Mark Suster is a 2x entrepreneur and a venture capitalist. He has founded both Koral (sold to Alcatel) and GRP Partners says Peter Decaprio. Both of these companies were funded by leading VC’s such as Sequoia Capital, Redpoint Ventures and InterWest Partners – you can read his blog here .
If you have ideas for new businesses but don’t have the money to fund your startup here are some ways to get started without any funding:
1. Bootstrap –
Do it yourself! In other words build it with no outside capital. Sure this may take longer but you will learn far more about how to run your business from doing than from reading or taking an MBA class. Paul Graham of Y Combinator (Seed Funding) talks about this here : “If you’re the kind of person who is motivated to start your own company, then probably you can do it on your savings. And if not, why are you worried? You may learn that starting a startup isn’t so hard after all.”
2. Find an Investor –
This one might seem obvious but there are investors out there who don’t live in Silicon Valley and aren’t looking for the typical people with big ideas coming out of Stanford or Harvard MBA programs. I’ve seen many amazing companies built by people who were just at the right place at the right time with their idea and had an investor help them turn that into their first customer. I’d recommend getting yourself to a Bootstrappers Breakfast and you might find an angel investor there.
3. Get Your Customers to Fund It –
There are companies out there that will actually help you get your customers to fund your idea before you launch. One of my favorite examples is the company “Customer Darling” which helps companies with great ideas who just don’t have any money to develop their product get a start with their crowdfunding campaigns here explains Peter Decaprio. Now let me am clear I am NOT talking about Kickstarter or Indigogo, but rather something more like Quirky where they help you validate your idea, help you build your product and then pre-sell it on your website so that when it’s ready to ship all the orders come from your customers.
4. Get a Job –
Many people forget this one but it turns out that if you want to start a business the best way is to work for someone else and then use that income or salary along with some savings to fund it. You might not be able to get rich quickly, but you can still get going pretty fast. The key thing here is make sure you don’t quit your day job until your venture is making some money because otherwise if something goes wrong you will have no cash flow coming in and no time or energy left to try again. I’ve seen countless entrepreneurs who literally wait too long before admitting that they aren’t able to build their startup while working full-time and then when they finally quit there is no more cash flow coming in and they are force to work for Uber or Lyft just to get by.
5. Find an Unusual Business Opportunity –
If you really do want to start a traditional business (e.g. restaurant, retail store) but don’t have any money I think it’s best not to try the typical thing, but rather find an unusual opportunity that can still be successful even though you lack funding. For example instead of opening up a restaurant name your business “Eat At Your Place”. And sell healthy prepared meals which people pick up after placing their order on your website. This way you don’t need all kinds of costly equipment. Employees or brick-and-mortar location so this might work even if you don’t have any money.
While it might be true that there are great companies being build every day in Silicon Valley. With just 18 months of funding I believe that if you are trying. To build a company over the long-term that having investors is not only helpful, but required. Of course you don’t have to take VC money or even borrow money from friends and family. But if your mindset is “do whatever it takes to get this business start” then remember what Jason Calacanis says about bootstrapping. “If you want to live on ramen noodles for 6 months go ahead says Peter Decaprio.
If you don’t have any money to start your business, no problem! There are many ways to do it. Just pick the one that best fits your situation and give it a go. You can always change strategies later once you get going and know more about what’s working and isn’t working.