You’ve got a great idea for a brand-new business, or you’re tired of the 9-to-5 grind and want to take your success into your own hands. Either way, you’re excited to turn this dream into reality.
But leaving your current job without a backup plan can be a risky thing. Everything you’ve saved is likely going to living expenses not into the business. Grants and business loans can be difficult to obtain and searching for investors is a full-time job on its own.
On the surface, this all seems problematic. But a lack of personal capital shouldn’t stop you from pursuing your dream business. In fact, it’s entirely possible to start and grow a business with almost no personal financial investment whatsoever — if you know what you’re doing.
Here are two key tips on how to start a business with little or no money: Reduce your expenses or increase your available capital from outside sources.
Depending on where you live and what business you want to create, your startup expenses will vary greatly. However, according to the SBA, you can start your own business for less than $3,000, and home-based franchises can be started for as little as $1,000. So, what do these startup expenses look like?
- Licenses and permits. Depending on your region, you may need special paperwork to operate.
- Equipment and supplies. Does your business need to buy raw materials or require computers and/or specialized machinery or software?
- Office space. Not every freelancer can work out of their home or a coffee shop. Office space can be a huge expense that includes costs like Internet, utilities, and janitorial services.
- Associations, certifications, subscriptions, memberships, insurance. What publications and affiliations will you subscribe to every month? Do you need to carry insurance or certifications for your work?
- Operating expenses. Think payroll and invoicing, and don’t forget about marketing.
- Legal fees. It is wise to consult a lawyer during your business-development process.
- Employees, freelancers and contractors. If you can’t do it alone, you’ll need people on your payroll.
Utilize low-cost alternatives
While not every business model will require each of these items to launch, there are a few expenses that you won’t be able to avoid. Licensing and operational expenses will inevitably require some spending, but you may be able to adjust your business model to demand fewer needs initially or utilize low-cost alternatives.
- Instead of renting office space, try working from home or if that’s impossible check out shared workspaces from companies like WeWork.
- Spend time researching cheaper sources for supplies or cut out product lines that are too expensive to produce at the outset.
- If you are considering consulting a lawyer during your business-development process, you can find freelance lawyers on Moonlighting or take advantage of online services.
- Marketing your business to new clients can drain time and financial resources quickly. Check out the affordable and comprehensive freelance advertising solution, Boost, and these free marketing resources compiled by our marketing team to get the most out of your marketing dollars.
- Take advantage of Moonlighting’s free proposal, invoicing, and payments tools so you can start billing and receiving revenue immediately or find experienced bookkeepers on Moonlighting who can help track and manage your accounts setup and ongoing billing.
Increase your available capital
It’s popular for a reason: with a good idea and enough work, you can attract funding for anything. Many sites that help fund businesses through crowdfunding require you to offer a reward, take on debt through peer-to-peer lending, or offer equity lending (receive investments in exchange for shares in your new business). Carefully weigh out what you are willing to do in exchange for raising startup capital. Crowdfunding options more like Moonlighting’s solution through Moon$hot Stories, let you raise funds with only a simple, small flat fee that is only assessed on funds raised.
Crowdfunding success on any platform is tied to the amount of work you put into your business idea before launch and the effort you make to share your crowdfunding campaign.
Sell your services
One way to start a business with little to no startup capital is to sell your services, instead of a physical product. There’s a huge variety of services you can offer, depending on your background and interests. For example, you can offer these services with little equipment or capital investment:
- Mobile auto detailing
- Dog walking or pet sitting
- Fact-checking and research
- Property manager
- Tutoring or coaching
- Blog writing
- Social media management
Because you are selling your services, you will need a branding plan to make sure your name and company get in front of the people who may need the service. Moonlighting is the perfect platform to build your mobile and online presence, promoting your services to people looking for help.
With one or more of these options, you can reduce your personal financial investment to almost nothing. Startup capital is a major hurdle to overcome, but make no mistake — it can be overcome and if you believe in your business dream, nothing can stand in your way!