How to Start a Small Business When You Have Virtually No Money

starting a business with no money
Antonio Martin Sotelo / Getty Images

In a perfect world, we would all have unlimited capital to fund our dream businesses, never having to worry about money. That is not reality. Most of us have to be a little creative when it comes to finding the money needed to start a business. The good news is that it's possible to start a small business with very little financial investment. But before you read any further, take a minute to make sure you qualify your business idea to confirm that it's worthy of your time and attention.

If you are confident that there is a need for your business, that your products and services appeal to the right market and you already have a unique selling proposition that sets you apart from the competition, then read on for ways to cut costs when starting a business.

Embrace the Concept of Bootstrapping 

Bootstrapping is when you start a business using limited resources, learning how to cut the right corners so you can essentially  use little to no money to start a business. There are ways to bootstrap the start-up process, marketing and even the way you run your business on an ongoing basis. The key is using word of mouth marketing and active networking to get the word out about your business in a grassroots way. 

Get Creative with Funding Options 

You don't have to have all of your start-up capital in one pocket, nor do you have to fund your business with only one source of money. Some possible funding sources may include:

Consider all of the options available to you, then mix and match to find the combination that provides the terms you need.

Team Up

What you can't do on your own, you may be able to do with a little help.

You can go the formal route and turn your business into a partnership. Partnering up has the potential to double not only the financial investment available for the business, but it can also spread out the work (and the risk) so it's not all on you. If a partnership isn't exactly what you have in mind, you can bring in outside support through or service swap arrangements. Make sure you have a contract or agreement in place in either of these situations to protect yourself and your business. 

Keep Your Day Job 

Starting a business does not have to be an all or nothing situation. Some of the best businesses are started as moonlighting gigs while having the benefit of a full-time income. Think about it. Starting your business on a part-time basis while keeping a full-time job gives you some perks that can make a huge difference because you maintain financial stability, and you can test out the waters of business ownership before you are locked in.

Just be careful not to muddy the waters. Keep all of your business activity for when you are off the clock, and be ready to acknowledge when it's time to take the plunge and make your business a full-time endeavor. 

Remember that money is only one type of investment you can make when starting a business.

The other is time. Both are valuable. So even though you may be able to get by with little financial investment, you will probably need some serious sweat equity and a massive time investment to make it happen. Does it make sense? If so, go for it.