It’s no secret: It takes money to start a business or expand an existing operation. But as a growing number of people are discovering, it IS possible to start or grow a business using none of your own cash.
There are street-smart (but absolutely legal) ways to get the money you need when you don’t have it yourself (or don’t want to use your own cash).
In some countries it’s called ‘shoestring financing’; others talk about ‘bootstrapping.’ But whatever – the words mean exactly the same thing: getting started with small amounts (or none) of your own cash.
I’ll give you a couple of easy examples in a minute, but first let me put you in the picture:
When you buy real estate using “nothing down” techniques, you’re not buying property without cash – you’re buying without your own cash.
The simplest example would be if you could borrow the total amount of the purchase price. You’d end up owning the property without having to lay out one cent of your own cash, but the seller gets the full price.
You can use no-cash strategies to buy an existing business (usually called a ‘leveraged buy out’ or LBO) without using your own money. It’s done quite often.
A typical LBO deal might involve the buyers borrowing against the assets of the business being acquired – yes, the loan can be arranged before they buy! The proceeds of the loan are used to purchase the business, if necessary with a top-up using other no-cash methods.
In this technique, the buyers take over the company without having to put up their own money, and the cash receipts of the business being purchased are used to service the debt. No cash outlay, no on-going payments out of their pockets.
In these dealings the sellers get cash. It’s just not YOUR cash. And you get to own the real estate or the business. Okay?
Likewise, no-cash startup and expansion strategies don’t involve your own cash.
Sometimes you can use just one strategy to get your business started; more often it will require a mix. When you know what the possible options are, you choose the one/s that will work for you.
Simple No-Cash Strategies
I can’t even begin to outline all of the no-cash possibilities here – it took me 972 pages to cover them in my No-Cash Startups course – but let’s look at a couple of the very simplest one-step nothing down approaches:
No-Cash Strategy: Buy on Credit
When you buy goods on credit, obviously you can sell them before they have to be paid for. You make the sales, take your profit, pay the supplier. That’s a no-cash deal.
Can’t get credit? What about selling from a sample, then paying for and supplying the goods after you’ve closed a sale? Again, you take the profits but require no up-front cash.
Will you need premises to sell the products or operate from? There are a lot of ways to get into possession of the right space before you have to pay.
No-Cash Strategy: Customer Financing
“Customer financing” is another straightforward way to get cash to pay for what you need before you have to supply the goods or services.
When you can offer what the customer wants, getting cash to start can be quite easy (either from the customer OR from a third party). No need to think small, either. A large company may be prepared to totally fund even a sizeable startup or expansion if you offer something they need.
No-Cash Strategy: Get a Partner
Another very obvious no-cash strategy is to begin as a partnership. When two people join together to start a business, it’s quite common for one partner to only bring ideas and/or expertise but no money. The other puts up the capital.
From the point of view of the person who has the ideas and expertise but no cash invested, that’s a no-cash deal.
You don’t want to be married to a partner forever? Then set up a ‘buy-back’ arrangement in advance, where you agree to take back the other person’s shares (and get full ownership) at some pre-agreed stage.
There are hundreds of different possible approaches to get cash. Things get a lot more interesting than these easy examples, but you get the idea.
In fact, I believe you’ll be astonished at the range of possibilities. No-cash strategies allow you to select from a huge range of ways to put your project together using none of your own cash.
An Added Bonus
The fact that you have capital isn’t a guarantee that your venture will be successful. Many businesses that start out with a tonne of money end up broke, while operators using no-cash strategies often become seriously successful.
How come? One crucial reason is that they force you to start out mean, and they keep you focused on staying lean. You learn the best ways to find money, how to stretch and maximize every single dollar, and the smartest deals to do.
However, don’t make the mistake of thinking that starting lean and fostering frugality means reducing quality or doing anything else that could hurt the business.
I’m talking only about taking advantage of every opportunity to conserve resources and eliminate waste.
And don’t think that a focus on frugality and the proper use of resources is only necessary if you haven’t got a lot of cash to throw at your business. It is NOT some second-best solution just for people who don’t have enough money.
Today it’s the way every business must start out – and continue operating.
In fact, many times it is lack of capital and the need to follow the no-cash techniques that is a major reason a business succeeds.
Apart from anything else, being forced to get everything you possibly can out of the resources you have makes you a much better business person: Learning to use money carefully becomes a part of your business culture.
When tough times come, frugal habits and knowing the options will be the difference between the business that lurches or falls, and the business that wins.
Recommended Books on No-Cash Strategies to Start or Grow a Business:
- How to Buy a Great Business With No Cash Down
- No Cash No Fear: Entrepreneurial Secrets to Starting Any Business with No Money
- How To Buy A Business With Little or No Cash Down!
- Bootstrapping 101: Tips to Build Your business with Limited Cash and Free Outside Help
- Bootstrapping Your Business: Start and Grow a Successful Company with Almost No Money
About the Author
Category: Startup Basics