Spend money to make money?

I've found that one of the biggest things stopping people from starting a business is funding. Learn more about how to start a business with limited funds - and how City Inspired developed from that.

As with many entrepreneurs, I had to balance between working full time and starting a business. Part of this was because I did not have enough money to be sufficiently independent. For many Black people, that is often the case. Funding becomes this huge barrier to entry and often is the reason why we don't see as many Black owned businesses. Whether you're starting an app, opening a store or building a subscription box, you will need money to get going.

For me, once the idea of City Inspired was born, I was ready to take everything on. I wanted to spend money on branding, products, packaging etc. Basically everything needed to happen all at once. If it didn't I felt like I wasn't working hard enough, the business wasn't progressing and that I would eventually get stuck and give up. It was the idea that to make money, you've got to spend money and lots of it.

Yet, halfway through, I realised it wasn't sustainable. I was spending on these funds on buying things for City Inspired, but I wasn't replenishing my account fast enough. In other words, I was working at a loss, a massive loss that in hindsight could have been averted if I had listened to the best piece of advice I received when I started City Inspired - start slow, think smart and save.

The idea behind starting slow is to just take things as they are. It's not a race to start your business. Even if it looks like everyone is starting off well. You know your resources and you know what time you can dedicate to your business. So stick to that and work in small bits. It makes work more manageable and you're less likely to be overwhelmed and more importantly - to overspend.

Think smart - Find ways in which to take advantage of being a small business. Many platforms from social media to Mailchimp are free. Even starting your own website - with a basic plan, can be fit into your budget. There are often also free workshops, mentorship programmes and more in London and more broadly in the UK for small business owners. Take advantage of these programmes and engage with your local community. It's a great way to meet new people (and potential collaborators) as well.

Finally fam, save your coins. Not everything has to happen at once. Again it's not race. So save up! Maybe you have an awesome idea but don't have the funds to start it. Yet. Keep working at it, saving money, and doing research on ways to help fund your business. Local borough websites have information and the government websites are great resources as well. But take your time with this, especially if you're starting with your own funds. A little bit of saving can go a long way.

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