Biz Features

Starting a Business When Broke

by . July 30th, 2014

“I traveled across the U.S. and around the world, and kept meeting unconventional entrepreneurs — people who had started a business almost unexpectedly, usually without a lot of planning and almost always without a lot of money. Most of them did so for $1,000 or less, and half of them did so for $100 or less.”Chris Guillebeau
I remember being pushed into a situation long ago where a close friend and I believed that it was finally going to be our defining moment. Business ideas sprouted left and right and we were passionate about all of them. We’d meet up, build our plans, and smile the rest of the day. Nothing could stop us…



That is until reality struck: we were broke.

So how the hell do you start a business when your pockets are empty? I mean, that’s the point of you starting a business, right? You wanna make money, cause you got none. But you can’t make money, cause you got none. Or can you? Here are some basic steps to starting a business when you’ve got zilch. These steps are easier said than done. You’ve got to work hard. Procrastination and a scattered mind are your enemies. Beat those to a pulp.

Don’t quit your job.

As basic as this sounds, I believe I have to remind you guys. Even if this guide is about making money without or little money, you still need cash to pay the bills and feed yourself. Work on your business when your free. Other than sustaining you, a job also provides you with a healthy amount of people to interact with. Check if they can give you some information, or lead you to people with experience in the field. The guy beside your desk could have tried your idea years ago, but you just don’t know it yet.

Do, don’t make.

When you check out entrepreneurial sites and forums, you’ll notice that almost all of the startup discussed talk about offering a product. However, it is so much cheaper to offer a service. That way, you probably won’t need an office, shipping, or production. If you decide to go this route, choose something that won’t burn you out between it, your day job, and anything else you need in your schedule. Also choose something that doesn’t conflict with your day job’s schedule.

Ask for favours.

Make a list of all the people you’ve helped and been a really good friend to. Jot down what they can do, who they know etc. Now it’s time to ask for favours back. If you’re not a forward person, this may get embarrassing, but you’d be surprised how much is given just because of a simple call-to-action from a trusted source.


If it was possible to do it millennia ago when there was no currency, it’s still possible today. Look for people with skills or things you need, and trade your services for whatever that is. This will also train you to become the master negotiator you need to be to sustain your business in the future.

Make friends

If you’ve noticed a trend in the points discussed in this post, good job! This tip is about not being a douchebag. Make friends with the people you need. Ask for some bonus services, such as 5 months to pay or something. It’s really interesting that, given you play your cards right, a trusting and friendly relationship can be forged in an instant.

Angel investors

I’ve talked about these guys before. If you don’t have money to fund your project, find someone who can. Good ones come with information to help you get through. I believe these people are called angels cause they seem like them when you’re down in the dumps cause your business won’t start off.


Trusting society enough to post your unfunded idea in a viral business-related site may be scary, but try it anyways. Make a cool short video about who you are and what your product is. If your product is good, some Kickstarters have been known to reach 200x their goal. All of this and without giving away equity.

Make a business plan early

Days go so much faster when you know exactly what to do. You also end up more confident, allowing you to avoid procrastination. Remember that anyone helping you, unless they’ve devoted their life to you, would want to know what your up to, just so that they feel safer. Keep the projections realistic but optimistic.

Take these steps and keep them close to your heart. At whatever pace your future gives you, you will move forward as long as you work hard and focus.