Who doesn’t want to own their own business? An increasing number of people are seeking freedom from the chains of office work and the nine-to-five grind.
6 ways to bootstrap a business on a shoestring budget
Yet a common barrier to entry for aspiring entrepreneurs is the cost of actually building a business. From the business permits, licenses, and patents to the equipment, machinery, and inventory, the costs can go from zero to sixty overnight.
Luckily, building a business isn’t a linear path. Here are six ways you can start one without a large budget.
Identify your target audience
It’s easier to sell your product/service and brand if you already know who to sell it to. You acquire more customers with minimal capital spent on marketing and sales.
Build a prototype and then show it to people you meet. See who’s interested and who’s not. Use the web to scout for conversations about a problem or need that your business idea is attempting to solve.
This point of the business does not require you to cough up any money, yet is one of the most pivotal parts of creating a business.
Marketing is perhaps one of the costliest aspects of running a business. Fortunately, today’s fleet of entrepreneurs can forego traditional marketing methods for more cost-effective digital marketing strategies.
Social media platforms are perhaps the best way to introduce your brand to your target audience. Not only does this yield minimal to no expenses but it also allows you to reach a wider audience since social media platforms are used by millions of people from around the world every day.
Do the work
If you can do something on your own, do it. Don’t hire employees or contractors to do it for you.
Having an unnecessary number of employees, especially early on in the game, creates unnecessary strain on your budget. For instance, if you need a website for your business, learn the skill of writing code yourself.
This not only allows you to avoid the costs of hiring an expensive web developer, but it also yields mastery of a new skill that you can use later on to earn money.
Avoid a prime location
You don’t need to have a prime office or retail location in the first several months of your business.
Some of the titans of the industry today including Elon Musk and Bill Gates started their billion-dollar companies in their respective garages.
If you do need space, you can always rent out a virtual workspace for your employees or rent storage units for your inventory and supplies.
Wait for good deals
Every business throws in an occasional discount deal to revitalize their sales.
As an entrepreneur with a shoestring budget, time is your ally. Be patient when shopping for the services and products that you need for your own business. For instance, if you are running an eCommerce platform, wait for good deals on web hosting services and domain names.
Moreover, don’t be afraid to negotiate prices with manufacturers, especially if you are purchasing large and regular orders.
Get investors on board
The money that your business uses to fuel its day-to-day operations doesn’t have to come from your own pockets.
If you really have a good product/service and a market for it, you can bring investors on board. This lowers your own personal risk and also allows you to scale much faster.
Investors, of course, require more than just a good sales pitch to entrust you with their capital. You’ll need to know your numbers and have proof of concept that your business does work.
With enough resourcefulness and strategy, you can build a business with a few hundred dollars. That being said, you’ll need to pour in all your time and effort into finding low-cost alternatives, not to mention thoroughly think about every step and decision you take to minimize risk.