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How to Start a Business with No Money

GoCardless
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Last editedMar 20222 min read

Having no money may seem like an insurmountable obstacle to starting a business. However, this isn’t necessarily the case. With the right skillset, along with planning and foresight, it’s certainly within the realm of possibility.

In this post we’ll guide you through how to start a business from scratch with no money, with tips, tricks and funding options.

Getting started: step by step

Can you start a business with no money? Absolutely. Below are some steps detailing how.

Come up with a low-cost business idea

Without any cash, you’ll need to formulate a smart business plan which doesn’t require much — or indeed any — startup costs. This will probably be a service-oriented business rather than one that deals with goods, simply because you don’t have the funds necessary to purchase the goods to get started.

Fortunately, there are a myriad of low-cost, service businesses you can launch. Some ideas include:

  • Tutoring and teaching (online or in-person)

  • Consulting

  • Photography

  • Photoshop

  • Writing and proofreading

  • Translation

  • Editing

  • Graphic design

  • Digital marketing

Calculate your business costs

Even though you’re starting a business with no money, you need to consider expected costs. Typically, startup costs include the following:

  • Marketing and branding - This might be logo design, website building, social media page creation and printing flyers.

  • Registration fees - Registering as a limited company costs £12, however it’s free to register as a sole trader. Trademarking also incurs registration fees.

  • Purchasing of assets - This includes any equipment you need and if you are selling products, inventory.

  • Other costs - This might include renting office space, paying staff, paying for WiFi , electricity and other bills.

  • Outsourcing costs - This may include bookkeeping and insurance premiums.

Create a list of all anticipated costs and calculate an estimate of how much time it will take you to raise the necessary funds.

Minimise your costs

If you start out with literally zero, then see how much you can do for free. For example, basic websites can be built for free using Wordpress, and you can set up social media pages for free. If you know how to use the design software, you can also design your own logo. Additionally, you can work from home to avoid paying the lease on a dedicated space and keep travel costs low. If you’re lucky, you might be able to get hold of free equipment on sites like Freecycle.

When your business is just starting out, low-cost payment solutions should also be a priority. GoCardless makes getting paid for your services easy. With no monthly fee, you only pay per transaction. You can also set up automatic invoice payments via Direct Debit.

Forecast cash flow

One of the main reasons businesses fail is because they run out of money. Not being able to pay rent or bills will quickly kill your business, so run a thorough cash flow forecast to ensure you can handle all expected costs. This may mean taking out a part-time job just to cover the basics in the beginning.

Consider different funding options

While you can start a business with no money, many business ideas require at least a little in the bank to get off the ground. These include businesses which require paid staff and specialised equipment.

In this case, you might want to consider different funding options. These include:

Bank loans - If you can present a detailed business plan and can offer collateral, then you may be able to get a business loan from a bank.

Government grants and loans - You may qualify for government finance and support.

Asking friends and family - If you’re lucky, family members and friends may be able to loan you the money to get you started with your business.

Crowdfunding - You can also raise money by using crowdfunding sites like GoFundMe

Angel investment - If your startup is in the technology sector, you may be able to attract angel investors who will invest in your business in exchange for shares in it.

We can help

GoCardless helps you automate payment collection, cutting down on the amount of admin your team needs to deal with when chasing invoices. Find out how GoCardless can help you with ad hoc payments or recurring payments.

Over 70,000 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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Interested in automating the way you get paid? GoCardless can help
Interested in automating the way you get paid? GoCardless can help

Interested in automating the way you get paid? GoCardless can help

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