Get Your Product to Market on Any Budget
By Stephanie Chandler
A recent survey revealed that 40% of American workers have considered starting a business, but many fail
to pursue their dreams due to funding constraints. While there are people who invest thousands of dollars
to launch their businesses, there are just as many businesses that were started with just a few hundred
dollars and some ingenuity.
Michael Simmons, the founder of Kinko's, rented a space the size of a closet near a college and started
his business with a few spiral notebooks and a single copy machine. If he had waited until he had enough
saved up to open a 4000 square foot store, he might be an accountant right now.
You may have a vision of a giant store, warehouse or internet operation but if your funds are low, it can
seem like a pipe dream. But a sagging bank account doesn't have to stop you before you even get started.
Consider launching your business on a smaller scale. In fact, launching your business on a smaller scale
can have many advantages. It allows you time to test your market and evaluate your price point. You may
want to try different methods and pricing strategies to see what works. Since your investment is minimal,
you can make some mistakes without ending up financially devastated.
It takes some creativity to build any successful business, and creativity is entirely free. Talk to friends
and people in the business community that you trust to get some ideas for getting your product in the
marketplace. Here are ten possibilities to consider:
Flea Markets or Yard Sales – Most flea markets will rent you a space for as little as $10-$20. Set up an
attractive display and suddenly you're in business. You can even host your own yard sales to showcase your
products. I once had a neighbor who sold used books in his driveway several weekends each month. Just be
sure to check city ordinances and make sure you aren't violating any local laws.
eBay – The online auction giant offers a potential customer base in the millions. It only costs a fraction
of your sale price to list and sell an item on eBay. Successful eBay sellers research their market first.
Are other people selling a similar product on eBay? What is the going rate? How can you best describe and
display your item to maximize sales? Invest a little time to determine how to position your product and
you could become one of the millions making a living on eBay.
Renting Shelf Space in an Existing Store – You might be surprised to learn that many small to mid-sized
retailers would gladly rent you shelf space in their stores. Talk to the owner and present your product
in a professional manner. Make the owner a fair offer or ask her to make you an offer. You can suggest a
90-day trial to see how it goes. Don't forget to get your agreement in writing.
Consigning Your Product to Retailers – Retail store owners often work with limited budgets and may be
reluctant to try a new product, but consignment provides an attractive alternative. Make it as simple as
you can on the business owner by presenting your product in a self-contained display. One candle company
offers their products in a stand-alone display. The candle representative visits the retail stores that
display the candles each month and checks to see how many have sold. The candle wholesaler then presents
the retailer with an invoice and collects payment. It's a win-win situation for both parties. After a
period of successful consignment, the store owner will also be more likely to purchase the products
outright and do away with the consignment agreement.
Classified Ads – Whether in your local paper or on one of the many free online classified sites, you can
use classified ads to sell your product. Craigslist
has a growing presence in most major cities and you can list ads for free.
Your Own Website – Website hosting has become quite affordable and setting up your own site has never
been easier. Yahoo Small Business offers hosting packages for as little as $12 per month. You can use
their free site builder tools to design some basic web pages or purchase a template for $20 from The
Template Store. You can set up a free merchant account with PayPal to accept credit cards, or if you
want to expand to a sophisticated shopping cart solution, check out the offerings from
1ShoppingCart.com. Once your site is up and running,
you will need to work on marketing your business and letting people know your doors are open – 24 hours per day.