When starting a business, it is easy to get discouraged when you compare your intended startup cost to what’s actually in your bank account. A study conducted by the U.S. Senate states lack of funding is a major catalyst as to why female entrepreneurs are not as successful as their male counterparts. No Pretty Boss should be denied the opportunity to start a successful business due to lack of funding when she is willing to fight against statistics and get the job done! The following three points will let you into how I started a non-profit and for-profit business with little to no startup capital.
1. Start Small
Many great business ideas will never cross from concept to creation because everything isn’t “perfect.” The person had the vision and made the business plan, however, became intimidated when they saw their ideal launch would cost $10,000. It is very rare that EVERYTHING in your life will align the way you would like it to before you make a leap of faith. Don’t be afraid to start small, because creativity and work ethic will fill in the gaps. My nonprofit, Project We Care Inc., has been able to do amazing work from renovating a school to feeding 1,000+ individuals who are homeless. We’ve been funded by major Fortune 500 companies such as GE, UPS, and Comcast, however, we didn’t start off with Fortune 500 companies throwing money our way. Our first project was in 2014 titled ‘We Care Christmas.’ We sponsored three families for the holidays. We were able to fund this project through crowdfunding. Crowdfunding is when you raise capital for a project or venture from a large number of people. This is typically seen online through mediums such as GoFundMe and Facebook Donations. Project We Care, Inc. still uses crowdfunding to support our various initiatives. Not only is crowdfunding a great way to keep people plugged into the business, but it also ensures that you have enough funds to execute your upcoming projects. There are also a lot of programs designed to support women-owned businesses. I recommend reviewing these sites to see if you qualify: Nase, Girl Boss, and Business Owners Side Café. The first family that we ever sponsored for Christmas started with gifts from Dollar Tree. From Dollar Tree stocking stuffers to giving away bikes and iPhones, we are still in awe about how far we have come! If we would have been intimidated by small beginnings we never would have tapped into our potential.
2. Be Strategic
I recently downloaded Waze, the amazing alternative to Google Maps that shares the fastest route. Waze tells you when there's trash is in the middle of the road or if a cop is lurking around, ready to give out speeding tickets. The amazing thing about this app is, although you may go through many back roads, you will somehow make it to your destination every time. You have to be your own Waze app! When someone tells you no, when you get denied for that loan…go back to the drawing board and identify alternative routes to your destination. Ask yourself, “How can I leverage what I have (resources, time, skillset) to get what I want?” When I purchased my home I realized that I wanted to get a side hustle that would help fund vacations and random shopping sprees. I decided makeup would be the best route. I didn’t have a makeup kit and I wasn’t professionally trained. I was just the friend that everyone asked to do their eyebrows before we went out. I knew that I needed to align myself with a company that would teach me how to apply makeup on various skin tones and types, and builds a makeup kit at a discounted rate. I was blessed to receive a flexible role at Macy’s where I was able to work almost every makeup counter from Estee Lauder to Clinique to Lancome. It was humbling to get off of my corporate job and sell lipstick however, while at Macy’s I was able to see firsthand what it took to be a professional makeup artist. After a year, I had built up my makeup inventory, skillset, and clientele. I no longer needed to work for Macy’s, I could now work for myself. Reflect on these questions: What skills do I need to successfully run my business? How can I obtain those skills at little to no cost? Can I get paid to learn these skills?
3. Leverage your network
Even I hesitated before starting Pretty Boss. There are a lot of women empowerment platforms, and I wondered if I would even be able to make an impact. I have a group of amazing friends and a solid network that sustained me while I was building out this concept. My best friend taught me how to build a website, a skill that I never thought I would need. (Learning this skill saved me $1,000+). Leverage your close family and friends because they will be honest and help you where they can. Project We Care, Inc. started off with family members and close friends supporting us, which still drives the family-like culture of our team.