“I have a workable business plan but I don’t have funds to start it.” This is the phrase I am sure each of you has heard a lot from your friends, colleagues, etc. Unfortunately, it is true that starting something new without money is hard. Compare to the cases when you have parents or relatives with deep pockets to support you with money anytime you need. If you are confident about your service or product idea, a lack of funds can be no excuse.
Most of the entrepreneurs work with the following model: raise money, build the software. This is true, as software products require serious up-front capital. In this article, we will share some great ideas you could use to start your business starting from now without money.
1. Don’t delegate at the beginning.
The golden rule says: Hire slow, fire fast. I hope it is obvious to you that in the first stage of the company/ product development, you need to do all the work yourself. This could sound very sad and time-consuming but there are advantages. You don’t pay salaries, you put every earned amount back to the business (which is super important for early-stage companies). Besides you have location independence and can work from any place.
2. Build your company website, create social accounts.
In the modern world, where even pets have social accounts, digital presence is mandatory. This is especially true for companies offering non-physical products/goods. There is a bunch of cool services that would help you to have a website very fast and at a low cost or even completely free. What refers to the social platforms, your absence would mean your company doesn’t exist.
3. Consider barter model.
Working all alone is not an easy task. Apart from learning new stuff to handle, you need to take care of everything at once. Bartering becomes a very convenient option. Let’s suppose you are a core web designer but you can’t afford some stages of website development.
Find a developer who would cooperate with barter basis and create a website for you in exchange for web design. This would also mean growing your network with people just like you, with the same goals and ambitions.
4. Find an incubator or accelerator program.
Find an incubator or accelerator program. The purpose of incubator program is finding a solid business idea or an operating startup company to help them financially. The other good thing about the incubators is that most of them provide office space, mentors. In case if you believe you have killer business plan and you are sure the product will hit the market, consider accelerators (Y Combinator). This is a great option if you have at least a raw MVP (Minimum viable product) and you are ready for the investment. Keep in mind that these programs expect a rapid response to the provided investment.
This way of raising money has become more efficient than traditional fundraising. It is no secret that around 98% of startups are being rejected by VCs and angel investors, crowdfunding can be a quick access to funds your company needs. Another benefit among raising funds is that it gives you a proof of concept. Understanding how good your idea or product is, looking at the problem you solve from different perspectives. Oh, yeah, and what’s the most important thing, it’s a free PR to boost your marketing campaigns.
6. Don’t keep your idea or project a secret.
Almost no business nowadays can grow and be dominated in the market without a proper marketing strategy and advertising. Depending on the niche you have chosen for your business, the amount of the capital spent on marketing varies. To make myself even clearer, imagine your project gets funded consider that approximately half of the amount would be spent on promoting only.
This means that starting a business with no capital is getting even harder. Tell as many people as you can, use all of your network. To cut in short, make it public. This kind of interaction will be a great proof of your concept, besides you could find your first client. Using these resources wisely at the early stage would be a wise strategic move.
7. Consider finding a co-founder.
The famous African proverb says: If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. Starting up a business with a partner seems less risky as it gives you 2 or more brains instead of one. Besides, teaming up with another co-founder greatly increases your chances to succeed. Important thing: don’t jump into this too quickly. There are several rules to follow when choosing a co-founder to make things go according to the predicted flow.
When choosing a co-founder or even an employee, set up well-defined list of core values for you. Those values define your vision, goals and business priorities. Make sure you both have the same vision, motivation and drive level. Agree on some essential and game-changing points upfront. To sum up, teaming up with someone you trust no matter what is like getting married.
8. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Succeeding alone is hardly possible, especially with no upfront capital. The advice is: reach out to the business owners to get some advice. It may sound strange but the most successful people would greatly agree to point to some important things you need to take into account while starting or running a business.
The best way to do that is to find them via Linkedin and write them. The chance that the whole list of your recipients would reply to you back is low but you may succeed. Why don’t you try reaching out to small businesses first?
The benefits of asking for help are: someone might find your idea really attractive and invest in your business or find a co-founder. Networking with people who had the same business challenges as you do can be priceless. Another cool thing can be finding and attending local events to find mastermind groups. This way your professional network expands quicker than you could ever think.
Becoming an entrepreneur would require to change a lot in your habits, discipline up to shifting the mindset. The last advice would be: be persistent, it’s the key! Don’t believe in overnight success and keep working. May the force be with you! 🙂