I always scratch my head when I hear those stories when an entrepreneur quits his or her day job, drains savings and 401K accounts and throws in every last bit of energy to launch a successful company, working 18 hour days to prove a concept. I give those people a lot of credit because perhaps that is their path, but that is so not me!
Even though I did technically quit my day job to take a leap of faith, there was a strategy in place to bring in side income as I launch and test the concept of Sat Nam babe in market, by working part-time with much more flexible hours and work arrangements. No sleepless nights wondering how I will pay my rent or dipping into savings!
Over the past few months of launching a company as a first-time entrepreneur, I’ve learned how to go full steam ahead sensibly on the cheap without compromising quality of product or draining life savings.
Here are my top five tips to launch a company on a dime with minimal early stage risk:
- Leverage crowdfunding instead of a savings account, angel investor or bank loan– Crowdfunding is great to not only test your business concept early on in a controlled environment, but to also raise funds to launch your company that do not need to be paid back!! The site that I used, iFundWomen, not only provides the platform and payment processing system to crowdfund and offer various rewards levels to your backers, but they provide a plethora of live coaching and online resources to make sure that you are at a point in your business idea to be successful at crowdfunding.
Don’t pay for lawyers or accountants or business advisors in the first year – It’s amazing how many pro bono resources are out there for entrepreneurs to take advantage of gratis. Look at your local university to see if they have an entrepreneurship field center. In NYC, there’s the incredible Baruch Field Center, the best kept secret and open to the public!
On that same note – don’t pay for videography early on either – When planning my crowdfunding video, I knew I wouldn’t have a budget to pay someone a few grand and didn’t like the idea of being in the red so early on as a company. So I found a Masters student majoring in film through my co-working space. She was thrilled to take on this project to use for her portfolio and I gave her a small stipend as a thank you.
Anddd photography too…How much do you love this picture? Yeah so cute, huh? Makes for a non-boring baby shower gift, just sayin. Haven’t paid a dime yet for professional photography! This was a nice surprise launching a business, in that so many cute, high quality photos have rolled in as a result of all those customers who supported during the crowdfunding phase; they want to show their kids off in their new baby clothes and kids clothes
- Find creative ways to market your company without paid ads – An early strategy to get Sat Nam babe some more Instagram followers was to partner with some mom influencers with cute little kids who had big followings. I was SO surprised at the response that some of these moms not only wanted free product but to also be paid? Are you kidding me?! I’m so glad I didn’t fall for that, as the ROI with giving away product was mixed (I did not pay for any sponsored posts, just gave away some free product). However, I’m still glad that I did partner with those moms early on, because they take really good photos and did tend to post and tag @satnambabe more than once in posts.
It’s been really fun to launch a company with a limited budget – it breeds for more creativity and makes building organic partnerships that don’t cost a dime such as this SF Yoga Mag article really meaningful.
Jen/Founder Sat Nam babe