How to Start a Business With Zero Investment

Starting a business is an incredibly exciting prospect – but it can also come with financial risk. Even with a compelling idea and commitment to success, many entrepreneurs fall short when it comes to finding the capital to launch a business. With this in mind, it’s no surprise zero investment business opportunities are a hot topic in startup communities.

In fact, some of the world’s biggest brands – think Hewlett-PackardShopify and Starbucks – were brought to life on a shoestring budget. This just goes to show it’s possible to start a successful business even without the help of financing or investors.

Could a zero investment business be the right move for you? Let’s take a closer look at how they work, and what it takes to start one of your own.

What is a zero investment business?

As the name suggests, a zero investment business is any business that requires no money to start up. Technically speaking, there might still be a few startup costs associated with a zero investment business, such as the cost of registering a domain name or creating a base for your business with a virtual office workspace.

But compared to businesses with traditional startup costs (such as inventory, warehousing or permanent office space), zero investment businesses are a great entry point for beginners. This includes entrepreneurs with limited capital, or people looking to start a business as a side hustle. 

The pros and cons of a zero investment business

Aside from the obvious financial benefit, there are several advantages to starting a zero investment business:

  • Lower risk than starting a traditional business, as potential losses are minimised
  • Lower expenses mean a higher profit margin
  • Flexibility to scale up or down as your business needs change
  • Easier to pivot your strategy because of lower sunk costs

However, there are some potential drawbacks as well:

  • You still have to put effort into building and marketing the business – just because a zero-investment business doesn’t require an initial cash injection, it doesn’t mean the business will grow on its own
  • Low investment can mean having less support, whether that’s support with cash, expertise or business connections.
  • It could be more difficult to scale up quickly because that usually requires some investment, and a new business’s income stream probably won’t yet be fully up to speed.

Of course, every industry is different, so it’s a good idea to figure out your specific needs before deciding whether it’s possible to launch your business with little to no upfront costs.

Zero investment business opportunities

Want to start a business but not sure where to start? Here are some low-investment business ideas you can get off the ground quickly.

1. Start a dropshipping business

With a dropshipping business, third-party supplier stores and ships inventory to customers for you. It’s an easy and cheap business to start because you don’t need to buy or store inventory yourself. All you need to do is find the right supplier and market your business.

The dropshipping model works well with product categories such as:

  • Apparel
  • Accessories
  • Beauty and lifestyle products
  • Homewares
  • Tech gadgets

2. Create a digital product

A business based on intangible products tends to be cheaper to start because there aren’t costs such as manufacturing, inventory purchasing and warehousing to worry about. The question is: what expertise do you have that would translate into a compelling digital product?

Popular ideas include:

  • Online courses such as web design, music, development etc.
  • Design and photography templates
  • Blogs
  • eBooks, tutorials and guides
  • Apps
  • Podcasts

3. Sell a service

With a service-based business, the biggest investment you’ll need to make is time. If you have an in-demand skill, selling a service can be a lucrative business model, and you can even offer your services while supplementing your income by selling complementary products.

Depending on your skill set, you could cost-effectively build a business around:

  • Writing, graphic design, photography or creative arts
  • Digital services such as résumé writing 
  • Professional coaching 
  • Pet-minding or babysitting
  • Tutoring
  • Accountancy or bookkeeping
  • Interior design and real estate consultancy

4. Join an affiliate marketing programme

Affiliate marketing is a strategy where businesses pay people (‘affiliates’) to promote and sell products for them. Every time an affiliate brings in a new customer, they receive a commission. 

If you already have an established following online via a blog, website, social media or other community, joining an affiliate marketing programme could be a quick way to make extra money as a side hustle.

To get started:

  1. Find a programme on sites like ShareASaleSolvid Affiliate, or Amazon Associates
  2. Choose the offers you want to promote
  3. Get an affiliate link
  4. Promote that link across your website, social media etc.

Once you’ve signed up, you’ll earn a commission any time someone registers or makes a purchase through your link. Commission rates depend on the business and the offer, but can range from 5% to as much as 50%.

5. Start an online membership programme

Like affiliate marketing, online membership programmes are best for entrepreneurs who have an established online following. What’s unique about online membership programmes is they’re subscription-based, so customers make recurring payments in exchange for a digital product or service.

Examples of popular online membership programmes include:

  • Fitness programmes
  • Clubs and communities
  • Creative arts 
  • Coaching

Depending on your business, membership programmes can include downloadable content, exclusive live streams or a mix of both. 

How to start a zero investment business

Once you have a solid business idea, follow these steps to give yourself the best chance of success.

1. Research the market

Conducting a market analysis will help you assess demand in the market and what customers are looking for. This information will guide you in defining how your product or service can solve customers’ problems, as well as how to stand out from the competition.

2. Seek advice

One of the best ways to launch a successful business is to follow the advice of those who have done it before. Find an expert or mentor who can offer guidance and help you navigate the inevitable challenges that come with running a business.

3. Figure out the logistics

You might not have much to worry about from a finance perspective, but there are still many logistical factors to work out when starting a business. Consider:

  • What you’ll need to launch and market your business – do you need a website, social media profiles or another type of platform?
  • Who will be responsible for what – will you need support or can you run the business on your own?
  • How you’ll launch the business – what’s your strategy and business plan?

4. Get ready to hustle

Thanks to technology and the rise of eCommerce, it’s possible for almost anyone to start an online business or a home-based business without investing a lot of money. The flipside, however, is that today’s business landscape is hypercompetitive, which means you’ll be up against many other entrepreneurs who are trying to drive their business forward just like you.

One of the biggest advantages of a zero investment business is that it’s relatively low-risk, so even if you don’t succeed right away, you can test different approaches until you find one that sticks. Resilience is key: be willing to put in the hard work, and you’ll no doubt find the sweet spot in the market for your business venture.

No matter what industry you’re in, having a strong business network is essential. With a virtual office workspace, you can join a thriving community of individuals and businesses just like yours, and tap into a whole world of new contacts and opportunities.

Wrapping up

We at ShopShipShake have been working with businesses like yours with fulfilling experiences. We offer one-stop services, including an efficient supply chain, over 10 thousand of China’s suppliers, and more.
With a successful track record of over 20,000 clients, we are sure to deliver your orders requirements. Let’s get in touch to build, sustain, and grow your businesses.

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