If you have been thinking about setting up a business for a while, why haven’t you done it yet? Even if you’re not ready to leave your job and take the leap, there are lots of ways to get started now in your spare time.
How to start a business with no money? That’s not necessarily a problem either, the costs of setting up have never been lower, thanks to new technology. And now anyone really can start their own business from home. As long as you follow a few basic rules, starting a business with almost no money is completely possible.
In the UK we also have the fairly accessible, Government-backed Start-up Loans scheme if you do need access to additional funds.
This article lists 10 business ideas that you can set up quickly and easily. Then we have put together 10 stellar top tips if you need to think more creatively and to help you get set up. Finally, we dispel the myths that so often stop people from following their business dream.
Ideas for businesses started from home
Here are 10 cheap and easy-to-start business ideas to consider:
1. Set up an online store
Lots of people make a good living buying and selling products on online platforms like Ebay and Amazon. You can even set up your own online store by using software like Squarespace or Shopify. Experiment until you find the right product. You can use powerful market research tools like Terapeak to analyse sales trends in your area and maximise your sales potential. You can also use a variable cost formula to ensure you keep costs low while also fulfilling your customers’ needs.
With a smart dropshipping approach you could sell goods direct from the wholesaler or manufacturer with very low risk to you. See our comprehensive guide to setting up a dropshipping business in the UK.
If you have a spare room you can now make it pay using online platforms like Airbnb and Bookings.com The flexibility of those online systems means that you can decide in advance which dates you want to open to bookings and how long you’ll let people stay for. If it’s not working out for you, just take your room off the system for a while.
You can also find a lodger using Spareroom.com. In the UK you can take advantage of the government’s Rent a Room scheme which enables you to earn up to £7,500 entirely tax free if you let a furnished room in your home.
3. Become a blogger or vlogger
It is possible to write about your passion and build a business on the back of it those days. Most bloggers don’t make much money but as they tend to love what they’re doing any income that it brings in is a bonus. However, if your blog strikes a chord with others you could start to make money from online advertising and sales of associated products or services.
Alternatively, you could talk about your interest or demonstrate it on video instead of writing. YouTube has enabled people with the most niche interests to connect globally. Suddenly you may find that you are no longer alone with your passion for that obscure… sport, computer game, craft, type of dog, or approach to cake making. The more niche it is, and the more passionate you are, the better.
All you need is a smartphone. Set up a free account with YouTube, upload your videos and, if and when it starts to take off, you can earn a portion of the advertising revenue. Don’t expect it to be quick and easy though. Most successful YouTubers uploaded regular videos for months or years before they started to take off.
4. Video Producer
The demand for video producers and experts has increased in recent years as a result of the widespread use of video in social media and marketing. You may easily learn and teach yourself how to cut and edit videos, even if you have no prior expertise, with the help of classes, tutorials, and general advice from the online video community.
Additionally, video production can be used to achieve a variety of various purposes, styles, and sectors. Being a video producer will give you the freedom to work from home on a variety of projects and the chance to express your creativity on a regular basis.
5. Start a consultancy business
Have you built up knowledge and experience in a particular industry over a few years? If you’re now feeling it’s time for a change, maybe you can take that expertise and offer it to others as an independent consultant.
You will need a website to display your services on, you can build a beautiful site yourself for little or nothing with Wix. Use a logo making service and get some business cards to hand out. You will also need to use and build your network, get out to networking events in your industry and build up your contacts on Linkedin. Once you get the word out, referrals and word of mouth will be your strongest source of work.
6. Social media marketing and influencing
Social media is an increasingly important part of most companies’ marketing mix, in fact social media management is one of the fastest-growing business tracks out there. If you are always online and enjoy social media, maybe you could turn that talent into a business.
Social media-related business ideas include offering your services as a social media manager. And if you have a niche interest or lots of charisma and a reasonable-sized following then it may be worth considering becoming a professional social media influencer. Brands trying to attract customers in your niche area will be looking to develop influencer relationships to connect with their market. Rates for influencers are currently around $10 per thousand followers on Instagram, slightly more on YouTube and less on TikTok.
If you have teaching experience or any kind of specialist knowledge you could think about offering a tutoring service. There are numerous agencies and platforms which can connect you with students. Speaking English is a valuable commodity in many parts of the world and you can earn money by offering 1-1 English conversation online.
Tutoring is an opportunity to capitalise on your expertise and provide a valuable service, all from the comfort of your own home. It can be a flexible and rewarding way to supplement your income. To help you get started, see this comprehensive guide to tutoring side hustle that offers insightful advice and detailed steps on how to set up and run a successful tutoring business. This could be the first step towards turning your skills and knowledge into a thriving business.
8. Dog Walking
Walking is good for your health. And if you take along a few furry friends it could be good for your bank balance too. Dog walkers can charge £10-£20 per hour and can take up to 6 pooches at a time. See our full guide on how to start a dog walking business in 8 practical steps.
They say that cleaning can be a form of mindful meditation. Some people even enjoy it! If that is you then you could make a lot of people, including yourself, very happy. The 5 mile-zone around any Waitrose store is almost guaranteed to have more demand than supply for reliable cleaners. If you can get yourself there, pin a card on the community board and wait for the phone to ring. Gumtree is another good place to advertise your services.
As a cleaning company, your start-up costs could be zero if the customer supplies a good vacuum cleaner and materials. The average payment rate for cleaners is £12 per hour, up to £20 an hour in London and more affluent areas.
There is always demand for gardening help too. Even if you have little expertise you may be able to start out with weeding and grass-cutting. With more skill and experience you will be able to increase your rates. The average payment rate for gardeners is from £14 – £25 per hour.
All of those home businesses can be started up easily and cheaply. But if you want to build a sustainable business with a good income you’ll also need to focus on quality services and happy customers.
How to Start a Business with No Money – Top 10 Tips
The good news is that providing you follow a few basic rules, it is entirely possible to start a business like one of those listed above with almost no money. Here are some more ideas and our top 10 tips for making it happen.
1. Use the resources at your fingertips
Work from home or a local café or library which offers free wifi. Have a car? You could offer a local delivery service. Have a kitchen? You could start making cakes or providing catering for parties. Have a spare room? You could let it out with Airbnb or Bookings.com.
2. Build a business around the skills you already possess
What can you do that someone else might be prepared to pay for? Can you make clothes, paint and decorate, programme a computer, speak Italian? Do you have a hobby you could turn into a business? If you possess a skill that other people don’t, or would need to invest time and money learning for themselves, that immediately puts you at a big advantage.
3. Sell a product or service which people need rather than want
It also needs to be something that they instantly understand, and which they feel comfortable buying without having to consult anyone else first. Umbrellas at £10 each are a better bet than hot tubs at £10,000 each.
4. Get customers to pay you upfront
– or at worse, half upfront, half later, so that your costs are always covered. Late payments are one of the biggest causes of business failure, so make sure you have a plan for getting cash in quickly from the start.
5. Tap into free advice on how to start a business with no money
National Enterprise Network members often deliver free advice and events. Checkout Meetup for free or low cost business and creative development events in your area. The British Library Business and IP Centre National Network has a wealth of resources and events for start-ups across the UK.
6. Source any equipment you need for free
Check out Freecycle, a community website where people can recycle unwanted items, or the freebie section of listings sites such as Gumtree, Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace. You’ll be amazed at what people are prepared to give away for free. And as well as helping to lay the foundations of your business, you’ll be helping the environment by re-using instead of letting good items go to landfill.
7. Do virtually all the work yourself
Plough virtually all income straight back into the business. Thankless and austere, yes, but also the only way you will be able to build up enough cash reserves to invest in new equipment or premises, and so grow the business. It will also train you to have a tight understanding of costs and finances which will be a great asset to your business in the long term.
8. If you have a job, hold onto it
A surefire solution to the question of how to start a business with no money is to start your business in your spare time and only give up your day job once your venture is able to pay you a wage. If the venture doesn’t work out, you still have your job. If it does, the transition to being your own boss will be a lot less risky.
9. Replace fixed costs with variable ones by linking your costs to your sales
Hire meeting rooms by the hour, staff by the day and services as you need them. Platforms like fiverr make hiring freelancers, for small jobs, easier than ever.
10. Make the most of free technology to promote your business
Build a website for nothing using an online website builder such as wix.com (though if you can afford it, it is worth paying a small amount to go ad free and have a professional URL). Then get social networking. Then get social networking and utilising a local marketing strategy. It’s an amazing way of promoting your business without spending any or very much money. There are lots of channels – like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn – so focus first on the social media channel that your ideal client hangs out on.
8 Myths to Ignore and Save Yourself Money
It’s easy to talk yourself out of starting your own side-hustle business when everyone tells you that it is impossible to start a business with no money. Here are 8 of the myths that you are most likely to encounter and the reasons why they should not hold you back.
You need to invest money to make money
This just isn’t true. All of the businesses listed above can be started for little or no money. When your business starts to make a good return then you can think about investing the profits to grow.
You need to buy physical stock for your business
People often turn away from the idea of starting their own business by the daunting stock costs. However many businesses thrive by selling talents, skills, services, information, and assistance. Dropshipping is an approach to running a product-focused business without having to shell out for physical stock first.
You need to spend money creating a website
There are many website-building platforms and CMS systems where you can develop a basic site for free which you can then upgrade as your business grows, such as Wix, WordPress, HubSpot, Squarespace and many others. You can even use free social media platforms to connect and communicate with your audience and ideal clients.
You need to invest in an accountant
As a business owner, you do not need to invest in a costly accountant to handle your financial affairs. If you are just starting out all you are required to do is to register as self-employed with HMRC and provide an annual self-assessment return comprising two figures: total business income and total allowable expenses.
You don’t even need to have a separate bank account, though that can be helpful. Keep a monthly tally of your income and expenses on a spreadsheet or if your accounts are more complicated check out one of the software packages like Quickbooks.
You need employees
With so many helpful tools and apps right at your fingertips, now more than ever, it is easy to stay on top of your business without having to pay for outsourcing tasks. You can use online tools to take bookings, handle enquiries, manage customer information and so on. If you do need help you can hire by the hour using platforms like Fiverr.
You need to invest in office space
It is so easy to run your business from home now. Since Covid-19 and the sudden need to go remote and digital, many businesses have realised that they can still function properly even without a dedicated office building space. All you need is your laptop and Wi-Fi code and you’re good to go.
You need to invest in marketing your business
You no longer need to rely on costly traditional forms of marketing and PR to promote your business. Social media and blogging are great ways to raise awareness of your business. All that’s needed is your time and creativity. Be consistent and show value to your audience and they will keep coming for more.
You need to invest in expensive training
You will never feel 100% ready to start your own business. If you are starting as a side hustle then you have nothing to lose by just starting. Otherwise, make sure you have some kind of buffer in place.
You will learn as you go and find the best way to really support your customers. To help you get there that little bit faster, use free online training videos, webinars and workshops to give you that boost of confidence. You can start a business with no money, you just need to stop thinking about it and start doing it.
How Kate Jenkins built her business with no money
Kate Jenkins has effectively grown her chocolate brownie business for free using Twitter. She started out making chocolate brownies in the kitchen of her home in Llanmabog, Wales. When a friend told her about Twitter she signed up and began running competitions to win brownies on Twitter. She quickly built up a supportive community of followers and more than 70,000 tweets later, her business, Gower Cottage Brownies, now has nearly 5000 followers. Turnover has risen to £120,000, a third of which Jenkins estimates has been directly due to Twitter.
She said: “It is not just that people are buying my brownies, they are also supporting me and doing PR for me because they are talking about my brownies. Twitter is like the biggest word of mouth.”
So now you know how to start a business with no money. Success in business is not always about starting out with lots of money. It is about adopting the right attitude, thinking your way around problems, and having the determination to put the effort in and give it your best shot. So now you know how to start a business with no money – what are you waiting for?
Download our free set-up your-business checklist to start moving forward with your business today.
Image: Dog walker via shutterstock