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How to Start a Side Hustle With Little or No Money

When starting a side hustle, your mindset is the most important predictor of your future success.

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Have you ever wanted to start a side hustle, but didn't?

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I know exactly what’s holding you back.

I’ve talked to countless aspiring entrepreneurs. People seeking to start beauty companies, bakeries, tech companies, clothing companies, hot sauce emporiums … the list goes on. But though all of those business plans and side hustle ideas varied so much from each other, the very first concern they brought up to me was always the same:

“I don’t have any money. How could I possibly start a business?”

I totally get where they’re coming from. When you’ve never started a business before, so many of the first steps seem totally insurmountable — especially when you’re not lucky enough to be facing them with a bucket full of cash.

But guess what?

Michael Dell started out selling PCs from his college dorm room. Apple, Disney and Google all started in garages. I started a multimillion-dollar company from my kitchen table — and trust me, I was downright broke.

If you find yourself feeling like you couldn’t possibly start a profitable side hustle in your current situation …  you may be right. But not for the reason you think.

Related: Take This Quiz to Learn Your Perfect Side Hustle

The real reason you’re not starting your side hustle

I’m going to be real with you for a second. It’s not about the money … because for most businesses, you don’t need much money to get started.

It’s about your mindset.

Ask yourself: Why do you need money to start your business? What would that money give you? What would you spend that money on?

Whether you even realize it or not, you might be using your lack of funds as an excuse not to start your side hustle.

So often, people come to me thinking they need money to start their business — but as we dive into a conversation and answer those questions together, we realize they’re really lacking something else. Maybe you need more confidence and to overcome your fear of failure. Or perhaps feel like you lack the expertise necessary to get started.

Here’s the thing: Your mindset is the most important predictor of your future success. If you’re convinced you won’t be able to start a profitable side hustle, no amount of money will help you succeed. Shifting your mindset is the key to moving forward and creating something great.

Now, if you’re really serious about starting a side hustle — and letting go of any excuses — I’ll show you how to do it. 

3 tips to successfully start a side hustle with little or no money

1. Don’t do it alone

No matter how skilled, confident, capable and fabulous you may be, your side hustle will never reach its full potential if you insist on doing everything by yourself. Start leveraging other people’s experience, connections and feedback before you ever even launch.

Related: This $30 Bundle Can Help You Start a Lucrative Side Hustle

Tap into local expertise. Reach out to professionals in your area of interest and ask if you can buy them a cup of coffee. You’d be surprised at how many people are willing to help you out if you just ask. Whether they’re able to answer your questions, offer feedback about your business plan or point you to someone else who can help you get your business off the ground, a lot can come from just a nice cup of coffee.

Other people and businesses might also have resources you can tap into in order to start your business for less. If you don’t have the money to hire someone to build an app, partner with an engineer and build it together. If you’re looking for a great copywriter, offer to trade your digital marketing services for their services in lieu of payment. Look for creative ways to offer people win-win scenarios that don’t involve a huge check.

2. Create demand first

So many new businesses operate by the philosophy, “If you build it, they will come.” They dream up the product, design it, manufacture it, then get to work trying to sell it.

I recommend taking the opposite approach.

Before you ever spend a dime, start drumming up interest. If you’re thinking of starting a juice company, ask everyone you know if they’d be interested in doing a juice cleanse. If you’re planning on producing a batch of graphic tees, take preorders first. Gauge interest, take orders, then use that cash to cover the cost of production.

Once you’ve got the goods, go out there and get customers. Offer discounts or free samples so people can see how awesome your products are for themselves. It’ll give you momentum, testimonials, referrals — and hopefully, loyal customers.

3. Dream big, start small

Your potential is absolutely limitless. I totally believe in your ability to start a side hustle that eclipses your day job, allows you to devote all of your time and energy to your passion and winds up being absurdly profitable.

But it’s not going to be that way from day one. It’s going to require a lot of hard work.

Don’t diminish your dreams in the name of reality. Dream big, then dream bigger. But be patient as you seek to achieve your goals. Don’t quit your day job the day you launch your website — it’ll put too much emotional and financial pressure on your side hustle. Start small and grow big.

Related: 7 Side Hustles That Pay $150 Per Hour

To test proof of concept, create a low-cost minimal viable product or service and see how things go from there. Consider creating an online product first to lower startup costs. If your product or service doesn’t translate virtually, start local. You have plenty of time to grow and progress — starting small gives your business a better chance of success.

Want to learn more about how to start a successful side hustle with little or no money?

The Side Hustle Accelerator program developed by our VIP expert Kim Perell is full of amazing content including a hand-picked directory of 100+ Side Hustles you can start today! This step-by-step program was built for anyone ready to start their side hustle. Get started today and take advantage of this huge discount. 

Kim Perell

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Entrepreneur Leadership Network VIP

Kim Perell is an award-winning entrepreneur, bestselling author, CEO, and angel investor, who has made headlines for her transformative story of a startup entrepreneur to a leading tech CEO and prominent angel investor. Laid off from her dream job out of college, Kim started her first company from her kitchen table; going from broke to a multi-millionaire by the time she was 30, and selling her last company for $235 million.  Kim has been named one of AdAge’s Marketing Technology Trailblazers, Business Insider's Most Powerful Women in Mobile Advertising, Adweek’s Women Trailblazers, a John Maxwell Transformational Leader, an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year, and an Entrepreneur of the Year by the National Association of Female Executives.  Kim’s passion is to help aspiring entrepreneurs achieve success and is an early stage angel investor in over 90 startups, 18 of which have successfully been acquired by some of the largest Fortune 500 companies. Kim’s first book, The Execution Factor, The One Skill That Drives Success, is a national bestseller, designed to help others achieve success in business and life by mastering execution.