Have a craft creation to sell? Good at home repair? Resale transactions? Voila! You can become an entrepreneur-on-the-cheap.
If you’re like millions of Kenyans, you dream of starting your own business. But of course, there are dozens of obstacles that may keep you from actually doing that. You might not have enough motivation, for example, or time to actually see the work through; or you might not even have a solid idea to begin with — yet.
But where most people get stopped cold is their realization that it takes money to start a business — money they don’t have.
Still, consider: There are loans, grants, and other fundraising options, like crowdfunding, available to get you what you need; so money is not a good excuse not to start a business. And, beyond that, there are certain types of businesses you can start with almost no cash.
What it takes to start a business
Your first step is to explore what it takes to formally “start” a business, and which of those items cost money.
Types of businesses to start
So, which types of businesses can be started without a heavy financial burden in any of the above areas?
First off, there are personal creations, like arts and crafts. For example, if you’re a painter, you could sell your works of art with an investment of nothing more than art supplies and your own time. Platforms like Etsy, eBay and Amazon cater to creators and make it easy to turn a profit from your work.
Services don’t cost you any money up-front because they’re intangible goods. And if you’re working in people’s own homes or neighborhoods, you won’t need a physical headquarters for your business. For example, you could start a babysitting service, a dog-walking or pet-sitting service or something like landscaping or snow-plowing.
If you have a specific skill, you could use your skilled labor as the main revenue driver for your business. For example, if you’re a handyman, you could cater to homeowners who don’t know much about home repairs.
Just like in-home services, these types of gigs don’t require you to have a physical establishment and don’t require you to invest in anything up-front, except perhaps the tools or equipment you’re going to need for the job, which will vary in cost.
Many workers think about becoming entrepreneurs only after getting several years of professional experience under their belt. Think about the industry you’re in, and how much you’ve been able to learn in that time. Up-and-coming professionals, or startup business owners will likely be glad to pay you for your expertise. Consulting is a service that costs only time to produce, but can be highly valuable as a career opportunity.
The idea behind resale is simple: You acquire products and sell them to other people. You can use dropshipping or wholesaling to acquire these goods. With dropshipping, you’ll ship directly from the manufacturer (and turn a lower profit), but you’ll need almost no startup cash. With wholesaling, you’ll need more money and space up-front, but you’ll end up with more control and more money.
Of course, you could also piece together your own miniature business through micropreneurship and shared-economy opportunities. For example, you could drive for a service like Uber, or rent your home out through AirBnB or find similar services that make use of what you’ve already got.
After you get your business started and start earning revenue, your lack of startup capital will become less of a problem. You can reap the profits from your venture and reinvest them, or use them to start an even bigger business.
Hopefully, you now realize that you don’t need a lot of up-front money to start a business. In fact, you can start one for almost nothing. You just need to know what types of businesses work best in that model.