I’ve asked Kurt Frankenberg to share details about his new book (free for Amazon Prime members) on how to start a REAL small business on a shoestring so you make money immediately – without incurring any debt or needing start-up money.
What they’re about: Sliding right past the dumb mistakes that first-time… heck, even LONG-time entrepreneurs STILL make… and either makin’ some bacon… or knowing when to move on. Invest six minutes with me and discover how to kick some booty right now.
In this economy, entrepreneurship has moved to front and center. More and more Americans and citizens abroad have turned to business ownership, either part-time or full-time. It’s the only way to break the “glass ceiling” and reach their income and lifestyle goals.
But doesn’t running a business have an (ahem) shall we say, EXPENSIVE learning curve?
Statistically, most businesses fail.
I believe it’s not for the reasons most folks have been led to think… but for the simple reason that small biz owners listen to the wrong messages and get sidetracked into doing things other than what makes actual, spendable cash.
In this post we’re going to look at what doesn’t work, what does, and what you should do about it as an aspiring, successful small business owner.
“Playing” Business: A Certain Path to Failure
What’s the first thing a wannabe entrepreneur does right after deciding to start up a biz?
Brainstorm for catchy names, right? Okay, I’ll give you this one… but only because it doesn’t cost any money and it kind of helps you solidify your startup idea.
But after this, the madness begins. Without expert wisdom and guidance, one might be prone to…
- Design a logo. Or have one designed for between $5 on Fiverr and hundreds or even thousands of dollars elsewhere. And we haven’t even made a sale yet. What are we thinkin’?
- Get business cards made. Big waste of time and money. Say you meet someone at a party that seems to be interested in your product or service, and they ask for your card. Tell ’em you’re fresh out. Even if you HAVE cards. There’s nothing more effective than asking for their card instead… and then, actually following up with them.
- Design a website, at great time and/or monetary expense. What the..? This is almost as bad as renting a space, stocking inventory, and buying a cash register before you know if your product will sell.
Tell ya what… start with the free alternatives first, like a Facebook page or a Craigslist posting.
Now, I’m not saying that you should never invest in these things. At some point it will be expected. But not one of them has anything to do with actually selling your product or service, just making you “look official”.
If it weren’t for the fact that I’ve seen dozens of entrepreneurs be more effective without these generally accepted “trappings” of being in business, I’d tell you to go ahead and invest in ’em. But WHY?
Why take on the expense without first proving your product?
7 Reasons to Start Your Small
Business on a Shoestring
Learn While You Earn, Part One
First, see if you can make some money without spending a lot on advertising or anything else. In fact, making sales with a tiny budget is a great sign that you have a winner of an idea!
If you’re having difficulty selling your product or service it’s most likely NOT because you’re “not spending enough on marketing”… it’s because you either haven’t learned the skills to move your product, OR it’s just not a very good product to begin. It’s better to know now if your product is a dog… and better still if you pick up a little green while still on a Shoestring.
Learn While You Earn, Part Two
Making mistakes as a small business owner and marketer can be expensive. The smaller of a scale we make those mistakes, the better. One of my first big marketing mistakes was to buy TV advertising time for my martial arts studio. Results stank. I don’t know if it was the offer, the time of day the ads were showing, or what… because I ran out of money before getting a single call. $6,000 into my TV ad campaign I had to call it quits.
BUT..! The day was saved when we discovered how to do joint marketing with the local Domino’s. I designed a flyer to go on pizza boxes. It promised any family that came for a $20 introductory class two free medium pizzas! I kicked the $20 back to Domino’s. They printed and put the flyers on every outgoing pizza box. I signed up a pile o’ Students and bought piles o’ pizza with their money. Win-win-win.
Even some large companies give very limited budgets to their marketing departments to force them to be creative. Think lean and you’ll make the best use of your advertising dollars, even when you grow large.
Pre-Launch for your “Bigger” Biz
Before I had a 3,000 square foot studio with two training floors, a generous sitting area, retail space, hundreds of square feet of mirrors four full time employees and 38 classes running each week… I was teaching martial arts after school in an elementary school gym.
BEFORE renting a retail space and taking
on the enormous overhead, try starting small.
For example, if you want to own a restaurant… start with catering, delivery, or on-site meal preparation first. Prove your product, build a loyal customer base. Make sure you are profitable. Grow your biz until you can’t possibly take care of the customers any more without the expense of a website, or retail space, or warehouse.
THEN, using money you have already made, take the plunge.
Take Away the Biggest Obstacles
Most small businesses fail for lack of energy, not capital. Fear and worry rob you of much-needed motivation. Crippling overhead, by signing advertising contracts, hiring help, and renting space or equipment before ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY is an avoidable mistake.
Take away the fear of “not making rent” this month by not having a lease in the first place. Hmm. Makes sense.
Enough, But Not Too Much Invested
When you put a lot of emotional energy into a project, it makes it hard to quit. And that’s a good thing, because often the best diamonds are forged in the hottest fires. Just make sure that you don’t burn up capital, yours or (GASP) someone else’s.
Build your business on a Shoestring and you will have something invested, that special something that you’ll need to make it successful. But you won’t have so much invested that you can’t quit or change directions… When the best course of action is retreat, you need to be able to take it.
Flexible Hours – Dial it Up, Dial it Down
When you don’t have big expenses to meet month after month, it’s possible to slow down production for a period of time when appropriate. This is the first way to make sure that you own your business, it doesn’t own YOU. Later on when it makes sense to have employees you can keep the fires a-burnin’ all the time. But for now, keeping it small keeps you from taking on too much before you’re ready.
Low Barrier to Entry – Easy to Start
On my blog at http://www.shoestring101.com I documented the journey my teenage son and I took to make a small service business from virtually nothing. We did a screen repair business… window screens and screen doors, fixed at your place while you wait. The total capital investment was $62.66 for six “bandit signs”.
That’s not a lot of start-up capital. If the idea had been a dog, we could walk away and still paint over those signs. Use ’em for something else. But before we had nailed the fifth one in the ground, calls started coming in. We paid for the signs and had a healthy profit by the end of the day. Hence the title of my newest book, “Get Paid TODAY!”
Even Easier to Market
Lots of people are looking for a bargain, and/or would rather do business with a local person than a huge chain. This is in your advantage when you start on a shoestring. Because of your lower overhead, you can afford to be competitive with your prices or in other ways. Which makes it easier – not harder – to make sales.
Listen.. it’s EASY to be in business when you’re already making money! And you’re turning a profit the moment your sales exceed your expenses. So why not start out with the lower expenses, and be profitable sooner? Then you can scale afterwards.
I’ve had the privilege of interviewing number of millionaires in my quest to learn and share all the best ways to make a small business successful. EVERY SINGLE ONE of the millionaires I’ve interviewed grew a big business out of a side project, while something else.. their day job, or another biz that they owned… paid the bills while they grew it. From a Shoestring.
What’s the Quickest Way to
Get Started on a Shoestring?
Would love to tell ya… but I’m out of time and space on this here blog post.
BUT..! Not to despair. I DID have the time and space to write about how to get started in my Kindle Book, “Get Paid TODAY! Structure Your Small Business Startup to be Profitable From DAY ONE”.
You can borrow Get Paid Today! for free if you have Amazon Prime.
Whether you pick up the book or not, THIS is my “call to action”:
Start your Business on a Shoestring, rather than betting the farm.
Whether your biz ideas succeed or fail, you’ll be glad you started out small.
Comments? You’ve got ’em, I’ll take ’em! ‘Til then
Latest posts by Kurt Frankenberg (see all)
- 7 Reasons to Start Your Business on a Shoestring - February 25, 2015
- Why It’s a BAD Idea to Order Business Cards #SmBiz #FAIL - January 15, 2014