So you have no money and want to start a business? What do you have? A ton of time (sleep is for the weak) and hopefully a really good idea that can produce some sexy margins. When it comes to eCommerce you might have some trouble. Sexy margins are far and few between online and with the capital you are talking about starting with, a website might be out of the question. A lot of people have mentioned selling on eBay, and I think that is a great way to start. If you want to sell a physical product, test and prove your concept on a marketplace (amazon, eBay, play etc…). If it works than you should have a bit more than the $100 you started out with and then look at building a website for your niche.
Drop shipping has been mentioned but the margins usually SUCK. I prefer to identify marketplace inefficiencies and exploit them. For instance a product might sell in your local offline market for 10 but sell online in a marketplace for 20. You may find two online marketplaces also have inefficiencies and can arbitrage them. Remember drop shipping is only cool if your supplier is an unwilling participant that has no idea how bad he is at pricing : )
Here are examples of both I have done in the past:
Offline VS Online Pricing:
My second foray into an online business (ironically at 16): I found that Fry’s Electronics (an electronic store in the US) would clearance video games down to random prices just to get rid of them. I would find a bunch of items that sold for 2x or 3x online and buy them all up! Until one day the market corrected itself : ( This has almost no risk. You buy locally at a store with a credit card, attempt to sell everything within the return window and return any unsold merchandise.
Online Vs Online Pricing
I have taken advantage of manufacturers of a product selling directly on their own eCommerce platform but not selling the product on marketplaces. List items on marketplace at a markup and then – drop ship the products from the beginning or simply contact the OEM and ask for bulk discount. Research is key and never buy the first item without selling it first!
And finally some tips I have from starting a business at a very young age with no money:
- Cash is king, credit is key – so what if you are 16? That will not stop you from dragging your parents into the bank to get you a credit card (that is what I did and I had a $500 dollar limit that saved me more than once).
- Cash Conversion Cycle – HAS TO BE NEGATIVE. How do you achieve this with out terms from suppliers? With the credit card mum and dad got you : )
- Cheap is cool FREE is better – do not pay one penny more than you have to for anything. Negotiate everything and always ask for FREE stuff. It usually does not hurt to ask.
Best of luck and glad to see a young person motivated to START!