When starting a business, finding an idea is half the battle. The other half is funding it.

If you have a great business idea but you don’t have startup capital, it doesn’t mean your path to entrepreneurship is over. There are plenty of ways to start a business with little or no money.

Ahead, learn how to bootstrap your business with minimal cash. The goal? To start making money you can reinvest later on. From validating your idea to earning your first dollar, here’s how to start a business with no money.

8 steps to starting a business with no money

  1. Choose a free business idea
  2. Write a business plan
  3. Embrace the entrepreneur community
  4. Choose a business name
  5. Create a brand
  6. Launch a website
  7. Validate ideas with preorders
  8. Source funding to grow

1. Choose a free business idea

The first stage of starting a new business is developing an idea. If you’re ready to become a business owner but don’t have any personal savings or other funding sources, here are six creative business ideas you can start with no money.

Try dropshipping

A woman sits amid a pile of boxesDropshipping is a popular business model for entrepreneurs looking to start a small business with no money. This is a low-investment startup idea that doesn’t require you to hold inventory to sell products. Vendors will only charge you for inventory when you sell it—and they’ll even ship it directly to your customers.

“As a master’s degree student, I didn’t have much disposable income, so I decided to learn how to dropship,” says Zaid Shahatit, founder of Fighthaus, a workout apparel and equipment store.

To find success with dropshipping, start by sourcing trending products from a dropshipping supplier, then market them to potential customers using organic marketing tactics, like search engine optimization (SEO).

📚 Read more: The Best Dropshipping Suppliers

Start a service-based business

A pair of hands wearing cleaning rubber gloves and holding a rag and spray bottleThe easiest way to start a business with no money is to sell your services. Even if you haven’t mastered a specific skill, start by identifying the things you know how to do better than most people.

“Since you don’t have the capital yet, start with the things that you have, like your experience, knowledge, skills, and resources you own,” says Kei Nishida, owner of Japanese Green Tea Co.

Package your skills and resources into a service business, such as:

Start a print-on-demand business

A person sorts a pile of printed photographsIf you don’t have cash to invest in inventory, try a print-on-demand business.

Print-on-demand services will apply your branding and designs to private label products, such as tote bags or t-shirts, and sell them on a per-order basis.

“We ​​started with a print-on-demand service, bringing initial operational investment to $0. Essentially, we were just a website to start off with—to validate the idea,” says Katheriin Liibert, co-founder of European clothing brand#muhoov.

Much like dropshipping, there are minimal costs associated with starting a print-on-demand business. There are no storage expenses to contend with, and you can test out the popularity of products before investing in other forms of manufacturing.

📚 Find the best: Print-on-Demand Companies and Sites

Sell handcrafted goods

People make textile crafts on wooden loomsPrefer a more hands-on approach to starting a small business? Turn your hobby into a side hustle by selling handcrafted goods through your online store and marketplaces like Etsy.

Things to make and sell can include:

Harry Doull, co-founder of Keap Candles, used crowdfunding to start his subscription-based candle business whilst working a full-time job. Keap quickly grew into a well-known brand, allowing Harry and his business partner to focus entirely on their hobby-turned-business.

A product page by Keap candles, promoting the brand's Wood Cabin candle scent.
Keap Candles began as a crowdfunding campaign, sourcing investment from a large group of followers, many of whom became customers. Keap

A business you start with no money doesn’t have to stay small. Reinvest your earnings into your business and watch it grow. “Most of our profits have been reinvested in inventory and in advertising. We’re trying to grow at a healthy pace so that we don’t have to rely on outside investments,” says Francois Mathieu, co-founder of Hojicha Co.

Sell digital products

A person reads an ebook in front of a wood pileYou can create and sell digital products with little more than an internet connection, making them a solid way to start an online business with no money.

Start with a popular topic, develop some helpful content, then package your ideas into a digital product, such as:

The beauty of digital products is their scalability. Create a product once, then sell it multiple times on Shopify using the Digital Downloads app. It’s no wonder so many entrepreneurs use digital products as a way of making passive income.

Become a social media influencer

A woman does her makeup in front of a mirror in a professional studio

To become an influencer, start by building your social media presence on a popular platform, such as Instagram or TikTok. Once you’ve built an account with a few thousand followers, explore these opportunities to make money with no upfront investment:

  • Affiliate marketing. Promote products from your favorite brands and earn a percentage commission when your followers buy it.
  • Sponsored content. Get paid to partner with brands who want access to your audience.
  • Selling merchandise. Add your brand name, logo, or catchphrase to merchandise and sell it in your social media store.

Creator Emma Chamberlain started posting videos on YouTube in 2017, and has since built a huge following. She launched her first direct-to-consumer business, Chamberlain Coffee, to monetize her internet fame just two years later.

An About Me section on Chamberlain Coffee's website
Creator Emma Chamberlain built an audience on social media before launching her own online business. Chamberlain Coffee

2. Write a business plan

A business plan is the blueprint for how you’ll grow your business. The contents of your plan will be unique to your business, but should generally include the following:

  • Company description. An overview of the company you’re about to start, including the business model and legal structure.
  • Business model. Decide if your business will be an LLC, C corp, S corp, B corp, or sole proprietorship.
  • Market research. Include demographics that your target market shares. For example, will you sell directly to the consumer or via wholesalers? How does this compare to competitors?
  • Products and services offered. You’ll make money by selling one of these. Explain what the product or service is and why people will buy it.
  • Marketing strategy. Explain how you will promote your business to reach your target market, be that through social media, advertising, or email marketing.
  • Logistics and operations plan. How do you intend to get your product or service into the hands of your paying customers? This could be dropshipping suppliers, third-party logistics companies, or mailing items yourself.
  • Financial plan. Detail how you intend to make and spend money. Include your financial needs, costs and expenses, balance sheet, and cash flow projections.

3. Embrace the entrepreneur community

A group of people watch a panel of speakersMany entrepreneurs start their businesses with little more than pocket change. Finding a community of self-made business people can unlock valuable free advice on how to make you business work on a budget.

Find other entreprenuers by:

  • Attending networking events
  • Signing up for virtual and in-person conferences
  • Joining online networking groups
  • Finding a business mentor

4. Choose a business name

The next stage in starting a business is to choose a name. Your name should be catchy, recognizable, and most importantly, not already taken.

Remember: The name you choose will serve you through the business’s lifetime. Make sure it’s one you love—and a name that doesn’t limit your abaility to scale and pivot in the future.

Once you’ve found a business name you like, secure matching online assets such as:

  • A domain name. For example, BRAND.com
  • Social media handles. For example, facebook.com/BRAND

Business name generator

Use Shopify’s free tool to find a fitting name for your next business

Create a name

5. Create a brand

A person pulls a packaged product out of a shippng boxNow that you have a business name, you’re one step closer to building a brand.

However, a brand is more than a name or logo. Branding encompasses the following:

As a business owner, your brand guidelines will help inform your business strategy as you grow. A strong brand guides your social media marketing efforts, your hiring practices, and your communication style. You can create a brand with no money, using free resources like Shopify’s logo maker.

6. Launch a website

While it’s possible to run your business entirely on social media, a basic website serves as a destination for online visitors, and a hub for your products and content.

You can build a full website with professional features, such as themed product pages, a checkout, and a blog, for as little as $29 per month. Use it to educate potential customers about your products and brand.

If you want to sell online, but don’t need to build a full store, the Shopify Starter plan costs just $5 per month. It comes with enhanced selling features for TikTok, Instagram, and other social media platforms—as well as the ability to make sales through email, SMS, and in person.

📚 Read more: How To Start an Online Store

7. Validate ideas with preorders

If you don’t have the startup cash to fill a stockroom with inventory, you can run your business using a preorder model. Taking pre-orders allows you to collect upfront cash before signing-off on production. It’s also a great launch strategy for building hype around a new brand.

After having the idea for Natural Girl Wigs while working a full-time job, Remi Martins created an Instagram page to showcase the products she wanted to sell. “I got feedback that people are interested in the product and there was a market for wigs specially made for natural-hair lovers,” she says.

A section of a home page from a wig ecommerce site
Remi Martins tested her business idea with pre-orders before launching her ecommerce website. Natural Girl Wigs

Remi developed her product with a hair stylist and launched it through pre-orders. “We sold 50 products in the first 60 days of the business,” Remi says. “I eventually invested $1,000 in the business to purchase inventory and do marketing.”

8. Source funding to grow

Once you’ve validated your business idea and started making money, you can reinvest the profits. You may also decide to apply for small business loans, seek out angel investors, or run a crowdfunding campaign.

If your small businesses fails, the most likely reason will be cash flow issues. That’s why many entrepreneurs look for extra startup capital—money they can invest in inventory, marketing, or hiring their first employee.

Options to fund your new business venture include:

  • Shopify Captial. Shopify’s lending feature helps stores boost cash flow and keep bestsellers stocked.
  • Small business loans. Get larger amounts of money through a lender to go toward payroll, inventory funding, or marketing.
  • Capital investors. These come in the form of angel investors or venture capitalists. Both provide cash for small businesses in exchange for an equity stake.
  • Small business grants. These are one-off lump sums of money given to small businesses with specific criteria. Most small business grants don’t need to be paid back.

Alicia Ho started her photography business, Precious Ones Photography, with $0 after her hobby of taking photos of her children garnered attention. “Friends and family took notice of my work, and I began taking on clients and making a small amount of money,” says Alicia.

Website featuring a photo of a mom and baby
Interest for Alicia Ho’s photography prompted her to start a business. She eventually applied for a business loan to take her great idea to the next stage. Precious Ones Photography

When she was ready to scale, Alicia found a local non-profit organization that offered loans and scholarships for young entrepreneurs. “It was the best step forward for my business,” she says.

📚 Read more: How To Get a Small Business Loan (+ What To Know Before Applying)

You don’t need money to become a business owner

If this guide teaches you anything, let it be this: You don’t need upfront capital to start a business. Many entrepreneurs have created successful businesses from scratch—oftentimes with no outside funding. A great idea, commitment, and an entrepreneurial spirit will get you further than you think.

How to start a business with no money FAQ

What is the easiest business to start with no money?

Dropshipping is one of the easiest ways to start a business without money, since you only pay for inventory when a customer buys it. There are no warehousing fees or excessive product manufacturing costs. And, since it’s an online business, you can make money from home.

What business can I start without capital?

Print on demand is an online business idea you can start without capital. Create custom designs using free online graphic design software, and use a service like Printful to add it to merchandise. You’ll only pay for manufacturing costs when a customer orders the product. Other businesses to start with no upfront capital include social media marketing consulting, freelance writing, or starting a service business.

How much does it cost to start a business?

The cost to start a business varies greatly, depending on the type of business you choose. Some businesses require a lot of money upfront to pay for things like retail space, while others require only an internet connection. It is possible to start your own business with no money using business models like dropshipping, print on demand, and selling digital products.



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شركة النمر هي شركة متخصصة في تصميم وادارة المواقع الالكترونية والارشفة وكتابة المحتوى والتسويق الالكتروني وتقدم العديد من خدمات حلول المواقع الالكترونية والتطبيقات وهي شركة رسمية ومسجلة منذ عام 2015.

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