How to Start a Business with No Money
Many of FC Insiders currently considering or already embarked on a journey of building a business. “How to start a business with no money” is part of a series of articles, videos, and programs we are publishing to help FC Insiders and other members of FC community whether current challenging times and create financial stability and, ultimately, financial freedom, for themselves and their families.
FIRMSconsulting.com is over 10 years old. During that time we expanded to more advanced platforms including StrategyTraining.com, Strategy Training Roku, Apple TV, iOS, and Android apps. We are also running two of the world’s largest podcast channels for critical thinking, problem-solving and strategy, Strategy Skills iTunes channel, and Case Interviews and Management Consulting iTunes channel. We also run a successful book publishing business (see links to our books at the bottom of the page).
Further, we are working on other businesses as part of our private equity arm, including an electric car start-up, a cosmetics start-up, a luxury brand business, and a gold mining business. We also helped many clients build profitable online businesses or even departments within large companies. Some of these success stories are documented in detail on StrategyTraining.com/apps. So we have a lot of experience of starting and running a business and, therefore, it makes sense for us to share this knowledge with our community.
The mindset you need
We all have the power to not be poor. Everybody can say “I don’t have money, I can’t afford it.” It’s easier than trying to figure out how to make it happen. Most people want a paycheck, a pension, a secure job. But this mindset, “I can’t afford it” keeps them poor.
I do not let myself have a mindset that I can’t afford something. And I discourage people around me from having that mindset. Yes, I choose not to buy some things. But I know, if I wanted to buy them, I would figure out how to buy them.
I remember reading as a young adult somewhere that you should carry a 100$ bill in your wallet but not spend it, and every time you see something you want, to know that you have the money to buy it. Well, now I think you need to make that amount 10,000$ and you don’t need to keep it in cash, it’s ok if it is in your bank account, to get the same effect but I think it is a good exercise. It teaches you a mindset that you can afford many things. It creates this sense of abundance that is crucial to be a successful entrepreneur and business person.
I am sure you noticed when you are desperate people sense it. When someone else is desperate, you can tell. It is rare when someone wants to work with desperate people. Companies generally do not hire desperate people. Clients generally do not hire desperate people. You don’t want to look like Jimmy from “Better Call Saul.” You want to look, feel, behave like a winner.
So this is my tip on mindset but let’s now talk about how to start a business with no money.
7 ways to start a business with no money
How to Start a Business with No Money, Option 1: one on one consultations
You probably have some skills that other individuals or businesses desperately need. Maybe you are good at financial modeling, market analysis, sales, presenting, video editing, graphic design, book editing, social media marketing. Even if your skill level is average or just above average, it is probably still much higher than that of most people. So, in other words, you can add value. As long as you can add more value than what people will pay you, most people will be interested to work with you.
You can start with one on one consultations. It allows you to work with your customers, understand better what customers need and want. What are their biggest problems and pain points that they need help with. It is a combination of an opportunity to start making some money, and at the same time completing much-needed market research that will help you understand your target market and grow your business.
Reach out to potential clients. Now, during a lockdown, this is even easier. You can do everything over the phone or via Zoom or Skype or What’s Up. If customers want to meet in person, offer to meet in a coffee shop or meet in their offices. Don’t spend money on an office. Use the money you start generating on marketing and growing your business.
How to Start a Business with No Money, Option 2: start building an online presence
We live in a time when you can start building an online presence without investing any money. Start building out your Linked in profile and profile for your company, Facebook page and groups, Instagram page, create a free WordPress website and a youtube channel. None of those options require any monetary investment upfront. You can start them with zero investment and start building an audience, and your reputation, your brand.
Offer to do guest posts on other websites to get your name out there. Reach out to sites that serve a similar target market and offer to create great, relevant content for their audiences content in exchange for sharing your contact information or a link to your email list sign up page at the bottom of the post, or somewhere in the post.
And, as I always say, start building your email list early. This is crucial for any business you are considering to start. Some services like Mailchimp offer to start collecting emails for free. So take advantage of it!
You can also start connecting with reporters, connecting with media. If a reporter covers your industry they need experts. The reporter is not an expert, they need experts. Reveal your expertise and build the relationship.
How to Start a Business with No Money, Option 3: affiliate marketing
You can also start a business without providing any product or service, but instead marketing someone else’s. Many companies are interested in working with affiliate marketers. You can generate very good commissions and will not be responsible for delivering the product or service, or for customer support.
The simple step to try out affiliate marketing and to start generating some revenue is to start by being an Amazon Associate. It is free. Every time someone purchases something from a link from you they do not pay more for the product on Amazon.com but you get a small commission.
How to Start a Business with No Money, Option 4: network and build alliances
Network and build alliances with other people in your niche. Find people who are already selling to your target market and see how you can help them and how you can collaborate. Yes, many people will not get back to you but some of them will agree to speak with you, and a few of those will agree to collaborate with you.
For example, if you want to start from offering business coaching services you may get referrals from business coaches who can’t take on additional clients at this time. And you can agree that you will pay a referral fee, a commission from each payment you receive from a person they referred to you. Let’s say 15%, or even 50%. See what works for you and attractive enough for the other party.
You may think, “But who would want to lose clients?” The truth is, when you sell your time there are only so many hours in the day. So this is a common problem for successful coaches and teachers. For example, we offer one on one coaching on FIRMSconsulting.com but we can only accept a small portion of applicants. If we had an arrangement with a company who we knew would provide very high-quality training and who would offer us sufficient commission, and whom we would trust to service our clients, I am sure we would consider working with such a company. Obviously, informing our applicants that this service option is from a separate company that we are partnering with.
You can also offer a complimentary service to what a potential partner already offers but the service that potential partner is not interested in providing, and again offer a commission payment for all revenue from clients they refer. The key is to make sure you focus on how they can benefit. For example, let’s say you are an interior designer. You can partner with home renovation contractors that for any interior design business they send your way you will pay them 30% commission from any revenue you generate from referred clients.
If you are approaching people who have audiences, like medium size YouTubers and bloggers, be a part of their community first. Do things that support their business. Comment, like their videos, support their books with reviews, support their iTunes channels, support them on forums. Contribute first. Help them first. Then approach the owner of the business. If you offer value first they will be more inclined to pay attention.
How to Start a Business with No Money, Option 5: presell
It never was easier to presell. You can use something like Kickstarter. Launch a campaign. Make a beautiful video around it.
If you already have an audience, you can presell to your audience. Offer an incentive why they should buy now and not after the product/service launches.
For example, offer to purchase a course with you, and say that for those who buy during the presell phase they will have an opportunity to get their specific question answered in a course and have a 30 minutes free consultation with you. In other words, the course will be designed in a way that includes addressing a particular pain point this customer has and they will get one on one coaching from you. Make it clear that these perks will not be available once the presell phase ends.
How to Start a Business with No Money, Option 6: barter
You can start your business with no money by agreeing with various businesses or individuals what you can do for them for free in exchange for something you need from them. Let’s say your business requires a physical location because you need to meet with clients. You can approach a business that can allocate to you a small portion of their office space in exchange for something of equal or greater value that you can help them with.
For example, let’s say you can agree to do all their bookkeeping work for them, provided you are qualified, of course, during the period while you are getting office space for free. And ideally, you want to find something you can do for them that does not require a lot of your time. For example, if you have a large podcast channel you can agree that in exchange you will include an ad for their business in your podcasts for the duration of your arrangement. This way you record this ad one time and just insert it in each episode.
When you are approaching business owners keep this in mind. There are 2 things most business owners care a lot about. One is saving time and money. In other words, can you do for them what they are currently doing themselves or paying someone to do? And two, can you help them bring in more business.
How to Start a Business with No Money, Option 7: use online marketplaces to start generating revenue
Lastly, you can use freelance sites like upwork.com, fiverr.com, and reedsy.com to offer your service and start generating revenue. For example, let’s say you have a very strong knowledge of the English language and you have prior book editing experience at a large publishing house, you can start working as an editor on Upwork.com and Reedsy.com. Those platforms will help you find clients easier and faster, while you will be paying a commission to them for using their platform to find work.
There are a lot of benefits of using those platforms beyond access to clients. Those platforms generally use standardized contracts so you don’t have to deal with paperwork. Those platforms also generally protect you from non-payments because the client pays the platform before you start the work and then once you deliver the work the payment is made to your bank account. And clients also feel more comfortable and less stressed, because they trust that the platform will protect them in case a freelancer does not deliver what they promised.
And, once you start generating freelance revenue you can start investing in your business.
Final thoughts on mindset
All right, well this brings us to the end of this list of 7 ways to start a business with no money. I hope that you heard an idea on this list that you found particularly interesting.
Let me conclude with final thoughts on mindset, because it is so important.
Even if you have zero dollars in your bank account at this very moment, you can find a way to generate revenue to help you grow your business. Do what you can with what you have instead of focusing on what you don’t have. The ideas above work. Try them to get things moving. Start making progress, start generating revenue.
Let me end with one of my favorite quotes.
“Do something instead of killing time. Because time is killing you.” ―
In other words, time will pass whether you do something with it or not. Your life is going fast. If you always wanted to start your own business, start today. There never going to be a perfect time. Now is all you have for sure.
Articles you may find helpful:
If you want to see samples of our advanced training materials go to FIRMSconsulting.com/promo and sign up for free to receive sample materials.
Succeeding as a Management Consultant
When people think about the business strategy we often think about the field of strategy consulting/management consulting and firms like McKinsey, BCG, et al. If you are interested in learning how to conduct a management consulting engagement, you will likely enjoy this book. Succeeding as a Management Consultant is a book set in the Brazilian interior. This book follows an engagement team as they assist Goldy, a large Brazilian gold miner, in diagnosing and fixing deep and persistent organizational issues. This book follows an engagement team over an 8-week assignment and explains how they successfully navigate a challenging client environment, develop hypotheses, build the analyses, and provide the final recommendations. It is written so the reader may understand, follow, and replicate the process. It is the only book laying out a consulting assignment step-by-step. A great book if you want to enhance your presentation skills.
Marketing Saves the World, Bill Matassoni’s Memoir
Bill Matassoni’s (Ex-McKinsey and Ex-BCG Senior Partner) Marketing Saves The World is a truly unique book. Never before has a McKinsey partner published his memoir publicly. This book is a rare opportunity – a true exclusive – to see what shapes the thought process of a partner and learn about marketing and strategy. The memoir essentially lays out McKinsey’s competitive advantage and explains how it can be neutralized. A great book if you want to enhance your presentation skills and communication skills.
Turquoise Eyes started off the groundbreaking new genre developed by FIRMSconsulting that combines compelling narrative while teaching problem solving and critical thinking skills. Set after a bank begins implementing a new retail banking strategy, we follow Teresa García Ramírez de Arroyo, a director-general in the Mexican government, who has received some disturbing news. A whistleblower has emailed Teresa with troubling news about a mistake in the loan default calculations and reserve ratios. The numbers do not add up. The book loosely uses the logic and financial analyses in A Typical McKinsey Engagement, >270 videos.
WHAT IS NEXT? Sign up for our email updates on FIRMSconsulting.com/promo. This way you will not miss exclusive free training episodes and updates which we only share with the Firmsconsulting community. And if you have any questions about our membership training programs (StrategyTV.com/Apps & StrategyTraining.com/Apps) do not hesitate to reach out to us at support @ firmsconsulting.com. You can also get access to selected episodes when you sign-up for our newsletter above. Continue developing your strategy skills.
PODCASTS: If you enjoy our podcasts, we will appreciate if you visit our Case Interviews podcast or Strategy Skills podcast on iTunes and leave a quick review. It helps more people find us.
COME HANG OUT WITH US: Youtube / Facebook / Twitter / LinkedIn / Instagram
ENGAGE ON FC FACEBOOK AND LINKEDIN GROUPS: Strategy Skills (FB) / Case Interviews (FB) / Strategy Skills (LinkedIn) / Consulting Case Interviews (LinkedIn)
WANT TO LEARN FROM FORMER STRATEGY PARTNERS? BECOME A PREMIUM MEMBER
Some links above are affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.