Top tips for cash-strapped entrepreneurs » SMEInsider

Top tips for cash-strapped entrepreneurs

What practical things can you do to get your business off the ground without any funding? Here are eight top tips from Kigu co-founder Tom Cohn.

1. Choose your products wisely

Without a big marketing budget or a flashy website, whatever you’re selling needs to be strong enough to sell itself. “Choose something unusual and visually appealing – people will share their purchases both on and offline,” says Cohn.

2. Tell (almost) everyone

The worst thing you can be is overly protective of your business idea. Get the word out there. Be open to criticism and ask for help. Get ready to pull in all your favours,” said Cohn. Talking about your business not only helps spread your ideas to potential customers, it also helps you find people you know who can help you out in the areas you’re stuck in – often for free.

3. Pick the right platform

If you’re selling physical products, you need to choose your e-commerce platform wisely. Out-of-the-box options like Big Cartel and Shopify can be set up fast with no technical experience, says Cohn. “The original Kigu website was run on a free package. Take money via PayPal and you’ll have no monthly charge.”

4. Get a mentor

Investors come with good connections and a wealth of business experience. Without investors, you’re going to have to find this support elsewhere,” says Cohn. ”Thankfully there are plenty of successful businessmen and women out there who are keen to support new business owners. Charities like the Bright Ideas Trust can put you in touch.”

5. Use free apps

There are all kinds of business apps and software packages out there that will allow you to do what you need to do on the cheap, or even for free. “If you need a cheap landline without the contract, get a personal number on Skype,” says Cohn. “Try Brightbooks for invoicing, MailChimp for managing your all-important mailing list and KashFlow for accounting.”

6. Social networking

Whilst going social is now essentially for just about every business, “when there’s no money to spend on PR or advertising, social networking will take on even greater importance,” says Cohn.

7. Free PR

Events, says Cohn, are a great way to get press coverage and spread word of mouth. “If you can run events that your customers would actually pay to go to then you should be able to fund the whole thing through ticket sales. We run several “Kigu Parties” each year and it’s definitely a perk of the job!”

8. Get on with it

When you’re starting up a business, just sorting out the basics can be exhausting, what with registration, tax, insurance, legal advice, software licenses and so forth to think about. Here, Cohn suggests, having less money behind you can actually take the pressure off. “My advice: don’t let the red tape get you down. If you’re not investing much money, you haven’t got much to lose. Just get out there and try and make a living!” he says.