeal to private individuals to contribute money towards making your idea a reality.

Many investors contribute to crowdfunding campaigns just because they want to see a given project come to fruition. However, some crowdfunding platforms have features where the campaign creator can offer rewards for their contributions, such as freebies or gift cards for money off their products.

Aside from raising start-up funds for your business, a crowdfunding campaign that gains enough traction can also help to build awareness around your business, and bolster any future marketing drives that you have planned in the future.

Although crowdfunding has features that make it particularly well-suited to any kind of business you can start with no money, it’s not exactly reliable. The majority of crowdfunding campaigns fail to reach their target, and starting a campaign is no guarantee that you’ll see the money that’s pledged.

Success in crowdfunding often depends on pre-existing brand equity, and how unique or compelling your business idea is. 

That said, with its exceptionally low bar for entry, there’s no reason not to give crowdfunding a try and see if your business idea is well-received.

Peer to Peer lending

Peer to peer (P2P) lending functions more or less like a normal loan, with a key difference in that you’re borrowing money from private individuals rather than a bank or other organisation.

In this model, people invest their money in a P2P lending company, which then reviews and authorises loans to applicants.

However, peer-to-peer lending can have a higher bar for entry compared to the previous examples. You’ll need to work hard to get your business plan in order and convince the lender that you’ll be likely to pay your loan back in due course.

P2P funding tends to be much more accessible than traditional financing routes like business bank loans, and more reliable than crowdfunding or going to your family and friends. Because P2P lenders are usually wholly online businesses, many of them can also offer much more competitive rates of interest compared to some alternatives.

Community Development Finance Institution (CDFI) Lenders

CDFIs are non-profit financial institutions formed to stimulate their area’s economy by providing more accessible finance to businesses that can’t get it through traditional channels.

Like with for-profit lenders, if you borrow from a CDFI you’ll be charged interest and fees on any money you borrow. You’ll also have to apply using a business plan and undergo a rigorous vetting process before you can access the capital you need.

One of the major benefits of CDFIs is that they’re generally much more likely to approve loans where traditional banks might see the prospect as too risky. 

whereasThe financial products offered by CDFIs also tend to be simpler than those you can find from other lenders, and are designed to minimise risk for the borrower. Most of them have a fixed rate of interest which makes it easier to plan ahead for repayments, as well as low fees, if any.

Though loans from CDFIs may be very accessible compared to more traditional forms of finance, it’s important to note that they’re still loans, and come with many of the same risks. 

If you default on the repayments, this will have a negative effect on your credit rating. You may also have to put up personal and business assets as security as a condition of the loan being approved.

Asset refinance

Asset refinance is another way of raising funds that can be well-suited to cash-strapped businesses just beginning to take shape.

With asset finance, you can access credit by borrowing and purchasing against one or more fixed assets that you own. There are many things you can put up as assets, including computers, vehicles, equipment, and furniture.

It’s important to note that asset refinance is not the same as asset finance. While asset finance allows you to begin making purchases without any kind of large capital expenditure, asset refinance requires you to transfer assets to a lender as collateral in exchange for a business loan.

Asset refinance will give you a more or less instantaneous boost to your cash flow which you can use to make major strides at your business, and allows you to make repayments over an extended and manageable period of time. 

It can also be the less risky option for many first-time business owners. Though the assets you use as security when you take out the loan will be at risk should you default on the payments, you won’t have to worry about losing more significant collateral like your home.

One of the key drawbacks to note about asset finance is that you’ll generally wind up paying back more than the actual worth of the asset. 

With this in mind, it’s important to weigh the cost of asset finance against the potential benefits, and make sure you’re going to be up on the deal.

Government grants

The UK government offers grants for some UK businesses which can help you in a variety of ways, from saving money on renting a business premises to buying cheaper stock or IT equipment.

There are dozens of different grants available which are managed by local authorities. The ultimate aim of these grants is to help stimulate local economies via job and tax revenue generation. Because of this, government grants for small businesses tend to have a complex application process.

There will be stringent qualification criteria that your business will need to meet, and several stages that you’ll need to work through to be approved. 

Despite these challenges, applying for a grant could be the perfect way to find alternate financing for your new business.

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Step 5: Establishing your business with no money

By now, you’ll have taken care of the main pre-planning phases necessary for starting any business with no start-up capital. Now, you’re ready to start making things more official by establishing your business online across the various channels available.

Register with HMRC

You’ll need to register your business with HMRC in order to trade legally. The way you go about this will depend on the kind of business structure you’re planning to register as.

As you’re building your business with limited resources, we’ll be looking at two of the most common business formations for UK businesses started with no money.

Registering as a sole trader

Registering as a sole trader is the simplest way to make the government aware of your business and make sure everything’s above board. As you and your business will be one and the same, the information you’ll need will generally be close to hand.

Aside from some basic personal details like your name, address, and National Insurance number, you’ll also need to disclose the date you started trading, and the kind of business that you engage in.

You can start the process by registering for HMRC online services, then navigating to the self-assessment tax return page and following the instructions you find there.

Registering as a limited company

Registering a limited company is a lot more complex and labour-intensive than registering as a sole trader. However, the potential tax benefits and legal protections can be a huge benefit for many business' and make the extra admin well worth the effort.

To register as a limited company, you’ll need:

  • A company name that’s unique among other registered company names, and adheres to set naming conventions.

  • Details of at least one company director (you).

  • The Standard Industry Classification (SIC) code that’s most relevant to the nature of your business.

  • A full UK address to act as your registered office.

  • At least one shareholder and director who can be the same person.

  • A memorandum and articles of association, which are 2 documents outlining an agreement between you and any relevant parties to form a company, as well as internal policies which govern how the business is going to be run.

Develop your brand with free business tools

With a detailed business plan in place, you’ll now be ready to engage in one of the most fun parts of starting any business - developing your brand.

Branding is all about fleshing out the unique identity of your business, covering everything from its visual colour scheme to the values that the brand represents.

Building a brand can be expensive, but with today’s wealth of free online business tools it certainly doesn’t have to be. Here’s some of the best tools you can use to develop your brand without spending a penny:

  • Free Design Resources fonts, a database of free fonts that are great for creating highly professional graphics and banners.

  • Unsplash, an image-sourcing site where you can find free photography of pretty much everything along with a lot of quality 3D renders.

  • Canva, an online tool that allows you to build professional-quality graphics quickly and easily through a simple user interface that anyone can learn to use.

Create your social media profiles

Even if all your business operations happen strictly offline, being visible on social media platforms is essential for any business’ success in the modern market. It’s also one of the most effective ways to get the word out about your business without having to spend any money.

As a new entrepreneur, you’re likely going to be very squeezed for time, and probably won’t have the resources to manage several social media profiles for your business across the different platforms. However, it’s still important to research which social media sites your target audience are using the most, and maintain active accounts on these platforms.

Though social media may not be a huge part of your marketing strategy for the time being, it’s still important to follow a few best practices with whatever time you can contribute to your social media:

  • Use your logo and a compelling business description on any social media profile that you set up.

  • Keep an eye on the news in your local community and join appropriate discussions.

  • Study how engagement metrics fluctuate from one post to another to determine the best time for you to post.

  • Be active and engage with your audience whenever they choose to interact with your brand, whether that interaction is positive or negative.

Build your website

Like a social media presence, every business needs a website to maintain some basic credibility and legitimacy in the eyes of its audience. Though web design was once a complex discipline, these days making a professional-looking website is easier than ever before, and can require no coding knowledge or special skills.

The basic steps of how to start an online business are:

  • Choose a Content Management System (CMS): A CMS is the software that facilitates building your site, and wrangles that complex backend code into a site builder platform that’s easy for anyone to use. There are many free CMSs that are better suited to building different kinds of websites, so take your time to research the various features and benefits to find the one that’s well-aligned for your needs.

  • Plan a site map: Next up, you’ll need to plan out the kind of pages that you want as part of your website, and how users will be able to navigate from one page to another. Your sitemap doesn’t have to be anything complicated at this stage, but most business websites will have a homepage, about us page, products or services page and a contact page as a minimum.

  • Choose your theme: When you open your CMS for the first time, you’ll likely be greeted by a list of different themes you can use as a starting point for building your business. These will be arranged according to different functions, such as portfolio, e-commerce store, event management, etc.

  • Fill it with content: A website isn’t much without content for visitors to consume. When your site is structurally all there, your next step is to fill the pages with content describing your products or services, your business story, contact details, etc. It’s also a good idea to add compelling imagery and video content to help inform customers about your product or communicate your brand identity. 

As a small, new business, it’s especially important to make sure your contact details, location and opening times are accurate everywhere on your website, and that you claim your Google Business Profile as early as possible. This will make it easy for a local audience to find you.

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Step 6: Launch your business with no money

Now that you’ve got a plan in place, have registered your business, and given it a home on relevant online channels, the next step is to launch your business and let the world know that you’ve started trading.

Though many business’ will splurge on the period immediately after launching, you can still launch and promote your business using free or low-cost methods.

Set up a home office

No matter what kind of business you’re running, it can be hugely beneficial to have a designated space you can use for tackling day-to-day admin tasks as well as building on the long-term goals for your business. 

Ideally, if you’re looking into how to start a business from home, you will need somewhere isolated and away from distraction. 

Creating the division between working and resting at home is key for productivity, setting boundaries and looking after your mental health. That said, many start-ups begin around a kitchen table, so if this isn’t practical, you may have to improvise to begin with.

Wherever you do it, having a setup at home where you can avoid distractions and tackle periods of focussed work will be key to your success in the early days of running your business. 

Schedule a productive first week 

Like your first year in business, the first week that you spend trading can have a knock-on effect and set the tone for your success in the future.

To get started with a positive attitude and results that you can be proud of, it’s recommended to start making time to plan your perfect first week before it begins, and sticking to this plan as closely as possible.

Here are a few key pointers to make your first week work for you:

  • Don’t focus on too many things at once. There’s a lot to think about when you’re running a business, but don’t make the mistake of spreading yourself too thin. Too much multitasking can sap your productivity and burn you out, so simplify your calendar by tackling one task at a time.

  • Make your goals granular. Making your goals for the week ahead short and sweet will make it much easier to estimate the time and resources you need to set aside for each one. 

This, in turn, will make your goals more achievable and give you a greater sense of accomplishment from a first week that goes according to plan.

  • Get used to saying no. Running a business may not be something that you’ve done before. However, that doesn’t mean you should keel to outside pressures and let people brush it off as something trivial. 

If you’re taking your business seriously, it’s time to get used to setting boundaries, and learning to say no to things that might hamper your productivity.

Leverage free resources to promote your business

Now that your business is up and running, you’ll need to think about broadcasting this fact to the world with free promotional methods.

Some of the best ways to promote your business without a marketing budget include:

  • Getting active online. There are many ways you can promote your business online, like participating in industry forums, creating a clear social media marketing strategy, and publishing content on your site’s blog.

  • Talk to local media. Small, local media outlets often take interest in stories about businesses emerging in the community, especially when it’s involving a type of business that’s new to the area. Reach out to local journalists and publications with a few words about your story and see if they’d be interested in running a piece on you.

  • Attend networking events. Though you may need to pay to attend some of these, there are probably many free networking events nearby that are perfectly suited to your business. 

    • Aside from being a good place to make new connections and get your name out there, business networking events are also great for finding out about free trials for business software and start-up exclusive deals that will make your money go further. 

    • Check out Google, the local news, and LinkedIn groups for merchants in your region and start building your network.

Keep your wellbeing in check

Running a business is a lot of work. Even if you have a limitless supply of passion for your industry, everyone is at risk of burnout if they work themselves too hard in pursuit of their goals.

Obviously, it’s important to approach your business with a level of discipline and seriousness. However, it’s important to make room for things that will counter the stresses of your day-to-day grind, and try to avoid getting burned out.

There are many habits, rules, and routines that new entrepreneurs can use to ensure a healthy balance between business and life. 

You might want to set a day every week where you commit to not touching anything to do with your business, or schedule your week with only a certain allowance of hours. For some, beating burnout is as simple as taking a walk around the block every day, or changing their routine when things are starting to feel monotonous.

However you do it, remember that you’re not a machine, and part of being a good entrepreneur is keeping yourself in good health.

Be wary of common mistakes

No matter how much industry experience you have, as a first-time business owner there are many pitfalls that you’re going to have to be aware of in the near future.

As you start to develop your business, here are some common mistakes to stay wary of:

  • Being too scared of failure. Treading carefully is something all business leaders have to do at one time or another. However, success in business also requires you to take calculated risks. If you let your fear of failure take over, you may never get started.

  • Doing too much for too long. When you’re starting a business with no money, you’re going to start out wearing several hats and filling every role your business needs you to fill. 

As your business grows, however, the demands of running the business will require more and more attention. Make sure that you don’t continue trying to juggle too many responsibilities that put you over capacity, and know when it’s time to start hiring or outsourcing.

  • Letting emotions dictate decisions. Starting a business is a project that can feel like it’s become your whole life. As demanding as it may be, you should always try to stay emotionally insulated from the ups and downs of running a business. It’s good to approach your business with passion, but remember that it’s also a source of income that requires rational thinking.

Pulling yourself up by your bootstraps

Getting a business off the ground with no money certainly isn’t easy, but taking a methodical approach will help you get over those initial start-up obstacles between your idea and an operation you can monetise.

We hope this guide on how to start a business with no money has inspired you to tackle some of the biggest challenges ahead, and will help you to develop a successful business that you can be proud of.

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