I’ve found that a surprising majority of professionals have dreamed about — or have at least considered — the possibility of becoming an entrepreneur. So why aren’t their more self-started businesses out there?
Most of the time, people are apprehensive — and understandably so. Starting a business is usually a massive undertaking, requiring significant time and money that people don’t believe they can spare. They might be preoccupied with their current careers, or might prioritize spending time with their family over anything else.
But perhaps most commonly, people are reluctant to start a business because of the money — they either believe they don’t have enough money to start a business successfully, or are scared of the risks involved with putting the money down.
If money is your greatest concern about becoming an entrepreneur, keep these things in mind:
1. Money can usually be substituted with time. Most things you’ll buy in a business can be created, for free, with enough investment of time. For example, you could pay a firm or an in-house professional to build your brand through marketing and advertising, or you could spend a few dozen hours learning how to do it yourself. Similarly, you don’t really “need” to hire someone new — you could take on those responsibilities yourself and double your working hours. Of course, it may not be the wisest or most efficient move to do everything yourself — not only will your lack of expertise make it harder for you to be effective, you could put yourself at greater risk of burnout. Still, it’s worth remembering that you can trade money for time in most instances and still succeed.
2. Most things online are free. Next, don’t forget the enormous amount of resources and opportunities that are available online, for free. You can build a website for free (or nearly free) using website builders like Wix or Wordpress — and the final product is reasonably professional-looking. You can create accounts and connect with audiences for free, at any time, on pretty much any social media platform or forum. You can even post classifieds and upcoming events using free sites like Craigslist. The internet is full of information and free resources, so if money is an issue, consider taking advantage of them.
3. There are many sources of initial capital. Let’s say you’re not willing to invest time instead of money (and for good reason), and the free resources you’ve found can’t give you everything your business needs; you still need capital, and you don’t have enough to fund the business yourself. Here, it’s best to remember that there are many potential sources of initial capital. If you’re willing to part with a percentage of your ownership in the company, you can work with angel investors or venture capitalists for an early cash injection. If you’re making something tangible, you could use Kickstarter, or another crowdfunding platform to raise initial funds. If you have friends and family members who believe in your idea, you could even ask them to contribute. There are dozens of possibilities here, so chances are, at least one will pay off for you.
4. Early revenue can be everything you need. You should also note that once your business starts generating revenue, you should have everything you need to keep the business running. Assuming you’re able to forgo drawing a salary from the business for the first few months of operation (thereby allocating your time to the business for free), you can redirect all the inbound cash flow you receive to other internal company developments. Your business doesn’t need to be fully fleshed out to get your first customer; in fact, you may not even need a website or a brand in place. Go with a minimum viable product, and prioritize the establishment of an early line of revenue. The rest will fall into place.
5. Loans can close the gap. If you’re still struggling with money, or if you get started successfully but run into an obstacle, don’t rule out the possibility of getting a loan. Opening a line of credit is relatively easy, and can provide you with all the cash you need to get through rough patches; and if your business doesn’t have enough credit or history to get a loan, you can apply for a secured loan, or a personal loan instead.
I’m not arguing that money isn’t an obstacle, or that money shouldn’t be a concern. In fact, it’s a good thing you’re fiscally responsible enough to assess the financial straits of entrepreneurship. However, money isn’t the solution to every problem, and starting a business could take less money than you think.
Accordingly, if money is your only holdup in starting a new business, consider doing some more research — you might find there are more opportunities than you think.
For more content like this, be sure to check out my podcast, The Entrepreneur Cast!