Starting a Business With a Limited Budget: ‘First Invest In Yourself’ – Marc Sydow

The R5 000 Business Funding Challenge
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The R5 000 Business Funding Challenge
The money is not coming, NOW WHAT? In this series we interview business owners and those in the know, about what steps they would take to launch a business with limited funds. 
Start an online business, says Marc Sydow, a certified financial planner, to entrepreneurs needing a quick and relatively cheap business idea. Sydow started his career as a financial advisor at one of SA’s top financial institutions, he now works to empower individuals financially in all aspects. “I have based my career around the fact that life is too short to spend all your time worrying about what your financial goals should be and how you’re going to meet them.”

Here is Marc Sydow’s plan: 

As a lifestyle financial planner who puts all the emphasis on life planning, I’d like to suggest that before you delve into how to go about starting a business with R5 000, you start with the end in mind and look into your reasons for starting the business, what the end goal of the business is and what that means for you as an entrepreneur.

I’m not talking about the obvious things like paying the bills or earn a living, but rather what it will mean for you if those bills are always paid? What does it mean to not have to worry about getting those calls and messages demanding overdue payment? What will a consistent positive cash flow enable you to do? What makes it all worth it?

If you understand the answers to those questions in the context of your own life, it creates purpose behind the paycheck you are creating and that purpose is what will get you through the tough times and will help you get back up when life knocks you down.

Once you’ve figured out the reason for the fire in your belly, it’s time to start operating. Starting a business with only R5 000 as startup money sounds daunting and immediately I think of doing something online, something that doesn’t require me to need my own space. Something I can do with my laptop/ cellphone and something I can do from anywhere with an internet connection. Almost all coffee shops/ restaurants these days have free wifi (yes it may be limited, but remember you are there to work, not stream Netflix) and they will happily let you on, with the simple order of a cup of Jo.

Online selling springs to mind, buying and reselling of used/ second-hand/ pre-loved goods is a huge market and initially, it doesn’t require much from you other than your time, time to scour the net/ social media platforms for those items going for a steal, or those items which simply need some TLC and that can be turned into big profit margins. Think Storage Wars, your old school garage sale, but online.

The first investment I would make would be in myself, there is a great online learning platform called UDEMY, and you can literally take control of your future from as little as R120 per course, and there are courses for AFRICA, the whole of AFRICA to choose from. You could literally take a course, to enable yourself to fulfill each role you need to play in your new startup. Remember it’s important to stay as lean as possible in the infancy, make your mouth the only one that needs feeding.

Equipped with the knowledge of a rookie accountant, digital marketer, and financier (all through UDEMY, seriously there are courses for everything) you can start implementing your online selling business plan.

1. Set up your own online selling business (this could simply be a Facebook page or WhatsApp account). Initially, this will be your virtual store. So take the skills learned through UDEMY and ensure the page is eye-catching and inviting. Take great photos as these will do the selling for you.

2. In order to avoid getting scammed (and you will come across this a lot), you’ll want to either only deal in cash or have your own point of sale device to facilitate the sale of goods, these can be set up through app-based payment portals like Snap Scan or Zapper, or physical devices like Yoco or Ikhokha.

3. Keep it small initially, your R5000 budget is now down to R3500, with all the UDEMY courses you’ve done along with the fees for the payment devices, but that’s not a problem because with your new financial knowledge, you can make it work. EXAMPLE: If you buy a pre-loved SMEG kettle online from the couple emigrating for R1000, clean it up real good and resell it for R1500, that’s a 50% profit, on one item, with minimal input costs. If you do that multiple times a day, week, year, you will soon be on your way to financial freedom. The numbers stack up real quick and soon you’ll be selling SMEG fridges and stoves.

4. Keep your product focused initially, look for those high-end name brands that drive customers to want to spend money. Look for brands that sell, leverage off the fact that they have already created brand loyalty, but may have positioned themselves slightly out of reach of the man in the street (this is your customer).

As an entrepreneur, life isn’t always easy, but the opportunities presented are endless and in this ever-changing environment we live in, it’s the only way to ensure survival and success.

See previous budgets:

 Starting a Business on a Limited Budget – Seed Academy’s Donna Rachelson’s Plan

Starting a Business on a Limited Budget – Lemok’s Lebogang Mokubela

Starting a Business on a Limited Budget: “Think Big But Remain Small and Agile” – Louis Pulzone

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Lebohang Thulo
Lebohang Thulo
Lebohang Thulo is the editor of SME South Africa. She enjoys keeping up with the country’s exciting and fast developing entrepreneurship ecosystem. You can find her at @lelele3

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