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How to Get Rich from Nothing: A Poor Person’s Guide

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14 minutes

Are you looking to get rich from nothing? In this article, we’re going to talk about how you can get rich from a poor background.

We all know that not everyone was born with a golden spoon, yet I believe that everyone would have an equal chance to getting rich and building wealth over their lifetime, regardless of their current financial situation as long as they have the burning desire, are not afraid to work hard and are consistent.

According to the World Bank, 9.2% of the world’s population live in extreme poverty, that’s around 689 million people who live in less than $1.90 a day. In the US, 34 million people live on $12,880 a year, which is considered the poverty line. If you make more than this, you’re not necessarily poor since you have more than what 34 million people have.

If you’re in the US with $12,880.00 a year of income and you can receive the same amount of income even if you’re not in the US, moving to a developing country with much affordable housing and cost of living can afford you a richer lifestyle without necessarily having to work on increasing your income.

Say, for example, you move to the Philippines, $12,880.00 US dollars is equivalent to Php644,000.00 or Php53,000.00 of monthly income. Php53,000.00 a month is way above the Philippine minimum wage and could afford you a more decent life.

The challenge of course is the income continuum, as not everyone would have that privilege if they were to move to another country.

If you’re reading this, and you’re not from North America, the example given above may not be applicable to you as you may already be in a developing country and are already trying to move up from the poverty line.

possible notebook on desk

Getting rich is possible but it isn’t always easy.

You may be following various get-rich-quick gurus online and wonder to yourself if you would ever get rich overnight or in a month.

I have been on the same journey at least for the last couple of years, and one of the most important things I’ve learned about getting rich or building wealth is the fact that getting rich quick and overnight successes don’t really exist, at least for the rest of the world. Some people may have gotten rich in a couple of months but they’re the exceptions and not the norm.

So, when you understand the fact that while it’s very possible to get rich, it may not be an easy task, otherwise, everyone and their cats would have already been rich.

How to Get Rich From Nothing

There are two general ways to wealth:

  1. Entrepreneurship,
  2. Investing

Start A Business (Entrepreneurship)

For many, it’s going to be quite difficult to get rich by starting a business as most businesses would require high amounts of capital; renting a commercial space alone would require you to have at least 6-months’ worth of capital and you’re not even sure if your business is profitable by then. Yet, entrepreneurship remains one of the best ways many self-made millionaires became wealthy, which is way over their initial goals of getting rich.

While it’s costly to start a traditional brick-and-mortar business, there are a lot of ways how you can start a business with very little or even zero monetary capital. Notice, I said “zero monetary capital” because if you’re starting from nothing, you may not have the money to fund your get rich project but it doesn’t mean that you’re starting without capital because every one of us would have what’s called “sweat equity”.

If you have this equity, you can start a business with between 90% to 100% sweat equity, and with 0 to very little money.

There are many types of businesses, some business models are product-based, while some are service-based.

Service-based businesses require very little and even zero-upfront capital and with the technological advancement of the last two decades, you could be selling your services online to someone you’ve never met and will never meet in person from the opposite side of the world.

I’ve written a comprehensive guide to starting a successful freelance business, which you can find here.

Offering services with you as the promoter, CEO, and technician will not necessarily make you a millionaire, though some freelancers who’ve been selling their services on sites like Fiverr.com did become millionaires, it may not necessarily happen if you’re a one-person operation but you could be making more than what you’re already earning from your job by simply starting a side hustle offering services based on the skills that you already have.

By starting a side-hustle service-based business, you could double your take-home income in no time!

Building a service-based business isn’t for lazy bums, it requires hard work and an iron-clad will and commitment but it does pay, as long as you keep at it and know that it’s your ticket to getting rich from nothing.

Start a Service-Based Business

home-based call center agent

There are many ways how you can start a service-based business. Fact is, you don’t even need to register a business to offer your services, just keep in mind however that in some countries, states, or provinces, some trades do require professional licensing before you can offer such services. Think of plumbers, electricians, stylists, and estheticians. If you’re planning to offer services along with these industries, check your local regulations before you open up for business.

In most countries, you can start and do business under your own name. You need not spend money on business registrations, and depending on what type of services you offer, you may need to get third-party liability insurance(s) to cover your bum in case of accidents to persons or things, especially when you’re delivering your services at a client’s home or job-site.

If the services you aim to offer are deliverable online, you can have the world as your client. I’m referring to digitally deliverable services like article or copywriting, graphic design, voice-overs, website design and development, virtual assistant services, or transcription.

So far, I’ve covered two types of services that you can offer:

  1. Local Services (requires in-person delivery/fulfillment)
  2. Virtual Services

Both types of service-based businesses can make you rich, starting from nothing or from a poor background.

If you don’t have the skills already, you may need to invest in learning these skills. Nowadays, you can learn any skills online, from the comforts of your home. There are learning platforms available such as Skillshare, Udemy, LinkedIn Learning, and even YouTube that you can take courses from to learn and improve your skills.

When you’re offering local services, you can start promoting your business by letting your contacts know that you’re open for hire and to perhaps help you spread the word so you can reach the people or businesses that are going to need your services.

You can even come up with a simple referral system where you offer to pay your friends finder’s fee every time their referrals end up hiring your services.

Another way that you can promote your service-based business locally is by joining Facebook groups where you can post your services once or twice a week or every other day, depending on the groups’ posting rules.

Yet another cheap and quick way of promoting your trade is by posting on classified ads websites like Craigslist, Kijiji, and Carousell. Most basic postings are free but they could potentially help you land a gig.

If you’re serious about building a profitable service-based business, a locally search-optimized website is a must!

You can build this yourself or you can hire someone to build one for you. Either way, I would suggest that you go with a WordPress website so you can update the blog on your own for content marketing and search engine optimization purposes because a static site won’t help you reach your customers on the internet.

To build a website, you would need to invest in the following:

  1. Domain Name ($11 a year)
  2. Webhosting ($3.99 a month)
  3. WordPress CMS (Free)
  4. Web Design/Theme ($49)

For $65, you can have a professional web presence by installing WordPress and a paid theme with lots of designs that you can choose from. Yes, you don’t need to spend $2,500.00 on web design as long as you’re willing to put in a little bit of sweat equity in building your small business website.

Now that you have a small business website, you can first use it as a portfolio type website to build credibility to people you reach via other means but the true benefit of having a website is that it’s a powerful organic marketing channel once you start building more content, backlinks, and citations (if you’re offering a local service).

It may take time before your website starts attracting organic traffic, in the meantime, you can either promote your website and services via paid ads (Google, Facebook, Tiktok, or Instagram) or you can join service marketplaces like Thumbtack, task rabbit and the like.

If you’re purely offering your services online, you can browse through a big list of online freelance marketplaces in my How to Build a Successful Freelance Business article.

For local-based service-based entrepreneurs who don’t fancy building their own websites but are interested in getting leads from the internet, I build and manage local lead generation websites on the side, send me a message here.

Start A Product-based Business

private label products business

Another lucrative way of starting a business to get rich from nothing is by starting a product-based business. Now, you may be thinking that a product-based business may not be for your because, you’re starting from nothing, you may be surprised by the possibilities and with what you can achieve with a product-based business even if you’re starting from a poor background.

On the service-based business tip above, I’ve mentioned that you can build a website for around $65 dollars. I believe that no matter how poor you are, you should be able to come up with $65 or even $100 for your initial capitalization. You don’t have to invest thousands of dollars to start a product-based business!

When you’re starting a product-based business, know that you’re not limited to only buying and selling physical goods as there are many types of products. So, products could refer to any one of the following:

  1. Physical Products
  2. Digital Products
  3. Intangible Products
Physical Products

Did you know that you can start selling physical products on the internet without having to stockpile on inventories that you’re not sure are going to sell? This business model is called “drop shipping”. Dropshipping isn’t new, and if you’re web-savvy, you may have already heard about it; unfortunately, most of the YouTube videos that you may have watched are get-rich-quick videos showing you how to build a million-dollar dropshipping business in a month or two.

Selling physical products online is a real business model and shouldn’t be treated as a get-rich-quick scheme. Most people who tout the eCommerce business model get rich quick, stuff their over-priced, low-value courses to unsuspecting entrepreneurs.

You can build a strong branded eCommerce business starting with no inventory by utilizing the dropshipping strategy. This is a lean business strategy as you need not invest in inventory MOQs when you’re not sure that the products your promoting are actually going to sell, instead, you focus your small capital on attracting customers to your eCommerce store to see first whether or not your products are going to sell.

Once you have the data and a proof of concept, you can either continue dropshipping the products, stock on inventories, or private label the products so you can start building your brand.

Take the case of Wayfair, for example. Wayfair has been around since 2007 and has since grown into one of the biggest eCommerce stores that sell and ship (dropship) physical products but they don’t buy their inventories upfront.

Digital Products

If you’ve been searching for ways how to get rich from nothing or how to start a business online, I’m sure that you may have come across ads that promote courses like affiliate marketing, dropshipping, coaching, etc.

These courses are considered digital products. Digital products are any type of products that can be delivered through the internet either through website access or digital downloads.

Nowadays, you can publish a book without needing a publisher. This is called “self-publishing”. Platforms like Amazon KDP makes publishing books less costly and if you really have a good title in mind, anyone from anywhere in the world can and will buy your book even when you’re sleeping.

Starting off with an ebook, you can turn that same title into a printed book through print-on-demand services as well as an audiobook, which leads to more potential sales of a single title.

The great thing about digital products compared to physical products is the fact that you need not physically ship any product. You’re either selling file copies or granting your customers access to an online resource such as software or a game.

If you know how to code or are willing to learn the trade, the software is a great product that people do pay on a monthly basis. Such software is called “SAAS” or software as a service.

There are a lot of different digital products. As long as you can deliver them digitally, they are considered digital products.

Intangible Products

So, what are intangible products? Intangible products are solutions that you can’t see but do offer some solutions to the marketplace. With intangible products, you may not necessarily develop your own but you can instead broker them.

Say, in the case of insurance and investments – these are real products but you don’t necessarily see them – there are no tangible products that you can touch but they exist and are very real.

I’ve been in the financial services industry for almost 10-years now. Insurance offer clients peace of mind in knowing that should their ability to earn a living ever gets affected, they won’t have to worry as to when or where the next paycheck is going to come from.

Market investments, on the other hand, can only be seen online or on paper statements but they are very real in such a way that you’re slowly buying your future, each and every day that you invest money into your portfolio of funds.

Another example of intangible products is trademarks and copyrights, though valid intangible products, it may be hard for someone coming from a poor background to build a business around these two examples there are a lot of other intangible products that you can broker without much capital.

In most cases, you will need a license to start an intangible product distribution business. You’re technically acting as a middle-man between product carriers and the consumers.

Dealing with intangible products is a long-term business and like any other business model, it does require a lot of hard work, but hey, if you’re starting from nothing, and without much monetary capital, supplement what you lack with hard work!

broker shaking hands


Another proven way of how you can get rich from nothing is by investing. There are many ways how you can invest but as they say, you need to have the money to invest. Well, you don’t have to be rich before you start investing, you just need to have some sort of cash flow and know what your priorities are.

If you want to get rich, you have to make buying your future a priority, and if you’ve ever heard of the adage, “when you invest, you buy a day in your life that you don’t have to work.

You can still get rich from nothing even if you don’t start a business or become an entrepreneur. First, you have to find a job, if you don’t have one yet – and stop buying things that you don’t need. Stick with the basics!

If you have food on the table, have shelter and clothing, invest the rest and every little extra fund that you have.

When you invest a portion of your income, you’re making money work as hard as you do with whatever it is that you do for a living.

A lot of people complain that they don’t have enough to invest in their future. If you find yourself in this situation, that’s because you either don’t make enough or you spend too much.

Stop buying stuff not unless you really need them. Sell stuff that you don’t need… if it’s been collecting dust in a corner of your home and you barely touched it, you’ve stopped needing that thing so it’s time to sell and cash on it!

When you cash it, don’t just buy something else – invest the money and start buying your future!

If this is the first time that you’re reading about investing, I don’t mean that you should trade Forex or Stocks, especially if you don’t know what you’re doing.

You will lose your shirt fast enough if you try to day trade. Most online trading platforms and get-rich-quick gurus lure people into leveraged trading with promises of fast and x times returns. What they don’t tell you is that while you can make a lot of money trading, you can also lose a lot of money just the same.

Instead, focus on passive, long-term investing to grow your assets on the side while you’re hard at work at your job.

So far, I’ve talked about market investing… you might be wondering why I didn’t mention real estate investing. Well, that’s because you will need more capital if you invest in real estate.

I’m sure that you may have heard of no-money-down real estate investing. That requires a learning curve and is a business in itself.

If you’re planning to go that route, you have to prepare to make a lot of door-knocking and cold calls, make low-ball offers, and package your deal wholesale.

Keep in mind that you have to be careful when doing creative real estate investing deals such as wholesaling as most states and provinces in North America may deem that you’re dealing without a license if not done correctly.

Instead, work on buying your first home (if you’re currently renting), by saving up the required down payment and building your credit score. While slow, this is the best way for most people to get into real estate investing – by buying properties one step at a time.


article conclusion

Getting rich from nothing is possible, but it isn’t always easy. If you live in the top 4 countries, have more food than you can consume on any given day, have a home (or apartment), a reliable ride, chances are, you’re already ahead of most people; not that it’s a competition because it never is.

For many people who are trying to get rich, it isn’t a question of how much they make because in many cases, it’s really about how much they spend.

The number one rule of thumb when it comes to money management is simple – just don’t spend what you don’t have.

For far too many of us, we tend to spend more than what we make, not because of tight circumstances but because of our own desires. Desires of having more stuff and if you’re reading this article from a developing nation; know that having too much stuff is a major problem in North America.

If you’re in North America, you would already know this, perhaps you have far too much stuff that you don’t need and you feel that you’re too poor. The reason for not having money is actually having too much material stuff that you don’t actually need.

Most people want to get rich but what they’re really after is a rich lifestyle. While it’s good to enjoy a rich lifestyle, it’s the fastest way to burn money too. Instead of trying to get rich for the lifestyle, why not strive to build wealth? Wealth will put you in a position when you don’t have to work a day in your life but you’re still making money

Nowadays, you may have heard of people getting rich on social media, like having a strong following on TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube. They are rich because they have a booming business but if they’re not investing for their future they still live paycheck to paycheck because of their high lifestyle costs and while they’re working hard on their channels and social media presence, they have to start keeping a portion of what they make to build wealth so when they’re no longer popular, they will have something to show for it.

I hope that you’ve found value in this article that will hopefully give you some ideas on how you can start getting rich from nothing, even if you’re coming from a poor background.

If you’re not in business yet, I would strongly suggest that you start one. You don’t necessarily need capital to start a business. The best one to start without capital is to offer a service based on what you already know or do from your current or previous job. If you’re comfortable speaking in front of a camera, you can also start building your personal brand by filming and uploading to YouTube, TikTok, Facebook, and Instagram. You don’t need to invest a lot of capital into these gigs, if you have a cellphone, you’re in business.

On the other hand, if you’re the camera-shy type (like me), you can start a blog based on things that you already know and love. Blogging is a different type of business as you will have to keep on pounding producing articles after articles without being paid for the work that you’re doing but it does pay long term – it’s like building your own real estate on the world wide web!

Do you have ideas that you think will benefit other readers of this article who, perhaps are on the same journey as you are? Please feel free to leave them in the comments so we can help more people like us get rich from nothing.

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