What Are the Best Businesses to Start with No Money?
If you want to scratch your entrepreneurial itch but you’re a bit lacking in the funds department, fear not – there are plenty of businesses you can set up with little to no spare cash. Read on for our suggestions on the best businesses to start with no money.
For many people, starting their own business could be a good way to make money on their own terms. But it can be difficult if there is no spare cash to get things going. But if you take a look at your current skill set – especially if you’re willing to expand it – the chances are, there is a business you can start with no money that really suits you.
Choosing an idea that requires little specialist equipment or training may help you to get your business off the ground without too much initial outlay.
All the suggestions here generally require little more than an internet connection and a bit of determination. Once you’ve settled on a business idea, you can build a website to promote it for free. Check out platforms, such as Wix, Weebly, and Google Sites, for starters.
When your business is a little more established, you may consider paying to upgrade to a more sophisticated website that offers more support and possibly enlist the help of a web designer.
Become a blogger
If you are looking for a business venture you can start from your living room, blogging could be your answer. However, it is important to remember that you are unlikely to make money from it straight away.
Blogging is essentially writing about a topic or a set of topics that interest you, presenting your thoughts to an audience on the internet. There is no limit to what you can write about – there are blogs on everything you could imagine, from food and football to parenting and politics, and everything in between.
Over a third of webpages on the internet are blogs, so you might face stiff competition even in a fairly niche interest area. Make sure you are offering something that people want to read – engaging, well-designed content is likely to attract more readers than a post that has been hastily thrown together.
To get started, you just need a laptop, an internet connection and a topic to write about.
You may wish to personalise your site and rent a specific domain name but if you’re just starting out, many blogging platforms offer free hosting and domain names so that you can get cracking straight away, no money required.
If your blog picks up enough interest, you can earn revenue on your website through display advertising – known as banner ads. You may also consider including affiliate links, where you earn commission for clicks through to a different website from your blog.
More established bloggers might even find that brands reach out to them to work on sponsored content, which means you would earn money as a social media influencer
But be sure to stick to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) guidelines when making any paid-for content, including affiliate links. You will need to make it clear when advertisers are paying you to sponsor a product. For more information, go to the ASA website.
Remember, it can take time to build up a following, and there is no guarantee that your blog will be able to generate an income – it is estimated that at least 90% of blogs do not earn their creators any money.
That said, blogging as a business does work for some people. Food blogger Becky Excell set up her blog, Gluten Free Cuppa Tea in 2013, prompted by her journey with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). She now pulls in around 1.75 million views each month. Off the back of the blog’s success, she has had paid partnerships with household names, such as Morrisons, The White Rabbit Pizza Company, Tefal, and many more. She also carries out cooking demonstrations and has even published two cookbooks.
If you have some writing skills and an interest you want to share with the world, blogging could be for you – just maybe don’t expect to become a blogging sensation overnight.
Set up a consultancy
If you have a lot of experience in a particular industry, you may be able to earn money advising others by becoming a consultant.
You need in-depth knowledge of a particular field, so you can advise businesses on how to improve the way they work and help them grow.
If your expertise lies in social media, you may be able to earn money advising brands on how to curate and manage their online presence. Or perhaps you have experience as a web designer – you could earn money as a freelancer helping people refresh their websites. The best part? You can get started with just a laptop and an internet connection.
To get your first clients, you may want to begin by reaching out to people from your previous jobs, or by creating a network of like-minded individuals on a platform such as LinkedIn.
Your local Chambers of Commerce can offer advice and support too. If you become a member, you may be able to access funding to grow your business.
As a consultant, you should consider taking out professional indemnity insurance. It’s not a legal requirement, but it can cover you financially if your client suffers a loss of some kind because of your advice.
Tutor, teach or train
Do you have a skill you could teach to others? Perhaps you can play a musical instrument or speak another language? You can put these skills to use earning some money teaching or tutoring.
You can advertise in your local area if you want to do face-to-face tutoring. Putting posters up where you live or posting on your social media profiles can be a free and easy way to get your name out there and pick up some new clients.
Another option is tutoring online – again, all you need is a laptop and a good internet connection.
Online tutoring on platforms, such as Superprof and MyTutor, let you attract students from across the country and even around the world, giving you plenty of room for growth. What is more, you can work at times that suit you, making this a flexible option often popular with students.
Some online tutoring platforms will take a fee or commission from you for providing an online workspace and for advertising your profile to potential clients, so you should weigh up whether this is the most suitable option for your needs.
Help with people’s pets
Like working with animals? You may want to consider some sort of pet care as a potential business plan.
If you like to get out and about, you could offer to walk people’s dogs to earn some extra cash. Putting up posters in your local area, posting online on neighbourhood websites, such as Nextdoor, or using a specialist website, such as Rover that matches dog walkers with dog owners, could be your first step towards a thriving dog-walking business.
Pet sitting is also a popular choice if you want to make some money caring for animals. Sites, such as Pawshake and Pet Sitting Angels, match you up with pet owners who need someone to look after their pet while they are away.
What is more, if you have a good working knowledge of pet breeds and how to care for them, you could set up a pet grooming business.
You do not need a licence or specific training to start work as a pet groomer. However, you may find that having professional grooming qualifications can increase customer trust and attract more clients, helping you grow your business in the future.
Remember that if you’re working with other people’s pets, you will need some form of business pet insurance. Public liability insurance, for example, could cover you in the event of a business-related accident involving a client or their furry friend.
Some websites may cover your insurance as part of their membership fee, but it is worth checking – this will not cover everything. You should consider looking into business pet insurance yourself.
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Got green fingers?
Many of us have big plans for our gardens but do not have the time or expertise to see them through – and that’s where you could come in.
If you’re green-fingered, you might want to put your horticultural skills to good use and set up a gardening business.
You do not need any professional qualifications to work as a gardener, but having these might help you stand out from the crowd.
Again, you may need to consider taking out insurance if you want to set up a gardening business. As you’ll be travelling between clients, you will probably need to insure your car for business use.
You should bear in mind that gardening work can be seasonal, and you are likely to get more work in the summer months than through the winter. You are also at the mercy of the elements, so bad weather could affect your work.
That said, if you have the tools and the knowhow to make a garden flourish, this could be the perfect business venture for you.
Setting up as a sole trader
Whatever business idea you decide to embark on, it is likely that you’ll start out as a sole trader. Being a sole trader means that you:
- have full responsibility for your business endeavour
- need to register for self-assessment (if you make a profit of more than £1,000 a year)
- get to keep all of your business’s profits, after tax
Even if you consult as a freelancer and you do it on your own, you’ll be considered a sole trader.
Later on, you might explore registering your business as a limited company instead, as well as separating your finances from those of your business by setting up a separate business bank account. These can come with monthly fees or additional charges, but are useful for keeping your business’s cash flow separate from your own as well as giving your start-up a more professional vibe.
There are important differences between a sole trader and a limited company. You should be aware of your legal and tax obligations when deciding how to structure your new business, as these might be different to what you are used to.
Image source: Getty Images
Kristina is a writer at NerdWallet. A recent graduate trading French for finance, she has experience creating content for student newspaper Cherwell and an edtech company. Read more