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Starting your own business does not necessarily have to be expensive.
If you have a brilliant idea for a business, and the time and the motivation to dedicate to it, a lack of capital does not always have to prohibit you from turning your business dreams into a reality. You may not believe it, but you can start a business with no money.
It will be easier to begin a business without a steady cash flow behind you if you do not require any initial outlay on stock. If you want to become self-employed but lack money, you might want to consider running a service based business, or even turning an existing hobby into a way to make a profit.
Some ideas for starting a business that do not necessarily require a significant cash investment might include:
- Selling arts and crafts.
- Clothing alterations from home.
- Social media management business.
- Yoga instructor.
- Cake maker.
- Dog walker.
- Make-up artist or hairdresser.
- Online tutor.
- Event planning.
Starting any kind of business that allows to you work from home will save on the rent, utilities and running costs associated with having a shop, premises or office.
However, if your plans include another kind of business, that does not rely on utilising your untapped talents or working from home, there are options out there to help your plans for entrepreneurship to reach fruition.
If you find that you have no money, but the business that you want to open requires a cash injection to get off the ground, you will need to get creative with your thinking. The modern world offers potential entrepreneurs the ability to source cash by legitimate means, outside of the traditional ways such as a bank loan or equity release programme.
You could consider:
- Crowd funding – Asking for money online, often through a dedicated, third party website which requires a large number of people to donate small amounts, often for a future reward.
- YouTube – Starting a YouTube channel is relatively simple and costs nothing. Once a channel has a certain number of subscribers (currently 1000) you can start to monetise it.
- Friends and family – With the power of social media it is possible to reach out to large numbers of people from your own trusted network. Tell them your plans and ask for their help or for referrals. Some may be interested in investing in you financially, others may want to come on board to assist as a partner or offer help in other ways.
- Write a press release – This is a great marketing tool if used correctly. It is a simple and succinct way to share your plans and goals and get some awareness for your brand or business. Share it far and wide and try to get some local press coverage; you never know when you might pique the interest of an investor.
- Connect – Join business and networking groups online. Try offering swaps and taster sessions and ask for referrals. Online networking can be a great way to look for investors, but remember to be professional, show people that you have value to add and avoid being too pushy or ‘salesy’ as this can come across badly.
- Government schemes – Check if there are any government or local authority schemes that offer grants or loans to start-ups.
How to start a property business with no money
If you are passionate about property but unable to provide the financial investments often associated with real estate, you might want to start small, such as renting out a room in your own home or consider hosting guests commercially, using a site like Airbnb.
If your plans include buying and selling properties, you will want to make the most of networking opportunities in order to secure investments and leads.
Sometimes, cheap properties that require renovation can be picked up at auction. If you are willing to put in some hard work, care and attention, dilapidated properties can be improved and sold on for a significant profit.
How to start a wedding planning business with no money
The wedding industry contributes an estimated £14.7 billion to the UK economy each year, with billions of pounds spent on wedding dresses, cakes, dining, venues and travel expenses.
There are no set qualifications required to advertise yourself as a wedding planner, although there are many courses available to study online (some are free to take). Experience within the hospitality, guest services or events sectors would be beneficial for potential wedding planners, as is the ability to be highly organised and calm under pressure.
To get your fledgling wedding business of the ground:
- You could offer to organise a friend’s wedding to get some experience.
- Set yourself up on social media pages (there are thousands of wedding related stock photos available to use for free on sites like Unsplash or Pixabay while you build your portfolio).
- Partner with a local wedding photographer.
- Offer your services to venues or existing companies to gain experience and recommendations.
- Start within your circle. There is a good chance that someone you know is connected to someone who has recently got engaged or is planning on getting married soon. Think neighbours, friends, ex-colleagues, parents in the playground, acquaintances at the gym etc.
- Make a list of local businesses such as florists, caterers or venues and enquire as to whether they will share your services on their channels or could offer any advice.
How to start a small business with no money
SMEs make up the majority of businesses in the UK. Microbusinesses (those with 0-9 employees) account for 96% of UK private sector businesses. Micro businesses are, by definition, very small businesses, that range from long established family run firms to exciting, modern start-up companies. If you are starting small, do not assume that this means that you will get lost amongst the bigger enterprises, as the average turnover of a micro business is an impressive £286,879 (as of year 2019/20).
The business world is becoming increasingly competitive and if you are already lacking capital, you may be concerned that you cannot compete with others in your field.
To give your small business the best chance of success:
- Consider your skills and experience.
- Find your USP (unique selling point) and what sets you apart from competitors.
- Make a strong business plan.
- Check for any funding or loans that are available to SMEs.
- Secure funds (through loans, investments, crowdfunding, gifts from friends or family).
- Build an online presence. Low-cost websites are available to build yourself, or you might find a student or start-up company that are offering free website building.
- Set up social media pages and email.
- Learn to network. In business you do not just need to prove what you know, but you also need to utilise your contacts and who you know.
How to start a bar business with no money
Running a bar can be a profitable business, but often requires a significant investment and demands a lot of time, hard work and long hours.
If you dream of opening a bar you will first need to find a suitable space. It is often possible to negotiate rent with the landlord. If you have an impressive business plan and are a convincing salesperson, you may even be able to arrange a rent-free period, as landlords are often reluctant to leave bar premises empty as it can introduce a risk of anti-social behaviour or squatting.
Mobile bars are also increasing in popularity. This negates the need for a physical premises and allows you to travel to different venues in order to serve guests. To do this it helps if you have experience with mixing cocktails or can offer something quirky that sets you apart from others.
If you have very little cash to start your bar business you might try to:
- Borrow money for stock.
- Ask friends and family to help with cleaning and decorating the bar.
- Arrange a launch party to get word out about your new business.
- Take eye-catching pictures and build a social media presence.
- Encourage patrons to take photos and tag your bar on social media (this is free advertising).
How to start a construction business with no money
If you want to work in construction, one of the most important things you can do is get experience. Many people who now have successful building and construction businesses started off as labourers.
When looking for tradespeople, potential clients will often seek out recommendations or check reviews. The best way to get good references and have examples of past work to show, is to work for other people, be punctual, enthusiastic and learn skills on the job.
It might also be beneficial to study for some relevant qualifications at college. This can sometimes be done at evening classes which work around your other commitments.
Any qualifications or accreditations you receive will complement any on-the-job training that you do and make it easier to become known as a trusted tradesperson when you start your own business.
Once you have some experience and feel that you have the skill and dedication to become self-employed you will need to:
- Register your business.
- Get your CSCS card.
- Advertise (online, in local press, on notice boards or post flyers).
- Encourage clients to leave positive reviews.
If you do not already have the tools and materials that you need to start your construction business, you can either save up while you are working as an employee to buy these or borrow the money to purchase them. Sometimes you can ask the client for money upfront to purchase essential items before you start work and deduct this from the final bill (like you would a deposit).
How to start a personal training business with no money
To become a personal trainer, you will need lots of energy and a passion for exercise.
You also have to fulfil certain legal requirements including:
- Public liability insurance.
- First aid training.
Personal trainers often work with clients one on one, offering guidance on diet and lifestyle in addition to exercise.
How to start a fitness business with no money
If you are a fitness fanatic, you might want to turn your passion into a small business.
Popular fitness related classes include:
- Step aerobics.
In 2019, the State of the UK Fitness Industry Report revealed that the UK fitness industry had a market value of more than £5 billion for the first time ever.
Due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, more and more people are enjoying being able to work out in their own home rather than attending a gym or sports venue. If money is tight, you could exploit this trend by starting your own fitness related YouTube channel. Once you have hit 1000 subscribers you can begin to leverage revenue from advertising and sponsorship.
Starting a YouTube channel requires only basic technical and computer skills, a camera, fitness knowledge and an engaging personality. If you have all of these things to hand, you will require almost no money at all to get your YouTube channel going. It is important to share it far and wide and encourage people to like and subscribe.
You could also look into starting a fitness class at a local park or green space to save on venue costs.
If you require an indoor space in which to teach, it is worth enquiring if any local schools, churches or community venues have a room you could use for free, or at a low cost, until you are up and running.
You will need to decide the type of class you will run, whether participants need to book or if they can just turn up on the day, how much you are going to charge and how long the class will be.
Once you are ready to advertise your fitness business you could try:
- Posting flyers on notice boards.
- Advertising in local groups on social media.
- Offering a free taster session to a small group and asking for recommendations.
- Setting up a low-cost website or social media account (fitness and healthy lifestyle is often a trending topic on Instagram in particular).
- Targeted email marketing (if you have an understanding of GDPR).
How to start a clothing business with no money
If you love fashion, a clothing business might be the right fit for you. It will be difficult to begin your journey if you are unable to invest in any retail stock, however, if you are unable to secure any funds to get you started you could try:
- Becoming a brand ambassador or influencer – If you have a large following on Instagram, consistently post great pictures with a high engagement rate and connect with the right people, brands will pay you to advertise their fashion items and send you freebies.
- Getting crafty – If you know your way around a sewing machine (or can partner with a fashion student) you can charge high prices for one-of-a-kind or couture items.
- Sourcing scrap fabrics (these are sometimes given away by businesses or fashion schools).
- Buy second-hand – If you have an eye for fashion, you might be able to find some bargains in second-hand stores or charity shops that you can resell at a profit.
- Using a ‘print on demand’ and drop shipping model (ideal for t-shirts businesses, plus it means no stockholding as you make the sale and the manufacturer ships the items).
- Building a striking online presence to get yourself noticed.
- Advertising for people to model for you and enlisting the services of a student photographer – The more you involve other creatives, the more likely they are to share your business as they will want exposure for themselves, which means free advertising for you.
If you can secure a small amount of funding, it is easy to source low-cost fashion items from Asia and the Middle East, especially if you are able to buy in bulk.
How to start a commercial business with no money
A commercial business is defined as one that sells good or services to consumers (for profit). This can include retail stores, hospitality venues and manufacturing businesses.
Many of the business ideas explored within this article could fall into the category of a commercial enterprise.
One of the most important considerations you might have when starting a commercial business with no money, is whether you will need to rent or purchase a space such as a shop, warehouse or office building and how you will go about doing this.
To start your commercial business, you might also need to:
- Take a free business management course via e-learning.
- Register your business and decide whether it will be a limited company or sole proprietorship.
- Consider any legal requirements.
- Secure funds through loans, grants, crowdfunding or investments.
- Decide on your marketing and advertising strategies.
- Create a presence online.
- Establish your supply chain – find suppliers and vendors.
How to start a dog grooming business with no money
Dog grooming is a versatile business that is offered both as a mobile service or in a salon. It is suitable for those who have experience or qualifications (this can sometimes be done for free at college), patience and who enjoy working with animals. Dog groomers offer services such as washing, clipping and trimming claws.
If you cannot afford a salon initially, you might want to start as a mobile groomer, visiting pets in their own homes.
To start your dog grooming business:
- Set up a business page.
- Advertise on social media sites and in local groups.
- Practise on pets that belong to friends or family.
- Get your own pet to model for you.
- Offer your services to local charities or shelters to gain exposure and experience.
- Partner with other related businesses, for example ask a local dog walker to recommend your services via their channels and you do the same for them.
- Print flyers and ask local vets or pet shops if they are willing to display them.
How to start a make-up business with no money
Being able to do eye-catching make-up is an art form. If you have an eye for colour matching, a steady hand, lots of patience and you know how to contour, you might be able to start a business as a make-up artist (or even a face painter). Experienced MUAs and face painters are able to charge upwards of £25 per hour.
- Practise on yourself, friends and family.
- Take photos of your work and post them online.
- Establish a consistent online presence.
- Read up about lighting and editing photos to make them look their best.
- Ask in local groups on social media for models.
- Start with special offers, such as a discounted session in return for a recommendation online.
- Become a brand ambassador.
How to start a day care business with no money
A childcare business is often very cost effective to run because you are able to work from your own home and it is often compatible with your own childcare commitments, school runs and holidays. This might be why there were 39,000 childminders registered with Ofsted as of 31st March 2019.
To become a childminder, you are minimally required to:
- (Pre)Register as a childminder.
- Pass DBS and health checks.
- Complete a paediatric first aid course.
- Have your premises inspected by Ofsted.
You will also be required to comply with other legislation and best practice, including understanding food hygiene and allergens, working with SEND and having the correct insurance in place.
The most important part of owning a day care business is providing a welcoming, safe and inclusive environment in which children can thrive.
Tips to begin your day care business with little money:
- Use online sites to request free items such as toys, jigsaws, outdoor items and spare clothes. People are often happy to gift these kinds of items to others once their own children have outgrown them.
- Think of ideas to occupy little ones that are free or very low cost such as trips to the local park, puddle splashing, story time, free or donation only playgroups, going for walks, collecting nature items to make arts and crafts from, feeding the ducks.
- If you are struggling with funds to provide meals, you can ask parents to provide a packed lunch and nappies themselves, then offer low-cost snacks such as vegetable sticks, chopped fruit or raisins, served with a drink of water.
Most childminders charge somewhere between £4 and £6 per hour (although this varies depending on geographical location) and current legislation allows you to supervise up to three under the age of five, which is a potential earning of up to £18 per hour to invest back into your day care business.
Starting a new business with no money is possible but might require you to get creative. You can ask for help from your immediate circle or extended network, maximise the potential of social media for free advertising, and with dedication and hard work you can have a successful venture.
If you choose to fund your business through loans, try not to borrow more than you realistically expect to be able to pay back and make sure you read all of the contracts thoroughly and understand the terms you are agreeing to.