How To Start A Food Business With No Money In 10 Easy Ways

Khyati Hooda
By Khyati Hooda 20 Min Read

You have been dreaming about this almost your whole life: launching a food business and being an entrepreneur in that industry. 

You’ve also wondered whether embarking on a culinary enterprise journey is a good idea. Still, you are not there financially because you know it can be an investment.

In addition, you don’t believe starting a food business with no money is possible.

We can agree with you on some of these points because, yes, starting a food business can take a toll on your finances and even turn you into bankruptcy; however, at the same time, there are numerous ways to start a food business with no money.

To help you with your dilemmas on this issue, we created this article by providing practical strategies for starting an aspiring food enterprise with minimal or zero resources. In this piece, we’ll explore innovative approaches to break the traditional barriers of hefty startup costs and uncover potential grant opportunities and the nuances of initial investment requirements when starting a food business.

Stay tuned until the end to understand what it takes to start a food business with no money. 

How do people start a food business with no money (10 working options)

Tough question to give it a simple answer, right?!

Starting a food business with no money might sound impossible, but it is entirely feasible when you know the fundamentals. It all begins with these couple of key points:

  • An idea/concept on what type of food your restaurant will offer
  • A business plan
  • Funding 
  • Location for your food business
  • Licenses and permits to manage your restaurant
  • Menu based on what you want to serve in your restaurant 
  • Hire staff such as cooks, bartenders, managers, etc
  • A website for your restaurant
  • A marketing plan

Option No.1 Start an online restaurant

In case you didn’t know, online or virtual restaurants are also known as ghost kitchens because they only offer delivery or takeout. You can start an online restaurant by launching a website so that customers can see what food services and goods you offer.

There are several steps to start a food business with no money by creating a website for free.

1. Sign up for your free account on UpMenu.

start a food business with no money

2. Decide what will be the template for your food website.

start a food business with no money

3. Adjust the template to fit your food brand.

start a food business with no money

4. Start navigating your website by adding as many categories as you need (you can add pages about promotions, news, or special events). The ‘Settings’ tab lets you set your Meta title and description to help your website rank better in Google search results. 

This is SEO, and it is important to know the basics of it so clients can find your food business easily.

start a food business with no money

Note: You can create a create your Meta Title and Meta Description by following this formula:

Meta title: Restaurant Name-Type of cuisine+City name

Ex. Tanja’s BakeryShop-Bakery Skopje

Meta Description: 

Tanja has had the best bakery products in Skopje since the ’50s. Check out her online shop and order online with delivery.

5. Add content with text (no spelling mistakes allowed) and add images. 

start a food business with no money
start a food business with no money

6. Set up an online ordering option.

start a food business with no money

7. Set up your restaurant’s delivery zones.

start a food business with no money

8. Add contact information for your restaurant and set the working hours. 

9. You can also add an option for online payments for your customers.

And voila, there you have it: another way to start a food business with no money. Your online food restaurant business is ready to open, and you can begin managing reservations and selling your food goods online.

Buying a domain name for your website is also an option because you can choose a custom name representing your food business. 

You can purchase domain names for your online food restaurant from popular and reliable domain providers like GoDaddy, Namecheap, Bluehost, etc.

start a food business with no money
start a food business with no money
start a food business with no money

Once you have your domain name, you can connect it with the UpMenu servers and publish your website. 

start a food business with no money

Now, you are left to promote your website and set up a marketing strategy to attract potential customers. This process is not as easy as it may seem because thousands of online food restaurants people are searching for; you’ll have to make sure you stand out and be seen.

Use these tips to stand out from the rest of the online restaurants in your food niche;

Tip No.1 

Use relevant keywords and phrases and optimize your website for search engines. 

Tip No.2 

Use social media platforms to spread the word about your online food business (you can use Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, etc). Also, consider interacting with potential customers and sharing insightful information like menu updates, best dishes of the week, special offers, etc.

Tip No. 3 

You can attract potential customers by sending them emails with newsletters and updates about your food restaurant.

Tip No.4 

Place an online ad on platforms like Google Ads or other popular social media platforms to reach even larger audiences interested in finding such online restaurants in the area.

Option No.2 Start a food truck restaurant. 

Starting a food truck is a great way to get your feet wet and see how the food business functions before fully investing in it. There are endless possibilities regarding what kind of food business you can start from a food truck.

start a food business with no money

If you are interested in starting something like this, you first must focus on some crucial details about running a food truck business, such as:

  • Searching for the perfect location. 
  • Checking what will be your competition.
  • Targeting your consumers. 
  • Creating a cool food truck name, something memorable and irresistible to pass on.

The abovementioned aspects are the fundamentals when thinking about ways to start a food business with no money; however, they are not the only ones. You have to proceed with other ideas, like;

Choose which types of food you’ll be serving.

  • Barbecue food truck: This food truck of yours can offer the region’s best-smoked meats and tasty sauces. That type of food provides comfort and is considered a crown pleaser.
  • Baked products: Many people cannot resist eating baked goods, so your food truck restaurant can be the next go-to place for different pastries, cupcakes, and cookies. Etc.
  • Pizza food truck: You can even make your pizza type and be memorized by that only. Customers like discovering new tastes; a unique pizza flavor could be a hit.

Analyze the market before you serve food.

Before starting any business, market research is a MUST. We strongly advise you to do that because success will follow once you focus on what the market you intend to serve would want to get from you. 

By this, we refer to finding your target consumers/market to know what type of food/products they crave. This step is necessary to help you decide how to market your food business and how to be different from your competitors in the area.

When analyzing your potential market, consider these essential factors for your food business.

  1. Where would be the best location for me to park the food truck?
  2. What’s the population number in the area where I would be offering my food products?
  3. What marketing strategies should I implement to advertise my food truck?
  4. How many hours should my food truck be opened to work?
  5. What kind of consumers would be the most interested in my food truck restaurant?

Finding the perfect location to set up your food truck.

Finding the right location to set up your food truck is not so stressful because you’ll be able to move around that truck.

But still, be wise when choosing a location for your food truck because that is directly connected to questions like:

  1. Is parking and operating a food truck business in that location legal?
  2. Do I need a permit license to use a food truck business in this space?
  3. Does this location offer me good traffic (target market) to sustain my food truck business?
  4. How much do I need to cover fuel costs?

These queries can serve as a starting point for you to think deeper into the matter and consider factors that refer to you as a food truck owner.

Think of your target customers.

This step might be the most difficult factor when you need to start a food business with no money.

Attracting and sustaining loyal customers is the second most important thing after you’ve done all the previous steps because, without customers, your food truck business won’t survive long.

When thinking about your customers, consider asking yourself the following questions:

  1. Should you be serving food late at night to customers like college students?
  2. Should you focus on consumers who are corporate employees who are interested in having their lunch break from a food truck?
  3. Should you focus on offering food to tourists in the area?

Think of your competitors.

Now that you’ve gathered most of your ideas to start a food business with no money, you should proceed by analyzing and monitoring your competition (other food truck businesses), which are successful and offer similar, if not the same, foods as you want.

Think of what type of branding you should do for your food truck.

If the brand of your food truck business is cool and easy to memorize, it will stand out from the competition, even if several similar companies are in the area.

By branding your food truck, you should think of a catchy and unique name and add visuals that are not easy to forget. Also, think of something that would separate you from your competitors; it could be a logo, the music you’ll play in your food truck (setting the vibe and culture of it), etc.

Here are some successful food truck business stories for you to check out:

1. Grill Em All since 2009 is a food truck business that started in Southern California.

start a food business with no money

2. Chicken & Rice Guys since 2012; from a single food truck business and expanded to multiple restaurants throughout the US.

start a food business with no money

Option No.3 Partner up with another restaurant provider

Another great option for those looking for ways to start a food restaurant with no money. Baby steps, as they call it, are the safest bet with this option, and you can start small by first partnering with another restaurant provider.

You can do that by becoming an affiliate partner on UpMenu. You can earn money by recommending UpMenu’s food ordering system to other restaurants. 

start a food business with no money

Option No.4 Start with a restaurant incubator.

Kitchen incubators are a fast-growing industry, and they offer resources and support to food entrepreneurs to launch and grow their food businesses

start a food business with no money

Perfect for those who want to start a food business with no money, right?!

These incubators can offer kitchen space, marketing and branding ideas, network coaching, equipment supplies, and even provide you with money without equity requirements.

If you want to start one, these restaurant incubators are successful business stories: Hope & Main.

start a food business with no money

Food Innovation Center

start a food business with no money

The Hatchery

start a food business with no money

Option No.5 Start a pop-up restaurant.

Pop-up restaurants are also a great option for those looking to start a food business with no money. They offer temporary dinner spots and can be set in different locations. 

The spaces for such food restaurants can be bars or empty buildings, and what is great about them is that the ridiculous costs of a traditional restaurant won’t cover you.

Plus, you can experiment with different menus like you’ve always wanted.

Here are some successful stories about some cool pop-up restaurant examples that can serve as an inspiration:

start a food business with no money
start a food business with no money
start a food business with no money

Option No.6: Apply for bank loans, business grants, or non-bank lenders

Even though this option might not be your favorite, you must consider it. To start a food business with no money, you’ll need some initial investment, so take advantage of some financial options. Many startup businesses use some of these options; you should not be an exception.

We will not lie here and tell you that this process is easy cause it’s not.

Qualifying for a bank loan can be time-consuming and difficult, to begin with, and you need to prove to the bank that your business plan is rock solid and worth an investment while showing projections that you’ll be able to pay off the load taken. 

You can apply for those through the US Small Business Administration (SBA) or the Grants website. You can also apply for a loan from non-bank lenders and partner with someone who knows the food industry well.

These are some options for non-bank lenders you can check out:

start a food business with no money
start a food business with no money
start a food business with no money

Option No.7 Find private investors. 

Yet another amazing option to start a food business with no money, and the keyword is ‘private investors’. You are probably asking yourself how to look for investors to help you open your dream restaurant. Easy! You can look for them on sites like Upstart and FundingCircle.

But, before you approach them with your business pitch, you must create a comprehensive business plan that briefly marks your vision, mission,  target market, and concept.

The plan should include all important details like your business’s location, menu, marketing strategy, and financial forecasts for the upcoming period (you can consist of projections for the next six months or even up to 2-3 years).

Once the plan is done, share it with the potential investor network and ask for feedback. You can also add a statement saying you look forward to cooperating with them.

Remember that to sound credible and trustworthy, you can also share your business card.

Option No.8: Look for crowdfunding options. 

Crowdfunding should always be the go-to option for those wanting to start a food business with no money. The money raised through this type of funding can be used for projects like opening a restaurant. Usually, people do this through several online platforms like;

start a food business with no money
start a food business with no money
start a food business with no money
start a food business with no money

There are lots of successful restaurant stories that can serve as inspiration when you are thinking of ways to start a food business with no money. They all made it through crowdfunding, so feel free to check them out.

start a food business with no money
  • Wreckfish is another successful example, and thanks to 1,522 backers, they gathered 208,956 pounds, planning to open a new location.
start a food business with no money

Option No.9 Apply for a Governmental Grant 

Many governments worldwide encourage and support small enterprises because they help the economic standards of a certain community and municipality. 

You can visit and look for grants suitable to start a food business with no money. Remember that many of the listed grants are meant for nonprofits. However, you can search for ‘restaurant’ in the search bar and see the options.

Option No.10: Start a catering business from home.

This option might get you thinking because it offers a way to start a food business with no money. You can establish a catering business from the comfort of your home; this is the easiest way to escape startup costs.

You can begin catering your food and services to parties or private gatherings. 


We would be most happy if this comprehensive guide provided the framework to start a food business with no money.

Starting a food business with no money can be challenging but achievable; it requires creativity, resources, and, last but not least, willingness to learn and adapt.

We addressed sections crucial to the process, offering a clear methodology and tips to navigate this exciting yet challenging journey.

If these ideas got you thinking, then our job here is done. Now, we leave it up to you to take that leap and start the food business you always dreamed of having. 


Can you start a food business with no money?

Yes, you can start a food business with no money. Before you create one, you must check the options to pull off something like that. 

Which food business is the most profitable?

Several profitable businesses in the food industry include food trucks, bakeries, pizza shops, food catering.

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Khyati is an entrepreneur, marketing consultant, and a personal finance expert.Building on her achievements, Khyati wrote two acclaimed books: "Failure's Gold," exploring success through hardship, and "Tomorrow's Wallet" on the future of money management.Her work has also been featured by LinkedIn, PPC Hero, Social Pilot, and Training Mag.Khyati has managed over $50M in marketing budgets across various industries including technology, finance, education, retail, consumer goods and more - successfully delivering over 15x ROI for her clients.Khyati has managed over $50M in marketing budgets across various industries including technology, finance, education, retail, consumer goods and more – successfully delivering over 15x ROI for her clients.
1 Comment
  • Starting a food business is a big step, but your passion for the culinary industry is a great foundation. Consider beginning with a smaller venture like a pop-up or food truck to manage initial costs. Explore funding options and network with industry professionals for insights and support. Remember, every successful journey starts with a single step. Plan carefully, work hard, and your dream can become a reality. Keep your passion alive and find the path that suits you best.

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