How to Start a Business for Practically Nothing

How to start a business for practically nothing

Wondering how to start a business for practically nothing? Today, I’m going to share the free and inexpensive tools that helped me get started.

The good news is, especially if you’re going to create a blog you don’t plan to monetize, or if you’re a service provider, you can get started for very little money.

Today, I’m going to share some of my free (+ inexpensive) tools that helped me launch a business (while still paying my student loans!).

Let’s get started!

Email marketing tools

First of all, you’ll want to keep in touch with your clients or readers so you’ll definitely need to collect their email addresses! I first started my business using Mailchimp. There is a very generous free account so you can get started with using it for absolutely nothing and there are additional features that you can pay for.

It’s incredibly easy to use (drag and drop!) and the brand has a great sense of humor.

If you want to build a community, email marketing is a great tool. I’ve since upgraded to another email provider because I needed some additional features for my own business, but you certainly don’t need that to get started!

Compelling graphics

I do almost all of my own design work.

And I am *not* a designer. (You’ve probably noticed.)

Great design is pretty much a non-negotiable. Canva is a totally amazing and absolutely free design tool. No need for fancy (and costly) Photoshop, you could easily start a website with images solely from Canva.

Again, it’s very easy to use drag and drop design and easy editing features. I’ve purchased some images and I can edit them in Canva super easily.

I’ve since upgraded to the paid Canva option. At this point, I’ve also upgraded to hiring a designer for some projects and now I work with awesome creative assistant. But again – I didn’t start with those things and I still DIY most of my design.

A website

I probably should have started with the website piece, right?

Major shout out to my friend Shannon, founder of WP*BFF. I’m not even sure what my business would like if I hadn’t found her and her 5 Day Website Challenge in 2015 so needless to say, anytime someone asks me about starting a site with no knowledge, I send them her way.

I was using Wix for my website but I was starting to feel really limited as I wanted to expand my reach. Google search engines love WordPress sites but I was really intimidated by the idea of hosting my own website. Enter Shannon Mattern!

Shannon teaches small business owners how to start your WordPress site in five days. No joke.

The challenge is free, though there are some costs associated with building the site including hosting, an opt-in form generator (You know those things that let you sign up for my mailing list? That’s what I’m talking about!) and some other plug ins.

This very site that you are looking at is built by a person (me!) with no coding experience. This is the first website I’ve ever hosted and built from scratch. I couldn’t have done it without Shannon!

Social media

So this isn’t rocket science, but it’s a good reminder that you probably already have access and know how on some tools to help get a potential business started.

And you can find people with similar interest so easily. You can start a free community with Facebook. Connect with potential collaborators on LinkedIn.

I hosted my first webinar using Google Hangouts. I was able to help out some incrediblely awesome people from all over the world. Google Hangout makes it really easy host and record a workshops straight to YouTube.

So easy!

A community

If you are making a change or pursuing independent work, I definitely recommend finding people who are doing similar work. If you’re not sure who your people are, take a few moments to think about your “dream colleagues.” What would they look like? How would they support you? Join a meet up or ask your current friends and colleagues if they can connect you with the right people.

So that’s how you start a business for practically nothing! Getting started is one of the hardest parts so don’t let lack of funds stop you from moving forward. You can figure things out and upgrade as you go.

2 thoughts on “How to Start a Business for Practically Nothing

  1. As someone who tosses around and loves the “dream” of having my own business, this post is invaluable. This is really helping me see it’s less of a dream and more of a reality that I can obtain. I get so frazzled thinking about the logistics of the how to’s and would people even buy what I’m selling, that I just don’t dedicate time to it because it seems overwhelming. Some of these points seem like no brainers (like utilizing social media for things other than posting pictures of pretty flowers and sunsets), and all of them seem simple and realistic enough to actually jumpstart my hopes. Thanks for sharing these resources, Jenn!

  2. Thank you for your comment, Lisa!

    Every big goal is really just a series of small steps! I’ve spoken to so many small business owners lately…I think I’ll be doing more posts like this! If you have any questions you think I should address, let me know! 🙂

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