One of the biggest obstacles to starting your own business is a lack of capital. How can you possibly start a business with no money? Well, it can be done.
Here are my top 10 tips on how you can start a business with no money.
1. Do your research.
This applies not only to your business idea but also get to know yourself. Take a good hard look at your strengths, weaknesses, and your skills. You must be sure you have the personality skills to make your idea work, no matter how good the idea is.
Test your idea on friends and family, check the internet for any competitors and see how they work, what their prices are and their social media reviews. Can you do it better (not necessarily cheaper)?
Make sure your business suits you.
2. Fill a need, rather than a want
Keep your idea simple, so customers understand what they are getting and can purchase it without needing to discuss it with anyone else.
It is far easier and cheaper to solve a customer’s problem with what they need, such as a £10 car wash, rather than want they want, a £20,000 new car.
As I put in my previous blog, business is all about solving problems for people.
3. Use resources you already have
Working from home is a very cheap way of setting yourself up, and you can claim an allowance against your tax bill!
Home computers are usually powerful and quick enough to use in a small business so keep what you have for now.
Could you use your own car, your kitchen or your garage?
4. Free stuff
When you start your business you can set up a website for free with a number of providers such as wix.com and you can have it up and running within a matter of hours. (Note: Free websites are not perfect and it is worth paying a small amount if you can).
Use social media tools such as Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, Instagram and many more. They are all free (unless using paid for advertising) and are a great way of getting your business out there. Connect with local business and community groups. Social media is a huge potential marketplace for your business.
Friends and family are free too, use them to promote your business. Go to free networking events, The National Enterprise Network and Meetup often hold free creative and business development events and others can be found online. Networking events are also a great place to find out about freebies that other businesses have used and their experience of them.
Free design websites such as Canva allow you to design your own marketing material.
Look on the internet for free help guides and ‘how to’ You Tube videos. The British Library Business and IP Centre has a mass of resources for start-ups across the UK.
5. Keep your fixed costs down
Do not sign up for fixed term contracts if at all possible. Try to keep your costs in line with your sales. Pay only for what you need, when you need it.
If you need a meeting room, hire it by the hour rather than paying for an office. If you need extra help look for hourly paid freelancers and assistants.
6. Use voucher sites to get bargains
There are plenty of voucher and coupon sites that can save you a lot of money. Use them to grab yourself a discount. Also work on your negotiating skills (easier for some than others admittedly) to get the best deals you can.
As a large supermarket retailer says ‘every little helps’.
7. Get customers to pay upfront
Whether the business is big or small, non-payment by customers is one of the biggest causes of business failure. Payment upfront is ideal, but if that is not possible try to get a deposit that is at least sufficient to cover your costs.
Cashflow will be crucial, it will keep your business going.
8. Do it yourself
If you can do everything yourself then do so, even if it is outside of your comfort zone. Try to learn as much as you can from You Tube videos for example.
Keep a separate business account and plough everything you earn back into the business so you can invest and grow.
9. If you have a job, keep it
Holding onto your job will provide you with the security of a regular income whilst your business gets started. Yes, it can mean long hours and sometimes balancing a full-time job with running your own business can be difficult.
This also allows you to test your business out before putting all your eggs into the one basket. If the business doesn’t work out you still have your job, and if it does you can transition to a full-time business with a much-reduced risk level.
10. Finance is available
Start-up loans are available, but beware these will add fixed costs to your business and you will be personally liable for these.
Many local authorities provide grants for new businesses and it is always worth checking what is available as it changes regularly.
Crowdfunding has become more popular and may be a way of raising capital for your business, something will be expected in return though.
One last thing…
“I’m convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.” –Steve Jobs, Co-Founder and CEO, Apple
Starting a business is hard work, whether you start with or without money. There is no overnight success and no substitute for sheer grit and determination, no matter what you may hear or read. But it is possible to start a successful business with no money.