Most people assume that you need at least a few thousand dollars to start any sort of successful business. While a larger budget certainly does help, there are so many work-from-home business models that can be started with little to no upfront investment other than your time and effort. Of course, starting with absolutely nothing isn’t really a wise decision because it puts your business in the predicament of lacking the basic provisions and structure that most other startups have. With that said, here are five steps you can take to get a reputable business up and running for less than $500 in any industry.
1. Incorporate the Company
First, to be considered an actual company, you’ll need to incorporate. The most cost-effective way to do this in the long-term will usually be to structure the business as a Limited Liability Company (LLC). Fortunately, if you’re wondering how much it costs to start an LLC, it usually won’t set you back more than a few hundred dollars.
2. Make a List of Bare Minimum Operating Requirements
Now that you’re incorporated and ready to start doing business legitimately, it’s time to create a list of the items you’ll need to make your first sale and nothing more. We’re not talking about what you’ll need to stay in business for a year – just what you need to make the very first step in getting started. If you already have a computer and internet connection, and your business model involves providing a service online, you’re probably already halfway there.
3. Leverage the Power of Affiliate Marketing
Let’s say you’ve finished putting together your list of minimum operating requirements and you’ve realized that, in your particular niche, there are no financial shortcuts. Well, you still have the option of making money in that industry without investing in any inventory or equipment because you can start out by simply facilitating sales for other companies in exchange for commissions – a practice known as affiliate marketing. You can also open your own affiliate program to incentivize marketers to start promoting your brand at no upfront cost.
4. Utilize Free Forms of Promotion and Advertising
There are so many ways to spread brand awareness and solicit clients and customers online without spending any money. A full list of free advertising methods would go beyond the scope of this guide, but low and no-cost promotion is definitely a topic that every entrepreneur on a budget should become familiar with.
5. Start Small and Scale-Up
If you’re starting a business with less than $500 at your disposal, you’ll need to accept the fact that you probably won’t be able to go from zero to hero overnight. Instead, be prepared to start out slow and re-invest all earnings into the business for at least the first few months.
Don’t Touch Your Revenue
If you’re constantly spending the money that the business generates as it’s made, you’ll never be able to stack up the kind of savings needed to facilitate optimal cash flow stability. The best approach is to let all revenue stack in a business account for the first 6 months to a year, so you may want to keep your day job during the initial process of building your brand.