There is an old cliché that says “You can’t start a business without enough capital.” The truth is; money is not the single most determining factor in starting up a business. What you need is the drive required to launch the venture, a great idea and an unbelievable amount of will to be successful.
Some of the most interesting success stories started with little or no capital. Apple and Google started those companies in a garage. Bill Bowerman and Philip Knight, founders of Nike, started selling shoes in the trunk of their cars. Dell owner, Michael Dell started out by selling PC in his college dormitory.
Here are some tips to follow when founding a startup with zero capital.
- Retain your job.
Embarking on a commercial venture is risky, but starting without capital is even riskier. It is always good to keep that line of income flowing (at least until your firm starts making a profit) so as not to put a financial strain on the family. Once you break even and start making a profit, you can gradually quit your job and concentrate more on marketing.
- Go with your area of Expertise.
The number one drive in starting a company is passion. Instead of starting with something entirely new, start with something you are passionate about, or you have the prerequisite experience. It is always advisable to start your business around your area of expertise.
- Work Alone.
Working alone means you would have to do tasks that you would normally have an employee or outsource to other companies yourself. It is quite cumbersome, but it has to be done since you are starting out with zero capital. This is the only option available to you since you need to build your cash reserves.
- Provide Service
Starting up with a service trade is the way to go. With the service industry, all you require is expertise and excellent salesmanship. There are lots of services you can render, from babysitting to catering, tailoring, online jobs like Amazon reselling, bookkeeping, cell phone repairs and so on.
- Publicize your products and services.
Spread the word; don’t keep your company a secret. Let as many people as you can know you are doing. Letting people know is a way to get your first clients. People in your network could aid in referrals. Use the power of the press and online media by sending press releases.
- Seek help.
As the saying goes, “no man is an island.” Seek as much help as you can get. Help can come in various forms like; tips on how to grow your company, learning new skills relevant to the firm, or a co-founder.
Do this to bargain for tools needed to run your operation. You can offer your services in exchange for goods/products you need.
- Join or Create a Mastermind group.
This is a way to get valuable marketing tips or advice without paying a professional or a consultant. You can create a Mastermind group by bringing together people at the same level as you. That positive synergy that comes as a result of different minds coming together could help in the long run. Some benefits derived from Mastermind groups include gaining different perspective in accomplishing goals and learning from people who have encountered the challenges you are currently facing.
- Create a Patent and license it.
For product inventors, a way to go about starting your venture is to get your patent licensed by a company most preferably, a manufacturer. Such deals offer you a percentage of the sales your product makes. You get in contact with manufacturers with a very catchy sales pitch, providing enough information to attract interest on your product. It is, however, advisable to consult with an attorney before beginning negotiations. Get educated about trademarks, copyrights, and patents.
- Team up with an entrepreneur.
This involves looking for a company where the entrepreneur is overwhelmed with the firm or is fatigued from excess responsibilities. You can offer to help out, on the condition that some percentage of the company be transferred to you.
- Get a sponsor and make him a co-founder.
The goal here is to get someone trustworthy and who has the required amount of money to finance the startup venture. A co-founder could be a friend, family, old colleague, classmate, etc.
- Demand quick payment or payment in advance.
Getting quick payments is critical when you embark on trade with zero capital. Also if you can get an advance on your salary, it would go a long way to boost your firm. You can get quick payment in several forms; examples include; asking for at least 50% cash up front, appearing in person if your client is nearby, and offering discounts for those who pay on time.
- Get a line of Credit.
- Use Crowdfunding.
This requires an enormous amount of effort and dedication, notwithstanding it’s a great option. It is very useful most especially for consumer products manufacturers. Its primary advantage is that it gives you access to capital without requiring equity.
- Seek Government programs.
Be on the lookout for government programs that strive to provide loans and funding for small businesses. They usually have financing options for start-ups.
- Free Advertising.
There are many ways you can advertise your products for free. All it requires is a great deal of hard work. Some ways to get free advertising include creating a fan page on social media sites like Facebook, offering an initial free consultation service, posting ads on websites like Craigslist, wearing your ad (printing your brand, URL, phone number on your T-shirt), learning about SEO, etc.
- Avoid Get rich quick schemes.
A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day. Avoid get rich quick schemes; they have killed a lot of dreams. Most millionaires today had years of trials and disappointment before arriving at their destination. Always remember that success is a gradual process.
You have a great idea for a new venture, but you have no cash. How can you start a business with no money? No worries, almost every new entrepreneur faces similar situations. Have you found a low-cost franchise opportunity and need startup funding? Today there are more ways than ever to get the needed money for start-up expenses and growing credit lines for your new venture. Read how starting a company with no money is possible.
Keep your day job for Money
Don’t quit your full-time job, which is your primary income source for you and your family just yet. There is a lot that you can do to build your new company while you are still gainfully employed. Additionally, having necessary expenses such as rent, food, and transportation covered by your job will allow you to focus your creative energies on building your new store.
Study Your Business Idea
Getting a great idea for a new product is just the beginning. Now you will want to carefully review this idea and build it into a whole endeavor. Ask yourself these types of questions to get greater clarification of how this company would participate in the real world marketplace.
- Is it a genuinely new and unique idea?
- What benefit value are you selling to your customers?
- Do they want this product or service now?
- Are similar companies open currently?
Market industry analysis
Now it is time to take your new marketing idea and research on how to protect your intellectual property. Is it patentable, trademarkable or copyright protectable? If so, pursue these government protections with a competent attorney who specializes in intellectual property rights.
What companies are currently open that will compete with your new venture? An important part of the analysis is to compare your proposed new firm against ongoing companies. What are their strengths and weaknesses? How do your product and service compare to their on price, quality, and service?
What, if any, expertise you or your team members need to implement your sales plan? Are there federal or state regulations that require licensing or certifications? If so, this is the time begin the sometimes lengthy process of applying and testing for granting of licenses.
Calculate funding needs of money
All industry startups require money to purchase materials, rent offices and hire employees. Exactly how much cash will you need to bring your product idea to market? You will need to have done these calculations properly before you begin the process of looking for start-up capital whether in the traditional lending institutions for alternative financing methods.
Other Peoples Money OPM
You bring the marketing idea, and your labor and investors will bring cash. Their goal is to increase their capital by investing your new company idea. Traditional venture capital is not the only type of angel investor. Often people within your industry, family or ones you meet at related trade events such as trade shows, conventions or educational classes may want to invest in your firm.
Crowdsourcing for money
By now you have heard all the incredible success stories from crowdfunding sites such as kick starter. These websites allow individuals to invest small amounts of money into your company in exchange for products or stock
Alternative Financing Options for Business
Kabbage has advanced over $1,000,000,000 in small business loans to help companies grow. Kabbage is the #1 provider of working capital. In minutes, Kabbage can provide working capital to firms to help them grow. Winner of the Forbes top 100 promising companies and Red Herring 100, Kabbage is an innovative company focused on helping companies grow and thrive in today’s economy.
- Small business funding with working capital lines from $2,000-$100,000 in minutes
- Direct deposit into a bank or PayPal account
- Friendly, dedicated service support representatives
- Straightforward solutions for obtaining working capital with no hidden costs
- Automated approval: No Forms, No lengthy Forms
- Online application with an answer in minutes
- Free to sign up.
- Have the security of a startup line of credit behind you
- No fees or charge until you take cash
Test Out Your Business Idea with No Money
Before you invest money and time into your new firm, do a trial run first. Start on a small scale, or give away some of the product or a service and get customer feedback. This valuable information could lead you to a better product than you had planned.
Another way to test the marketplace is to take samples of your product to an industry trade show for your intended audience. Present your product and ask them questions such as Would you Buy this? Now much would you pay? What other products currently available would they compare? Who knows, if your idea is right and you get lucky, you could meet an investor or future customer of your new product right there at the trade show.
Some enterprises have been founded by getting the first customers to prepay for their orders and using that money to build the product. Your job will be to convince people to pay upfront for a product that will take extra time to ship. Motivation factors could be discounts, exclusivity, and protected geographic sales territories.
Credit from Vendors
When you start your own company, you are helping other concerns, your vendors, to grow their companies. As such, they want your firm to start up and succeed. So you may be able to negotiate the order of supplies and materials on a long lead timeframe with little to no down payment. Your firm to manufacture the product and sell it to customers and collect payments before you are due to pay your vendors.
Get an SBA Loan – Small Business Administration
The American government wants you to start companies to provide jobs and build our great nation. The SBA was founded to offer loans to entrepreneurs to set up new ventures. There are specific qualifications, such as your firm must operate in the US, have a decent credit report and work on a for-profit basis. SBA loans for startups availability varies by state. Check with your local SBA office.
Cut Spending to Save Money
Reduce costs down to the minimum wherever possible. New firms do not need the fancy office chairs and coffee makers – use any old chair and a Mr. Coffee machine. Instead, spend your little available on expenses that will make your product and services available for sale. Think creatively about how to make your small bundle of cash stretch a long way towards your eventual success.
- Look at all areas of the profession in ways you can reduce expenses and perhaps even do it yourself DIY.
- Use a website builder such as Wix to make your website and save thousands of dollars
- Print business cards inexpensively with a good online printer
- Outsource tasks and talent to online sites such as Elance or Fiverr
Use Your Credit Cards
Yes, you can use your personal credit cards to start your new venture. BUT be careful there are very specific laws in place that you need to be aware of before you start charging your startup material purchases – read more about using credit cards to start your business here
Partnering to Startup
Find a partner who has the money you need and creates a legal partnership to launch the company together. Be sure to carefully plan each of your job descriptions and commitments to the new company before you begin as a partner. Many unhappy partners skipped this vital step and found out much later to their disappointment and frustration.
Just like a good marriage, communication is super important and especially so at the origin. It is a good idea to do a test of your working relationship – think of it as a partner “date.” Develop a small project together that incorporates both partners skills. You will learn a lot about each other, their working style (or lack thereof) and life values.
Partnerships work best when the partners add to each others skill sets. Also, equal temperaments are ideal, such as uniting a detail person with a bigger picture strategic thinker.
To determine if a potential partner is a good fit for you ask these questions:
- Are you valuing similar ideas and have the same type of goals?
- Can you trust them and do they have good character in all parts of their life?
- Do you agree on matters of everyday life?
- Would you allow another family member like spouse or child to join partnership?
- How would you handle if one partner wanted to move out of the area?
- What if one partner was dishonest how would you handle this?
If you have carefully reviewed all this information and are satisfied this will be a good working relationship it is time to write up a legal contract called the Partnership Agreement with the assistance of an accountant and attorney. Do not skip this step. Many a disgruntled partner will tell you how he wished he had taken the time to draft a clearly written document describing the rules of the partnership. Often it is especially needed for close family members to keep the relationship good since it eliminates any misunderstandings or surprises later on that can deteriorate partnerships.
It is standard practice for partners to have equal ownership portions of 50% each. However, each partnership is as individual as the partners themselves, so this could be different in your case. Sometimes the parts are adjusted based on the partner with the capital and the other with the contacts, specialized knowledge, and intellectual property.
Another critical component of the agreement should be the exit clause. How will the partners leave the contract by one buying out the other or can the partner sell his part of the partnership to a third party? Discuss these points and have them in the written contract for the health of the firm and the partner relationship.
Success Stories of Businesses that Started with No Money
Whole Foods – John Mackey and Rene Lawson borrowed money from friends and family to open their first store. Then they got evicted from their apartment, so they lived in that first location.
Apple, Disney, Google, Harley Davidson, Hewlett-Packard, Lotus Cars, Mattel, Yankee Candle Company and more got their starts in the family’s garages.
Nike – Philip Knight and Bill Bowerman began selling their sneakers from their car in parking lots.
Dell – Michael Dell started out as a restaurant dishwasher making less than $3.00 per hour. He then began to sell the computers PC from his college dorm room.
Your Passion is Your Profit
Many of the most successful ventures have been developed out of the entrepreneur’s love of a product or cause and grew to become profitable. Take your experiences, skills, and passions and use them to guide you to the right trade for you. It almost never works when you assume the task of starting a company in an unknown field to you. You will get either overwhelmed or bored or both! Focus now on what you do know and how it can become a market and make you money. Perhaps you are a good cook, then become a private chef for wealthy individuals, bake muffins and sell to the local market or make jam to display it at your local farmers market.
You Can Work – Work – Work
One way to start on a tight budget is to do ALL the work yourself saving fees from hiring employees and allow you to reinvest profits back into the company for maximum growth. Yes, this is hard – but without expendable cash, you will need to make it work somehow. Yes, you can clean the office, Yes you can answer the phone, Yes you can type the letters.. start now!
Services To Sell for Fast Cash Flow
Firms that sell services are frequently cash flow positive quickly because they do not have substantial material costs and can sometimes get clients to prepay for their service packages. Real grassroots marketing tactics cost little and are often very effective, such as knocking on doors and cold calling.
Services companies you can start now that require little or no cash outlay include:
- Dog walkers
- Handyman services
- Event and Wedding planners
- Caterer and personal chefs
- Car detailing
- Tutoring – child or adult
- Power washing
- Lawn Care
- Resume Preparation
- Accounting and Bookkeeping
- Fitness Coach
Get a Little Help from My Friends
Reach out to your friends, family, and colleagues for help both financially and educationally. Ask your Uncle to teach you how to detail a car properly, since you have been helping him p0lish his antique automobile together since you were a kid.
Ask your Uncle to teach you how to detail a car properly, since you have been helping him p0lish his antique automobile together since you were a kid. Aunt Betty has that killer muffin recipe that would surely be a hit at the local farmers market – ask her to share it with you. Friends who are entrepreneurs are a wealth of good advice available for the asking – don’t be shy – often your interest will compliment them. Family members may have some extra office or warehouse space you could use for your startup headquarters saving you substantial rent costs.
Barter for Services and Products
You have money it is just not in cash form! Your skills, equipment, tools and time all can be used as a form of monetary exchange with others for items you need to start your business. Additionally, you meet such interesting and often very helpful people in the barter exchange community. You have seen the TV show called Barter Kings that demonstrates how this is done with no cash.
Bartering is a useful tool for company owners who want to make their budget stretch far. Our editorial team has traded copywriting skills for website designs, and I know a guy who swapped some old metal desks (now they are cool vintage retro) for a lightly used laptop computer – a win-win for both sides.
During tough economic times, barter exchanges are very active. This was a century old tradition from our farming past when we traded eggs for pigs. One of the largest networks in America is http://americanbarter.com/
Buy Used – Save Big
New stores do not need everything to be brand new and purchased a full price. There are huge selections of used goods from office furniture, factory equipment to refurbished computers and cell phones. Take your time to research the markets near you and in your particular industry. My trade partner needed cosmetic manufacturing equipment, but it was a small fortune, way out of her budget. She researched and found that the food industry used similar machines which she purchased in lightly used condition, with a warranty for less than half the fancy cosmetic equipment. This purchase made it possible to expand her line and grow her market substantially.
Check out my guide on how to start your business right with tons of useful tips I learned by successfully starting, building, and selling multiple companies.