Have you been dreaming of starting your own business? You’re not alone. After all, when the Global Entrepreneurship Index (GEI) examined the climate a country creates for the development of small businesses, the United States ranked number one. A different survey revealed that nearly two-thirds of respondents think entrepreneurship is a good career and nearly half believe they have what it takes to be one. Oddly, 40% think it’s easy to start their own business.
Of course it isn’t. As a group we tend to be more anxious and prone to other mental health concerns than non-business owners. It’s no wonder, since the businesses we run are often directly tied to our income and ability to pay our bills. Not long ago I was just like you –– dreaming of starting a business and wondering if I had what it took to succeed. Now as owner of Cake Publishing, a ghostwriting house for influencers, I enjoy running an operation. I have the freedom to control my day in ways that aren’t always possible as an employee.
Although last year’s COVID-19 pandemic had an outsized impact on small businesses, plenty of small home-based operations flourished. In 2021, an economic recovery combined with stimulus cash could drive larger start-ups. But what if you don’t have the thousands or even hundreds of thousands that many small businesses require to open? There are still plenty of paths to take. Here’s how to become an entrepreneur with no money.
It doesn’t matter if you want to open a million-dollar luxury resort or sell hand knit scarves online. You need a plan. That starts with identifying the product or service you wish to sell. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to operate a small business but being unsure of your product. Explore your interests and brainstorm ideas. Attend small business seminars and talk to family or friends. When you identify a product or service you want to offer, examine the competition. Because you are unique, your business should be as well. What will differentiate it?
Identify the Market
Again, this needs to be done whether you have start-up capital or not. Begin with an online search of similar products or services. Note customer reviews for other companies or details from other regions. If it’s a product, can you create testers? For example, for a small investment you can produce scarves, place them on Facebook Marketplace or Etsy and see what happens. If you receive orders, that money can be put back into advertising and material. Over time your business will grow.
If you’re offering a service, your cost could be zero. Perhaps you’re a graphic designer or copywriter looking to start your own business. As long as you aren’t violating an employment contract, you can start seeking clients via sites like Upwork or Fiverr. You can even find opportunities on Craig’s List. If you’re hoping to move into an area where you have limited experience, offer your services for free in exchange for testimonials that will appear on your website or in Yelp reviews. By putting yourself out there, you will have a clearer understanding of the market. If you don’t attract the attention you anticipated, then take a step back and see what changes you can make to your product or its presentation to change that.
Write Up a Business Plan
People don’t plan to fail, they fail to make a business plan. No matter the size of your company, you should have a clear description of the market along with relevant data. Your sales can be projected based on the work you’ve already done identifying the market. You should also have projected expenses along with information on anyone else involved in the business.
Get Some Money
It’s really how to become an entrepreneur with no money of your own. Sure there are plenty of small businesses that require little in the way of start-up capital. That doesn’t mean those that require an investment are out of reach. Motivated entrepreneurs have found funding for everything from art films to Zumba franchises. The key is creating a package that will attract investors. It should include a detailed business plan and your biography –– with a focus on your qualifications for success. You may be able to interest friends or family members. You could even attract angel investors. Sometimes you may need to develop the business a bit before others are willing to risk their hard-earned. Just don’t give up.
Being an entrepreneur isn’t easy. Yet most who pursue it couldn’t imagine doing anything else.
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