Written by: Christopher Chitty
For every successful start-up, there are at least 10 others that never get off the ground. There are many factors contributing to this but the chief reason would be a lack of capital. Some budding entrepreneurs get so disillusioned with their lack of capital that they allow it to dissuade them from beginning their venture.
While capital is important, it is certainly not the make it or break it of start-ups some people think it is. In our previous articles, we've spoken on how to apply for loans or angel financing in order to help your business get off the ground but now we're going to focus on starting a business with no money or at the least, very little of it.
The first step to creating a business is the idea. This is the quintessential step to take before worrying about capital and finding an office space.
A good idea will help you see that light at the end of the tunnel. List down several ideas and pick out the most profitable ones and whittle that list down further by choosing the one which is most profitable. This should ideally be something you are adequately skilled in. Do your research before you start working up a business and marketing plan and learn as much as you can about your new venture.
Once you have that, it is time to start putting your idea onto paper and by paper we mean build a website. It is not necessary to hire someone to create a website for you just yet as there are several free and efficient website creating tools on the internet. Wordpress and Tumblr are two common sites people use to generate their own voice on the internet and both are free and easy to use. At some point you can pay a yearly fee to register a domain name to your current website address but that is a step for the future.
At this stage of your business, it is forgivable if your site is not nearly as fanciful looking as other established companies. Focus on adding content such as what is your business about, how it can help enhance the lives of your clients and how your product/service is different.
You could get advice from friends and colleagues as you do this. Ensure that your site is accessible and easy to use and you're on to a great start.
Remember not to hire anyone to help with this. If you end up paying someone to create a great website but your product fails to impress, the costs you incur from the web designer will not be justified.
It is far better to have a simple website with a great product than a great looking website with a subpar product.
However if you are quite skilled in web designing, nothing should stop you from doing a great job. If you are really that skilled, perhaps your business should be creating professional websites for companies.
At no point in your creation process should you be considering renting an office or a warehouse. Work from home and do not quit your day job just yet. Your monthly salary will be your main source of capital when you are finally ready to deliver your product. Until that time though, build it in your free time.
If you have a product or a service to sell, you could look to forums and websites such as craigslist to advertise. The strongest form of advertising or marketing will be word of mouth however so get your friends and family interested in your product first and if what you are doing is worth talking about, they will spread the word.
This works because if your product or service does not live up to your hype, you will get feedback from a group of trusted individuals for free. This gives you the opportunity to change or improve on your venture.
You could also participate in business meet up groups and mingle with professionals in that circle. Use a free name card generating website to come up with something preliminary and issue these out at such meetings.
The trick here is to meet as many people as possible. Like sales, the starting of a business is a numbers game. You may get one interested party out of a thousand people you've met and that's a start. This number will snowball if your product or service is good though so make sure you iron out all of that before you take it to a professional level.
As you create your business you need to realize that success is not going to happen overnight. It takes time to build your business and even more time to build relationships.
You may see results in a year or in six years, the point is, if you believe that your business has the potential to increase and if your small pool of clients are growing slowly but steadily, stick with it.
For it to be a success, you will need to work at it every day. This means you do the legwork and run the business. When you start bringing in profits, you can start hiring people to do different jobs but at the beginning, you are everything; the CEO, CFO, COO, Manager, Assistant Manager, Secretary, Executive, Janitor, Cook. Everything.
Running a business requires strong and unshakeable commitment. You have to be dedicated to it completely even when someone tells you why they think it will fail. If you believe in your business enough and you are confident that you will succeed, chances are, you will.
What separates the successful ventures from the failed ones is just that; will power.