Money shouldn’t necessarily be the reason a great idea gets shelved but sadly, a lack of cash is often the biggest reason why entrepreneurs put their plan on hold. It’s easy to assume that the only way a business will get off the ground is with major funding or the ability to raise ridiculous amounts of money, but that isn’t always the case. Fortunately, starting a business with no money (or very little) is entirely achievable according to Instant Offices.
Richard Branson is probably one of the most inspiring stories for any entrepreneur. With just £300 from his mother he started his magazine ‘Student’, which was the catalyst for the entire Virgin Company. Today he’s worth over 5.1 billion dollars.
Here’s how you can get started.
Source cash in creative ways
When bank loans, pitching to investors and other funding methods aren’t an option, creative entrepreneurs find a way to raise the cash they need.
Start by looking at what you already have, like savings, investments or retirement funds, and only invest what you can afford to lose. If you don’t have any savings to tap into don’t worry, there are loads of creative ways to look at raising the cash you need.
In 2008 Cynthia Kersey threw herself a 50th birthday party and invited everyone she knew, asking them to each donate $100 instead of a gift. With the money she launched The Unstoppable Foundation, a non-profit which focuses on giving children access to education.
The two founders of Airbnb managed to raise $25 000 for their business by buying cereal in bulk and boxing it with a clever name. They sold their Obama O’s at a Democratic National Convention for $40 each and managed to raise the cash they needed to fund the now billion-dollar company.
Two more ways to source cash:
Angel investors: These are wealthy individuals who invest in exchange for partial ownership of a company
Crowdfunding: If you believe your idea is good enough why not take it to the masses and try to attract funding
List your connections
It’s not what you know it’s who you know, a statement uttered so often in business because it’s inescapably accurate. Start by making a list of connections and consider how they could help you. Do you know someone you could trade skills with? Perhaps you know someone that could build you a website for a minimum cost, or introduce you to their network of business contacts in return for your skills on a project of theirs? You could even consider selling your services to raise money.
Billionaire founder of Topshop Philip Green started his company with $20 000. He used the start-up capital to import jeans from the Far East to sell to London retailers.
Instead of launching a business with a full product or service offering, simplify your strategy and start off small. It not only takes off the pressure significantly, but by concentrating on one product or service you’ll save on initial cash outlay. Offering a single service or product in the beginning also enables you to focus on a defined target audience, building from there as the concept strengthens.
Make something that you can sell online. If the product is good enough, marketplaces like Etsy, eBay and Amazon may just do the work for you by marketing and selling it to their immense audiences. If you’re not into making your own products, how about reselling other people’s products? Some of the biggest fashion e-commerce sites are based on this principle, curating and selling items to their own communities. If you have a skill or a speciality, all you need are the tools of your trade to start a service business, this requires very little investment and is a great way to start small in your local area.
Fear of failure is one of the biggest killers of great ideas. Don’t wait for everything to be perfect before you start your business, and don’t let a lack of cash stop you from developing something that could end up paying off in the long run.
Having pooled together $8000 of their own cash and taking out loans, the three founders of Starbucks took their idea and ran with it, turning the company into a billion-dollar company almost 10 years later.
Great, so you’re motivated! Here are five business ideas that require very little cash to get off the ground.
A powerful tool of communication and an ideal way for businesses and individuals to engage with niche audiences online – no wonder there are upwards of 150 million blogs online. Starting one of your own, or consulting with others on how to run theirs, requires virtually no capital, and is a great way to generate an income.
The global eLearning Market is a hundred-billion-dollar industry and each year, more and more people sign up with sites like Udemy or Instructables to learn. If you have knowledge to share, why not turn a profit while you share it with the world through one of these sites?
With a small injection of cash to get started you can start making a profit from a good 3D printer. Whether you create and sell designs, offer a service where you sell customised moulds or figurines, or create children’s toys, you can turn a small investment into a big business idea.
If you have a skill and can offer valuable insights and actions to other companies, start-ups and corporates, you could start a consulting service with virtually no capital outlay. Social media managers, for example offer their services to companies who don’t have time to run their own platforms.
Whether a book, manuals, white papers or copy for advertising, setting up your own freelance writing business requires absolutely no cash investments, aside from a computer, and can set you up for a rewarding and busy career.
“Timing, perseverance, and 10 years of trying will eventually make you look like an overnight success.” – Biz Stone, co-founder of Twitter