46 Ways To Start A Business With Little Money (Part I)

15 Jul


Most people who want to start their own business don’t have a ton of money laying around and it’s probably one the most common questions I get emailed about: How can I get started without a lot of cash?

Well I’ve put together a list below of the best ideas I’ve heard and personally used. I hope you find it useful!

The three basic strategies to starting a business without much money are:

  • Delay the normal “business starting” activities like incorporating, hiring, renting office or retail space, etc until AFTER your business has started earning money. This is known as bootstrapping.
  • Doing everything yourself and spending your personal time instead of hiring an expert. (Takes longer but costs less.)
  • Using some neat tricks and little known deals below.

Start With The Easy Stuff: Eliminate Expenses

1. Don’t rent an office! – work from home. Or better yet work from the best free office with locations everywhere: Starbucks or cafés like T&C or Park Café (in Cambodia). If you need to meet with a client and are worried about seeming small time without an office, don’t be. Just meet them at a restaurant for a lunch meeting. This is what people with the nicest offices do anyway.

2. Don’t hire any employees! – do it all yourself until you have some $ coming in the door.

3. Don’t hire lawyers, technical people, graphic designers, or assistants (see below)

Legal Stuff and Incorporating

4. Get a free lawyer and legal advice from the mentors at Score.org

5. Find a website with a similar legal document and modify it to your needs

6. An LLC is probably the best business structure, but don’t worry about incorporating until you’re earning money, just do a sole proprietorship, you can always incorporate later.

7. Learn how to do your own financial statements for your business in Excel instead of hiring a CPA or bookkeeper (again you can do this after you’re making money)

8. Take a Quickbooks class at your local community college

Make a website for your business

9. Don’t pay a premium for a top end domain name, there are plenty of good ones left

10. Test out your ideas by writing to a blog, you’ll get feedback on what people like and don’t like

11. Get a free business website at www.wordpress.com or tumblr.com. It won’t be your own domain (it will be something like yourbusiness.wordpress.com) but…

12. When you’re ready to have your own domain, register it at domain.com and add this as a custom domain to your WordPress or Tumblr site.

13. Get a professional website design for free with a wordpress theme that you can install with a few clicks (no programming knowledge needed)

Getting a Logo

14. Don’t hire a fancy graphic designer. At least not yet. Use LogoYes to create your own logo (or at least get ideas that you can recreate on your own for free)

Accepting Credit Cards

15. Don’t bother with a full merchant account to start off with, they are complicated, come with monthly feeds, and require programming expertise. Instead try a simpler (and much cheaper) solution like Google Checkout or Paypal

16. For a more professional look and a complete shopping cart for only $5/month use E-Junkie, its great and I use it on this site

17. If you have lots of physical products, try a Yahoo Store

Starting a service business where you consult, coach, teach, etc

18. Create several pages on your wordpress site: one for your experience, testimonials, rates, availability, etc

19. Pick a domain name with your #1 keyword in it! (Assuming it isn’t a very competitive keyword you’ll rank on the first page of google within a month or two for that keyword which means customers!) here’s some more info and an example.

To be continued…

Note: This text has been modified to somehow suit the Cambodian context.

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