Many people ask how they can start an online business with no money. The short answer to this is: time.
There is always going to be a trade-off between money and time invested in the business. If you don’t have the money to put in initially then it’s instead going to be sweat equity in the form of time invested.
Do you really want to start an online business with no money?
I entirely understand the desire to start an online business with no money, but recognise that you may be doing yourself and your business idea a disservice.
Using paid-for business platforms and marketing online is going to speed up your journey to revenue and allow you to have an online business that works for you much faster. It also increases the chance of success. Business is hard enough already without you tying one hand behind your back!
By setting yourself the limitation of not spending any money on your online business you may be psychologically self sabotaging.
You may be telling yourself that your business idea isn’t really worth it. If you are willing to put your own money behind the idea why would anyone else invest or purchase from you in the future?
You’re potentially setting yourself up to fail by refusing to invest any cash into an online business.
OK but how do I actually start an online business with no money?
OK! Fine! Let’s do this then.
It’s certainly an interesting challenge : how does one start an online business with no money?
This is sort of a “start from scratch” challenge where an entrepreneur with nothing but a telephone and their wits is challenged to make £1 million.
Thankfully for you one of the most important steps in starting an online business is indeed free. In the BATON model we teach, B (Business) comes first.
All of the work done at this stage of the BATON model is free -it’s based on research, market verification, product creation, and putting together a minimum viability product. All of this can be done for free, at least in terms of cash money. Remember : your time is NOT free!
Genuinely this initial foundational step in starting an online business is the most important. If you get the business aspects correct then the rest falls into place. There is nothing stopping you money-wise from getting started and excelling in the business phase of BATON.
Use existing platforms
Second, we can use free existing platforms in order to build our Audience and our Tribe. There is no necessity to set up our own websites or apps at this stage in the process. Instead we can piggy back on existing platforms. This means that we can build our audience and tribe for no cost.
To do so we utilise existing platforms like Instagram, Facebook Groups, Slack messaging, podcasting and free blogging tools.
We use time rather than money to produce quality, valuable content for our Audience and Tribe members. Because this is mainly creating value from your own intellectual processes we can maintain zero cost production. We can also repurpose content ourselves for free.
Before warned though that this is an area where your money investment will be replaced by a time investment. It’s much simpler and easier to build an audience if you have a budget for advertising and getting seen online.
Without a budget you’ll have to require rely on organic discovery algorithms and the quality of your content far more. You’ll require much deeper education in digital marketing to ensure that you and your future business are discoverable online. This is all certainly doable but will require a time investment.
We’re here to help: free BATON course
The first few stages of our free online business course following the BATON model require no investment. You can find our course over on Udemy: free online business course. All of the methods and tools talked about in the course can be used for free.
No money at the beginning does not mean no money ever!
Third, when you do begin to see revenues in your online business make sure that you reinvest rather than remove profits!
Just because you started a business with no money does not mean that you should strangle its growth by removing cash from the business immediately.
Understandably the same drive to led you to want to start an online business with no money may also lead you to wish to withdraw cash from the business as soon as it appears. Resist this urge.
It’s very tempting to take money from the business when you personally may not have that much. But the fact that you have already begun to generate revenue with your early-stage online business means that you are onto something and that your business has room to grow.
However he will only grow if you reinvest profits into expanding it. Do not try to bootstrap your business to growth in order to save money. It’s time to reinvest.
Change your mindset
Third, whilst working on your business make sure you also work on yourself. You may have wanted to start a business with no money but this is not a sustainable mindset for growing and scaling your business. If you’ve got this phone started to generate revenue you’re onto a good thing. Don’t ruin this.
This is a hard one to hear but if you’ve come to this site wanting to know how to start an online business with no money then this will be important advice.
Whilst you are growing your business educate yourself on money mindset and personal finance in general. A good place to start would be with Robert Kiyosaki’s The Cash Flow Quadrant. Or to book that comes before this : Rich Dad Poor Dad.
Here’s a good rundown of the Cashflow Quadrant from Investor Junkie.
Whilst his books are primarily focused on real estate investment these early volumes talk a lot about how we think about money and how our money myths shape our realities.
By combining working on your business and working on your own attitudes towards money you’ll be in a good position to scale your online business.
If you fail to do this simultaneously you continue to trade your time for money. If it remains only you in the business exchanging your time then you have automatically put a ceiling on how large the business can grow. You only have a certain number of hours in the day after all!
In order to break through the ceiling he must learn how to invest in your company. This requires working on your business not in your business. A lot of people are starting a business for the first time fail to recognise the difference between these two concepts. Another book recommendation here would be E Myth Mastery by Michael Gerber.
All of the books above can be found at your local library so as to maintain zero cost. Check out WorldCat to find pretty much any book at a library near you.
Wrapping up: starting a business with no money
To recap let’s look at how you would start an online business with no money:
- The initial business phases of the BATON model requires no capital investment. Start here and spend your time refining improving your business idea. Use our free online course to guide you through this process.
- Second, use existing platforms like Facebook which are free to use to start to build up your Audience and Tribe.
- Third, whilst working through the early Business, Audience and Tribe stages of the BATON model also be working on yourself and your money mindset. Without this you’ll get stuck trading your time for money and never truly grow an online business.