If you do decide to take the risk and start your own business, be realistic about the costs. No once can do it "on the cheap."
Sean Castrina, author of Unbreakable Rules for Business Start-Up Success, says there's no such thing as a $100 start-up.
"Okay, it's possible that there may be a few rare entrepreneurs who've launched a business with less than a hundred bucks," he admits. "But don't count on it happening to you. Like the handful of genetically gifted world-class athletes who can run a sub-four-minute mile, they are the exception rather than the rule."
He claims you need at least $3,500 to $10,000 to start a business.
"Even if you're going to be the chief bottle washer in a micro-business, as many of the '$100 start-up' proselytizers preach you should do, you'll need start-up funds in the range of $3,500 to $10,000. And that amount is still quite low for a business, especially one where, if you play your cards right, you should be receiving a threefold return on your money within two years. I say all of this not to discourage you from starting a business, but to encourage you to take the necessary steps to make sure you get started the right way."
To further explain, below Castrina discusses the real cost of starting a business.
You'll need a cash reserve. A cash reserve is a "stockpile" that will be there in case of an emergency. It can be large or small at the outset, but it should be equal to your operating expenses for a projected period of interruption in which your business may be unable to generate new income.
You'll need money for marketing. Marketing is not optional. You will have to budget a portion of your $100 to marketing efforts. So once you've exhausted your friends and family, how will you attract enough customers to sustain a long-term business?
You'll need a website. A website is an integral part of business marketing and advertising. Most of your prospective customers, even those born during the heyday of radio and television, are surfing the Internet. Developing an online presence is as essential as having a business card.
You'll need to factor in administrative services. In the beginning, you'll probably need an attorney to help you draw up agreements for your services. Good luck finding an attorney who bills at about a penny an hour! And sure, you or a friend or family member might be able to do the initial bookkeeping for you, but eventually you'll need to partner with someone you can call on a more long-term basis.
You'll need to cover miscellaneous expenses. Once again, we must assume you'll acquire for free all those items you can't buy with your $100 budget. For example, business cards, forms/documents, file cabinets, desks, a phone, a cash register, and the list can go on and on.
"Remember, according to the Small Business Administration, only about half of all small businesses survive more than five years," Castrina concludes. "So instead of trying to defy the odds with a hundred-dollar bill, why not work a little harder on the front end in order to shore up your odds of success? When applied responsibly, these real-world financial principles will help you to become the entrepreneur you've always wanted to be."
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