A lot of people have great business ideas but do not have money to start up these businesses. It is true that having some money of your own, some investors or a few friends and family members who can help with money to start up is important. This, however, should not be an excuse for not executing your business idea and turning it into an actual business. If you have confidence in the product or service you are intending to offer, it is very possible to start the business without money.
Technology companies are a type of business entity that focuses mainly on the development and manufacturing of technology products or providing technology as a service. This includes software, e-commerce, digital electronics, and internet services. For the purpose of this article, we will be mostly focusing on how to build a tech company that does not include a physical product.
Get the Vision
The first thing you need when starting a tech company is to bring the vision from your head and write it on paper. This gets it away from being just an idea and transforms it into something real. The next thing you need to do is interview a good number of potential customers, say 70 of them. The responses should help you in revising your canvas. You need to be careful in viewing the patterns of response.
Lastly, you need to make wireframes and interview customers to get responses on what they think about it. Doing all this will enable you to know who your customer is and what kind of product they want and you get to do all this without money.
Of course, there are several other things involved such as selecting a domain name (you can use a domain generator for that), setting up any social media channels and branding, as well as any other marketing strategy you plan to implement.
Build the Product
Once you’ve got the vision of the product that you would like to sell, it is time to build. Taking this step early in the process is important because you want to know if your product can be built and if it will work.
Building the product, even before you even officially incorporate as a business, is crucial. You need to build a minimum viable product (MVP) to offer to the market. An MVP is a version of a new product which allows a team to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about customers with the least effort. This validated learning comes in the form of whether your customers will actually purchase your product. In his book The Lean Startup, Eric Ries outlines this successful methodology.
By creating a product and observing how customers use the product, you gain much more understanding than if you were to poll potential customers. Since the MVP is not supposed to be the final version of your product, building MVP one is much more cost-effective. It is important to remember that even though the MVP is designed to be a simplified version of your product, it still should satisfy the customer’s needs.
How to Build an App Without Coding
How can you build a tech company if you do not know how to code? This is a common question for entrepreneurs with ideas but who lack the technical expertise to launch their idea. No need to let this stop you, there are a number of options to choose from.
One option is to hire talent to help you build your product (we will discuss this later). The second option is to build the application yourself using an app builder. App builders are low or no coding tools that you turn your app idea into a functioning product.
- Price: Plans start at $60/month for Pro, $135/month for Team, and custom pricing for enterprise solutions.
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- Price: Plans start at $49/month per app on the Plus plan, but go up to $69/month per app.
- Price: Plans start at $99/month for a Single App or $250/month for the Reseller Partner Program
- Price: Plans start at Free for the mobile website builder and go up to a $99/month for the App Pro plan.
- Price: Pricing available upon request
- Price: Plans start at $59/month for Android, $99/month for iOS and Android, and $179/month for extra social and loyalty add-ons.
- Price: Pricing available upon request.
Use Low-Cost Marketing Avenues
Getting the word out about your startup will always be challenging since there is no shortage of new businesses competing for attention. The good news is that it is still possible to market a business at a low cost. Here are a few options for you to consider.
This is a marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, content to attract a clearly defined audience with the intention of driving profitable customer action. This can be done with guest posting, sponsored posts, blogging, and video marketing.
To start, it is a good idea to have a blog on your company website where you can create content and share on social and professional platforms such as Facebook, Linkedin, and Twitter. From there, creating content for other blogs and websites should be the next step.
Maximize Social Media
Using Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram should be the first places you go to market your business. There are two main reasons why these platforms are your primary options. First, they are the largest and most popular. This means that your potential customers will most likely be using these platforms. It also means that your potential customers will judge whether or not to try out your product based on your social account presentation.
Secondly, your potential customers will search for you on these platforms. They will review your accounts activity, reviews, engagement, following, presentation, and many other things to see if you’re a viable option for them. Presentation is important on these so do not neglect the aesthetics of your social accounts and news feeds.
Using “other” search engines
Getting search engine traffic is important to gain exposure to your tech company. However, Google, Yahoo, and Bing are not your only option. There are some other search engines that should be utilized in order to find quality customers.
Many people think of Pinterest as a social platform. Although Pinterest has many elements that are found on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram, most people use Pinterest to find purchasing ideas. This makes Pinterest a very powerful search engine. With over 250 million monthly users, Pinterest has the potential to drive massive amounts of traffic to any blog or website.
Another search engine that is often underutilized by new tech companies is Youtube. Youtube is another platform where users search for answers to their questions and solutions to their problems. A new tech company or founder can utilize drive traffic. Using Youtube effectively is a matter of publishing consistent, useful videos.
These videos can also double as content for other platforms. The benefit of Youtube is the ability to create long-form content that can be found years after it was produced. This means that you may be able to get a consistent flow of traffic without needing to create new content.
Start with Offering Services
A business that is product-based requires a lot of capital to start since a lot of materials are required to create the products. A tech company can be both a service-based as well as a product-based kind of business.
For this reason, it is very important to ensure that you offer the services first at a price when starting up. The importance of offering services is the fact that you will not require any materials, therefore, no capital. You only need knowledge about the field.
Doing this enables you to raise funds that you can use to buy the required machinery and materials for your tech company.
While doing this, it is important to also consider reinvesting that money into your own education and growth of your own expertise. If you have technical knowledge but no business experience, you may want to invest in courses, classes, and books to help you fill the gap in your knowledge base. You also have the option of finding a co-founder that possesses the expertise you lack.
Find a Co-Founder
What’s a tech company without co-founders? Finding a co-founder for your tech startup is a big step. Especially if you are not a technical person. There have been many tech startups founded by non-technical people that have been able to succeed because of partnerships with co-founders.
Having a good co-founder with the same vision will help drive your business and direction. Guy Kawasaki suggests that a co-founder should also have the same commitment to that vision as you. However, your co-founder should be different than you in other areas such as expertise and perspective.
Before you go looking for someone to help you run the business, you need to have a clear idea of what you are looking for in a co-founder. Just because someone is interested in your idea doesn’t necessarily mean that they are right for your startup. You should take a good look at your own strengths and weaknesses and find someone who will offset and compliment them.
Recruiting Talent and Finding Help
Once you are aware of what your customers want and what you can charge them through the interviews and you have learned the basics of the business. The next step to starting a tech company is recruitment. You will need to use applications like LinkedIn to find reliable people. Since you will not be giving money, you will need to compromise and give them input into the product and also allow them to do part-time jobs if that’s what they want. This will enable you to earn their trust.
Since many tech startups in New York and San Francisco have bright futures, many designers, programmers, and admin assistants will work for equity instead of a paycheck. The famous stories of secretaries that became millionaires by working for Microsoft in its early days are true. With a clear enough vision and direction, you can find followers who are talented enough to help that vision become a reality.
If you are in Silicon Valley, New York, Chicago, San Jose or any other city that has a reputation of successful tech startups, you can sometimes get legal and accounting services for free as well. In 2014, one of New York’s newest accelerators Grand Central Tech offered free rent in an attempt to gain some attention from Silicon Valley. Several Startups applied and were selected to house their offices at Grand Central Tech without giving up any equity.
“Because of what we’re offering, we’re seeing that a more seasoned group of entrepreneurs are really the ones responding to our value proposition,” said Mr. Bonello. “It’s a very exciting moment for us,” said GC Tech founder Charlie Bonello.
What If You Live Outside a Tech Hub?
But what if you live outside of a major city or tech hub? You can still find support for your startup for an affordable price. You can find quality work on websites like Upwork and Fiverr. You can hire freelancers using these platforms from all around the world.
The benefit of these websites is that you can find a variety of talent at different price points. If you need a simple project such as logo design, simple website setup, there are no shortages of contractors that can complete that job for a competitive price. In the future, if you need more complex work done, it will cost you more. However, to get started, you should be able to find a contractor that fits your needs and budget.
The Vision is Free; the Execution is Work
Once you have a great team, you will need to earn their respect and trust now that you have sold your vision to them. To earn their respect and trust, you will need to find ways to generate business for the company. Be ready to be at the forefront knocking on doors and getting your hands dirty to get business drumming for your company. This will eventually give you a lot of customers and profits will be rolling in consistently.
Beta testing your product early is risky but worth it Beta testing can involve sending the product to beta test sites outside the company for real-world exposure or offering the product for a free trial download over the Internet. Many entrepreneurs make the mistake of waiting until their product is perfect before allowing potential customers to use it. Risking failure is always scary but worth the risk if lessons can be learned.
In conclusion, do not allow fear or the lack of money prevents you from starting your own company. If you are creative, hardworking and learn how to differentiate yourself from your competitors, it is possible to start without any money and create a successful company that generates a lot of money.