How can I get past this catch-22 to start a business?
File it yourself and do not rely on a lawyer.
The people at the Patent Office are very helpful and they will actually walk you through the process. They want to help people get patents! Do some on line research...the NOLO site will be best. Then find out where your local patent office is located and schedule a day or two off to go there and spend all day with the folks there getting together the paperwork and other items you will need to file for your own patent. YES...it will take quite a bit of your time. And YES...there are companies like Invent Help that are licensed and...even better ....BONDED and they will do all of the work for you...for a fee. You can wind up spending $20,000.00 with these people. Not that it is bad...but you can do the same thing for yourself if you invest the time...and the actual patent WILL cost $1,500.00 (about ...but not too much more) I hope this helps you. Or there is something you can get that is called 'patent pending' and it offers a one year protection while you get the actual filing together.
Do you have a product or just an idea...ideas are worthless....products are valuable...
I see no option but the obvious solutions. Find someone you can trust with money for a patent and get it with them or save up/ find enough money to get one yourself.