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Can You Start A Business With No Money?

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Last editedJan 20222 min read

Have you ever had an incredible idea for a business? And have you then been immediately discouraged from investing any serious time or resources into it because you don’t have the capital to get it comfortably off the ground?

Common wisdom seems to suggest that you need a large amount of investment capital to start a business but major names such as Subway and Hewlett-Packard started life as little more than ideas with almost no funding.

Starting a business with no money is not only possible but it’s actually surprisingly common. Indeed, almost 25% of UK businesses launch with less than £1,000. Anything is possible as long as you have a great idea and a keen entrepreneurial mindset. But it’s not necessarily going to be easy.

Starting with a low-cost business model

With little or no access to money, you’ll want to start your business with a model that doesn’t require any initial financial investment. For example, teaching, tutoring or consulting is an ideal business to start with no money as all it requires at a fundamental level is your own knowledge and willingness to share it.

Minimising your outgoings

Most of us are already familiar with the concept of working from home thanks to the pandemic and it is a model that can save you significant outgoings when it comes to commuting and rental costs. But there are other ways to cut down on your small business spending.

Look for online services that are free or affordable. GoCardless, for example, lets you take one-off and recurring payments from your customers with no fixed fee. You only pay per transaction, giving you flexibility while your business is finding its feet.

Calculating your costs

Make a list of all expected costs so you can more efficiently plan your finances. Typical small business start-up costs will include:

•   Marketing and branding, including online promotion, the creation of logos and other branding assets and physical promotional materials

•   Registration fees if you’re planning on registering as a limited company. Note that it’s  free to register as a sole trader

•   All assets you’ll need to get started, including equipment, inventory and raw materials

•   Outsourced services that you might need to pay for

•   Regular costs associated with running a business such as site hosting and staff salaries.

Filling your piggy bank

Of course, starting with literally no money is always going to leave you at a disadvantage regardless of what sector you’re looking to set up in. Before you get started turning your business dreams into realities, you should probably start by attempting to source funding.

Options include, but are not limited to:

Friends and family

If your friends or family members are willing to invest in you and your business then it can offer a small but important initial cash injection opportunity. Though note that getting into business with your loved ones is sometimes frowned upon.

Bank and building society loans

Many small businesses choose to source their initial capital from a bank or building society. There are various types of loan suitable for most situations. For example, unsecured business loans won’t require you to put up any collateral but these loans will often have inflated interest rates.


A more modern option would be to crowdfund your business and offer incentives either through rewards or equity. If you have products you need to manufacture to get the business started, this could be a very attractive option.


Wealthy individuals who invest in a company in exchange for equity are often dubbed “angel investors” and can offer valuable business expertise alongside their financial investment.

We can help

If you’re interested in finding out more about starting your own business with no money, or any other aspect of your business finances, then get in touch with our financial experts at GoCardless. Find out how GoCardless can help you with ad hoc payments or recurring payments.

Over 85,000 businesses use GoCardless to get paid on time. Learn more about how you can improve payment processing at your business today.

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