Starting a company without any funding is certainly a daunting prospect.
There are so many necessary expenses, not to mention the things you really want to splurge on. After all, you want the best for your company, don't you?
Still, how on earth can you be expected to get a business off the ground with, well...nothing? Lucky for you, it’s not quite as impossible as it seems. Here’s our advice on getting your company started without any funding:
Family and friends
Use your network. Friends and family can be the greatest resources you have when it comes to starting your business. Think about what skills they might have and seek them out. We searched all of our connections on LinkedIn to see who might be able to help us or could at least point us in the right direction. This doesn’t end at funding, however. Family and friends are the best resources when it comes to introductions too. You never know where conversations with your immediate network may lead. Just make sure you’re willing to return the favor.
Spend frugally and think creatively
When you don’t have any funding, it’s important to really question every dollar you’re spending in terms of return on investment, or ROI. How much further towards your goal will this expense really get you? Whether it’s tech development, sales or user acquisition, it doesn’t matter, if the ROI isn’t high enough, it’s not worth your money.
When we turned Katie’s New York City apartment into Hukkster headquarters, we weren't trying to win points for originality. We knew that renting out a fancy office space wasn’t necessarily going to push us forward, so we saved our money and converted her living room into an office. To outfit our space, we looked at buying a whiteboard to hang for brainstorming, but discovered that we could get dry-erase paint at one-tenth of the cost. The result was a big whiteboard wall in her apartment, which saved us a lot of money and happened to be much more fun!
Check out crowdfunding sites like Indiegogo and Kickstarter. Not only can you raise money, but it could even turn into great publicity for your startup. You just have to get people excited enough about what you’re doing that they’ll spread the word.
The experience can also serve as a good litmus test. If you aren’t reaching your goals, think about why your campaign isn’t resonating: Is your idea not yet fully developed or are you just not communicating it clearly enough? Also, try throwing up a splashpage. There are free sites like launchrock.co where you can try different ways of marketing your site and gauge your audience’s appetite before you officially launch. If people really believe in your idea, and it’s something they want to see come to life, you’ll be sure to see great results.
At some point, you’re going to have to just take the plunge and put your own money on the line. Before diving in headfirst, sit down and consider just how much risk you can stomach. How much can you afford to lose? Take a cue from LearnVest founder Alexa von Tobel and make sure you can support yourself for a year if all else fails. Know your financial needs and budget for them before going all-in on your own company.
It may seem like a scary process, but whatever you do, don’t wait for the perfect situation to come along before getting started. Working with what you have, along with some perseverance and creativity, will go a long way.