If you’re anything like most young entrepreneurs, not many of us have an unlimited budget for spending but that doesn’t mean that you can’t make your ideas flourish. Below I will briefly go over some key points that are critical if you want your business idea to gain traction but most importantly, I will show you ways that you wont need any VC’s or fancy accelerators bribing you with money to actually make things happen and eventually become a successful startup.
I’m going to cut to the chase and assume you aren’t completely new to the business atmosphere. A lot of startup founders are funded by investors but many are self funded and had no prior relationships with any investors. That being said you do still need to have some source of income or at least a little pile of cash exclusively just for your project (idea).
Seed capital which is essentially money coming from the founder’s’ personal assets, friends or family, for covering initial operating expenses, is hugely misinterpreted in today’s fast paced economy. NO you don’t need hundreds of thousands of dollars at your disposal but it seems so when all you hear is overly hyped media journalist speak in nothing but dollar signs of valuations to the success of a startup.
There are dozens of businesses that started off with close to nothing.
To name a few
Apple, Whole Foods Market, Nordstrom, Dell, Starbucks, eBay and the list goes on and on.
Do your own research
Start by analyzing your market and those that are a competitor to you. If you can see several weak points in your competitor’s model, and there are viable channels that they aren’t utilizing then you might be onto something. Just because others are already doing it, doesn’t mean you cant do it 10x better! The initial research you conduct prior to even starting your startup is very important as it could very well mean lost time and money if not done properly.
It’s who you know, not what you know
So i’m pretty sure most millennials at least have 3 or more social media apps on their phones. While social media isn’t all about cute cat photos, and pizza Instagram close ups, you can utilize your current network of friends whether it be on Facebook, LinkedIn, Behance, Dribbble, Google plus, Twitter, heck even Tinder and so on to reach out and find someone willing to help out or “volunteer” for your startup.
It’s important to let them know that you do not have money to hire anyone per say under payroll, but instead you can say that they will be paid appropriately in equity once you start bringing in money from your startup.
You may even create a internship position on indeed.com and utilize that network to find very talented individuals looking to up their resumes, and experience. Plus there’s always someone out there that just likes to be part of a movement and helping others out.
Find a traction channel
While on this topic alone I can write several pages on, we will only very quickly go over it. Finding a traction channel is exactly as it sounds, finding something that you can use to your advantage as your first wave of business. It can be exposure to your catered clients, or easy traffic to your site and you can even use tools that are mostly freely available to gain traction and land your first wave of paying customers.
Example: Email marketing, blogging, etc.
Execute, Execute, Execute
Don’t wait 5 weeks just to get your idea down on paper. Jump on a call, email a few friends and if you don’t know anyone, you’d be super surprised how many useful connections you can make at meetups near you. 9 Months of waiting to actually get your product out, or even launch a website to start gathering data about your business is like 2 years in internet time. Get up and go do shit.
If your skill sets are on the creative side and you are waiting for your developers to finish your minimum viable product you should be conducting research, networking and working on your traction channels that you can handle such as using offline marketing with your creative skills to raise awareness and gathering potential customers.
All the above can be done with $0 and a lot of ambition to succeed. Yes its nice to have $100K+ in the bank to spend on your business but the truth is most startups spend all their time and money on things that don’t matter instead of building a business that solves problems. Yes, money is needed to get the ball rolling but with less than several hundred dollars you can launch a startup and begin to gather paying customers and improving your product as you scale up.
“The starting point of all achievement is desire.” — Napoleon Hill