“If only I had enough money, I’d quit my unsatisfying job and start my own business” I’ve heard this sentence multiple times from colleagues, grad students, people in their first jobs and even total strangers. If you hear carefully, you’d notice that lack of money isn’t the main problem. The real problem is an unrealistic expectation of contentment in running a business, the thinking that it is a quick way of becoming rich and oh my favourite one; “you’re your own boss”. Spoiler Alert: You’re not. I’m lettering this blog to share some very interesting hacks of starting a business with minimum or no money, but that is only possible if you’re ready to stop making excuses and shun your unrealistic expectations about running a business. If you truly believe that you have an idea, a product or a service that has a demand and can fill some gap in the market, don’t let lack of money stop you from pursuing your idea.
You do not need a lot of money to start a business you have been thinking about for months or years. A big percentage of businesses start with minimum resources. If you’re ready to work hard, be creative, be patient and slowly move towards growth, money doesn’t need to be your biggest concern. Don’t get me wrong, you’ll need finances, but you just need to learn where to look for them. Here are some ways for you to kick start your business and find investment.
- Utilise Available Resources
- Hard work
- Don’t Quit Your Day Job
- Crowd Funding
- Startup Fund
- Credit Line
- Small Business Loans
- Ask for Help
- Utilise Available Resources
Let’s get one thing clear; starting a business with minimum or no capital isn’t going to be same as starting with ample financial resources. It will require several sleepless hours, it will have slower momentum and most importantly, it will require a completely different mindset. Normally, before starting a business you think of a solution to a common problem i.e. fills a gap, and then you make a plan, listing the resources that you’ll need for the execution and then present your pitch to an investor. But when you’re starting a business with no money, there is nothing normal about it. So, you have to think differently. Instead of thinking of a solution that fills a gap in the market, start with taking note of your available resources. See what you’ve and how you can best use it to offer a solution. Make checklists of your useable possessions. Let me explain this using the example of a writing business.
- Skills – What are you good at?
Example- Writing scripts/ ad copies/ blogs/articles.
- Knowledge and Experience– What industry is your knowledge confined to and how can you use your past relevant work experience.
Example- A degree in literature/ communications and work experience of a news agency/ advertising firm.
- Tangible Resources- Things you own and what do you have access to.
Example- Owns a laptop an active internet connection and has access to online libraries.
Pen down the answer to these questions, observe these resources and think what solution you can offer using these. Considering the above example, you can start a business that offers writing services, start your blog, start an online magazine, offer online lectures, and work as a freelance news reporter. These are just some of the many options. So, make sure that you evaluate your resources over and over again using multiple combinations to come up with a unique a worthy solution.
Once you have mapped down your available resources, move on to jot down all your personal and professional connections. Your resources can be used more effectively if you have the right people supporting your business journey and enabling you to utilise your resources effectively.
Sarasvathy points out that the alternative means of venture creation advocates “stitching together partnerships to create new markets.” Relationships, particularly equity partnerships design course of the fresh business.
Running a business with minimum resources requires support from the knowledgeable and financially sound people. Try to build new connections with the experts in your field. Attend networking events where professionals from relevant industry gather. Join social media communities and interact and engage constructively with other members. Investors can be found both at networking events and also on social media platforms. Use this as an opportunity to build connections. If you can impress them with your idea, you might simplify your way to receive funding.
3- Hard work
“There is no substitute for hard work” – Thomas Edison
The responsibility of owning and running a business might sound very exciting and empowering but it is also a huge responsibility, especially when you enter the business world with minimum resources and manage your way by multitasking and doing a job of multiple people singlehandedly. Chances are you’ll have to work round the clock to make your business work. Be prepared for this and do as much as you possibly can to lay a strong foundation for your business. Attend networking event, make plans for marketing your business, talk to people and analyse the need of your product or service in their lives- do whatever will push you one step farther in your startup journey. Initial days are bound to be the most difficult ones for any business but through persistence you’ll be getting in trenches, solving problems and learning from your mistakes along the way.
Running a small business is a painful yet extremely rewarding process. So, it’s very important that you are aware and prepared to make this lifestyle change before jumping into the business world.
4- Don’t quit your day job
A piece of great advice about starting your business with no money would be to start a business in free time. You’d be tempted to quit your job as soon as you decide to peruse your business dream, but it is suggested that you keep your job. Your day job will be your continuous source of income, while you get ample time to experiment and take risks in your business. Managing your job and running a business simultaneously can be tiring but having a financial backup in the form of your job income will enable your business to take-off faster.
If your business doesn’t work (always be open to this possibility) you’ll still have your day job and financial security and if it works, it will make the transition easier for you as you’ll be past the initial days of hustle and grind. Once your business starts making enough money for you to take out a wage, then you can think about quitting your job. Pursuing a great idea can be exciting but to be financially secure is important for yourself, your family and your business success.
5- Differentiate Financially
Getting funding for startups is nearly impossible. But once your business reaches the milestone of one million pounds in revenue, your chances of getting funding visibly increase. Investors & Funding organisations are more likely to show interest in investing in your business if you’re a profitable business with good revenue and credit score. Banks check the profit/loss statement before making a decision about allocating funds for your business. So, having one million pounds in revenue differentiates you amongst other small businesses and increases your possibility of receiving funds.
Reaching the first million pounds might be difficult but remember that once you do, financial constraints that might be holding growth back will be lifted off your business. Therefore, do whatever it takes to reach this milestone, don’t give up. If your business is generating revenue but you haven’t reached the milestone yet, differentiate. Check if you have the following;
- A letter of commitment from a notable investor
- Some revenue or a contract to get some revenue
- Valuable intellectual property with the potential to generate revenue
These differentiations can help you get the funding instead of application ending up in the pile of rejected requests.
Crowdfunding platforms have revolutionised the way funding is raised for startups. Regardless of your business industry, some people will be willing to invest in your idea/business, be it tech business, a bakery or a petting zoo. Kickstarter and other such platforms enable the users to invest a small percentage of money against a future purchase.
If you think that a large number of people will be interested in your solution, crowd funding can be a great source of investment for you. Before you launch your campaign on Kickstarter, it is advised that you do sample research and talk to businessmen who have benefitted from this platform in order to seek advice about planning a campaign strategy. Since platforms like these are open to almost everyone, your campaign has to be well planned out to catch attention. Here are some renowned crowdfunding sites you can benefit from;
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7- Credit line
Many businesses depend on credit lines. Banks and credit institutions now design credit lines to facilitate at each stage of business. Some banks offer bi-monthly term of payment policy rather than a monthly payment. This offers flexibility to new businesses, especially if they face cash flow issues. However, if you decide to opt. for a credit line to facilitate your business finances, do not get carried away with unnecessary purchases. Use it for absolute necessity or you’ll end up in a pile of debt which might feel like a financial burden on its own.
8- Startup Fund
Before you start your business, it is always good to have savings. You can start today. If you have a business idea and you see pursuing that in the future, start saving some amount every month. Open a separate account with a business name and add your saving in that to invest in business whenever you are ready to give it a shot. This will help you get serious about your business idea. To make the savings hike up quickly, set aside a fixed percentage from each paycheck, add your bonuses to the fund and you can even do side gigs to make some extra cash.
9- Small business loans
You might not want to start your business journey with a small business loan, but let’s not rule out the option. There are several loan programs aimed at helping first-time businessmen set up their business. Do your research and look for loan programs by the government, governments launch loan programs to encourage development in various industrial sectors time and again. These programs are designed to empower small businesses, so the requirements generally aren’t as strict as set by some private investors. However, there are usually a big number of applicants for such loans so your chances of getting a loan can be low if your business idea isn’t much relevant to the industry that the loan program is launched for.
If this doesn’t work for you, you can consider banks and online lenders who offer various types of small business funds to businesses/startups looking for extra cash flow or investments. You can usually get more favourable terms with a traditional bank. Online lenders, however, are typically more lenient in their requirements. Just be aware of high-interest rates.
10- Ask for help.
Lastly, don’t be shy to ask for help. Starting a business for the first time with a minimum budget can be scary; you might be clueless about a lot of things. Do your research and also ask other business owners about the hurdles you face on your journey. They would be able to help you through their experience as most businesses start with limited budgets. Asking for insights and help can benefit you and your business in numerous ways;
- You might come across business owners who can advise you about starting a business with no money or sustaining a business on low capital.
- You can find a co-founder who might even be willing to fund the venture. Finding like-minded people can increase your chances of success at a business.
- You might lack skills that you can learn from your intimate circle of friends, family and colleagues, free of cost.
- You might even be offered to use an office space free of cost by a friend or family member.
Starting a business can seem costly but numerous possibilities help you start with minimum or no funding. This is especially true for service-based businesses. Service -based businesses can even help raise fund for product-based businesses. Just don’t give up on your idea because you lack finances to support it. Practice the cost-cutting solutions and be resourceful and pick n’ choose from multiple business funding services such as bank loans, credit lines, crowdfunds etc. to help facilitate business growth. Just don’t quit your day job as soon as you start a business, once you’ve laid a foundation with financial stability provided by your job, then you can opt. for working towards your business growth fulltime.