Starting a Business on a Shoestring

How to start a business on a shoestring

Have you ever thought about starting a small business? If so, did you immediately start thinking about how to fund it?

Trying to get a small business loan or using credit cards or a home equity loan to fund their startup is the route that people often go when they’re getting started in business.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. You don’t have to start out in debt or have a lot of capital in order to start a business. You can do so on a shoestring.

Think non-traditionally, and be a bit of a minimalist

You don’t need things like business cards, letterhead & envelopes, a great logo, a new computer, printer, office furniture, office space, etc., when you’re just starting out. (And you might not ever need most of that.)

What you do need is an idea, elbow grease, and the willingness to do the types of business that don’t have a lot of overhead. Generally speaking, these are service businesses, internet-based businesses, or some combination of the two.

Service businesses

Service businesses allow you to essentially say “Hey, here’s what I can do for you, and here’s how much I charge” — and then start earning money. (After you’re properly licensed and insured, of course.)

A few examples of service-based businesses are landscaping, housecleaning, childcare, web design, resume creation, giving lessons, tutoring, proofreading, data entry, style consultant, providing publicity, etc. Check out my 101 Ways to Make Extra Money in Your Spare Time book if you’re looking for a list of more ideas.

Internet-based businesses

Internet-based businesses allow you to work odd hours — during times when you might not be able to do the things required for a service-based business — from any location with an internet connection. Internet-based businesses can include some of the above items, but they can also include things like selling e-books, providing online courses, being a virtual assistant, etc.

Prepare by doing a little bit of research into the type of business you have in mind. Search online to see what other people have done. Talk to people who have actually done it to get their take on it. Find out what’s worked for them and what hasn’t worked.

Then start small

If it’s a service business, ask everyone you know if they know someone who knows someone that might be interested in your service.

If it’s an internet-based business, do your research, spend $10 or less on a domain name, and get some inexpensive hosting. You can get hosting for less than $10 a month. Use free templates to create your site. If the thought of all that techy stuff freaks you out, find a teenager who wants to make a little extra money, or post an ad on Craigslist to see if someone can help you for free. There are usually people out there who are willing to work at low or no-cost in order to get their business going. You don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on a web site. You can have one built for $0 if you’re creative about it.

Be creative.

I could go on, but that’s the biggest point right there. Brainstorm ways of accomplishing what you want to accomplish with little or not money. Once you get started, the ideas will probably flow, especially if you talk to other like-minded people about what they have done as well. Be willing to do things a little differently than what you might have thought.

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One comment

  • My first business was teaching wedding dance. It cost $200 to start up, and I turned a profit in the first month. As long as you really focus on the bottom line, you can start with almost nothing.