Start chasing your dreams.
Entrepreneurs often have great ideas, but put them off because of their full-time jobs or a lack of capital. How many times have we heard one of our friends or someone we know talk about their passion? And when we ask why aren’t they pursuing their dreams, they say that they don’t have the funding for it? Or that they simply can’t risk leaving their jobs? Before making an attempt, many automatically assume that their idea will fall apart without major funding or time on their hands.
With technology and internet, the excuse of not having time or capital is just that – an excuse. If an idea or execution plan isn’t well thought-out, no amount of money in the world can turn it into a multimillion business. But if you have a great idea that you’re willing to work towards, this may be the article for you. Yes, you will have to sacrifice a lot of sleep. But if you want something bad enough, you’ll make it happen.
Here are some tips to help you lay down the first bricks for your empire.
1. Stick To What You Know
Build your business around your knowledge and area of expertise. This is not the time to venture into uncharted territories and the phrase “Do what you love” is very much applicable here. Since you’re going to spend plenty of time working on your business, you might as well build it around something that you enjoy. Even if you don’t feel knowledgeable enough in the area of your interests, that passion will help you learn and pick up what you need to know faster than if you were to work on something that you don’t feel passionate about.
When your business is built around your area of expertise, you are able to eliminate consultants and external assistance. Especially if you have a day job and limited funds, the lesser you rely on outside sources the better.|
2. Spread The Word
Tell everyone. Your family, friends, ex-colleagues, business contacts, ex-girlfriends/boyfriends… Okay, maybe not that last one. But call, send emails, messages and make your new venture known on your social media platforms. Your friends and family will be more than willing to help you spread the word, and your business contacts can refer you to their area of professionals.
Better yet, word-of-mouth and social media marketing does not have to cost a single cent! Living in the internet age today, it is easier to connect with one another than ever before. Social media is a great way to build up buzz around your business, as well as interact and reach out to your potential clients. Some other free places to advertise your business and services include Fiverr, Craiglist and Skillshare.
3. Schedule Like A Boss
And stick to that schedule like an employee. Routines might be hard to stick to, but especially at a time where you’re hustling on the side and have to show up for your day job, having a schedule is incredibly important. The founders of CastleInk, Bill and Lauren Elward both held demanding jobs when they started the online business. Reluctant to give up the security of their monthly paychecks, they carved out a plan to work on their business at night, on weekends, and even on the train rides home.
On Sunday nights, take some time to sit down and plan out your schedule and tasks for the week. With an organized schedule and calendar, you will be able to split your time better between both positions. Being organized will also keep you from feeling overwhelmed like you have too much to do and not enough time, since you already know what exactly is on your agenda for the next hour or day.
4. Seek Out Low-Cost Services
As mentioned before, you can utilize platforms such as Fiverr and Skillshare to advertise your products and services. But you can also use these platforms to source out other services to help you build up your company. For example, you can find web designers who could help you build your website, or a graphic designer to design your brand logo at a lower cost than going through established firms.
There are going to be lots of expenses in running a business, and some simply cannot be avoided. What you can do is avoid spending unnecessarily, and leverage on technology and the internet to help lower expenses. Sure you could drop $1000 for 500 holographic business cards that looks incredibly cool, or you could spend $100 for 500 traditional cards that leaves an impression and gets the job done. Being frugal right in the beginning could mean fail or fly for your business.
5. Sell Your Services
A simply way to start a business is to simply sell your services instead of a product. Depending on your background and interests, there are many types of services that you can sell. Are you an accountant? You can offer financial or accounting services. Maybe an English graduate? You can write, do proofreading, copywriting, or simply start your own blog. And as Singaporeans, many of us are multilingual. Why not take advantage of this and provide translation services?
Selling services is also a great first step to build up some funds to proceed to a product-based business. Ryan Westwood, the founder of Simplus, had an idea to connect two software systems but had no funding to build the integration. Knowing he needed money for product development, he approached various companies with an offer to build a software integration system for them. A company took them up on the offer for US$125 per hour. When the integration was completed, he was able to turn around and resell the product to others. Pretty brilliant, isn’t it?
6. Sweat Equity Will Pay Off
Hard work is a necessity in starting a business. Especially when you’re doing it with a full-time job on hand and little to no capital, you must be prepared to dedicate everything and more for your business to take off. You may very well be working round the clock and wearing many hats, handling every single aspect from growth to marketing and sales. You may not even receive a paycheck from your business for awhile.
But the amount of sleep you sacrifice and the hard work you put in isn’t for nothing. For every single minute that you work on your business, you are essentially increasing its value and building its brand. Your sweat equity will prove to be important when you decide to have a partner or sell off a part of your business. Don’t let your full-time job or limited capital keep you from the greatness of building on your idea and dreams. Sure it will make you question your own abilities when things get tough. But hey, that’s what being an entrepreneur means.