By Malla Haridat
A friend of a friend reached out to me recently for help on finding a location for her business. She has her Masters in education and wants to start a childcare center in her community. As we started talking, I realized that she had a challenge that many start-up entrepreneurs face:
How do I find the location when I don’t have any money?
There is a solution! But it requires some serious elbow grease and a shift in mind-set in order to make it happen.
You see, the location is not really the problem. Sure, for many startups or entrepreneurs in the making, it would beyond ideal to finally have a place to hang your shingle.
Or would it?
- Do you have six to 12 months’ capital in the bank for rent/mortgage payments, taxes and insurance?
- Are you ready for the maintenance headaches?
And are you really ready for all of the ongoing curve balls – i.e., the need for security, cleaning your sidewalks, garbage and snow removal?
I suggested she start out in another direction – build her customer list first.
Yup, find 100 people who fall in love with her and her teaching/caregiving style. She’ll build a waiting list and generate revenue that could be used to fund the location.
So I offered her a few suggestions that you may find helpful as to how to get started:
1. Work hard, save your money and get your own location. Whew!
2. Network with existing daycare owners and find one willing to sell. Sure, that means hearing “no” about 100 times. But eventually you will find someone who wants to sell their space or even their list of clients.
And don’t get caught up in “But I don’t have any money to buy a business.” Seriously, just talk to people. You’ll figure out how to buy the business from them even if it’s means you work for free for six months and forward them the payments.
In the interim, you will have built of a community of providers that could be tremendously helpful in finding other resources – i.e., art supplies, free classes, marketing options, etc.
3. Start by renting space in a church basement or some other public space and do classes. It would help establish a client list of willing and interested parents who will be there on opening day. And more importantly it would help her get more comfortable and familiar with charging for her services and dealing with customers.
I personally love the third answer the best. It’s a small start that doesn’t cost much, gets you comfortable real quickly in charging/pricing and dealing with your target customers, and allows you to gain key marketing and sales skills.
If you are low on cash and think you absolutely need a physical location, get creative. Think outside of the box as to how you can showcase your services – or even a portion of your services as in the last example – and build a client list. That list is your ticket to ensuring you can eventually find a space and ensure the bills are paid!
Malla Haridat is an award-winning strategist for small business owners who are tired of being overwhelmed and want to see real results in their business. Malla produced the “Save Your Sanity” Small Business series and works with entrepreneurs who want to build a business that earns 100k with fewer headaches.