There’s a bittersweet joy to graduation. On the one hand, you did it, you got through school and are now educated and ready to take the world by storm. On the other hand, figuring out how to take the world by storm can be a little unnerving. Especially if you intend to start a small business.
Starting a small business can seem impossible if you don’t have any money. College tends to evaporate high school savings pretty quickly.
But you don’t have to give up on your dream of starting a business just because you have no money. In fact, some of the most successful businesses out there started from almost nothing. All it takes is a little smarts and a lot of work.
Think Service, Not Product
Product-oriented businesses require lots of money at the start. When you factor in shipping logistics, prototyping, market research, and all other essential parts of the product-creation process, the costs add up fast.
But if you get creative, you can access the resources you need to design a product in the form of offering services.
Ryan Westwood, founder of Outbox Services, describes how he got his product-based business idea funded by offering it in the form of a service:
“We wanted to connect two software applications, but we didn’t have the capital to build the integration. Knowing we needed to generate money to fund our product development, I approached the partner channel at AtTask and asked if I could build a software integration for them. Fortuitously, an enterprise AtTask customer needed to integrate AtTask and Salesforce and was willing to pay us $125 per hour to build the integration. Then we turned around and resold the product to others.”
This example shows that an existing need for a certain product can facilitate its creation. Learning to reframe product ideas into the form of a service can be the key to building the foundations of a successful product-based business even if you have little-to-no cash available.
Purely Service-Oriented Businesses
For those who have the necessary skills that people and businesses are looking for, offering services online can be an inexpensive and effective way to start a business. Think of websites like Fiverr that allow people to advertise their services online and build a reputable brand for themselves.
Many have built 6-figure incomes from the humble beginnings of Fiverr. You can too. Sites like Etsy and Amazon allow creative people to share their arts and crafts, providing a viable platform for artists, quilters, and all sorts of creative, self-made handiwork.
Cheap Advertising Ideas
Once you have your services and products online, you’ll want to attract people to them. There are a few easy ways to market yourself. We’ll touch on them rapid-fire:
- Get on Help a Reporter Out (HARO). Create a free account and identify your areas of expertise, and you’ll be contacted by journalists to provide expert opinions for their columns.
- Look for speaking opportunities with local organizations that need knowledgeable presenters. Go back to your alma mater and talk about what you’re doing with your major, for example.
- Write content for a website in your industry that’s looking for guest posts. Include a link to your business in the byline.
- You can also write insightful comments on these sites to stir up interest.
- Above all, don’t forget social media. Your friends can be your biggest supporters when you’re starting out–just avoid being overly promotional so people don’t doubt your motives.
That last bullet point is critical. It’s easy to annoy your friends if you present yourself on social media in the wrong way. Ever had a “friend” try to get you involved in an MLM? It’s the worst.
Avoid using your personal accounts to advertise your stuff too frequently–set up business profiles and try to gain followers that way.
Financing Options for Young Entrepreneurs
Sometimes you need a little cash to get things running. Try as you might to save every possible penny, the reality might set in that a little funding could go a long way to improve your business.
When this happens, don’t fret. One of the best financing options for starting businesses are credit cards:
- 0% interest for up to 21 months
That means you’ll never pay an extra cent on the money you borrow for over a year. Applying for cards with 0% interest rates gives you the time and flexibility to invest and recuperate without paying extra. That’s a luxury no other funding method affords.
Speaking of luxury:
- You get perks and earn rewards when you spend
With cash back cards, for example, every time you spend money, you get a little money back. As long as you aren’t paying any interest, that’s basically free money for your business.
Miles, on the other hand, can save your business a ton of money should the need to travel arise. Many cards offer bonus miles for signing up. Why not save $1000 on a trip?
- It’s fast money and qualifying is easy
You could get your card in as little as 48 hours even if your credit isn’t the picture of perfection.
Now You Can Take the World By Storm
And you should, because who doesn’t want to be their own boss? You get one life to do what you love, so make it count.