Financial success is the main reason people start businesses. But when starting out, aspiring entrepreneurs like yourself can be short on cash. Instead of putting off your dreams of self-employment, look at your means in terms of what you have other than cash to get your business off the ground and on the road to success.
Start Your Business on the Side
After years of being employed, you might feel ready to be your own boss. Though starting a business isn’t a fast-track to riches, working for yourself can provide a way to increase your income. You might want to quit your job right away, but consider taking time to think about your finances.
If your salary covers your living expenses, one option is to start your business — and get on a firm footing — before you quit. You won’t have as much free time to dedicate to your company at first, but there are many things you can do in your free time to get started.
While still employed, you can:
- Write and fine-tune a business plan.
- Create a budget.
- Build a website and start your social media presence.
- Have conversations with potential clients.
- Test your business plan and work out your equipment needs.
- Save cash reserves.
The nice thing about starting your business while employed is you can set aside small amounts of money from your paycheck to pay for your startup expenses.
Use the Skills You Already Have to Start Your Business
Hiring people, buying inventory, and leasing business space all cost money, but the things you know how to do are free. Using your skills is one of the most effective ways to get a business running. Maybe you’re an experienced educator, and your long-term goal is to launch an education consulting business. Since your skill is teaching, you could start by offering tutoring to school students in your neighbourhood. Over time, your tutoring business may grow to the point where you need to lease space. Your students succeeding with your tutoring help could be the springboard needed to turn your business into that education consulting firm you always dreamed about.
Start by making an inventory of your skills to decide where to focus your time and attention. You may need to learn a few new things to complement your skills. When that’s the case, consider using free or very low-cost means to learn those skills. You can find free courses and tutorials to learn things you need to know to start your business on numerous websites and the video sharing sites YouTube and Vimeo.
Use or Grow Your Network to Start a Business
You’ve probably been thinking about starting a business for a while, but have you talked about it with your friends and family? If not, now might be the time to start talking about your plans with the people closest to you. You want to do this for two reasons: to find out who might be willing to lend a hand and who might be willing to invest in your business. Try not to shy away from asking people you know to tell people they know about your business. Maybe your friends or family members don’t have the funds or skills to help you out, but they might know people who do.
Should you get offers for help from people in your network, it’s important to make sure that you enter into formal agreements with them to avoid damaging any relationships. Unless a relative or friend offers to work for you for free, it’s vital to agree on compensation. Even if they’ve agreed to work for free, it’s helpful to lay out which tasks they’ll be doing and how much time each day or week they’ll commit to helping out. If a friend or family member offers to loan you startup funds, don’t accept the money without a written agreement and repayment plan.
Learn to Adapt as You Build Your Business
Success in getting a business up and running is directly tied to the entrepreneur’s ability to adapt. What you want to avoid is having your heart set too firmly on doing things a certain way or being too fixated on a business idea. The reason for this is that business trends, consumer tastes, and technology continue to evolve at a rapid pace. If you’re flexible, you might be able to ride the wave of a trend soon after you launch, which enables you to establish your brand and get cash flowing into your business. Keep current with changes in your industry by subscribing to newsletters in your niche. Look for industry events and conferences for intensive, hands-on learning about the latest in the field.
Low-Cost Business Ideas
The type of business you plan to start determines how fast you can get it off the ground. Some business ideas you can get up and running in the near future include:
- Brokerage businesses: A business that brings two parties together, like a real estate and sports agent, is easy and inexpensive to start. Here, you only need a smartphone, a list of contacts, and the ability to help the parties realise the benefits of working together.
- Consultant: From bridal wear to taxes, a consulting business requires your expertise and ability to market yourself to niche groups of people in need of your services.
- Creative professional: Whether you’re a musician, mime, or painter, you’ve already mastered the art form and most likely have the equipment you need to create unique cultural experiences for crowds.
Starting a business is one of the most challenging things you might ever do. Thinking outside the box about ways to launch without money won’t eliminate your need for money, but it could certainly minimise it, and using cloud-based accounting software like QuickBooks Simple Start can help you keep track of it all once you’re up and running.