It’s your dream to start a business, but between student loan debt, wage stagnation and rising housing costs, making that dream a reality may seem like an impossible feat. But as the old saying goes: where there’s a will, there’s a way.

It’s possible to start a business even on a shoestring budget. Here’s how:

Make a List of All the Things You Can Do Without Money

A lot of the research, planning and legwork that goes into starting a business can be done for free. You just have to be willing to put in the time and effort.

There are several things you can do without money, including:

  • Writing your business plan
  • Market research
  • Identifying your audience
  • Creating a name for your business
  • Developing your brand style guide
  • Creating a marketing plan

Planning and research are the most important steps when creating a business. Creating a business plan will open the door for financing opportunities that can help you get your idea off of the ground. But you’ll need to have a solid plan.

Depending on the type of business you envision, you may be able to get up and running with little-to-no cash. For example, if you want to launch your photography business, you can likely start out as a sole proprietor (no registration required). You may already have all of the equipment you need. The only costs you may incur in the early stages are marketing-related, such as building a website, purchasing business cards and networking.

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Create a List of All the Things That Will Cost Money

There are many things you can do without money if you’re willing to put in the time and effort. But every business will require some monetary investment.

Don’t let this cost hurdle deter you from moving forward. If you’re persistent and willing, you can find a way to raise the money you need.

The first step is to create a realistic list of the things that will cost you money. Don’t overlook anything – no matter how small the cost.

Explore Your Funding Options

Once you have a good idea of your start-up costs, start exploring your financing options. Business loans and corporate funding are two of the most common forms of funding business owners seek. There are also grants (i.e. free money), and you can consider bringing investors on board.

If you want to apply for financing, you’ll need to make sure that you have a solid business plan and good credit.

At this stage, you should already have your plan on hand, but what if your credit is less than stellar? It’s worth taking steps to repair your credit before you even think about applying for a loan. You can check your credit score for free using a service like Credit Karma or something similar. Many of these free services also offer recommendations on how to improve your score.

In addition to these tips, you also want to make sure that you create as much of a financial safety net as you can. This may mean working a flexible job while you get your business off of the ground. The key is to make sure that you have money set aside to get you through those difficult first stages of launching a business.

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