7 Ways to Start Your Business With Low Upfront Costs

We asked founders in our #doolafounderpolls what is their biggest hurdle when it comes to starting their dream business, and the most voted option was “no money for start-up costs”.

So, we wanted to explore several ways you can get your business off the ground when funds are tight.

We’ll focus on online businesses for this article, but for tech startups and other businesses, check out our webinar “How to start a business and crowdfund millions for it.”

Before we dive in, below is a breakdown of how much it would cost you more or less to start a small online business (not taking into account buying inventory in advance). We will then cover how you can minimize these costs, to get as close as possible to $0.

Cost breakdown of launching an online business:

  • Formation Costs (LLC with doola): $197
  • Website and Platform: $50 – $200
  • Marketing: Varies (budget for ads, collaborations, and social media promotion) but $500+
  • Miscellaneous (domain registration, business tools): $50 – $100

These are the foundations of starting a business, and as you can see it will cost less than $1000. In case you didn’t know – starting a business is tax deductible. This means registering an LLC with doola is tax deductible and pays for itself in months. Why?

Because taxpayers can deduct $5,000 of startup costs and $5,000 of organizational costs in the year in which the business begins.

Now, let’s take a look at how you can reduce these costs further.

7 Low-Cost Ways to Start Your Business

Make Use of Free Business Tools

Take advantage of free business tools and apps to reduce your costs. From project management to graphic design, numerous tools, such as Canva and Notion, offer basic functionalities without a hefty price tag.

Price estimate: $0

Start Small with Minimal Inventory

Things get expensive if you have upfront inventory costs. Luckily, there are ways to avoid that if you use dropshipping or print-on-demand services like Printify to sell products.

You can also consider creating digital products like e-books or online courses, which require minimal investment.

Price estimate: $30-$50

Zero-Cost Marketing

Social media platforms are free and can help you get the word out without having to pay for marketing in the beginning. The only downside is that it can be quite time-consuming creating engaging content, but it’s something you can start outsourcing once you have your first few customers. You can also opt to use an AI app to help you write content faster, such as ChatGPT, Writesonic, or Jasper AI.

Networking in online communities or local groups can also help generate word-of-mouth referrals at no cost. You can also try getting a newsletter list going as well.

Price estimate: $0-$20

Build a DIY Website

To cut down on costs, use affordable website builders like GoDaddy, Weebly, or WordPress to create a professional-looking website without having to pay for a designer in the beginning.

There are many free or low-cost templates that you can customize to fit your brand.

What you will need to pay for is hosting and a domain name, however, those won’t cost you more than $70.

Price estimate: $50-$70

Tap into Alternative Funding Methods

If you’re really strapped for cash and really need some money to get things off the ground, crowdfunding is not a bad way to get some capital. Platforms like Kickstarter or Indiegogo can help you raise funds for your business idea. Put together a compelling campaign and show your passion and the value your business brings.

You can also apply for small business loans, grants, or ask for help from family and friends.

Price estimate: $0

Collaborate and Barter

Partnering up with other entrepreneurs or businesses for mutual promotion is a win-win situation. You can also consider services or skills with others to keep costs to a minimum.

Price estimate: $0

Leverage Your Skills

Lastly, it’s worth mentioning that offering freelance services in your area of expertise is also not a bad way to use your skills and get started. Platforms like Fiverr, Upwork, or TaskRabbit can connect you with potential clients.

TaskRabbit does take an initial $25 registration fee, but nothing else. While Upwork and Fiverr are free to sign up for, they do take between 10%-15% of each project you work on.

Price estimate: $0-$25

Total cost of starting an online business:

$200 or less, depending on what apps you decide to use

It’s Difficult, But Not Impossible

Launching a business on a shoestring budget is challenging, but it’s not impossible. Be resourceful, stay focused on your goals, and take one step at a time.

By implementing these practical tips, you’ll be well on your way to turning your entrepreneurial dreams into a thriving, budget-friendly reality. Best of luck on your journey – the world is waiting for your unique contribution!

Getting Started With doola

Are you ready to start your own business? The first step is forming an LLC. doola offers the best full service pricing on the market, feel free to reach out and chat with us!

Here’s to a smooth business journey!

Business Ideas You Can Start With $1000 or Less

There are many business ideas out there, but the one you decide to go for will depend on your skills and what you enjoy doing.

A few businesses you can start with $1000 or less are online print shop, ecommerce reseller, mobile coffee cart, packing and moving business, affiliate marketing, and more.

If you’re looking for some inspiration, check out our article on 35 low-cost business ideas you can start with $1,000 or less.

doola's website is for general information purposes only and doesn't provide official law or tax advice. For tax or legal advice we are happy to connect you to a professional in our network! Please see our terms and privacy policy. Thank you and please don't hesitate to reach out with any questions.

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