Entrepreneurs have many options for starting a business, thanks to the internet and niche market opportunities. Many of these businesses are low-cost or completely free to launch.
From drop shipping to producing handmade goods, here are some ideas worth considering if you want to start a business with no money—or with as little money as possible.
Drop shipping came on the scene thanks to the rise of Amazon. It involves buying products from a business and storing them for said company. Then, once a customer makes a purchase online, the drop shipping company ships the product directly to the customer.
For example, you could connect with a baby clothing company, stock their merchandise in your garage, and then ship it to customers when they make an order. U.S. e-commerce sales are on the rise, so there's a lot of opportunity for aspiring drop shippers.
In terms of affordable business ideas, if you produce handmade products, you could sell them on sites like Etsy, Amazon, and eBay. "You'd only need materials and skills," says Pauline Orr, a website developer and blogger at Pink Pursuits.
Orr recommends selling pet care products since pet companies are often recession-proof.
According to the American Pet Products Association, Americans spend $60 billion on their pets per year, so you can market your handmade pet products or "create an online pet boutique with drop shipped items," Orr suggests.
One way to start a business with no money is to blog or post on social media and then sell your audience products through affiliate marketing. Michael Miller, CEO of VPN Online, says, "If you're good at selling stuff, then this is for you."
All you do is sell items using a unique link, and then when your audience clicks on the link and purchases the items, you get a percentage of the sale. "With this business, all you need is time, effort, and the power to convince people," Miller says. "[There isn't much] required in terms of money."
Another affordable business idea is to tap into your own skills and see if you can profit from them through a service-based business.
For instance, if you're a web designer, you could build websites, if you're a writer, you could create content, and if you're a photographer, you could take people's headshots.
"These businesses are cheap to start because people are paying for your time and skills, which doesn't require upfront costs for product creation," says Blake Stockton, senior business analyst at FitSmallBusiness.
By investing in some supplies, you could go into business cleaning people's homes and businesses. You may even be able to use clients' supplies, suggests Brenton Harris, owner of DIYCleaning.co.
According to Harris, you could start a commercial cleaning business for as little as $500 to $1,000.
"The franchise route isn't the only way," Harris says. "It's a particularly good time for a cleaning business since cleanliness and sanitation are in the spotlight. A cleaning business is an essential business right now."
Another alternative is to sell books, just like Jeff Bezos did when he was starting Amazon. If you don't read your books anymore, then list them on eBay, Craigslist, Amazon, and Facebook Marketplace.
"You don't need a lot of money to begin," says Sonya Schwartz, founder at Her Norm. "Just use whatever books you have as your startup capital."
Funding your business
While it's possible to start a business with no money, having some funding will help you get things up and running even faster.
You could save money from your regular job, take out small business loans from the government, or crowdfund by asking friends and family for help—and even strangers through online crowdfunding platforms.
Find out more about Starting a Business