How to become an entrepreneur with no money

coinsBecoming an entrepreneur is hard; becoming an entrepreneur using no money is extremely difficult.  Many people like the idea of being their own boss and of building something of their own from scratch. In these harsh economic times, many people are also looking to try to scrape a living for themselves online where the costs of starting a business are lower. Unfortunately,  going your own way is often the most risky solution, and it takes time to build up any sort of business.
I will do my best to address the question of how to become an entrepreneur with no money, however in reality, one will always need some level of investment. There are three questions to answer:

1.    How much money is necessary – or for this case, what are the cheapest options possible for an entrepreneur, since again, there is no such thing that is completely free.
2.    How much/little money can I spare?
3.    Can I get all or some of the money from elsewhere?

First lets look at some of the cheapest options for an entrepreneur. The lowest cost alternative is to start something online. The problem is that because it is easy, many, many people are doing it too. However, it is not particularly expensive to purchase a domain; there are also huge amounts of templates that one can get for free or purchase for around 60 dollars; payment options can be set up through free providers like Paypal or Moneybookers; or if you need an ecommerce system, Yahoo’s Merchant Solutions starts at 40$/month. So, apart from some small investments, all one needs to run such a business is a PC, an email account, and perhaps a phone (assuming one has or can acquire the skills needed for light webdesign and maintenance).

Cheap Alternatives to Become an Entrepreneur
The cheapest alternative at all is probably affiliate marketing. This is where you present someone else’s products on your site and when they click that product they are sent to the seller’s page. You then earn a commission (usually 5-15%) of the resulting sale. This way, you do not need to even have your own ecommerce system, but you will need a well functioning website with traffic. The latter is hard to get without an investment of some kind.

If you have a specific area of expertise, you may also be able to start a business where one handles projects using freelance labor. For example, a translation agency will receive projects from clients and assign them to freelancers. Just be sure you know what you are doing, since you are usually liable if the job is done poorly.

Alternatively, if you are an expert, you could start your own freelance business. For example, if you are webdesigner, programmer, social media marketer, translator, transcriber, proofreader, etc. you could try to go solo and set up your own site. Then you can find specialist forums and sites where you can bid on projects and try to find clients. Be prepared for tough competition!

Now, the problem with all these options is that people will not find you unless you market yourself properly.

How much money can you spare?
Becoming an entrepreneur is never completely free. However, costs can be kept to a minimum if you have access to the skills you need to set up your business or website, carry out marketing (whether it is brochures that need designing or phone calls that need to be persuasive), and produce or acquire a product or service. Nevertheless, always expect more costs than anticipated, whether they come from printing, subscriptions to tools that help you do your job, and so on.

Can I acquire the money?
Now, the starting question was how to become an entrepreneur with no money. Well, the easiest answer is: get someone else to pay. Of course, in practice that is much harder, but if you have some experience, a great idea, and professional & persuasive presentation you may well be able to acquire the funding you need. This can be obtained from banks, venture capital organizations, or even just people you know.

Remember, to seem professional you need to have analysed your market and industry, determined you need to do to succeed, calculated an estimated budget, and made an overall strategy. This would all be presented in a business plan. To learn more, check out this article on how to start a business.

If you have any other tips, feel free to leave them in the comment box.

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