Last Updated on 26 September 2020 by Gertrude
Every day all the time, I hear people saying, ”I want to start a business, but I have no money and I’m in debt”.
But I read articles like How to Start a Business With No Money – I Did It With Only $41 and I believe you can begin a business with no money.
Others say, ”I have to work this shitty excuse of a job to help me raise money for my business but I don’t seem to get there”.
Honestly, I find these as lame excuses of not wanting to begin your business.
Starting a business boils down to how bad do you want your business to take off even if you don’t have money?
How the Law of Attraction Works: I want you to know that we have all the money we need, at our disposal, we have to learn to ask for it. You can ask through manifestation/law of attraction, from God or from the work you do. You have to believe, work for it then be patient.
We will address today’s topic with another question, is it possible to start a business in Kenya with no money?
You will need to understand/realise that no matter what you read online or offline, it’s always nearly impossible to start a business with no money. There has to be some money you have to invest.
Even if you invest time, that’s still money.
Some businesses need capital to get off the ground, that’s for sure.
The best way to begin your business without worrying about expenses especially if you start a service business.
You have to ask yourself, what service can I offer to other businesses that will help me raise capital for beginning my business?
For example, what are your skills? Market your skills for free via social media platform where your clients/would-be clients frequent.
Another way of starting a business with no money is via affiliate links where you find products on Amazon (by far one of the easiest way to begin affiliate marketing) then you recommend these products to other users.
You can do social media affiliate marketing or Instagram Affiliate Marketing or Pinterest Affiliate Marketing.
You don’t need a website. A website, though, helps establish you as a guru/expert.
Another way of starting a business with no money is by talking to customers.
You need to know who your target customer is, where they hang out.
I mean, you need to know the nitty-gritty about your customer, from age, income level, spending power, values, interests, location.
When you know the depth of your customer, it becomes easier to market to them and easier for you to get paid.
This is what they call the power of marketing/building a personal brand after which you build a product around what a customer wants.
You have to be cautious so you must over-deliver so that your business spreads through the word of mouth marketing.
I remember when I started my pillow business, though not for free because I had to pay for the location, I used everything I had from my stash, I told the first buyer, spread the word for me.
And he said, ‘Of course, I will, your pillows are made with so much love and professionalism, plus your customer service is above par for a small shop, I will spread the word like bushfire’.
And he did! Have the best product, quality and excellent service and you can grow your business for free with no money.
Another way to begin a business for free or with no money is by starting with a great idea and investing your time in marketing.
You can have a great idea then no money to invest.
The best investment you will make is to invest in time. Why time, you may ask?
You see when you invest your time, you get to learn about yourself, first of all. When you learn about yourself, you know what strengths you have.
I find myself starting my businesses with a great idea.
In the middle of doing the business, I begin to realise some aspects of the business which I don’t like.
For example, I didn’t like marketing, talking for a long time exhausted me and I shut down my pillow business for days at a time.
I love the multi-tasking and doing so many projects at a time, to challenge myself. I love being on my toes.
I had to learn about displaying my products to appeal to the customers, something I felt was too daunting.
But it brought in more customers and more income.
Sometimes, you have to learn in the job, get better at it or get to love it.
In my hating for marketing, I realised, the more I don’t talk about my products, the more I wouldn’t sell.
I had to reset my mindset about marketing, and these days, it’s the best asset I believe I have.
If you find you don’t like something and you have to do, delegate or get help.
I learnt that getting help is so tedious than the business itself.
You have to train the staff and if your staff isn’t self-motivated, you have to push them. If you have to push your staff, fire them, immediately.
And it takes time to realise not every job-seeker is employable. There’s no mistake in firing a redundant ‘root’, is there?
The other mistake is believing you’re a ‘god’. Even if you don’t have money to start with, hire help.
You cannot do everything, you just have to get help.
A mistake that most small business owners make is doing it all. You will get burnt out, tired, mad and sometimes restless. That affects your customer service.
In investing time, I learnt about customer’s needs and the business’ needs.
Pillow was a passion business, I love cuddling pillows, but when you are running a business there are a lot more issues to pay attention to beyond the passion and cuddles.
You have to think of how to display, to sell more, the competition – in my case, the cheap China knock-offs, the pricing, hiring, overworking, setting time for myself, operating hours and taking custom orders.
You have to think of the challenges and how to deal with each of them/work around them.
Another way of beginning a business with no money is, of course, using social media.
Social media helps you gauge the products or service you want to sell. To gauge what your customers want or what products or services your customers interact with the most.
You’re already on social media, use that advantage to get free feedback from your customers.
When I was on Facebook, I wanted to gauge people’s love for print on demand products, I posted, ‘What I have been up to on the weekend’.
The engagement was massive and intense – so overwhelming support and I knew if I produced or designed one kind of product, customers would throng my store to buy.
It came at a rather bad timing because I had so much going on so I niched down to only designs which I love.
Your customers or friends on social media will helpfully tell you which items they love and what they don’t.
You have to choose an enticing language so you get true feedback. They’re your ”friends” so they don’t want to discourage you.
I asked in the comments, which one is your favourite?.
And the mug I designed and the kids’ products attracted lots of attention.
Sometimes, you will realise that customers get attracted not to what you hoped, in my case motivational t-shirts, do what the customers want.
You can introduce your ideas to them later.
I have started my businesses without learning but talent. I learn on the job.
I prefer to invest in businesses after I see the direction they take. I hear of people losing millions of shillings and dollars in investing in their start-ups.
I prefer the bootstrapping way, where you work with what you have, exactly how my pillow business started.
In order for you to begin a business without money, you are going to decide to take risks others aren’t willing to take.
For example, knocking on doors to sell your products and getting shooed away. You must have courage, dedication and determination to raise capital. I know of a man who started his cake-baking business, the same year I started my mandazi baking business in 2012.
He’d sell from door to door, these days, he owns an extremely vast business and he distributes his cakes to people and supermarkets all over Nakuru town.
What happened? He persevered and dared to stay. You can also use cold-calling or emailing.
I love to cold email but tell me to pick up the phone to speak, and if I don’t faint, something’s good is happening.
You can also volunteer in the field you want to begin your business on/from. I
f you want to sell clothes, offer to help sell clothes for other entrepreneurs.
Then make a deal with them, if I sell 50 clothes, how much are you willing to offer me?
Starting a business you love is a great way to begin a business with no money.
You will ask yourself, what’s within your skillset, what are your offerings? What can you do?
I started this blog as a hobby using my writing skills. You will learn along the way, have to make changes and you will feel like giving up. Don’t. It only does get better.
I realised though passion is a drive that makes you start a business, determination, perseverance and your determination to see your business succeed is what will make your business stay more than six months or a year in the field.
Niching out or establishing yourself as a guru in one field will make you more money.
I wanted customers from all fields.
”Should I include clothes repair in my pillow business, after all, clothes repair is sewing”, I asked myself.
The worst mistake I ever made was to repair clothes, I don’t even like clothes repair, but lots of people asked about clothes repair.
What I should have done is simple, tell them that’s not what I do. I chose to get greedy and paid the price. I quickly learnt and made a decision to never do what I’m not excellent at.
Tips for Beginning Your Business With No Money and Bad Credit in Kenya
The following are the top tips for beginning a business with no money and bad credit in Kenya and they include the following:
Get creative in how to raise funds
If you want to begin a business with no money, you have to get creative in how you raise funds.
You can use what you have – for example, your natural skills, talents or abilities to make money.
Or you can do a job, for example, cocktail waitressing or working at a gentleman’s club as a dancer.
What can you do and are comfortable doing it?
What are your services?
To render a service to a business, you must beware of your talents or abilities. What you can do without having to learn.
Make your business stand out
You can make your business stand out by simply rendering the best customer service there is.
Or you can produce the best, high-quality unique products you can.
When you make your business stand out, it becomes easier to sell more. The more you sell, the more money you make.
Quality is best than quantity. When I write in-depth blog posts, well-researched with lots of pics, those become viral than rushed.
Focus on providing the best, when you provide the best, your expertise shows and people love working with experts, right?
When I started my pillow business, I was on autopilot, learning on the go.
I was confident I could make exquisite pillows and was confident people would buy.
The only problem, I hadn’t learned about properly and stylishly displaying the pillows.
Once I learnt how to display those pillows, it’s true I made plenty of money in days.
Be open to learning
If you’re a business owner with a fixed mindset, I can tell you there’s no progress you’ll make.
I have seen a business mogul crumble because he refused to keep up with the current trends. It’s painful.
See what happened to Nokia?
Consider starting your business online
Start by validating your business idea online to help save you start-up money.
When you begin your business from online, it’s likely you will make tweaks that impress your customers.
Customers like to give suggestions / are very critical online, choose what you listen to.
Plus your business opens up to a worldwide customer base. I’m learning a lot since bringing my pillow business online as an affiliate business.
Start from social media
Another great way of beginning a business online is via social media.
I made a blog post on how to begin a travel consultant business from Instagram and those guidelines you can stretch to any business you want to begin online.
Do you know why it’s great to start from social media?
You learn for free, how to brand in order to stand out from the competition.
You can do microblogging about your products, for free, at no extra cost on social media.
Microblogging helps you raise awareness about your products or helps you to add value to your products or services.
Use and maximise free trials
I started blogging on a free platform before deciding that I’ll take it seriously when paying for the domain and hosting.
It took almost a decade to become serious blogging!.
These days hosting your blog/website is almost free with Dreamhost you can buy per month subscription and keep your content marketing strategy going.
Research what other startups did
There’s power in research.
The more I researched the possibilities of making money online in Kenya for Kenyans, the more I realised not a lot of people talked about what I wanted to talk about.
I felt the power of talking about making money online.
Researching opens you up to what’s working and what’s not working and what the missing link is.
The more I research about making money online in Kenya, the more I learn. I’m a student too.
Have a plan
Don’t be like me always learning in the job.
Have a plan. I prefer to not have a plan because, well, if I have a plan, I don’t ever stick to it. But I love plans and planning.
Have patience and persistence
Don’t start a business because you saw someone making multi-millions and think their story is your story.
They may have made multi-millions in 2 months and your journey make take a decade, like mine, to make money with your business.
Focus on your journey and growth and your business, not on others.
Do you see why I insist it’s important to have passion and persistence when beginning your businesses?
Your journey cannot be someone else’s.
Invest in yourself
Take time to learn about your business and yourself.
When you learn about your business, you help it grow. You focus on the quality of the products.
When you learn about yourself, you learn what your strengths are. Then your weaknesses and learn to take advantage of both.
In conclusion, there’s no need to give it so much thought, begin your business with all the free resources available in this digital age.
You don’t have to get a brick and mortar yet, begin your business from social media.
Ask yourself where do my customers hang out the most? Follow them to the social media they love and connect with them.
Don’t make the mistake of talking products without forming a connection with your customers.
Pay attention to every detail to learn what your customers are looking for in terms of product/service, quality/quantity, then develop a product/service to solve their pain points.
As a bootstrapped business, you’re responsible, you’re the sole person behind your business, ensure connect first before selling anything. That’s how it works.
It’s easier to begin a business with no, using your skills. The time you invest in building the business up is money. T
hat’s why they say time is money and wasted time cannot be recovered. Learn to prioritise and use tools to manage your business.
Don’t ever give up, Rome and any big business weren’t built in a day.