You are thinking about your business idea every day, and you would love to quit your 9-to-5 and start working on it right away, but you don’t have the money to do so. That leads to the question, can you start a business with zero savings or some financial help from friends/family or investors?
Technology has allowed us to reduce the cost of starting and running a business drastically, but the reality is, startup costs are never $0. There are legal costs (if you form a business entity), there are equipment costs, utility costs, software costs, and founders living expenses.
Many founders forget to budget for living expenses because they assume their startup will be able to generate revenue right away and consequently be able to support the founder(s). Taking money out of your new startup is one of the best ways to kill it, so take that option off the table before you even start.
Can You Survive Without An Income For Over 6 Months?
If the answer is no, then most of you shouldn’t even think about starting a business. Sure, there are exceptions, but the vast majority of new businesses cannot support the founder’s payroll and stay afloat. In fact, in most cases, it takes two or more years for a new business to turn a profit.
Why is this the case? Because it takes time to create a product/service that customers are willing to buy, and your initial offering (product or service) will most likely not blow your customers away.
You Will Need Funds For Changes/Improvements (Post MVP)
Creating the right product/market fit will take time, so don’t think you will hit the ball out of the park with your first swing. Therefore, don’t only budget for your MVP (Minimum Valuable Product), but also for subsequent changes that will be needed.
Save Money Where You Can
For example, can you start by operating as a sole proprietor, or do you need to form a legal business entity (e.g. LLC, C-Corp, S-Corp, etc.)? Creating a business entity is something you should do, but it’s not always a necessity from day 1. Of course, there are risks associated with not forming a business entity right away, but the risks of running out of money in the first 6 months are typically higher.
Do You Need Funds For Marketing?
You first have to answer some basic questions before spending money on marketing. For example, Who is your ideal customer? What is unique about your service or product? How do you stack up against the competition? Investing some money on market research can help you answer these questions. However, the real world (actual customers) will ultimately decide how good your product/market fit is.
Word of caution – marketing an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) or early versions of your product/service can be tricky because it’s difficult to promote a product or service that is half-baked.
With all that in mind, you will need some funds for marketing. Why? Because most startups struggle to sell their initial product/service, so to increase your chances of success you need to promote your product/service to as many customers as possible – This is where marketing comes in. Alternatively, you can spend all your resources/funds on building a fantastic product/service, but don’t be surprised if no one enquires about your “fantastic” product or service.
Digital marketing is effective, trackable, and inexpensive (compared to traditional marketing), so budget some funds for it. You will be glad you did.
Once In A Lifetime Opportunities
Once in a lifetime opportunities or moments are always exaggerated. Your business idea will not become obsolete in 6 months, so rather than thinking about different ways to start a business with no funds, put that energy towards cutting back your expenses and saving! Every dollar you save now will have a significant impact on your future business.
Can you start a business with no funds? No, but you don’t necessarily need a lot of funds either. By thinking about important topics like salary, MVP, market fit, business entities, cost-savings, and more, you can formulate an idea of how much you need to start a business, and more importantly, keep your business afloat until it can support itself.