Okay, so most small business owners have been there and if you haven’t gotten there, you may have the unfortunate opportunity to experience it. Trying to start a business with little to no resources needed to help you get the ball rolling. I once sat down with a colleague who shared his experience of applying for his very first business loan….
“When I first started my business, I went to my bank and applied for a business loan. I really did all my homework and was proud of the research and effort that I had put into my business plan. I mean you name it, I had an itemized list of all the assets needed to start, market research on my products and how they would best suit my customers and, financial projections over the next 3 years. There was no doubt in my mind that my idea wouldn’t be as successful as I have always dreamed. To make a long story short, I was rejected for my loan. The news was not only devastating but shocking to me as I spent months researching everything that I would need to be prepared. It was a defining moment once I finally found enough courage to seek a loan that would put my plans in motion. Naturally, my first question was, Why? I had studied my competition intently and they weren’t doing anything that I couldn’t do. The reason that the loan officer gave me is that “90% of all businesses fail within its first year of operation and I wasn’t as prepared in case mine did.”
Wow, despite them (in their own way) trying to look out for my best interest, they weren’t even trying to give me the opportunity to fail. All first-time businessmen are faced with the harsh reality that their business may or may not make it past the first year and I was no exception to this. If anything, I had the faith in knowing that I would always give it my best and I would never give up trying unless it was necessary to do so. The loan officer didn’t want me to risk financial ruin before I realized that it was time to simply let go.
Not wanting to risk the chance of experiencing this from another bank, I set out to make a way for myself. So, what was my next step? I had no other choice but to use the little resources and backing that I had to work with. It was time to get creative. All my furniture and office supplies were bought second-hand. I could not afford to invest in high-tech computer software to run my operations. I had to use free resources that were readily available. I was so thankful that all my advertising could be done relatively free on social media as I didn’t have a budget for that. In the end, it worked out great out because I didn’t need a lot of money to get people to notice my business.
I still often think back to the time that the loan officer denied my loan. What if I had gotten that money? Would I be even more successful than I am now? After all, I did make it without the money that I thought I needed. I guess it doesn’t matter now, as I have made it without it. I’m actually thankful that I didn’t get it as it has made me more resourceful and overall a better businessman.”
If in fact you are faced with the dilemma of having limited resources, here are a few tips that can help you overcome this obstacle.
1) “Used” can be just as good as “New-” When starting your business, you do not need everything to be “new.” Second-hand items cost substantially less than new items and work just as well. Plus, if you think about it, customers will be more comfortable around your office if it feels “broke-in”, rather than new and sterile. It gives them the feeling that you have been in business awhile.
2) Little to no cost advertising- You do not need the hundreds of dollars that it takes to place ads in papers or put commercials on TV. It costs very little to design and print your own flyers and put them in places where your potential clients would gather. Turn your vehicle into a moving billboard by investing in a vinyl signage for your doors or windows. The best thing? Face to Face meetings with your potential clients do not cost a penny, so look for every opportunity to talk with our potential clients. Lastly, social media is always a good way to get your brand noticed, and often time doesn’t cost you a penny.
3) Turn home space into an office– Depending on your type of business, you may consider working at home rather than renting office space. This will save you a lot of money on rent and furnishing an office. Once your business becomes more successful, then you can always rent office space later.
Treat your struggles as lessons learned because often-time, it will benefit you in the future. No matter what always give 110% and never give up on yourself!