Starting a Business With No Money

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Hi Taylor: I’ve got an idea for a T-shirt company and I’m really passionate about it, but I’ve got ZERO (0) money to put down for any sort of business launch. Is it even possible for someone to start a business without money or do I need to go searching for investors? - Leanne

Hey Leanne: Anything is possible! Nothing is easy, but there’s no reason a person without capital should ever give up on a big idea. The trick is finding your angle, and hopefully one of these simple (and free!) steps will get you on the right path.

1. Get that website going. It’s too easy to have a free website for you not to do it. Even if it’s just a single picture and an email address, that gives you a digital calling card. As you get things off the ground, a website will allow you to play with branding and see what sticks. Don’t worry about getting fancy, but don’t overlook the importance of your own site.

2. Get social. In-person meetings are great, but a social media presence might be even better. Like a website, you can establish a home base of sorts that people can share to get more eyes on your brand. Especially for something like a T-shirt company, social media is going to be the best tool at your disposal. The more you post, the more traffic you’ll get. You can also look at companies similar to yours to see how they go about social media marketing and maybe find a trick or two you can use.

3. Do something proactive every day. Phone calls are free. So is sending an email. Posting a flyer on a community board at a coffee shop is also super cheap. Instead of thinking about all the ways that big businesses outspend you, concentrate on the little actions you can take every day. As long as you’re taking steps to promote your brand and idea, people will notice. If you only talk about your T-shirt company while hanging out with your regular group of friends and family, you’re not making the effort to elevate your idea.

4. Ask for a loan. If there’s one specific thing you need—whether it’s a piece of equipment or an ad buy on Facebook—and you feel like you can’t afford it, try asking. Through any number of crowdsourcing sites or a family member, you can almost definitely find the money you need. Don’t abuse this power, but don’t rule it out when it might be the solution to your problems.

There was a time when I had way more debt than cash in the bank, but that didn’t stop me from pushing through and starting a business. Keep dreaming big and make it happen. Good luck!