Whether you’re running behind on your bills or you just want to increase your income faster than the linear promotion schedule of a 9-to-5 job, you’ve probably spent some time wondering how you can improve your financial situation without a lot of capital to work with.
And, you’ve probably brainstormed some answers to the question, “What is a good business to start with little money?”
There are a lot of options. But, there are not a lot of businesses that you can start with little money and that generate passive income as you scale up. Most businesses require you to work more or hire more people to grow.
However, there’s a business that you can start with little money and use to generate full-time income with part-time work.
You probably already guessed it: an ATM business.
ATM businesses are some of the most successful small businesses. And, an ATM business can be a lifestyle business, if you build it that way.
So, if you want to start a business, but have no money to invest upfront, here’s what to do.
How to start an ATM business with no money
We know what you’re thinking.
So, to be completely transparent, it’s nearly impossible to start any business with a true zero dollars invested. Even if you start a service-based business that requires nothing but your body to do the work, you still need to pay for gas to get to the clients, or your internet bill, or something else.
And, even if providing the service were somehow 100% free, you’d still have to pay the government to form your business entity.
So, if you think it sounds a little far-fetched to claim that you can start an ATM business without spending any money, you’re right.
It takes some money. But, you don’t have to have all that money in your bank account in order to get started. In fact, the first few steps can be done while you’re doing other errands, if you want to keep the expenses at zero.
Here’s how to start:
As you’re going about your usual days, keep track of which businesses don’t have an ATM.
Not every business will be a good candidate for an ATM. To give you an idea of your best options, here’s a short list of businesses that make good ATM machine locations:
- Gas stations.
- Barber shops.
- Any business that only takes cash (they still exist).
Make a list of these businesses, so you can patronize them more often.
Talk to the owners of the businesses that don’t have ATM machines.
This can be tricky. The business owner often won’t be there, or they’ll be too busy to talk.
However, you do have one advantage: you’re a customer. Smart business owners will usually take an interest in talking to their customers.
So, you can usually at least get the name of the business owner from the staff. And, with some clever conversation, you can probably get information about when the business owner is usually there.
Then, you can more reliably show up when the business owner is there.
It can take some time. But with a consistent approach, you can usually get a few minutes of face-to-face time with business owners.
Here’s the key: once you’re able to meet with the business owner, don’t immediately try to sell them an ATM machine. People dislike that.
Take some time to talk to them, learn about their business, and develop a relationship. Take the opportunity to find out what their needs are, and develop a way to show them that an ATM machine will help their business.
Then show them how they’ll benefit from an ATM. And, offer to help them get those benefits by operating the ATM machine for them. So that all they have to do is keep the lights on (which they’re already doing).
This won’t happen overnight. But, taking the time to build a relationship is hands-down the most reliable way to get someone to agree to an ATM placement. And, it makes it much easier to work with the business owner once you’ve placed the ATM, because they know you. You’re not just a vendor.
Write out an agreement or contract that outlines everything you’ll do to operate the ATM.
Which ATM machine you’ll provide. What percentage of the fees the business will get. The timeline for placing the ATM. Cover everything.
Make sure you cover all the details. You can get templates for an agreement to ensure you don’t leave anything out.
At this stage, you can sign a contract. But, remember that you don’t have an ATM, yet. So, another option is to use the agreement as a proposal, get signatures on the proposal. Then wait to sign the actual service contracts until you’ve placed the ATM.
There are pros and cons to each method. If you sign a contract up front, but then you can’t meet the timelines or requirements for placing the ATM, you’ll be in breach of the contract.
On the other hand, if you just have a signed proposal, the business owner isn’t obligated to go through with placing the ATM machine. So, he or she could back out (an agreement isn’t legally binding), leaving you with an ATM you need to place.
Some prefer to sign the service contract up front, because they have more control over whether or not they get the ATM placed within the requirements of the contract. But, it will depend on your situation. Regardless of if you use an agreement or a contract, get it in writing. You may need it later.
Check out this Facebook group for personalized advice.
Get funding for your ATM.
There are several ways to go about this. But, you’re going to borrow the money for the ATM machine.
There are ways to get ATMs for very little money (used and refurbished ATM machines). But, we’ll assume you’re getting a new one.
You’ll need the ATM itself and some cash to stock it. So, $3000 will cover it. $2500 for the ATM, and $500 in cash to fill it.
In terms of business capital, $3000 is not a lot of money. Consider the millions that Silicon Valley startups must raise to get off the ground.
You could finance everything with a credit card. That may not be the best choice, considering the high interest rates on credit cards. But, it’s an option.
More likely, you’ll go to a lender an apply for a loan. This is where the agreement or contract comes in handy. It’s often easier to get a loan if you can prove what you’re going to use it for and that you’re going to be generating revenue to pay the loan back.
Once you’ve got your funding…
If you didn’t sign a contract before, make sure you get a service contract signed before you turn your ATM machine on. At this point, you must have a contract. An agreement won’t do.
Also, make sure you have a bank account setup to accept your ATM revenue. It’s best to talk to the bank before you start processing ATM transactions, so they know what’s going on. Otherwise, they may get suspicious with the frequent transactions.
Once your ATM is installed and running, you’ll be getting a cut of the ATM fee every time someone uses your ATM. All you have to do is keep your ATM machine stocked with cash.
Depending on your needs, you can either divert all of the revenue from your ATM machine to paying off the loan, to start making 100% profit faster. Or you can pay the loan off more slowly, if you need to use some of the ATM revenue. Regardless of which way you do it, paying off the loan as quickly as possible is the best choice.
When can you start?
That’s it. Five steps to starting an ATM business with no money. And you can start working on the first two steps right now.
And one more thing: since it takes time to develop a relationship with business owners, you could just save up the money for an ATM while you talk to them.
If you get an agreement sooner than you expected, an ATM business is a great business to start with 5K (you could place two ATMs for $5000). Or 2000 dollars. Or $1000. You could start an ATM business for under 500 dollars.
The point is that starting an ATM business is incredibly flexible. You just have to stop Googling “small profitable business ideas,” and get out there and check out some businesses and get in touch with business owners.
If you’re hesitant. We understand. Learn all about the ATM business before you put yourself out there.