How can I start a business with no money? This question has been asked a million ways and times. The truth is many businesses, some very famous, started with and as nothing. Consider this: Amazon, Apple, Disney, Google, HP, Harley-Davidson, and even Yankee Candle Company started out of garages with no money. In fact, I love Yankee’s story. At 16, Michael Kittredge, the founder, made scented candles in his garage out of melted crayons as a gift for his mother. His neighbors took notice and asked if they could buy some of his candles, so he started mass producing them!
And that was in 1969. Today, it is so much easier to start a business or startup with no capital. But, it does depend on your startup. For example, if you want to create the next Tesla, you are probably going to need some capital. But, let’s put that aside for a moment. There are some very important ingredients you need that cost nothing to get your startup off the ground. These must be present to succeed with any startup…and eventually attract money.
First, you must be focused and obsessed with your idea and vision. You must eat, sleep, and breathe it. If you don’t have this level of passion, then don’t start - find what you are so passionate and obsessed with that it consumes you (in a healthy way). A good way to test this is if you would have the same passion and put the same time into it whether you were getting paid or not.
Next, you must take action and execute on your idea. It is always 5% idea and 95% execution in anything, especially startups. There may be some things you need money for, but there is a lot you don’t when starting out. Execute on everything possible that is in your control.
You will also need to learn to pivot. You may have a grandiose idea for your business and what it should be, but remember, even the most successful businesses started as something other than they are now. Amazon started very simply as an online bookstore. It is important to narrow your focus to what you can do at this time with the resources you have.
Whatever your startup is, you can start on it and you can do a lot for it. You will have to innovate and think differently. Let me give you an example of creating a million dollar business with no money.
We once had an excellent idea for a product line, but we did not have the expertise or resources to build a major piece of technology we needed to make it work. That did not stop us. We went out and pitched our idea to the companies that would use it. After 15 pitches, we got one to sign on and started the agreement process. While that was going on, we took the fact that we had a written agreement and went to several companies that had the technology we needed. We showed them the agreement, explained our plans on how we would market and make the solution a success and asked them to become our partner. One of them signed on, We agreed to a revenue share (not ownership) since all we had to do was plug their technology into our solutions (that we originally built with no money, just sweat equity). It was a win-win for everyone. If we failed, the technology partner was not harmed, since they didn’t really have to do anything, but let us use their technology. The initial customer got in on the ground floor of a new solution, at ground floor prices - and if it didn’t work, they didn’t pay. There were a lot of late nights and questioning on if we would make it, but we were obsessed with making it work and through ingenuity, will, and shear hustle, we did. This solution does over a million a year in revenues today and continues to grow. We did it with no funding, but just a great idea, execution…and innovation. Find a way or make a way.
Whether you already have your idea and vision or are looking for it still, it will always be true that “necessity is the mother of invention.” If you want something bad enough, you will find a way to make it happen. In today’s age, it is easy to start an information business with no money such as a blog, podcast, Youtube show, etc. You could sell your services (ie special knowledge). Or you could just be obsessed with a niche on Instagram and get 100K+ in followers and start to get influencer marketing dollars. Remember, as I said, how you start out will not determine what your business becomes in the future, but you need to start. You can parlay a blog, podcast, Youtube channel into a million different things. Here is a good article from Entrepreneur mag that can give you some ideas if you are still looking. No Money to Start a Business? No Problem. Try These 5 Options.
Lastly, if you are still in need of funding, remember that people invest in you in a startup. You are the company and it’s future, so if you are not totally buttoned up and all in, it will show easily. Here are the top 3 places to start for funding: