By Ryan Kh
During the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election, critics pointed out that Donald Trump started his business with over $1 million that he had borrowed from his father. Mitt Romney faced similar criticisms during the previous election in 2012.
These discussions have stoked anger over class warfare in the United States. Many activists have argued that it is impossible for lower and middle-class Americans to get ahead by starting their own business.
Fortunately, this pessimism is largely hyperbolic and untrue. There are still plenty of opportunities for even impoverished Americans to launch their own companies and join the ranks of the wealthy.
Here are some ways that entrepreneurs can get their business off the ground while working minimum-wage jobs.
Focus on ventures with limited start-up costs
I recall watching a Shark Tank episode a few years ago. The founders of one company were former executives that invested over $2 million from their golden parachutes to get their company off the ground. The company struggled to grow, because the money was poorly managed and the owners had little direction and motivation to succeed.
One of the Shark Tank hosts (I believe it was Mark Cuban) said that their mistake was having too much money. He pointed out that entrepreneurs with less money are forced to be more creative, so they have a higher likelihood of success.
This advice couldn’t have been more on point. Most of the successful entrepreneurs on that show got started with a bootstrap budget.
The moral of the story is that it doesn’t take a massive amount of money to get a business off the ground. If you are smart about it, you can find ways to start a business with a small investment. Many of the fastest growing businesses are started with less than $1,000.
Narrow your focus
One of the main reasons Tyler Perry was able to go from being homeless to having a net worth of nearly half a billion was that he understood the importance of focusing on one project. This is one of the most important lessons any entrepreneur can learn.
You will never make any progress if you spread yourself too thin. If you aren’t careful, you will end up burning through your budget without anything to show for it. This is the biggest mistake my ex-business partner made. I will freely admit that he is more talented than I am in our chosen profession. However, he kept starting new businesses from SEO consulting to e-commerce to launching a new advertising platform. He couldn’t follow through on anything and didn’t have the resources to invest in all of them.
Successful entrepreneurs are laser focused. They identify one project and invest everything they can with it. This is even more important for entrepreneurs that are still working language jobs, because they have fewer resources to invest.
Minimize your personal expenses
As an entrepreneur, your business and personal finances will be tightly intertwined. Any dollar that you waste on unnecessary trips, drinking with your buddies or an unnecessary large apartment can’t be invested in your business.
You need to keep your spending in check, especially if you are on a low wage income. You can start splurging after you hit a homerun with your business. Not before.
Charles Ngo, a millionaire Internet entrepreneur said that he needed $500 a month to get his business off the ground. He advised other entrepreneurs on limited budgets to cut costs the way he did.
“You know how much I started with? $500 per month. That’s it. I wasn’t rolling in cash. I wasn’t making YouTube videos where I invited people to check out my Lambo. My budget was small but it was enough. Plus, there are things you can do to get started. Sell some of your stuff. Save the money you would normally spend drinking on Friday night. Make your own meals. It’s not hard if you’re willing to make some small sacrifices.”
Ryan Kh is an experienced blogger, digital content & social marketer. Founder of Catalyst For Business and contributor to search giants like Yahoo Finance, MSN. He is passionate about covering topics like big data, business intelligence, startups & entrepreneurship. Follow him on twitter: @ryankhgb.