The one thing about starting a business is that it isn’t free. No matter what any one says. I come across scams on social media every day that say “Start a Business for Free” or “Get Your Business Started Today with No Money”. They are just that – scams.
Luckily, starting a business today can be a lot cheaper than the traditional brick and mortar businesses of the past. When brick and mortar were the only option, it used to cost a LOT more money.
You needed to purchase inventory, rent a location and hire employees. You had to locate warehouse space, invest advertising dollars and buy computer equipment. That’s why so many fewer people did it. Because the cost for entry was too expensive.
Starting an online business or Etsy shop, today, is relatively easy in comparison. Many times it takes less than a few hundred dollars to get up and running. And it isn’t that hard to get money to start your business as long as you’re creative. You can begin creating your own business adventure with a lot less financial means than a generation ago.
Before figuring out how much money you will need and how to save it, be sure to choose the type of business that you would like to start.
And keep in mind that the amount of money that you have might determine the type of business you choose to start.
For example, if you have little to no money, choose a business type that has a small cost of entry instead of needing to rent a warehouse for products or hiring a lot of employees right away.
Next, brainstorm the different start up costs that you foresee. Online business start up costs can include:
- domain name
- website hosting (we recommend Siteground – we recently switched over and they are AWESOME – plus nothing beats their customer service)
- computer and printer
- paper and basic office supplies
- shipping supplies
- product making supplies (if you are starting a crafting business)
- graphics programs such as Adobe Illustrator or Adobe Photoshop (purchasing these programs outright can run you into the thousands if you are not a student. I recommend signing up for the Adobe Cloud. This program gives you access to the most up to date versions of the program for a fraction of the costs)
- email marketing program
- social media marketing program
- logo and branding design
- web design/theme/e-commerce
Some costs can be avoided with planning ahead.
For example, if you choose to start an Etsy shop to sell your handmade products, you won’t need a domain name and website hosting. They will even give you 20 free listings for signing up. After that, each listing is $.20. So, your start up costs are based on the number of listings you choose not the cost of a website.
You also might already have a good computer, printer and basic office supplies. Using these from the beginning will help to keep costs down.
Once you come up with the initial business costs, it’s time to figure out how to get money for your business to pay for these expenses. Your estimated total could be between a few hundred dollars to few thousand dollars depending on your priorities.
So how do you get money to start your business?
Notice I said get, not borrow. When I showed my first business proposal to my husband almost 7 years ago, he suggested that we look into a small business loan. Having just finished paying off my graduate school loans, the idea of another loan left a bad taste in my mouth. And since we were in the process of planning a family, taking on more debt was the LAST thing that I wanted to do.
I decided to rearrange our monthly budget instead and get the money to start my business on my own. Also known as bootstrapping, it is one of the most common ways to start your own business today.
Since the costs of entry are so much lower, you are able to save the money and pay as you go. The benefit is avoiding costly loans that you may or may not be able to pay back once the business starts generating profits.
Once you have profits coming in, you can use those to continue investing in the growth of you business. And there you go. No debt.
Does it take a little bit longer? Yes, it’s a bit more tedious than just being handed money from a bank. But, I promise, your business will be stronger in the long run when you pay the initial expenses yourself.
Here are some ways that you can save money for your business (a few are more creative than others):
Move around your Monthly Budget
If you have your spouse’s support to start your business, sit down together to figure out how you can adjust your monthly budget to include a business saving fund. This might mean that you cut out the cable bill, a new pair of shoes or even an occasional girls’ night out.
Try to free up a hundred or more dollars a month that you can put in your business saving fund. Over time, this account will grow into a healthy business start-up fund.
Have a Yard Sale
Do you have a lot of excess stuff around the house that you don’t want anymore? You could host a yard sale to get money to start your business. You could also set up a bake sale to make more money for your efforts.
To host a successful yard sale, you will need to find items around your home that you no longer need. Big sellers include baby items, furniture, kids’ clothing and outdoor gear.
Schedule your yard sale and make signs announcing it in your community. (If possible, you might even want to find a community yard sale day during the spring/fall that you could join). Price your items, grab some change and start selling.
Sell Items on Ebay
This money saving plan takes some time, but it might be right for you if you’re planning on starting your business in about 6 months. Instead of selling your unwanted goods at a yard sale, you can sell them on Ebay.
There are some pros to selling on Ebay instead of at a yard sale.
You can usually get a bit more money for individual items. This method works well if you have collector goods, item lots (such as clothing or books) or other vintage treasures. Ebay is not the way to go if you have large or heavy items (such as furniture or exercise equipment) since shipping them would be cost prohibitive.
The important key to making money on Ebay is to price your item so you make a profit (something I have not done in the past). To figure out your pricing, come up with your baseline price where you make a profit. Then add on Ebay’s fees (which are kind of expensive). This way you will be able to still have some money to put into savings after the fees are taken out.
You can find out more information to becoming an Ebay seller here.
After hearing about other people’s success stories with making money (up to $1,000 a month) by taking surveys, I decided to experiment with this method.
Unfortunately, I do not have the time it takes to truly earn extra money from filling out surveys. If you have a lot of down time during the day, though, such as kids’ activities, pick up/drop off times or even nap time, this might be a way to raise extra funds to start your business.
I found the following survey companies to be the best and have good apps so I could take surveys on my phone when I was out and about. Many of them also have a sign up bonus so that you can reach your business start-up goal faster:
Although participating in just one of these companies will probably not get you enough money start your business, completing multiple surveys for different companies can add up. Also consider completing surveys to make money after your business has been started. It’s a great way to earn money in the quieter times.
Get a Second Job
If you have young children this might not be an option, but one way to get money to start your business is to get a second job temporarily. You could even work in the area that you want to start your business in to learn skills that could help you.
For example, if you plan on starting a photography business, you could work as a photographer’s assistant for a few months during wedding season or holiday portrait season.
Other second job ideas to make money quickly include waitressing, tutoring or working in retail sales. Keep in mind that a second job like this would be temporary. You probably wouldn’t be able to keep up with the demands of such jobs and a business start-up.
Hopefully, once your business gets off the ground, you’ll be able to make enough profits to sustain it for awhile. That way you no longer have to work two jobs at once (or three if you have kids too…).
Although this idea is similar to getting a second job, it’s a bit more flexible. You can get money to start your business by taking on freelance jobs in the evenings or on weekends.
The nice thing about freelancing is that you set your own schedule (which helps if I’ve had a tough day with the kids and don’t want to work more). You can also continue freelancing after you get your business launched to help during the quieter times (and these occur in any business).
Businesses need freelancers in a range of skills. If you are an expert in these fields, you can certainly make money quickly. Some freelance topics include writing, graphic design, web design, photography and social media marketing.
To get started freelancing, consider offering your services on Fiverr. Although tasks mostly pay $5 to complete (you get $4 and they keep $1), you could complete 4 to 5 tasks in an hour if you choose wisely. If you have skills to offer, this is a smart way to save up extra cash for your business.
Sell your Crafts to Family and Friends
Are you a maker? One way to get money to start your business is selling your handmade crafts to family and friends.
One of the best places to sell your work is on Facebook. Announce to your followers that you’re raising money to start a business selling your work. Then you can photograph some of your pieces and create posts to showcase them. Set a price and payment method (I recommend Paypal Invoice). Ask followers to mark sold and send them an email with the invoice. You can even drop the piece off if the person lives locally to avoid shipping costs.
These types of sales can be quite successful on Facebook and Instagram. It’s a wonderful way to market your work before you have an official storefront started. You can even start building your fan base!
Do you get a substantial tax refund at the end of the year? Consider using your tax refund to start your business this year. It’s a great way to get started quickly.
If you already have your refund set aside for other things, consider at least taking part of it for your business start up plan. Make sure investing in your business is a priority. After the savings account is started, build it with more funds as the year progresses.
Become a Minimalist
Although this might seem a little extreme, rethinking your relationship with stuff might be a good place to start saving. By adopting minimalism, you could save hundreds of dollars a month.
One way to start on the path to simple living is to freeze your credit card use. We recently tried this for two months. Although I’ll admit some costs have crept back in during recent months, you can imagine how thrilled I was when no credit card bill arrived at the end of those two months. It was actually a relief and let us start saving for other important things.
Now, imagine if you could move the money that you are spending on excess stuff and invest it in your business….
If you’re not quite ready to adopt minimalism, try cutting a few things from your next trip to Target. Instead of spending money on another DVD, pair of shoes or even a candy bar, take that money and place it in a savings account for your business. Over time, it will grow and you will have the funds necessary to start your business.
Kickstarter is the 21st century version of crowdfunding. If you have an amazing creative business project that you want to launch and need some serious funding, Kickstarter is a wonderful way to do so. Without going to the bank for a loan.
To get started, you will first need to develop a project idea. Think about something that you need for your business. New equipment, upgraded studio space or even a product you want to bring to market.
Set up your campaign on Kickstarter. You will need to choose a funding goal and amount of time to raise it. You can also set pledge levels will little perks along the way.
Keep in mind that you only keep the money if you are able to fully raise the amount you need. So when setting this goal, think about the amount that will actually pay for your goal. Then, raise the funds. Promote your project to your friends, family and fans.
There is a baker I follow – Kimberley’s Kitchen – who needed a new upgraded commercial kitchen for her at home baking. She provided amazing baked goods to this small town at weekend farmer’s markets. She was able to raise the funds she needed to put on the commercial addition and continue her baking dreams.
If you are unsure about asking others for help, keep in mind. Business is hard and expensive. Your network wants to help you out. Sometimes you just need to let them.
Cut the Cable Cord
This is another one that might be tough for many you. As a former Food Network addict, cutting our cable was one of the hardest things that I’ve done towards my dreams of simple living. We did it as an experiment about 6 months ago and we LOVE it!
The hardest thing was returning the cable box to the cable company. I had to watch the cable service representatives showcase all the benefits of cable to new customers. There were ten people in line that day and I was the only one dropping services.
Cutting cable has been one of the best things that I could have done for my business growth. It has freed up my creative energies to explore new things. I now have time to read more books (especially business books), run my business and even start this blog. As well as spend lots of time together as a family. I truly forgot how much I loved reading until we cut the cord. I didn’t even know how many wonderful resources the library had.
If you are brave enough, cutting your cable television could save up to a hundred dollars a month. Not only will it provide you with the money to help start your business, but also the time to learn entrepreneurial skills that will help with running and growing of your business.
There are many creative ways you can bootstrap your own business and get it off the ground. You don’t have to go into massive amounts of debt to do it. Although you might take out a loan to grow your business in the future, starting your business on loans is tricky. This is especially difficult if you have a family at home.
When choosing which savings plan will work best for you, think about how quickly you want to start your new business. If you want to start it immediately, then choose ways that get you money fast. If you prefer spending six months planning and researching your business ideas, you have more time to get money to start your business.
Remember to start a separate savings account to keep your business start-up money in. You want to make sure the investment is there when you’re ready. Now get to it!