Monthly Archives: September 2016

Simple Steps to Start a Business with No Money

Want to start your own business but don’t have any money? Here are 10 creative strategies you can use to launch your business when you have little to no startup funds.

You have a dream but no money to put toward the dream. That’s not uncommon among entrepreneurs. Don’t let the lack of money deter you from a business you know other people would find benefit from. Here are a few ideas of how to get your business off the ground with no money.

1. Some are Easier Than Others

If you don’t have any startup capital, service-based businesses are perfect. Product based businesses require you to purchase and then resell. Service-based businesses like consulting, advising, or things like content creation or web design, only need equipment you probably already have.

2. Get Creative with How You Raise Funds

Consider the story of how Outbox Systems started. The founders had a dream of connecting two software applications together but didn’t have the money to build it. Instead, they worked out a deal with another company where they would build a similar product for a discounted rate yet retain the rights to sell the product to others. That’s creative financing. How can you get creative with how you raise money?

3. Sweat Equity is Free

Starting a business is hard. It’s not comfortable. Expect long days, a lot of hard conversations, and plenty of people telling you it won’t work. You don’t have the money to hire people to do tasks like cold calling and door to door sales so you have to take on the task. If you commit to being the person that does just about everything in the beginning, startup costs are much lower.

4. Creative Fundraising – Part 2

Yes, there’s friends and family but today we have crowdfunding, local and national incubators, accelerators, and microfinancing. If you don’t know what these are, do some Googling and learn about them. Look for communities of investors in your area and tell others about your business. There’s plenty of funding that doesn’t involve banks and credit cards.

5. Start Simple

Your dream might include a pretty big business offering a wide variety of products and services but for now, keep it simple. Sell a single product or service. Build your customer base and later branch out into other products and services.

One of the most expensive parts of running a business is acquiring customers. If you gain their trust with one product or service now, selling something else later is much easier.

6. Start as a Hobby

At some point you’ll have to quit your day job but that day isn’t today. Hobby businesses often come from the person’s love of something. Maybe you have a corporate job during the day but you love to bake when you come home. Start with people you know and allow your network to grow from there. Your marketing costs are zero and you still have money coming in from your day job.

7. Work for Somebody Else

Although they may not admit it, most business owners became entrepreneurs thinking they knew more than what they did. In fact, many businesses fail because the person was ill-equipped to build a successful business.

Before you start your own business, work or intern with somebody in the business already. The experience you gain will allow you to start your business knowing what you truly need to spend money on and what you don’t. You’ll also gain insider knowledge of the industry and possibly a healthy customer list from the beginning.

8. Use Free Services

The Internet is full of high quality services you can use for free. Mailchimp is a powerful e-mail marketing platform that’s free for the first 2,000 e-mail addresses. Wufoo allows you to make online forms, and although Facebook and other social media platforms won’t put your ad in front of large amounts of people unless you pay, you can still gain some traction by telling people what you’re doing.

There’s also freelance platforms like Fiverr, Elance, and Upwork that have quality freelancers willing to help with logo and web design, and other service for cheap. You could get a logo made for $5!

9. Barter

Don’t have any money? Offer to barter your services in exchange for somebody else’s. There aren’t many small business owners that aren’t looking for ways to get quality services for little or no cost. What you have, they want, and they’re willing to trade for it.

10. Hustle!

Finally, go into your business endeavor with a hustling mindset. Be ready to do anything legal and ethical to get your business off the ground. Don’t like cold calling? Do it anyway? Not a graphic designer? You can find templates online for just about anything. Don’t want to do any free work? It might be worth it to get your name out there. If you don’t have the money to pay for services, you have to do them or find somebody who can and will do it for free.

Just as you would do just about anything for your family, you have to have the same mindset about your business.

It’s possible to get a business off the ground with next to no money. You just have to get creative.

Easy Tips to Get a Business Loan

Ready to apply for a business loan? Whether or not you get the loan depends on whether you can convince the lender you’re a good risk, and that will be based on the documentation you provide. Here’s a run down of the items most lenders will need to see.

Access to capital is an ongoing need for growing businesses. Whether you want to hire several more employees, open a new location, increase production, or develop new products, a business loan can provide your small business the money it needs to expand.

How successful you are at getting the loan will depend on how successful you are at convincing a lender that you’ll be able to repay your loan on time. That decision will be based on a number of factors including the business’ income and credit record, your business plan, the nature of the business, your industry, the business experience of the owner(s), the personal credit of the owner(s), your collateral, and the lender you choose.

To evaluate those factors, lenders will ask you to complete a loan application and provide a variety of information and documentation. Although the specifics will vary from one lender to another, you may need to provide some or all of the following:
Loan request details:

• Why you want the loan
• How much you need
• How the money will be used
• Amount of time needed to repay the loan
• What other business debts you have

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Business Plan
This would include a description of the business, description of the products and services, marketing projections (and how you plan to achieve your goals), resumes of the principals in the business, and financial projections

Legal Documents

Business licenses, incorporation documents, patents, commercial leases, franchise agreements, or other legal documents related to your business.

Financial Statements

Profit and Loss Statement (also called an Income Statement) for an existing business

Balance sheet

Cash flow statement

Accounts receivables and payables reports (for existing business)

Tax Returns

Both business and personal tax returns from the last three years may be required.

Credit Reports

The lender may require credit reports both for the business (if it’s already established) and personal credit reports for the owner(s).

Collateral

Collateral is something of value that can be used to repay the loan if the business defaults on the payments. That something of value would be something the lender would be able to sell to recoup its losses if the business can’t pay off the loan. The “something” might be inventory, equipment, bank accounts, or even your home.

Gathering all of the above information and documents before you approach a lender, will help you speed the loan application process. It should also help you get a clearer vision of your business needs and the businesses’ ability to repay the loan.

Tips to Increase Your Productivity

The trick to getting things done isn’t to work more hours, it’s to be more productive in the hours you already work. Use these strategies to boost your productivity so you can enjoy your time off.

Time management isn’t simply about managing your time during the work day. It’s about getting the most important work done within the amount of time you have allocated and enjoying your personal life when you’re not working. Hitting that sweet spot of productivity and leisure is what we really want when we seek out time management strategies.

Focus List

In order to get the most important work done you have to know what the most important work is at any given point in time. One of the simplest and yet most effective tools is a Focus List. Not your Master List which includes all your projects, tasks and ideas, but a simple list of the top priority projects you are working on in a day. It can be as simple as a handwritten index card with one to three projects you have identified from your Master List as the most important for the day.

This is probably something you have heard before, but what I want you to consider for a moment is all of the tasks, projects and ideas that are not on the list. They are not on the list because you have deemed them as less important at this time than the top priority projects you are going to do. So, don’t interrupt yourself and jump back to any of these items during your focus list work. Commit to getting the three done and then if you have more time you can recheck your Master List for the next three items.

Time Blocking

Blocking off time to do specific tasks can be as complex as scheduling appointments on your calendar for specific tasks or as simple as having two hour blocks of time allocated toward working on your Focus List work. It is not possible to block off every hour of every work day for focus list work. Email does need to be checked, phone calls need to be made, meetings attended and colleagues communicated with. So don’t try to convince yourself that you have 8 hours a day to accomplish your priority items. Instead block one or two 2-hour time blocks for working on your Focus List. During this time close your door and put a polite but firm Come Back Later note on it, do not check email, and do not take incoming phone calls or make outgoing ones (unless these calls are your Focus List item). Everything else can wait for two hours. After all, these are your self-selected most important projects. Give them your full attention.

Focus Work Time

The key word here is focus. Start with the first item on your list and work on it. Work on only this project during your Focused Work time. You may be surprised at how often you interrupt yourself with non-priority things. You might say to yourself “I really do need to send a quick email to Susan about that meeting next week.” That email might take just 3 minutes to write and send, but it cost you momentum on your primary task. And if you do this more than once your two hours will be eroded, leaving you feel unproductive and like time got away from you.

Instead of doing the things that pop into your mind, write yourself a quick reminder about them so you can do them when your two hour Focus Work Time is over. You may find that over time this list will get shorter as you are able to just stay focused. Once you begin to trust that the other items on your list will get their own focus time, you’ll be less tempted to do them when you’re supposed to be doing something else.

Stop Working

When your time blocks are over, stop and take a break. Do the other things that are calling out to you and need to be done. Then you can dive back into your projects again if you haven’t finished. It is as important to stop focusing as it is to stay focused. Otherwise all the other things that you need to do will pile up and cause problems. It is OK to do them. Also, it is unrealistic to work in Focus Mode all the time. It is the contrast of the two work styles that makes Focus Mode so productive.

When the end of the work day comes, stop working. The reason that you want effective time management in the first place is so that you have been productive enough to feel good about walking away at the end of the day. So do it. Walk away from work and leave it there – mentally and physically. Not only will your life feel better and like you actually have time to enjoy it, but you will be refreshed and restored able to work fully the next day.

If ideas or things you need to do keep popping into your mind, that’s OK. It doesn’t mean you have to do them right now. Like your Focus Time at work, this is your Focus Time during your leisure time. So just write yourself a note and when you’re back at work you can do them.

Give Yourself Permission to Do Nothing

Lastly, in society today it is very easy to become overscheduled. Something to do every night, every weekend filled with activities and sports and events. No time to just relax and do nothing. Nothing makes you feel like your time needs managing more than having all of it filled up. Leave some blank space on your calendar. Make a firm commitment that you will have at least one night each week and one weekend a month with nothing on the calendar. If this means saying no to doing things with friends or un-volunteering for a committee or telling your kids to pick a sport that doesn’t have three practices a week and games every weekend, do it. This is your life. Enjoy it.