How to start a business without any money in NZ

It is now 2024 and thankfully there are still many businesses and if not, even more, businesses that you can start without having any money.

Without further or due, we will get started! **clap, clap!**

Here is a list of all the businesses I could come up with on-the-spot that you can start without any money:

  • Coaching business
  • Content creation
  • Graphic design
  • Sole trader businesses like; virtual assistants, modelling, acting, singing/rapping
  • Online communities
  • Online courses
  • Art
  • Ads for businesses
  • SEO for businesses
  • Copywriting
  • Influencing
  • Podcast
  • YouTube

Steps you need to go through to get you started:

1. An idea, an urge

You first need an idea or urge - is there a problem that people keep talking about and it seems that noone has acted on solving it yet? Is there a passion that you have that you’ve been wanting to work on developing? Is there something that you are marginally better at others at doing that you could make a business from?

Once you have an idea or an urge, you can move on to the next steps.

2. Market research

Even though you have an idea, that idea might not be fitting or right for the market right now. Make some research on whether people are looking for what you’re wanting to offer, listen to people’s problems and see if what you're offering would align.

You can use groups like; Women in business NZ, Women in business New Zealand, Girls in business NZ to share a bit about your offering and ask if that’s something people would like.

You could even come up with a survey, ask prompted questions around your offering, ask people about problems surrounding your offering and see what their solutions would be.

The more data on this, the better it will be to develop an idea and sell when you first launch.


"collect the data, save it and analyze it over the developing stages!"


3. Costs, miscellaneous costs

Costs will be something you’d want to look into after you’ve first launched. Here in NZ, when you start trading, you must notify IRD of when that was - you may want to decide whether you want to make your business a company or whether it would be best to keep it as a sole trader.

If you’d decide to make it as a company, you’d have to pay money for this. All this info on how to incorporate a company, you can find here:

But what I wanted to talk about is, the further costs that you would want to look into once you’ve started trading and are slowly getting some traction with your business. Maybe you want to decide to look into some paid ads in the future, maybe there could be production costs if you wanted to scale or maybe you want to delegate and hire a few people.

You can easily do some research into costs on hiring, paid ads, production scaling and then work towards earning that amount of money over a set period of time. It could even become your first sales target for your launch period.

Also, another important thing is to try to think about every cost that may arrive miscellaneously during your process. If you are wanting to start a business, and you have no money, you don’t want to be halfway through your planning and production stage when you get hit with a bill or cost that you didn't know about.
If you find any miscellaneous costs, then this might not be the best business for you to start now.

4. Develop the idea, make a plan

Oh so you’ve gotten this far, great! Now you want to start developing the idea and making a plan.

Here are some ideas to prompted questions that could help you:


  • Think about how often you can produce your offering
  • When you can produce and sell your offering
  • What you need for production
  • How frequently can you sell i.e is your offering seasonal or all year around
  • Who will be your suppliers
  • Is it possible to scale


  • How will you market and sell your offering
  • Who is your ideal customer
  • What’s your target market
  • What organic marketing strategies could you use


  • What is the problem
  • What do people want
  • What will your business do to serve people
  • What value does your offering hold
  • How do people benefit from your offering

We have more prompted questions in our business planner: Manafest Planner, which you can purchase here. It has a step-by-step guide in helping someone launch a business

5. Write a business plan

More than 30% of the small businesses do not survive the first 3 years of operations if they do not have a business plan.

What a business plan is:
A business plan is a formally written roadmap of your company's goals and how you plan to achieve them.

The benefits of writing a business plan:

  • Provides you with structure
  • Provides clarity
  • Gives direction
  • Can help to get you support for funding
  • Cash flow management
  • Setting priorities, help you to reach business milestones
  • Better delegating
  • Helps you define your offering
  • Gets you to think about your competitive advantages
  • Can help identify problems in your idea
  • Keeps you accountable

The consequences of not writing a business plan:

  • Financial consequences
  • Lack of direction with resources
  • Wasted resources and time
  • Missed opportunities for growth
  • A business without a strategy is more susceptible to external forces
  • A directionless business is not enjoyable to work in

You can get your business plan template free from anywhere online - I got mine from ANZ: ANZ has so many business tools that are free to use that have been super helpful.

6. Make a marketing plan and a sales plan

Five important parts in a business are; Value creation, Marketing, Sales, Value delivery and Finance.
Marketing is the art of attracting your audience and building demand for what you’re offering and sales is about getting your product or service to the customer for an exchange of money.

These two things might be outlined in your business plan, but if not, you will need to have a plan for each of them.

7. Create a first-flowing bookkeeping system

You might think, ‘Oh I am just starting out, I don’t need this.’ But it has taken me 5 businesses to realize that setting up a good bookkeeping system and practicing good bookkeeping from the beginning is time efficient and has been reducing the amount of stress for me when Tax time comes around.

Bookkeeping for me has been sooo tedious, and it’s even more tedious when I have to back-track months down the line, to wind up at my due date for taxes and find that I have receipts missing.

When I first started out, I didn’t use a flash system, or anything that I needed to pay for. I just created a few boxes in Excel spreadsheets (which I still use now) and I just update my expenses and income weekly.

I download the e-receipts or I take a picture of the real receipts and then I file all the receipts away into a folder on my harddrive, then I make notes of that in my bookkeeping.

I have made a dupe (made up transactions, dates etc.) of my bookkeeping system down below, feel free to copy and use 🙂

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8. Production phase

So, if you’ve been able to define your idea, create a business plan with your sales and marketing plans and everything is still all ‘go’ for you… that is great!

Your next steps are to start to produce your idea into a product or a service. You’d want to start creating prototypes, find manufacturers, do testing, reach out for feedback, do more testing, you may even want to make changes to your prototypes etc.

This can be a long process, but you want to make sure that whatever you are offering, that it is at the best standard, that you can get it at, with the resources you have.

9. Finishing touches

Now is the time to start pushing your offering out.

Use those marketing and sales plans, track your bookkeeping weekly, file your receipts and get to work!

10. IRD always needs to know when you’ve started to trade

Once someone makes money from other sources than their 9 - 5, then IRD always asks that they let it be known to them :)

And with that being said, that’s how you can start a business in NZ without any money.
If this has been really helpful, share this to someone who you think would truly benefit from this article.

Cheers guys!