Invest Time If You Don't Have Money To Start a Business

Sponsored by What's this?
Serious business owner working at laptop in cafe

Hero Images / Getty Images

Starting a new business often takes a lot more time than it does money. If you are short on cash (or even have no money at all) to start a business, it should not stop you from taking the initial steps now that won’t cost you anything but time.

Key Takeaways

  • You have multiple options for improving your business that require time instead of money.
  • Creating a sound mission statement and business plan can help you gain funding and investors for your business.
  • Use free online business courses, borrow library books, and find business mentors who can help you navigate the early stages of your business.
  • If you have some extra cash—but not much extra—consider paying for a company logo, registering your business name, or opening a business bank account.

Write a Mission Statement

Your mission statement is a great daily reminder to yourself about what it is you want to accomplish. A good mission statement is short, clear, and should embrace your core values. It should state who you are serving (your market), how you are serving them (your services or products), and what makes your business unique. Once you have your mission statement, you can incorporate it into your business plan.

Write a Business Plan

A business plan can help you map out your ideas and strategies and goals in a way that you can see the big picture and other people can understand your business. It is particularly crucial because lenders often want to see a business plan when considering your application. Spend as much time as you need on your business plan, as it's a key part of getting funding and sending your business in the right direction.


The Small Business Administration (SBA) is a good resource for business plan advice.

Conduct a Feasibility Study

Feasibility studies are a great way to answer your own questions, and questions investors will have about your business. For example, a good feasibility study will cover:

  • Launch: Addresses how you will get your product to market (i.e., how your business will produce, store, deliver, and track its products or services.) 
  • Marketing: Looks at the market to assess competition, find niches, and will help you identify who might buy your products or services. 
  • Financials: Projects how much start-up capital is needed, sources of capital, returns on investment, and other financial considerations. It looks at how much cash is required, where it will come from, and how it will be spent.

The more you know about your own business needs upfront, the fewer problems you will have in raising capital and getting started when you are ready to launch.

Find a Mentor

If you are new to the business, rely on the expertise of a business mentor. A good mentor won’t tell you what to do. Rather, they'll make you think through your problems and offer guidance to help you avoid future problems.


The Small Business Administration's SCORE program is a great place to find a free business mentor. In many cases, SCORE will connect you with a business mentor in your area.

Enroll in Free Online Business Classes

Take online courses to help you learn about business. For example, Harvard Business School offers a variety of online lessons taught by faculty and industry experts, and provides access to ebooks that cover strategy, leadership, and entrepreneurship. Santa Clara University offers a certificate program in which you can earn a certificate of completion for working through 35 different business courses.

Borrow Business Books From the Library

Head to your local library to check out books that cover how to start a business. Reputable books are a great way to get step-by-step instructions on how to set up nonprofit organizations, corporations, social networks, your website—and help you understand just about everything there is to know about starting a business.

Low-Cost Options If Your Budget Is Tight

You don't have to invest a lot of money in your business to accomplish a few fundamental things. Here are a few low-cost things you can do to get started on the right foot.

Buy a Website Domain: As low as $10

Even if you don’t have the funds to develop a website just yet, grab a domain with your business name.  You don’t even have to pay for hosting to register a domain until you decide to build a website. If you are planning to build a site right away, budget about $10-$12 per month for web hosting.

Hire Someone to Create Your Business's Logo: As low as $5

Websites such as Fiverr offer low-cost services from graphic designers who create logos. It is a great place to get affordable help with many basic business needs or to try out other companies’ services before spending more money with them.

Register Your Business Name: Cost Varies

No matter where you plan to do business you will need to register or license your business with your state, county, or local municipality. If you are going to use a fictitious business name (sometimes referred to as “Doing Business As” or “DBA”) you may need to run an ad in a newspaper for a certain number of weeks before you can use the name. The cost for a business name varies depending on where you live.

Open a Business Bank Account: Cost Varies

Though your business may be in its early stages, opening a bank account for your company is a small win that sets you up for success. Keeping your personal expenses separate from your business expenses via a bank account can help you better track your business spending, and it can help make tax season easier for you. Try to find an account with no fees, an account with fee waiver requirements you can meet.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How can I improve my small business for free?

There are many ways you can improve your business for free. Creating a mission statement and a business plan are two ways to strengthen your business. Also, meeting with mentors and reading business books can expand your skillset and increase your business wisdom.

How can I promote my small business with no money?

Online business directories, social media, and learning about search engine optimization are ways that you can promote your business online without spending any money.

Was this page helpful?
The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Small Business Administration. "Write Your Business Plan."

  2. Guidant. "How To Write a Business Plan That Will Get Approved for a Loan."

  3. Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. "What Is a Feasibility Study?"

  4. Department of the Interior Indian Affairs. "Why Feasibility Studies Are Important."

  5. SCORE. "Find a Location."

  6. Harvard Business School Online. "Learn for Free."

  7. Santa Clara University. "My Own Business Institute: Our Courses."

  8. State University of New York Adirondack. "Entrepreneurship: Small Business Start-Up Research."

  9. HostGator. "How Much Is a Website Domain Name?"

  10. Accion Opportunity Fund. "7 Reasons To Open a Business Bank Account."

  11. Hewlett Packard. "HP Tech@Work: How To Promote Your Small Business Online for Free."

Related Articles