I started my internet publishing business in 2008 with minus money, literally.
I barely knew nothing at all about blogging or that it was even a word lol, but I somehow put up websites and monetized them. Even when I had our first year of earning more than $50,000, I was still creating all of the content myself.
The last few years have been more challenging but for personal reasons. Family stuff but that doesn’t change the fact that starting and running a successful business does not have to cost very much, require big loans or anything like that.
The family stuff is another story, this story is about how to start a business for nothing, so let me go back to the beginning.
I already had an old computer and a tediously slow internet connection. I contacted a local web designer to begin creating a site for me. I really didn’t have to do that I now know but I didn’t then and it turned out to be a HUGE mistake. Don’t make the mistake of hiring someone to do something you really really can do for yourself if you put your mind to it.
After several months, we had made about $800, enough to buy a laptop and upgrade to cable internet. By the end of our first year, I had made an additional $45,000 for my family.
You really can start with nothing.
True. You may have zero cash, and some businesses might require a few hundred dollars to start. But I’ll bet you can borrow that much from someone, use a credit card or sell a few of your things.
Here are 101 ways to start and grow your business for less than $100.
Once you have the minimal startup capital you need, use this bootstrapping formula to build your business:
- Choose a business according to skills and tools you have or can easily obtain.
- Identify and implement one or more low-cost ways to generate revenue.
- Use the revenue for whatever you need to grow the business.
- Repeat steps two and three over and over to grow the business.
Even if you have the resources to fund a larger startup, starting small has advantages. The biggest one is you can fail several times and keep trying until you succeed.
If you invest your life savings, failure can do some serious financial damage.
Starting a Business When You Don’t Have a Lot of Money
Did you know billionaire David Green started Hobby Lobby with $600?
Sunday Steinkirchner started her rare book company with just $1.
Ryan Smith started making and selling “Bitchin’ Sauce” with just $200. In time, he and his cofounders got the sauce on shelves at Whole Foods and other stores.
The Fuzz Band started with $10 for fliers to promote their first performance. They reached annual revenues of $250,000 in 2008 under the business name “Peach Fuzz Entertainment” by focusing on doing gigs for private and corporate clients.
Laurie Davis used her Twitter account and $50 to start eFlirt. Her dating site has since been written up in the “New York Times” and profiled on “Good Morning America.”
William Feller borrowed a lawn mower to start his lawn care business, for a startup cost of $0. He eventually made more than $15,000 in monthly revenue.
Carrie H. Johnson was recently separated and living in low-income housing when she started a cleaning business with friends. She built it into a multi-million-dollar company.
Matt Shoup went door-to-door building his painting business. His $100 startup grew to $2.5 million in annual revenue.
Toby Woodward says he started his 25-year-old flooring business “with $50 and a box of business cards.” How do you start with that little? Just install floors until you have the revenue to buy inventory.
The list could go on.
Online businesses are perhaps some of the easiest to start for close to nothing, but the examples above show the variety of potential low-cost startups out there.
Here are some more businesses you could start with just the cash in your pocket:
- Window cleaning
- Headstone cleaning
- Pop-up bartending
- Boat cleaning
- Auto detailing
- Resume writing
You could add another hundred businesses to this list if you approach them the right way. Work the formula, starting with the first step: Choose a business according to skills and tools you have or can easily obtain.
In other words, use what you have, what you can borrow and maybe what you can put on a credit card (but don’t get too carried away).
If you have basic hand tools, you can start a used appliance business. To make $2,000 a week selling used appliances, you’ll need inventory. No problem — just remember the second and third steps: Find low-cost ways to generate revenue, and use that to grow the business.
Buy one used washing machine for $80, watch YouTube videos on how to repair it and sell it for $175 using a free ad on Craigslist. Then, invest the money into two more appliances.
Repeat, and grow.
You can do it!!!!