How to start a business with no money (and no ideas)

how to start a business with no money

Here is another request from our fans:

I’m good at art and craft, however, I’m lack of cash to start (and ideas as well). Looking for your best advise. Thank you.

Before I focus on the art and craft topic, let me first spin around the two problems here, the “lack of cash/money” statement and the “lack of ideas” problem.

Problem 1: Lack of Money

The real question is: Do you really need money to start a business?

Well, my answer is “no”. I remember, two years ago, my friend and I started our very first online business with no money. Yes, you hear me right, we started with zero money. Not even a single cent is needed. The idea of starting the business came from Facebook. One day, while we were scrolling through our Facebook feeds, we saw people selling Pokemon Go game accounts.

Seriously? Would anyone buy Pokemon Go game account while you can actually get one for FREE by simply download the Pokemon Go app on your phone? The answer is yes, and the reason is simply that people (especially the Pokemon fans) are seeking for better Pokemon Go game accounts.

I could not believe my eyes when I saw tonnes of enquiries in the comment section just below the post. Then, I clicked into the Pokemon Go Seller’s Page. OMG, they are actually doing very well. They have tens of thousands of fans on their page and lots of Pokemon Go accounts posted for sale (and sold). They even proved each of the transactions by posting receipts and payment confirmation page from people who are buying from them.

So, to actually prove that the business works, we followed our competitor foot-step. We set up our own Facebook Page, downloaded the Pokemon Go app, played a few rounds of Pokemon Go game, and then we started to post these Pokemon Go game accounts on the Facebook Page for sale. And guess what? We got our first sale on the 7th day (within a week). Setting up a Facebook Page and download Pokemon Go app on our phones cost us nothing. Within a week, we made RM100 (about $25). After that, we started to trade and buy more Pokemon Go game accounts, upgraded those accounts with better Pokemon monsters and selling them at a higher price.

We earned about RM4000 (about $1000) in the first month and to me, it is considered as successful, especially for an entrepreneur-newbie like me. So, I’ve just proved that you don’t even need a single cent to start a business.

But, think about it again, starting a business and succeed in a business is two different thing.

Now, my question is: Can I start and succeed every single business in the world with no money?

Probably not. For simplicity, let’s measure the “success of business” by this formula: Business is successful only if the value (money, reputation, etc…) that you made is more than the value (money, time, effort) that you’ve invested in. The success of a business also has to be measured within the set time-frame.

Scenario 1: Myself, start with RM0, earn RM400

Let’s take the Pokemon Go game account-selling-business as an example. If I were to play and raise the Pokemon Go game accounts myself, consider that I could raise a single game account to RM100-value within a week, I will be selling 4 Pokemon Go game accounts in a month and all I could earn is RM400 (about $100). Yes, raising a Pokemon Go game account is tedious and requires a lot of time and effort, that is why people are willing to buy these “great” Pokemon Go account. For a month of hard work and all you get is RM400, is definitely not worth it. I should better be a Grab driver and earn RM1,926.40 a month.

In this example, although I am able to start a business with RM0, it is definitely not worth my time and effort.

Scenario 2: Team, start with RM0, earn RM6,400

Another scenario in which if I were to raise a single Pokemon Go game account for a week, I will earn RM100 in the first week. In Week 2, I will then use the RM100 to hire four people (RM25 each) to raise 4 Pokemon Go game accounts. At the end of Week 2, I will have RM400. I will invest the RM400 hiring 16 people to raise Pokemon Go game accounts in Week 3 and get RM1,600. If this continues, by the end of the Week 4, I will be able to hire 64 people and earn up to RM6,400.

In Scenario 2, I’ve shown that, by changing the business strategy to “invest-&-hiring” strategy, we can boost up the earning from RM400 to RM6,400. Still, I am starting my business with no money at all.

Scenario 3: Team, start with RM100, earn RM25,600

In this scenario, let me break my Piggy Bank and fork up an RM100 at the beginning. I will hire 4 people to raise the RM100-value Pokemon Go game accounts in the first week and earn RM400. Using the same investment and hiring strategy in Scenario 2, I will be earning RM1,600 at the end of Week 2, RM6,400 at the end of Week 3 and potentially up to RM25,600 at the end of Week 4 (provided I can gather 256 gamers to raise Pokemon Go game accounts).

This is the only scenario whereby I actually need to fork up an RM100 to start my business. Foreseeing the presence of resources and demand, I’ve saved a week of hard work and lead the business straight into the “invest-&-hiring” strategy, thus earning the most out of the value (money, time and effort).

Problem 2: Lack of Ideas

This always happens to those “money-making-minded” newbie entrepreneurs, like us (exclude me, please). We want to make a lot, a lot of money, but we don’t know where to start. We don’t know what to do, what service to provide, what product to sell, and why should we even think about doing business at the first place.

In my opinion, you shouldn’t start a business if your ultimate objective is to make money. Starting a business is about providing value to your customers. It could be solving a problem, improve a situation, offering opportunities or even creating happiness.

If you are located in Malaysia, you might want to read the List of Online Business Opportunities in Malaysia (Pros & Cons).

Here are some of the ways you can try to look for business opportunity:

  • Look into the Future – Renewable energy?
  • Solve the Problem Around You – How to solve traffic jams?
  • Dare to lead, Be the First – First moving cinema?
  • Adopt Skills or Technology from Other Fields – Just like how accounting software overtook the accountants
  • Look into Boring Niches – Men’s fashion?
  • Make Things Cheaper and Better – The second generation of iPhone? Make it cheap, please.
  • Talk about Ideas, Not to Complain – Try not to gossip or complain, instead show off your ideas to friends.
  • Mix Things Together – Just like pen-pineapple-apple-pen…
  • Steal (Borrow) Idea from Others – Visit

Step-by-step Guide to Start a Business with No Money (and no idea)

Let’s say you are interest or good at something (e.g. art and craft in your case) and you want to venture into a business but you don’t know where to start, you should proceed with the following steps:

  1. Google for Business Ideas
  2. Pick one that suits you
  3. Choose a Free Online Platform to display your product (e.g. Facebook)
  4. Invite friends to like and follow your Facebook Business Page
  5. Fake the first sale (you should always do so)
  6. Seek for Free advertising opportunities
  7. Tag your product with higher price and give discounts
  8. It’s time to re-invest the money that you’ve earned

1. Google for Business Ideas

Google has been trained to find the most useful and accurate answer for you. When you google for “art and craft business ideas”, the top two articles below will come out from nowhere, featuring a big list of possible art and craft business ideas in the world:

50 Craft Business Ideas – Small Business Trends
Craft Business Ideas. Jewellery Designer. There are many different types of jewellery you can design and make by hand, from beaded bracelets to pieces made with precious metals. Clothing Designer. T-Shirt Designer. Greeting Card Maker. Painter. Sculptor. Ceramics Maker. Candle Maker.

50 Creative Art & Craft Business Ideas for 2018 (Home Based)
Do you want to start a business in the art & craft industry? If YES, here are 50 best art & craft business ideas for creative people to start at home in 2018.

2. Pick one that suits you

Always start with one idea at a time. Pick an idea that suits you the best and start planning your business around it. Let’s say you like painting and paper arts, and you are really good at it. You can start a business like painting Birthday Portrait Cards.

3. Choose a FREE Online Platform to display your product (e.g. Facebook Page)

I would recommend you start with a FREE Facebook Business Page. The reason I suggest Facebook is not because it is the best online platform, but it is definitely the easiest one.

If you are not sure how to do so, read this article on How to set up a Facebook Business Page (All you need to know).

At the same time, you will need to get your business a cool name. Here are the six important elements to get a great name for your company. Get a good name and design a logo for your Facebook Page and you are ready to go.

Start displaying your products on your Facebook Business Page and make sure you describe each of them with details and most importantly tag them with a price (so people know that you are selling stuff).

4. Invite Friends to like and follow your Facebook Business Page

You never want to start a business with zero fans. Talk to your friends, tell people what you are planning to do and ask them to follow your page. Give them reasons to love you, provide them reasons to follow your Business Page.

If you really do not know what to say, just say “Something GREAT is coming soon”.

5. Fake the first sale (you should always do so)

When the website visitors see that the store is very active and busy, and especially, when they notice that some item was bought by someone else, they will start worrying that this item will be completely sold out really soon. That’s the basic human psychology, so why not make a good use of it?

This is a very important step whenever you start selling, no matter in a physical shop or online. You should always buy the first item from yourself. The reason is that you need to know the exact scenarios or steps when a customer buys from you. How is the payment made? How to prove a paid payment? How will you communicate with them?

6. Seek for FREE Advertising Opportunity

The next thing to further promote your business presence is to get out and seek for free advertising opportunities. You should start joining Facebook Groups that are related to your business. Post some of your products and products in these Facebook Groups will definitely help you promote your shop.

Search for promotion and coupons websites. You should feature your business at these sites to help further promote your business.

7. Tag your product with higher price and give Discounts

Consumers love discounts just simply because people want to save money. Imagine a Birthday Card A was tagged at $5 and selling at $2.5 (50% discount) and another similar Birthday Card B was selling at $2 (without discount). People often choose Birthday Card A because they think they could save more (even if it is more expensive than the other one).

So, give discounts!

8. It’s time to re-invest the money that you’ve earned

So, now you are making money. Remember the Pokemon Go game account selling scenarios (as mentioned above)? Just because you are making money doesn’t mean that you are having the best business strategy.

Try to re-invest the money you’ve made to improve your business. For example, think about doing paid advertisement using Facebook or Google Adwords to reach a bigger pool of audiences. You should also plan to hire people to work for you when you scale up your business later (you need a team).

Alright, I think that is enough to help you start a business with no money at all.

If you have further questions, feel free to contact me.

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Simon K.
Simon K.

Founder of Skeneur. He has vast experience in the field of Digital Marketing & Search Engine Optimization (SEO). He loves to talk about business strategies and helps business owners with their digital marketing campaigns and web designing needs.

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