First of all, don’t. Don’t start a business without money.
If you have no money, don’t start a business. In fact, don’t start a business at all. Just continue with your 9 – 5 and enjoy your job security for as long as you can, hopefully till you’re retired.
Startup mortality rates are incredibly high. And it takes a whole lot of work to run a successful, profitable one. Especially in Africa. Even entrepreneurs who started out with a truckload of capital ended up throwing in the towel after a few years.
Wait, are you still reading? Wow! So you still want to know how to start a business without money?
Chances are you either believe you have a great solution to a problem people have, or you know for a fact, that you have what it takes to succeed where many others have failed.
So congratulations and let’s get to it.
First things first, keep your current job, if you have one.
Being practical is extremely important when you are toying with the idea of starting a business. You need a steady source of income before you can set up your business, so it’s advisable to hold onto your current job.
By retaining your present job, you will be more secure when you need to take risks. The longer you keep your job, the less pressure you put on yourself.
You will, of course, need to spend extra hours and work harder. Your day job mustn’t suffer (or you risk getting fired) and you will also need to draw extra reserves of energy to run your side hustle. But the good news is you can keep paying your bills as you grow your business.
See? The hurdles are already piling up.
It’s hard but the transition from being an employee to a business owner will be far smoother as you won’t be in any serious debt as you set sail.
Stick with something you know
Build on your passions and experiences. Instead of trying to start a business in a niche outside of your comfort zone, stick to something you know. Build your business around your skills and knowledge.
It is true that you can learn new skills, but it will take time. If you want to start a business quickly, you have to focus on what you can do now not years from now.
Learning new skills will require more time and additional expenses. You might have to take courses, get licenses, pay consultants, etc. Starting a business in a field familiar to you will give you additional confidence.
Offer services in exchange for money
If you’re going into a service-oriented business, you’re in luck.
Most commercial services can be carried out with your current resources e.g. your car, your laptop, your internet subscription, your contacts and so on at little or no extra cost to you.
The beauty of this is, first, you provide services, and then you collect funds.
On the other hand, if you’re trying to start a product-based business, it’s a bit trickier because this kind of business often requires significant up-front capital to get it up and running.
Nevertheless, if you’re in this situation, consider selling services to generate cash flow and to build up funds for a product-based business.
For example, by offering services such as web design, graphic design, proofreading and editing, copywriting, courier services etc, to other businesses and entrepreneurs, you’ll be able to raise sufficient funds to execute your own business plans in no time.
Make it public
Don’t keep your plan a secret. Tell everyone. Literally. Call your friends. Explain it to your family members. Make it public.
Telling people will help you in several ways. For starters, it will give you extra energy. In addition, it might help you land some of your first customers. People in your network could also make valuable introductions.
Grind it out. There’s no substitute for hard, gritty work
As we’ve said before, being an entrepreneur goes beyond having great ideas.
For one, you have to get real with yourself. Consider your business in the context of your current financial situation. You have almost no money.
How good is your business idea? Can it still work based on your bootstrapping approach? What adjustments do you have to make to increase your business’ possibility of success given how much funds you have at the moment?
Considering the fact that you’re strapped for cash, you’ll be doing most, if not all, of the heavy lifting. Registering, marketing, branding, and calling in every favour you can, are just some of the things you’ll find yourself doing in the proceeding weeks.