Opening a small business isn’t easy, even when you have plenty of money to do it. Getting a small business off the ground with little to no budget is an even more challenging feat. However, with the right amount of passion and strategic planning, anything is possible.
To help you get started, a panel of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) members answered the following question:
“What’s one thing an aspiring entrepreneur can do to get their small business started, even when they have little to no money?”
Here are a few of their top recommendations.
1. Pre-Sell Your Service or Product
“Start by pre-selling your service or product. This will validate your product or service, bring in capital and help you work the bugs out before launching. Pre-sell to a strategic group of people whom you think will benefit from your offer. Sell to them at a founder’s rate. Invite your founders to help you further develop your offer by involving them in the process and creating buzz for your new business.” ~ Jared Weitz, United Capital Source Inc.
2. Find Buyers for Upfront Payments
“See if you can find your buyers first and, if a lot of capital is required to get your business together, possibly get a large cluster of potential clients prepared to purchase and then have them all pay upfront. Then, use that to finance the deliverables at one time. Possibly provide a discount for them to be a part of this special cluster purchase.” ~ Bryan Citrin, Chiropractic Advertising
3. Leverage Your Own Talents
“Think of yourself as your first employee. How can you best leverage your own talents? Make sure to understand what you can do without money (what you can do yourself) and then what you will need money for (what you have to hire out). Once you know what you can do with no money, you can set a plan to leverage your own talents. Do what you do best to get some traction every day.” ~ Miles Jennings, Recruiter.com
4. Start an Etsy Store to Sell Products
“I urge anyone who sells physical products to start an Etsy store. From journals to antiques to art, Etsy is an easy platform to use with a built-in audience and community. There is nothing to lose by listing a few items and seeing if anyone bites. The fees are tiny and it’s basically a turnkey website for anything special, novel or interesting.” ~ Michael Barnhill, Specialist ID
5. Start With an E-Commerce Platform
“Don’t reinvent the wheel. Start with an e-commerce platform like Shopify, build your first site and get it live. Run some ads and do some promotions. I see many people make the mistake of hiring designers and spending tens of thousands before even launching a site. Just get it up, get feedback and make improvements along the way.” ~ Ian Sells, Rebate Key Inc.
6. Research Everything You Don’t Know
“Research everything you don’t know that you realize you need to know. If you put in the time on your own to find solutions to problems in the early stages, you can save significantly on costs that add up when you can’t afford them. In addition, find ways to generate free marketing and sales. This can often be achieved by providing value in targeted forums or places that relevant people gather.” ~ Fehzan Ali, Adscend Media LLC
7. Create a Daily or Weekly Publishing Plan
“Write. Write. Write. Writing and publishing are nearly free — it’s just your time and effort. Create a daily or weekly publishing plan to create content for your website, blog or social media. Post informative content about your services or products or industry. Become a go-to resource for everyone. This will enhance your reputation and make you an expert.” ~ Peter Boyd, PaperStreet Web Design
8. Create a Free Business Portfolio
“Not every business needs money to get started. For example, if you’re starting a service-based business, you can actually start with zero money. Just create a free portfolio on about.me and share it across Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc., to attract clients. You can do it for any service-based business unless you’re selling a product. Once you gain traction, get a proper website with an online store.” ~ Thomas Griffin, OptinMonster
9. Execute a Social Media Strategy
“Using social media can be a great way for an aspiring entrepreneur to launch a business idea. Social media generally has no cost or has very little cost associated with it. Putting together a social media strategy, designing posts and publishing posts can be done with all of the free resources available online.” ~ Kristin Kimberly Marquet, Marquet Media, LLC
10. Build an Engaged Community
“Community building is one of the best ways to start a new business on a shoestring budget. Building an engaged audience around your business helps you to get your message in front of people who might not otherwise hear it. Start by joining forums and groups on social media. Don’t promote yourself, but help others instead. You’ll build your reputation and find it easier to get customers.” ~ Blair Williams, MemberPress