Hey there, curious reader! The following text is the first article Themes Kingdom team created as a part of the series How to Get Your Business Started. The idea behind the series is to help future entrepreneurs start their businesses. In our next article, we will explain several questions you, as a small business owner-to-be, need to answer before deciding to make a website by yourself. Enjoy!
Thinking about starting a business but have no funds to do so? Don’t do it then.
Although starting a business with no money can be more challenging than starting it while having some initial funds, that shouldn’t stop you from bringing your business idea to life. Did you know that, according to statistics from 2016, 77 percent of small businesses relied on personal savings for their initial funds? Additionally, 69 percent of American entrepreneurs started their businesses at home.
Doesn’t seem that impossible to start a business from scratch now, does it?
As you can see, not having enough capital is just another bump in the road you need to overcome to become a successful business owner. It only serves as a reminder that you have to be more careful about what you invest your time and money in.
To help you get the most out of your business, we created a list of tasks that are worthy of your time and money.
Here are some things you should invest your time in:
Keeping your current job
Don’t give it all up and spend 12 hours a day on developing a business plan (just yet). You need some source of income before you start testing your business idea.
Does starting a business with no money mean that you are going to have to work extra hours after your 9-to-5 job if you want to develop your ideas? Yes. Will it be exhausting? Most definitely. Will it be worth it? Certainly!
Once you finally decide to take a leap of faith and officially become a small business owner – everything will start to make sense.
If you ever feel like tired and want to give up, remember that entrepreneurs who kept their day jobs were 33 percent less likely to fail in their new venture. By keeping your day job, you have the time to think about the idea and iterate, while receiving a steady income.
Hey, if Steve Wozniak kept his job at Hewlett-Packard a year after inventing the Apple computer, so can you!
Working on developing your business idea
What is the best thing about starting a business with no money? The fact that you have all the time in the world to work on your idea and develop a business plan. No funds mean that there is no rush.
A business plan is, to put it shortly, a strategic document which shows your plans and goals for the future. It also covers the list of resources and assets you will use to reach those goals.
Let’s say you want to open a local cupcake shop. Your vision of this business is to make and sell never-seen-before cupcakes that look as good as the ones in the Tasty videos and taste even better.
Great! Develop your vision by asking yourself these questions:
- Is your idea unique? What value will it bring to the customers/consumers?
- What should be your business name?
- Who are your target customers?
- Who are your competitors?
- What are some trends in the market?
Before you start panicking about having competition, don’t worry ー it’s a good thing, believe it or not. That means there is a market for your product and that there are businesses from which you can learn.
Thinking about finances
Starting a business with no money doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a realistic valuation of your future company. Sure, you have no capital to open a cupcake store but that you should start thinking about how you are going to use the funds once you get them. To do so, think about the following questions:
- How much will it cost you to make the product or service?
- What should be the price of your product or service?
- What will be your return or refund policy, in case a customer is not satisfied?
- What kind of equipment do you need to have to make that product?
Sharing your idea with others
When starting a business with no money you want to get feedback about your business as soon as possible. That’s why you need to start sharing your idea with people.
First, share your thoughts with friends and family. Reach out and ask them whether they know someone who would be interested in talking to you about your business idea. Reaching out to the people you trust is the first step of getting feedback from your potential customers.
Second, be sure to talk to your competitors’ customers. Ask them about the issues they have with those companies and what they would like to improve. Is the delivery time too long? Is their staff unprofessional? Getting this information is a gold mine and your first step for obtaining a market advantage.
Now, let’s expand the scope and get you even more feedback. Be sure to visit meetups, conferences and join forums, subreddits, Facebook and LinkedIn groups. These are great ways not only to find other small business owners but to meet venture capitalist and investors.
Is that all there is?
If you have done all the previously mentioned steps, congratulations! The idea development period is behind you. Now it’s time to put everything to the test and see if the idea is worth quitting your job.
To properly test your business plan you need to invest some money (not a lot, don’t worry!). Considering the fact you don’t have that many funds, to begin with, you need to invest wisely.
In order to help you, we have named all the idea testing steps which are worthy of investing your money:
Making a website
The one promotional tool you should spend money on (yes, even if you are starting a business with no money) is a website. Building a site is the first step to get the word about your business out there, in the digital space. Additionally, you probably want to jump on the bandwagon and join the 51 percent of small companies that already have a website.
What do you need to know to make a great website? Well, there are more than a couple of steps to it. You’ll need to:
- choose a website building platform,
- pick the right form of the website (we would suggest making an e-Commerce website if you are planning on opening a cupcake shop),
- register a domain name,
- get hosting,
- set up and customize your site and do some additional work.
The good news is that when creating a website on your own, the initial costs are less than $20, in some cases $10. In the end, you can even get a one-year membership for Premium WordPress themes for just $89 a year. But, as we mentioned in the introduction, we will cover all these options in one of the following articles.
For your test period to work, you need to make those cupcakes and start selling. However, before you get in over your head by thinking about creating the perfect product or how much it will cost you to do so, you need to remember a three-word acronym: MVP.
MVP as in Minimum Viable Product, not the MVP of the NBA. This term, which was defined by Eric Ries, is the Holy Grail when you are starting a business with no money. MVP is the first iteration of your business idea which allows you to efficiently test the target market and get feedback from potential customers.
Let us explain how this works. You want to sell 15 different types of cupcakes. Each of these types has some unusual, uncommon ingredients. Now, let’s say one of the cupcake categories is super spicy one, with bacon and some chocolate chips. Combining those ingredients seems exciting and creative but here comes the moment of truth: not everyone likes that food combination.
Just start with asking your friends. How many of them will actually taste the super spicy cupcake? Two out of ten? That only means you probably won’t have that many customers buying it. Investing in a product like that would be such a waste of time (and money)!
The whole point of MVP is not to waste resources during the testing period, no matter if you are starting a business with no money or with some initial funds. You should include as many product features as you can, doing the minimum amount of work. Those features should be the ones that solve customer problems. So, in the case of a super spicy cupcake, opt for less expensive and less time-consuming option.
We are sure you are starting to get hungry so let’s move on with the post.
Registering social media accounts
Making social media accounts on multiple platforms is free. What isn’t, however, is promoting your business by making targeted ads.
Why should you use the ads?
Social media ads are a great way to reach a large number of people that are your target audience. So, what is the best way to promote your business?
Start by introducing your business to the audience. This way you will slowly but surely begin to raise brand awareness. The one thing you need to remember when communicating on social media is to talk to your followers/potential customers with the voice they need to hear, not the voice you want to use. Bear in mind that knowing your target audience to its core is ALWAYS beneficial, especially in the world of social media.
If you need some ideas on how to promote a company on multiple platforms, be sure to check out the Social Sprout’s article. These ideas are great when you are starting a business with no money.
In case you need a hand with planning and managing these channels, here are some tools that can help you out:
- Trello ー for planning social media posts down to the smallest detail,
- Buffer ー for scheduling posts on multiple channels,
- Tweetdeck ー a different point of view for your Twitter account,
- Canva ー for making visuals that will be posted on social media channels.
In the end, time is money
No matter what you are investing, time or money, it’s still an investment. Not to mention that, for an entrepreneur-to-be like yourself, time IS money. So, if you are planning on starting a business with no money, prepare all your steps carefully and take the time to complete them.
Make your choices and start believing that your small business is going to take off. It’s just a matter of time.