By Josh Okello
Great entrepreneurs are great boot-strappers. Boot strapping is where you start a business with limited funds and resources. What makes it challenging is the insatiable demand for personal basic needs. When starting a business from scratch, money going out is always more than money coming in therefore you must be very careful on how you spend every single dime.
So what do you need to do to successfully start a business on a stringent budget?
Write a Business Plan
A business and marketing plan is a GPS showing you the way where your business is headed. Even though your business is full of unrealistic goals and objectives (by the way it is very good to set unrealistic goals) try to be realistic with your finances. Crunch those numbers first and figure out roughly how long it will take before you start getting income, break even, raise your salary and employ a team.
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Often times, when the business is starting, you will be the boss, receptionist, guard, janitor, accountant, chairman and sometimes even the customer. Write a plan with a detailed budget.
Separate Business from Personal Life
Hey, you are already on the road to Silicon Valley therefore you have to be organized. Set aside your private life away from business life. Never mix the two. When writing a business budget, remember to also write a personal budget. I have a limit on how much I can spend in a day and in a week and my goal is to always shrink it further. Before you fund your business using your personal credit card, think twice!
Your business needs you and your money therefore you have to make tough choices and sacrifices. Forgo a flamboyant lifestyle and stabilize your business. Never fly a private jet when you are supposed to be riding on a bicycle. Be very keen on how much you spend. Do you really need an office, or can you work from a coffee shop? Do you need to hire assistant or can you hire a virtual assistant? Be wise with your money. Trim down your friends list and focus on those who you can learn from. This does not mean that you totally ignore people, but spend your time with people who can grow you.
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Master the Art of Negotiation
We know you do not want to look cheap but remember that you have less to spend and more to be done. Maximize the utility of every dollar getting out of your pocket. Having too much money does not mean you have enough money. Record every single dollar you spend.
Build Other Sources of Income
When I was starting our organization I had already written a book and was working on my second and third book. I sold my books every evening and that was my goal. Money I got from sales is what I spent on food therefore I had to sell to eat. I closed all my roads and gave myself a tough goal to only spend money from book sales and nothing else. This comprised of my rent, transport and utilities.
If you are a writer, write. If you are a musician, sing. If you are a chef, cook. This also relives you from the daily business stress. Do something fun to de-stress and learn to earn a living out of it. Key point to remember is; never let your complimentary source of income be a permanent plan B. It can kill your business.
© Joshua Okello 2015.
Joshua Okello is a B.A graduate in Business Administration, International Development and Philosophy. He is also the author of the book Strategies of Entrepreneurial Leadership He has exceptional skills in organizing, coordinating projects and capacity building initiatives with key emphasis on livelihood programs; microfinance through savings and credit led models; business development services and entrepreneurial leadership. He is also the founder and Executive Director of Succeed Africa Relief Organization, a Canadian Christian Organization geared towards giving hope and transformation in lives of the chronically poor in Africa.