Companies, no matter their size, don’t start on their own. Someone, somewhere, someway, started something that eventually became a profitable entity. We’ve heard all the terms, like crowd funding, venture capital, angel investment, and the list goes on and on. While all these do exist, the majority of businesses are started with very little to no money. The reason people succeed isn’t because of their cash position but because those entrepreneurs had zeal, a vision, and a passion.
In fact, no amount of money guarantees success, even if a business is well-funded from its inception and follows a smart plan in a strategic way, it can still fail. The Edsel is a perfect example. Produced by one of the most successful corporations in the world, the Ford Motor Company, the Edsel rolled off the assembly line from 1958 to 1960. It was, in its day, by far, one of the most advanced private passenger vehicles. It featured such technology as the Teletouch system and had many other creature comforts, as well as plenty of functionality. However, the line failed to the tune of $350 million, an astounding $2.8 billion in today’s dollars.
Follow these 7 Steps to Start a Business with Little to No Money
Failure is a terrific teacher, if you are willing to learn from it. A good lesson to learn and accept early on in starting a business is that money, as the Edsel clearly demonstrates, doesn’t equal success. Incremental growth, accompanied by patience, tempered with realism, does wonders because such a combination requires focus. When you set aside the distant future, you necessarily put the present at the forefront.
…now is the time to have a heart-to-heart with reality. Reality of what? Well, start with yourself. Your experiences, gifts, passion, life goals and areas of weakness. Seriously. Knowing thyself is the first place to start on your trek toward your vision. —Forbes
In other words, you’ve got to use what you have now, and turn your natural talents into marketable products and services, which is the very essence of business. Richard Branson, who has dyslexia, started his entrepreneurial career breeding budgerigars at age 11 and it didn’t work. Neither did his plan to sell Christmas trees. Next, with practically no money, the future billionaire started Student Magazine, which morphed into Virgin Records. He, like many mega-successful entrepreneurs, started with little to no money, and you can do this too, by doing a few simple things:
- Do your homework about the market and competition. The reason so many businesses fail is due to misunderstanding the market and not having a clear conception about the competition. Don’t worry if it seems as though the market is flooded, because you can carve-out a niche.
- Take small, incremental steps and don’t dive-in. A card table, a favorite spot on the couch, a workbench, or a kitchen are all acceptable places to start a business. When you first begin, do it part time and don’t rack-up expenses. If you commit too much time and/or too much money, you’ll put a lot of undue pressure on yourself and make bad decisions.
- Try to build out a niche. This bit of advice really bears repeating. If you find a smart way to separate yourself from the competition, you can build a stronger, more attractive business.
- Set small, tangible money and benchmark goals. When you set high goals, you need to do a lot more to reach them and that often leads to failure. When you set small goals, you’re more likely to accomplish them and that makes for a ton of motivation and satisfaction.
- Build a responsive, easy to navigate website. You need a presence on the internet, which you probably know. There are very inexpensive and easy to use platforms that will be more than sufficient to get you started.
- Get out and network but don’t sell. Your website, though a necessary tool, isn’t going to be a salesperson; but you can be, if you network to become a known quantity and not to sell.
Finally, give yourself permission to make mistakes and don’t make the huge mistake of waiting for perfection to launch your business.