STEPS to Starting a Business with Next to No Assets while Forming an Affiliation with a Nonprofit

Written by: Lannette Inouye, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

Starting a small home-based business takes a lot of patience, time, education and planning; however, it’s definitely attainable if you really want it. Everyone has transferable skills, and you certainly don’t need to spend all your hard-earned money on expensive courses to obtain these skills!


I had $1000 dollars barely to work with and held down a full time special educational career; knowing that retirement is close, I consciously put my wheels into motion. I was very determined! I didn’t leave my job, and continued to work. For two years, I had spent my weekends and evenings planning, researching, and putting my ideas together. What had occurred to me as I have some pretty amazing skills to work with. Transferable skills I acquired over the years, skills that were sitting idle for a very long time!

These transferable skills can prove to be reliable and useful in your business path!

1) The first thing you need to do is make a small list of your personal and professional skill set, like I did.

This is the realization I made about myself! These are my top 4 skill sets

  • Skills and talent of an artist, a writer and graphic designer.

  • A Bachelor of Commerce Degree and an Entrepreneurial Management Diploma

  • Education and knowledge of Social Services, Psychology, Applied Behavior Analyzation, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), and Special Education.

  • Experience and knowledge of working with nonprofit organizations.

Now make a list of your own 4 most prominent skill sets!

2) Create a list of assets you have acquired or desire to obtain.


Business idea, Business plan, Approved business name, Registered business, Skill set and talent, Knowledge and/or Education, Desire to learn, Ambition, Product, craft, merchandise or services, Website/Blog, E-commerce store or marketplace platform, Office equipment, Small savings, Business bank account, Basic credit card.


1. Register your business and business name with your government registry program.

2. Many online places offer low cost legal documents too, like business plans that you fill out the details of your business and the program guides you through the process. I access for numerous legal Canadian documents. It only costs me just under $6.00 a month for unlimited legal documents, very convenient. Most countries have free to low-cost options for business startups. Search google with FREE OR LOW-COST BUSINESS PLANS. That way, if you ever decide to obtain a small business loan or grants, you’ll be prepared. I believe it’s not necessary to have a business plan complete before launching a small home-based business, but it doesn’t hurt to have it either! I like to refer back to my plan as a reminder of my next steps.

3. A small savings of a couple hundred to a few thousand dollars, and a basic credit card is all you need to get your business started. Open a business bank account

4. A cell phone, computer, printer/fax, or mobile device are great assets in a small home-based business. I did most of my work on my iPad and iPhone.

5. A cloud-based website builder with a blog or WordPress is great; however, in my experience, a cloud-based builder was the easiest and most economical route to build my online presence. If you have limited tech skills, these hosting sites usually walk you through the process. You can include an e-commerce store if you plan to sell merchandise, but this is not necessary and can cost you added funds.

6. Instead, you can choose to connect your website with online free marketplaces that take a small percentage of your sales total. Some examples of reliable marketplaces are eBay, Etsy, Amazon, Prestashop, or Threadless. There are many more. Just search the web for options in your Country.

7. Next, connect your external marketplace web address to your base website/blog, add SEO and name your link. Usually, it will appear on your search bar on your website.

8. Launch social media business pages and /or groups and connect these to your website.

9. Start blogging what you know. Start with a simple short blog post introducing yourself and business. The hows, whys and whats are very important! What is your purpose? Why is your product or service the best? How will your business benefit others?

10. Create your own list of skills and talents, give yourself plenty of time to research options.

11. Utilize your strengths and build up your weaknesses.


SEO helps your business stand out so people can find you on the web by increasing your visibility. Searchable Keywords are connected to your website pages and blog. I find the easiest and most affordable method of learning SEO is through watching YouTube videos from high ranking YouTubers. Just go to YouTube and search SEO for beginners; several tutorials will pop up.

3) Next, build a list of things you’d like to improve on. Examples might be:

  • Marketing skills need improvement

  • Accounting skills could be better

  • Social Media skills are outdated

  • I need an education on SEO

  • Time management is not the best (this was my biggest issue)

You can find free information and tutorials on the internet by just searching for it. My favorite go-to is YouTube. There is always someone on this platform giving free or low-cost professional advice. Just make sure to research these people and businesses before putting their advice into action. Knowledge gives you independence and power!

Prevent burnout and relax your mind, body and spirit. Give yourself at least one day a week where you just focus on you as a person. Sunday is my allotted time I put aside to paint, draw, listen to my favorite music, and simply relax with my husband.

4) Once your business is launched and you have some social media presence, start looking for nonprofit organizations to reach out to.

Whatever your business is, you can affiliate with pretty much any nonprofit. Just make sure you have an interest or some level of knowledge before connecting with a nonprofit.

Research is KEY!

There are many things you could offer a nonprofit, such as, you could offer a service they may need with a percentage off or free. You could offer free advertising. If you own a store with merchandise, you could sell products in a certain category and give the organization a percentage of the sales from the target category or give back a sum from each sale. You could also offer to print their logo on your products and give them back a bit more for every item sold or offer a reduced rate with their logo printed on your merchandise.

This gives nonprofits opportunities they may not have otherwise. It also leaves an open door to their online presence bringing more people to their cause.

Now that you know some of the perks for nonprofits, how would this benefit your business?

• You can reach a new audience altogether

• Build and increase brand awareness

• Education you may not have had before

• Increase brand recognition

• Build a strong social media presence

• Ability to boost sales

• You can write blog posts that will resonate with people

• Increase traffic to your website

• You can create a good image for your company

• Create tax benefits

• Plus more...

It is absolutely worth your time and effort to maintain a strong partnership!

Nothing brings people together like helping others. Forming a partnership with a nonprofit is a win-win situation!

Connect with Lannette on Facebook, Instagram and visit her website for more information!

Lannette Inouye, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Lannette, also known as Lanna, who lives in a small community on the West Coast of Vancouver Island in Canada. She is a budding artist whose designs have become a beacon to advocate for vulnerable people of society. For over 3 decades, she worked for and with nonprofits, and now special education, concluding many of those years volunteering her spare time helping those in need of resources. With a solid background in advocacy and a natural risk-taker, she has the added skills and tools to move forward and make a difference, so she founded and created Expressive Designs by Lanna with the intent to affiliate her art business with non-profit support societies and form partnerships of trust. One of her goals is to demonstrate to other small businesses how communities and businesses benefit from a partnership such as this. Her desires as a successful, independent, supportive businesswoman have been a lifelong dream, and she feels her new journey is full of positivity and hope for many.



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