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5 tips for starting a small business with little to no money

Some businesses need capital to get off the ground. But there are many ways to start your business without having to worry about expenses, as long as you have a great idea.Here are some suggestions, from service businesses to affiliate marketing to reaching customers, from real Quora users with business experience.
Quora users with plenty of business experience were asked the question: “Is it possible to start a business with little to no money? How?”As these answers prove, it’s very possible to start a business with nothing but a great idea and more drive than the competition. There are several methods to implement your drive, like starting a dropshipping business, trying affiliate marketing, and reaching your customers in creative ways. And many of these answers come from people who started their own businesses in the exact same way.Here are 5 Quora users’ answers on starting a business with next to nothing.


Quora user Wade Myers had several examples he had encountered over the years of entrepreneurs building lucrative businesses with next to no money.Here’s one:”An entrepreneur that had lost everything in a previous failed venture, bounced back and with a spirit of humility and cheerful diligence moved to a new city with literally no money, and bought a few pool cleaning supplies. He went on to build a pool cleaning route and sold it for over $50,000 just ten weeks later. He told me he didn’t even have enough money for a direct mailing campaign, so he just went door-to-door to build his customer base.  He then kept doing that over and over again, realizing that he was really good at building a route of customers and that there were plenty of existing pool cleaning companies that were not that good at growing that would happily buy a route from him. He could build and sell about four routes per year.”If your business works harder than its competitors, profit will find its way into your hands. In every story Myers described, the entrepreneurs had little money to start with, worked harder than their competitors, and didn’t wait for customers to come to them.


 Quora user Simon Cave explains that service businesses are easy to start because they don’t require manufacturing a product. Chances are, you already have the skills that others need. He offers possible services:

  • If you know how to write => create content for clients
  • If you know how to code => create programs/software/websites for clients
  • If you know another language => offer translation services
  • If you have an accounting degree => offer accounting services
  • If you are knowledgeable about social media => offer community management services

Quora user Aljaž Fajmut learned the value of time when he founded his startup, Nightwatch. While building the app, he faced delays, bugs, and disagreements with people on his team. If he had saved a little more and taken his time, he would have had a safety net. He writes:”Time really is key… you will face setbacks and delays just like all tech companies do. And you need to be prepared for them. If you don’t have a lot of cash, at least have enough time to save yourself when something goes wrong.”His startup was ultimately successful, but Fajmut would have appreciated having this lesson in his arsenal before launching his business.


Quora user Lily Booker believes in the power of service businesses as well. But without the proper research, your business could have no niche in the market. Make sure to check if there’s a venture out there like yours, and if there is, make sure your business does something the competitor can’t. She writes:
“Firstly, to start a business requires your time and a lot of determination to succeed. Most people think that money is the key to start a business, but if you have a good business idea and have done your market research right, you may actually succeed with little to no money.In order to succeed as an entrepreneur, you need to be willing to make tough decisions and make a lot of sacrifices. Most people will encourage you to start a services business if you don’t have the capital because they don’t require a lot of money. But as I said above, a good business idea and a market research that shows your potential target market can attract a lot of investors to your business.”


Quora user Bhaskar Dutta explains that resources aren’t nearly as important as ideas. In an Indian business school, students were given 1,000 rupees and tasked with multiplying the money in two hours. Then 10-minute slots were assigned to each group to present once the two hours were up. Most students came up with conventional methods (opening a market stall to sell drinks, or reselling gift items at double the price in tourist-filled districts). Dutta writes:”But the teams that followed the typical path were not the ones who could bring back good returns. The teams that made most of the money didn’t use the 1000 rupees at all. They realised that this small money is distracting and a worthless resource.”The winning team sold their 10-minute presentation slot to an outside company willing to pay to advertise themselves instead.If your business is sure to make money, and doesn’t cost much to get off the ground, you can worry about investments to grow your business later.

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