What I Learnt Starting a Company on £50
People often tell me they want to start their own company, but don’t have enough time, savings or the right idea. When I started Perspective Pictures - my video production company - aged 21, I put £50 into a business bank account. We didn’t have an office or a long prospective client list.
It’s just over a year later and we have moved the company to an 8 person office in London and have 32 projects underway in August alone. Film projects have taken me all over the world and I’m really glad that I put £50 in that bank account and took the leap!
This article is intended to encourage those - especially young people - who would love to run their own business, but don’t feel they have the confidence or right resources. If you’re willing to risk or hustle, a little can go a long way.
Here are the top five things I’ve learnt in the past year:
Sadly lack of money tends to mean lack of access to expertise.
Did we set up with an accountant immediately? No.
Did we have lawyers to advise on contracts? No.
Were there consultants to assist with strategy? No.
Did someone do cold calling to warm up leads? No.
Could we afford a co-working space with immediate access to clients? No.
But, having to do thing myself meant two things. Firstly, I focused on what was essential, because I couldn’t afford anything else!
Secondly, I had to learn to do each role myself - from basic bookkeeping, to sales, editing and account management. Every time we hired someone new, I had struggled with the role myself so could help them learn.
Without a budget, purchasing decisions are made very easy. Can we afford it? No.
However, necessity means your bartering skills improve. Ideally, we would pay with time, not money. For example, we got a free pitch at a marketing trade show by offering to make a promo video of the event. One of our largest clients came from that trade show, so it was a wise investment!
Add to my financial concerns that I was 21 years old. This means my friends were still at university - hence not potential clients with disposable income - and I didn’t have many business connections.
Luckily it is easier than ever to meet people now. I booked to go to every networking event I could in London. Although it’s intimidating to show up and pitch to people you don’t know, it helps to remember that everyone is in the same boat. Also, bring a friend or colleague if you can!
To relieve the pressure - think about networking as a series of connections. Not just a one-shot opportunity to sell your business. I try to think about how I can connect people around me and understand their needs. Those manic people handing out business cards never do well! The best strategy is to listen and get to know other people.
4. Accept imperfections
Facebook’s old adage “Done is Better than Perfect” rings true for no budget start-ups. Without money, you cannot necessarily have the best quality product. Having a functioning website is better than ‘having one in the works’. Don’t obsess or worry - just listen to your clients and what they demand. Then move on.
You have a mountain to climb. A brand to build. Don’t get caught up on small details. Do your job. Get paid.
Finally, starting a business with very little money means you depend heavily on family and friends for advice and support. Whenever you have ideas, use them as a sounding board. When things go wrong, they’re the ones to snap you out of it.
I would not have made the nearly the progress I have if it weren't for my friends and family around me. One example being my dad, who let me convert the garden shed into a studio. It gave me a place to film, edit, build the team and push the business.
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