How to Start a Business with no Money and Prevent Burnout

Estimated read time 3 min read

When Mallory Rowan was 21 years old, she started her first e-commerce business selling powerlifting apparel.

She left corporate America, where she didn’t like the strict hours, to join the startup scene in order to find more flexibility and make a greater impact. But she didn’t realize the toll it would take on her body.

Two years into running her company, “I was really starting to burn out,” Rowan told Insider. After months of unexplainable rashes on her face, hair loss, and four rounds of pneumonia she couldn’t shake, “that’s when I started to be like, ‘OK, I can’t do the 24/7 hustle.'”

Rowan closed the apparel business and took time off before launching her next venture, Rowan Marketing. Today, her business offers one-on-one coaching and self-led courses to help other founders build brands without experiencing burnout.

Rowan initially invested $22 to launch the startup in 2019. Since 2020, her first full year in business, she’s booked six figures in revenue each year, documents viewed by Insider show.

Rowan shared her steps to launching and scaling an online business with low startup costs. This is an as-told-to story based on an interview with Rowan that has been slightly edited for length and clarity. 

Lean into the benefits of online businesses

When I decided to start Rowan Marketing, I knew I wanted to create something that would scale more sustainably for my mental and physical health. I decided to take my existing skills in marketing a startup and offer it to others looking to grow.

But I knew I wanted to be able to take time off and focus on other aspects of business and life while growing. That’s why I launched the one-on-one sessions and quickly transformed them into self-paced education programs online. 

In order to grow from one-off consulting to a business entity, I paid for a website domain, which can cost as little as $10 a year, and a personal email (as opposed to a Gmail account), which costs $12 a year. The $22 initial investment helped me establish the professionalism of the brand.

The business runs fully online for reach and cost purposes. With an online brand and online audience members, nothing is limited to a certain place.

Operating online also helps us stay connected with the community through sharing on social media and through emails. An email list is important for online founders to generate, because it’s the only content we own if other social platforms shut down

Additionally, growing an online ecosystem is also a great way to cross-promote and take part in peer-to-peer affiliates, which allow you and other business owners to promote and send clients to each other. 

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