Entrepreneurs will often have astounding business ideas, but have to put them on hold due to lack of capital. They assume that without major funding, their ideas will never be a success. The internet is awash with stories of new startup companies that have received millions of dollars from venture capital firms - but we don't get to hear about the startup companies that became failures. Several startups have burnt through millions, only to fizzle out and close their doors forever. Both your idea and plan of execution should be well-planned from the beginning, because no amount of money will make you a success if it isn’t. And if you have a great idea but you lack financial backing, don't let it stop you. The journey might be long, stressful and cumbersome but if you want it badly enough, you will make it. Here are ways to make your business idea a success with little to no money.
Pivot. Use services to generate cash flow and fund your product-based business
It is easier to start a service-oriented business with no money, because you can provide services first and collect money later. It’s a different story with a product-based business idea. Most product-based businesses will require a significant amount of up-front capital to start running. If your current situation requires you to have capital up-front, consider selling services. It will not only help you generate cash flow but also build up funds for a product-based business.
Maintain your current job
If you already have a job, don’t quit just yet. Save yourself from worrying about how you will pay your bills by retaining a reliable source of income. You will have to work harder and put in extra hours, but as your business starts to pick up momentum you’ll gradually transition from a full-time employee, to a part-time worker or consultant. When your business is in full gear, you can manage it full-time. In reality, it won't be easy for you to juggle the two since both are time-demanding. However, it is safer to maintain your job rather than dropping everything to pursue a dream.
Grind it out. There is no substitute for sweat equity
Ever heard of the saying "hard work pays"? When starting your own business, you need to work around the clock. Handle every aspect of your business personally, including growth and marketing. Keep in mind that all the hard work and sleepless nights count for something. You will realize the true value of your sweat equity when and if you ever decide to sell your business, or bring in a partner. Believe in yourself, and most importantly believe in your grind. Be hellbent on making it work.
Use free technology to promote your business
Social media is one of the biggest online advertising tools. The good news is that it is also free, and readily available to anyone with access to the internet. Social networking is an easy and amazing way to promote your start-up business without having to spend a cent. You can build a website for free, using website builders such as basekit.com, wix.com, or moonfruit.com. Create a Facebook page for your business; join LinkedIn and sign up to Twitter. All these social media sites will help you create a broader clientele base.
Be creative. Funding sources are everywhere
Traditional entrepreneurship philosophy dictates that for your business to succeed, you should stick to one thing and not deviate from it. However, desperate times call for desperate measures. If you are having trouble getting funds for your business idea, there are several things you do. Here are some of them:
Use your current resources in new ways
Take a step back and identify what resources are currently available to you. After identifying your resources, you will realize you might be surrounded by plenty of opportunities. These opportunities can help boost your business. Try to look for new and fresh ways of doing things to achieve better results. Have regular brainstorming sessions since they are bound to yield breakthroughs. Find out what is not working for your business and why. Facing the facts will help you use your current resources effectively.
Get a credit line
It is common for a startup business to rely on credit. A good example is the American Express Plum Card which offers a 60-day term for payment as compared to the typical 30-day term offer given by other companies. There are credit institutions and banks that offer credit designed to allow growth in the early stages of business. As a precautionary measure, you should try to avoid getting bogged down in debt when trying to expand your business. Keep your purchases to a minimum.
Use an Incubator
If you believe your business idea is solid and you already have a workable plan, it might be best to consider a business incubator. Once you get accepted, these programs will provide funding specifically designed to assist your startup company financially. Sometimes they offer shared administrative services or office space. While some incubation programs get sponsored by universities and colleges, most get sponsored by regional or local economic development organizations.
Find an Accelerator
Accelerators are much like incubators in that they are also designed to provide funding. The only difference is that an accelerator usually expects fast response to the investment. If you're prepared to get into the market quickly, an accelerator is a good idea.
The face of capital is being changed by crowdfunding, whether you are selling jewelry, filming a movie, or growing a tech business. Kickstarter is a good example of a crowdfunding platform. Crowdfunding platforms allow the public to invest a small percentage of money in return for a future buy-in.
Differentiate yourself. Small things make a big difference
Once your business has reached a million dollars in revenue, your chances of getting funding will increase exponentially. Financial institutions such as banks, for instance, look at funding strictly from this perspective. Banks do not care what kind of company you are. They simply look at your profit/loss statement before deciding. If you own a profitable business and your company has a good personal credit score, with a million in revenue, there is a good chance you can get a loan of up to $200,000. If you have some revenue coming in, but you need an extra boost to reach the million dollar mark, consider a way that the firm can differentiate itself. Do you have a valuable intellectual property with the potential to generate income? Do you have a commitment letter from a credible investor? Do you have some revenue or a contract to get some revenue? These can make the difference between being overlooked by lenders and investors, and getting funding
There is nothing that will hurt your journey to success more than not believing in yourself. Success does not happen overnight, and many thriving businesses took years to get to where they are. Persistence is the key to transforming that great idea into a success. So expect to spend years building your business instead of days. Do not let the lack of money prevent you from taking a good idea and running with it. Whether your business becomes a success or not, you won’t know until you try.
Do you have some more innovative ideas? Let us know in the comments below, and your idea might be the one to feature in my next article.