The Ultimate Guide to Starting an Online Business with No Money

A woman knitting. Smaller pictures show a woman posting on her e-commerce store. The text reads; the ultimate guide to starting an online business with no money.
Table of Contents


    Are you thinking of transitioning from your job to a small business or are you looking for a way to start an online business with no money? If any of the options are correct, you are on the right track. This article will guide you on how to start a business without money!

    While it is easy to start an online business from home, knowing how to go about it is necessary. With this in view, let’s see a detailed guide on how to start a business with no money.

    Key Takeaways

    • There are certain businesses you can start without having capital. You need to conduct market research on niche industries that you can enter with little to no capital.
    • Having a social media presence is very important if you want to succeed in your small business.
    • Keep your small business scalable. Allow it to grow and generate more income.

    Here is a step-by-step guide you should follow when starting a business with no funds:

    • Research 
    • Choose a great business idea
    • Have a business plan
    • Choose your business name
    • Create a website or portfolio for free
    • Pre-launch your business
    • Search for funding


    The first thing to do when starting a business is to carry out proper research on the different niche markets and their customers. Many businesses fail because they don’t understand their niche. If you want to succeed in a new business, you must understand how it works. Speak to other entrepreneurs and form relationships. 

    Another thing to research is free small business scaling and automation tools. When starting your business, you will need to use a lot of online tools to build and scale it. You will need marketing, customer relationship management, and social media tools. You might not need to pay for this. Knowledge is power and the internet holds what you need.

    Choose a great business idea

    After you’ve done the research, it’s time to choose the right idea that fits your skills and strengths. Here are some creative online business models you could start with no money:

    • Sell your services
    • Sell handcrafts
    • Become a social media influencer
    • Dropshipping
    • Sell digital products
    • Print on demand

    Sell your services

    This is the easiest way to start an online business without money. Even without the necessary skills, you can start a service business. Some service businesses you can offer include:

    • Virtual Assistant
    • Freelance writing
    • Social media manager

    Other service-based businesses you can consider include:

    • Dog walking
    • Personal shopping
    • Cleaning

    Many people will pay others to help them with each of these services. So do not feel ashamed to start any of these businesses.

    Sell handicrafts

    Do you have handcrafted skills? Then, turn your hobby into a side hustle by selling your handcrafted goods on an online store like Etsy. Some of these handcrafts can include:

    • Jewelry
    • Skincare 
    • Artwork
    • Pottery
    • Woodworking projects

    Become a social media influencer

    For the past few years, social media influencers have become very popular. There are a lot of people making money through social media now than ever. To become an influencer, you need to be patient, have knowledge of social media, and have interesting content that others will find appealing. 

    Start your influencing journey by building a social media presence on platforms like TikTok or Twitter. As you gain the love and trust of your followers, here are some opportunities to go for when using social media:

    • Affiliate Marketing: You can join the affiliate programs of your favorite brands (if any) and earn commissions from advertising their products to your followers.
    • Sell Merchandise: Another way to make money is by selling your merchandise to followers. These will include your brand name or any catchphrase associated with your brand. Your followers might pay for it.


    This is a popular business for people who want to start an online business without capital. Dropshipping involves creating an e-commerce store and choosing an order fulfillment company like AliExpress, Amazon, and Shopify to help you package and ship products in the shop. When customers order goods, the information is sent to the order fulfillment company. They will help to package and ship the order for you.

    The best thing about dropshipping is that you don’t need money to start it. You also do not need to buy an inventory or store goods in an expensive warehouse. Your vendors will charge you for your products after you sell them.

    Sell Digital Products

    Another business that will cost you little to no money to start is selling digital products. Digital products are things you create and sell online. It could be an eBook or online course or worksheets. You can start selling the products by carrying out some research on what problems people are facing in a particular niche, then create a digital product that meets that need.

    One of the advantages of selling digital products is that you can scale the business. You can start small and as your digital product becomes popular, you can create more and sell to people.

    Print on Demand

    The market for print-on-demand is worth about $38 billion. This opportunity is too good to miss, so now is the best time to start a print-on-demand business. Even with little capital, you can succeed in this business.

    Print-on-demand involves labeling products such as t-shirts, tote bags, and caps and selling them on an order basis. Some suppliers like Printiful can assist you in printing the designs, packaging, and shipping your order to customers. They will charge you after the customer pays you.

    Like dropshipping, you won’t spend much on this business model. You will only pay for inventory after a customer pays. There are also no storage charges in this business.

    Have a business plan

    A business plan is a framework of your vision and goals for your business. Typically, a business plan must include:

    1. Your business description: This is an overview of the type of firm you are about to begin. It will include the business model and possibly, the legal structure.
    2. Market research: You need to know who your target market is. Will you offer your services directly to the customer or will it be via middlemen? Do you have competitors? How well are they faring in the niche market?
    3. Your product or services: You need to highlight what business idea you are going for and what it involves. If you are planning on becoming a freelance writer, explain what the service is about and why people need you.
    4. Marketing strategy: How will you market your business to customers? Will you use social media, email marketing, or paid ads? 
    5. Financial plan: How do you intend to spend and make money? Ensure that you include your financial needs and costs.

    The founder of Failory advises that a business plan should come after your business idea is validated. So whenever you decide to write your plan, make sure you understand what the online business you wish to offer is about.

    Choose your business name

    The next thing you should do is choose a business name. Remember, the name you choose must not already be taken. In most countries, no two businesses are allowed to bear the same name. Choose a name that is catchy and recognizable.

    Create a website or portfolio for free

    Your next step is to create a website or online portfolio. At an early stage, you might not need to spend to achieve this. There are free website builders you can use to do so. Your website is a virtual home for your small business. You use it to educate prospects about your products or services.

    When creating your website, there are certain factors you need to keep in mind. This will improve the quality of your website and your visitor’s experience. Some of these include:

    • User-friendliness: You need the website to have a simple interface that your visitors can navigate with ease
    • Speed: Your website must be fast loading, otherwise visitors will get tired and leave your site.
    • Secured: Ensure that your site has an SSL certificate and other security measures to protect it from fraudulent activities.

    Create Search Engine Optimized Content

    If you want to bring traffic to your website, improve your SEO efforts so that your site can rank higher on Google’s search result pages. Since you are not spending much, you can adopt some free SEO practices when creating your website to achieve this. Conduct keyword research and use quality keywords throughout your website.

    Have a Social Media Presence

    The best place to market yourself for free is social media. Many small businesses are benefitting from using social media in their marketing practices today. With so many social media platforms to choose from, it is wise to choose the one that suits your business model best. 

    Each platform comes with its functions and the way users react or engage businesses are different. For instance, TikTok and Instagram are mostly used by Gen Z and millennial buyers. Twitter is known for controversial opinions. LinkedIn is known for professionalism and B2B companies. Therefore, you need different marketing strategies for each platform.

    Another thing you should take note of when marketing on social media is the hassle of creating accounts on multiple platforms. So if possible, focus on two platforms at a time and expand your social platform when necessary.

    Pre-Launch Your Business

    Starting a business without capital comes with risk. Sometimes, you can immediately start earning a lot of money. Other times, you might not achieve what you want. You can mitigate any risk when you test your business ideas with a pre-launch or pre-order.

    Pre-launching involves taking money for products you haven’t released yet to the public. For instance, if you want to start selling digital products like an online course, you can create a sales landing page and ask people interested to pay some amount to register their name for the classes. This method can provide cash for you to build hype and improve the services. People like to try new things before others so make them feel like they are trying something refreshing and worthwhile.

    Search for funding

    Even though you want to start your online business with no money, you are likely going to spend a lot of time and effort on the business. Also, at a point when you decide to scale, you will need money. 

    Research by CB Insights revealed that 29% of small businesses fail because they run out of capital. To avoid this situation, it is wise to have a fallback plan on how to get capital when the time comes. 

    There are several ways to get funding. Here are some of them:

    1. Friends and Family: Your immediate source for funding comes from your family and friends. You can ask them to assist you when you are in need. 
    2. Crowdfunding: This is when you ask regular people to contribute to your business. Those who contribute get access to exclusive offers and gifts. You can use crowdfunding platforms like CrowdFunder and Kickstarter for this.
    3. Small business loans: Several lenders can assist you with loans. Note that this should be a funding option when you are making enough profits. Also, before approving your loan, some lenders will ask you for proof of income.
    4. Grants: These are huge amounts of money given to business owners. Most of them do not need you to repay them, however, there are several criteria you must meet before you receive money.


    “You can start an online business with no money.”

    If this guide has taught you anything, it is that you don’t need to have money before you start a business. There are several examples of business owners who built their brands from scratch without funding. Having a great idea, excellent skills to succeed, commitment, and hard work will push you to success. Also, remember to take your business branding and marketing your business very important. The more people know about your business, the more likely you are to start making a profit from it.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    What online business can I start with no money?

    There are several online businesses you can start with no money. One of them is freelancing. You can start your freelance career on any freelancing marketplace without cost. You can monetize any skill you have as a freelancer.

    How much does it cost to start an online business?

    Some small business owners might spend a lot in their first year. However, there are certain business models you can start with without no money or little income. Some of them are dropshipping, selling digital products, and becoming a social media influencer.