The short and sweet answer? No! Although most offline businesses require at least some investment, you can start a business on the Internet without any money at all–assuming you already have a computer and access to the Internet.
One way to get started without any out-of-pocket investment is as an affiliate marketer. Although some affiliate programs will require you to have an established website or blog in order to approve you, many do not. You can set up pages on Blogger.com, Squidoo.com and other free sites where you can publish content and promote products through your affiliate links.
Choose some products you love and would recommend, then write reviews of those products. Or write articles that would be of interest to the people who would want to buy the products you are recommending. For example, you could write articles about improving your golf game and link to golf equipment, DVDs about golf and more. (Note: With the FTC rules that went into effect in 2009, you must disclose that you may receive a commission if customers buy one of the recommended products through your links.)
Selling on eBay requires a little bit of money for listing fees, but it is an inexpensive way to get started selling online. One benefit of selling on eBay is that you can learn a lot about writing good copy and getting people to buy while selling off stuff you have around the house. Try it! Grab 20 or 30 things you want to get rid of. Set up listings for them on eBay and practice your copywriting skills.
Of course, if you can invest even a few dollars in your business, it will be much easier to get started. Your own domain name and web hosting can cost just a few dollars a month.
You can spend weeks searching online for free information, or you can invest in training or coaching that will cut your learning curve and help you make more money faster. That doesn’t mean buying every product that promises to make you rich, but it does mean paying for help that will get you started fast and help you make more money sooner. When you invest, invest wisely.
If you choose to get started with absolutely no money, use your initial profits to pay for some tools that will make it easier to build a successful online business.
Whatever you do, do not wait to start. The best time to start a new business is always five years ago. The second best time is right now.