How To Start a Business With No Money – 7 Steps Guide

Beautiful woman hand crafting book at the tabletop with stationery. Stylish craftswoman with stationery work at his hipster workstation.

Do you feel tempted to quit traditional employment that has left you drained and feeling empty? Do you think of starting your own business but you have little or no money?

And you always come back to the thought… If only I knew how to start a business with no money!

Though we realize that this is not an easy thing to do, the whole process of starting a new business can be life-changing and rewarding. Not only financially, but mentally too, since as a business owner, you will learn various skills traditional employment usually never allows for.

To top it all, you will be the boss. So let’s go!


Steps to start a business with little or no money

In this article, our experts at IdeaBuddy put their heads together, to come up with the seven steps you should follow if you want to start a business of your dreams with very little or no money.


  1. Identify your passion skills
  2. Flesh out your idea
  3. Research your market
  4. Analyze your competition
  5. Calculate your startup costs
  6. Make a business plan
  7. Set up your business
  8. Start a business with little or no money

Get a pen, paper, and a warm cup of coffee ready; you’re about to start a business from scratch with only $100!

Let’s get started.

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STEP 1 – Identify your passion skills

Most successful startups are created from the founders’ own unique interests and passions. Take Lynda Weinman (a self-taught computer wizard), who in the 1990s answered the question how to start a business with no money and created training films for her website design students since she found there were none available at that time. She didn’t need much financial startup capital (less than $100), investing mostly her time to create videos. In 2015, her company was acquired by LinkedIn for $1.5 billion US dollars.


Oooh, yah! We certainly think so.

To set yourself up for success, determine what the skills are that you could earn from, and what you are genuinely passionate about. At IdeaBuddy, we call these passion skills!

Questions To Ask & Answer:

  1. “What are my passion skills?”
  2. “Can I take one or all of my passion skills and earn money from it?”
  3. “If I start a business based on my skills or passions, would this motivate me to get up every morning and do it for the next 10-years or more?”
  4. “If I don’t have any particular passion skills, what other ideas could I start a business with?
  5. “Could I start my business without investing more than $100?”

Cost: $0

Time: Up to you!

How-To: Take a sheet of paper and note down the answers to the above questions.



  1. I’m passionate about Graphic Design, Drawing, Art, Painting, and Illustration on T-shirts, and would love to quit my corporate job to do this full time in 2020!
  2. I think so . . .
  3. Yes! Hundred times over, yes.
  4. N/A
  5. I guess I could. I need to do some more research.


  1. Mmmm … I can’t say I have passion skills. What I would like to do though is start a Gardening & Cleaning Service in my town since there is currently a lack in the market for it!
  2. Sure, I think this new business idea can work.
  3. If the money is good – hell, yah!
  4. Cleaning & Gardening Service
  5. I already have my own gardening equipment and cleaning supplies, so yes, I guess I could.

Just had an “Aha!” moment?

Did an excellent business idea pop into mind seemingly out of nowhere while answering the questions in Step 1?

You’re on the right track. Keep going!

STEP 2  – Flesh out your idea 

Ideas have the power to change our lives and help us create a more meaningful existence if the idea is something we are truly passionate about. Now that you have determined what you are passionate about, or established that you have a skill that helps you answer how to start a business with no money, it’s time to put your ideas on paper and determine how you can earn from them.

Questions To Ask & Answer:

  1. “Which products or services can I create from my skills or passions?” (List at least one product on your paper or Idea Plan board.)
  2. “How can I earn from my skill(s)/products/services?” (What is it that I can do with my skill that would earn me income without me investing more than $100 to get started?)
  3. “Where can I sell my skill(s) with little or no upfront money?” (Determine the platforms for selling your products, services/skills.)

Cost: $0

Time: 1-2 Hours

How-Do: Note down your business idea(s) on a piece of paper, or sign-in to your free IdeaBuddy account and use our Idea Plan feature to create a visual overview of your ideas and business concept.



1. I can create unique, Graphic T-Shirts with awesome graphics, illustrations, or artwork printed on them.

2. Sell through dropshipping without any upfront costs to me. I can also create Custom T-Shirts for customers according to what they want.

3. I can sell my graphics, illustrations, art, paintings, and drawings on:

  • Dropshipping Company Such as Printrove (Free Account – Print-on-Demand)
  • My Own Website (Free if I design my website myself)
  • Etsy (Free signup)
  • Amazon (Merchant – Free signup)
  • Envato Market (Free)


1. Gardening service for working people too busy to cut their own grass, clean the yard, or keep the garden neat and beautiful.

2. House cleaning service to clean homes on a weekly, monthly, or yearly basis.

3. I can sell my gardening & house cleaning services by:

Creating posters and putting them up at:

  • Supermarket Shopping Boards ($20 printing cost est.)
  • Small flyers to post boxes (I’ll deliver them personally to each box) ($30 printing cost est.)
  • Library notice Boards
  • My Personal Website
  • Word Of Mouth – Send all family, ex-colleagues, and friends messages to help me market my services.

STEP 3 – Research your market

Skills determined? – Check.

Ideas jotted down? – Done!

Fabulous! Time to get to the nitty-gritty of market analysis find out if you have a product-market fit. This is the point where you will know if your idea is worth pursuing or if you would need to alter or improve upon it.

When it comes to your target market, ask yourself these questions:

  • Does anyone need my skills, products, or services?”
  • Who are my target customers?”
  • Where are they located?”
  • How old are they?”
  • Where do they hang out?”
  • “Which promotional activity would be best to reach my target customers?”
  •  “Is there a market for my specific skills, products, and services?”
  • “How big is the market that I am planning to cover?”
  • “Is there a growing need for my skills, products, or services?”

Cost: $0 – $10 depending on if a market analysis report needed

Time: 1-8 Hours depending on research involved

How-Do: Provide answers to your questions on a sheet of paper, or sign-in to your free IdeaBuddy account and use our Business Guide feature to add the info about your market.

STEP 4 – Analyze your competition

Who are your competitors?

What is unique about them, and how do they differentiate themselves in your chosen market?

What can you do that will set you apart from the rest?

These are all questions you can clarify if your business idea is within a market or niche with a lot of competitors. By doing some research and finding out what leading players in your market is doing, you will also find some new and inspiring ideas.

Cost: $0

Time: 1-8 Hours depending on research involved

How-Do: Determine the top 5 competitors in your market. Have a look at their websites, the products and services they offer, and how they communicate.  You can also use the IdeaBuddy Business Guide feature for this.

STEP 5 – Calculate your startup costs 

Excellent work, you got this far already. Next up, we’ll be showing you how to determine any upfront costs you might need to get started in your business. We’ll use Amanda and Tom to illustrate two options, but the possibilities are endless to see how to start a business with no money today.

Cost: $0 – $100

Time: 10 min– 1-Hour

How-Do: Create a list of all the things or goods you might need to start your business, including what you already have or the items that won’t cost anything. You can also use IdeaBuddy  Business Guide.



Things I need to get started:

  • Laptop (already have one)         $0
  • Internet ($8/month)                   $8
  • Market Research Report            $10
  • Merchant Account Signup         $0
  • My Website – WordPress FREE  $0
  • Domain Name Purchase            $12.99
  • Website Hosting ($2.99 p/m)     $35.88
  • Social Media Marketing             $20
  • Dropshipping ($10 Deposit)      $10

TOTAL:   $96.87


Things I need to get started:

  • PC (already have one)                   $0
  • WhatsApp & Internet Pac             $8
  • Marketing Materials Print             $50
  • Fuel to Drop Marketing Materials $14
  • Supplies & Eqpt. (already have)    $0
  • Cleaning Soap                               $20



TOTAL:   $92

STEP 6 – Make a business plan (optional)

Is your idea a winner? Fantastic! Congratulations are in order. You are now ready for the next step to write your business plan. Don’t worry; you don’t need to be a writer!

For a small or solo business, writing a business plan is optional, but it can come in handy in the future.

Simply use your IdeaBuddy account and let us create your internal business plan from the info you already recorded about your business.

Why a business plan?

A business plan is important if your business idea is going to be presented to potential investors or business partners. It is also used internally in your business, even if you are a solo entrepreneur, to formulate the concept and writing that will later go on your website and marketing materials.

Our blog post, Is Writing a Business Plan Really a Waste of Time? , can help you get started.

Cost: $0

Time: <10 Min

How-Do: Sign-in to your IdeaBuddy account and complete all the steps in the Business Guide to get your business plan (Journal).

STEP 7 – Set up your business 

It’s time to set up your business and start earning money!

Though every business is different, there are several steps needed before you can start selling your goods or services. To guide you along, we’ll follow Amanda and Tom as they proceed to set up their businesses.

Cost: <$100

Time: It depends on your type of business.

How-Do: Make a list of what you need to do to get your business operational.



Things I need to get my business up and running:


  • My Business Name: Zuzia Designs & T-Shirts
  • My Business Slogan: Custom T-Shirts
  • Domain Name:


  1. Buy Domain ($12.99)
  2. Buy Hosting – 1-Year ($35.88)
  3. Register for Dropshipping Account  ($10 deposit for my 1st product)
  4. Register for Free Merchant Accounts with Amazon, Etsy, and Envato Market. ($0)
  5. Write the content for my website.($0)
  6. Setup my social media page. ($0)
  7. Design my website with WordPress. ($0)
  8. Create my first 5 products and services.
  9. Write the content for my first 5 products and services.
  10. Create graphics, mockups, or images for my first 5 products or services.
  11. Add my services and products to my website and all my merchant accounts.
  12. Social Media – Advertise my services /products on SM for $20 this month.
  13. One-on-One Marketing – Visit some local businesses and let them know about my services and products.
  14. Finances – Setup an excel sheet on my laptop to track income and expenses.
  15. Done!  I’m now ready to start accepting orders.


Things I need to get my business up and running:


  • My Business Name: Tom’s Cleaning & Gardening Services



  1. Setup WhatsApp group for my business + create QR code
  2. Write content for posters
  3. Write content for flyers
  4. Design poster & flyers on my laptop
  5. Send Posters & Flyers to Printer to print
  6. Setup one of my garages with all cleaning supplies and equipment that I already have
  7. Set aside the supplies & equipment I need for 1 x day cleaning
  8. Setup my vehicle with 1 x day cleaning supplies & equipment
  9. Invite all friends, family, colleagues to my WhatsApp group
  10. Collect printed posters & flyers from the printer.
  11. Setup posters at all the notice boards in town.
  12. Visit local businesses from Monday to Wednesday and market my gardening and cleaning services to them to get long-term contracts with businesses.
  13. Finances – Setup an excel sheet on my laptop to track income and expenses.
  14. Start service delivery!

How to start your business with no money

In this guide, we tried to explain how you can start a new business with little or no money at all. We wish you all the best and all the success you desire. If you would like more information on starting a business, check out our other awesome free blogs and content, or send us an email for direct inquiries.

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