5 Tips For Starting A Business With Little To No Money


It’s amazing how many persons are sitting on million-dollar business ideas, all because they “don’t have the financial resources to start the business”. I perceive that many have actually placed the cart in front of the horse as I have done several times in the past, thinking I needed money to start my businesses.

Whether you are aspiring to be a professional fashion designer, make-up artist, author, recording artist, freelance bookkeeper, financial advisor, interior decorator or barber, the possibility of succeeding exists for you once you understand the concept of business and adopt cost effective means of producing substantial value through entrepreneurship.

But first, let’s define business!

The Oxford Dictionary defines business as, “a person’s regular occupation, profession or trade”. Ask yourself this question, what do I regularly do that can add quality to the lives of others while simultaneously earning an income.

Although this question may seem easy for some and difficult for others, think about your passion. Think about your skill set. In what way can you add passion to skill to produce value? This being one of the first steps in starting a business, you’ll need to ask questions and conduct research on what is needed to start your business. Business needs and start-up requirements will vary depending on size, geographic location, product or service type, industry and target market.

Research, Development and Planning

Before you can think of profits and expansion, ask yourself these questions:

  1. In what way will my product/service add value to the lives and businesses of others?

  2. Is this product/service currently being offered?

  3. Will/does my product/service meet a need within their industry of interest?

  4. Who are my competitors?

  5. What will my competitive advantage be?

  6. What is the vision for my product/service?

  7. Who will my target market be?

It is important to be able answer these questions above before running off and applying for a loan, renting an office space or purchasing excessive inventory which may require you to either pay storage fees or incur losses due to expirations and/or non-sales. We can combine this information with our business start-up requirements and classify our needs, desires and start up requirements into two categories: ‘requires money’ and ‘does not require money’.

Of course, you’ll never be able to receive a business licence from your country’s Inland Revenue Department without providing payment. So, how do you start making money with little to no money?

Tip #1 – Crowdfunding

I’m sure there are some family members, friends, acquaintances and associates who are supportive of your business ideas and ambitions. Have you ever thought of asking for financial assistance?

Crowdfunding (though newly termed) is a means of financing initiatives through fundraisers. You’ve done this a million times over, haven’t you? You’ve asked for money to buy food, clothes, movie tickets and more, right? So why not ask for money to fund your dream?

A little goes a long way. Write down a list of family members you know would be willing to donate. Go through your WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat contacts and select names of persons who would love to share in the joy of giving life to your dream. Think about obtaining at least $5.00 (or even more) from each person. That’s a great financial jump-start for someone who didn’t even have a dollar.

Tip #2 – Offer Services to Generate Cash Flow

If your aspiring business is a product-based business which requires you to purchase inventory and incur shipping and handling fees, you can finance your business by offering a service to generate cash-flow. Remember earlier we spoke about adding passion to skill to create value? Put that to work!

Whether your passion is braiding/styling hair, teaching, washing cars, baby sitting or providing editorial services, add skill to passion by capitalizing on ‘free’ training (whether through practice, YouTube tutorials or Google search) to perform effectively and efficiently.

Let’s say you start with as little as one (1) client every weekend with a service price of $25.00, you can earn $100.00 a month. Now, imagine if you have four (4) clients, that’s $400.00 a month and $4,800 at the end of one (1) year. Do you see the transition from $0 to almost $5,000.00? If you’re a singer or musician this works for you too. The key is to simply add passion to skill to create value.

Tip #3 – Apply for Grants and/or Sponsorship

Conduct sufficient research in your business’ industry to determine whether grants and/or sponsorship are available to you for offsetting your start-up expenses. You’ll be amazed how many opportunities are available for you to not only obtain financial resources, but also provide your business with public exposure (free marketing) as successful applicants are normally highlighted in the local news, newspapers, newsletters and magazines.

Tip #4 – Partnerships and Collaborations

Can the value provided by your product/service curb a societal issue, improve a school’s curriculum, decrease unemployment in your community or provide awareness to unaddressed issues? If so, you can partner with a Ministry within your country’s Government that may be likely to provide insight and/or assistance in bringing your business idea to fruition. For example, if your business is catered towards young people in your community or country at large, it maybe best to partner with the Ministry of Education or the Ministry of Youth and Gender Affairs based on the objective, scope and vision of your business.

Partner with the veterans in your industry of interest to learn business strategies, tips, and even work-arounds. Partnering and collaborating may even mean understudying a business owner you consider to be successful and established by committing a few hours per day or week to working with them for free.

Do your homework! Speak to someone who you trust and is willing to share their entrepreneurship journey. If and when that opportunity presents itself, learn as much as you can.

Tip #5 – Substitute Interns for Full-Time Staff Members

Most start-up businesses do not have the financial resources to hire full-time staff. A possible and economical work around is to hire interns; exchanging knowledge, skill and training for labour and time.

At the end of the internship, not only would you have been able to efficiently and effectively execute your business functions, but you would have prepared a potential employee for the world of work or entrepreneurship, by imparting your wisdom and experience to them.

In addition, interns can futuristically become full-time employees within your business as you would have been able to observe their work ethics, mannerisms, character and professionalism. This potentially decreases human resources expenses resulting from vacancy notices in newspapers, recruiting, interviewing, selecting and training process.

I hope this was an informative and insightful read for you. Please do share your additional tips for starting a business with little to no money.

Cheers to a mentality and lifestyle of success!

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