Do you want to start a business with no money?
Let me start with this. Starting a business with no money is possible. You have an idea for a business, except you don’t have any money to start it. Lack of capital is a common excuse for failing to start a business. If you have the drive to start a business, coupled with a great idea and an unbelievable drive to succeed, you can start a business with no money. You don’t need a miracle, but you need to follow certain steps to successfully start a business with no money.
Get a credit line.
Businesses are commonly funded by lines of credit. You might end up using a credit card to help you with your cash flow. The key with credit lines is it is no substitute for revenue. Use credit lines only as a temporary measure, not as an alternative to making enough money to pay your bills.
At a time when 98% of the business plans are rejected by VCs and accredited investors, crowdfunding offers a great alternative for entrepreneurs. Crowdfunding requires a lot of effort and dedication, but is a great option, especially for consumer product businesses. The great thing about crowdfunding is that it gives you access to capital without giving up equity.
Crowdfunding can help your business in several ways:
- It’s free!
- Crowdfunding reduces your financial risk.
- Fast access to capital.
- It enables you to pre-sell.
- Crowdfunding is easier than getting VC or angel investment.
- It gives proof of concept. If you don’t get funded, perhaps your idea isn’t as great as you thought it is.
- Your crowdfunding campaign can serve a marketing tool.
- Your investors can help you improve your product.
- The “crowd” can provide great word of mouth marketing.
- It can build a loyal following.
- It’s free PR.
The most popular crowdfunding sites are:
Apply for government programs.
Apply to the Small Business Administration (SBA) and other government agencies for help and funding. There are business financing options for women, veterans, and minorities.
Enter business plan competitions.
Advertise your business for free.
If you are willing to put in the work, there are several ways you can advertise your business for free or no money. The most important part of getting free advertising is that it requires sweat equity.
Here are some of the most common free advertising options:
- Submit guest blog posts to relevant blogs. You will get a free link back to your own site.
- Order free business cards from Vistaprint – Most importantly pass them out.
- Develop strategic partnerships with businesses who serve the same customers you are targeting. It will enable you to cross-promote each other’s business.
- Set up a free WordPress website.
- Submit your business to Google Local.
- List your company in free directories related to your niche.
- Offer an introductory free consultation or free evaluation.
- Host an event. Recruit sponsors to cover your costs.
- Create a Facebook Fan Page.
- Frequent forums where your customers hang out.
- Network with others and get free word of mouth marketing.
- Ask friends, family, and people in your network for referrals.
- Make connections and promote your business through social networks like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and the like.
- Build your email list from day one. Email is still one of the most effective marketing channels.
- Include your website, Facebook page, and Twitter handle in your email signature.
- Write an eBook or a report and use it a promotional gift item.
- Comment on blogs with a link back to your own website.
- Learn about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and use it to drive free traffic to your site.
- Develop an iPhone or Android app for free and include your branding within it.
- Post an ad on Craigslist.
- Write articles relevant to your niche and distribute them to article directories.
- Publish press releases. Prlog offers free press release distribution.
- Wear your ad. Print your brand, URL, and phone number on your T-shirt, so when you are out in public people will see.
The above list might seem overwhelming at first, but it is doable. Take it one step at a time. Be systematic. Track and measure your results. Rinse and repeat the ones that give you the best results.
Avoid get rich quick schemes.
There are countless cases of “get rich quick schemes” both online and offline. They promise you everything you want to hear. Quick and easy money with little or no work. It simply doesn’t exist. You can start a business with no money, but you can’t start one without hard work, strategic thinking, and patience.
Don’t believe stories about overnight success. They are simply myths.
Here are examples of real success stories, and none of them is the overnight kind:
- Milton Hershey started 3 unsuccessful candy companies before he started the Hershey Company.
- It took Bill Gates 6 years to land his first contract with IBM.
- It took Steve Jobs 20 years to become an overnight billionaire.
- It took Biz Stone 8 years to come up with the idea for Twitter.
- It took Steve Martin and Jim Carrey 10 years of stand-up gigs before making it big.
Nothing will hurt your chances for success more than believing in the – false – idea of overnight success. You are doing yourself a disservice believing it. Most businesses take years of development before they become successful. You can start a business with no money. Expect to spend years to build your business instead of days. Persistence is key.