Did you know that nearly half of female entrepreneurs wish they had more money to dedicate to advertising? Or that women-led businesses are 63 percent less likely to receive venture capital funding than male-led ones? The drive is there and the female-run businesses are certainly there, but sometimes that little external boost to get things up and running is missing. It can be incredibly frustrating for female entrepreneurs to have well-planned, strategic, and informed roadmaps for their business, and all the skills and ambition to get it done, but not enough money to make it happen. The funding is one thing entrepreneurs just doesn’t have as much control over as they do, say, how many hours they dedicate to their business or how well they educate themselves in their industry.
Not having the capital to get going should not deter someone, though. Hewlett-Packard was started with less than $600. Subway was started with just $1,000. So don’t let a lack of funding dash your dreams. You just need to know how to work the system. To learn about this, we spoke with Laquita Brooks, “The Motivational Maven.” Brooks runs a multi-million-dollar real estate agency, a national logistics company, and a coaching program – just to name a few of her endeavors. She shared some gems on how to start a business when you don’t have cash capital.
“Gaining investors is not as hard as people think, however you would need to know the audience,” says Brooks. Finding the right people who might be interested in your product is important, she added, as well as approaching individuals who already know your character. “For example, I was approached by a woman who needed additional money for her film project…because I believed in her and also her project, it was so easy for me to be an angel investor for her.” Brooks adds, “Some common ways to find investors are to ask people that you know (family and friends), seek out venture capitalists, and crowdfunding platforms. Also attend several networking events.”
Old-fashioned word of mouth
When you don’t have a marketing budget or don’t know where to begin when it comes to advertising your business, Brooks reminds us not to forget about good old-fashioned word of mouth. “The best way to advertise without a marketing budget is to become your own walking billboard. Consumers believe in what they see, and you are the product. [It’s] word of mouth – people buy from people who their friends have had great experiences with.” On that note, if you already have customers and clients who are happy with you, it’s not much to ask them to write a review, share a little post on social media, or simply tell their friends about you.
Rely on social media
MADAMENOIRE asked Brooks what she thought about using social media to advertise for their business, and she has passionate answers about this. “What a world we are currently living in. The era where social media has affected our lives so greatly that businesses can now benefit immensely from different features available on multiple platforms. Social media marketing has elevated so many businesses in awareness, lead generation, conversion, and ambassadors.” Creating content can be completely free. If you’re already an expert in your field, then you already have the bulk of what you need. Just add a camera. “Through the regular churning out of content, people have a wider reach and vaster network that patronizes their products and services.”
Become an authority
Potential clients want to know that you are highly educated and experienced in what you do. Social media gives you a chance to show that. Brooks says, “Interestingly, businesses can take their brand global through the help of social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and even Tik Tok, which seems to be the rave of the moment these days. You would be surprised at the number of people that monetize their content on various social media platforms. People get paid to promote and even post pictures, videos, and create written content online. This is because they have become authorities, influencers, and celebrities.”
Where should you seek sponsorship?
If you’re fortunate enough to gain so many followers that established companies approach you about sponsorship deals, remember that that company doesn’t have a monopoly over each of your platforms. “Anyone can make it as an influencer with engaging content on social media, but the question is, where is the best place to get sponsorships for your business? Now that you have successfully created a niche for yourself, your online presence is getting stronger. Who says you cannot use different social media channels to get sponsorships? There is no rule stopping you from using Twitter or Facebook. You can diversify by using YouTube for video content. This will make sense if your brand can create catchy videos that will attract audiences worldwide.”
Other ways to make money on social media
Even without a sponsorship deal, or beyond one, there are ways to make money directly from followers, says Brooks. “To the much joy of many Twitter users globally, a feature has now been added to Twitter. With this, you can send a tip to a particular influencer or celebrity via their profile…With the following you have, you can get your products to sell faster. As a result of millions of people following your page, you become an authority in that niche. This means people will listen to the advice you give them. Let us imagine for a bit, what if 500,000 people subscribe to YouTube channel for daily financial advice. If you have a book you want to sell for $10 and put that up for sale, let’s say 5,000 people get to buy that book; you would have made $50,000 throughout the sale.”
Curate your voice
Ultimately, Brooks states social media is an excellent tool for marketing. It’s one way to get the word out there with zero dollars. All you really need is your smartphone, and maybe some editing software for higher-quality content. “There are endless possibilities to getting sponsorships on social media platforms. It only takes the way you package yourself and, more importantly, the value you are offering others. If the products are worth people’s time, you will get a barrage of requests…Hence, you need to brand yourself and the message you are trying to convey. It takes the presentation, the wittiness, charm, and elegance through which you let people know about your business.”
Getting a loan from family and friends
Next, we asked Brooks about small business loans she likes. Of course, not everyone will qualify with a financial institution, which is why Brooks brought up getting a loan from family or friends. She knows many entrepreneurs who did this. “To them, that was the safest bet; they would rather be indebted to their family and close friend than be at the mercy of the banks and other financial institutions…One of the reasons people opt for this type of loan is the low-risk and low-interest rate. Although, some families and friends prefer to have the loan in writing. Some others will have a fixed date in mind with probably the same amount or a little bit above what was borrowed in the first place. All in all, it is a safe place to get loans. But, it is based on the trust the family and friends have in you, the business owner. The fact that it doesn’t have as many risks and interest as other types of loans does not mean you should not redeem the date.”
Get ready to offer collateral
If you don’t have family or friends willing to lend you money, or you prefer to keep your finances and personal life separate, you can turn to government-backed loans, says Brooks. “Small business loans are one the most popular loans which new business owners usually opt for when starting their business. They are government loans that small businesses can get from the private sector. The loan system indicates that the business would have to pledge its personal assets as collateral for the loan to be granted.” Make note of that last part: you can’t hide behind an LLC with one of these and claim your business has nothing to hand over if you fail to pay the loan. Your personal assets could be at stake.
The different loans available
If you choose to get a loan from the Small Business Association (SBA), there are different ones to choose from, depending on your needs. Brooks notes,”The 7(a) loan program has a range of $350,000 to $5 million. Another type of SBA loan is the Microloan program, the smallest loan amount available. It ranges from $10,000 to $50,000. This requires limited collateral and is great for small businesses. The final list of SBA loans is the 504 loan program. [These have] a longer time frame and are usually capped at large amounts. The SBA loans are flexible as you can use them to buy land, equipment, and even acquire another business.” Brooks does advise, “Go beyond getting the loan…think about how best you can repay the loan. It is best to even think about it before getting the loan. You don’t want a situation where your business is stuck because you did not pay back your loan.”