I wish I could say you can start a business with no money, but the truth is you can’t. You’ll need some money, but it doesn’t have to be a lot if you leverage the assets you have. If you plan and budget properly, you can still start your business now.
Fortunately, there are a lot of free or
low-cost resources available to the new entrepreneur. High unemployment and a
bleak job outlook have caused many people to look for alternatives to finding a
new job. This also means the need to start a business on a small budget is
great. The result is an environment that supports and serves this ‘start a
business on a shoestring’ mindset. Hence, the reason for writing this book.
I am one of those ‘business on a shoestring’
entrepreneurs. This book contains the tips and shortcuts I used to start my
business while on unemployment. I’ve found many online companies and resources
that offer low-cost or free services that help you create a business with very little
money, if you’re willing to commit to the effort. I won’t tell you it’s going
to be easy, it won’t. But, if you’re willing to trade sweat equity and
self-education for the convenience of hiring or outsourcing certain tasks, you
can do it. And, the experience will be priceless.
1. Evaluate your current skills set and assets
Make a list of the skills you have. Then,
decide which of them can be marketed to other businesses or people so you can
start earning money as soon as possible.
Research your business options. Online
businesses are the best way. Look into freelance consulting. Art, writing and
customer services may be for good starters. Sites like elance.com are good for
writer’s gigs, and Monster.com and Craigslist offer ads for consultants.
EzineArticles.com and SelfGrowth.com are good sites to publish your original
articles for exposure and building your mailing list.
If you have or can buy the
proper office equipment and software, and you have good office and/or bookkeeping
skills, becoming a virtual assistant could work well for you. Contact former
bosses and former co-workers for referrals to people they know who may be
interested in your services.
Ask yourself these questions:
Can you create your own blog or website?
Can you write your own articles and ebooks?
Is there a market for consultants in your
previous field of employment?
Do you have administrative skills that you
can provide to others as a virtual assistant?
Do you have expertise in a certain subject
that’s in demand today?
What kind of office/computer equipment do
you already have to create a home office?
What kind of personal/business network do
you have, i.e. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn? Are you proficient in
Tip: Don’t say anything about
your business plans to your current boss or co-workers unless you’re going to be
partners in your new business. If you do, it will come back to bite you…I guarantee
2. How much of your income/savings can you comfortably invest
in your new business
I say ‘comfortably’ because the last thing
you need to do is create more stress in your life by putting too much money in
your business and not being able to pay your bills. You’ll need a small amount
of money each month for things like webhosting, buying cheap services, buying
supplies, etc. Maybe you can trade skills with someone you know to get certain
services done for you for free.
If you’re still working, or are newly
unemployed, I highly recommend starting your business as soon as possible while
you still have cash flow. Don’t wait until your money’s running low, or your
unemployment benefits are about to expire to get started. It may take a few
months before you’re making enough money to live on. And, you can do a lot more
and grow your business much faster when you still have an income other than
your new business.
3. Find free and low-cost resources on the internet
One of my favorite sites is: www.fivver.com. It’s a place where you can
find every kind of service (called gigs) from the normal to the outrageous…for
only $5! There are literally 1000s of people offering to do almost everything
you can imagine, as long as it’s not porn or illegal. You can spend hours just
browsing the site.
As with anything, some of the providers are better
than others. You can click on a gig and read the referrals to get an idea of
how they work. If it’s a new vendor, you can email them to ask questions or
request samples of their work before you buy. And, if you’re not satisfied with
their work, you can cancel your order.
You can also sell your services on the site
as long as you’re willing to do it for $5. The site keeps $1 of each gig, so
your profit will be $4 per gig. I bought a logo, book cover, video testimonial
and some great promotional connections on Fivver. I also have several gigs
registered, 3 for business and 1 for fun…doing dream interpretations! Wouldn’t
you know the dream interpretation is the one that pulled the first sale! One
warning though, be careful…it can be addicting…like chocolate!
You’ll also find other no or low-cost
products and resources by searching the internet. I have several
recommendations for products and services that I or someone I know has used
available on my website: www.thewomanexec.com.
4. Use Facebook, Twitter, and other networking sites to
promote your business
If you’re proficient with Facebook and
Twitter, use them for promoting your business. If you already have established
networks on sites like LinkedIn or Ning, let your connections know what you’re
doing. They can be invaluable referral and support systems that can greatly
accelerate your success. These are established relationships can be connections
to other entrepreneurs and professionals who may do business with you because
you have friends in common. Depending on what your business is, you may be able
to exchange services to get what you need.
Look into using Facebook ads to promote your
business. It’s probably the best bang for your advertising buck. Use Craigslist
and other free ad sites to market your business as well. Don’t forget flyers
and business cards. They still work to keep your business in the public eye.
5. Use the Google Adwords Tool to find a topic for your
ebook and products
If you’re a writer, don’t start
writing before you check your topic on Google. It helps you determine what the
current hot topics are. Very often we want to write about what we love, and
that’s ok. But, if your passion project is basket weaving, and you want to make
money, it might be a better idea to choose another subject. I’m not saying don’t
write the basket weaving ebook, just plan to write another one for profit.
Use the Google Adwords Tool. It
can be found at: Google Adwords Tool.
Click on the ‘Get keyword ideas’ link at the bottom of the page. Enter your subject
phrases in the search box, and type in the green pass code below it. When you
hit enter, you’ll get a list of topics with statistics on how many searches
come in for the phrase and variations of the phrase. Find the topic that gets
the largest number of searches, then choose a variation of that topic that has a
smaller number of searches. Choosing one whose search counts are somewhere in
the middle, but still within the topic will give you a better chance at getting
on page 1 or 2 of the search results.
For instance, my topic ‘start a
business’ has over 800,000 searches, but ‘steps to start a business’ only has
9900. This means instead of competing with over 800,000 other references with
‘start a business’ as my topic, I’ll only have 9900 competitors by using ‘steps
to start a business’ as my topic. This gives me a much tighter target audience,
and 9900 is large enough market to give me good sales. I’ll still be within the
topic of the broader search, and a few others so my returns should be good. With
a few SEO tweaks and refinements, I could be on page 1 of the search results
instead of page 500!
So, now you know it is possible
to start a business on a shoestring. All you need is a little knowledge, and a
few good tips and you’re on your way.
Here’s to your success!!!