Want to bootstrap your startup?

How a little planning can help you start a business with no money


This is Part 1 of a 4-part series about saving for a small business.

Starting a small business is a big undertaking, but you can achieve your dream of launching your startup. This series explores smart ways to get started, without taking out a small business loan. In this first article, you'll learn how to finance your own business by setting a savings goal.

If you're looking to start your own business, you may be asking yourself questions like "Will this work?" or "How am I going to pay for this?" Some entrepreneurs choose to take out a small business loan, but that's not the only way to get your idea off the ground. With a little planning and a lot of smart saving, you might be able to self-fund your business without breaking the bank.

Identify your expenses

If you choose to finance your own business, you'll need to start saving. But how do you know how much you need to save? Figure out your business expenses to set your savings goal. The first thing you need to know is that every business is going to be different. Someone starting a small side hustle may have little to no startup costs. Brick-and-mortar businesses with employees could be a different story.

Whichever you choose, start by listing all of your expenses.1 Some will have defined costs, while you may have to estimate others. As soon as you figure out your initial expense you should add everything up to get an idea of how much you'll need to get your business going. From there, you'll be able to set your savings goal. As your business gets started, it 's really important to keep track of your expenses, especially when it comes time to file your taxes.1

Got a day job? Keep it.

Even though you're excited to pour your heart and soul into your new business, keeping your day job could be a safer option when bootstrapping your startup. Think of it this way: You're already taking a risk with a new business venture, but when you don't have enough saved up, it can be even riskier. By keeping your job, you might have more reliable monthly income.

To figure out how much you can save each month to finance your own business, start by making a budget of your personal expenses to set your savings goals.

Other ways to save

If you want to move forward faster, try saving in creative ways. Keeping track of things you use for your business, like miles driven, cell phone minutes and data and home internet, could help you rack up the savings with deductions come tax season.2

You can also put your professional skill set to use by freelancing to earn extra money for your startup. With a plan in place, you might be able to focus solely on your business once you have enough money saved up.

Starting a business with no money can be scary, but you might be surprised at what you already have that can help you get started. Once your business launches, you can continue using your savings plan to save for the future of your startup. As your business grows, that money can help you invest in making your new company everything you've dreamed of.

In Part 2 of the series, take a look at how freelance work can help you fund your startup.


This site is for educational purposes. The material provided on this site is not intended to provide legal, investment, or financial advice or to indicate the availability or suitability of any Capital One product or service to your unique circumstances. For specific advice about your unique circumstances, you may wish to consult a qualified professional.

  1. Calculate your startup costs (undated). Retrieved February 25, 2022, from https://www.sba.gov/business-guide/plan-your-business/calculate-your-startup-costs.
  2. Publication 334 (2021), Tax Guide for Small Business (2022). Retrieved February 25, 2022, from https://www.irs.gov/publications/p334.

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