• M74 Editorial Team

Exploring the Entrepreneurial Path

By Deborah Lawrence

Is it possible to get your business up and running with little to no capital? Yes! You can start a business with no money. This might seem like a far-fetched idea, but it is not impossible.

Now, the question is: How? There are a variety of stories that make the entrepreneurial path seem rosy, but the reality behind those stories is years of hard work and overcoming obstacles. So, if you think that the entrepreneurial path is for you, but you lack the financing to start, then this article might just be of help.

One can start a business with little to no funds, but that does not mean you can start it without resources. The more resources you have available, the less money you will need. When I talk of “resources,” I mean intelligence, imagination, social circle, experience, studies, knowledge, and so on. The key is to start with what you currently have—the resources you have access to, the skills you can build on, and the connections at your disposal—to help you figure out the path that will be most cost-effective, sustainable, and profitable in terms of starting your business.

Below are some salient steps that you should take into consideration:

Have an Idea

There are so many ideas that people have, and it’s working for them. For instance, take an existing idea, and innovate on it. Bear in mind, though, that the idea you have should align with the resources you have, in order to make it work. Simplicity is needed, since you are just starting.

Have a Plan

Your business plan should be short and specific. This facilitates a better understanding of your products or services. What’s your budget, and what other resources do you have—such as potential partners, clients, experience, contacts, time, and so on?

Explore Financing Options

Well, having no money for your startup could be quite frustrating. If you really need some seed money, you could try asking for funds, or working to get them.

If you are quite experienced in the field you want to undertake, and feel confident in soliciting investments, then knowing your options will be beneficial to you:

Friends and family are people with whom you have close relationships—people who take you to be trustworthy, reliable, and competent. Therefore, you should not have too much trouble approaching them for modest loans. You may think that doing this is easier than having to deal with bankers or brokers, but, to the contrary, it is actually a very delicate undertaking that requires a lot of discipline in order not to destroy your relationships.

Crowd funding provides entrepreneurs with platforms to raise startup capital for their businesses, and promote their products or services. If this concept is new to you, and you want to pursue this, I encourage you to do diligent research to know what it entails.

National and local governments often provide small businesses with financing opportunities, including here in Nigeria. Inquire about these plans and their accessibility with the appropriate agencies and representatives.

Angel investors are private individuals who invest in new or small business ventures. Their investments help businesses start out strong, grow steadily, or carry themselves through the difficult early stages.

If upon reviewing the above financing options, you realize that you are unable to access any of them at this time, then there is one last option—which is you. When I say “you,” I mean your current job(s), which is another source of financing. If you’re gainfully employed, then I’d say you have a good start. What if you don’t have a job, and you want to start something? Well, I’d recommend finding a job (or an internship or an apprenticeship) in the field you want to start your business, via which you can gain experience for your future enterprise and the earnings to finance it.

When starting a business, start small, and keep it simple. Avoid eating into your business. Give it time to grow. Note down the essential things you will need for your company, especially things you can get for free. You definitely will have to learn new skills along the way, in order for both you and your business to grow.

Remember, you will make mistakes. They are inevitable. Don’t worry, you can adjust as you go. Just keep moving, you will get there! Here are some brands that started with almost nothing, and today they are known all over the world:

Whole Foods Market: In 1978, John Mackey and Rene Lawson saved and borrowed money from friends and family to open their first store in Austin, Texas. After getting evicted from their apartment, the two lived in their store.

Apple, Disney, Google, Harley Davidson, Hewlett-Packard, Lotus Cars, Mattel, Yankee Candle: all started in garages.

Nike: Founders Philip Knight and Bill Bowerman started selling training shoes from the trunk of their car.

Dell: Michael Dell was once a dishwasher, making $2.30 per hour. He began his company by selling computers out of his college dorm.

If they can, you can!

Deborah Lawrence is an intern at M74 from Lagos, Nigeria. She is working toward a master’s degree in Business Administration at Olabisi Onabanjo University in Ogun State, Nigeria. Her interests include entrepreneurship and communication.

The views expressed above are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the M74 Group, which remains neutral on all matters. Publishers assume no liability for content.