“I have a good business idea, but no money to start” is the standard excuse for several aspiring entrepreneurs. Most people who want to start a venture think they need an army of investors or a wealthy relative and the most detailed business plan, but it’s not the case. Granted, having a reliable source of funding is the easier path to take, but not having it is no real excuse to not start your venture. If you really believe in the viability of the product or service you want to offer, then options like pivoting, reducing your needs to the bare essentials and getting creative with the resources you have, can help you can bootstrap your way to a successful business. This article touches on 5 vital tips for starting a business with no money.
- Save money by using borrowed or used equipment: Like Justin Gold’s nut butters made first with the food processor in his kitchen and sold at farmer’s markets, you too don’t need new computers, a new desk or fancy equipment to get started. Remember you have no money and minimalism is the name of the game here. When Justin Gold wanted to expand and was turned away by peanut butter manufacturers, he searched for and found some old used industrial food processing equipment for almost nothing. Justin recently sold his business to Hormel for $286 million. In fact Justin Gold’s story is a must-read for aspiring entrepreneurs who haven’t realized they could do it with little or no money.
- Get a free board of advisors: You may have an idea, well and good, but not the professional skills or in-depth knowledge needed to get the idea rolling, take a leaf from former professional triathlete Nicole DeBoom who found advisors to teach her what she didn’t know and get her connected to other people whose expertise and knowledge she would eventually need. According to DeBoom, she had “coffee meetings” with these advisors 10 times a week to pick their brains. These advisors provided her with the knowledge she needed to launch a company that has sold $25 million+ in running skirts for women today.
- Have a business model that produces revenue fast: Your business will only survive as long as there’s money to keep it afloat. If you generate no money, you won’t be in business for long. Look for ways to make cash quickly from your idea. One good way to do this is to provide a service you’re already good at, be it programming, content writing or graphic design. This method involves knowledge you already have and little financial investment. When providing this service starts paying, the extra money generated can then be put back into the business and make the more capital-intensive products and services.
- Be creative with the resources you already have: If midway through the startup phase, you encounter a financial crisis, – which you most probably would with no investors backing you – you don’t necessarily need to cut down on the staff you currently have(it’s an option, but not the best). Look for ways to put their skills to good use and generate the extra money you would need to get through the rough patch. Look at the different employees you have and their skill sets and think up ways they can provide services you can monetize. Your programmers could make apps and software for clients, your content writers could write for clients and your marketing team could be digital marketing service providers. At the end of the day, when the financial storm has been successfully weathered, these makeshift departments could be added to the suite of services your company provides.
- Take the crowdfunding route: If worst comes to worst and outside funding seems to be the only way out, then you can take the crowdfunding route. Crowdfunding platforms are in the process of changing how entrepreneurs – both aspiring and existing access capital. Whatever your business, if you have no money to start or keep it afloat, Kickstarter and other crowdfunding platforms allow the public to invest a small percentage of money in return for a future buy-in.