Starting a business without any outside investment
Written collaboratively by Kunal Dattani, Keval Dattani and Savan Dattani.
When it comes to starting a business, investment is one of the first considerations for every entrepreneur. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you need to rush to book meetings with every investor and venture capitalist that will hear your pitch. Kunal Dattani, Keval Dattani and Savan Dattani, brothers and co-founders of luxury male grooming brand Mo Bros, explain how you can start a business with no outside investment, and why it may be the best decision you ever made.
We’re sure the idea of starting your own business will have crossed the mind of thousands of people, however making that jump it is quite daunting. It can be even scarier when you don’t have any external backing, whether that be financially or from an experience and consultancy point of view. However, not having other people’s money behind your plan doesn’t mean you can’t start a business, so long as you do it sensibly.
We started Mo Bro’s with just £750 each, built some of own machinery, and created our logo and branding on MS Paint – now it’s a multi-million-pound company with a customer base of 200,000 and an email database of 80,000. This just goes to show how far you can go with the right attitude, planning, and hard work.
Our first tip for starting up without external investment is to make sure that you’ve either got a steady income from another avenue, or you have savings to fall back on. You will always need money to live on, and lots of fresh entrepreneurs usually remain in their current job whilst launching their company as a side project. This gives them an opportunity to test their strategy in their market, without losing the security of a steady job – something that can wear a person down and have professional repercussions.
Another great tip is to always begin with a stripped-down version of your business, and then build on it little-by-little over time. This means creating a version of your business which perhaps only focuses on one product or niche service, effectively reducing the financial risk to you by using minimal resources. The less you’re making, the less you’re spending.
Market research is key when looking to start a business, and when you don’t have any financial backing from anyone else, it’s even more important that you know exactly what you want to do with your money. This entails looking at competitors, market size and identifying any gaps in the market. Having a good understanding of your market will give you an advantage when you come to launch properly and knowing exactly what consumers need means you can hit the ground running.
It’s also very important to work out exactly how much money you think you’ll need, whether it’s wages, overheads for products, or rent – you need to have a rough idea of how much it’s going to cost. Of course, it can be difficult to work out what you’ll need prior to starting, but by reaching out to potential suppliers, couriers and website developers, for example, you can get a good idea of how much running your business is going to cost.
A tip for all business owners, not just entrepreneurs starting out, is to always try and be as dynamic as possible. Whilst the initial vision for your business might have been set in stone in your mind, it’s important to remember that things don’t always work out exactly as you want them to. That product you thought would change the world, maybe it’s not that great. The new branding you thought would transform your business, maybe it won’t. That’s why you must be willing to adapt and change, because if you refuse to make changes to your business, you may find yourself struggling. Most entrepreneurs are constantly looking for ways to improve their business anyway, but we know how hard it can be when you’ve invested time and energy into an idea.
Once you’ve launched, it’s all about making sure your audience know who you are, and why they should be buying your products/services. Obviously when cashflow and equity is low, it’s hard for a young business to invest in professional marketing and SEO techniques, however, using social media is a great way to put your business in front of the right people for little to no money. Building a social media following is free and can be great for driving sales and building a customer base, especially in the early stages of launching, and with tools like targeted ads, businesses can reach the right people for only a small amount of money. We use both social media and Google ads, and the targeting on Facebook and Instagram adverts is brilliant, we can target people based on location, gender, age, and lots of other metrics.
One of the most important things a business owner needs to do is create a business plan. Whether you’re looking for investment or not, a business plan is vital for both yourself, and potential investors. It’s a great way to plan exactly what needs to be done and when, and if you are going for outside investment, you’re going to need one. A business plan should include some of your market research, an overview of your business, competitor analysis, and what products/services you intend to launch with/roll out over time. It’s the backbone of any business in the starting-up stage.
Starting a business without any outside investment can be hard, and it poses more challenges than starting up with backing from others. However, we think it’s a great way to make sure your business is as solid as possible, and it will make you stronger and more resilient mentally as an owner and founder. The most important thing is to always keep one eye on where you want to be, and not where you are right now, and to be dynamic and move with the market. If you put in time, effort and all your energy then you can make your business successful – it may just take a little longer than if you had millions of investment from a venture capitalist!