Many people dream of starting a business, but fear they can’t because they have little upfront cash. The truth is many people have started their business with very little cash through a process called “bootstrapping”. They looked for opportunities to get going with little money and what they found was not through traditional methods like bank loans. You can get started!
It can be tempting to fund a business fully or partially with credit cards. Once you establish a federal employer identification number, you will start getting plenty of offers for business credit cards. Unfortunately, many people end up managing business credit like they do their personal credit-poorly. I recommend avoiding credit cards at all costs.
To create a business plan and research your idea, most of the information you need can be found for free online and at your public library. You can also find entrepreneur or small business groups in your area where you can discuss your ideas. This allows you to learn from the success, and failures, of others.
Think DIY. Most people can set up a basic web site and blog. Using templates, you can design logos and order brochures and business cards (and incorporate the logo into your Web site) inexpensively. Do video recordings of yourself discussing your services and/or products. Make sure your products still look and function professionally.
Social media should be incorporated early and often. Start building an online community early and often-for free! Sign up for Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube and start interacting with other members. Share information about your company, offer to help them and before you know it you will have a team on your side.
When you are starting out, consider outsourcing some or all of your staff needs versus hiring employees. Employees are expensive so do what you can without them. You can outsource your administrative, copywriting, marketing, accounting and other needs. This can allow you the flexibility you need as you grow your business.
Software can be expensive. Major document management software can be $500 or more, plus ongoing upgrade costs. You can use open source/Web 2.0 software for nearly all of your business needs now. There are free business accounting/invoicing software, free graphic design software, free document applications that include word processing, spreadsheets, presentation and more. Additionally you can store your documents and information securely online for free.
Angel investors are wealthy men and women who invest in startup companies. Many of these individuals will band together to form a network. Consider approaching an angel network with your business idea. Normally they provide these loans in exchange for partial ownership or future stock options.
It is hard to release a product or service out to the world when you don’t feel that it is perfect. So long as it is good enough, get it out there and fine tune as you go along. You want to start generating a cash flow as soon as possible. Combine this with keeping your expenses low and you can get your business up and running sooner.
by Steven Schlagel – September 18, 2009