Want to turn your passion into profits? Have a great idea you want to market to the world? Ready to quit your day job and become your own boss? If the answer to these questions is yes, you are probably ready to start your own business. Becoming an entrepreneur can be extremely rewarding, but it can also be expensive.
Luckily, there are all kinds of steps you can take if you need to start a business with little or no money. Check out these tips.
Focus on Low-Cost Ideas
Certain businesses require a lot of capital, while others are more affordable to get started. If you’re not sure what you want to do, make a list of low-cost business ideas. Babysitting, dog walking, writing online, bookkeeping, tailoring clothing, and countless other businesses require minimal start up costs. As long as you have the right skills and a few tools of the trade, you just need to find clients and get to work.
If you already have an idea, you may want to spend some time thinking about how you can make that concept more affordable. For instance, to open a restaurant, you have to lease a space, invest in equipment, and incur other costs. To save money, you may want to start a catering business instead.
Be Realistic About Start Up Costs
Regardless of the type of business you want to start, you need to be realistic about your start up costs. If you don’t have the funds to cover a necessary expense, that has the possibility to derail your efforts. Before you get started, take time to sit down and list all your probable start up costs. To ensure you include everything, talk to people in the industry and read as much as you can about starting that type of business.
Make a Budget
Once you’ve established your start up costs, make a budget. Try to figure out when you can afford certain expenses and make plans to cover those costs. If you still have a day job, you may need to start your business slowly and spread your costs out over time.
Explore Free Marketing Opportunities
Customers are essential when you run a business, but you have to reach out and let them know about your offerings. You can spend a lot of money on advertising, but luckily, that is not a necessity. There are all kinds of low-cost marketing options that you should explore including the following:
- Handing out flyers or hanging signs
- Attending free networking events in your community
- Using content strategically on your website to draw in web traffic based on search terms related to your industry
- Offering to write guest blogs on other websites in exchange for a mention of your business and a link back to your website
- Asking other business owners to share referrals with you – for instance, if you are a wedding photographer, you may want to ask a wedding planner to refer you to their clients
- Offering referral bonuses to existing customers who send new clients your way
- Tweeting, posting on Facebook, sharing photos on Instagram, or leveraging social media in other ways to draw attention to your business
- Creating and sharing clever YouTube videos about your brand
- Putting magnets on your vehicle with your business name and contact details
- Sending press releases to local papers, TV channels, or websites
- Pitching your business to friends and family who need your services
- Exhibiting in a trade show
- Cold calling potential customers and telling them about your services
- Knocking on doors to let people know about your business
- Creating a Google business listing
Whether you’re paying for advertising or using free marketing ideas, ask your clients how they heard about you. Then, you can track which marketing efforts are the most successful and devote your time and financial resources accordingly.
Consider a Small Business Loan
If you have a lot of start up costs but no money, you may want to look into a small business loan. Banks are the traditional option for financing, but you may also want to investigate business loans from credit unions or alternative lenders or talk with family and friends about a low interest loan.
If you decide to use a credit card, keep in mind that the interest rates on cards can be very high, and if you only make the minimum payment, it can take decades to pay off a credit card. To safeguard your business’s solvency, make sure that you can afford the repayments before turning to high interest cards or loans.
Talk With Investors
Rather than going into debt to start your business, you may want to talk with investors. They give you money to start your business and in return, you repay them a portion of your profits down the road. You can structure investment opportunities in a range of ways, and there are all kinds of different options from working with wealthy angel investors to crowdsourcing your concept to peer investors online.
Look for Grants
Some businesses may qualify for grants. Typically, you do not have to pay back grants, but you usually have to meet strict criteria to qualify. For instance, there may be grants for businesses in certain industries, businesses that bring jobs to a certain location, or businesses run by women, minorities, or other traditionally disenfranchised demographics.
Follow Up on Accounts Receivables
Once you get the ball rolling on your business, you need to make sure that you stay afloat. Ideally, you should have your customers pay for your products and services right away, but if that’s not the standard practice in your industry, you may need to invoice your clients and wait for your payments.
Make sure to follow up on outstanding bills. Set up an invoicing system that alerts you when invoices haven’t been paid. Then, contact those customers and encourage them to pay in a timely fashion. Consider cutting off services for customers who fail to pay on time.
You can start a business with little or no money. You simply need to be creative about ways to keep costs low, and look for funding through loans, investors, or grants. Then, make sure people hear about your business by implementing a solid marketing plan and leverage your existing customers to bring new clients through the door.