Can I Start a Business Without Funds?
If you ask about ten people this question, hardly will you get anyone to give you the answer “YES”. The truth is they are only being realistic, plus have you seen the economy lately? It’s by far depressing and it seems business favor only those who start off having a huge capital.
But then again, we’ve heard stories and seen people who began their startup in their basements, we’ve seen people who started with just a few bucks, and we know people that even started with no money, and yet they’ve become a force to reckon with, in their respective industries. You ask, what did they do differently?
We can’t overemphasize the impact of research on startups. Even if you’ve got an idea for your startup or not, you need to know what you’re getting into, especially if you don’t have the finance.
What are the things you need to research?
Research on Your Idea
About 75% of startups have crashed (including the ones that started with huge capital) because they built something (product or service) no one is interested in. This is a mistake you need to avoid at all cost, especially since you’re kicking off your startup with no funding
You can avoid this by asking yourself these basic questions:
- What is the core function of this startup?
- Do I need a team to execute it?
- Am I adding/creating value with it?
- What makes the idea behind my startup different from others?
- Is my startup idea going to solve a problem?
- Who will pay to get it?
Now, with the honest replies you give these questions above, take a look at the resources you have at your disposal, tangible resources, and resources like your skills, interest, knowledge: what you know about your startup, and what you can quickly learn.
Thanks to free books and online courses, the knowledge you can gather are unlimited, but it can also be overwhelming or you might not know where to start
What then should you do?
Reach out to other business experts or entrepreneurs (particularly on LinkedIn or Twitter). Some of them give the best insights, and you will be surprised at how much many of them are willing to teach (even for free), especially when you put effort into researching your idea.
Research Other Startups
You can do this by catching up on the success and failure stories of other startups (even in unrelated fields). The insights you gain from these stories put you at an advantage in starting your business with little or no money, because you learn what works and what doesn’t. You even pick on strategies that have helped other startups thrive.
Research Your Market
Researching your market helps you know who your target audiences are, what they want, and their complaints. It helps you know what other businesses in your space are doing right and wrong. With this information, you can refine your startup idea to solve problems.
Getting this information can cost next to nothing if you know your way. A simple online survey, reading up on reviews, and paying attention to details are some of the ways you can get access to this information.
A step further into market research is validating your MVP.
What’s an MVP?
According to Wiki, an MVP is a version of your product with just enough features to satisfy early customers and provide feedback for future development.
Do you get the idea now? Even if your startup is service-based, put out something that showcases what you do to a few of your target audience. With the feedback, you know if you should move forward, rethink the idea or start afresh. You might even get a breakthrough from validating your MVP.
Now that you have built a solid foundation on research, the next way to forge ahead with your execution is to…
Leverage on Free Tools
When starting a business, you will probably need many tools and software to build and sell it. Since you’re starting with no fund, then you need to leverage on the free ones, the good news is there are many of free tools for everything, with the right keywords, you’re good to go.
Here are some of the tools you can leverage:
- Canva- for creating graphics that have a professional touch.
- Unsplash-for content creation.
- WordPress-for your website, and many more.
Pro Tip: if the tool you require doesn’t have a free plan, sign up for a free trial, use it in quick time, and opt-out before you get charged.
Make It Public
You don’t need a million-dollar for this, all it will cost you is:
- To be bold
- To Be well informed on your craft
- A couple of bucks for data subscription
Now let’s get started with taking you public. One of the ways to do this is
Networking is always an excellent way of putting your business “out there”, it puts you at a greater advantage of meeting possible investors, co-founders, or even in forming a team. Leveraging on Meetups or attending events organized for startups is a great way to network, but until restrictions are lifted on large gatherings, go virtual! Some of these events now take place virtually using mostly Zoom and Telegram.
Utilizing Social Media
Social media is free advertising, you can greatly grow your brand awareness or product on all social media platforms, make use of your online presence to spread the word about what you do.
Leverage hashtags, if you make relevant comments on posts that concerns what you do, people attach professionalism to your craft, gradually you build trust, and finally, people will definitely check out your stuff
Pro Tip: Don’t be too “salesy” in your comments, be more of a resource. This helps.
Another way you can make use of social media is by offering to work for free, there’s a way to be strategic about this though.
Either you’re a service or product-based startup, you need to build some social prove (testimonials) – these are evidence to proof that you’re awesome as you say you are. An effective way of getting these testimonials is by building relationships with social media influencers, offer your service or product to them for free, and ask for a review.
One mention by the right person can get you noticed by a large group of potential customers.
Also, leverage on social media marketing (Facebook ads, Instagram ads, etc.) to make your startup public, this will cost you only but a few bucks, but it works, especially if it is rightly done.
By Word of Mouth
You can make your startup go public by talking to your friends about it, ask them for referrals.
When you have the opportunity to meet new people, talk to them about your startup, go door-to-door (you might want to hold up on this till the pandemic is over), but drop your business card (or any means to contact you), there’s a 75% probability that your name pops when they require the service or product you offer.
Building your Startup a Website
One of the best ways to give your business a publicly accessible home is to create a website. Now you can leverage WordPress to do this.
Building a website gives your startup a professional look, aside from that, people get to know everything about your startup and it makes it easier for them to get in touch.
How TO Get Funding To Execute Your Startup
Since this article is aimed at realistic ways to get you started with your startup with little or no fund, we will dwell extensively on how you can get funds in our subsequent articles.
But before then, hold on to this:
A more practical approach to getting funds for your startup is getting them in form of donations and investment from your family and friends, you will be surprised at how much you can get from them, especially when your startup idea is viable.
If you’ve got a job, staying employed is another means to acquiring funds, your job doesn’t necessarily have to come with a big pay, even a small pay can go a long way in funding your startup.
Grind It Out
Executing your startup with little or no fund is possible, all it will cost you is hard and smart work. No doubt, there are days it will be challenging, especially now that the pandemic is hitting the economy hard, but as long as you’re creating/adding value with your service or product, stick to the grind!
We wish you all the best
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