Have you ever asked yourself, “How much money do I need to start a business?” Well, let’s dive into that topic right now.
A lot of people out there believe that you must have substantial savings, take out a huge personal or business loan, or be gifted some large sum of money in order to create a successful business.
Let’s face it, most of us don’t start with the six figure income you need today to save a substantial amount of money. Maybe you don’t want to put yourself in outrageous debt. Maybe you just don’t have the qualifications to be given a “small loan of just one million dollars”. Maybe you don’t have a rich family or generational wealth that allows you to gamble all your money away on startup costs. Do any of these sound like you?
Yeah, it used to sound like me too.
So are there options for people like us in this world? Are we still able to chase our dreams, become entrepreneurs, retire early, and be our own boss?
You bet! It can be done, and we are going to talk about some options that you have and how much money you really need to start your own business.
Spoiler alert: It’s not near as much as you think.
Types of businesses:
Let’s first outline the types of businesses. We can start with the most expensive and as we move down the list we will talk about some of the less expensive options and why these might be the best options to pursue in this day and age.
Brick and Mortar Retail:
Brick and Mortar retail businesses may be the oldest small business idea out there. Many people believe that they can start up their own apparel brand, find their niche in some sports gear, hiking gear, or some other category and start up a store for people to come visit and shop.
However, this type of business can be extremely expensive to launch. First you have to invest in a space. This can’t just be any space. You have to think about foot traffic, location popularity, mall space or freestanding business. Maybe you aren’t in the best city for retail. Better yet, maybe you live in an extremely expensive retail area.
Do you really want to uproot yourself and move to somewhere that leasing retail space is cheap? If you do don’t you think your sales might decline? After all, that retail space is expensive for a reason.
On top of what could be a minimum $2,000 monthly lease you have to source your own products. Although sourcing on Alibaba or online spaces can be pretty cheap, you usually need a high order minimum to source at wholesale rates. Your minimum investment could be as little as a few hundred dollars for only one type of product.
The issue is that you likely will want to source multiple types of products. Now you are suddenly at a few thousand dollars in product sourcing, racks, shelving, and displays.
Lastly, if you are not in the most prime location, you will need a significant amount of startup advertising. For a brick and mortar business you will still need to establish an online presence for this. You can do this via social media, your own website, or even utilize affiliate marketing.
In addition you will need banners and window advertisement. It would be a wise decision to advertise within other business and use radio or billboards.
If this doesn’t yet seem like it would cost a great deal to start up, let’s look at some other options and understand why they may be much cheaper and possible much better options.
Lastly, don’t forget about your actual time before you make your first sale. This means all of these costs are sunk start up costs that you may never make back if you don’t have all the right pieces of the puzzle in place just how they need to be.
Brick and Mortar Service Firm:
The primary difference between brick and mortar retail and a brick and mortar service firm is that your startup costs are not as dependent upon product sourcing as they are initial employee salary. Yes, employee salaries can be cushioned utilizing a commission structure but base salaries may still be necessary.
To start this type of business you also need a significant amount of education and expertise in a particular field to consult or provide a service in that field. For example, if you were to start an engineering firm from scratch you would need to have a degree in engineer, years of experience, and perhaps even a professional engineering license.
Engineers are also pretty expensive in terms of salary. Many are not willing to work for free or on commission for startups, so the sunk cost of employees may be significant as well.
Overall this may be a cheaper option than brick and mortar retail, but it still comes with its own logistical expenses that can be a little out of control when you aren’t well off to start.
There’s no sense in blowing your entire savings on a brick and mortar business in today’s day and age when you have some options in the online space. Just what are these options? Glad you asked!
I’m going to include Amazon FBA, Retail Arbitrage, and Drop Shipping in these categories as well but they may be slightly lower cost than a self sourced e-commerce site.
First, let’s once again talk about startup costs for an online retail or e-commerce store. The initial costs can include a domain, hosting, potentially web design, and likely a seller platform membership (Amazon Seller Central runs $40 a month at the time of writing no matter your level or volume of sales).
These can all be expensive startup costs. With e-commerce it is not ideal to have a domain anything other than a .com or at least something unique. Domains are relatively cheap and easy to setup. Most run about $15 when you first purchase a domain and the renewal fees likely run about the same every year or two.
This is still much cheaper than a brick and mortar retail store because you don’t have to worry about location and leasing fees.
So why would you choose the online route over brick and mortar? That’s easy. A large majority of shopping is now done online. Big Box stores maintain their business because of long-standing brand reputation but even large stores like Walmart and Target and struggling to keep up with Amazon’s prowess online. Even huge corporations like Toys-R-Us have fallen victim to the increase in online sales and low prices online.
There simply is no marketplace anymore for small business. Not only that, with modern fulfillment services like Amazon FBA you can’t beat them when something purchased online will arrive at a customer’s doorstep in just two short days for no added cost. With Amazon PrimeNow it may even be sooner if you have a fulfillment center nearby. (San Francisco and Los Angeles are prime examples of this in California… no pun intended)
While online e-commerce can be much cheaper than its brick and mortar retail counterpart, you still need to invest in product sourcing which can be very expensive.
The best combatant to product sourcing is drop shipping. Drop shipping allows you to avoid sourcing items, and you essentially only pay for what you sell. Is this the best option? It very well could be if you are dead set on selling what you deem as your own product. Don’t forget about the hosting costs for many drop shipping sites though. There may still be a better option out there for most folks without any capital at all.
What type of business can you build with zero start up costs other than a little bit of time and effort? That’s also easy.
Niche Affiliate Website
An affiliate site may just be the cheapest way to start your own business today. In fact, this is my primary source of income and has potential to earn far greater amounts as popularity of my sites only grows.
The reason that building your own niche affiliate website is becoming such a popular option for modern day entrepreneurs is because you don’t need to lease any brick and mortar space. Also, there is no need for excessive hard advertisement, or product sourcing.
In fact, there is a large abundance of opportunity for affiliate marketers today. Finding products to market is getting easier and easier with all the different options that I’ve talked about in many of my previous articles. The commissions can range anywhere from 5-50%. There are even a few affiliate offers out there offering 75-80% commission.
This business model is most lucrative because of all the free educational resources on the internet. In fact, many people are part of online communities like Wealthy Affiliate that teach you everything you need to know about affiliate marketing. In addition, these communities are very helpful when you have questions that might not yet be answered on the internet. Many of these folks are extremely experienced in the online space.
Not only can you learn everything you need to know about how to setup this type of online business, you can actually grab free domains, free web hosting, and more. In fact, if you sign up for a free Wealthy Affiliate membership you can easily get all three of these things in one place. Read more about that here.
Conclusion and Final Startup Cost
So what really is the startup cost required to start your own business? If done correctly you can start with absolutely nothing. Sign Up for a free membership at Wealthy Affiliate, learn how to affiliate market, and get started today.
You can even start your own website in as little as thirty seconds as has been proven time and time again. Check out some of my other articles on how I’ve built my own successful business online. Learn how I’ve created a completely passive income online that supplements my day job and allows me to earn over 6 figures a year.
Who knows, maybe then you’ll want to start your own brick and mortar business with the profits you’ve earned online.
If you have any questions about starting your own business, brick and mortar, online, or affiliate business, drop a line in the comments and I’d be happy to share more resources with you.