“I’d love to start a company, but I just don’t have the money.” How often have you heard—or personally said—that line? When you first hear it, it doesn’t seem unreasonable. We’ve all heard the adage “it takes money to make money,” so this line of thought doesn’t sound unusual to us.
But believe it or not, it is possible to fund your startup using only the capital you have in your bank account—or maybe even the change from your couch cushions. Here are some ways to gain some traction without vying for meetings with potential investors:
- Partner with other beginners
While the lone-wolf mentality may be your default, it is important to realize that other ambitious people can be your greatest allies. There are people out there just like you who are looking to get some experience and are willing to work hard for little to no upfront pay. Connect with local designers, students—even take on some interns. Remember, there is strength in numbers; you can all help each other succeed.
- Build relationships with industry heavy hitters
It may be intimidating to approach industry leaders, but it is important to build these relationships early on—and you may be surprised by how receptive these people or companies can be. Reach out to larger companies and offer to help them on a project. If they are lacking in an area, pick up the slack. The goal here is to gain exposure for your company that you wouldn’t have gotten otherwise.
- Get your product into your potential customers hands asap
Start with your MVP – “minimum viable product.” This will allow you to get something out in the market, see what customers think, and use that feedback to make the product better. Whether you sell it or give away to your first beta customers, this is extremely important. The customers feedback is one of the most important pieces of information you can get on your path to success.
- Utilize similar or even competitors’ audiences
It can be difficult to build an audience and a business simultaneously, but you can be highly successful by taking advantage of markets that are already established. Think about who you want to attract business-wise, then find out where they go online and what publications they read, then try to write for or advertise in those places. Even if you have to contribute to these resources for free, you will have a new way to position yourself as a leader in the industry—and an audience.
Have you successfully built a business using limited resources? Tell us how via Twitter @StarterNoise using hashtage #startupsprosper!
Derek Rundell, is a successful business leader, operator, and serial entrepreneur. Derek has founded, managed and sold businesses in the technology, media and finance industries. He sits on several boards and serves as an advisor/investor to numerous established businesses and startups. Startups are Derek’s real passion, and in addition to building his own portfolio of technology, media and financial ventures, he invests in and mentors startups and entrepreneurs. He is passionate about sharing his knowledge and helping other businesses succeed.