by Evan Wynn Kosiner
I asked my dad what advice he would give about financial planning when starting your own business. His response: “Spend other people’s money.” I began to laugh because my strategy is the farthest thing from his. But my Dad retired at the age of 46 after owning his own business, so there could be some value. I, however, am betting my strategy will beat his by 10 years.
My strategy: always spend your own money. I see way too many people give away their companies or get screwed over in the deal. Especially students. Face it, for the most part you’re new and don’t have as much experience as many of the investors that see your business as an opportunity. People don’t do something for nothing in the business world.
I would rather start a company with a few thousand dollars saved, then to own a fraction of it and be doing all the work. The benefit to starting up a company with your own money is that you’re fully invested. You’re responsible for your own success and failure. You’re forced to keep overhead low, which is key.
When it first started out, my printing company cost $14,000 for a website, spread out over a year. Monthly overhead was $34. At that point, one client per month would cover all costs.
My advice for small business is to keep operating costs between 40-45 per cent. I say this for two reasons. First, it’s rewarding. You get make more from profits than you put in. Second, keeping your company with generous margins ensures stability. In essence, it gives room for your business to shrink and you’ll still be in a good position.
With that said, it’s all about quantity. Sixty-five per cent of nothing, is still nothing. Sales without profits don’t make cents.
You can start a successful business from a few thousand dollars. Save up. Be frugal. Be financially aware, don’t give away your company before you create it. And it is all possible. If you have any questions about running your own business or have feedback for Evan, send an e-mail to ekosiner@ryerson.