The Money Pros are standing by to take your questions.
Q. How do I get started on my business, when I have little to no money?
A. Building a profitable business is never easy – but it is easier and cheaper than ever to get your new business up and running.
My advice to cash-strapped founders is this: Forget about disrupting your industry. Instead, create an easy-to-understand service using your existing talents, sell it to a targeted niche and expand it over time.
Start a service business. Keep it simple: Sell X service or product to Y customer for Z profit and repeat with the goal of making every sale a little bit quicker and every expenditure a little bit less expensive. You will iterate and change your idea later, but you need cash flow to get there.
Don’t try to raise capital. So many would-be entrepreneurs I meet get stuck in analysis paralysis because they believe they must raise money first. The truth is raising capital is a total waste of time and resources for most businesses. Don’t bother starting a business that you can’t afford to get off the ground yourself with your own two hands.
Prove your idea is viable before you pitch investors (or call banks and/or rich relatives).
SaaS up your business. SaaS — Software as a Service – is a low cost alternative to expensive infrastructure.
What used to be cost-prohibitive and manpower-driven can now be executed affordably and automatically from a mobile device.
Use services such as Grasshopper for a virtual phone system, Weebly to design a professional website, Shopify to create an online store, and accounting and communication tools such as Wave Accounting, Freshbooks, and Gmail to monitor your business’ vital signs 24/7.
Get piggyback rides. Piggyback on the infrastructure and sales channels of a more established company to fast-track growth. A partnership between a dry cleaning business and a house cleaning service gives both companies more access to a select clientele with discretionary income.
Whether you base your partnerships on gross revenue sharing, bartering, equity or something else, think about the kinds of businesses that can make more money with you – and for you – than you can alone.
Connect with your ecosystem. There are no fast roads to success, but joining an entrepreneurial community for peer-to-peer mentorship can move your business forward at light speed.
Look into affordable physical co-working spaces such as WeWork or Regus, or join online communities such as Young Entrepreneur Council’s Citi #StartupLab initiative.
Putting yourself out there not only give syou a sounding board, it also helps you build a network of potential clients and referrers.