How to Start a Business (With No Money)

Jul 9, 2021

George Holmes

George Holmes

Managing Director + Co-Founder

For many, the route to starting a business involves finding venture capital or using angel investors – but did you know that many business ideas come to fruition without the need for large investments and startup costs? In all too many cases, entrepreneurs get so caught up in the search for that capital that they fail to think about whether they might be able to start a business on their own. Of course, this involves a lot of hard work – as any new business will – but starting a business with no money is not as outlandish as you might think.

In this blog, we aim to show you that, contrary to what many believe, there’s nothing stopping you from starting a business with only a well-thought-out business model and perhaps one of our small business loans. Of course, there are a few other nice-to-haves when it comes to starting a business, but venture capitalists don’t have to be one of them!

Planning Your Business Idea

Whether your idea is modest or out-of-this-world, proper planning is one of the most important things that will help it to eventually become a reality. For business success, you need a business plan – and creating one needs to become like your full time job. Here are a few questions you may wish to consider as you start the adventure that is business planning:

  • Has this business idea been done before?
  • How will you conduct market research?
  • Who is your target customer?
  • How much money do you actually need to get your idea off the ground?
  • That’s most of what you’ll need to worry about during the initial stages, but what do small businesses need to consider when things start to feel within touching distance? Below are a few examples:
  • Do you need a space to house or create physical products?
  • How do you plan to manage cash flow during the initial set up months?
  • Will you need spare cash for business insurance?
  • Are you planning to sell online via a basic website you create yourself, or are you planning to find professional support for this?
  • Will your business need social media marketing? How important will social media presence be to your target market?
  • Will you be investing in a marketing strategy? If you are planning to do this further down the line when you have secured more funds, what will be the cut off point?
  • All of these questions will be answered as you discover more about being a successful entrepreneur, but it’s always useful to be wary of them before you begin. Many aspiring business owners can become too wrapped up in sales and cash flow, avoiding the all-important bigger picture of business sustainability and growth.
  • At this hurdle is where small business loans can come into play. To start a business with no money on a personal level is quite the challenge, but if you can use extra cash from a business loan, having your own business can suddenly become a much more real vision. But – you can’t get a business loan without a solid, well-thought-out business idea and sustainability plan. In short: let making your plan be your first move. You will have a much clearer idea of the bigger picture, and you can use it to help apply for loans if ever you need them.
  • The Importance of Researching Similar Online Business
  • To start a business is often to start something new, and if it’s not new, you risk drowning in a sea of competitors. Conducting market research, thoroughly, is absolutely vital if you’re to grow a company that can flourish in today’s economy.
  • You might be looking to create an exclusively online business; or perhaps you have a niche group of potential customers in mind. But whatever your idea, market research is always useful. You’ll be able to gauge the success of other companies, discover new ideas in terms of using the available advertising space, or experiment using free trials of important metrics tools. You might even stumble across new ways to raise funds that you hadn’t thought about (did you know you can sell advertising space on a successful blog, for example?). It’s safe to say, a lot can be gleaned from a little research.

Making Your Business Model Work With Accessible Loans

The truth is that making your business model actually work, with only your entrepreneurial spirit to pave your way to that first sale, is practically impossible. Without your own site, a sea of engaged potential customers, and extra money for all the other costs that’ll come your way, you’ll be setting yourself up for an expensive failure – and unfortunately, the same goes for any other new businesses. It goes without saying, however, that there are plenty of financial support options available to help you start a business – you might not have to keep your day job after all.

As we’ve mentioned, business success comes from extensive planning and research. Your business plan should encompass everything from the raw materials for your own products to online store set up and Facebook page management. Of course, this is when you should plan your business loan applications, too.

Relying on a loan to help you get started is without doubt the simplest option, but with no simple way to understand the process, many young entrepreneurs believe there is too much risk and too little reward. At Aurora Capital, we understand that jargon around financial aids for businesses can be confusing, which is why we strive for full transparency and accessibility throughout the loans process. If you’re unsure about the kind of loan that could be right for you as a new business owner, our experts are always happy to speak with you directly.

Inspiration for Starting Your Own Business: Our Favourite Success Stories

Here are some of our favourite successful UK businesses that began without the owners having to raise any funds. It shows that with careful business planning, market research, and at least a computer for selling online, a service business isn’t too difficult to start.

Virgin Records

Virgin Records is the ultimate rags-to-riches story. This new business was started by Sir Richard Branson with a mere £300 investment. From his beginnings with a student magazine, Sir Richard Branson raised the capital to open a mail-order record company, then a record shop. From there, the business kept growing and growing, until Virgin finally moved into music production and telecoms. Now, this successful business is even poking its nose into space travel and tourism.

Hargreaves Lansdown

Now a member of the FTSE 100, this financial service company (selling funds, shares and other financial products to retail investors in the UK), once only had £500 to its name – as well as a couple of cars. These meagre investments, floated by Peter Hargreaves CBE and Stephen Lansdown, were enough to get the business started, and today it’s valued at over £4.5 billion.

Carphone Warehouse

As humble as any retail chain can begin, Carphone Warehouse started with Sir Charles Dunstone, who was selling mobile phones from his own bedroom. He and his partner, Julian Brownlie, managed to save up £6,000 to put into the company, and in eleven years, their smartphone retail shop became the largest in the UK. Starting a business with no money really is doable!

Beltway Cash and Carry

While it’s now a multinational conglomerate operating across the world and serving over 125,000 retailers, this wholesale business was started by (now Sir) Anwar Pervez, who was born as the son of a poor farmer in Pakistan. After moving to the UK at the age of 21, he established his first convenience store with savings of £2,200, which eventually grew into the worldwide wholesaler we have today.

The Range

Initially a market-trader, Chris Dawson moved from selling seafood from his van into selling perfume and jewellery from a suitcase. Humble beginnings, but ones that helped him raise enough startup capital to open a store called “The Range Home, Garden & Leisure” which eventually became the billion-dollar brand, The Range.


One of the smallest investments in this list – a true business with no money to start with – Jon Hunt began with personal savings of only £100, which he used for a deposit on a one-bedroom conversion. This began a successful career in independently buying and selling properties, which eventually allowed him to develop a low cost business model that resulted in Foxtons.


Another famous example of the quintessential self-made man, Lord Alan Sugar started, as the legend goes, by selling electronics from a van that he bought for only £100. From there, he started Amstrad, which sold electronic goods across a wide range of markets, and gained a reputation that even landed Lord Sugar gigs on TV programs such as The Apprentice.


The £5,000 loan that Steve Morgan OBE got from his father certainly wasn’t nothing, but few would imagine that it would be enough to build a fortune of £650 million. Of course, that is precisely what happened when Steve, once a site agent for Wellington Civil Engineering, built Redrow, which went on to become one of the best-known housebuilder companies in the country.

WorldWide Travels

Another self-made millionaire, Rita Sharma started her fledgling travel industry business from her garage after dropping out of college with little more than £4,000 that she was able to raise. This grew into WorldWide Travels which then became This once small business now makes over £100 million in sales.

New Look

Tom Singh OBE was also lucky enough to be able to start off with a £5,000 loan from his parents, which in Tom’s case, was just enough to found New Look. This clothing and footwear retailer boasts over 1,000 stores worldwide and a successful online store. Over the years, New Look has grown to be a well-known and respected brand.

Not all businesses can be bootstrapped into existence, but you might be surprised by just how many can. If you’re thinking of starting a business (with no money), think about what you really need to get it off the ground, and whether or not you need to find capital for it.

At Aurora Capital, we offer a range of free resources to help you develop an understanding of the types of loans you can access as a hopeful entrepreneur. So, if you’re interested in seeing what business loan options you have for your business, get in touch today and we’ll get you on the right track. Start a business with our support, and access all the tools you need for the financial side of business strategy planning. You don’t need a huge sum of money after all – just a business idea, internet connection, and drive to help your business succeed!

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