I Started a Business With $0 and No Experience, Here’s How I Did It

Almost three years ago, I wanted nothing more than to never have to go back into an office. My work situation wasn’t ideal, I was unchallenged in my role and overwhelmed as I was also completing my Master’s degree. So, I decided to start my own business. 

I had no money. No experience in running a business. And really nothing but Google to help me figure it out. And, just like that, I started. Here are the steps I took:

Step 1: I Figured Out What I Could Sell

You can sell anything. I don’t say that facetiously, I truly mean that if you’re legitimately good at something people will absolutely pay for it. But you have to know what that is, have confidence in your work and put yourself out there so it can be sold.

The first step to all of that is figuring out what you can sell. I went to school to be a journalist and while I’ve spent most of my career in PR and marketing, it’s safe to say that I do A LOT of writing. So I figured I would start there: freelance writing.

I also had some knowledge in the professional services areas—law and accounting, along with government services and B2B marketing, so I added all of those to my list. I also wrote down what I was interested in writing about, whether or not I had any experience. From there, I had a list of things I could sell. 

Step 2: I Figured Out Who I Could Sell To

I took my “things I can sell” list and figured out who or what businesses would need those services. For example, legal marketing writing is useful for both those with law firms marketing to their potential clients and those marketing to lawyers themselves.

I created a list of ideal clients and the attributes I was looking for so that I knew where my audience might be. I went a step further by compiling a list of potential clients that I could contact when I was ready.

Step 3: I Built a Portfolio

Once you know what you want to do and who you want to do it for, you need some sort of work product to prove to potential clients that you can do it. I personally started out by creating my own legal marketing blog. I also gathered up some relevant pieces that I had previously written, both in-house and on my own. 

You can display these a number of ways, I chose to build both a PDF profile (so I could apply to some jobs through boards—this tends to be the easiest way to start), along with a website. However, I now house my freelance work on a Contently profile because I saves me from having to maintain another website. 

Step 4: I Put Myself Out There

Once you have those three things ready and complete, it’s time to put yourself out there. Realistically, you can start reaching out to potential clients right away if you want. So long as you have something relevant to show them and something they might want to buy to sell them, you’re good to go!

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