Finding a key to success? Well, finding a good idea is half of your work. The other half is funding it. But what if the investments are just unrealistic in your current situation?

It doesn’t need to mean your business’s journey is over, even with zero capital. There are plenty of ways to begin building your dream business even without money. And as we say in moxiedgtl, mindset is usually everything. It’s about hard work, patience, ideas, and the willingness to try and learn new things.

This article will give you some tricks and information on how to kickstart your independence with minimal investments. From that, with later reinvestments, to of course, sustainably growing.

In this episode, we’ll look into idea creation and naming your soon-to-be profitable and recognizable business.

How to start your business with no money

  1. Find a free business idea – lower your costs from the very first thought
  2. Choose the name of your brand
  3. Prepare a business plan
  4. Get yourself a website
  5. Validate ideas with preordered samples
  6. Focus on organic communication
  7. Potentially – Source funding to grow

1. Find a free business idea

The first phase of starting any kind of business is to have an idea what you want to sell. If you don’t have one just yet, let us give you some creative hints as to what it could be.

Provide your services

The easiest way to start your business with no money is to sell your services. Even if you are not an expert in a specific area, being better than the average person at something means you can start a business that helps them. You don’t need to start with consulting huge financial companies from the very beginning (but if that’s your niche and you feel quite experienced, why not?).

If you are no expert, simply start looking into things you know better than common people. Look at your friends, co-workers, their free time activities, and even family or neighbors. Once you find that one thing, package it – call it specifically, like a service. Some ideas worth mentioning:

      • Video content ideation
      • TikTok trends research
      • Freelance writing
      • Virtual assistant
      • Handyman services
      • Gardener
      • or a Plant whisperer

“Chase the vision, not the money, the money will end up following you.” – Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos

Even if you don’t necessarily have a skill set easily packaged into a service, don’t throw this option away just yet. People’s time is valuable, and so is yours. Sometimes they even pay for tasks they don’t want (or cannot prioritise enough) to do. And you can imagine even the tiniest bits like:

      • Cleaning or Car washing
      • Pet sitting or Dog walking
      • Personal shopping
      • Planning daily errands or creating people’s schedule

Some small entrepreneurs even make over $100K a year, after 2 years of freelancing. But many entrepreneurs just abort these small business ideas because they fear they won’t be earning that much. Well guess what? Service-based businesses can be lucrative, even if it’s a one-man’s show.

Sell handcrafted goods

Do you want to produce goods yourself using your skills? Sometimes, even your free time activity, if it falls under the creative crafting can help you in the way of a side hustle. Turn your handcrafting hobby into a business by selling hand-made goods through your own online store, social media or marketplaces like Etsy. This can include:

      • Artwork or a Digital Artwork
      • Crafts
      • Jewellery
      • Skin care
      • Woodworking projects (…our Creative Director could talk about this hobby a LOT)

“Candle making has been something I have wanted to master for many years. Having grown up in England and having spent a good part of my adult life there, I later relocated to Zürich to be with my Swiss husband. During the recent pandemic, I finally found the inspiration to develop my love of candles into a small business. Whiteside & Co was founded to produce natural products combining traditional Swiss quality with quintessentially English flair.” says Rachel Whiteside, creator of Whiteside & Co, Zürich based candle-maker brand.

What originally started as an ambition to master the skill eventually turned into Rachel’s full-time job after being laid off during the pandemic. Which is a good example of how a small business can be founded even during hard times, and turning one’s passion and love into a successful brand.

Bonus: If your handcrafted goods can be purchased more than one time, or it has a limited life span, to make extra cash you can simply package your products into a subscription business model. That way you generate a consistent income from repeated orders that you can reinvest further into production, product development, and else, giving you some recurring capital without external funding.

Dropshipping

Dropshipping is a popular business model that grew in popularity in the past couple of years. If you are looking to start a business with no money or very little initial investment, check this idea too. You only need to create your own online store and choose a dropshipping supplier such as AliExpress or Oberlo. You don’t need to secure hundreds of products and you don’t need to buy these products in bulk based on MOQ. You just forward the order information to your selected supplier and they take care of it from packing to shipping the order to your customer, leaving you “only” with the profit (of course deducted by the inventory fee and potentially some others, based on the platform and the agreement with supplier).

Print on Demand

The same way as every service-based business is trying to sell personalised experience nowadays, personalised products are a thing too. The opportunity lies here with global market for Personalized Gifts being worth $25.8 Billion in 2020, amid COVID-19 crisis. Take advantage of that opportunity, especially if you don’t have cash upfront to invest in inventory, with a Print on Demand business.

The print on demand concept is very popular among booksellers and publishers. Although, Print on demand products include t-shirts, hoodies, coffee mugs, and many other items. The print on demand model works on one simple defining principle  – print after ordering. Consumers place an order and the product is created only after that order has been made. This unloads your responsibility for your own inventory and production costs. Suppliers like Printful or Printify will print your designs onto inventory, ship it to the customer, and charge you for their service after you’ve received the money from your customer.

Similarly to dropshipping, there are minimal costs associated with starting your Print on Demand business. You’ll only pay for inventory when a customer orders your product. There are no storage costs making it a worthwhile option if you’re looking to start a business with a limited amount of money. If you need help setting up Shopify + Printify print on demand business, hit us up, we have the required experience and we love helping small starting businesses reach their goals.

Sell digital products

Digital products are something you can create and sell online, making them a superb way to start an online business with no money.

Start by finding an area you have more knowledge or skills than the average person, as mentioned at the very beginning. Then, do some research to see what problems people in the related niche are struggling with. Package your solution into a digital product, such as:

      • Ebooks
      • Online courses
      • Worksheets or templates
      • Digital art – Bundles

The beauty of digital products is that they’re scalable. You can divide it, rename it, package it if you’d like to, provide a special support if applicable or customise it based on your audience’s particular need. It’s no wonder so many entrepreneurs use digital products as a way of making passive income.

If we may be of assistance or help, we’d recommend Gumroad as a great marketplace for selling your digital products for free. We too have our own Gumroad shop, where we post free and paid bundles of illustrations, social media templates, and similar. Check our Social Media Template, with code YOUgotmoxie you get the template for half the price! And if you need to set up your own Gumroad shop, here is a great guidance.

Become a social media influencer

The word “influencer” has taken on a life of its own over the past decade. People are now making money through social media more than ever before. And the sky’s the limit, you just have to find your target audience, be unique and authentic. All it takes is patience, social media knowledge, and interesting content to share—three things that can be done without any investment except your time.

Start by building your social media presence on a popular platform, such as Instagram or TikTok. But don’t start with hard-sell right away. Followers can be monetized when they know, like, and trust you and your opinions.

You can also connect your social media channels to your passion or hobbies. It helps to connect with the right audience similar to you, usually more than TikTok dances. Great examples of such influencers are our favourites @dinatokio and @zallibhai or Hungarian @eb.laszti.

That leads to opportunities later down the line to make money through:

  • Affiliate marketing. Promote products from brands you trust and love and earn a percentage commission when your followers buy it (using our favourites “promo codes”).
  • Blogging. Sell advertising space, post sponsored content, and promote digital products through your blog. Use this in combination with other communication channels.
  • Selling merchandise. Add your brand name, logo, or a catchphrase to merchandise. Loyal followers will pay to purchase it. You can even create a personalised message as part of seasonal merchandise.

Many entrepreneurs have used this path to fund their product-based business later. For example, YouTuber Emma Chamberlain started posting videos on YouTube back in 2017. She launched her direct-to-consumer business, Chamberlain Coffee, to capitalise on her audience just two years later. So if you want to sell stuff, creating publicity to your name can be the first step towards your future customers. But don’t forget to be authentic, and communicate with them frequently.

2. Choose a name for your brand

So when you find out what it is you’re gonna do and sell, you have to name it. Now this is a fun part full of analysing, looking into possibilities, but also not forgetting the creative side of a job.

From time to time we all need a push when it comes to that creative part. Luckily, there are tons of AI powered tools online that can give you a hand if you don’t have money to pay expensive branding studios and agencies.

Don’t forget, your name should be catchy and recognizable, but before all that – not taken. You shouldn’t get carried away with the details until you are sure the name that you choose is free. We always check domains as the second thing when coming up with naming ideas, because well… Your store should have a website, right? Many names are already taken, even with non-functioning websites, there are just people or businesses owning a domain for selling purposes. Here are just a few websites that can help you navigate towards a domain that is not taken.

There are tens maybe even hundreds of websites that help you find whether your crafted name is already in use in the form of a domain.

What some people or articles won’t tell you is something we realised along our jobs as marketers and advertisers. Sometimes, even advertising platforms can reject or decrease your ad performance significantly because an essential part of your brand’s name is actually already trademarked. And this, dear friends, happened to one of our clients too. Can you imagine the length we had to go through a slight rebranding, buying a new domain, graphic elements redesigning, and more? If only they thought about it sooner, right?

If you are not sure whether your name is unique enough, we would definitely recommend you check the trademark status on websites such as USPTO or WIPO. These can help you navigate the results in detail, because if your target audience is located in another country, then an existing trademark cannot be used.

Let’s have an example: “Jessy Studio” is a trademark in New Zealand, however you too want to have a “Jessy Studio” in Germany. That way, you can use the name, but only to operate on the German market, targeting ads to German audiences. The New Zealand market will for that reason stay out of your hands.

So the best strategy with unlimited growth in mind, would be to find a catchy and recognizable name that doesn’t exist yet, and is not trademarked. No worries, unless you grow internationally in two years and your brand gets to a Coca-Cola level, no one will try to trademark your business name. And until then, you’ll have enough resources to pay for a trademark yourself sooner.

So that's a wrap!

Let us summarise the first two steps towards a business you don’t need money to start.

The first step to achieve your goal of independence is to find your passion and skill or a product that has potential and your personal connection to it would be significant. You can either start with a service-based business model such as a virtual assistant or a handyman or sell handcrafted products—if that’s what you’re good at. Remember, whatever you do, you should always ask yourself, if it’s a unique expertise, or at least, you know/do it better than most people.

But you can also go the way of dropshipping or Print on Demand. And if that doesn’t work for you either, there is still an option of selling digital products or becoming a social media influencer with the ambition to monetize your name later. These don’t require much. The time that you dedicate would be the biggest and most essential investment. And anything you do, Do You!

Stay tuned for the next two stages – Creating a business plan and Getting yourself a website.

And if still lost in the first stages, hit us up with a message, we’ll try to answer as many questions as possible, and help you find the way towards success.