Monday, January 31, 2011

How to Start a Business with Little Capital

I've actually spoken or written on this topic several times. Starting a business with little capital is called "bootstrapping". To make sure that you maximize the use of the little funds you have for your new small business, you should first create a brief (3-5 page) business plan. You need to figure out who you are targeting (your market), what your products or services are, how to reach your market and how to differentiate yourself from your competitors (your marketing strategy).
Once you have a fairly clear vision for your business, you can determine what resources you have available. If you wish to sell products to individuals in a retail environment, the expensive way is to rent space and open a store. An inexpensive way would be to open a store on the web, rent a kiosk in a mall or other area, or ask to offer your products in an existing store (i.e., offer jewelry for sale at a popular local clothing store). Do you have a service you wish to provide to other small businesses? You can find other businesses that serve your market and offer to partner with them to provide additional services to that existing business' customers.

Do you need money to do marketing? There are many books out there that provide cheap marketing and public relation techniques and how-tos. Do you need assistance handling all the little things but don't have the time? You can hire a virtual assistant through elance, craigslist, or similar site. Do you need office space? You can use your home or apartment and contract with a flexible office space provider such as Corporate Suites that will afford you access to a conference room when you need it.
With so many companies offering web-based solutions it is much cheaper to start a company than it was ten years ago. You can use a template-based solution to build your website cheaply at GoDaddy.com, justhost.com, or Yahoo. You can find reputable part-time bookkeepers online. You can access legal advice cheaply through Prepaid Legal, which you can sign up for online.
There are many, many ways to creatively tap into resources and minimize costs. Just use your business plan to help you figure out what you need then seek out creative solutions to those needs.


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