#Careergirl: Start A Business From Your Bedroom With No Budget

The age old question is, “how do I start a business with no budget (and no office)” and we know many people in the course of history that seemed to intuitively know the answer to this (like the founders of almost every Silicon Valley empire, for example). Although the steps might differ depending on the type of product or service you’re trying to sell, the core principles for starting a business with no budget and just your bed for an office are basically the same. Here are a few to get you started…

#1 Solve a problem

Or solve it in a better way. This is the hardest part for any small business. Before you launch, think about who you are trying to serve and why they would want what you have. You should be able to answer this question pretty easily. Do your research, and think through your business plan.

Virgin Startup has a really amazing business plan template that they require entrepreneurs to use before seeking investment. Even if you’re not going to be looking for third party investors, it’s a great resource for structuring your thinking and identifying the areas where your business idea might have some gaps that you need to address before getting started

#2 Don’t quit your day job

Instead, get comfortable with devoting your nights and weekends to your side hustle. When I started freelance writing, I cut out any activity that sucked my time and didn’t add value to my life. It’s amazing the hours you’ll find when you cut out TV, Netflix and Facebook. Having a full-time job is really important, because it provides you the freedom to experiment and learn that’s just not possible if you’re desperate for income.

#3 Emulate the experts

There are literally millions of people who have started businesses on the side, from their bedrooms. Spend a few hours Googling Sophia Amoruso and reading the free advice she’s doled out about how she started her NastyGal empire as an eBay store and you’ll have a nice little roadmap (and some serious inspiration) for your Web business.

There are a few other writers that I follow for practical tips for achieving my goals, and their advice rings true for any small business owner because they focus on the behavior you need to adopt to be successful, and the things you need to stop doing to get out of your own way. Austin Kleon and James Clear are two of my favorites, I guarantee you’ll get smarter if you sign up for and read their newsletters.

#4 Make ‘free’ your middle name

Estimate your annual revenue, and divide it in half. That’s what you can expect to make after five years. Sounds crazy, right? But setting your expectations low on your revenue will force you to be very strict on your costs. There are literally thousands of free resources for small business owners, from website templates to financial management training. I learned (rough, but passable) HTML coding skills by watching YouTube videos and cold-emailing coding experts for advice. I built my website on Google’s free blogger platform and monitor data about my traffic and users via Google’s free analytic tools.

#5 Take one small step every day

Launching a business is daunting, and many people fail. It’s easy to give up when you’re constantly thinking about the sheer amount of work involved, much less the patience, resolve and fortitude to overcome the challenges along the way. Instead, break it up into small steps and think about what you can do in the present moment to get where you want to go. Maybe it is as simple as emailing that editor about writing for her publication, or as complicated as updating the code on your Web site to make it more user friendly. There is always something you can do, and if you push yourself to move forward every day with small steps, you’ll develop confidence in yourself and your abilities.

Do you have any practical tips for starting a business from scratch? Or, have you gone through this process and learned things that you wish you knew when you started? Please share in the comments!

 

By Colleen Bordeaux

 

23 Comments
  1. So true to not quit your day job in the very beginning. I work full-time during the day, and blog at night. I make a little money off my blog, but nothing that I could survive off of! Still having a job allows me to live while I strive to reach my goal of blogging full time

  2. Hey Colleen, this is a wonderful article. It’s really practical advice that is actionable. So often I read how to articles that only state the obvious. This is really refreshing. Thank you.

    I’d also like to add that Codeacademy is an excellent, free tool for learning HTML, Java script and much more. I learned coding through their free program and it has helped me immensely with my site.

    1. Hi there! Thank you so much for your really nice comment, and for reaching out via Twitter! I’ve never tried Codeacademy but will definitely check it out. (I can use all the help I can get…)

  3. #2 is so important… most people think they do not need to work anymore in their old job and that is what most of the time breaks their necks at the very beginning! :)

    PS – I find it quite bothersome that this page makes me verify my e-mail adress while using disqus again and again… :(

  4. Great advise! I would also highly recommend building a network of people who challenge you. I’m currently in the process of setting something up on the side and my network – even when it’s small – is the number one thing that gets me further to that end goal!
    – X Marloes

    1. Hey Marloes, thank you for the comment! Really great point about building a network – my best girlfriends and I are staring a “Renaissance Woman” club where we can share ideas

  5. Hello Colleen,
    First off: Thank you for sharing this. A very insightful article that you have written for people who are looking to start a business on a budget.

    Secondly:
    I see that a lot of people recognize the importance of not quitting their daytime job. However, I feel like that is the one thing I didn’t follow. In a lot of episodes of Shark Tank/Dragon’s Den – the common advice that the judges give to the presenters is that – if you’re working a job and not 100% committing to new business venture that that means you do not 100% believe that it will succeed. That you are apprehensive that it will fail. That your idea is not sustainable. I feel like I needed to quit my job in order to spend most of my day hours working towards my new venture. It’s like every hour is lost working in something you do not believe in when it could contributing to your new business idea. There are so many ways to getting funding for your new business idea personal and/or government loans/capital ventures/angel investors/crowdfunding, if that is the biggest issue. Because at the end of the day time is money and the clock is ticking and someone else more eager could take upon your idea.

    I am open for discussion. :)

    1. First, I really appreciate your comments! Second, agree that there are other perspectives about how to launch a business from a bedroom with no resources. You are right that there is a lot of value in devoting all of your attention and time to your business if you are seeking investment or significant resources from another party. This is for those out there who are not at a point where they can support themselves on their newly-launched gig, or don’t have an alternate source of income. Would love to hear more of your ideas on how to start a business from scratch!

    2. I also started my own business and quit my day job after working on it for about 6 months, but before I was self-sustaining with my new venture. I was able to do this because I’d lived very frugally and had enough savings to last at least a year.

      However, that doesn’t count as starting a business with no budget, so I don’t think the advice applies in this situation.

  6. This is a great guideline to those like me who has only just started writing a blog :D I am guessing because I have only just started writing I have too few for people to view, do you have any more tips on how I can build an audience ?

    https://fymmxd.wordpress.com – lifestyle blog, mainly on health, fitness, recipe and work in general :D

    thank you !

    1. Hi Mandy! Thanks for your comment and apologies I am so delayed in my response! There are many tactics for building an audience, and a lot of those tactics do involve spending a lot of time visiting other blogs, commenting, and getting involved in the social community of your chosen topic. I really love the Nectar Collective for advice on this, you should check out that site for ideas!

  7. When you’re working full-time and developing your side hustle in the off hours, it’s important to be really efficient with your money and your time. It sounds a little nuts, but having a slow cooker helped me a lot in the early days! I was able to make easy, nutritious, and tasty meals from in expensive ingredients. It’s important to take good care of yourself while you’re crunching.

    1. Thanks for your comment Bike Pretty! And you are so right, a slow cooker is a budget diner’s life saver. Back in the day, I lived on eggs (scrambled, deviled, egg salad, you name it),chicken or tuna salad on saltine crackers, and cream cheese on Ritz crackers! Not exactly the most nutritious… but was quite frugal!

  8. Set your sights high and copy the best in your chosen field. Don’t worry about being disingenuous. The best are the best for a reason and you won’t be able to approach their level at first. It took them years to get to there. Instead you will learn what it takes to make something quality and along the way you’ll develop your own style. There’s no point in shooting for mediocrity!

    1. Hey Issa! Thanks so much for your comment, and for sharing on your blog! Popped over to check it out and see you are from Romania, which is on my travel bucket list! And hope that you’re able to get your own business off the ground soon – we need more entrepreneurs with great ideas in the world!

      1. Thank you for the encouragement, let’s hope that dreams do come true :)
        Let me know if you ever come to Romania and need a travel guide :D I’m sure you will fall in love with the beautiful landscapes and the cultural charm of my country. Kisses