Pretty much everyone dreams of becoming their own boss at one point or another. Considering how much business is done online these days, there’s no reason that you can’t finally achieve this dream even if you don’t have any outside money coming in.
There’s a good chance that you can build a remote business without any existing income.
Unemployed and underemployed netizens have built entire empires before simply by creating a single sales portal and slowly growing their operations from there.
Some people do go the extra mile and sacrifice some portion of whatever existing income they have to achieve their goals faster. Nevertheless, you don’t even need to do this if you don’t want to.
There are ways to get started without spending a single dime, and the best part is that none of these methods need you to acquire technical skills you don’t already have.
Getting the Ball Rolling Without Investors
Starting an online business with no money is actually easier than incorporating a more traditional company without any capital.
While that’s not to say you won’t experience difficulties during the early stages, it’s certainly much simpler to get going online than it would be if you had to invest in a physical plant.
In most situations, you already have at least some physical assets that you can put toward running your new operation.
For one, you more than likely have a PC or mobile device with an internet connection. If you’re not able to keep up with payments to your ISP, then you can always take your technology with you to the library or another place that offers a free connection.
You don’t need to invest in an office or other piece of property because you can run your business out of whatever living quarters you currently have.
Many people have suggested that people who run remote businesses need to have a separate computer from their normal daily driver. There’s no reason for you to rush out and spend any money on a second machine.
If you’ve been a little negligence on maintenance, then you’ll want to make sure you take good care of the hardware that you’re working with.
That being said, anyone who is disciplined enough can make do with what they currently have.
Plenty of pundits and self-described marketing gurus have suggested that all businesses, regardless of whether they’re physical or remote in nature, need to have a sort of financial egg to get moving.
This is precisely the reason so many new business owners immediately rush to the nearest crowdfunding site and start fundraising.
The problem is that there are only so many donors to go around, so there’s no guarantee you’ll ever find any.
Once someone donates to a project, they’re going to expect results anyway. As a result, you shouldn’t be afraid to go without investors. If you’re currently trying to start a business without outside investment, then look at this instead as an opportunity.
You have the rare chance to build your company from the ground up without having to do what other people tell you. It’s very liberating when you look at it that way.
No matter how free you might feel, though, you’ll need to put together a business plan so you don’t lose sight of what you’re trying to do.
Putting Together a Plan for Your New Remote Business
Since you’re more than likely starting out by yourself, there’s no real compelling reason to follow any specific business plan format. No matter what style you use, this is more of a document for yourself to help you keep your eyes on the prize.
Start by jotting down all the online business ideas that you can. Quite a few of these might not be workable, but at least you’ll get enough ideas down on paper that you’ll have a few that are workable.
Speaking of paper, you’ll want to do this digitally too if at all possible. Remote businesses are run over the Internet, so you might as well get used to using the kind of tools that you’ll rely on once you start to have clients.
On the same note, don’t let anyone sell you on technology you don’t need. Plenty of people have taken all the notes they need with the notepad app that comes with their PCs or phones.
You may also start to find some slightly off-beat uses for existing tools you have.
Assume, for a moment, that you’ve never gotten used to writing messages to clients. If you worked in retail or something before, then this is probably a new chore to you.
You don’t have to invest in some kind of super word processor program if that’s the case. Paste text into the web browser you already use. It can automatically provide spelling suggestions for you, but you won’t pay for it.
Don’t forget that there are plenty of online options as well.
However, the big problems you run into probably won’t be related either to technology or business planning. The first major ones will have more to do with morale.
How to Keep Moving Forward
It’s so easy to fall into the trap of wanting to give up after a while. Things will get tough and there will be times when running your own remote business doesn’t seem worth it.
While it might sound a bit trite, try keeping a list of inspirational quotes or maybe a favored story around to keep you going. If you’re saying to yourself that doing so is silly, then you might very well change your mind the first time you run into a major snag.
Don’t let yourself get overworked either. Accomplish what you need each day if at all possible.
There’s no need to go overboard and try to do more work than you need to. Over time this can increase the chances that you’ll want to slack off since you’ll get burned out after a while, which can ironically lead to reduced productivity.
Morale is always very important. Find ways to treat yourself that don’t cost anything.
Giving yourself a short break or taking the time to make yourself a pot of tea isn’t going to set you back much financially, but it can really re-energize you.
One of the best parts about running a remote business is that you can set your own schedule. Since no one will see what you’re doing, there’s no reason you can’t work in your pajamas.
Ultimately, though, the concept you use as the basis for your remote business plan will heavily influence your ability to survive over the long term.
Developing a Business Model that can Last Forever
Even if your morale never falters, you still need an idea that has the potential to grow into a real company if you plan on lasting.
More than likely, you’re moving into the world of remote work because you want to leave a dead-end job. There’s no reason that you should allow your new business opportunity to lead you to the same place.
A good example of a business you can get into without any investment right now is dropshipping. Since goods sold by a dropshipper are provided by someone else, there’s no upfront expense.
You simply start by finding a source of goods to sell and then begin to list them.
When customers place an order, you fulfill it by shipping the product to them from your supplier. Since they’re paying slightly more than you’re assessed in the bulk cost of goods, you’ll turn a profit without requiring a huge investment to begin with.
The beauty of this kind of plan is that it can eventually grow into a bona fide company that starts to employ more than just you. If you’ve ever had the dream of really getting ahead in life, then this could be a potential vehicle for you.
As your client base grows, you can start to build your own eCommerce site. This could, over time, attract more buyers who will eventually demand more and expensive products from you.
While no initial seed investment was required, you’ll be able to reinvest some portion of your proceeds over the course of a few years to get to this point without cutting into your lifestyle.
Dropshipping is probably the most straightforward remote business to get into these days that still has growth potential.
Before you get into it, though, consider the fact that the field is getting a little crowded. You may want to instead look into any of the following ideas as well:
Blogging & Social Networking for Money
People have been making money for a long time by developing interesting blogs that provide actionable information to their readership.
Since they have a captive audience, they’re able to draw an income through affiliate marketing and pay-per-click advertisements.
You may have heard that the world of online advertising is getting oversaturated, which is why so many people are looking for alternate revenue streams.
There are firms out there that are looking for people who can review products online and promote things through their social media accounts. Once you’ve built up a presence online, you can start to influence others.
Some firms are willing to pay for the endorsement of trusted online authorities, and the best part is that it doesn’t cost anything to get started.
Become a Social Influencer
Another very closely related business model focuses almost exclusively on the social media side of the equation.
Influencers are people who have the unique ability to add credibility to a brand by recommending their products on social media.
This isn’t a traditional type of promotional gig. You’d first need to build up a natural non-business social presence.
Take, for instance, someone who is well-known for posting funny content about video games they play. Over a period of time, they might start to attract an audience of fellow gamers who like their reviews.
When they reach out to companies that need to improve their brand, they’ll be asked to recommend products in a way that doesn’t seem like they’re actually selling them.
This mimics the kind of natural recommendations that friends give each other, and it can therefore be worth far more than traditional advertising.
Since social media accounts are free, this again represents a business you can start getting into right this minute.
Freelance Software Development
This is generally a good field to get into if you already have some coding experience. Unlike most other freelance jobs, remote programming has the potential to grow into a larger company with you at the helm.
If you take a few coding jobs on today, then you might have a chance tomorrow to pitch your own ideas for a new app.
Countless independent software studios got their start this way, even back during the so-called bad old days of dial-up Internet.
Some have even suggested that programmers who work for remote businesses are more productive than those working in a traditional office.
You may also want to consider responsive site design if you have a background in writing source code.
Responsive & Mobile Web Design
It’s easy to say that traditional web designers have been out of a job for a while now. Web development tools are so simple that any entrepreneur can make their own site if they need one.
Responsive design, however, often trips up those who aren’t quite as experienced with it. Since there are many different types of devices connected to the Internet these days, people want to use sites that can automatically adjust to the type of browser they’re using.
If you have these skills, then you can again use them to start a business without investing a single dime. Keep in mind that you don’t need a big development suite or any special gear to get started.
Notepad, TextEdit or whatever other simple app came with your PC is more than enough to get down to the business of writing code no matter how sophisticated it might be.
Writing & Publishing
While this idea has the potential to make you a great deal of money over time, it could take some time to do so. Therefore, it might be best as a side job while you’re transitioning away from whatever you’re currently doing.
If you’ve ever dreamed of writing a book, then you might be turned off by vanity publishing fees and other similar expenses.
You can publish and sell your book electronically at no cost to you. Should you have any rare technical or informational material to share with the world you might stand a higher chance of selling a healthy number of digital copies.
There are also freelance writing sites and talent agencies that make it easy to get connected with people that need commercial copy written.
Once again, it can take a while to get going. However, you don’t need to invest anything into this kind of remote business opportunity.
If you’re lucky, then you can eventually grow your small opportunity into a major content provider.
Real estate isn’t the only industry that gives people the freedom to broker properties between two different parties. Some domain names are in such high demand that you can flip them if you currently own them.
Unfortunately, this isn’t an investment-free opportunity if you don’t already have some web infrastructure.
If you do, however, then you can put your domains up for sale and use the proceeds to fund your next domain purchase.
Try to get names that are very generic, since these tend to go for considerably more on the open market than other names do. Keep in mind that there are numerous generic top-level domains (gTLD) out there at the moment.
You might be able to find something in the .pro or .aero sectors that you’d never find elsewhere.
Cryptocurrency is hot right now, as is everything related to the blockchain.
Since this kind of technology relies on people running software from their own homes, it’s easy to get started. You simply need a mining application that can leverage the power of your PC’s hardware to perform transactions, which over time net you money.
If you decide to go this route, then you can start to invest your tokens into purchasing more cryptographic tokens. No outside investment is required since a well-run operation is self-funding.
While media reports have recently claimed this kind of business venture is dying because of the bloated cost of Bitcoin and other similar virtual currencies, you can actually seek out the large number of so-called alt-coins that are out there.
These don’t have nearly as large of a user base, which makes them far more attractive to entrepreneurs who are just getting started in the world of remote work.
Remote businesses often revolve around search engine marketing and other related fields. As a result, you might eventually walk away with some pertinent useful skills you can parlay into a real business venture.
Web companies and eCommerce firms are always looking for people who understand SEO and are ready to audit sites. Once again, you don’t need any special tools to do this besides those that are readily available online. As long as you have an email inbox, then you’re already good to go.
Most firms in this field hire article writers to provide content for their sites.
This opportunity involves working on the other side of the equation. You’d make money checking over existing sites and ensuring that they can rank as high as possible.
Over time, you will be able to add other services to your new venture too.
Social Media Consulting
Consultants who work on social media advertising aren’t judged by their existing network presence, unlike those who work in some of the other related opportunities on this list.
Rather, they’re expected to extensively study the rules and terms of service agreements for major sites like Facebook and Twitter.
While these sites are certainly lucrative places for those who want to promote their products and services to a wide array of people, they’re also very selective about what they allow people to do.
You’d need to bone up on these policies so you could help businesses audit their promotions and stay on the right side of the law.
Facebook posts their ad policy online openly, so you don’t have to pay to read it. Almost all of the other major social networking sites do as well.
There might be some other opportunities available to you in the future if you’re familiar with automation tools as well.
There are countless sites now that enable people to post their own courses online. Students can pay to sign up whenever they feel like it, and they’ll then be free to access your course material at their leisure.
You can film lectures even if you have nothing more than a smartphone and then post them with no difficulty. Few people will ever notice, considering that many professionals film their lectures in halls with poor lighting.
In fact, your homemade courses might be a step up compared to what others offer.
There are generally no fees to post this kind of material either.
Other Opportunities are Right Around the Corner
Always keep your eyes open, because there are countless other opportunities waiting for you just around the bend. You could start more than one venture at a time if you’re prepared to handle the added pressure.
Some people start with online auction sites, a staffing agency, or work as freelance virtual assistants until they have enough capital to start the kind of remote business they really want to run.
Many people continue to make sales this way even as they transition into a more complete remote work program.
No matter what option you pick, you’ll want to be ready for success since there’s never been a better time to get started than now.
Philip Piletic focuses primarily on the fusion of technology, small business, and marketing. He is an editor, writer, marketing consultant and guest author at several authority websites. In love with startups, latest tech trends and helping others get their ideas off the ground. You can reach him over LinkedIn.