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.
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Get Your Product to Market on Any Budget

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.

Consider This

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.

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