Start a Business with no financing


anybody knows how to start a business from absolute zero financing. I have an idea ( software related). I am a programmer too (but not very proficient to call myself brilliant). And I want to start a business out of the idea I've got. The sad news is I have no money at all to finance my startup. Also I am pretty bad in web designing as well for which I definitely need the support of somebody.

Software Finance

asked Apr 25 '11 at 15:57
Pathum Mudannayake
178 points
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  • Work on it during evenings and weekends. Given your situation, it seems to be the only viable way. Or take risk and quit job if you believe the idea ;) – Genadinik 13 years ago
  • Hi Genadinik, thanks for your comment. I am pretty bad at designing (may be I don't want to be good at). So I definitely need somebody to design, as I strongly believe in that. What do you suggest me doing? – Pathum Mudannayake 13 years ago
  • Get a job. Use the money to pay someone. Programming ins a highly paid profession. – Net Tecture 13 years ago

6 Answers


So, you are incompetent in your profession, how come you think you can run a business?

Here we go:

I am a programmer too (but not very proficient to call my self brilliant). And I want to start
a business out of the idea I've got. The sad news is I have no money at all to finance my

Go freelance. Land ONE contract, have money. Even without freelancing, programmers are not the low end of the food chain - you either are out of work (=incompetent, these days, or bad social skills), or live above your means. I work with a lot of freelance programmers and all of them have their own side projects they fund with their consulting work.

If you would say "I am a cook" I would understand that (they earn crappy), but if you look at the payment terms for halfway decent programemrs these days "i have no money" runs not really nice. You should have more than enough to finance quite a lot of work after saving up for 6-9 months, especially if you outsource some stuff to a competent hacker you find in Russia or the Ukraine.

Also I am pretty bad in web designing

Obvious. Most programmers are. That said, this is peanuts if you go to some well known websites and check out some international designers. 500 USD carry you quite far, and that should be your gross profit from a consulting job for one day.
answered Apr 25 '11 at 20:19
Net Tecture
11 points
  • Hi NetTcture, thank you very much for your lengthy, informative and attractive answer. I guess I am not too bad. I currently work as a project manager (plus do the design of some software BI and GIS). I am confident that I can achieve a programming feat that I think of. So according to you the web designing also could get done! But I have a heavy load of R&D to be done to implement my idea which includes GIS and GPS stuff with navigation! – Pathum Mudannayake 13 years ago
  • This my or may not be an issue. But saying "no money" is not really a valid item when you are working as project manager. YOu should definitely be able to kickstart your own project easily ni spare time / holidays and with the help of some outsourcing. For web-design I would try odesk / elance to get some low cost people look into it. – Net Tecture 13 years ago
  • Thats elegant. Thanks NetTcture. I definitely got something worthwhile out from your answer. Yeah I can put in some money, but am not in a solid position to hire a full time guy and do the development done (cost and time both a problem in this). – Pathum Mudannayake 13 years ago
  • +1 for stating that most programmers are bad at web design. I mean this quite seriously. It is a very different skill set. The web is littered with the debris of programmers who figured they could design plenty well enough. Before anyone takes this as the petulant whining of a rejected designer, I am myself a programmer (although unlike our esteemed questioner, I will claim brilliance in that arena ;-). – Kenneth Vogt 13 years ago
  • Yeah. OTOH I still dont know a single web designer who unerstands the inticacies of multi threaded server code ;) Different brain wiring. – Net Tecture 13 years ago


You have an idea and you can program so stop waiting. Hosting and payment processing will be your biggest expenses. Just start building it and get as much feedback as possible. There's time to get tips on specific problems and you can hire outside help if you have scaling issues.

It may not turn into a business, but the experience you gain will pay off eventually.

answered Apr 26 '11 at 11:24
Jeff O
6,169 points
  • Thanks a lot Jeff, it is extremely encouraging. I definitely will start working on it right away. Correct, it might not even become a business, yes? That was my strongest worry. I was thinking whether I will be able to make it commercially successful with the portion of marketing involved. Trial and error, ha? – Pathum Mudannayake 13 years ago
  • @picmate Trial and error, indeed! – Anders Hansson 13 years ago


If the business needs finance to get started, then you could approach an investor, sometimes referred to as an Angel or Dragon.

If you have a really good idea then you could attract an investor. There are many people with money that are willing to invest in good ideas, the hard part is convincing someone that it is indeed a good idea. A serious investor with a track record could also help you with other areas of business based on their experience.

A web design firm may be willing to do the work for a share of the revenues, but you would be giving up a share of the business in return for their investment.

Anyone serious about helping you to get started should be willing to do so on a confidential basis. There are agreements that can be put in place to cover this, but try to go with someone you know, or at least trust.

answered Apr 25 '11 at 18:45
11 points
  • Thanks Knooq, if I go in a revenue share basis, that means the parties who are involved can claim for the ownership of the startup? What can be the consequences? And also how to protect the intellectual rights? – Pathum Mudannayake 13 years ago
  • I am co founder of a web design firm, and you will have a hard time finding one that is ready to work for a share of you revenues. Maybe you should search for a freelance co-founder (but you will have to give him some equity) or for a web design firm owned by an investor. – Sylvain Peyronnet 13 years ago
  • It depends on what you agree with them (in writing presumably). Investors who put up all of the investment on start-ups generally expects a high equity share (share of the business) as they stand to lose the lot if it doesn't work. Although forums are helpful, you might like to take professional investment advice before deciding anything. – Knooq 13 years ago


It depends on your idea. If it is a web based business, probably you can give a beginning by working the evenings and week-ends.

But, I can tell you one thing. If you want to make your business successful one, you should contribute your full tie into it.

answered Apr 25 '11 at 20:24
Sivaram Vargheese Thangam
11 points


You have two options. Either work alone, investing your evening and weekend time, or find one or two partners to work with you. The former option is interesting only if you are able to implement your whole idea in a reasonable time.

However, in most cases, to get a partner will be the best option. She'll invest her time also, increasing your production. And, she can complement your skills. You mentioned that you aren't good at design, so you could look for someone capable in this area. Or in marketing.

answered Apr 26 '11 at 01:44
Brunno Silva
320 points
  • Thanks Brunno, I thought exactly the same thing. Since I have not yet started even my part of the work, initially I can concentrate on that? then can do the touch ups with a designer? – Pathum Mudannayake 13 years ago
  • For any advice in starting your project, I strongly recommend a new book called [Do the Work]( Its pretty cheap and shall show you how to create a path (and a strategy) to follow. – Brunno Silva 13 years ago
  • Sure Bruno, Thanks. – Pathum Mudannayake 13 years ago


Boils down to this:

  • Work a full or part time job so that you can eat
  • Start developing a prototype
  • Start networking locally until you find a suitable partner or company/individual that you can pay for your graphics.

When your prototype is done, figure out if you're going to boot strap it or seek funding. Having a prototype is essential for this calculation.

answered Apr 27 '11 at 00:52
Frankston Ralphington Iii
133 points
  • hi! thanks. Your explanation is quite interesting. What I had in my mind vaguely you have put down methodically. Sure, risking the job in my position is quite hard at the moment; I will have no money to eat, exactly. – Pathum Mudannayake 13 years ago
  • I've advised a few start-ups in this position, and I'm in year 4 of my own start up, although we are more service-oriented at this point to pay the bills. It's a formula that works. If you are really excited about seeking funding, you can start speaking (pre-proto) with organizations / state agencies that help with that sort of thing in your area. If you go that method, you'll be distracted by putting your business plan together. In my opinion, if you can do your prototype first, your chances of success and sanity are several times higher. Good luck – Frankston Ralphington Iii 13 years ago
  • I feel like I should drive home one point above all: You are so far ahead of the curve if you have a working prototype (or even better, a beta) by the time you quit your employment that your chances of long term success with your venture are so much higher. No matter what formula you use to determine how much your startup will cost, if it is your first one, you will underestimate by at least half, probably more. Just fill in at least a few hours each day as your work/family life allow and you'll have your proto ready to go before you know it and your adventure will be ready to begin – Frankston Ralphington Iii 13 years ago

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