We can’t always choose our circumstances and sometimes, we might find ourselves in a position where we’re seriously struggling financially.
It’s not a great boat to be in.
I know that the recent pandemic put a lot of stress on our pockets and it might not feel like we have a way out.
Believe me when I say there is hope for you and your online business regardless of where you are financially.
Today, I’m going to share some tips that can help you regain an income and get back on track financially.
In short, if I were broke these are the four things I’d do to pick things up again.
My name is Mei Pak and I help makers, artists, and designers make a living selling their handmade products online.
I’ve been running my own businesses for 15 years now, and I’ve built these from the ground up without much to speak of financially when I started out.
Today, my first business, Tiny Hands, makes $200k a year and that’s the smallest of the three businesses I own.
So, I know firsthand how to build up from zero – and I’m happy to share my insight with you!
If for whatever reason, I found myself down on my luck financially, here are the four things I would do.
1. Start a Business
The most obvious thing I would do first is start another business!
Don’t be afraid to start a business with a credit card if you’re good with managing your credit.
If you put in the work and truly dedicate yourself to building this online business, you’ll be able to pay back those debts no problem.
It’s a calculated risk that I’m willing to take.
Starting a business is a great way to be in control of your livelihood and it is entirely possible to build up a big income.
Even if you’re starting from scratch.
Although it might seem like a big risk to make those initial steps with a credit card, you have to be able to start somewhere.
Credit cards exist so that you can.
Of course, before you begin, you need to make sure you aren’t messing around.
Swipe that card only for the essentials at first.
Like the supplies you need to build your shop.
Don’t build up an enormous debt that will take years to payback!
Buy what you absolutely need, time your purchases strategically, and make sure you know what you’re doing if you go this route.
The biggest trap you can make here is if you don’t know how to build a business, then you go take out a credit card to start one.
You’ll likely make a lot of mistakes and spend a lot of money with not a lot of sales to show for it.
If you don’t know how to build a business, one of the first few investments you should make is a source of knowledge, whether that’s a course or mentor to guide you.
If this still sounds a little scary – don’t worry.
Bank of America recently conducted a study of 248 business owners and entrepreneurs.
The results found that 37% of business owners aged 21 to 36 started their businesses with a credit card.
They found that with their limited budgets starting out, using a credit card was the best way to scale up quickly.
Starting a business costs money.
If you don’t have a ground to stand on financially, using a credit card is the best option at your disposal.
This was exactly how my husband and I started our new art business.
With a credit card!
Not because we didn’t have the cash to start it with, but because we didn’t necessarily want to tap into our own savings to do so.
Plus, a credit card just for your business makes it easier to do book-keeping and to keep track of your spending.
We spent a little over $2,000 to get the business off the ground and it wasn’t until after that initial $2k investment that we made our first sale.
That business made $900,000 in 2020.
I think it would be fair to say that credit cards helped make that happen.
You don’t want to choose just any credit card.
Look into your limits, your points, and make sure to keep up a good credit score so that limit can get even higher.
If your credit card offers reward points or cash back, even better!
You just might be able to use those extras to help your business even more.
At the same time, make sure to be as organized as possible with your spending.
To avoid going into considerable debt that you can’t pay off, consider using an account aggregation service to keep everything in one place.
For example, Mint is an app you can connect all your different bank accounts and credit cards together so you can have great visibility of your money.
If you don’t go that route, keep a careful spreadsheet of all of your expenses and due dates.
You don’t want to be left with a huge, unexpected bill at the end of all this.
You just want your credit card to help with those initial expenses so you can get your business off the ground and start making money.
We always pay off our cards before we get charged interest.
When used correctly, credit cards can be a great way to delay spending and speed up acquiring investments you need to start your business.
2. Become a Freelancer
The second thing I would do if the business idea doesn’t work is I would become a freelancer.
I would start by creating a solid website that I can use to showcase my portfolio.
A website will help my business look professional and accessible.
It will also help people to trust me.
This doesn’t have to be a Shopify site.
For freelancers who are service providers, you can use a free site builder like Wix.
It’s meant to be a static site, so you don’t need a lot of bells and whistles.
It can be a simple website meant exclusively to show off your work to potential clients.
Once my website is up, I would start networking.
I’d begin by freelancing on Upwork.
Upwork is a great place to build up an initial client base so you can start getting paid work and testimonials.
That will help you gain leverage with customers on and off the site.
You’ll also have new work to add to your portfolio.
Upwork does take a 20% cut of your money.
But when you are just establishing your business, it’s worth it to build up your portfolio and client base.
Eventually, you’ll be able to leave the site if you don’t want to stay on there.
But Upwork can help you create a steady foundation for your freelance business in the beginning.
At the same time, I’d make sure to network:
- In Facebook groups
- Reddit forums
- And any other online space with client potential
Facebook groups are a fantastic place to meet people who might be interested in your services.
There are groups for everything you can imagine, and you just might find one that perfectly matches your specific craft or skills.
Begin by joining a few groups and start being of service to people in the group.
Answer questions, give people feedback when they ask for it, just be a helpful person and over time, people will start to notice you.
As a freelancer, I might offer services like:
- Product Photography
- Paid Ads Management
- Social Media Management
- Or Building & Maintaining Shopify Sites
These all fall within my skill set.
If I didn’t have all this experience from running my own businesses, then I would market myself as a general virtual assistant.
Find out what your skill sets are and flex them.
If you are great at Photoshop, you can offer to edit people’s photography.
If you’re a designer, you can offer to draw up logos.
If you’re a writer, offer to help with social media copy.
Find what you’re good at and network, network, network.
You might be rejected by 9/10 of the people you reach out to – but that one time out of ten is worth the work when you’re starting a business.
I know that when you’re starting out, it’s hard for people to trust you if you don’t already have a portfolio.
But you can’t build a portfolio if no one will hire you.
It’s a chicken or egg situation!
I would even go as far as to offer my services for free or at a very low cost to start with so I can build up that portfolio quickly.
3. Sell Your Stuff
The third thing I’d do is sell items around the house that I just don’t need anymore.
Use Facebook marketplace, Craigslist, or eBay, to collect some extra cash.
You can get quite a bit from an old armchair or some artwork you just don’t like anymore.
Look at similar products for sale to price your item competitively and make sure you use a trusted website before you make a sale.
Remember – this is just a temporary bind.
You won’t have to sell your stuff forever, just until you can get a more steady stream of income rolling in, so you can get back on your feet.
To take that even further, I might try arbitrage trading.
Arbitrage happens when you find a commodity item for a lower price than what the market is willing to pay for it.
You would then purchase the cheaper item and resell it for a profit.
For example, if Instant Pots are selling in the used market for $50 each, and I found one in great, working condition for $20, I could buy the cheaper one and then resell it for a $30 profit.
This does take a bit of effort and knowledge or good researching skills to do, but believe me when I say that there are people with entire businesses making millions doing exactly this.
4. Find a Part-Time Job
Let’s say you try all of this and you’re still struggling to get on your feet.
Worst case scenario, I would find a remote job on Craigslist to get started.
I actually did do this an entire year when I first went full-time with my jewelry business.
I found a gig as a web designer for a local video effects company.
That job helped me bring in some extra cash while I focused the rest of my time on building up my business.
Of course, you need to make sure that any jobs you find on Craigslist are legit.
Do your research, and get into a written contract if you get the job.
Most of the time, you’ll find that the jobs listed are totally safe but you’ll want to take precautions just in case.
If you do find a steady job on Craigslist – you’ll find that you have more time to build up your new business because of that new flow of income, even if it’s not much.
The key is to make just enough money so you can afford to really dive into your new venture.
If even Craigslist is a dead end, I may look into delivery services like Uber Foods, Doordash or PostMates.
The key here with getting a job is that it’s part-time with flexible hours or that you can work from home.
This is not necessarily a career you want to build, just a temporary stepping stone to get you into a more comfortable life later on.
I know times are tough right now for many of us, but I hope these tips give you a good idea of where you can start if you find yourself in a sticky situation financially.
You might just find that when there’s no place to go but up, you’ll be soaring in no time!
What are some tactics you tried when starting your business on a limited budget?
Let me know in the comment section.
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