Starting a business is a dream for millions of people, but there’s one important barrier stopping most of them from succeeding in their goals: money.
It’s almost impossible to start a business without at least an introductory injection of capital, but if you don’t have the extra money lying around, you may not know how to get it.
Fortunately, there are some convenient and non-skill-intensive ways that will enable you to secure the capital you need—even if you’re starting with nothing.
Your first job is to accurately estimate how much money you truly need to start your business. This is important for several reasons: it helps you conceptualize how far you’ll need to go, it prevents you from saving too much or too little, and it gives you the objective information you can show to other people as you collaborate to get the money you need.
The average cost to start a business is $30,000, but you may need significantly more or significantly less than that. Home-based businesses, for example, can start with less than $1,000. But to know for sure, you still need to estimate your main costs, including:
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These are just a few of the costs you’ll need to consider; make sure you put together a full business plan before you finalize your estimate.
Now that you know approximately how much money you need to start your business, you can work on ways to raise that money:
You can start by trying to find an angel investor, using a service like Angel Investment Network or by networking in person. Angel investors usually contribute significant funds to a business in exchange for a small portion of private equity in that business; that means you’ll need to give up a small share of your profits, but you could end up with more than enough capital to build momentum for your business.
If you have some assets you aren’t currently using or capitalizing on, consider selling them. For example, you could sell an empty property you own or find a vehicle recycler like the Clunker Junker to sell your old vehicle for parts and scrap material. You should be able to scrounge up a few hundred to a few thousand dollars this way.
If you want to share your idea with the masses and build some early hype while you’re raising money, consider crowdfunding. There are multiple platforms available, each with different requirements for who can list (and how you can list), so do your research ahead of time. Kickstarter, for example, requires you to have a specific, tangible product, while Indiegogo has a little more latitude.
If you’re willing to take a bit of a risk and your credit is in good shape, you can apply for a personal loan. Make sure you shop around with different lenders and find a rate and terms that are most advantageous for you.
If you don’t need to start your business immediately, you can pick up a side gig to earn some extra money to set aside for your main business. If you’re into making things, you can sell your art or crafts on Etsy, or if you own a vehicle you can drive for Uber. Even a few extra hours a week can add up to a few thousand dollars over the course of a few months.
If you’re comfortable doing so, you can ask your friends and family to help you out with a bit of startup capital. You can offer to pay them back with interest, or if you’re willing to dilute your profits, you can cut them in for a share of what your company eventually makes.
Now let's listen to some inspirational stories of people who managed to develop their companies and earn millions having started with a 0 budget.
Moviemaking is a business and an expensive one! At age 19, I moved to America to become a film director but I entered the country with only $200 dollars. I waited for a decade for someone to give me an opportunity but that only happens in the movies... So, I crowdfunded my first film and raised 1.7 million dollars. An Oscar competition and 35 awards later I'm still a director and continue working in show business.
Film & Theater Director
I left my full-time job in Japan, where I was working for the Board of Education as an English instructor back in 2013. I really wanted to go on my own and start my own business. My parents are both entrepreneurs, so it made perfect sense to me. I moved back to New York City. Previously I had worked as an Adjunct Professor of Spanish at New York University. I knew there was a tremendous need for high-end, specialized courses. This country has over 50 million Hispanics, with a purchasing power of 1.5 trillion dollars, and companies want to tap into that market. I help them do that.
I took the leap and started my own company shortly after my arrival. I started Diáfano, a start-up responsible for designing corporate level Spanish classes and programs. I started from scratch.
My advice to aspiring entrepreneurs is to go after something they are truly passionate about. They will have to invest so much time and energy into their business that if they are not passionate about it, it will just drain them. But also, they must find a gap or need for that in the market. As for financing, I recommend the book “The $100 Startup.” As you can see from it, nothing is required to start a service-oriented business.
Founder & CEO
To make a long story short, after twenty years (and four degrees) of working towards a tenure-track position in higher education, only to discover that the position was not right for me, I decided it was time for a change. Between back surgery, burnout, and bankruptcy, being a professor of piano and theory was no longer my passion and certainly wasn’t in alignment with my core values (creativity, innovation, and freedom).
After a year of “losing” things not by choice- job titles, professional networks, and the ‘ego candy’ associated with the title, “Dr. Slawsky,” I decided it was time to lose something on my own accord.
In order to fund my new business, Brainiac Bundles, I sold my grand piano to a consigner who paid me $4,000 up front. I was cashing in my chips and saying, “thanks, but no thanks” to the only profession I ever knew. I was a little nervous and sad on the day the piano was to be hauled away, but those feelings went away as soon as I was handed the check. I ran straight to the bank to open a business checking account and haven’t looked back.
My new business, Brainiac Bundles, partners with authors, online course creators, and infopreneurs to create incredible resource libraries on a variety of subjects throughout the year. Contributors gain increased visibility, subscribers, and commissions at no cost to them. We help them monetize the back-end with affiliate links, upsells, and tripwires. It’s a win-win-win-win!
Melissa Slawsky, CEO
One of the biggest obstacles to starting my dream business was capital. I had very little savings and my salary provided me just enough to get by. Nevertheless, that didn't stop me pursuing my passion and starting my own apparel business. First I started taking a part-time job on the weekends to help secure additional income to fund my business. Having two jobs was very exhausting but what drove me through this difficult period was my determination and passion. I had a goal and I was willing to do whatever it took to ensure my business had the opportunity to succeed. Even with two jobs, I had a very limited budget so I started my business from home. Which meant fewer bills and more capital to use on inventory. Once I created my online business I was selling a few items per day and packaging them all in my garage. I still kept both jobs because I needed to secure more money to build my inventory. I was not ready to quit my jobs until I secured a steady flow of customers and profits. As my small business started to grow it ate up my working cash flow. Banks were not willing to give me loans so I had to borrow from friends and family. Luckily I have a strong support from my loved ones and they were willing to give me a helping hand because they saw how hard I worked. Plus I shared my business plan to build the confidence they will receive their money back with interest. Living frugally and investing all of my extra savings into my business paid off. It took me a year and 8 months before I officially left my jobs. I felt confident enough that my business was able to achieve more success once I dedicated all of my time into it.
I really want to share my story because I understand what it's like to have a dream but only to find roadblocks and struggles that seem impossible to overcome. Passion and determination are two very strong and powerful emotions. If you learn to use them and adapt them into your you struggle you will find out you are stronger than you think. My motto is Learn, Adapt and Improve. If you apply those three things in business it's hard not to succeed.
Lisa Chu, Small Business Owner
To give you an idea of where my inspiration and motivation lead me – in just 30 days I was able to generate $30,000, without spending a dime on any expenses. To be frank, before I had started my business, I had hit what felt like rock bottom, I was travelling the world, and my last stop was New York City. When the time came to return back home to Toronto, I had zero dollars to my name. I was in fact in debt, thousands of dollars. I literally, had to call a few friends to see if I could borrow some money for the train ride home, and for food for the next couple days. It could not get any lower than this.
When I arrived in Toronto, I immediately started formulating ideas, and began planning on how I would be able to sustain myself. I knew deep down I was a people person, I understood the dynamic of selling very well. I had successfully started a business previously, Toronto Apparel, which leveraged the Pokemon GO campaign. My partner and I incurred an expense of $500 from our own pocket, in material goods. This start-up was a success, generating over $10,000 in the first 2 weeks.
However, with all that said, I had used up the money I earned from this short-term start up to sponsor my travelling experiences. Now, that I was back home in Toronto, in debt, back against the wall, I knew I had to do something. After spending some time deliberating on the next move, I decided to start with coaching people in the realm of dating – however I had never made any money from it. I was able to barter with some clients – coaching for filming, which in turn used as content to build my online presence – for my Facebook group. This became handy, as I was able to use this content to attract an audience. Once I had accumulated an audience, I began offering coaching services, which garnered some interest from potential prospects – this was when I was able to convert my sales skills into dollars.
Now, I know the entire journey on paper, may appear linear, however that was not the case, at all. For starters, I had dealt with assistants, that simply could not reach the standards of excellence I was looking for in order for the business to be successful, whether it was tardiness in regards to completing tasks, outright laziness, or lack of leadership. I also dealt with unreliable videographers, who I paid in advance, yet they never completed their end of the deal, and abandoned me throughout the process.
With all that said, I remained accountable for all of these obstacles, and took ownership of my reality and the business I was running, and did everything in my power to move forward – by believing in the vision. It is inevitable that there will be bumps in the journey of starting a business, however this is no excuse to stagnate. My advice for those building a successful business, is to deeply understand who you are, this can be achieved naturally through solitude, whether it is travelling alone, or meditating in solitude (I recommend a free 10 day silent meditation retreat via www.dhamma.org). Once you have a feel for what how you can be of value to your consumers, if there are certain skills you need that you do not have, it is imperative you find the RIGHT people who will share the same mission as you.
It is also recommended that you try not to generate any expenses until you have began making profit, this can be done through bartering. In my case, I was able to offer my coaching services for certain skills, such as videography, basic assisting etc. Once you feel like you have those aspects of your business handled, all that is left is to execute. Overall, it was my undying belief in my vision to make it happen, that propelled me through any obstacles that I encountered, and my self awareness that allowed me to excel at what I was offering. Throughout all my years of experience in sales, being a people person, starting previous businesses, I was able to overcome the hurdle of hitting rock bottom – being in debt thousands of dollars, and borderline homeless. At the end of the day, I believed in myself, and I had put hours, even days of deep thought into formulating the right plan to execute that will ensure my business to be successful.
These are just a few of the ways you can get the money you need to start a business, and you can use multiple methods at the same time if you want to even out their advantages and disadvantages. If you’re committed to making your idea work, and you’re willing to take a risk, nothing can stop you from getting what you need as an entrepreneur.
P.S. Just to make sure you will get a business website template in the right place.
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