Businesses You Can Start With No Money20 min read
Have plenty of courage, dedication, and commitment—but not a lot of cash? Don’t worry. You don’t need a lot of money (or any money at all!) to start your own business.
You just need to have a good idea.
Oh, and a good work ethic, of course. If you’re looking for information on businesses you can start with very little money, you’ve come to the right place. Here are 30 different businesses that you can start with little to no money—many of which you can do right from home.
Businesses You Can Start With No Money
Starting a freelance writing business is one of the best decisions you can make if you have a good head on your shoulders, strong communication skills, and a great writing voice.
In fact, with the rise of content marketing services, freelance writers have never been in more demand. There was once a time where writers were a dime a dozen and had very little places to market their skills. You could sell your content to a magazine or publication or work for pennies as a newspaper staff writer.
Today, that’s far from the case. You can write for many different online publications or set up a profile on a freelance website like Freelancer or Upwork. While these bidding sites might not be the most profitable avenues for work in the long term, each website offers freelance writers an excellent and free way to build up their portfolios.
Other than having a solid portfolio, there’s not much else you will need to do (or pay for!) when you are starting your career as a freelance writer. You should have a website where people can find all of your content gathered together in one place. This will also allow your personality as a writer to shine through.
Another good tip is to provide as many samples as possible in a specific niche. On your website, try to produce samples of content that you created for various niches, like healthcare or finance. By honing in on one small niche, you’ll attract a more profitable client base.
As long as you have strong writing skills—and can move quickly to meet deadlines—this is one small business idea you should not pass up! It’s one of the best businesses you can start if you want to set your own hours and work from home, too.
Knowing how to design a website is an invaluable skill that many people desire—but very few people actually have. Once you master the basic skills necessary to create websites on various platforms, your client base will be virtually unlimited. You can create websites for all kinds of clients—all you have to do is find them. Usually, this is easy to do. You just need to offer a website with samples of your other projects.
This niche is easy to break into, even if you have no formal training. You can start a web design business with just a good portfolio. Showcase your best content, and you’ll have clients flocking to you.
Marketing services via social media is a free way to find work without having to spend any money. Content and web design is one of the many businesses you can start with zero money upfront—all you need is a bit of time to learn the ropes.
If you have a good idea for a new app, this is a small business idea you’ll want to jump on immediately. Hundreds of new apps are being created and released every single day. Don’t miss out on the boon by sitting on a money-making idea!
In order to start your own app development business, you don’t even need to have specific technical skills in app creation (though it can help). There are plenty of services and tools you can use that will transform your idea into an actual, marketable app. But if you’re good at creating apps, that’s another potential small business idea—you could offer to develop apps for others.
To be successful at this kind of small business, all you need is a reliable internet connection and plenty of creativity. A bit of marketing can also help when it comes time to sell your app, but you don’t have to spend a fortune—or anything at all—to craft an effective marketing message and plan.
Social Media Consultant or Manager
Do you know exactly what it takes to make a Facebook post go viral? Is your Instagram page drool-worthy?
If so, consider starting a small business as a social media consultant or manager. As long as you are creative and can find and follow the latest trends in social media, this could be the perfect opportunity.
There are plenty of business owners who recognize the importance of social media in building a brand and a solid online presence. There are very few, however, who have the technical and creative skills necessary to follow through with that plan. When you offer up your skills as a social media consultant, you can offer businesses one of two potential services.
The first, and most basic, is to offer businesses social media plans and strategies. These can be customized to meet a business owner’s needs and plans for his or her company. Another option is to take control of a company’s social media profiles directly and post updates and information for the company so they don’t have to lift a finger.
Either way, you won’t need much money to start a business as a social media manager. You may want to invest some time in marketing your services, but if you’re good at social media, this is something you’re probably already doing.
Just a reliable Internet connection, nimble thumbs, and the ability to find new clients are all you need to be successful!
When you start your own business as a graphic designer, you don’t need much in order to make it happen. All you need to get started is a clear eye for detail, a strong sense of self-motivation, and the ability to meet tight deadlines.
As a graphic designer, you’ll design brand packaging, social media graphics, posters, brochures, logos, and other visual materials for individuals and businesses. Since you can do this work from home, you can set your own hours and spend very little (or no) money to get started. All you need is a computer and a reliable internet connection.
Search engine optimization, also known as SEO, is a growing practice that is incredibly important for any businesses that want to build their online presence. It refers to the practice of optimizing advertisements, web pages, and other online content so that it’s more likely to be ranked highly by Google.
Why would businesses want to rank highly? It’s simple: The higher you rank in Google’s algorithm, the more likely your page is to appear when customers search for a relevant term or service.
Figuring out what makes Google and other search engines tick can be tricky, but if you have the necessary skills, it could be a profitable idea for a small side hustle. You don’t have to have any startup capital to get started—all you need is a bit of internet savvy and an analytical, data-driven mind. You may also want to brush up on Google Analytics tools, too as this is a program you’ll be using quite often.
If you are a strong writer and have a passion for a certain niche, you can easily start making money by launching your own blog. There are plenty of free services and tools you can use when you are getting started—options like Blogger and even WordPress offer free trial programs so that you can try your hand at blogging.
Blogging isn’t just about writing cute, carefully crafted posts, though. You’ll also be able to post links to other websites, services, news, photos, videos, and more. As long as it’s relevant to your niche, it’s fair game.
The content itself isn’t what will make you money, though. No, the real money in blogging lies in the monetization you do to your blog. You have a few options here to get some traction.
One popular avenue is to monetize your blog through Google AdSense. If you’ve ever been to a website and noticed an ad on it, you have already seen Google AdSense (or a similar ad network) in process. Pay-per-click ads appear on your blog, and every time someone clicks on that ad, you can make a few cents.
That doesn’t sound like a lot of money but trust us—it really adds up over time! Plus, it’s a hands-off way to operate your business.
Another option is to join an affiliate marketing service, which we will discuss in the next idea on our list of zero-money business ideas.
Realistically, you could start a blog in less than an hour with very little—if any—startup cash. It’s an easy way to make money, especially if you know what you are doing.
Blogging is not one of the best businesses to start if you want to make money immediately. It does take some time to really start raking in the cash, as your blog will need to rank well on Google in order to generate income.
Affiliate marketing is an e-commerce model that lets you make money in a completely hands-off way, with no time required once you get your services set up. There’s also zero startup cash required.
All you have to do is start an online business or blog and then select a profitable niche. Search for an affiliate partner who has products available in your niche, like Amazon, ShareASale, or Clickbank.
Your task is simple. You will offer the products for sale, with each product possessing a unique link that directs back to your affiliate partner account link. Once the prospect clicks the link, they will be taken to your partner’s shopping cart for checkout. The purchase will be recorded and you will receive a commission.
Commission amounts vary depending on who the affiliate partner is. Usually, you can earn anywhere between 5 and 50%. There is very little risk and your only costs will be advertising and perhaps a marketing service, which can be free if you play your cards right.
Becoming a virtual assistant is a great way to work from home—and earn a substantial amount of cash on the side. You don’t have to have a ton of specialized skills or even any money in order to start this kind of business. All you need is a hardworking nature and excellent organizational skills.
You could do all kinds of tasks in this sort of business including running errands, writing, performing basic research, or managing projects. The list of options is endless, and you can specialize or offer services just in the areas with which you are familiar if you so choose.
While it can help to have some solid advertising in place before you begin your virtual assistant service, know that this is a business you can easily start with no money. This is just one reason why virtual assisting is one of the best business ideas you can pursue.
There are various online platforms, including Upwork and TaskRabbit, that will enable you to get your name out there without having to fork over any dough.
Another option? Start a business in dog walking or pet sitting. If you love animals, rest assured that there are plenty of people who will gladly pay you to tend to their animals for a few hours, days, or weeks.
You could offer pet services both part- or full-time. While you probably won’t make a ton per pet or even per job, you’ll be able to start working immediately with no upfront investment required.
In order to be successful in this kind of service, you’ll want to build a solid portfolio of completed jobs along with references who can attest to your reliability. You might want to start by checking out job posting sites like Care.com when you’re first getting started.
House Sitting or Property Management
While you probably won’t get rich staying in people’s houses while they’re away, housesitting is a side hustle you can start with zero cash upfront. Build a reliable reputation for yourself, and there’s the potential to earn a nice chunk of change on the side with this kind of service.
If you want to take things one step further, you may want to start a property management business. This goes beyond housesitting to offer services like shoveling snow, showing tenants apartments, collecting, rent, doing maintenance, or mowing lawns. It can be as basic or as professional as you want it to be.
Some property management businesses even take care of basic tasks like fetching the mail, doing laundry, or restocking the fridge. As you build your business from the ground up, you can hire other professionals like cleaning assistants and gardeners, too.
Landlords, property owners, and business owners often hire property management businesses to handle the day-to-day logistics of their properties. If you hustle hard and have a good reputation for what you do, you can easily start this type of business with no money.
Look around you—there are all kinds of people who want to know how to start businesses in niches they are passionate about but without the know-how or expertise on how to do it.
If you know what it takes to succeed as a small business owner, you may want to help other people become successful via coaching services.
This kind of service is a bit different than working as a consultant, although that’s another potential career opportunity when you are trying to figure out how to start a business. When you’re a coach, you won’t necessarily help people solve problems in their businesses, but you’ll instead focus on personal development.
You may cover topics like ending procrastination, mastering organization and time management, or improving decision-making skills in your coaching sessions. You won’t necessarily be giving advice—that’s what you would do as a business consultant—but instead, you’ll be providing the skills people need to do the work themselves.
It’s like the old adage goes: “Give a man a fish, and he’ll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he’ll eat for a lifetime.” In this analogy, you’re teaching the man to fish—and it’s a smart idea if you’re interested in starting your own business on the cheap.
Are you super organized? Does your closet look like something straight out of a Pinterest vision board?
If so, you might want to offer professional organizing to customers. It’s a clever idea when you’re looking for businesses you can start. Again, this is a business idea that is going to be more profitable in affluent areas. You can spend your days helping other people rid themselves of their disorganized habits—and their actual clutter, of course.
However, working as a clutter consultant requires no overhead expenses and can be started immediately.
Online Sales and Art
If you’re excited by the idea of setting up your own online shop and selling your own products or artwork, you might want to consider this option when you are trying to figure out how to start a business with no funding. Online sales is one of the cheapest businesses you can start.
Once you have an inventory built up, this kind of business idea requires virtually zero startup funds. You can run this kind of business from home, as long as you have a spot to store your wares, and if you aren’t particularly artistic or crafty, that’s okay, too! You can offer up old items you have lying around the house, like clothes and jewelry.
All you need to do to get started is pick the online marketplace that’s right for you. You’ll have several options available to you, including eBay, Etsy, Wix, Weebly, and Shopify. All of these options have various benefits and disadvantages, depending on your preferences. Just do some research to find the option that’s right for you.
Drop-shipping is a pretty easy business to start. You don’t have to maintain a large inventory—or any inventory at all, really—so you don’t need a ton of extra space in order to store your supplies. You also don’t have to handle delivery to your customers, which can reduce expenses and make it easy for you to start a business with no cash.
It also eliminates risk. Since you won’t be sitting on an endless inventory of products, you won’t have to worry about wasting your money on storage fees or rental units. There are also very few logistics you will have to handle when you’re getting things started.
Just keep in mind that you will need to focus on marketing and advertising when you’re starting a drop-shipping business. Otherwise, you won’t have any way to find customers and make sales. You don’t need to spend much on these services, though. You can easily use social media and other free networking tools to help you forge the necessary connections.
To succeed in drop-shipping, remember that you will need to do some research in order to remain competitive in a stacked marketplace. You have to sell quite a bit in order to generate a full-time income, but once you get your feet underneath you, you’ll be able to manage this kind of business with very little investment on your part.
Start a Charitable Business
You don’t need to rely on grants and government funding if you want to start an organization that’s meant to better the world.
As long as you have a clear mission on how you would like to help the world, you can start your own charitable business. Of course, the goal of this kind of business won’t necessarily be to make you money but to give back to a cause.
Regardless, if you’re wondering how to start in business management for a charity, it’s easy to do. You can partner with a nonprofit, like the Give and Grow app on Shopify, to incorporate your charitable mission into a business you’re already operating (like a blog, online shop, or website).
Sell On-Demand Greeting Cards, Prints, or Posters
Are you artistically inclined? If you are—and you know your way around a camera—you can start a dropshipping business with a print-on-demand business model. This way, people will be able to actually own a piece of your art! This business idea is great for people who already have an established online presence.
If you’re new to this niche, don’t worry—you can start building your own designs by using mockup generators and digital templates from sites like Placeit. Make sure there are no rights reserved or copyright issues on the images you intend to sell.
Driving for Uber or Lyft
Signing up for Lyft and Uber is totally free. As long as you have a vehicle that meets the required standards and a clean driving record, you can easily start a profitable driving business.
Even if you don’t have a reliable vehicle, you’re not out of luck—both businesses offer rental solutions for people who don’t have good vehicles to use.
If you’ve given these two driving services a try and are interested in building your business a little bit more, you can even incorporate delivery services into your list of business offerings. You can become an independently contracted delivery partner with food businesses and apps like Postmates, Doordash, and Caviar.
Do you have a ton of knowledge in a given area? It doesn’t matter what that area may be—it could be business, health and wellness, knitting, or even web design. No matter what your specialty is, consulting is one of the easiest businesses you can start.
When you own a consulting company, you will spend your day giving advice to customers who are looking to build their skills or businesses in that niche. It can be tough to find clients at first—especially if you aren’t interested in spending money on advertising— but once you establish a solid reputation, the earnings will come rolling in.
Tutoring is also a great way to share your knowledge and make a bit of money—all with zero expense to you. This is one of the easiest businesses you can start if you want to get paid without spending your life savings.
You can connect with people in search of tutoring services on platforms like Care.com, Craigslist, LinkedIn, and Facebook so you won’t have to spend a cent on marketing.
Another easy way to make money with no funding at startup is to sell video tutorials online. If you’ve ever watched a YouTube video, you already know how this works. YouTube is one of a large selection of video websites, generating more than 2 billion views each day.
You can easily leverage YouTube and similar platforms to start your own online business. You can create content that shows people how to do various things—for example, you could start a YouTube cooking channel. You can bring in earnings via ad revenue, just like you would if you were starting a blog, or through paid sponsorships.
You don’t have to put any money into your videos in order to generate a nice income. You can use something as simple as a smartphone camera to capture your ideas. Just be sure that the audio is clear and use some basic editing software (also free) to edit out any mistakes.
Selling information is an easy way to earn a living—you just need to have information to sell. Digital information products are some of the best and quickest (and most hands-off!) ways to make some money.
You have a few options. You could sell an e-book or an instructional booklet of some kind (like a travel guide or how-to brochure). You could also record a video webinar or an interview and sell that.
These kinds of products are totally passive. You will earn money as you sleep—all you have to do is check sales periodically. You won’t even have to deal with shipping products, as they will be available for download as soon as a customer buys them.
It does take some effort to create your products at first, but once they are built, you don’t have to worry about doing anything else.
If you have a knack for creating the perfect portrait, a business in photography might be the right choice for you. You’ll need to already have a camera, a tripod, and perhaps some insurance on your equipment (if you don’t have these things, this business can be a bit costly to set up initially).
However, once you get started, this business has no recurring expenses (besides equipment repairs) so you can make a killing pretty easily.
Translating and Transcribing Services
If you’re bilingual or multilingual, this side hustle opportunity is for you! Whether you want to help people with projects posted online or you’d rather approach businesses in-person to offer your translating services, starting a business as a translator is a smart choice.
Your only investment will be in brain capital—what you already know! If you already speak multiple languages, becoming a professional translator is a quick, cost-free way to start your own business.
Wedding and Event Planning
Do you thrive under the pressure of handling the last-minute details of big events? Do you dream of centerpieces and wedding cakes? If so, a business in wedding and event planning might be the right choice for you.
Unlike other party-related businesses, like party rentals or bakeries, a wedding and event planning business doesn’t require any startup capital. You don’t need any equipment or materials to get started, although it is a good idea to have a solid portfolio of prior jobs (and a list of references) to back up your offerings. Starting a website to showcase your services is a good idea.
Weddings aren’t the only events you can plan, either. You might also offer a planning service for events like anniversaries, birthday, graduation parties, and more.
If you live in or near a relatively affluent area, you may be able to make some money by starting your own concierge service. Believe it or not, there are quite a few people out there who would rather pay someone to park their cars than do it themselves!
Take things one step further and handle all kinds of appointments and errands for people who don’t want to spend time doing the tasks themselves.
You might go on dry-cleaning runs or pick up groceries, but rest assured this is a quick and easy way to start a business. If you live in the city, you probably won’t even need a car to get the tasks completed so there’s no money required up front to start. It is a completely free business idea that’s great for aspiring business owners.
Bookkeeping and Accounting Services
Bookkeeping and accounting are two businesses that have evergreen demand—businesses and individuals will always be interested in farming out these tasks to entrepreneurial freelancers.
Starting a bookkeeping or accounting service, either online or in-person, is a smart move, as long as you’re business savvy and aware of the latest trends and regulations in taxation and finance.
You don’t have to be a CPA to keep a company’s books. In most cases, you’ll just be entering data and paying bills. If you’re new to this, no worries. There are plenty of online courses that can teach you how to do it (and many of them are free).
From homeowners associations to professional networks, there are associations out there to meet every niche, need, and hobby. Believe it or not, these associations, whether large or small, take a ton of effort to maintain.
After all, there are dues to collect, websites to build, and newsletters to write. You could schedule meetings or events or even maintain mailing lists. You could even expand your business to property management services.
While you might not make it big by managing just one association, you can gradually grow your business so that you are handling several. This zero-cost business has the potential to grow into quite a profitable side hustle if you put the time into building it.
Do you know everything there is to know about your city? If so, you might want to start your own tour guide business. Believe it or not, there are tons of websites, services, and tools out there that will partner you with tourists in exchange for a percentage of your earnings.
Vayable is one such option. As long as you don’t mind being on your feet and spouting out facts to tourists all day, this is a great option for you to consider. Once you get established, you could even start your own website to advertise your service or hire additional tour guides to help you save time and expand your offerings.
Whether it’s houses, cars, or windows that you want to clean, starting a cleaning business is a great way to earn some money without having to spend a ton of cash first.
While you may have to purchase some basic cleaning supplies and invest in some marketing services early on, you can easily get around these costs. Use what you already have and invest your time in free marketing services and tools instead.
What to Consider: What is the Easiest Business to Start?
The best part about starting one of these businesses is that many of them can be done almost entirely online. An online business is more convenient for many people because it allows you to offer services from home on your own schedule. You can pursue your new business ideas as a side hustle or supplement to your full-time job.
Plus, you won’t have any of the overhead costs associated with running a business, like having to pay to rent or lease an office space. All you really need to get started is a basic home office (even your kitchen table should do the trick!), a reliable internet connection, and some time and dedication to following your dream.
If you want to know how to start the business of your dreams, know that no business is going to be totally hassle-free to start. Spend some money on building up your products, come up with a solid business plan, and have a way to market your services to others.
Making money is going to be easier and come more naturally to you if you pursue business ideas that you are passionate about. Your work won’t feel quite as much like work when you are doing what you love.
That passion is all it takes to start a successful business, either online or in-person.
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to spend money to earn money. You just need to be willing to work hard.